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Full text of "Me : a book of remembrance"

ME 



OF 



ME 



A BOOK OF REMEMBRANCE 



NEW YORK 
THE CENTURY CO. 

1915 



Copyright, 1915, by 
THE CENTURY Co. 



Published, August, 1915 



To 

"LOLLY" my friend who was 
and to JEAN my friend who is 



2129291 



INTRODUCTION 

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." 



INTRODUCTION 

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 ! 

JEAN WEBSTER. 



ME 



ME 



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 
at home. 

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. 

3 



4 ME 

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 



ME 5 

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 
would go. 

" 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 
ter do? 

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 



6 ME 

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. 



ME 7 

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 
life! 

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 
rived. 

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." 



8 ME 

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 
New York. 

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 



ME 9 

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 



io ME 

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 
he said: 

" Say, excuse me, but you ve got my chair and 
rug." 

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 



ME ii 

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. 



II 

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. 

12 



ME 13 

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 
hurt you." 

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, 
and said: 

" 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 
Indies. 

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 



14 ME 

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. 
She answered: 

" 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 



ME 15 

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. 



16 ME 

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 
ter?" 

" N-nothing," I said; but despite myself the sob 
would come. 

" 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 



ME 17 

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 
about twenty." 

" 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. 



Ill 

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 
my tips." 

" Tips ? " I repeated innocently. " What are tips ? " 

She gave me a long, amazed look, her mouth wide- 
open. 

" 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- 

18 



ME 19 

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 
land. 

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 
face. 



20 ME 

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 



ME 21 

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 
discovered. 

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: 



22 ME 

" 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 
me. 

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. 



ME 23 

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 
lap! 

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 ! " 

"What else?" 



24 ME 

| 

" 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 
pressed. 

" 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 
sermons." 

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 
I could. 

"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 



ME 25 

t. 
* 

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 
my fare." 

" 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 



26 ME 

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 



ME 27 

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 
said: 

" 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. 



IV 

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- 

28 



ME 29 

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 
said: 

" 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 
right." 

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, 



30 ME 

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. 
She said: 

" 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 



ME 31 

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- 
length." " 

This last prospect by no means bothered me. I had 
the most decided and instinctive liking for the oppo 
site sex. 

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 Caribbean. 

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 



32 ME 

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 
like them." 

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 
reassuring. 



ME 33 

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. 



34 

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. 



ME 35 

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 
through." 

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. 



36 ME 

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 



ME 37 

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 
terly. 

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. 



38 ME 

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 
House. 

" 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 
work to-day." 

I said: 

" I ve got to learn. Miss Foster sails to-morrow, 
and after that" 

" I 11 show you after that," he said, and smiled 
reassuringly. 

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, 



ME 39 

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 
teacher. 

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 
out: 

" 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. 



40 ME 

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 
hand. 

" 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 



ME 41 

no difference between the white and colored people in 
Jamaica. 

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 

42 



ME 43 

the white element, whose good-will was equally es 
sential. 

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 
the poem! 

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 
duties. 

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 



44 ME 

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 
reader. 

15. To edit the entire paper when sickness or ab 
sence of the editor prevents him from attending. 



ME 45 

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." 

"Well, what?" 

" Poetry," I said. 

My answer tickled him immensely, and he burst into 
loud laughter. 

" Got any about you ? " he demanded. " I believe 
you have it secreted all over you." 

I said: 

" 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. 



46 ME 

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 
tent. 

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 
means ended. 

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 



ME 47 

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 
own grounds. 

That evening was a lovely one, with a great moon 
overhead, and the sea like a vast glittering sheet of 



48 ME 

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 
help." 

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 



ME 49 

to me as he did. He laughed unbelievingly at that, 
and exclaimed: 

" 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 
exceedingly captivating." 

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. 



50 ME 

"Why?" 

" 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 : 

"What?" 

I repeated what I had said : 

" You are an old man." 

"What on earth makes you think that?" he de 
manded. 

" 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. 



ME 51 

" 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 
ambitions. 

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 



52 ME 

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 
said: 

" 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 said: 

" 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 
pride. 



VI 

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 
grossed. 

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 : 

53 



54 ME 

" 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 
chair. 

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? 



ME 55 

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 
days! 

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 



56 ME 

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." 



ME 57 

" 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 
more." 

" 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 



58 ME 

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 
ground." 

" 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 
some distance. 



ME 59 

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 
hungry. 

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 
immediately. 

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. 



60 ME 

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 
Call?" 

" 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. 



ME 61 

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 
he said: 

" 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 
over. 

" Well," he said, " if you need more when you reach 
Boston, telegraph me, and I 11 see that you get it at 
once." 

" This relieves me of much anxiety," I said. " And 
I m sure I don t know how to thank you." 



62 ME 

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 
tract. 

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 
hand. 

" Did that nigger insult you ? " he asked. 



ME 63 

I said: 

" He asked me to marry him." 

Verley snorted. 

"Anything else?" 

A lump came up stranglingly in my throat. 

" He kissed me ! " The words came with 
difficulty. 

"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 
do." 

" 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 
sentimental : 

" I don t believe we 11 ever meet again. We re just 
Little ships passing in the night. 



64 ME 

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. 



VII 

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- 

65 



66 ME 

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 
feet. 



ME 67 

" 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 



68 ME 

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 
and said: 



ME 69 

" 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 
this. 

"Just tek wan good dreenk," said the French girl; 
" then you get liddle stupid. After zat it doan mat 
ter." 

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 
do? 

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. 



70 ME 

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 
station. 



VIII 

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 

71 



72 ME 

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. 



ME 73 

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 
liked him. 

" Verley," I replied. 

" Verley ! That s a pretty name. Who s he 
named for?" 

" The young Englishman who gave him to me," I 
said. 

"I see!" 

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. 



74 ME 

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? " 

"To Richmond." 

"To Richmond!" 

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 



ME 75 

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 
House. 

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, 



76 ME 

but sat there watching me and smoking, with neither 
of us saying anything. Finally I thought to my 
self: 

" 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 ? " 

I nodded. 

" Go ahead," he said. 

I dipped into my pocket-book, and brought forth my 



ME 77 

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 
again. 

" 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 
college." 

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 



78 ME 

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 
me?" 

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 
Richmond ! 

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. 



ME 79 

"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 
to stammer: 

" No, I never spoke to any one before without an 
introduction." 

He had climbed in now and was about to take up 
the reins when Verley, at our feet, let out a long, 
wailing cry. 

" I 11 have to throw that beast out, you know," he 
said unpleasantly. 

" 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 
of money." 

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 
him. 

" You ought to be more careful to whom you speak," 
he said. " For instance, this man in particular hap- 



8o ME 

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 
mond. 

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 



ME 81 

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 



82 ME 

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 : 

" Mandy!" 

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," 
she said. 

" No, no, I won t go back to that room." 



ME 83 

" It ain t ha nted, chile," declared Mandy. 
" Oh, I know it is n t," I sobbed ; " but, O Mandy, 
I m afraid!" 



IX 

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 

84 



ME 85 

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 
secretary." 

She put out a thin little hand, which I took impetu- 



86 ME 

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 
ous night. 

* You certainly cannot realize what you are saying, 
Miss Ascough. Why should you leave a position be 
fore trying it?" 



ME 87 

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 
meals. 

" I do not understand you," said the doctor, pulling 
at his beard. " I shall be obliged if you will make 
yourself clearer." 

" I will, then," I said. " Last night you came into 
my room." 

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- 



88 ME 

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 
" Confessions." 

In ordinary circumstances the book would have held 



ME 89 

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 



9cr ME 

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 
they seem." 

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 



ME 91 

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 



92 ME 

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. 

"Yes?" 

" Mr. Hamilton, this is Miss Ascough." 

" Miss Ascough?" 

;< Yes ; I met you on the train coming from Bos 
ton." 

" 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. 



ME 93 

" 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 ! " 



X 

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. 

94 



ME 95 

" Well, what big city have you decided upon ? " 

" I don t know. You see, I know very little about 
the States." 

" 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 ? " 

I said: 

" 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 



96 ME 

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 
hundred dollars." 

"What?" 

" 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- 



ME 97 

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 
ing, child." 

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 



98 ME 

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 



ME 99 

simply as a poor little beggar whom he had be 
friended. 

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 
he said: 

" 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," 



ioo ME 

he said, " I know what I am talking about, because 
that s about all any one has ever wanted of me my 
money." 

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 
been speaking: 

" 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 said: 

" 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. 



ME 101 

" 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 
can." 

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 
again twice: 

" 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 



IO2 ME 

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 
us. 

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 
iron bar. 

" Oh, Mr. Hamilton," I cried, " I ve forgotten Ver- 
ley ! I ve forgotten my little dog ! " 



ME 103 

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 ! " 

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 
mortal. 



XI 

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 

104 



ME 105 

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 



io6 ME 

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 
her breast. 

" Are you waiting for some one? " she asked. 

" No," I answered. 

" A stranger? " was her next question. 

" Yes." 

" 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 
replied : 

" 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 



ME 107 

had Y. W. C. A. in big letters on it. I was very for 
tunate. 

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 



io8 ME 

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 
hand: 

" 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 
station. 

" 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 



ME 109 

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 

go- 
She looked up from her writing and snapped: 
" You know our rules as well as I do, Miss But 
ton." 

" 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 
secretary. 

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!" 



no ME 

The secretary shrugged then, and took my name and 
address in Quebec. Then she made out a bill, say 
ing: 

" 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 
that." 

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- 



ME in 

ing up poor little homeless girls at railway stations ! 
said : 

" 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. 



XII 

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 
a home. 

112 



ME 113 

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 



U4 ME 

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. 



ME 115 

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 



n6 ME 

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 
desires. 

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 



ME 117 

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 : 

"Hello!" 

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 



u8 ME 

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 
own. 

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 



ME 119 

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 



I2O ME 

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 
tion. 

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, 



ME 121 

but turned away, as I would not have hurt her feelings 
for worlds. 

" Hello ! " she cried as I came in. " Dead tired, 
ain t you?" 

How can a firm employ a stenographer who says 
"ain t"? 

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 
sympathetically. 

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 
at once: 

" 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 



122 ME 

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 
ghost. 

I wonder if many girls suffer from this passionate 
sensitiveness about money. Or was I exceptional? 
He has said so, and yet I wonder. 



ME 123 

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. 



XIII 

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 

124 



ME 



125 



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. 



126 ME 

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." 



ME 127 

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 



128 ME 

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 
time. 

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 
up. 

Threats, coaxings, the titterings and explosive 
laughter of the association s "honored guests" (they 
were of both sexes) fell upon deaf ears. She de- 



ME 129 

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 
Secretary. 

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 
education. 

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- 



130 ME 

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. 

She said: 

" 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- 
gown. 

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 



ME 131 

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. 



132 ME 

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 
career. 

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 
ceedingly moody. 

I told her I thought she was quite the prettiest girl 
in the place, whereupon she gave me a squeeze and 
said: 

" 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." 



ME 133 

" So they are, as far as that goes," said Lolly. 
You just go down the avenue some night and see 
for yourself." 

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 
took." 

"Well?" 

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 
mon." 

" 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. 

I nodded. 



134 ME 

Mama used to call papa that when she was angry 
with him. 

" 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- 
ingly." 

" 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 
you." 

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- 



ME 135 

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. 



136 ME 

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 
uous look. 

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. 

"Pigs hair!" 

I had never heard of such a thing, and Lolly burst 



ME 137 

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 
ment. 



XIV 

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 
ence. 

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 
mighty organization. 

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 

138 



ME 139 

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 
give work. 

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 
elsewhere. 

I asked a boy for Mr. O Brien, and he said : 

" Soap department." 



140 ME 

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 



ME 141 

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: 

"Sit down." 

I sat. 

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!" 



142 ME 

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 
get?" 

" 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 



ME 143 

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. 
Gentlemen : 

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 



144 ME 

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?" 

I nodded. 

" 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 



ME 145 

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 
stood up. 

" 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 
fiercely. 

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 
respectfully : 

" 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. 



146 ME 

" 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 



ME 147 

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 
was started. 

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- 



ME 149 

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 
Dept." 

I thought it was some instruction from O Brien, 
especially as the boy said : 

"Any answer?" 

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, 



150 ME 

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 
fair." 

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 



ME 151 

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 " 
on you. 



XV 

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 

152 



ME 153 

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 
mances. 

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 
with courtesy. 



ME 155 

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 



156 ME 

leaving most of the details of our department entirely 
to me. 

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 
thors. 

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 
one night. 

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 



ME 157 

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 



158 ME 

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 
mann. 

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 



ME 159 

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 
day. 

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 
lessness : 

" 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. 



160 ME 

"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 



ME 161 

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 
for them. 

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. 



XVI 

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 

162 



ME 163 

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. 

Dear Sir: 

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, 

NORA ASCOUGH. 

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 



164 ME 

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 
seriously. 

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 



ME 165 

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 
waist. 

" 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 
once." 

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 



ME 167 

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 
said : 

" Let him, Nora. Sometimes he makes pretty good 
guesses." 

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. 

Lolly said: 

"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 



ME 169 

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. 



XVII 

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 

170 



ME 171 

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?" 

I said: 

" Her name is Lolly Hope." 

" I mean the man." 

" He is her friend," I said. " I never met him till 
last night." 

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: 



172 ME 

"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 
your party." 

I said: 

" I did n t even see the people with you, and it 
would n t have made any difference to me who they 
were." 

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 
voice. 

" 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, 



ME 173 

but he seemed to think something extraordinary had 
happened to me, for he repeated several times: 

" Tell me everything, every detail. I want to 
know." 

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. ? " 

I nodded. 

" And you are contented to work at the Union Stock 
Yards?" 

" 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 
the yards." 

He turned sharply in his seat, and I felt him staring 
at me. 



174 ME 

" 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. 



ME 175 

" Because it would cost you money dirty money," 
I said. 

" 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 
I can." 

" 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." 

"Why not?" 

" 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. 



176 ME 

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 
see that?" 

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," 
he said. 

"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 
girl." 



ME 177 

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 
own." 

" Well, but, you see, together we can get a better 
room for less money," I explained. 



178 ME 

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." 

"Fred?" 

"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." 



ME 179 

He switched his cane with a sort of savage impa 
tience. 

" 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 
school." 

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. 



i8o ME 

" 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?" 
she inquired. 

" 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 / 



ME 181 

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 sighed. 

" I gave him a chance all right," I said mourn 
fully. 

"And nothing doing?" asked Estelle, sympathet 
ically. 

" 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 
to seventeen. 



XVIII 

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 

182 



ME 183 

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 
hypnotized me. 

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 
living thing. 

Yes, I was very unhappy. I kept at my work, doing 



ME 185 

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 
tract me. 

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 



i86 ME 

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 



ME 187 

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 : 

"Fred!" 

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 
you, Nora?" 

" O Fred," I said, " please do go home ! " 



i88 ME 

" 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 



ME 189 

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 
drinking. 

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 
the arm. 

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- 



ME 

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 
house. 

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 



ME 191 

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. 

Lolly said: 

" 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. 

We walked! 

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 
said : 

" 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 
for me." 

"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. 



192 ME 

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 
noisily. 

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. 



ME 193 

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 
once said. 

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 



194 MB 

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 



ME 195 

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 
ence there. 

Perhaps it was the whistling chatter of the birds 
that awoke Fred. He said I called to him, but he 
was mistaken. 

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 
answered. 



XIX 

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 

196 



ME 197 

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. 

I nodded. 

" Oh, yes. Fred was drunk, and he wanted me 



198 ME 

with him; so I walked with him in L Park, and 

then he fell asleep on a bench with his head on my 
lap." 

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 
less child." 

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 



ME 199 

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 



2oo ME 

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 
ciated. 

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 
this?" 

"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 
ner. 

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 
roughly : 

" 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 



202 ME 

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 
me. 

"Very well, then," he said; "you ll have to dress 
properly." 

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 



ME 203 

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. 

"Why?" 

" 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. 

I said: 

" 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 
rather shortly: 

" I can only run down here occasionally for a day 
or a few hours at a time. My affairs keep me in 
Richmond." 

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 



2O4 ME 

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 
teasingly : 

" 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 
say?" 

" Oh, did Dr. Manning give him to you? " 

He laughed. 

" Not much. He sold him to me." 

" He had no right to do that. Verley was my 
dog." 



ME 205 

" But you owed Dr. Manning for your fare from 
Boston." 

" 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 
yours" 

I caught my breath, I was so happy when he said 
that. 

" 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 
asked. 

He had put the key in the lock now. He did n t 



206 ME 

look up when he answered that, but kept twisting the 
key. 

" 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 
you?" 

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 
ished treasures. 



XX 

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 
tickets, Nora." 

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 
trusted him. 

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 

207 



208 ME 

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 



ME 209 

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." 



210 ME 

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. 

NORA. 

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 



ME 211 

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 
reckless. 

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." 



212 ME 

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 
ends meet. 

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 ! 



ME 213 

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 
porter. 

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. 



214 ME 

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 
perilous journey. 

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, 



ME 215 

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 did. 

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." 



216 ME 

" 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 
handsome self." 

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 
Fred. 

" 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 



ME 217 

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. 



XXI 

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 
previous Christmas. 

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 
me. 

218 



ME 219 

I did not think very seriously of our engagement, 
though I liked my ring, and showed it to all the girls at 
the yards. 

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 
Fred. 

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 
the door. 

I stood speechlessly staring at him for a moment, 



22O ME 

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 
again." 

He put his hand under my chin, raised my face, and 
looked at it searchingly. 

" Would it have mattered so much, then ? " he asked 
gently. 

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 
say that. 

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 



ME 221 

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 
said: 

" 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 



222 ME 

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. 



ME 223 

She did n t mind our having men callers as long as 
they went before midnight. It was nearly that now. 
He said: 

" 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 
very seriously: 

" It s just as well, anyway. We must n t get the 
habit of needing each other too much." 

I asked: 

" 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- 



224 ME 

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 
things. 

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 
bornly. 

" 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." 



ME 225 

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 
now. 

Lolly said if she were I, she wouldn t let Mr. 



226 ME 

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. 



XXII 

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, 
little girl?" 

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? " 

"What?" 

" 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 
you, anyway." 

"What?" 

227 



228 ME 

" 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 
you?" 

Yes, but I was saving it for furs and to go to New 
York." 

" 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 
and" 



ME 229 

" 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 



230 ME 

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 
shoes. 

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 
smile : 

" 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 231 

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." 



232 ME 

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. 
Hamilton." 

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. 



XXIII 

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 
rooms." 

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- 

233 



234 

ing it. As one may see, they weren t exactly the 
rooms a girl getting fifteen dollars a week could af 
ford. 

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 
tion." 

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 



ME 235 

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 
happy. 

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, 



236 ME 

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 
now! 

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- 



ME 237 

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 
girl?" 

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 
me!" 



238 ME 

", Where did you hear that word?" he demanded 
roughly. 

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? " 

I nodded. 

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." 



ME 239 

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 
with him. 

" 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 : 



240 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 
mand: 

" 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 
now." 

The last sentence slipped out before I knew it, and 



ME 241 

he sat up sharply at that, and then laughed, uncomfort 
ably. 

" 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 
tion: 

" 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 
cess." 

" 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. 



242 ME 

" 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 
cally : 



ME 243 

" 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." 

"Please!" 

" 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 



244 

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- 



ME 245 

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 
all." 

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 
through. 

"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 
sale." 

"Oh, come off, Nora! Don t try that on me. I 
know where you got those clothes. That man Hamil- 



246 ME 

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 
me!" 

" 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 
much injured: 

" 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 ! " 



XXIV 

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 
frightened geese. 

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 
Top. 

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 
after that. 

Many a time I Ve seen him glance regretfully at the 

247 



248 ME 

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 
parted. 

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- 



ME 249 

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 
ton s. 

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. 



250 ME 

Little idiot! He thought I was trying to flirt with 
him! 

" 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 
dog. 

" But, Miss Ascough, you don t mean to say you are 
leaving now ? " 

" Yes, I do mean to say it," I replied, smiling glo 
riously. 

" But surely you 11 finish the letter on the ma 
chine." 

" 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 



ME 251 

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 : 

Dear Roger: 

[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 

NORA. 

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 



252 ME 

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 
wealthy. 

Three stories, say, at fifty dollars each, made a 



ME 253 

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 
would pour. 

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. 



254 

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 
sure. 

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 



ME 255 

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 
for them. 

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 
cents. 

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 



256 ME 

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 
Lolly. 

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 
due. 

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. 



ME 257 

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, 



258 ME 

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 : 



ME 259 

" You re in trouble. Can t you tell me what is 
the matter?" 

" I ve got only ten cents in the world," I blurted 
out. 

"What!" 

" Just ten cents," I said, " and I can t get work." 

" Good heavens ! " he exclaimed. " You poor 
girl!" 

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 



260 ME 

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. 



XXV 

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 

261 



262 ME 

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 
me so. 

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 



ME 263 

" Undine," some of Barrie s stories, and Omar Khay 
yam. 

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 



264 ME 

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 
old satyr. 

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- 



ME 265 

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 
said : 

" 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 



266 ME 

he? Well, you stay in that inner room, by the door. 
Let me sec him alone here. Then you 11 see for your 
self." 

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 



ME 267 

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 
tight. 

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 : 

"Lolly out?" 

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, 



268 ME 

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, 
followed. 

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 
kill me. 

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 



ME 269 

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 
Lolly. 



XXVI 

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." 

"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 
words." 

I agreed with all her praise of Bennet, but I told her 
270 



ME 271 

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 
said: 

" 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 



272 ME 

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 



ME 273 

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 
off. 

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 
it." 

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 



274 ME 

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 
family." 



ME 275 

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 



276 ME 

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." 

I said: 

" 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," 
I said. 

" 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 
ment." 

Roger said: 

" 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 



ME 277 

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 



278 ME 

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 : 

" No." 

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 



ME 279 

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 
hand. 

" 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." 



XXVII 

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 
going. 

280 



ME 281 

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 
slowly. 

" 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 
happened." 

He stirred uneasily at that, and then, after a mo 
ment, he said: 



282 ME 

" 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 
pearl necklace. 

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 



ME 283 

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 
give me. 

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 
that. 

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 
me." 

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 



284 ME 

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 
said: 

" 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." 



ME 285 

" 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 
do?" 

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. 



286 ME 

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. 



XXVIII 

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, 

287 



288 ME 

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 
liaisons " 

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 
ing. 

" Are you still angry with me for nothing, Roger? " 
I asked. 

" Was this fellow Lawrence in love with you, too ? " 

I nodded. 



ME 289 

" 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 ? " 

I nodded. 

" You hear from him? " 

" Yes." 

" 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. 

I nodded. 

" 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 
is." 

" 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. 

"Well?" 



290 ME 

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 
again. 

Finally, thoroughly exasperated, I turned on him 
and said: 

" You have no right to question or accuse me like 
this. No man has that right unless I specially give it 
to him." 

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 
world." 

" Well, suppose I admit that. Suppose I were to 



ME 291 

tell you that I do love you, what would you want then, 
Nora?" 

" 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 
now." 

" 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 
little sleigh-ride?" 

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- 



292 ME 

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 
it. 

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 
us cared. 



XXIX 

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, 
indeed. 

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 
never poetry. 

293 



294 

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 



ME 295 

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 
me. 

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 



296 ME 

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- 
net. 

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 



ME 297 

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 
derful girl." 

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 



298 ME 

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. 



ME 299 

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 
policy. 

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 



300 ME 

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 
edly erupt. 

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 



ME 301 

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. 



XXX 

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! 

302 



ME 303 

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: 



304 ME 

" 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?" 

I said: 

"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 



ME 305 

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 



306 ME 

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 
did." 

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 



ME 307 

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." 

"Where?" 

" 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 
I said: 



308 ME 

" Roger, do you mean that we are going to be mar 
ried?" 

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 
me yourself." 

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 
ment?" 

"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- 



ME 309 

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 
instance? " 

" Why, naturally. That s a foolish question, 
Nora." 

" 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 



310 ME 

once and for all that that is absolutely out of the ques 
tion. I m not going to marry you. In fact, I 
can t." 

"Why?" 

" 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 



ME 311 

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 



312 ME 

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. 



XXXI 

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, 

313 



314 ME 

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 
did. 

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 



ME 315 

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 
went down-stairs. 

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 
abruptly : 

" 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 
it off." 



316 ME 

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 
Bennet?" 

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. 

"Why?" 

" 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 
rooms." 

" It would do no good." 



ME 317 

" 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? " 

I nodded. 

" 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. 



3i8 ME 

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 



ME 319 

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 ! 



320 



ME 



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 : 

" Naturally." 

" 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 
them. 

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 



ME 321 

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. 



322 ME 

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 
along otherwise. 

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 
script. 

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 



ME 323 

prophetic feeling that my mine would be of my own 
creating. 

I now had to revise and type-write my story, no 
light task. 

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 
" arrived." 

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 



ME 



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 
artists studios. 

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." 



ME 325 

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 
stage?" 

I replied that I had not. 

She regarded me speculatively a moment, and then 
said: 

" There are worse-looking girls than you in the 
choruses." 



326 ME 

I told her I could sing a little. Whereupon she 
said: 

" 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 



ME 327 

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 



328 ME 

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 
said: 

" 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 
private quarters. 



XXXII 

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 
329 



330 



ME 



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 
and slippers. 

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 
my work. 

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. 



ME 331 

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. 

ROGER. 

Stay in bed! I never felt better in my life. I had 
my stew, and then I went up-stairs and finished copying 
my novel. 

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 



332 



ME 



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 
covered. 

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 
his arms. 

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 



ME 333 

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 
the earth. 

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. 



334 ME 

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 
last." 

He burst out laughing and said: 

"Trapped! Help!" 

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 



ME 335 

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 



336 ME 

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 



ME 337 

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, 
Roger." 

" 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." 



33 ME 

" 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 
kiss me." 

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 



ME 339 

he was trying to release himself from my hands. He 
said: 

" 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 
out. 

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 
you, darling." 

Then he kissed me again, opened the door, and 
turned me back. 



340 



ME 



" 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. 



XXXIII 

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. 

34i 



342 ME 

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 
world. 

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 
said: 

" I m Miss Ascough. Can t I take a message ? " he 
replied : 

" 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 
calling. 

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 343 

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 
alike. 

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 



344 ME 

were fond, and which I made better than any one else. 
However, I burned the spaghetti, let it go dry, and 
mama said: 

" You re a nice cook, with your mind away off in 
Richmond." 

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 
cooking. 

" 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 
you, Mama?" 

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 
jumped. 



ME 345 

" For heavens sake ! don t talk about that man ! " she 
said. 

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 
kitchen. 

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 



346 ME 

probably prevented their delivery. I said I did n t 
mind running out to the nearest newsstand, but she 
said: 

" 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 
train. 

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; 



ME 347 

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 
end this." 

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, 



348 ME 

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 - 
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 



ME 349 

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 
loved. 

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 



350 



ME 



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 
Canada. 

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 



ME 351 

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? " 

Ruin ! 

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. 



352 



ME 



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? " 



ME 353 

" 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 



354 



ME 



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 
Lolly said: 

" Did you know that Marshall Chambers is married ? 
He married a rich society girl a girl of his own class, 
Nora." 

" 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 
over me. 

" Listen to me," she said. " I ll tell you what you 



ME 355 

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 
asked her. 

" 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 
remembered. 

" I have no money." 

She dipped into her stocking, and brought up a little 
roll. 

" 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. 



356 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 
train." 

" 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. 



THE END 



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