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The WINE of 
ASTONISHMENT 



The WINE of 
ASTONISHMENT 



MABY HASTINGS BRADLE Y 

i 01 "nil mjutniD cratca," "™» ruics or ui»m wo 



D. APPLETON AND COMPANY 

NEW YOBK LONDON 

1919 

44 



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Copyright, 1919, by 
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY 



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Printed in the United States of America 



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To 

Mt Gbandmotheb 



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CONTENTS 


FAO» 


I 


Forbidden Fruit . 


1 


II 


The Strange Woman . 


10 


III 


Flight 


. 24 


IV 


The God of His Fathers . 


. 28 


V 


The Invasion . 


42 


VI 


The Spring .... 


. 54 


VII 


A Secret Matter '• 


. 65 


VIII 


In Chicago . 


. 70 


IX 


Bygones 


. 76 


X 


Christopher Declares Himself . 


. 80 


XI 


Consequences 


87 


XII 


By the Lake .... 


. 97 


XIII 


The Debutante . 


. 103 


XIV 


The Last Sands . 


. 114 


XV 


Against Odds . 


. 121 


XVI 


Confidences • x . 


. 135 


XVII 


That Night . 


. 141 


XVIII 


Afterwards • 


. 145 


XIX 


The Awakening * . • 


. 157 


XX 


Out of the Past • 


. 169 


XXI 


The Wedding Day . 


176 


XXII 


After Five Years • 


. 178 



Vll 



SHAFTS 


CONTENTS 




PAGB 


XXIII 


Romance Resurgent . 


• • 


. 186 


XXIV 


Mrs. Ogden Receives . 


• • 


• 193 


XXV 








XXVI 








XXVII 








XXVIII 


Muriel Announces 


• • 


. 219 


XXIX 


Evelyn Makes Up Hei 


i Mind 


• 222 


XXX 








XXXI 








XXXII 


Comparisons 


• • 


. 244 


XXXIII 


Jim Goes to Dinner . 


• • 


• 254 


XXXIV 


The Clarkes Decide . 


• • 


. 265 


XXXV 


In Khaki 


» • • 


. 275 


XXXVI 


At the Front 


* * 


. 280 


XXXVII 


A Friend Indeed « 


• • 


. 284 


XXXVIII 


Paris and a Puritan « 


• «■ 


• 294 


XXXIX 


Journey's End . 


• • 


. 305 



viii 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



CHAPTER I 

FORBIDDEN FRUIT 

From the shadows of the front room he flung his an- 
nouncement at them, distrusting the clear light of 
scrutiny. His excitement possessed him too visibly. It 
rang out under the deceptive casualness of his young 
voice. 

He was on fire to be off to his adventure. He felt 
himself a man, an explorer, a free lance. It was mad- 
dening to have to thrust his head into the family living 
room and tell his parents that he was going over to 
Henry's for all night. 

And parents are not too easily satisfied. His father 
merely glanced up from the inevitable book, but his 
mother put down her magazine and told him to come in. 

He came with reluctance, a tall, high-shouldered boy 
of eighteen with gray eyes that looked dark under their 
black lashes and dark hair at war with the flat rigors of 
its youthful mode. Every step he took into the room 
made him less the man and adventurer until only a boy 
stood before his mother, impatiently apprehensive of 
adult curiosity and restriction. 

His mother merely told him not to be late for church 
in the morning. If he must stay with friends all night 
she wanted him home next day in season. What were 
they going to do? Nothing in particular? . . . Her 

i 



j ■> ' 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



eyes, lingering on him in their fondness, discerned a 
marvelous neatness and swift suspicion leaped to speech* 

"Jimmie, you're not going with those Moran girls ?" 

"Oh, Fm not going to see Daisy Moran," he returned 
hastily, "but there's no reason for you to be so down 
on Daisy, mother. Just because a girl has a little 
life " 

"She is not your kind, Jimmie, and you know it.'* 
Mrs. Clarke spoke from the strong conviction that never 
feared a statement. "And how you can enjoy a girl 
that's so " 

But this evening her son did not pick up the gage. 

"I'm not going to see her," he repeated reassuringly. 
"Good-night," and already he was withdrawn from the 
glow of the center-table lamp. 

"Aren't you going to say good-night?" asked his 
mother in the tone that drew him, as it had drawn him 
since he was a little child, to receive her good-night kiss. 
It fell upon his cheek; he dropped a hasty response in 
the parting of her hair. 

Then with a nod to his father, "Good-night," he re- 
peated, his voice rising on the note of exultant escape, 
and he was out of the room and through the front parlor, 
and the successive hangings of the vestibule and the 
front door proclaimed that he was away. 



"Jim's so offish, sometimes," said his mother, out of 
the hurt that mothers feel when their young are so ready 
to leave them. 

Robert Clarke did not raise his eyes from his book. 
He was a spare man, high-shouldered and a little stooped, 
white of skin and austere of feature. His smile was dry 
but kindly, and he had the uncommunicative air of a 

2 



• • 






FORBIDDEN FRUIT 



man in the house with expansive women. His eyes were 
of that liquid gray from which his son's had drawn 
their color; his hair was black but thinned, and he had 
the bony, intellectual nose which completed his likeness 
to the portrait of a Colonial ancestor over his head. But 
his face had a restraint the painter had not depicted in 
the flashing mien and untrammeled air of the Judge. 
The descendant's orbit had not extended to the Bench 
and the Courthouse; Robert Clarke taught English and 
history in a high school. 

"It's just a phase — a phase of boyhood," he murmured. 
"Growing up — ashamed to show his feelings " 



He was used to making these effortless remarks while 
keeping his eyes on the delighting page. 

Mrs. Clarke looked absently at her magazine. 

"As for that Daisy Moran," she brought out in unre- 
linquished disapproval, "she's a common little thing, 
smart and vulgar. I watched her in that play and I was 
disgusted — she really tried to get Jimmie to kiss her in 
those love scenes. I don't think the school ought to give 
such plays — or else they should be careful who acts in 
them. A girl like that wouldn't have been known when 
I was young. . . . But then, the West Side has changed 



SO. 



She sighed. Those words had been coming oftener 
and oftener the past ten years and for the last five the 
sigh had followed. 

"I know." Robert Clarke voiced his own sense of 
loss. Then he added more cheeringly, "But the girl's 
no great harm. Jim sees through her. . . . And he'll be 
out of it in the fall when he goes to college." 

This time Elizabeth Clarke's sigh was heavier. A sad 
consolation for the destruction of her earlier environ- 
ment — that her son would soon be out of it ! 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

Outside the Clarke door three boyish figures linked 
themselves to Jim, and the quartet went striding down 
the boulevard. 

It was an old Chicago boulevard which had known 
its high watermark of fashion a generation ago, and the 
ebb of the tide, at first unperceived by some dwellers 
but rapidly increasing, was painfully apparent now in 
the shells of the old homes, monumental residences of 
a certain splendor, left stranded and drained, and exist- 
ing only as secondary shelters, as clubs and hospitals and, 
alas I as student boarding houses. \ 

But other homes remained, solid, substantial places 
of well-kept lawns and excellently curtained windows 
and scrupulously whitened steps, where at the stone 
curb a little iron negro boy was apt to be found for the 
tethering of such equipages as did not boast a coachman. 
For even in 1903 on the West Side of Chicago, the older 
residents preferred to maintain their horses and carriages 
and concede the newer motor car to the eldest son — if he 
were persistent. 

Each year, now, those old homes were fewer in num- 
ber and those remaining had the air of standing together 
and shaking their heads over fresh withdrawals. It was 
all very well, they seemed to say, for fashion to depart 
with her tinsel skirts, but when real families went, and 
;worth and breeding and nice, church-going, dependable 
neighbors, then affairs were in a bad way indeed ! 

And every year each family talked about moving. 
Every year a fresh reason was added, as the Elevated, 
which nearly a decade before had thrust its iron snout 
between stone facades, increased its clangors, and board- 
ing houses multiplied, and milliners and modistes insinu- 
ated their signs, and the flood of business from down 
town streets encroached nearer and nearer until the 



FORBIDDEN FRUIT 



smoke of factories settled blackly upon the linens drying 
in the grassy backyards and on the faces of the residents. 

Every year the Clarkes talked — but there was always 
the house. 

The Clarke house was one of a row of monotonous 
white stone fronts that acquired distinction through sheer 
force of character and indomitable conformity, narrow- 
windowed, flat-visaged, with a long flight of doorsteps 
and an English basement where once an incredible archi- 
tecture had implanted a dining room. 

It had once been the Colton house, the home of Eliza- 
beth's parents, and Robert Clarke had acquired it with 
his wife, together with the perpetual sojourn of his 
wife's widowed sister, Callista Cam 

From having been a delighting possession the house 
had become an iron-fisted possessor, retaining them to 
enforced occupancy in the certainty of its running down 
if rented, and the uncertainty of selling it at any resem- 
blance to its cost. When it was sold the Clarkes ex- 
pected to move to a suburb still further west, where 
former neighbors were agreeably represented, but until it 
was disposed of it held them as crustaceans in a shell. 

So they continued old West Siders and laughed about 
the backyard of Chicago, and watched the name plates 
being unscrewed from old black walnut doors and felt 
their civilization, which had been a very flourishing piece 
of transplanted New England, bewilderedly disintegrat- 
ing as democracy elbowed in upon them in the persons 
of successful plumbers and printers and undertakers — 
and each year democracy appeared less desirable and 
intimidated and more rich and indifferent and careless. 

It was a son of this democracy that went swinging 
down the boulevard that evening with young Clarke, 

5 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



Arno Rolff, the son of a rich German manufacturer — 
the Rolff s had the old dandier place and had added a 
garage — and on the other side of him was Mark Jackson, 
a medical student who boarded near the Rolffs, and on 
the other side of Jimmie Clark went Henry Carpenter, 
old Judge Carpenter's youngest boy. 

Hurriedly the four climbed to the Elevated, looking 
about with exaggerated care to see if they were recog- 
nized, then piling with noisy relief into the half empty 
car. Now they could feel themselves on the way. 

An adventure was in the wind, an adventure utterly 
incredible, exciting. An excursion into forbidden realms. 
They were going to see life. 

That is how the medical student phrased it. They 
were going to see the life. 

They were just going to look on. Everybody did that. 
It was a regular experience, recognized among bold 
spirits. Jackson, the student, had been before, and 
undertook to pilot them safely about. They would go 
into a few places to look on and see what it was like 
and know for themselves the pitfalls of the city that the 
newspapers made so much of. 

The plan had all grown, balloon-like, out of a few 
words of comment and suggestion the other afternoon. 
But the curiosity behind it had been growing for a 
longer time. 

To Jimmie Clarke it was an unbelievable performance. 
He knew very little about the city except his parents' 
orbit, and he knew less about life, but his ignorance and 
his eagerness and all the insatiable, fresh, naive boy-stuff 
of him thrilled to wild surmise and dazzled conjecture. 

He had vague ideas of an awful luxury, of expensive 
motor cars rolling up to mysterious gateways and dark 
carriages bearing veiled figures to secret entrances, of a 



FORBIDDEN FRUIT 



Mardi Gras of streets and lights and carnival, and rich 
windows from which bad, beautiful faces flashed. 

Odd gleamings from a wide and adventurous reading 
were dancing through the background of his mind. 
From the Vie de Bo heme Mimi and Musette flung their 
laughter, and from the sensational stories of the daily 
papers a maze of lurid, intriguing references colored his 
imaginings. 

He was intensely excited at the thought of penetrating 
these shocking regions for himself. And excitement 
silenced him, just as infallibly as it incited Henry Car- 
penter to nervous volubility, so in an outward quiet he 
listened to his companions' chatter, as they leaned for- 
ward, their heads together at the open window, the rush 
of the wind rumpling their hair. 

He liked this flight on the Elevated through the 
darkness above the city ; there was a dash to it that met 
his spirit. It suited the flight of adventure. 

At night the city was glamorous. It was beautiful — 
although he did not know that it was beauty to which 
he was responding. The darkness hid its enormities 
and from its outflung, sprawling grotesqueness he caught 
only the glimmer of innumerable yellow street lamps, 
merging in long blurred rays, like phosphorescent fingers. 

It was April and the darkness was scented, even 
through the dusty acridity of smoke, with intimations of 
growing things, of warm, wet earth and the stirring of 
spring flavors. 

At the river he thrust out his head. Black against the 
gray night air the water lay like a gash between the 
shadowy, high-piled warehouses, hedged with vague 
blots of wide barges and stout tugs, and here and there 
in the still blackness of the water the gleam of a red 

7 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



or green light thrown down by the twinkling lanterns 
of some steamer. 

The next moment brought the springing brilliance of 
electric signs which routed the gray spell of the river 
and sprayed the night with commercial stars. 

Then the river was gone and the night lifted as they 
neared the down town streets, wide, light-splashed, glit- 
tering with glass show cases, and here they changed cars 
and were off further south, closing upon the haunt of 
the adventure. 

At *a significant corner Jackson signaled and the four 
hurried off self-consciously but pricked with nervous 
elation. Briskly their guide walked ahead. It had been 
raining earlier and the side walks were still wet and a 
hazy blur hung in the dampness over the street lamps. 

At a corner the medical student paused. "Well, fel- 
lows, we're here, all right." 

Blankly Jim stared about him. His common sense had 
instinctively discounted the glitter of his vague imagin- 
ings, but he had certainly expected glamor and luxury, 
glimpses of a vice that was gilded and dazzling and en- 
ticing, of rich carriages and reckless merry makers and 
bad, bright, peeping faces. 

This was a tawdry street of mean drinking places and 
blank- faced houses. From the dark doorways a red light 
burned dimly above the vestibule glass. From the swing- 
ing doors of saloons a splash of light rolled out on the 
wet sidewalks, with the odor of beer and the jangling of 
cheap pianos and raucous voices in a popular refrain. 

A couple of whiskey-soaked bums were navigating 
about them with curious glances. 

Defiantly Jackson combated the commentless silence. 

"They're fixed up swell inside. You never can tell 

8 



FORBIDDEN FRUIT 



from the outside. A cleaner told me he got three hun- 
dred a month from one of those places and that was 
nothing to the business some others had. . . . It's so 
early, yet — that's why there are so few out. We might 
have gone to a show first." 

He added, as they made themselves into a long line 
across the sidewalk, strolling onward, "Of course these 
aren't the rich ones. Those come high — and are private, 
like clubs." 

In detail he recounted the shooting of the son of a 
merchant prince in one such place. He added a dramatic 
confronting of a father and a kidnapped daughter in 
another, and mentioned a third place that was celebrated 
for the costumes of its denizens at the yearly ball of the 
half world. He repeated the sums that certain aldermen 
were reputed to have made from those balls. 

It was amazing, the number of things he told them. 
He was astonishingly informed. From a small town in 
the state, Jackson had come to the city but a year before, 
yet in that year he had absorbed more of its dark pages 
than these boys, Chicago born and bred, had known in 
all their lives. 

He treated the city as a spectacle. The boys were 
immensely impressed. And Jimmie Clarke was ashamed 
of his dashed expectations. He saw that he had been a 
fool. Curiosity revived. This was the real thing. . . . 
This was the raw stuff of life. . . . 

Jackson paused before a commonplace door with the 
red light over the glass. He scrutinized the number, 
then announced, "This is a place for a starter," and 
rang the bell. 

The three boys waited beside him in conscious em- 
barrassment, trying to appear at nonchalant ease. 



CHAPTER II 

THE STRANGE WOMAN 

A negress admitted them. From the curtains at the 
left of the hall a stout, white-fleshed woman appeared, 
with bovine cheeks, baby dimples, hay-colored hair and 
a stare of blue eyes like stone beads. She wore a 
spangled evening gown that flashed on them as luxury. 

"We just came in to meet the girls — and have some- 
thing to drink," Jackson announced in an offhand man- 
ner, and on the woman's invitation he followed her into 
the parlors, the three others filing after, feeling them- 
selves dumb sheep. 

Jim was having a panicky feeling of wishing himself 
well out of this mess. Even the evening dress did not 
lift the wet blanket of his mood, and the prickles of 
guilty adventure in his daring became a chilling goose 
flesh at the appalling reality of his presence there. 

Impossible that little over an hour ago he had kissed 
his mother good-night ! 

But he determined passionately to see the thing through 
without giving himself away. 

"We'll have some of the girls down," the woman was 
saying, "and Lil will bring up some bottles. What do 
you want to make it boys, — fizz ?" 

"Nothing doing. Beer," said Jackson, boldly enough, 
but a feeling of cheapness stole over the group, although 
the woman called, "Beer, Lil," pleasantly enough. 

In the moment of waiting Jackson addressed her again. 

"I was here once when you had a girl dance ?" 

10 



THE STRANGE WOMAN 



"Sure, I remember you, dearie. You want some more 
of that Little Egypt stuff? That girl is a real dancer, 
all right. And stuck on herself ! I got to pay her five 
dollars every time she stretches a muscle." 

"You tell her to come down and dance two dollars' 
worth — we just want a sample," Jackson grinned back 
at her. There was a likable impudence about him and 
the woman returned the smile, but without surrender. 

"It's worth a dollar apiece, anyway." 

Rolff ventured to take a hand. "I'll bet it is," he said, 
keeping his voice down to its lowest and manliest. "Let's 
have her." 

The curtains parted over a flash of color and the 
girls were there, advancing upon them, splotches of red 
and yellow in their brilliant kimonos, rouged, black- 
lashed, smiling, hands outstretched. 

"Hello, boys, hello. How are you ?" 

It seemed the custom to assume previous acquaintance. 
Jim heard himself constrainedly murmuring, "Hello — 
hello " 

He could not look in the face of the girl who came up 
to him. 

"Yes — ho — yes," he managed agonizingly to reply to 
her speeches. Her voice was very childish, flat and 
sweet. He knew she had a bracelet with blue stones 
on her arm. Her face he never saw. 

But when the dancer came on, when the curtains in 
the back parted and on a raised stage a girl laced with 
jewelry, hung with scant bead fringes, went through the 
writhing contortions of what the street deemed a desert 
dance, he gave himself up to gazing with the rest, pro- 
tected by the general absorption. He was fascinated 
and repelled. The sheer physical trick of it interested 
him. It no more appealed to him as an alluring per- 
il 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

formance than sea-sickness. But it was terribly queer 
and well done. It was a show, and as at a show he could 
be inconspicuous and intent. 

It was not long. The lights went out. The curtains 
drew together. The negress brought the beer which 
Jackson was paying for at a dollar a bottle — he had 
previously paid his four dollars before the girl danced 
— and everybody had a glass. 

Before more could be ordered Jackson stood up. "We 
must be off." 

"What's your hurry ? Weren't the girls nice to you ?" 

"We've got a date." 

"Come off " 

"And we are just sightseers " 

Shamefaced, as if feeling themselves disappointing and 
ridiculous, the boys drew together and slipped out into 
the hall. One of the girls turned on her heel with a 
laugh. Jim was aware that the little girl — the girl whose 
face he never saw — hovered near him in his awkward 
withdrawal. 

There was a chorusing volley of farewells. 

f Good-night, boys- 

'Come again. 1 

f See you later. 3 

They were out the door. 

Once on the sidewalk they faced each other. "Well, 
that was all right, wasn't it?" Jackson demanded in the 
showman's triumph. "Wasn't that girl a wonder — that 
dancer, you know? But four dollars — say, she never 
saw a single iron man of it. The Madam pinches it all 
— the girls are always in debt to her." 

Expounding his knowledge, he led the way down the 
street and paused, consulting his address book, before 

12 



THE STRANGE WOMAN 



« 
ti 



a shabby stone house with the furtive air of an old 
residence fallen on dissolute days. 

Well, shall we try this?" their guide demanded. 
This is one of the worst. The girls are all young here 
and perfect devils. Shall we try it out?" 

Again like sheep they trailed in after him, this time up 
a stair into a long, narrow room, once the dining room 
of a family of pretensions. Now it was adorned with 
huge oil paintings of classic freedom, while draperies of 
red smothered the remaining wall space, and the glow of 
color, the gilded cornices, and the huge chandeliers of 
glittering prisms made an appearance of revelry more in 
keeping with Jim's expectations. 

He summoned the boldness to look about him, even — 
so swiftly does human nature respond to the demands 
upon it! — to stare hardily at the door through which 
these new apparitions were expected to enter. But when 
the girls came — the blood went to his face at first sight 
of those young things in their tissue transparencies. It 
went to his face, his ears, his neck, and burned there 
with a scalding fury that enraged him. He felt that he 
could not raise his eyes again — but raise them he did. 

The girls were young, as Jackson had said, painted, 
immature, soiled, sorry little things, flaunting their un- 
speakable degradation with mock joyousness, with shrill, 
outrageous, defiant mirth. 

It was horrible, but it was exciting. What things there 
were in the world ! What hidden, hideous, yet amazing 
things ! It was a fantastic spectacle to the boy on which 
his curiosity avidly fed, like some awakened beast at 
a foul stream, even while the other elements of him 
shrank and sickened. 

He never remembered how they escaped from that 
house. There was a confused bundling forth and an 

13 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



emergence into free air which snapped the bond of that 
scarifying nightmare, even while it refilled them with 
that belittling sense of their youth and their triviality. 

"Sorry you don't like us/' a pert little thing shrilled 
after them. 

Her voice had the sharp pleasantry of Daisy Moran. 
It was horrible to Jim that it should be like anything 
he knew, that this strange, painted phantasm should have 
any resemblance, however remote, to reality. 

"I told you, didn't I?" Jackson exultantly demanded. 
"Well, what do you think of that ?" 

Eagerly Henry Carpenter offered a remark with an 
air of worldly wisdom that Jim found ridiculous. As if 
Henry were a connoisseur ! As if these hours had aged 
him to discernment! He preferred Rolff's more cold- 
blooded, "Most of them were dagoes, did you get that? 
Regular Neapolitan picnic." 

For himself he guarded his stupefaction in silence. 

Now they rambled down the streets at random, staring 
here and staring there, watching the passers-by with 
curious eyes. They saw shambling workmen and 
meager youths and groups of flashily dressed sports who 
had obviously been drinking, and hovering, rouged girls, 
arm in arm, like linked piratical craft, and in the back- 
ground of the shadows lurked an occasional stray figure, 
a solitary girl, not always too young, or a shifty-eyed 
young man in loud checks, staring out under a low-pulled 
derby with lidded eyes like a buzzard's for its meat 

From one doorway the boys were waved back by an 
hilarious party just up the stairs ahead of them, announc- 
ing that the place was sold out for the night, and the 
sight-seers strolled aimlessly on to the next corner where 
they came to an irresolute pause and gazed expectantly 
at Jackson. 

14 



THE STRANGE WOMAN 



He looked about him, considering. "Shall we go in 
the back rooms here? We can look on, you know, and 
buy the girls a drink — they always have girls to get you 
to drink " 

Jim found himself looking at Henry Carpenter and 
Henry Carpenter looking at him. Neither boy was pre- 
pared for this, and both faces expressed the same in- 
voluntary sense of shock. 

A saloon was something very definite upon the West 
Side. It was conceded to workingmen but it was con- 
sidered appropriated by the devil. The places carried 
a stigma that these houses did not possess to the boys' 
consciousness, for these places were beyond all code 
and all relation to reality while a saloon was a very 
well-known thing indeed. For a gentleman, however 
upright in his conduct or liberal in his views, to have 
been seen entering a saloon would be to incur a total 
loss of caste, comparable to a Brahmin defiled. So 
thoroughly had the Sunday School done its work that it 
would have been a burning disgrace to Jim's childhood 
if his father could have been accused of having entered 
such a place. The danger to his own record flashed dis- 
concertingly now across Jim's mind. It was conceivable 
that he might be asked some day about saloons, but it 
was beyond the rim of conception that any one would 
ever ask him if he had entered a house ! 

"Gee, not in a saloon!" he blurted out, impulsively. 

"Well, why not? What's the matter with a saloon?" 
Jackson challenged in instant mockery. 

"It's dirty," he muttered sheepishly, and Arno came 
unconsciously to his aid with a critical, "It's too cheap 
a place. Let's go where there's some music and dancing. 
Do you know of any halls ?" 

Jackson knew of several and proceeded to find one. 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

The entrance was beside a saloon and from the lighted 
windows they could see that the dancing was over it 
but this was another matter than filing through that 
damning swing door itself. And Jim was already 
flushed at his protest. Henry's knowing eyes were glee- 
fully accusing him of having been "stumped." 

The dance hall was a barn of a room, a hot, dusty, 
airless place with a swarthy orchestra banging and blar- 
ing its brasses, and closely clasped couples whirling like 
mad dervishes in the waltz and hopping like kangaroos 
in the two step. It was pandemonium ; choking, breath- 
less, reeling pandemonium. 

"Just ask any one you like and can get to dance with 
you," Jackson instructed. Indeed, the tickets, which 
they had bought at one door and surrendered at another, 
bore the announcement of being an introduction to any 
lady present. "But you have to buy your partner a 
drink," he continued. "She gets a rakeoff on the 
drinks. Better stick to beer, boys, or have a ginger ale 
if you are afraid of getting soused." 

The boys grinned. Something curiously flattering in 
the thought that one might get soused! Jim, to whom 
prohibition was a household word, wondered how much 
he could take of this beer stuff and be safe. Arno was 
probably used to it at home; he couldn't go by him. 
He was all right, himself, so far, only his head felt a 
little heavy and his blood felt warm. He wondered if 
it would give him that fatal taste for liquor that his 
Sunday School had described. He wished his father had 
told him more about it. His father had always been 
a man of temperance, but an occasional user of spirits ; 
he had become a prohibitionist by marriage. Jim sus- 

16 



THE STRANGE WOMAN 



pected his father of a greater freedom of ideas than he 
expressed. 

He had refused to permit Jim to take the pledge. 
Henry had taken it, and here Henry had been grinning 
like a monkey over his glass ! 

The man at the piano was lifting his voice in the re- 
frain that his crashing hands beat out upon the keys : 

"Yip I addy, I aye, I aye, 
Yip I addy I aye! 
I don't care what becomes of me 
When you play me that sweet melody- 
Yip I addy I aye!" 

The barbaric rhythm of it caught them and stirred 
them. Their shoulders began to sway, their voices to 
hum. Boldly they waved back at a tousled-haired little 
girl who went spinning by like a top in her partner's 
arms. 

"Well, shall we stick around a while?" Jackson de- 
manded in tones of sharpening excitement. 

"It looks good to me — stick as long as you like," Arno 
gave gaily back, his confident, light-blue eyes fixing upon 
a girl in a black net gown with a scarlet rose in her 
high-piled hair. "Say, Ijow do you know that we can get 
the girls away from those fellows ?" 

"Oh, lots of the fellows are working here, running 
the place and all. They just dance with the girls till 
some one else comes along." Jackson added other clari- 
fying words as to the status of the fillers-in. "How are 
you, boys?" He turned suddenly to the other two. 
"Want to go home?" 

He was laughing at them. Henry grinned amiably 
enough but Jim flushed and drew himself up. 

"I haven't said so, have I?" he retorted, with an un- 
reasonable anger running through him. 

17 






THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



"Oh, all right, all right. Only I didn't know but that 
this was too much of a saloon." Jackson nodded mali- 
ciously at the open bar discernible at one side of the 
room. Henry sniggered but Jim's flush deepened. 

'Well, there's something doing here," he gave back. 

'You bet there's something doing. Well, we'll stick 
around then. But we stick together — eh, boys ?" 

"We stick together," they echoed, avoiding each other's 
eyes to maintain the scandalous pretense that it was 
conceivable that they should not stick together. 

Partners came streaming out to them, the girl in black 
for the compelling Arno, a fattish blonde for Jackson, 
and for Henry and Jim, lounging nervously by the door- 
way, two little creatures that seemed less ornate and 
intimidating than the others. 

Indeed, Henry's acquisition was so very young, with a 
huge black bow wobbling on her thin neck that Jim 
whispered, "Cash girl !" derisively into Henry's reddening 
ear, as he swung out on the floor with his own partner. 
He felt suddenly at ease in this ; these girls weren't any- 
thing to frighten a fellow. He was a good dancer, 
although he had scorned to learn until the last year, and 
he gave himself to the wild rhythm with a savage energy. 

The girl danced well, too, although she clasped him so 
closely that he felt smothered and impeded. The music 
was furious ; the place was hot as an oven ; his clothing 
stuck to him, his lungs filled with beer and scent and 
the dust of scuffling feet. He would have realized his 
disgust but for the sustaining thrill that this was a hall 
of wickedness, a place of inconceivable wildness, and 
that these girls, this very young creature in his arms 
whose thin shoulder blades he felt working so wildly 

18 



THE STRANGE WOMAN 



under his gripping hand, was a lost soul, a reckless 
daughter of the underworld. 

She didn't look like a very lurid member of it. She 
wore a black walking skirt and a cerise pink waist, very 
much what little Lottie Goldberg wore at the school 
dances, and a huge cerise ribbon bow at the back of her 
neck appeared her only finery. 

She had dark hair, very crinkly, and a white skin with 
a smooth pink in the cheeks, and very dark, bright little 
eyes laughing up at him. 

She laughed incessantly. Whatever he said, whatever, 
random words he uttered about the crowd or the music 
or the dust brought the same answering little giggle, 
spilling over from reddened lips left slackly apart. 

A blare of music sent them skipping down the hall and 
he brought up with a muscular whirl, conscious that his 
coat was sticking to his shoulder blades and that moisture 
was standing on his forehead. 

"Gosh, it's hot!" he ejaculated. 

The girl giggled. "Whadya care, so long's there's 
music ? Gee, I could dance on a furnace ! . . . But you 
can get something cold in a minute." 

"Why don't they open a window or something?" 

"They'd rather you opened something else." 

The boy laughed with her. "Oh, that's it, is it ?" 

"Didn't you know? . . . Say, I never saw you here 
before." 

"No, I didn't know that you were here." 

She was as easy to jolly, Jim reflected, as a school 
girl. He felt rather conquering and careless but not 
particularly enchanted. This was no gay Mimi, no 
bewitching Musette. He doubted her deviltry. She 
was probably just after a good time. . . . 

In the wait between dances — and the dances were short 

19 



V 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

and the waits long — three of the boys gathered at the 
same table. Jackson held aloof, regaling his blonde in the 
embrasure of a window. Jim bought his partner a com- 
plicated drink and ordered a beer for himself. He was 
so thirsty that he longed for water but his savage pride 
restrained him. He felt very blase and initiated now, 
and he jollied the girl about her dancing in a very off- 
hand way. 

Hi9 satisfaction stiffened as he saw Arno's covert 
interest in the girl. The young German was staring 
rather hard at her crinkly black hair and her white skin 
and her dark, twinkling eyes, and at the recommencement 
of the music he suddenly suggested that they change 
partners for the dance. 

"Like fun," said Jim in lordly monopoly, and carried 
her off, leaving Anjo to the jealousy of the siren with 
the red rose, a jealousy he appeared swift in assuaging 
for they were dancing in an ardent clasp when Jim and 
his girl circled by. 

The little girl was squeezing Jim's arm. 

"Say, you don't hate me, do you?" she whispered glee- 
fully. 

"Rather not !" Jim grinned back. 

"Didn't he have the nerve — as if I'd go with him !" 

"Wouldn't you, though?" 

"Not when I could have you, sweetheart." 

It was as easy as battledore and shuttlecock. And 
about as insipid. Yet he felt that he was carrying the 
adventure off well and cutting a manly figure. 

He danced with the girl for some time, not returning 
to the table where they had first gathered, and he noticed 
amusedly that the other boys were all holding aloof, in the 
same play of absorption. Yet he'd bet that they weren't 
having any better time than he was — nor as good! As 

20 



THE STRANGE WOMAN 



for the other fellows in that dance hall, he thought they 
were a pretty poor lot. Most of them were just kids, 
flashily dressed kids, with flushed faces and silly, blood- 
shot eyes. And the way they carried on with their 
girls! Kisses — ! His face grew hot. And then he 
wondered if he would kiss this girl good-night He 
didn't like her slack little giggling mouth, but he Tiked 
to toy with the thought of kissing her. ... It was a 
manly, robust way to end this evening of riotous living. 

He had never kissed a girl in his life — unless that 
scuffling peck at Daisy Moran under the mistletoe of 
the Christmas party could be called a kiss. Everybody 
was there; there had been no secluded sentiment about 
it. He had never taken advantage of certain odd inter- 
ludes on the part of girls that he had escorted home. 
He never had wanted to kiss a girl and he didn't want 
to now, but his masculine pride was not certain whether 
it was going to let him off this performance or not. 

The music stopped. The girl began tugging softly at 
his hands. 

"Come on, let's get out of this," she was saying. And 
then, incredibly, "Let's go upstairs." 

He stood stock-still and gaped at the stairs to which 
she nodded, stairs that rose against one end of the hall, 
leading to a floor above. Then he looked dumbly out 
into the hall, a hall that one unimportant part of his 
brain insisted upon noticing had grown curiously empty. 

"Come on." 

He stammered something about finding his friends — 
about going at once. 

"Your friends are going to stay awhile. What you 
scared of?" She added, triumphantly, "There goes one 
of your friends now — the one that wanted me." 

Unbelievable as it was, his eyes took it in. Arno was 

21 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



moving with his siren up those stairs to that obscuring 
landing. Jim cast a startled look about. Jackson 
seemed to have disappeared. Henry, his girl hand in 
hand with him, stood back of him, fronting him in that 
same sort of spell-bound hesitancy that was keeping his 
own feet rooted. 

So the girls were that sort after all ! . . . He looked 
swiftly away from Henry. He encountered the gaze of 
a man standing just back of Henry ... no one that he 
knew . . . but staring very oddly at him. The whole 
world seemed staring. . . . There was another man just 
back of the first, who was now whispering to him, but 
Jim did not glance at him. If he had — but it is from 
precisely such turns that destiny takes its angles. 

Leaden weights seemed to be drawing his eyes up to 
Arno again. 

And from the landing Arno looked back. His face 
was flushed, his sleek blonde hair ruffled. His eyes were 
defiant and deriding. Then he bent over his girl again, 
and they went on to the dark, shadowed door that opened 
for them. 

Jim was aghast. He wanted to clear out, to strike 
himself violently free of impeding hands. It added to 
his horror that he was strangely moving, like a dream- 
urged mechanism, after Arno. 

He felt drugged, enmeshed. He hated this girl with 
the tugging hands and the little, darting, smiling eyes he 
could not meet. He wanted to smash the whole business. 

And yet he was going. The instant for a brilliant 
refusal, a lordly exit to freedom, was past. He was 
going. His ridiculous pride impelled him, his awkward 
constraint, his fear of being thought a boy, less a man 
than Arno. . . . 

He was not drunk. His head was heavy but not 

22 



THE STRANGE WOMAN 



fuddled. He saw the moment with horrible distinct- 
ness . . . but he felt dull and blunted and witless . . . 
and all the time he was moving up those stairs. And to 
his horror, to the awful amazement of the detached 
vision that he felt his own self to be, he passed through 
the door with her. 



CHAPTER III 

FLIGHT 

Hb lowered his head and plunged furiously down the 
streets. He wanted to lose himself in violent motion, 
to outdistance thought and memory. 

If only the thing had been a dream! A nightmare 
from which he could wake, still faint and shuddering, but 
conscious of safety from it in bright, everyday realities. 
But this nightmare was real and unescapable. 

His head was not heavy now; it rocked, it spun, it 
glittered with the dissolving kaleidoscopic views. He 
saw the door close upon them . . . saw that abominable 
room. . . . The most horrible thing had been the girl's 
callous matter-of-factness. 

On and on he hurried. It was late. A light rain was 
falling and mechanically he turned up the collar of his 
coat and pulled his soft felt hat lower over his eyes. 
He did not look at the pedestrians with whom he nearly 
collided. There was something in the eyes of those late 
wanderers that he could not bear to meet. 

His steps woke sharp echoes by hollow area ways ; the 
streets were growing deserted except where against the 
curbs some little line of cabs and tired, stiff -legged horses 
proclaimed a not-distant revelry behind drawn blinds. 
Sometimes a woman drew out of the shadows and passed 
close to him, her face thrust out, and always Jim flinched, 
as if he had been struck, and pressed more hurriedly on, 
the shamed blood burning hotter and hotter. 

He saw the girl's bare arm reach towards him. . . . 

24 



FLIGHT 



T > i'2 not remember how he had got out that door. He 
had stood at first like a stock by the table, his back 
to her, yet fearfully aware of her swift, unfastening 
hands as she had tossed her waist upon the bed. . . . 
And then she had turned and he had plunged for the 
door, muttering something . . . there had been a moment 
when she had barred the way with a snarl of insolence 
. . . and then he was back at the table again, clumsily 
emptying his pocket, tearing out the money with shaking 
fingers. ... He had an impression that she was count- 
ing it as he fled. 

He saw it over and over again. He lived in it like 
a torture. And his agony was manifold. The wretched, 
bungling stupidity ! The gawky, boyish imbecility ! 

Then he threw back his head and drew in deep 
breaths of the cool, wet night air. At least he had got 
out the door. He had saved himself. 

But his shame burned unappeased. He began to 
understand ... he saw the whole miserable, furtive, 
sickening business . . . the cheap vileness. There was 
no glamor, no illusion now. And he had been so near ! 
That door had closed upon him. 

He thought, with an aghast wonder, that he had been 
face to face with Sin. Not sin as a spectacle, gazed 
upon from afar, speculated upon, guessed at, but sin 
touched, tasted, handled. . . . Oh, God, what an escape ! 

The heart beat lurchingly in his breast. 

It had been so near, so imminent, so undesired. That 
was the most appalling thing about it. There had been 
nothing that he would previously have defined as "temp* 
tation." How could a man be committed like that, re- 
luctant, shamefaced, pushed by some obscure spring of 
pride, of herd instinct? He thought of Arno and of 

25 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

Henry. He wished he never had to see them again. 
He never wanted to see anything again that would 
remind him of this sickening night. 

How had it all come about? Smart Alecks, that's 
what they were — silly fools, peeping and prying and 
thrusting themselves into this clogging web. 

He hated himself. He hated the girl. He hated all 
thought of women. For this was behind all desire. All 
the glamor of enticement fled and the glint of fugitive 
joy was tarnished for him; the flitting couples on the 
street were horrible, and the enchantment of Mimi and 
Musette was only an artist's wizardry to cover the 
beastly, stupid, intimate conniving. 

The city had rent her veil and he had looked upon the 
secret shame of her. 

The rain had ceased when he went up his front door 
steps, and the trees were quivering faintly with a colder 
air. There were stars shining through the rifts of 
clouds. Against hope he hoped that his father had for- 
gotten to put the chain across the outer door, but the 
chain was there, and rather than rouse the household he 
withdrew his key and closed the door softly. He stole 
to the back, entering the long backyard through the alley 
gate, and examined the windows within reach. Every- 
thing was locked. 

Underneath the steep back stairs a flight of stone 
steps descended to the basement door and into this area 
way the boy went and curled upon the lowest step. He 
pillowed his head upon his arm and suddenly found 
himself heavy and exhausted. . . . 

He woke from a deep sleep, damp and stiff, while a 
diminishing jingle of cans down the back walk informed 

26 



FLIGHT 



him of the milkman's retreat. Hours afterward, it 
seemed, Annie, the cook, showed a light in her windows, 
preparing for mass. He was ready for her at the back 
door when she came out, muttered an excuse and gained 
his room and his bed. 



N 



/ 
/ 



CHAPTER IV 

THE GOD OF HIS FATHERS 

Mortimer Preebles was troubled. He told himself 
that he was troubled about Jimmie Clarke. What really 
troubled him was his uncertainty as to whether he should 
tell Jimmie Clarke's father or not. Ever since that 
startled moment, the night before, when he had turned 
to his companion with a solicitous, "Too bad, too bad, 
there goes a boy I know," he had been intensely con- 
cerned with the aspects of the case. 

The natural instincts of a censorious disposition urged 
him on. Mortimer was but twenty-five, a budding law- 
yer, but already he displayed a patriarchal fondness for 
authority that this situation subtly caressed. He could 
see the scene most clearly, and as he ostensibly listened 
to the sermon in church that morning, he was shaping the 
outlines of it. He could see the shocked father, horror- 
stricken before him, and his own grave, deploring, but 
uncompromising manner. The boy himself would prob- 
ably be called in and Mortimer did not find himself 
shrinking from contemplation of the pained words of 
admonition that the opportunity would afford him. 

It was, he told himself, the dutiful course for him to 
pursue. It was his duty as a citizen, his duty toward 
the father, his duty toward the boy. 

But there was wariness ingrained in the young lawyer, 
too. People benefited by exposure did not always 
betray a becoming gratitude. They were queerly re- 
taliative. 

28 



THE GOD OF HIS FATHERS 



Of course his own position was really impeccable. 
Investigation for a vice commission ought to stop any 
mouth that might demand a guarantee of his own pres- 
ence, that, and the companionship of Christopher Stanley ; 
providing always that these secluded West Siders had 
a proper appreciation of Christopher Stanley, his unas- 
sailable position, his wealth, and his generous endow- 
ment of reform movements. There ought not to be 
room for a doubt. 

On the whole, Mortimer judged that he was safe, even 
from unscrupulous aspersion. But a more withholding 
influence was his appreciation that the knowledge he 
possessed had a real value. Later, perhaps, when he 
was running for something or other — for Mortimer 
foresaw no mean political future for his talents — there 
might be a positive advantage in such information. It 
might be one means of putting the father under an 
obligation, or, conceivably, the son. A premature dis- 
closure might result only in an uncomfortable antago- 
nism of future voters. 

So Mortimer cogitated, that spring morning, or rather 
he turned his instincts loose upon the problem and his 
unconscious mind did its cogitating for him, while he sat 
up very correctly in his tightly buttoned frock coat and 
divided his gaze beween the clergyman and the Clarke 
pew. 

The pew was filled as usual. Jim was sitting between 
his Aunt Callista and his mother, and then came Fanny 
Clarke, a girl of sixteen, her small dark head with its 
pendant bow and three dark curls just reaching to her 
father's stooped shoulders. A very decorous family 
row ! Who would imagine it harbored a black sheep ? 

Mortimer had a sudden sharp fear that the black 

29 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

sheep had seen him last night. If Jim had, the* he had 
better get in his own information promptly. 

Meanwhile he eyed the boy with an expression not 
differing discernibly from the customary gravity of his 
lantern-jawed' young face. 

Jim was attending to the service. For the first time 
in his life he was passionately preoccupied with God. 
Not that he had not delved into the matter before, be- 
ginning at a very early age, but that was pure theological 
speculation compared to this gripping demand of his 
nature to know and to understand. 

He had always been eager and curious about life. 
He had always wondered. Now it appeared intolerable 
not to be certain. 

It was the thought of sin, the sin to which he had 
been so close, that was working in him now. . . . He 
said to himself, "Suppose I had stayed? Suppose I 
were a sinner?" and a shiver of excitement ran through 
him. He was familiar with the Wrath of God and 
Eternal Damnation and he balanced them dubiously now 
against Repentance and Eternal Salvation. 

Repentance appeared a one-sided thing, useful in lay- 
ing hold of a new life, but utterly unavailing in undoing 
the past. . . . The children of a defrauded man might 
still die of hunger while the thief repented. . . . Did 
consequences never count against repentance? And was 
repentance ever unavailing? 

Were people really going to be damned? 

He listened to the voice from the pulpit. 

"For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the 
wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out 
of the same : but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the 
earth shall wring them out, and drink them." 

30 



THE GOD OF HIS FATHERS 



The point was, thought the boy doggedly, did people 
really believe that now? ... He couldn't think of any- 
thing wicked enough for an eternal damnation. He 
imagined that was why those people looked so comfort- 
able; they knew that no matter what they had done or 
left undone, those everlasting agonies couldn't possibly 
apply to them. They were all going to get off somehow. 

And yet an article of their church was that those who 
did not believe upon the Savior of the World were lost 
forever. 

How much did they believe? What did they really 
think about the whole thing? What were their tacit 
suppressions, their secret compromises, their instinctive 
hopes? What did all these men and women gathered 
together in the name of the God of Israel and the Christ 
of Nazareth actually feel sure of? 

"Thou hast made the earth to tremble; thou hast 
broken it : heal the branches thereof ; for it shaketh. 

"Thou hast shewed thy people hard things : thou hast 
made us to drink the wine of astonishment." 

What in the world, thought the boy impatiently, had 
that to do with him to-day ? 

He saw his father holding the place with eyes that 
were lighted with that especial glow that was reserved 
for great words. . . . He looked that way when reading 
his Greeks. . . . But Jim wanted more than words. He 
wondered about his father. There was a deep reticence 
about him that not for the first time suggested to the 
boy a sense of secret reservoirs untapped. He wished 
that he and his father might talk together honestly, as 
man to man. But he suspected his father of joining in 
that adult conspiracy of telling the young what was good 
for them. And he surmised, shrewdly, that respect for 
his mother's feelings guarded his father's tongue. 

3i 



1 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

It was always his mother's feelings, thought Jim re- 
sentfully. For Elizabeth Clarke had strong feelings about 
religion, or about the church which epitomized it to her. 
She loved that church, in whose warm social atmos- 
phere she had always lived, with a love indivisible from 
her reverence for her God and her appreciation that the 
unselfish, energetic, pleasant women who did the church 
work were quite the nicest women that she could wish 
to know, and she was very naturally and warmly indig- 
nant when this affection for church going and right living 
was probed for its backbone of dogma. 

The warmest quarrels she had ever had with her lively 
and questioning children had been upon the subject of 
religion. At first, when she had trusted herself to 
speech, she had been caught. Asserting a sweeping and 
unbounded faith, she had been trapped by the intrica- 
cies of free will and predestination, and the efficacy of 
prayer, and the literalism of hell. How could she be 
happy going to Heaven when any soul was in torments ? 

Confronted by her own secret conviction that any 
admission of ignorance would be construed by her off- 
spring as license to stay home from church on the next 
occasion, she had taken advantage of vague but warm 
generalities, and a general "Trust in our Heavenly 
Father." 

She loved those words. She loved to think of life 
as presided over by an unfathomable Beneficence. It 
took the sting out of injustice and pain; it wiped the 
widow's tears, the orphan's woe, and draped the future 
with ineffable tenderness of reunion, 
i Anything that impaired that vision, that rendered pain 
more stark and life more unassuaged, she combated with 
the instinctive hostility of a vigorous and vital optimism. 

32 



THE GOD OF HIS FATHERS 



And in the family she relegated religious argument to the 
place of things one did not talk about. 

Jimmie knew that if he were ill his mother would 
pray secretly, passionately, beseechingly, at his bedside, 
just as she would sleeplessly exert every effort that exist- 
ing skill and science might afford. And she would divide 
the returns confusedly between the doctor and her 
Heavenly Father. At the last analysis she might have 
felt that the doctor had saved him — but that if she had 
not prayed a jealous God might have punished her. 

For this vague, ineradicable muddleheadedness her son 
had secretly cherished the healthy contempt of hard, 
growing young minds. Now he saw it in. another light. 
.*. . He looked out on the people about him and won- 
dered if their ideas were much clearer ... or more con- 
sistent . . . and yet they were all here glorifying God 
and praising His Name. 

What they were really glorifying, he felt, was right 
living. They felt that was inseparable with God, and 
they had probably given up the dogma and the damna- 
tion and the salvation as insoluble enigmas. 

But why didn't they say so? Why weren't people 
simple and honest and frank about the puzzling things ? 
Here they all were, touching elbows and breathing fairly 
in unison, yet under their silk waists and starched 
bosoms their hearts were as secret and hidden and mys- 
terious as the hearts of the dead in the tombs. 

He stared out on the deacons as they passed up the 
aisle, taking up a collection which for purposes of gener- 
osity had been placed to-day after the sermon, and 
he ceased regarding those deacons as figureheads and 
thought of them as men, once young and curious, pos- 
sibly bewildered men. There were sad faces among 
them, and some were granite hard, some mild and gentle. 

33 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

... He wondered if Deacon Floyd with his deep blue 
eyes and sweet mouth and snowy beard had ever known 
evil before he put it aside? He had a feeling that 
men were born good, and that he and his driving curi- 
osities, his hard, lucid honesties, were living in another 
world. . . . But there were other faces with enigmatic 
mouths and the filmed eyes of tired hawks. . . . 

He wondered. . . . But he felt no longer that youth- 
ful bitterness toward their adult conspiracy. He began 
to see that these people were driven. They felt that 
if they said that they did not know, if they ceased to 
hold on to the things that meant cleanliness and kindness 
and right living and soul saving to them, they would be 
setting themselves adrift upon an uncharted sea. 

He recalled a Sunday School boy's earnest demand, 
"If there isn't any Heaven what's the use of being good?" 
and he felt that most of these folk feared that same 
logical voice. Queer that the world had not got beyond 
that, but the world did not travel very fast — not much 
faster than the whisper of parents into their children's 
ears. The, world was born every generation and born 
into the same old shibboleths. Hindoo mothers 
snatched up their children from the passing terrors of 
the Evil Eye, and Mohammedan fathers led their young 
sons to the Mosques, and African babes were taught to 
prostrate themselves fearfully at tribal altars, and de- 
scendants of enlightened ages were sent to church to 
learn of possible eternal fires ! 

Still, he reflected, his own church did not dwell very 
much upon that fire and brimstone of late years. Some 
of Jim's Sunday School teachers had been rather insis- 
tent upon it, but the pulpit itself was reticent, although 
dealing generously in heavenly futures. 

34 



THE GOD OF HIS FATHERS 



Jim didn't quite see how you could discard the one 
and retain the other. 

It was all very queer. It was the most unreal and 
the most real thing in the world. It had driven people 
to martyrdom and death, to unheard-of sacrifice and 
suffering and cruelties. ... It had uprooted his ances- 
tors from their green acres in Old England and set them 
crossing a terrible sea to the freedom of the wilderness. 
. . . Was it God that led them — and what God ? 

The eighteen-year-old boy, sitting so quietly in his 
accustomed place, his face pale, his gray eyes dark under 
their lashes, rising absent-mindedly when his Aunt 
Callista nudged him and then forgetting to sing the hymn, 
was facing the most real and vibrant need his soul had 
known. 

He stayed to Sunday School, chiefly from the notion 
of avoiding Henry, who had the habit of walking home 
with him after church. Henry attended another stone 
church down the boulevard and was not enthusiastic 
about Sunday School. 

Nor was Jim Clarke. The superintendent, engaged by 
anxious trustees after much pondering of problems, was 
a specialist, a representative of new enthusiasms. He 
was a stout, dark, young man, handsome in a sleek, well- 
fed way if you liked fullness of feature and coloring, 
recently married and overflowing with satisfaction in life 
and himself. He was inaugurating his methods in the 
Sunday School with numerical success; the inspiration 
of marks for everything, of records publicly extolled, of 
prizes and honor lists made the hour a strain of memori- 
zation and limelight. 

Songs were shouted, not sung; every encouragement 

35 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



was given the boy spirit; it was urged to whistle and 
stamp and it did so vehemently. 

Unfortunately the young superintendent also taught 
the young men's Bible class and Jim brought to his 
basking presence an aloof and laconic detachment. A 
fat lot, he thought disdainfully, this smiling young bride- 
groom knew of life ! He'd rather go for knowledge to 
those old deacons upstairs ; they had lived, had married 
wives and sometimes buried them, they had brought 
children into the world and seen them pass out of it; 
they had known struggle and joy and incalculable dis- 
appointment; surely they, if any, had laid hands upon 
that subtle, snaring, amazing thing called human ex- 
perience. 

And suddenly he was reminded of the verse which had 
seemed so far away when his ears had caught it that 
past hour. 

"Thou hast shewed thy people hard things ; thou hast 
made us to drink the wine of astonishment" 

They had been shewed hard things, all right, he re- 
flected. But what wine of astonishment was that? 
Was it sour or sweet or heady or benumbing? Had it 
ever passed their bearded lips? 

He told himself that women's testimony about religion 
was to be discounted. What did they know — nice 
women, that is ? How could they come to close quarters 
with sin — put themselves in its way, as he had done last 
night? They had no suspicion of what the world really 
was. His mother had no suspicion of what he really 
was. She had sat beside him all that morning and 
she had no idea that he was fundamentally changed, 
shocked to the very core of his being, astounded and 
filled with a cold, clarifying disgust and enlightenment. 
His mother did not know that such little girls as that 

36 



THE GOD OF HIS FATHERS 



silly creature with the pink hair bow existed. She 
thought of them distantly as "bad women." 

Good women were born conforming. But he re- 
spected their amazing fervencies. Good creatures ! Im- 
possible, perhaps, for a world to be saved from itself 
without them. 

So he was thinking — or rather the thoughts were think- 
ing themselves unconsciously within him — as he smiled 
back at one or two of the gentle- faced, deep-eyed 
women who had, from time to time, played the dissolving 
role of his teacher, and he amused himself with their 
conjectured behaviors if he should thrust his difficulties 
upon them. 

He more than suspected one of them, at least, of 
the capacity for asking him to kneel with her and seek 
enlightenment in prayer. As if bluntly demanding of 
her the quality of her own honesty was the manifestation 
of need for divine enlightenment ! 

He could not account for his own naive desire for 
speech. But it possessed him. And against all his 
habits, all his instincts and boyish inhibitions, it pushed 
him into abrupt confidence. And to a woman. 

Miss Wilton had stopped him with a word about the 
sermon as a cover for her expression of friendliness. 
She had been the boy's teacher, not at Sunday School but 
at that even more hazardous trial, the day school, and 
he considered her the fairest-minded person he knew. 

"Miss Wilton," he blurted. "All that part about be- 
lieving, you know — do you believe in God?" 

"Do I believe?" She looked confronted, but not 
astonished. It did not appear to her an irrelevant thing 
to ask at a House of God, and she considered gravely 
the implications of his words. 

37 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



"Yes, really, I mean. People talk so easily. But is 
He real? Do you believe? Honestly ?" 

"Why, yes, Jim, I believe. I know'* she answered in 
a hearty voice which had no savor of hushed sanctity. 
"He has been my good friend these many years." 

She added, as she saw interruption converging upon 
them, "But we all like different names for our friends. 
Read Matthew Arnold, Jim, and the Something-not-our- 
selves-which-makes-for-righteousness. Perhaps that's 
what you're looking for. It's another name." 

That was it, the boy thought, as he hurried away with 
an incoherent word ; there were different names — Honor, 
Mercy, Righteousness, Love, all modifying and yet mean- 
ing one another. And if one could choose one's name ! 
He liked any of them better than Salvation. Odious 
thing — salvation! Selfish, smug, soul-saving! But 
something not ourselves which makes for righteousness — 
he liked that. He understood it. It seemed to bring 
the warring elements in him to comprehension. 

Fanny had waited for him upon the church steps, and 
for a time it looked as if Mortimer Preebles was going 
to walk between them. Mortimer had waited, too. 
His problem was still unsolved. Chiefly it concerned 
itself now with the question of whether Jim had seen 
him or not. 

His opening greeting was couched to bring some clue. 

"Good morning, Jim, I haven't seen you for some time, 
have I ?" 

For the life of him Mortimer could not tell whether 
the boy's casual indifference were real or feigned. 

"You weren't at the Boys' Brotherhood Meeting last 
night?" 

38 



THE GOD OF HIS FATHERS 



Surely, if Jim knew of his own presence at the dance 
hall, that would bring a retaliative glance. 

Jim's non-committal, "No," laid the ghost of appre- 
hension. Mortimer threw out a last, "I wasn't there, 
myself. I was doing some work for a new vice com- 
mission," which didn't wake even a ripple of interest, 
and there the young lawyer felt he could safely rest the 
case. He began to talk to Fanny and Jim was joined 
1 by Henry Carpenter and fell behind. 

Henry had been walking about since church. He was 
anxious to confer with Jim and get their stories in ac- 
cord, a course of which Jim's common sense had to 
approve, but from which he shrank. He hated to touch 
on last night. He could not meet Henry's eyes, seeking 
his, ready to take their clue from him for knowingness 
or secret mirth. 

Very briefly he recounted the story he had given his 
parents. He had told them that he spent the night at 
Arno's and had felt sick and came home early. Nobody 
had questioned him. Nobody had been curious. 

"You're lucky," said Henry ruefully. "I put my foot 
in it. I got home late and the chain was on and I had 
to ring and the old man smelt beer on me and he was 
crazy! He said it was the last time I could go over to 
those Germans. ... I was scared to death he'd run 
into the Rolffs and stir up some ruction over it, but he 
got all over it. 'All right,' I told him, 'if you act like 
this when I quit the party and come home, next time I 
stay!' I had him there. 'Germans don't think any- 
thing about beer,' I told him. So I guess now he won't 
mention it when he does see them. You know he goes 
up for election next fall and the Rolffs are pretty active 
in this ward." 

39 






THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

Jim merely nodded. Henry asked suddenly, "What 
time did you get home ?" 

'Oh — late. I walked," Jim answered slowly. 

'You must have wanted exercise!" Henry's eyes 
widened. "Seen Arno ?" 

"No." 

"I guess he spent the night with Jackson as we 
planned." 

"Guess so." Jim determinedly ignored the speculation 
in his companion's voice. 

"Guess it wasn't the first time, either. I heard he and 
Jackson had some girls up in those rooms once, smoking 
cigarettes." Henry glanced obliquely at Jim but th^ 
other's taciturnity was sobering. 

They walked on without speaking. Jim could feel 
Henry's thoughts about him, like a cloud of winged 
things, circling about but not daring decisively to settle. 
He blamed himself savagely for his disgusting folly in 
going up those stairs before Henry's eyes — perhaps 
Henry had trailed after him as he had trailed after Arno. 
He would never know. He could never ask. 

He felt despairingly that he could not rely upon any- 
thing that Henry might say. If the deviltry of the 
expedition were in bad odor Henry would disclaim that 
deviltry; if Henry thought that Jim felt distressed over 
his influence, he would minimize that influence. There 
was an odd mixture of the trimmer and the loyal friend 
about Henry. He wasn't exactly a liar, Jim put it to 
himself, but he was a funny kid. 

He added, just before their ways parted, "Hope Arno 
and Jackson keep their mouths shut about it." 
1 "I'll tell them to," said Henry. "Going up to Moran's 
to-night?" 

40 



THE GOD OF HIS FATHERS 



"No!" said Jim with sudden savage energy. "I'm 
through. I'm going to cut out the girls." 

That was the peculiar mark the night had left upon 
him. He felt he had had a dose of the sex to last him 
a lifetime. 

At the Clarke's white stone steps Mr. Preebles was 
hesitating. He was almost upon the verge of saying to 
Fanny, "Please tell your father that I am coming to 
see him this evening." 

But something withheld him. Perhaps it was the 
pleasant interest of Fanny's upturned eyes, for Fanny, 
even at sixteen, with her three dark curls bobbing on her 
shoulders, was a fetching young person, with that gift 
of appreciation which Mortimer so valued. Perhaps it 
was the thought of the folly of antagonizing the brother 
— and possibly the father — of so promising a young per- 
son. Perhaps it was just a general feeling of caution at 
giving away valuable information — as he would certainly 
be doing — and the suggestion of wisdom that he might 
better bide his time. 

So Mortimer merely raised his silk hat and passed on, 
leaving Fanny to the sweet elation of having had a silk 
hat escort her home, and a silk hat belonging to a man 
her senior by nine years. Boys were no treat to the dark- 
eyed Fanny. 

And Jim thought nothing at all about Mortimer 
Preebles, who seemed part of the unessential background 
of life. 



CHAPTER V 

THE INVASION 

"Clarke, you've got to come down! We're a man 
short and we need you !" 

Jim made no effort to stir from the fascinating angle 
at which his long limbs were stretched. He was loung- 
ing in superb ease at his west window, a book in his 
hand, and a pipe in his mouth that sent lazy smoke 
wreaths about his tousled, dark head. 

"Not I," said he, serenely. "What are you trying to 
do — pair off the chaperons ?" 

"Chaperons nothing ! It's an extra girl — Butler's girl. 
Butler missed the train from Springfield and just tele- 
phoned; said he'd been trying for the connection for 
half an hour." 

'He can take the trolley." 

'And get in two hours late, and it's nearly four o'cock 
now ! The girls will be here any minute." 

"Get Baby Bliss," suggested Jim, unmoved. "Baby 
simply dotes upon fussing strange females." 

"Baby's got a pain in his tummy and we packed him 
over to the Alpha Delt house to be sick in private. 
Come on, now, Clarke, we've got to have you. Be a 
good fellow !" Tomlinson admonished. 

But Tomlinson suffered from the disadvantage of be- 
ing a Sophomore. Jim Clarke was a Senior, a bland, dis- 
dainful Senior. 

"You clear on out, kid," he unfeelingly advised. "The 
woods are full of fussers — pick another victim." 

42 



"] 



THE INVASION 



"But there isn't another !" Tomlinson was distressfully 
insisting, when a heartier voice took up the demand. 

"You big stiff — loafing here when your brothers call 
upon you ! Get out of that soup-soaked jersey and into 
your nice new duds before I turn the girls loose upon 
you. You're needed, Jim," Henry Carpenter put his 
sandy head over rTomlinson's shoulder to declare. 

"Oh, the deuce!" Clarke grumbled grouchily as he 
heaved himself out of his cushions. 

He loathed these Saturday dances at the fraternity 
house. They were storm centers of confusion, fellows 
cleaning all over the place, girls piling in at four o'clock, 
supper in every room, and then a grand race to the nine- 
thirty car and everything all over just when a sensible 
chap might feel like waking up and dancing. He had 
always made a point of tennis or a hike in the Amherst 
mountains on those dance Saturdays and the wisdom 
of this past course was brought vividly home to him 
now. Just for those lazy moments in his room he was 
caught. 

"Who's the girl?" he thought to demand, as he pre- 
pared to peel off his sweater. "If it's that Babbitt twin 
that her sister's always lugging about " 

The jersey swallowed the rest. Through the folds he 
caught Henry's reply. 

"Never's been here before — name's Day. She's 
Smith College — Butler met her over there a while ago 
and came back raving." 

"And then goes to Springfield the day she's due ! . . . 
I hope he caught that trolley— that will bring him here 
in time to let me off feeding her supper." 

"Oh, he'll be here by then. Hustle up, will you? I 
tell you, they're nearly due. . . . I've got to see to that 
pt^ch. Come on, Tommy, you go for the ice," and in 

43 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



the fervor of responsibilities Henry took himself and the 
Sophomore off, leaving his boon companion to the vision 
of a ruined day. 

It had been a stunning book, too, full of sea surges 
and salt-wet sails and thundering adventure. . . . 

Bitterly he took himself to the bathroom, splashing 
thoroughly and with black disregard of the carefully laid 
out towels for the guests. Then he retreated to his 
room, slammed his door, and hurried into the light gray 
clothes the occasion demanded. The spirit of the thing 
began to invade him and he remembered his new shirt 
lying somewhere in its paper as he had brought it from 
the shop, where it had caught his admiring eye. 

It was just over there — or it would have been if some 
misguided zealot had not harried the room in his absence 
into a false calm. 

Clarke looked in his chiffonier, but the drawers were 
too burstingly full to admit of the suspicion of the 
extra shirt; he looked under the couch, he looked back 
of the bookcases, he opened the closet door. 

Anything and everything appeared. Here was the 
tennis ball he had yesterday stalked in vain, here were 
Butler's sneakers, and Henry's cap. He must clean this 
hole out. And here was the shirt — no, that was laundry. 
It must have come this noon when he was out, and some 
idiot had rammed it out of sight. 

He tore open the paper, but there was no shirt there 
that he wanted. He looked at them, and put them by. 
The new shirt, the .shirt, appeared every instant more 
desirable. He remembered its silken sheen, its thread of 
lavender and blue, the delicate insinuation of gold. The 
perfect shirt ! He must have that or none. 

He thrust obstacles aside, groping furiously in obscure 
depths, and at last his fingers closed upon the crackle of 

44 



THE INVASION 



thin paper. Breathing heavily, his hair disheveled by 
protruding garments, he emerged in triumph with the 
shirt. 

Then with his treasure safely under one bare brown 
arm he turned and encountered the eyes of a girl. 

There were two girls, three, perhaps — to his startled 
fancy a bevy, a swarm, a horde of petticoated creatures 
filled the place — but this girl was the nearest to him and 
she was staring the widest. He had never seen any- 
thing so blue as her eyes. 

The crack-brained lunatics below stairs had turned 
the girls loose on the second floor and he had been so 
buried in that infernal closet, back of the door. . . . 

"I beg your pardon," said a hurried, flurried voice, 
and he became aware that the girl was dissolving from 
the room, vanishing with her sister invaders. 

The horizon was drained of blue and a general im- 
pression of sudden scarlet was left lingering in the air. 

It devolved upon Jim to don his shirt and go down. 

It was, of course, the very girl to whom he was as- 
signed. The fool Fates had seen to that. And she 
knew him in a minute. Her eyes betrayed her, and her 
flush, a sensitive, swift color that made the self-conscious 
young man aware that the encounter had not been with- 
out its own sense of disaster for her. From that instant 
his own chagrin disappeared and he was concerned, 
chivalrously for her. 

She was a girl who appealed to chivalry. She had 
fair, shining hair that was a bright aureole about her 
face. She had blue eyes, deep and vivid, under shadow- 
ing dark lashes. She had a skin like a fresh rose leaf. 
Her astonishingly clear tints gave her the luminous 
delicacy of a water color, enhancing the slightness of 

45 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

her slender youth and the grace of her light movements. 

Her name was Evelyn Day. She was a Junior at 
Smith College. This was one of the few times she had 
been at Amherst, and the first time at this fraternity 
house. 

"It's very good of you to look after me," she said with 
a perceptible heightening of confusion which told him 
that she was sensitive to Butler's delinquency. 

And she added, with a bravely laughing directness, 
"That's why you were hurrying so, wasn't it? When 
we came rushing so dreadfully into your room? You'd 
been pounced on to take Mr. Butler's place." 

"And I was trying to make myself resplendent !" The 
young man's gray eyes gave her back her smile without 
confusion. "I was delving after this new and gorgeous 
shirt " 

Her glance seemed to dance elusively across that inti- 
mate object. 

"A most becoming stripe!" she told him merrily. 
There was a winged tilt to the corners of her mouth. 
And her brows, much darker than her hair, were like 
wings, too, in their indescribable little lift at the outer 
corner. 

And when they danced Jim thought that there must 
be wings, too, upon her feet. Once he had scoffed at 
the confines of their furniture-stripped rooms, but now 
he had the sudden sense of free, exhilarating space. But 
he did not ignore the other couples. He guarded her 
very carefully. 

It was over and Tomlinson and Carpenter and clamor- 
ous others were ringing them in, beginning that tire- 
some business of trading dances and jotting down sur- 
reptitious programs against the rule that was supposed 

to prevail. 

46 



THE INVASION 



Jim found himself hastening to take what dances he 
could get with her. They were not many, but he was 
keenly aware of her, when he was dancing with the 
necessary others who constituted the party to the other 
young men, and he found his glance wandering, intensely 
drawn. . . . 

He had been queerly uninterested Jn girls. In the 
four years that had passed since that April night when 
he had gone so disastrously adventuring, the odd aloof- 
ness, which had been the perceptible mark of that night, 
had deepened to a cool withdrawal from that field of 
adventure. 

Sex was stupid. At its worst it was furtive and hor- 
rible, and at its best (this, of course, was his indifferent 
imagining) it was but a respectable arrangement of the 
same forces in the end. 

In some ways the shock of that night had served him 
well, for it had kept the growing boy from later ques- 
tionable adventuring that the college years led others to. 
He felt no glamor in wild oats and put himself in the 
way of no enchantment. 

Of marriage he thought as an amazing irrationality in 
a world where there was so much else to do, such inter- 
esting man-things, such realms of wonder. . . . He had 
ideas of travel, of exploration, perhaps of writing. His 
father had suggested the law. That seemed as congenial 
as anything definite, but his restless blood had other 
cravings. 

He cherished a design of going to Europe on a cattle 
boat that summer with some friend and taking a walking 
trip through the world. 

He was curiously amazed when he heard the other 

47 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



boys talk interestedly of getting on and marrying and 
settling down. 

It seemed as uninviting as getting buried. 

In those four years of college he had met quite a few 
girls — that was inevitable for a man in a popular frater- 
nity house with two women's colleges at the trolley's 
ends, and with a sister for three years now at another 
Eastern college — but he had neglected conspicuously to 
follow opportunities. His various acquaintances had 
been the occupation of the moment, and they had all 
seemed very much alike, bright, chattering young things, 
working against time, trying hard to please and play 
their ingenuous roles. 

Girls, Henry Carpenter often observed, rolled off Jim 
Qarke like water off a duck's back. Other young men 
declared that it was too easy for him. 

There was something about the boy, something in his 
long, lithe figure, the high carriage of his head, and the 
quick turn of it, something in his sensitive, clean-boned 
face, with its mop of dark hair and its cool, amused 
gray eyes under serious brows that engaged the fledgling 
arts of the young ladies whose names had filled his 
random programs. But he had gone his way lightly, 
utterly unconscious of following eyes and hopes left to 
sicken. . . . 

It was this detachment, too, that was piquing, and the 
subtle feeling that somewhere beneath that easy, indif- 
ferent young armor there were real ardors . . . un- 
touched . . . intense. . . . 

It was hot for April ; the sun was rioting and the fitful 
winds had gone wandering to the mountains leaving the 
college town to its still heat. 

The punch on the open porch grew monotonous and 

4 8 



THE INVASION 



an expedition was developed to the town drug store for 
ice cream. There were six of them about the table and 
a gay medley of talk of which Jim retained no fragment. 
What lived with him, and lived with startling distinct- 
ness, was the event on the return. 

Down the alley a man was beating a horse, standing 
forward on his seat to do it thoroughly, and send the 
whip curling to regions of further tenderness. 

The others, walking ahead of them, glanced down and 
hurried on. Evelyn Day stood still and flashed a look 
of distress and entreaty upon the young man beside her. 

"Make him stop — do make him stop !" she cried. 

He saw that her face was scarlet and her eyes filled 
with a passionate pity. 

He thought she was going to burst into tears. But 
before he could act, she whirled and ran down the alley. 

"You get down off that seat !" she flung up at the man 
in a vibrant indignation that dismissed the notion of 
tears at once. 

The man turned slowly and looked down at her and 
she stared bravely back at him, a gallant figure, white- 
clad in the mud, the sunshine on her bright hair. Then 
the man shouted callously at his horse and the hand 
that held the whip raised it again. 

But Jim was beside him now. He was suddenly on 
fire. A power that transcended his own just wrath at 
cruelty was blazing in him. 

"Get down here and put your shoulder to the wheel," 
he commanded. "Get down here — unless you want me 
to pull you down," he added, as the man hesitated. 

But the peddler had no notion of getting into difficul- 
ties with one of the amazing students. 

Muttering heavily in his own tongue, he slid down 
from his seat and walked toward his horse. 

49 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



"Get up," he ordered, and aimed a kick. 

It never fell. Jim's hand was on his shoulder. 

"I said — your shoulder to the wheel!" he snapped, 
spinning him round. "See here, do you want to lose 
your license? You can't keep a license and abuse your 
horse like that — it's against the law." 

He looked at the horse, a bony, starved, tottering crea- 
ture with drooping neck and shivering nostrils and his 
disgust flamed up again. 

"It ought to be against the law for you to own a 
horse! There, get to the wheel." 

The man moved over, and Jim seized the spokes on his 
own side and pushed with a vim, his shoulder muscles 
swelling. The wagon lurched heavily out of the deep 
rut; the man climbed to his seat without a look at the 
pair and raised his raucous voice at the beast, but not 
his whip, for that moment the horse strained forward 
and the creaking cart passed on. 

"Oh, I can't bear those things — I can't bear to think 
of all the whipped, hurt things in the world !" 

The girl was staring out in front of her with a look 
of sudden, unseeing revolt; her eyes were darkened, her 
lips tremulous; she was carried out of herself by this 
hot, deep compassion. 

"Why are there such things?" she asked bewilderedly 
of Jim. 

Why, indeed ! Confusedly Jim felt that a world ought 
to be kinder when it had such tenderheartedness to pain. 
It flashed across him that she would take life hard . . . 
if ever it got at her. 

He had a shrewd idea that there were people that life 
never got at; they were buried too deep in fatty com- 
placencies . . . but this girl was vulnerable stuff. 

But he only said solicitously that she was getting her 

So 



THE INVASION 



white pumps soiled and when they were again upon the 
sidewalk he drew out his handkerchief and knelt oblivi- 
ously to clean those slim white shoes. 

The spectacle would have engaged his derision the day 
before. 

He was careful not to let his hands touch her, and she 
saw that they were black with mud; he finished by 
wiping them upon the handkerchief. 

"It's too bad — and there's mud on your sleeve," she 
murmured. Her eyes were softly concerned and her 
shy look, as they walked on together, seemed inviting for- 
giveness for her precipitancy. 

Astonishing, that there was such fire in her! He 
would never have believed that this delicate, white* 
frocked creature would have been capable of charging 
down a muddy alley after a brutal peddler and shouting 
at him in that resonant young voice. . . . He was 
amazed, with an amazement verging upon wonder. . . . 

And in another part of his brain he found time to at- 
tend to the way that he had handled the affair. It was 
new to him, this critical review of himself, but he was 
not displeased with the assurance of his recollections. 
He had shown himself a man. . . . He was ready to 
champion limitless causes for her. . . . He had an idea 
that the man who became her friend would have to prove 
himself. 

After that, back at the fraternity house, he was con- 
scious of bridged distances. They shared a memory, an 
emotion, an event. 

Butler caught the trolley. He came in with the supper, 
ftjll of apologies and a most misguided gratitude to Jim. 
Later, that gratitude congealed. 

Evelyn Day was very charming to him. She was too 

5i 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



delicate-minded to want him to feel concerned over his 
lateness and too proud to wish him to feel that it could 
possibly have made any difference to her, and the two in- 
stincts merged in a perfect amiability of manner. 

But she continued to dance a good deal with Jim 
Clarke. And Clarke mentioned, casually but informa- 
tively, that he had arranged to take Miss Day home. 

Butler judged it would be more dignified not to pro- 
test. He invited Miss Day for the next dance, in a 
fortnight's time. 

Evelyn thanked him pleasantly. He was most kind! 
But she had an engagement. 

Later, in the car with her, and with the other Smith 
College girls and their escorts and the Smith College 
chaperon, Jim asked her for that dance. It was pre- 
cipitate — she had not asked him to come and see her — 
but he was pressed by a strange urgency. And Evelyn 
Day did not seem discouraging. She told him that she 
really could not because she had informed Mr. Butler 
that she had an engagement. 

"An engagement with me — for the dance," said Jim 
with audacity. 

He felt a heady intoxication when he had led her to 
accept that arrangement. And he knew a touching won- 
der — he had no conception of himself as rather a splen- 
did-looking young man, with the restless look of youth 
on his mobile face, and a fancy-taking touch of cool 
intention in his quiet manner. 

When he had left her at her door he did not return to 
meet his friends. He wandered down the winding paths 
of the campus — her campus, and came upon the gar- 
dens, lovely in scented shrubs and glamorous under a 
faint moon. There were stars in a bit of a pond and 
from its waters the shrilling of toad songs. • . . 

52 



THE INVASION 



The sound of them, in later years, always brought back 
that night, the beginning of many spring nights, with the 
troubling, fugitive joy of the first stirring of his young 
blood, the loosening and unbinding of his manhood. . . . 

John, the night watchman, came upon him there, peace- 
fully sauntering, bareheaded under the stars, and con- 
ducted him to the gates, with despatch but not without 
sympathetic discernment. 

He rode back on the front seat of the trolley, the wind 
of the flight in his face, the night and its stars in his 
eyes. 

Long after the fraternity house was quiet and the even 
breath of slumber coming from the other rooms, he lay 
wide-eyed on his couch, staring out his west windows to 
the dark line of the mountains melting on far horizons. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE SPRING 

He did not try to name to himself the amazing thing 
that had happened. He was absorbed, preoccupied, 
soaringly uplifted. He felt a rush of positively riotous 
happiness, a tingling gladness of expectation that pointed, 
as infallibly as the compass needle points to north, to 
that dance in a fortnight to which Evelyn Day was 
coming. 

For several days that unwonted expectation sustained 
him in his gaiety. 

Then his spirits collapsed like a pricked bubble. He 
ceased whistling. He felt restless, uneasy, bored with 
life, horribly out of sorts. He did not recognize at first 
what the matter was, and it was with a kind of shock 
that he came upon himself covertly examining into the 
possibilities that might exist before that Saturday. 

Saturday was so beastly distant. Ten days, now. 
And if she should change her mind, withdraw. . . . 

Dread touched him. He wrote her, sending one of 
many drafts, reminding her how he was counting upon 
that dance. He hoped to call first and meet the matron 
of her college house, and he indicated an evening but 
forty-eight hours away, although he conceded that any 
other she might select would be convenient for him. 

She set a time two days later than his suggestion, and 
in the afternoon instead of the evening. She would 
take him boating, she promised, upon Paradise. 

Auspicious name! Sympathetic background of still 

54 



THE SPRING 



river and wooded bank! Paradise indeed in the canoe, 
Jim thought upon that afternoon, lazily gliding along the 
shady shore with Evelyn Day lounging against the scarlet 
cushions of the backrest. 

To be with her again was to resume that joyful sense 
of well-being. It was like nothing that he had ever 
known — just as she was unlike anything that ever he had 
known. She had a thousand surprises for him, and yet 
already his memory was counting its stores. The way 
her bright hair brimmed over into tendrils at its edges ! 
The soft, changing blue of her eyes ! The mingled mis- 
chief and shyness of her glance ! 

They talked immensely. There seemed to be any 
amount to say, vast arrears to make up. She had been 
three years at college and he had only just met her! 
And she had lived all her life in Chicago and he had 
never met her there at all! 

But now, having met her here 

It was manifestly the hand of God, Jim reflected, that 
had placed her in Chicago. 

She came from the North Side. She told him a great 
deal about herself in youth's candid way. Her father 
was dead. She had a beautiful and adorable mother — 
more a sister than a mother, she told him. There was 
a bona fide sister of fourteen years, a prodigy called 
Muriel, who did marvelous things upon the violin. 
Muriel was not coming to college. She had said so very 
positively. She was going abroad and study music. 

Evelyn laughed a little softly over this, as if Muriel's 
positivism was a tender joy to her. 

"She's much more decided already than I am. She 
always knows her mind," she added, in intimate confi- 
dence. 

'Don't you ?" Jim's smile was very gentle. 

55 



«i 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



"Oh, I know so many minds !" 

Then under the frank interest of her eyes he pro- 
duced his own background. His people, he reported, 
appeared to have taken root upon the West Side instead 
of spreading their wings in flight. He, too, had a kid sis- 
ter, although now she was twenty and a Junior in Welles- 
ley. His father was a teacher in the old High School. 

"But you're not going to be a teacher?" 

He laughed at her unconscious inflection. 

"You can rather guess I'm not! Father's pretty sick 
of it now — The politics are maddening, you know, 
with the school board pulling wires and picking the text 
books and the Jews scrapping to keep out the Merchant 
of Venice and the Catholics clamoring for their religious 
holidays and the foreigners pouring in till the only 
American-born child in one room was black! Some- 
times," he said with a sudden soberness, resting his 
paddle in a still backwater of leafy shade, "sometimes I 
wonder what we are coming to, over here? We've 
opened our gates so wide in our passion for freedom for 
the oppressed and we've kept them propped open with 
our own need for labor that now . . . it's near the deluge. 
... It wouldn't be so bad if we hadn't thrown the vote 
out, hit or miss, like chicken feed, as if it were a right, 
not a privilege." 

He saw Evelyn Day's eyes brightening with quick 
interest. 

"Oh, I'm quoting my father," said Jim, smiling, "but 
I tell you he's worth quoting. He's in the works and 
sees the wheels go round. And he thinks that they are 
grinding us — us Americans — rather fine, and our old 
institutions along with us. . . . It isn't the foreigners 
that come over for real freedom that are the trouble, but 
those that come just for money and have come lugging 

56 



THE SPRING 

1 



their superstitions and prejudices with them. We over 
here have been so doggone polite, so afraid of hurting 
anybody's feelings, that we've gone whispering and tip- 
toeing round, not raising our voices about the things that 
our forefathers lost their lives to win — but they haven't 
been so precious careful about our feelings !" 

The girl nodded sympathetically. "I know. Mother 
says that's why there's no conversation in America. 
There's no agreement to start a discussion from. . . . 
Take any number more than a pair and you have one 
unknown quantity." 

"You're saying things," Jim told her in approval. 

She laughed. "I'm quoting, too! Mother's always 
giving teas for new people and setting the pros and antis 
at each other's throats. A man said he could dine out 
for a winter just on the conversation he could pick up 
in mother's drawing room." 

Into the after silence those two words — a man — echoed 
with soft insinuation. Jim forgot his America and its 
rising foreign flood. He ceased to vibrate concerning 
the sacrifices of his forefathers. ... A drawing room 
full of celebrities — and men — unknown men — interesting 
men — adoring men. . . . He looked at her with a sudden 
panic beating in his heart. 

It was conceivable that she cared for one of those 
men. 

But no, it was not conceivable. Those eyes that met 
his were too candidly bright, too innocently clear. 
Neither love nor the memory of love shadowed their 
clear depths. There was no dimming reflection of ex- 
perience. Love would have taught her her own fascina- 
tion and given her self -consciousness. 

She was all youth and softness and immaturity. She 
was as artless as a child. Yet she was dawning woman. 

57 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



But of course there were other men awaiting that 
dawn. 

Jim set his lean jaw a little harder at the thought of 
them. He realized that it was possible to feel strangely 
and anxiously unhappy. 

She was leaning lazily against the backrest, the scarlet 
cushion like a banner of youth behind her fair head. 

"But what are you going to do?" she asked him, 
bringing the wandering talk back to his repudiation of 
his father's profession. "I suppose you Seniors are all 
making your decisions now ?" 

"If it were as simple as that!" Jim sent the canoe 
forward with a vigorous impetus. "We're floundering, 
at our house. Of course it's simple for some of the boys. 
One has a governor for a father and he starts out as 
social secretary and editor of a paper and he doesn't 
yet know what all. And another fellow has a father in 
mines, so he goes on to study engineering. Funny, he's 
keen to be a doctor. But the old man won't hear of it." 

"That's hard." Her voice was sympathetic. 

"I can't imagine why he'd rather be a doctor than an 
engineer. But he ought to stand out for his own line." 

She smiled a little ruefully. "I suppose it isn't so 
easy for him if his father is determined. . . . Business 
men always do feel that their work is a legacy." 

"I know. Even if they've hated their job in the first 
place. That's why I'm rather glad, I'm mighty glad," 
Jim amended, "that I have my own decision and my own 
way to make. It would come hard to me to be tied to 
some business of my father's. I want most awfully 
to be free." 

He looked a little anxiously at her as he said it, as if 
what he really wanted was her young approval of his 
freedom. And the irony of this never struck him at all. 

58 



THE SPRING 



Her eyes dwelt answeringly upon him. The sun, 
lower now in the west, was on his face, and he was 
frowning slightly, his dark brows knit. 

"You look a very free person," said Evelyn Day, a 
little shyly. "I think you'll always do what you want." 
She added, "And what are you going to do ?" 

His gaze still dwelt on hers. Through his conscious- 
ness were stirring those confused suggestions of the 
walking trip abroad, England, Europe — his days of 
seeing the world — of possible writing. ... 

He answered, firmly, "I'm going into the law." 

She told him, with bright enthusiasm, "Oh, I think 
that's splendid." 

It appeared to him surprising that he had not always 
known that he was going into the law. 



He did not at once give a name to the thing that pos- 
sessed him. But he knew that life was instantly nar- 
rower and more intense. All its wide spaces and vague 
implications had contracted to one deep meaning. The 
occupations of the past, books, study, athletics, clubs 
and men friends and man-talk, all these relaxed their 
grip of him like a hand from which vitality is sapped. 
Claims that had been conflicting urges were now like 
disregarded breezes upon a steadily drawing current. 

All that mattered to his possessed and eager youth 
was the chance of being with Evelyn Day. 

And chance was incredibly kind. 

There were the dances — he asked her to all of them. 
There were the games — he withdrew from the events in 
the more precious interest of being her possible escort. 
There were calls and walks and plays and luncheons, 
& deux, at Boydens, the permitted restaurant for the 
college girls, and there were wonderful drives — but these 

59 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



not A deux, for the mortmain of New England tradition 
interposed its rigidities and added another couple to the 
equipage. 

But sitting together upon the front seat, the mountains 
a shadow in the twilight, the fireflies like winged stars 
in the mists of the meadows, one could forget that there 
were other couples, other lives in the world ! 

Revolting that these priceless hours should be meas- 
ured by dollars and cents! Abominable that this feel- 
ing for Evelyn, this divine, iridescent thing that drew 
him to her, that filled his days with dreams, should be 
suppliant to his purse. Blunderingly stupid that the 
price of food was the basis for the bewitching intimacy 
of those little meals together, across the tiny table, a 
sacred seclusion in a medley of other young voices and 
young faces. 

But so it was. Jim met the need with desperate 
energy. 

College had never been a spendthrift orgy to the 
Clarkes. An education was conceived of as a privilege, 
in the serious spirit of New England tradition, and an 
education at an eastern college would have been impos- 
sible for the boy but for the legacy which an aunt had 
recently left him. Jim was now eating his goods, as the 
French say, and delaying the ultimate consummation of 
the repast by working in vacation and so adding to his 
store, but he had never been sufficiently in funds to dally 
with extravagances. 

Now a revolution had occurred. Money was a pas- 
sionate need. Money for flowers, for books, for the- 
aters, for livery hire, for luncheons, even for vulgar 
carfare. He wanted it imperatively and his need led 
to terrific industry. 

He wrote prodigious papers for his fellow-students. 

60 



THE SPRING 



He edited articles. He sold his furniture. He went 
to the professors and demanded — and obtained — Fresh- 
men to tutor, and he worked those Freshmen so hard, 
driving the necessary knowledge into their hapless heads 
with such terrific impact, that the Faculty were amazed 
and gratified. They felt that later — possibly — he might 
be an addition. 

The spring was a golden haze. It was a singing dream 
of hours. There were drives through mountain sides 
where the rosy laurel bloomed or the white shad bush 
spread its filmy blossoms like a girl in bridal finery; 
there were lazy, floating hours on a sunny Paradise, and 
there were proud nights at the theater with Evelyn in 
some radiant frock, her golden hair piled high upon her 
head, her lovely neck bare, her arms encased in the 
formal splendor of white gloves. He felt . magnificent 
then, and possessive and deeply thrilled . . . but secretly 
intimidated. 

Better than that were the Sunday vespers, the darken- 
ing quiet and the stirring organ and the shared hymnal 
page, and better than all else the walks through the sun- 
set, along the winding campus ways, beside the pool 
where the sky colors were caught and quieted. 

It was by the pool that the nameless thing between 
them came to speech. It was just after a dinner at 
Boydens and they were strolling through the gardens, 
postponing a parting that ought to be made in the inter- 
est of a paper that must be written. Gradually the 
sauntering, white-clad girls about them drifted away 
and the path by the azaleas was empty and the little pool 
by which they paused had a sense of solitude and remote- 
ness under the sky. 

61 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



It held a gleam of green and saffron from the lingering 
west. 

Jim had been talking of his work, of the law course 
that was to be. A sobering sense of responsibility was 
on him, and he talked of the time required for his 
preparation with a stern honesty, that she might know. 

But what are years, two years, three, four, to youth ? 

It was youth and spring to them, and first love, ex- 
quisite, brimming, deep. They knew it, they knew it 
without words, in the smile that each other's eyes had 
when they met, in the cadence of a voice, in the beat of 
a heart And yet the word had not been spoken between 
them. 

Nor did the boy's speech begin with it. He spoke of 
the waiting. He would have to ask any one to wait 
for him. Perhaps — a girl — might not care to wait. 
Perhaps a man ought not to ask it. 

He was following the traditions of his blood, of New 
England, of the old West Side. His father had asked 
his mother to wait for him. It was an honorable estate 
but it conferred a certain claim to gratitude upon the 
girl. 

Evelyn thought very little of the waiting. She 
brushed it aside with a soft murmur. Of course one 
waited! Of course. 

Instinctively their eyes drew together in a long look 
of breathless understanding. A look of expectation on 
tiptoe before the House of Life ... a look of divine 
confession and questioning and yet unquestioning glad- 
ness. . . . 

A trembling passed through him, and he knew a pang 
that was like a pain at his heart. 

"Evelyn, darling," he said in a shaken voice. "Dar- 
ling " 

62 



THE SPRING 



Her eyes were such happy eyes. And the little smile 
that she gave him was radiant, tender, wistful. 

"I haven't told you — I haven't known how to tell — but 
I, I simply worship you, Evelyn. It's more than love. 
I could die for you — die to make you happy. I love you 
so much. I love you as much as that." 

His words came in a breathless torrent, now. His 
gray eyes had darkened, his face was very pale in the 
dusk. 

"I love you more than my life." 

Then she found words to answer, to bear something to 
him of the tumult of her own young heart. 

"You are my life, Jim. . . . You are all I want in life." 



Later, they paused again by the pool. The fairy gold 
had faded now and the first stars of night were caught 
and trembling in the still water. Shyly their hands 
touched. 

A flame seemed to pass through all the cur- 
rents of his being. He felt again breathlessly that 
he could die to serve her, die to keep always this happy, 
tender-eyed girl. . . . 

There was another sacred moment in the shadow of 
the porch. Their eyes met there, full of delicious shy- 
ness and shame, then he drew her to him, and pressed 
her soft cheek against his shoulder. He kissed her hair, 
her cheek . . . her mouth. • 

It was a moment of supreme and final emotion. He 
felt that life had nothing more to offer. He was 
crowned with the joy that kings and conquerors can not 
achieve. And all his past life sank away and he felt 
that only now he was beginning to live and feel and 
understand. Now he was a man. 

63 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



She loved him. And his spirit was so humble in its 
pride that it could have kissed the hem of her garment. 
The perfection of her trust overcame him. He knew 
for her a tenderness that was the very spirit and essence 
of love. 



CHAPTER VII 

A SECRET MATTER 

She had to induce him to keep it a secret. 

"While I'm at college it would never do," she said 
definitely. "Mother wouldn't like it at all." 

"Won't she like me ?" he had given back. 

Evelyn regarded him with clear eyes. "She can't help 
but like you, Jim. But she won't like our being engaged. 
She'll call us babies and think we are playing at love." 

"But we're not. You're not ?" 

"Of course not, silly ! But she'll think so and make us 
feel small and — and youthful." The girl laughed over 
the last word. "And she'll think that we are making a 
mistake and that we don't know our own minds. The 
best way to show that we do is just to say nothing until 
we are ready — till there can be no objections brought." 

He was silenced. His impulse was still to shout his 
joy from the housetops, but he perceived that an engage- 
ment must have a definite form of announcement in her 
mother's eyes. It demanded a ring. And he had no 
money for a ring. If he bought a ring he would have too 
little money for that law course. And he would have to 
mm very short, anyway. It made him feel young and 
poor and helpless. 

Custom was a damned thing, he reflected. 

"But your mother won't mind our seeing each other?" 
he brought out, after a pause of readjustment. 

To his surprise Evelyn's assent was a little slow. "Oh, 

65 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



we'll see each other," she said, stoutly enough, but her 
expression was clouded. 

She added, as if to prepare him for possible lack of 
enthusiasm, "You know mother has so many plans of 
her own. She wants me," the girl hesitated and her eyes 
grew vague, "to be a great success." 

"I know ! You're so lovely, sweetheart, you ought to 
marry a million. I wish I had it to give you." Jim 
added, "And I know the law is pretty slow sledding, at 
first. You're sure you won't mind? It would kill me 
not to give you anything you wanted." 

"I shan't mind anything — with you." 

So it was left. They were not to say a word until 
Evelyn was through college and Jim well on his way to 
the law. He was to enter the University of Chicago that 
summer and, with expedition, would graduate in two 
years and a quarter. 

Privately Jim conceded the worldly wisdom of this 
course, but he conceived that their behavior would soon 
give the show away to a discerning mother, and the air 
would be cleared and the affair arranged. By that time 
he ought to be able to buy a ring. But diamonds were 
three hundred and fifty a carat. And a carat and a 
quarter would be 



The trouble with the law was that one was so long get- 
ting anywhere. But he hated the thought of business. 
And travel and writing had vanished into the thin air of 
dreams. 

He was sorry not to tell his mother. She came on for 
his commencement, — his father could not afford the trip, 
and was too occupied, anyway, to leave his school — and 
when she picked up the large photograph on Jim's desk 
and then turned to him questioningly he found it hard 
to reply with casualness. 

66 



A SECRET MATTER 



"That's Evelyn Day," he told her. "She's a great 
friend of mine. * She's a Junior now at Smith College." 

His mother gave a little lightning glance about the boy's 
room. It was bare of other photographs, save those of 
herself and his father and Fanny set in a dutiful row. 
She smiled, and looked at the pictured Evelyn again. It 
was Evelyn at her sweetest, in a gauzy frock that re- 
vealed the tender lines of the young throat and slender 
arms. She looked like a white rose of a girl, a nymph 
of spring smiling shyly at an uncomprehended world. 

Into the silence Jim's voice fell nervously. 

"She's from Chicago, you know. The North Side." 

"The North Side! Evelyn Day! Why, Jim, that 
must be Rosalie Day's daughter. It's the image of her — 
only the difference in dress and hair. . . .You remember 
hearing me speak of Rosalie Day ?" 

He remembered nothing. 

She grew animated over the recollection. "Of course 
you've heard ! She married her cousin, a sort of cousin, 
so she didn't change her name. She lived right across 
the way from us in the old Houston house — Mrs. 
Houston was her mother's mother." 

The Houston house — that bulk of white marble piled 
on its scant circle of green lawn, that lay now empty on 
the old boulevard corner. Jim could just recall when it 
had been tenanted, and a very old lady, with a tiny black 
sunshade oblique on its stick, had come mincing out to 
the victoria with the proud horses with the jingling 
harness. He found suddenly he could remember a 
black coachman. But he must have been a very 
little boy. 

"And was that Evelyn's ?" 

"It was Evelyn Day's great-grandmother. The grand- 
mother was dead. And Rosalie Day was biptghf .'up'ty 

67 i £p iKa 









THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



Mrs. Houston. She was a great belle, Rosalie was, and 
a beautiful girl — I loved to see her at dancing class. We 
went to the same one at Martines. She was as light as a 
fairy. . . . She had a big wedding. We weren't asked 
— I remember that hurt me a little, but I suppose she had 
so many to consider. . . . There was a perfect crush. 
She had a very wide awning stretched over the steps and 
people going up and down all evening to the reception. . . . 
Her husband was very handsome, I believe, but I did hear 
that he was never very successful. Although Rosalie 
Day never dropped out of things. I've often seen her 
name." 

Jim stared at her, astounded, as he often had been, at 
his mother's powers of recollection, her grasp of intimate 
and trivial detail. And she had known Evelyn's mother ! 
She had danced with her. She remembered the night 
she was married. . . . Astonishing! And he never re- 
called hearing her say the name ... it had slipped by 
him, if she had. ... Of course it had meant nothing 
to him then. But now 

This seemed to bring Evelyn nearer. It linked the 
families. 

His mother still held the photograph and now she re- 
garded it again. 

"Rosalie Day's daughter," she said. "Dear, dear!" 

Clearly the name of Rosalie Day was a name of ro- 
mance to her. The daughter of a theological professor, 
her wildest phantasy the dancing class, she had been 
early captivated by the gay career of her young neigh- 
bor. . . . And now Rosalie Day's daughter and her 
own Jim. . . . She felt agitated and proud and ten- 
der. . . . There was something of a story-book quality 
about it. . . . She felt flattered yet would fiercely have 
resented the suggestion that the Days were condescend- 

68 



A SECRET MATTER 



ing. The Garkes, she felt, made up in worth what the 
Days achieved in brilliance. 

To Evelyn, when the girl came over for Jim's com- 
mencement, she was very charming. She told her a 
great deal about her great grandmother of whom Evelyn 
recollected very little. She could just recall the old 
house. After her great-grandmother's death she had 
never been over to see it, for the house had been left to 
another cousin, and some family feeling had been in- 
volved. 

"I do remember going to ride in that victoria/' she 
said triumphantly. 

"I was probably staring at you from my horse block," 
said Jim. "I was always wishing those horses would 
run away. They would have jingled so splendidly!" 

"You were staring at the horses, not at me !" 

"Jim never liked little girls," said his mother rem- 
iniscently, and the pair burst into merry laughter. 

It seemed to them delightful that they shared those 
early memories. 

Afterwards Jim's conscience hurt him about those 
last days, the only days that his mother had ever had at 
his college. For he slipped over to Northampton when- 
ever he could, where Evelyn was lingering as a Junior 
usher at the Smith Commencement, and on one afternoon 
he left his mother alone to pack while he took Evelyn 
driving. 

It was their farewell until they met in Chicago. She 
was to make some visits in the East with her mother. 



CHAPTER VIII 

IN CHICAGO 

Jim Clarke had never before seen the University of 
his city and he felt an odd surprise at the beauty of the 
gray stone buildings, the lovely facades, and deep en- 
trances and cool stone halls where the footsteps echoed 
so delightfully. ... It was finer than anything he had 
seen in the East. And with the lake only a stone's throw 
away. ... It ought to have been on the lake, of course, 
with student canoes on the blue water, and student bon- 
fires on the beach. Only then there would be too many 
drowned Freshmen! 

The University gave him a new feeling about Chicago. 
But his feeling about Chicago and about the law and the 
University were all nothing to this great feeling that 
possessed him. 

He wrote his heart out to the girl and she poured hers 
back to him. There was never anything like those let- 
ters. ... But it was not having her near, not having 
the dear sight and sound and touch of her. 

The time seemed to him interminable. And then one 
day he lifted the telephone and Evelyn was in town. 

He fled from the University and in an hour — it was 
afternoon — was ringing the bell of her home, a high 
narrow house just about the corner from the Drive, with- 
in sound of the waves. 

She answered the bell herself, her face radiant. They 
went into a Jong, light living room, with a great deal of 

70 



IN CHICAGO 



cream enamel and delicate blue about it, and he took 
her in his arms with a sudden fierce hunger. 

It seemed as if he had forgotten what joy was, and 
the present savor of it was keen beyond all memory. 

She told him that they had just arrived that morning, 
and were maidless and unsettled for they were going on 
to Lake Geneva soon. Muriel was away and her mother 
was out now looking for some temporary help and doing 
some errands. The two were beautifully alone. 

On one of the delicate couches, cretonne swathed, they 
clung together like blissful children. An hour was a 
moment ; two hours no longer. 

At sound of an opening door they jumped guiltily 
apart and were conversing with a strange nervousness 
when a light step paused on the threshold. A figure 
appeared, slender as Evelyn's, and the girl sprang up, 
introducing her mother. 

Jim Clarke felt curiously young and disconcerted. 
Evelyn's embarrassment infected him; he saw that her 
cheeks flew a crimson flag and her fluency was un- 
natural. He also saw that one cheek of hers was 
creased where it had snuggled against him, and her hair 
was ruffled from his caresses. 

And he saw that her mother saw these things. Her 
determination not to see them was the conspicuous thing, 
however. She Was unconcernedly casual in her manner, 
and greeted Mr. Clarke pleasantly; she sat down, and, 
poised lightly upon a chair, she had the air of letting their 
remarks develop into a conversation if they desired. 

She was slim and fair, like Evelyn, but with a harder 
finish, like some delicate, glazed enamel. It was a finish 
that can only be put upon very fine material, and fire is 
one way of obtaining it, but Jim did not reflect upon 
that. He thought she looked very alert and competent 

7i 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



and ready. He could see that she was charming and he 
would have surrendered to her charm but for Evelyn's 
intimations of her hostility. 

Evelyn had told him that she was not really well and 
that worry was bad for her. It struck him that, on the 
contrary, so young and intelligent a woman might well 
withstand the shock of her daughter's engagement to a 
not impossible young man, but he conceived of the occa- 
sion as not benefiting by explanation, and after a few 
remarks took himself away. 

He paused, rather pointedly, in the leave-taking, look- 
ing at Evelyn with eyes of young hope, but she made no 
reference to their next meeting, only suggested that he 
call hef up. That went rather without saying ! 

When he was out of the house Mrs. Day turned to 
her daughter with an amused little laugh. 

"So that's our young man! He's very nice, my 
dear. . . . Don't look so like a guilty little canary 
with the feathers sticking out your mouth. I quite ap- 
prove." 

"You — approve?" Evelyn was not so unused to her 
mother's defensive lightness that she forgot to fling, 
Of what?" back in question. 

Of his devotion to you, my dear. Of your interest 
in him. He looks like such a steady young man," said 
Mrs. Day cheerfully, "and nothing is better for a young 
girl than the friendship of a steady young man ! ... It 
doesn't make complications, and complications, my child, 
are precisely what you must not have." 

She added, giving this its chance to sink in, "Is this 
that boy at college ?" 

Evelyn sketched him, with a surface lightness. She 
told of his mother having known her mother. But she 
had neglected to find out Mrs. Clarke's maiden name. 

72 



"v 



IN CHICAGO 



"I don't remember anybody called Clarke — they lived 
across the way, did you say? I remember a nice girl 
called Elizabeth Colton — her father was professor in a 
Theological Institute " 

"That's the one. Her name is Elizabeth." 

It is significant when a girl knows his mother's name. 
Rosalie Day tried to beat out the danger with adroit back 
fire. 

"I remember that family," she said. "Nice people. 
Good housekeepers." 

But back fires can fling their sparks. Evelyn's spirit 
kindled. And presently when her mother said, "But you 
mustn't have him coming here in the middle of the after- 
noon. That really won't do," the girl turned quite sud- 
denly upon her. 

"I'm going to marry him, mother," she said in an 
edged voice. 

Her mother managed a small laugh. "You'll get over 
that," she said pleasantly. "Don't announce it." 

After a deep-breathing pause, "Dream all the dreams 
you like, Evelyn, but remember that life is different. 
You are young. Twenty. The boy is twenty-one — that's 
younger yet. You say he has years ahead of him in 
which to make his living. He may change — you may. 
. . . So do nothing to make life harder for either of 
you. The less the world knows about your affairs the 
less it can tell — later. Nothing hurts a girl like a string 
of silly young affairs. I trust you, Evelyn, not to be a 
little goose." 

She added, "I shall be perfectly willing to have the 
young man here and let you play discreetly together — 
only it must be discreetly. Don't drag me into it. You're 
too young to talk of being engaged. I won't have 

73 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



that. . . . But I don't mind your seeing all you want 
of each other." 

"It won't work, mother," said the girl quickly. "We 
shan't get tired. I really love him." 

Her mother made no immediate answer. She paused 
by a table and put out her hand to some flowers, a corsage 
bouquet thrust into a bowl of water. She lifted the 
petals, then let them droop. 

"Well, don't tell Christopher Stanley so," she gave 
lightly back, and went slowly upstairs. 

She closed the door very softly. Evelyn had no means 
of knowing that she sat there, just above her, huddled 
into her chair, her eyes drawn. . . . She shivered, then 
her face grew sharper, more intent. . . . She went about 
that night at dinner with a resolute spirit that took no 
notion of the girl's dreamy absorption. 

"I tried to talk to mother to-day, darling," — so Evelyn 
wrote her lover at night — "but she thinks I am too young 
to talk of love and doesn't want any engagement spoken 
of until we are ready to announce it. But of course 
we can see each other and everything — we shall have a 
wonderful time. Only you mustn't tell your mother, 
even. It will just be between our two selves. But as 
long as it is all right between us, we shan't mind, shall 
we, sweetheart ? Oh, how good it was to see you to-day ! 
And how I hate to go on to Lake Geneva ! If only you 
were going to be there, Jim, where I could see you and 
we could do things together in the old way, sailing and 
swimming and driving. Oh, Jim, my dearest, why aren't 
you going to be there ?" 

Why, indeed? Jim asked bitterly of life the day he 
read that. He thought darkly of the luck of the people 
who were going to be there. But the other people hadn't 
Evelyn's heart. 

74 



IN CHICAGO 



He had her heart, it seemed, but her mother guarded 
her lips. And Jim had no illusions as to that mother's 
attitude. He understood she had no room in her plans 
for penniless young students who were to make a living 
by the law. He set his jaw hard over that, with the look 
of a young rower pulling upstream. 



CHAPTER IX 

BYGONES 

It might have softened Jim's feelings about Rosalie 
Day if he had known something of her marriage, but that 
was naturally unrevealed to him. Not many of her own 
.world had ever suspected. 

She had married for love, and her love had been sup- 
ported by a pride in her choice. Carter Day had 
distinction and charm, not much money but excellent 
chances with a good position in a powerful firm. Their 
future invited puns about Rosalie and roseate. 

It would have been hard for Rosalie to say at just what 
moment complete disillusionment arrived. She had been 
long in holding her intelligence at bay. Her will was a 
consciously exerted force holding shut that door. It gave 
way, ultimately. 

It was not that he was wicked. There were hours 
when she would have welcomed unutterable wickedness 
for its savagery of strength. He was irresponsible, idle, 
selfish, spoiled. He traded more and more on that charm 
which lost its spontaneity. He drifted from his promis- 
ing place into a superficial one, held through influence; 
she knew he borrowed from his friends, and was reason- 
ably certain that he never repaid, repudiating in his 
creditors any unworthy insistence upon their dues. He 
was always a fool about money when he had it, and there 
were a few windfalls, legacies, whatnots that he spent 
with a flourish, or lent in the grand manner to the least 
deserving of his intimates. He made ridiculous invest- 

76 



BYGONES 



ments, but she did not credit even his fatuity with belief 
in the value of the stock that he used his charm to sell. 

In his more repentant moments he bought his wife 
presents. She received the bills for some of them after- 
wards. He was always delightful to her — as long as she 
was complaisant. Under reproach he became injured. 
Occasionally he had flashes of his old quality but the 
weakness grew. . . . He filled her with a tightening 
horror of dread. She felt she never knew just what 
might happen. 

There was one unforgettable time when a hostess' 
pearl string broke at a dinner and one of the pearls could 
not be found. It was recovered in the corner of a rug 
fringe ten minutes later but Rosalie never forgot those 
ten minutes. And even in the passion of her mute contri- 
tion and abasement before him she could not withhold 
the reflection that if the pearls had rolled the other 
way. . . . 

She had determined that she would not sink. It would 
have been very easy to sink into the obscurity that the 
world holds for its unfortunates. But Rosalie Day was 
of indefatigable stuff. She managed, she achieved mir- 
acles. She kept Carter always up to appearances, never 
yielding to the tremendous pressure, never confiding. . . . 
She gave up carriage and coachman and the second 
maid, but the narrow house looked always smart and 
sprightly; there were teas in the long drawing-room, 
and dinners in the small dining room. Rosalie was al- 
ways delightful and clever; her children were beautiful, 
her husband appeared adoring, though not, of course, 
a business man. 

And when Carter died people said what a romantic 
couple they had been, and recalled his charming airs and 
his good breeding and his good looks. 

77 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



And Rosalie cried very bitterly — not when he died but 
when she came back to the narrow house and left his 
body in the earth. . . . After all, she had loved him 
once. It was her romantic youth that she left there in 
the grave. And she had saved the relation between them ; 
so early she had perceived that she had to do with a 
weakling that she had engaged her own strength never 
to let him feel it. 

There was an insurance. That was one of the miracles 
she had achieved. Her lawyer had something to do with 
that miracle, more than she suspected. He was a very 
marvelous man in the management of money. 

He was the man she ought to have married, of course, 
but at nineteen she had not seen him for the brilliance 
of Carter's light. He managed to become a friend; later 
he had married a wife who was not a society woman and 
who said disapproving things about the beautiful Mrs. 
Day. There were three children to that marriage and 
they lived in the North Shore suburbs ; twice the family 
moved to a larger home. 

The Walter Hinmans were successful people. Walter 
Hinman, himself, with his plump, pink, cheerful face, 
had the air of a prosperous golfer. But there was some- 
thing appealing in his eyes, a reminiscent look of youth 
that was queerly refreshed on the occasions when Rosalie 
Day, very slim and youthful in her widow's black, came 
to his office on her earnest conferences. 

r 

Of course, if he had not been so precipitate about the 
wife and the three children. . . . But no one, not 
Rosalie Day herself, had the slightest ground for know- 
ing that Walter Hinman considered himself a precipi- 
tate person. 

He had been her stanch friend through the years. 
It was partly on his advice that she had sent her girl to 

78 



BYGONES 



college, partly on her own idea that it would prolong 
the girl's youth and give her a clearer vision of values. 
She staked her hopes on this child, this gay sprite of 
a girl with her tender heart, her lucid mind, her eager 
imagination. 

After college she was to come out, and take her place 
in that group of friends on whom Rosalie had never 
relinquished her light hold. 

Now, Rosalie questioned her policy. If her girl had 
been younger, more pliant. . . . 

But this onrush of young hopes! 

Pathetic, she called it to herself, remembering her 
daughter's starlit gaze. And for what? For a long- 
legged, gray-eyed young man with not a penny to keep 
the wolf away. 

And just around the corner was Christopher Stanley, 
waiting for the girl to grow up. 



CHAPTER X 

CHRISTOPHER DECLARES HIMSELF 

Two days later Mrs. Day sat upon the deck of the 
Stanley yacht and talked to Christopher. Mrs. Stanley 
was playing an interminable solitaire some distance away 
and Evelyn lounged at the rail just ahead of them. 

There had been distinct detachment in the way that 
Evelyn had taken herself off, and there had been a 
discoverable ennui in the remarks that she had returned 
to Christopher's conversation. Now, for all the world 
as if she had achieved a desired solitude, she produced 
a letter from her pocket and began to read. 

The letter was everlasting. It was sheet after sheet 
of a black, inky script, and it held the girl absorbed. 

And Christopher Stanley was watching her with that 
unconscious expressiveness which made Rosalie, for very 
pity's sake, yearn to fling a screen about him. 

He could not have failed to notice that on each day 
of Evelyn's visit she had received a similar letter. 

With an amused smile Rosalie turned to her host. 
Evelyn's at the literary age," she remarked. 

The literary ?" He hesitated, then smiled a little 

painfully. "Oh, I see." 

"The correspondence of youth — indefatigable crea- 
tures !" Mrs. Day continued to be amused. "I wonder 
what they find to write about — life, I expect!" 

Her glance was confidentially cynical. 

Christopher picked a word from those offered. 

"They ?" 

80 






CHRISTOPHER DECLARES HIMSELF 



"Oh, college youngsters — girls, and men, too. I 
fancy," said Evelyn's mother lightly, "that Evelyn is 
rather living for her affairs just now." 

Stanley tried to reflect her continued smile. "Has 
she so many?" 

"Oh, shoals! Girl affairs, Freshmen crushes and 
Senior ideals " 



"I was afraid you meant young men." 

His eyes had wandered again to the letter. Evelyn 
was holding it up to read things written about the edges. 

"Young men, of course! What do you expect— at 
Evelyn's age ? She's sampling life," she told him in that 
tone pf detached comment that was so striking an atti- 
tude of her manner to her daughter. 

Christopher was now looking carefully at her. He 
wondered if she had anything particular to tell him. 
His fear was in his eyes. 

When he looked anxious, Rosalie reflected, there was 
a strong resemblance to his mother. Poor Emmeline! 
There was something tragic in her eyes even now. 
Christopher had her clear-cut, sensitive features ; he had 
a look of fineness, of quiet, innate distinction. He 
satisfied every critical fastidiousness, thought Rosalie, 
and every question of maternal anxiety. His own 
withdrawals, his elusive character, made him an asset in 
a world where self-assertion was a clangor of monotony. 

He was too old, of course, for his thirty-three years, 
but Evelyn would make him younger. Happiness would 
work miracles. . . . And his steadiness was safety. He 
would always be good and safe and wise. 

There Rosalie overstepped her woman's judgment of 
a man in love. 

And his money would be safe. She had seen to it 
that he had Walter Hinman for adviser. Christopher 

81 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



might be incapable of adding to the fortune his father 
left, but his was not the disposition to lose it 

Yes, Christopher was excellent. He was the best, 
the best that she could do now. Given the means, with 
Evelyn's lovely youth what miracles she could have 
worked ! Visions of distant shores came to her, of Eng- 
lish turf and ivied towers, and strutting peacocks spread- 
ing their tails on westering terraces. The gleam of 
pink coats and the bay of hounds surged through the 
vision. And all this as a background, not to a vulgar 
barter but to some shining romance, some high, un- 
worldly preference of Evelyn's that would satisfy her 
youth. 

But Rosalie's hands were tied. There would be, of 
course, desirable Americans other than Christopher, but 
the affair with Jim Clarke taught the folly of chance. 
Christopher was the safest and perhaps the best for 
the child's happiness. Rich — good — devoted 



"Oh, my soul!" she thought violently. "Evelyn's 
reading that letter again!" 

There was a deal of maternal comfort, she reflected, 
in the French way of settling a marriage. 

Suitability counted for something, then, and experi- 
ence. 

She remembered her own romantic youth and sighed. 
Quite dryly she thought that she would rather have 
borne the pang of unripe separation than those pro- 
tracted years of union. 

Evelyn must never endure the harassments that she 
had known. 

Meanwhile there was Christopher looking at her with 
those sheep's eyes. She could sympathize with Evelyn's 
impatience at this adoration. And Evelyn would show; 

82 



CHRISTOPHER DECLARES HIMSELF 

him that impatience if he went on waving the swinging 
censors about her and worshiping like an acolyte ! 

"She's so young," said Rosalie aloud, in tones of ripe 
indulgence. "Her head's full of Proms and games. 
I'm glad I sent her to school so early ; she's had all the 
fun of it." 

"She said," murmured Christopher, "that she wasn't 
very anxious to return for her last year." 

Had she, indeed! Blew the wind that way! . . . 
Rosalie shrugged. "That's the memory of examina- 
tions. And of course three years is nearly enough of 
it. Next year she will be growing up." 

It was her way of assuaging him and at the same time 
warning him against haste. Hands off ! 

A wise man would have followed her directions. 
Christopher proposed to Evelyn that evening. 

He had not meant to. But there was a fete on some- 
body's lawn, and there were Japanese lanterns and vio- 
lins and Evelyn with a misty scarf about her white 
throat and an upsetting willingness to leave the throng 
and stroll about with him. 

She was strolling with Jim Clarke. With her eyes 
half closed she could almost dream he was near. . . . 
And only the surface of her inattentive mind made its 
mechanical responses to Christopher's infrequent words. 

She came out of her clouds to discover that it was 
too late to turn him. He was possessed upon telling 
her that he couldn't live without her. 

Evelyn was aghast. Not at his loving her. She was 
aware now that she had always unconsciously known 
that. But she had never wanted to know it. She had 
never wanted him to care. She had never encouraged 

83 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



him. Or had she? What was she doing with him to- 
night, strolling in this solitude? 

She was so anxiously searching her conscience to 
absolve herself of blame that she forgot Christopher was 
.waiting, with some appearance of expectation. 

It was hard, to hurt any one. And she liked Christo- 
pher so truly ! 

She must speak — he was even stretching out his hand 
to her. She had a panicky dread that it would touch 
her, and she drew instinctively away. 

"Oh, Christopher, Christopher," she began incoher- 
ently. 

But her tone told him, in its gushing repentance, and 
her swift withdrawal. 

"That's all right, that's quite all right," he began 
blindly to reassure her, his lips shaking. "It's too soon, 
I know. You needn't say anything." 

"But I must. Oh, Christopher, I never meant to 
hurt you." 

"Hurt me?" His tone was pure astonishment. As 
if it hurt him to love Evelyn! It was difficult now to 
remember when he had not loved Evelyn. He could 
think of nothing else so worth the doing. 

He tried hurriedly to tell her that. He would wait, 
he said. She was too young. And by and by 

But she faced him very honestly. 

"You mustn't wait, Christopher. There's some one 
else." 

He felt as if he had had a death blow. If he admitted 
it or gave in to it, it would be one. 

"There is always some one else — when growing up," 
he gave back with a ghastly jocularity. "Don't — don't 
let that come fyetween us. It doesn't matter. We are 
the same good friends." 

84 



CHRISTOPHER DECLARES HIMSELF 

He insisted so anxiously upon it that she assented 
eagerly in her reproach at having to deny him so much 
else. 

But the relationship was spoiled. Her blind eyes had 
been touched and the dissembling cloud of self-absorp- 
tion brushed away. She saw love looking out of his 
eyes, love and frustrate desire. It fretted her and it 
was the harder to bear that she was so helpless before 
it. The need for giving happiness withheld her from 
cruelties that would have been a release. 

They kept up a light pretense at intimacy, but the 
effort to be as usual was a strain. For the first time 
his presence irked her. The thought of his love gave 
her a queer sense of affront and dislike. She didn't 
want any one in the world to feel that way about her 
but Jim. 

The return to the city was a relief from this restraint, 
and it was a rapture of remeeting with her lover. He 
came to the house whenever she would let him, and he 
met her whenever and wherever it was possible, between 
the confusion of appointments, of preparations and 
dressmakers and dentists and farewell parties and visit- 
ing relatives that filled her time. 

They lunched at Fields', they spent fleeting hours in 
the Art Institute, they knew stolen moments on the 
white marble bench beside the Public Library stairs. 
And once she rambled to a South Side park and they 
built a castle on the beach that defied the boldest of 
the far-reaching little waves. 

"Sometime," she said gaily, "we'll go to a real 
beach " 

"All by our two selves," said Jim. 

85 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



"And we'll go wading in the water " 

"And we'll dry ourselves in the sun." 

"And there never will be any clocks " 

"Nor any time to go home !" 



In the meantime there was always a time to go home. 

This was all very bad for Jim's work, of course, at 
the University. A certain steadiness in attendance is 
encouraged by the directors of the courses. And a 
young man who is so pulled by invisible and abrupt 
wires that he is seen starting furiously for down town 
when the class is assembling in the Law Building wakes 
a definite wonder in the professorial breast. 

But Jim worked furiously in the intervals of his 
happiness, and it was perhaps as well for his work that 
there were many intervals. Driving study was his only 
resource for the -blackness that enveloped him at the 
thought of the parting. 

He was at her house that last night. Rosalie knew 
it was wise to accept. She even — be this remembered 
of her ! — slipped away from the blue and ivory drawing- 
room to upstairs regions and withdrew Muriel. They 
were alone for the bitter-sweet of parting. 

It was late when he went out that front door, with 
Evelyn's arms clinging to him at the last, and Evelyn's 
upturned face wet with both their tears, against his, 
and Evelyn's soft, choked little words of love and 
promise in his ears. 



CHAPTER XI 

CONSEQUENCES 

She had been his utterly. He knew it and he con- 
tinued to feel it for months. It was December when 
he noticed the fruits of change. 

She did not return for the Christmas vacation. He 
had been drawing the very breath of life from that 
vacation and now, it developed, her mother was to join 
her in the East with Muriel, to spend the holidays in 
New York. 

He saw Rosalie's opposition in its clarity, and he was 
bitter at Evelyn's apparent acquiescence in these tactics. 
The thought of the spring vacation, which Evelyn held 
before him, was no assuagement. 

He had a sudden feeling of the precariousness of 
their chances, and he jumbled his fear and his bitterness 
and his longing very youthfully in his reply. 

She wrote back helplessly, wishing that he could find 
his way to come to New York. 

Well, he could not. That was flat. He counted the 
fare, the hotels, even the cheapest, and the meals — to 
say nothing of entertainment. It simply couldn't be 
done. His legacy was consumed and he was drawing 
on his father for the University. 

He could not sleep those nights. He thought of Mrs. 
Day as a monster, an ogre, a block of granite. The 
influence she had over her daughter! 

He could wish that Evelyn had some of his sister 
Fanny's frank impatience with maternal suggestion. 

87 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



But the days that were to have been so happy were 
past, at last, and one morning the papers announced 
that Mrs. Carter Day had returned from New York. 

Jim presented himself at her front door at eight 
thirty, that night. 

He found the lady at home, playing the piano to her 
daughter Muriel's violin, and a man and an older woman 
were in the drawing-room, sipping after dinner coffee. 

Mrs. Day welcomed him pleasantly. She did not 
accent the surprise he had naively expected her to dis- 
cover, and her quick eyes, in their inventory of his stern 
composure and his scrupulous evening clothes, betrayed 
no guilt nor alarm. 

"This is very nice !" she told him and presenting him 
to the guests, a Mrs. Stanley and her son, gave him a 
seat near the lady. Then she turned to the piano again. 

In spite of his keyed-to-action antagonism that music 
entered into Jim's mood and spoke to it. The violin, 
especially, affected him strangely. It appeared prepos- 
terous that so young a girl as this Muriel could achieve 
such things. 

He was thrilled and disturbed, and a sad, disquieting 
unhappiness stole upon him, a sense of fate and finality 
and the futility of hope and blossom and youth. . . . 

Later, he found himself incomprehensibly discussing 
the question of musical education with the mother. 

"Does it seem wonderful to you?" said Rosalie with 
that wistfulness she knew so well how to produce. "Of 
course, to me — and her teachers tell me — but, after all, 
teachers are willing to risk other people's experiments." 

"I am only the general public," he said bluntly. "I 
don't know a precious thing about a violin." 

"It is the public an artist has to please," said Mrs. 
Day. "But Muriel is so young. A girl's youth means 

88 



CONSEQUENCES 



so much — I hate to stake it . . . except upon the great- 
est talent. But Muriel herself is so passionately re- 
solved." 

Suddenly he felt that she was telling him her feeling 
about Evelyn. . . . And he found he was not blaming 
her; not, of course, from her point of view. 

Muriel turned to them from her piano where she was 
laying her violin away. She was like neither her mother 
nor sister; she had a short, heart-shaped little face 
with a sullen, tender mouth; her eyes were dark and 
her black hair was heavy on her small head. 

"Is mother telling you that I am going to sacrifice 
myself to my art? ,, she demanded. She seemed to have 
caught the adept lightness of her family, but there was 
a sense of slumbering intensity beneath it that Jim 
was forced to credit to the musical temperament. 

"She simply doesn't want a professional musician in 
the family," she declared. 

"Oh, it appalls me, I admit !" the mother gave laugh- 
ingly back. 

"Do you want to study music?" was all Jim could 
find to say. 

"I am going to." He wished Evelyn had more of her 
decision. It would cut knots for them. "New York, 
first, then Russia — 



;, men xvussia " 

tr 



'My dear " Mrs. Day flung out. 

'You must go to Russia for the real thing," the girl 
insisted. 

"Of course you shall go," said the youngish man, who 
had not entered into the conversation. "I'll pack you 
off, Muriel, if your mother doesn't, and take all the 
credit for discovering you !" 

As he gave the speaker a casual glance Jim thought 

89 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



that it would be very pleasant to toss out light assur- 
ances like that. 

The conversation grew more general and Mrs. Day 
piloted it through shoals and depths. She gave them 
an account of her holiday doings, and reported New 
York as a rather hectic spectacle from the outside, for, 
"I don't know any of the real people," she laughingly 
disclaimed. "Dear Aunt Jane is so buried in her 
rheumatism and Washington Square — poor Evelyn was 
horribly dull. She quite sighed for young men," Rosalie 
avowed with a quizzical twist of her lips, and a twinkle 
of the eyes toward Jim, a moment later, as if offering 
him a sop. 

He told himself that he scorned it. But he found 
his rage unready. 

Then as the Stanleys appeared settled he gave up his 
ideas about seeing Rosalie alone and came away, not 
knowing whether to be pleased or displeased with him- 
self. 

He brought away a good opinion of Muriel. 

To Christopher Stanley he had paid such scant atten- 
tion that walking past him a few days later, at a club 
entrance, he would utterly have disregarded him if 
Mortimer Preebles had not been talking to Christopher. 

Elizabeth Clarke was very happy that spring. Al- 
though her daughter was away, she had her son at 
home, and her joy was edged with the foreknowledge 
that it would not now be for long. 

It seemed to her but a very little time since she had 
sat rocking, sewing his baby clothes as he tumbled about 
the floor, and then he had been a bigger and a bigger 
little boy, and she had been occupied with wide-holed 
stockings and rent little trousers. ... He had been such 

9° 



CONSEQUENCES 

a reckless little boy! . . . And then had come his first 
long trousers, and then, almost without intermission, it 
seemed, she had been packing his clothes for college. 

And now he was a man, as the world reckons, and 
passing through manhood's secret hours. . . . 

He gave no confidences, although "Ji m ' s girl," was a 
household word, but she could tell when he entered a 
room whether he was happy or not. Sometimes he 
rioted with fun and spirits; he teased his father, he 
cozened his Aunt Callista, he carried them all along on 
the crest of his high mood. And sometimes he came 
in wrapped in silence like a visible cloud ... or gave 
them only a certain defensive air of attention, his mind 
secretly at cover. And there were times, especially 
when there was no letter for her to withdraw from the 
hall table and place on his dresser, when he looked 
worried and strained, with a little-boy anxiety in his 
gray eyes. 

She realized that he was looking forward tremen- 
dously to that spring vacation and saving for it; that 
he was carrying queer, surreptitious lunches from home 
to save his noon expenses, and retrenching on every 
possible margin. She economized, herself, to put a 
little money in his way, although she knew a secret pang 
that his taking thought was to be always for another. 

And then something happened. Jim sat among them, 
an automaton. He talked mechanically. There was 
something dreadful about the fixed lines of his young 
face. There was something ghastly in the bitterness 
of his unguarded eyes. 

What had happened was nothing less than the begin- 
ning of a breach. Evelyn was not coming home. She 
had written, with intense and futile sorrow, that she 
could not afford it. With Commencement expenses in 

91 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



prospect and her mother's fare to the East to see her 
graduate, it was now necessary for her to accept a 
friend's invitation for a house party on the Hudson. 

She knew how dreadfully he would miss her. But 
it just couldn't be helped, and it was only a few weeks 
from April to July. She would be home as soon as she 
and her mother had made a few visits. 

It was perhaps her fatal facility for seeing consola- 
tions that poisoned the thrust. Jim read a death blow 
in it, and a supine acquiescence in the policy of strangu- 
lation of their young plans. 

He poured out his angers, ten devastating pages of 
them, pointing sternly to the fallacies of her mother's 
position — the lavish disregard of cost last December 
when both mother and Muriel had flocked East con- 
trasted with this present economy. He suggested that 
a trip to the Hudson, with a later return of hospitality, 
was not inexpensive. It simply meant that her mother 
didn't want them to meet. And Evelyn cared very little 
for him or she would not submit. 

Her answer vibrated between a hurt indignation and 
a sorry compunction. 

She couldn't be horrid to her mother, she wrote, for 
she knew what sacrifices her mother had made for her 
sake. (Jim passed over this lightly — in which he did 
Rosalie wrong.) The time would go soon, although 
she knew, Evelyn confessed, that it was being made 
pleasanter for her, with house parties, than for him 
.with his work, but she missed him fearfully. 

That brought the grim response that Chicago was not 
exactly a girlless desert and the time could be made to 
pass pleasantly for him. He had met delightful people 
at the University, numbers of them with charming 
[daughters. 

92 



CONSEQUENCES 

Therein he exaggerated, not in the charmingness, but 
in the numbers of the University daughters, but the 
letter served its turn, and elicited the few lines that she 
could see her sympathy was needless and she would not 
annoy him with it again. 

For ten days silence. 

Jim grew haggard those ten days. His Aunt Callista, 
not regardful of his mail, became convinced that the 
long trips to the University were sapping his strength. 
She endorsed his earlier suggestion that the next year 
he board at his fraternity house there, and she tried to 
dose him with beef and iron. * 

Jim's mother was singularly commentless. But she 
knew how late his light burned into the morning, and 
one gray hour she heard him hurrying out to the letter 
box on the corner. 

The letter that Jim finally mailed was written out of 
the lonely passion of those hours, in the stark need of 
his heart, and it brought an answer all blurred with 
repentance and tender with love. 

And for some weeks there was a careful restraint and 
mildness in his sentiments. 

He had expected to be asked on to her Commence- 
ment. That, it appeared, was not part of Rosalie's plan, 
and Evelyn intimated that there would be no fun in it 
for him — just gazing at a lot of girls. 

They would all have mothers and relatives on their 
hands. 

But it was Jim's reunion. And a heaven-inspired 
railway offered rates of twenty-one dollars for the 
trip and return. Jim achieved the fare, and reached 
Amherst without letting her know. He sent her glorious 
roses from a Northampton florist, but they did not be- 
tray his presence for a telegram might have brought 

93 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



them. Then upon Tuesday he went over to Northamp- 
ton to watch the procession. 

The scarlet carpet was spread along the winding 
walks, down past the Students' Building and the Gym- 
nasium, between green reaches of grass, under the dap- 
pling shade of the high elms. It was a typical Com- 
mencement day, hot, 'with a hint of rain in the close 
heat, but the sun burned out from its clouds with a 
brilliance that flooded the air and crowned with bright 
gold the bared heads of the young girls walking two by 
two in their white gowns. 

They wore no black caps and gowns ; they carried no 
flowers but a single rose, and very young, very lovely 
and very serious, they took their way, with mild self- 
consciousness, for the last time together under the green 
trees of the campus that they had known and loved those 
four years. 

It was a sight that reporters unite in calling inspiring, 
and it would be dull hearts indeed that it did not inspire. 
They were so happily prepared, so touchingly ready to 
be good and earnest and charming and helpful women. 

One always hoped, watching that procession, that 
the world would give the opportunity for such spirits to 
work with. 

But Jim had brief thoughts for the spectacle. He 
watched it near with a tightening of the heart ; then the 
blood pounded in his pulses. He saw Evelyn coming, 
walking very near the front, her fair head bent a little 
from the sun, her fingers clasping her stiff-stemmed 
rose, her frilly skirts fluttering delicately about her 
white clad ankles. It was a year of frills and ankle 
lengths, and elbow sleeves and demurely rounded necks. 

She came abreast of him and his eyes drew her. 

94 



CONSEQUENCES 



Recognition leaped in her face, startled, but quick with 
a bright gladness. 

He was at her house when she returned, a strange 
new place to him for she had spent her Senior year in 
an off-campus invitation house, and for all the bevy of 
girls and mothers he snatched a little time for talk. 
And that night he walked on the campus beside her and 
her mother. He invited them to Amherst for the next 
day but Rosalie assured him that they would be too 
busy packing. He felt a slight increase of respect for 
Rosalie; she was an honorable foe; she was not going 
to eat his bread and salt if she could help it. 

But she had to eat some of it, for that next day he 
came over and took them to Boydens. Rosalie did 
most of the talking at that meal and did it well. She 
was sorry for the look in the young man's eyes. After- 
wards, unaccountably, she went off and left them to a 
little stroll in the deserted campus. 

It was a solemn little stroll. Just a year ago they 
had been walking there . . . already Jim looked back 
on his feelings then as those of an inexperienced young 
man. . . . He thought of his easy acceptance of his 
own happiness as pathetic in its naivete. . . . He had 
a sharper vision for values now. 

A little, he saw himself as Rosalie saw him, at the 
wrong end of the opera glass, an obscure and impe- 
cunious young man. 

He had been so sure of himself! He was sure of 
himself now — but not so carelessly confident in the field 
of law, and not so certain of Evelyn. She loved him, 
and there was a look in her eyes for him that turned his 
doubts to water, but he saw that somewhere within her 
was an insensible accordance with her elder's views 

95 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



of life. She began to realize, better than he, the years 
ahead of them. 

"Just three more of them, darling," he told her fer- 
vently. "In two years of practice I ought to be able 
to marry." 

"I'm not a bit in a hurry to marry. That's for by 
and by," she murmured. "But I do want you to — to 
be able to share my life. So we can do things together 
and have a little time for play. Before the real things 
come. Before responsibilities. Before cares." 

Her eyes looked at him with a soft wistfulness, as if 
pleading for her own youth and evanescent lightness. 

He was not so jealously possessive but that his ten- 
derness could understand. It hurt him that life with 
him, the best life he could for some time offer, was 
going to be hard on her. But he told himself a little 
cynically that she need not worry, the high cost of living 
would see that they had plenty of play time before they 
could marry — but he was not sure that it was going to 
be her idea of play time. 

She wanted him to share her life. She was thinking 
of him in the midst of her excitements. There seemed 
nothing in his prriSent existence that he could share 
with her. 



Jim returned to school. Evelyn went to Bar Harbor, 
to Lennox, to the Berkshires. Then she returned. She 
did not let Jim know when she was in the city. She 
went straight through to Lake Geneva. 

Two days later he received a letter from her. The 
next morning he sent a telegram. That noon he boarded 
a train for Geneva. 



CHAPTER XII 

BY THE LAKE 

She could not bring herself to meet his look again. 
It was not anger she quailed from — anger she could 
have welcomed as a tithe of her just deserts ; she could 
even have stood up under it and found spirit for re- 
joinder — but that tortured question, that dumb hurt, 
that sick premonition of disaster seeping through all 
his stiffened courage to reject it ! 

So with eyes staring out at the flat, hot, motionless 
lake and its listless sailboats she sat helplessly there, an 
unhappy enough figure herself. 

"You couldn't mean it?" he told her with that inde- 
scribable note that went through her. 

Perhaps it was her very numbness that told him, the 
tense refusal of her to turn and meet his eyes. 

She heard him give a hard, stifled breath> and sud- 
denly she began to talk very fast, to rehearse the argu- 
ments with which she had filled her letter. They were 
so young. Life was so hard and so uncertain. It was 
useless for them to call themselves bound. They would 
have to face facts. 

"And facing facts means — you want me to give you 
up?" 

Evelyn's head drooped. "Things are too hard for 
us," she said wretchedly. "We can't help it. I must 
do what I think is right and wise— or what will be 
right by and by." 

He seemed to be putting his mind upon her scattered 

97 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



words and trying through those confused clues to track 
her real thought in this. 

"You say we've lived in a dream. Do you mean that 
it's — over — for you?" 

Almost inaudibly, "I told you that I deserved anything 
you might say," she murmured. 

He made a gesture of desperately restrained impa- 
tience. 

"As if saying mattered! But if you mean that you 
don't care " 

1 do care! That hasn't changed. But- 



"But?" he echoed with a grimness that was recovered 
fortitude. If she still cared then! 

He waited, expectant, but she did not go on. They 
sat silent in their hot shelter at the lake's edge, ab- 
sorbed in their unhappiness. His gaze clung to her 
averted face, a gaze whose urgent hope was not ob- 
scured even by this black fear. If she still cared ! He 
kept saying that over and over to himself. 

He was not conscious of impressions but unconscious 
perceptions beat in upon him. It was queerly reassur- 
ing that she was wearing one of those white, sailor-like 
dresses that she had worn so much at college. There 
was a friendliness in the familiarity of the cut. He 
knew that she called them "Peter Toms." 

The blue in the little chevrons on her sleeve was the 
blue in her eyes to-day, deep and vivid, as if washed 
with rain. Her hair was shot with golden gleams. . . . 
Looking at her now, at that averted head and light figure 
with its suggestion of withdrawal, he felt an incredulity 
that he had rumpled that hair and kissed it and played 
with it in confident security. 

But that incredulity was one of the things he must not 

admit. Once he conceded anything to disaster 

98 



BY THE LAKE 



About them a carefully tended shrubbery shut in 
their rustic seat from the observation of the estate be- 
hind. There was a pagoda-like summer house on a 
rolling slope to their right, but the house was empty. 

Occasionally there droned to them the distant and 
unintelligible voices of gardeners as they changed the 
circular sprays shedding monotonous drops into the 
lawns parched by September heat. No sign of life 
was visible about the other places that they could see 
from the lake's edge; the sun of the early afternoon 
had attended to that. The distant sailboats did not 
seem like life. They stuck like painted boats on a drop 
scene. 

And the scene was unreal to Jim Clarke, the scene and 
its misery and its fear. And yet a subconscious intel- 
ligence in him reminded him that he had always known 
that some day he must face this. . . . 

At last he took up the challenge she left in the air. 

"But what, Evelyn? What is the trouble then?" 

"I wrote you. I wrote you everything/' 

T couldn't understand. If you still care- 



'We must think of something else besides our caring." 

"Of money?" he said harshly. 

"I have a real responsibility to my people, Jim. 
Mother's done so much for me, sending me to college 
and everything. And she wants me to be free when I 
come out. She calls it having my chance. ... I don't 
want any other chance for myself — but for them. You 
don't know what it is to see her worried about money 
— and she's not strong — I know she ought to have some- 
thing done, some care taken. And there's MurieL She 
has so much talent. And there's nobody to do anything 
for them all but me, Jim, and mother has been looking 

forward " 

99 



S277SU 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

She was silent. Then, "I'm all they have," she in- 
sisted with a curious doggedness. 

"That's no reason for them vo sell you." 

"They don't want to sell me. They only want me to 
stop being engaged and try to care for — for other people, 
other things. . . . And I — I don't know that I have a 
right to pledge myself to you. If I'm willing to 
suffer " 

"You think / ought to be?" he flung back with an 
unbelievable laugh. 

That was too much! A mutual martyrdom, to be 
accepted because it was mutual. . . . He could see the 
ways they had been getting at her. He could see the 
subtle differences the months had made. She had been 
absorbed, diverted. She was looking upon herself as an 
investment, an investment made with secret sacrifice, 
and now ready for tremendous returns, and she had 
a sense of actual unfairness when she considered only 
her own inclinations. And probably she wasn't so sure 
of her own inclinations. Her mother would not have 
been dull about pointing out the values of life. . . . 
Rosalie reduced things to the concrete. 

He didn't exactly blame Rosalie. He supposed it hard 
upon her peculiar expectations to be frustrated just 
when they might be realized. She didn't like the farce 
of introducing a daughter to society who had already 
taken the resolution to plunge out of it. He could see 
now that Evelyn and he would be out of things. He 
supposed Evelyn had been filled with horror about 
stuffy little flats and doing her own work and sickness 
and bills. He was astute enough to see that Rosalie had 
plenty of material. And there was this for comparison. 

No, he thought, gazing about the still, hot, widespread 
place, slowly clenching and unclenching his hands at 

ioo 



BY THE LAKE 



his sides, he couldn't blame her. She didn't know how 
hard he was going to work and how successful he was 
going to be. . . . He would wear himself to the bone 
for Evelyn. 

And she loved him. He had the secret of her heart — 
that was the thing he must cling to. 

But the vagueness of his future suddenly stretched 
before him like blurred infinities. He would have a 
year and nearly a quarter more in school, then, if he 
were lucky, some clerk's place in a law firm. . . . 

And he couldn't afford a ring now. 

"All right," he said slowly. "I'll go. That's what 
you want me to do, isn't it?" 

It was exactly what she asked of- him. But that was 
before she had seen him. 

"I was a fool to come," he muttered. "But I couldn't 
believe " 



He got up, definitely. 

She gave a sudden little cry that went to his heart. 

"Oh, Jim — Jim " she buried her face in her hands 

and sobbed it over again. 

The soft inarticulateness of it stirred him ; he dropped 
on his knees beside her and drew her to him and kissed 
her. 

And at once it appeared madness to have thought of 
separation. 

"You're mine, you know you're mine," he told her 
hungrily, and tremulously she gave back, between her 
sobs, "I know, Jim — I do know now." 

When he went back to his train, an hour later, the 
world had changed its face again. Another sun was 
shining, another heaven unrolled. 

She was going to wait for him, no matter what any 

IOI 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



one said or any one begged. She had been morbid, fool- 
ish, despondent. But he could trust her now. 

Yet for all the trust and the sunshine and the trium- 
phant heart he carried within his breast, there was a 
queer chill of fright in his veins. He had been too near 
the abyss. ... It was as if the golden clouds of love 
had parted and showed him a chasm at his feet. . . . 
He had overleaped it, but it tempered his confidence in 
the solid ground. 

He was shaken, sobered. 

He wished to God his ancestors had left the Civil War 
alone and made a pot of money for him to woo Evelyn 
with. 




CHAPTER XIII 

THE DEBUTANTE 

The family was buried in the Sunday morning paper. 
Elizabeth Clarke had made a vain effort to keep that 
paper away from the table, but Fanny's return that fall 
had routed her. And Aunt Callista, after siding with 
authority these many years, had gone over to the enemy ; 
she had developed a fondness for the sound of her voice 
reading news aloud. 

She read it without regard to her listeners. 

There was no church-going rush to this breakfast, for 
a downpour had resolved Mrs. Clarke to keep her hus- 
band's weak throat at home. And Aunt Callista was 
decidedly stiff in the 'joints. 

"Though you young people ought to go," she observed, 
dipping her toast into her coffee. 

She had taken to some of these ways at meals lately, 
much to the young Fanny's disgust. 

Fanny's eyes followed her now in a mute protest that 
called her mother to witness that she objected but said 
nothing. 

Elizabeth Clarke's remark was a counter attack for 
that objection. 

"Did they teach you at college to put your elbows on 
the table?" 

"As if it mattered what they did at this table!" ob- 
served Fanny. She did not mean to be cruel. She took 
her elbows off and stared discontentedly at the blank 

103 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



wall that the three windows of the dining room opened 
upon. 

She was twenty-one and pretty in a dark, vivacious 
way. She had neither her mother's abundance nor her 
father's clearly defined lines; she had a fugitive piquant 
charm that chose its own moments. 

This was not one of them. Her nose was mutinous, 
her mouth discontented. 

"I may go to Sunday School/' she remarked to her 
aunt's speech. 

It was more than her aunt expected but she made 
no concessions to her surprise. She was a New Eng- 
land woman in everything but environment. 

"It's no more than your duty," she remarked grimly. 
"You have the responsibility of a class to teach." 

Jim looked about at his sister. "What do you teach 
them, Sis?" 

She was ready for him. "Well, to shave before 
breakfast." 

She was tremendously dissatisfied with her family 
and her love for them took the form of constant reno- 
vation. She would have made them all over. She hated 
the dark dining room. She thought it little better than 
the architect's ancient nightmare of a basement room. 
She hated the way that things were set down on the 
table and not sufficiently passed. She hated Aunt 
Callista's impervious way of reading aloud through the 
meal. She hated the way her father served the 
scrambled eggs. 

Curious, that a man who had niceties about past parti- 
ciples, should have no feeling for delicacy toward an 

egg! 

She wanted sunshine and elegance and daintiness. 

Failing this, she saw small merit in living up to the 

104 



THE DEBUTANTE 



best of limitations. She foresaw glumly that she would 
grow uncaring and slack. . . . 

Her mother was not slack. Only her mother had no 
vision of a doily beneath the rolls. 

She was like a bird, moping. Chicago appeared a 
cage to her. She was through college. She was ready 
for life. And what was she going to do? 

She longed intensely for some form of self-expres- 
sion. 

She didn't appear to have a talent in the world, except 
a little music. She had a passion for dramatics which 
college had nourished, but which would now die of 
inanition. The family would perish at the thought of 
her going on the stage. . . . There were times when 
she wished that she were the daughter of a coalman, 
that she might breast the world on her slender resources, 
but she reflected in time that coalmen are prosperous. 
A janitor, then. 

At her speech about shaving Jim merely grinned. 
"You seem to have the morning-after grouch/' he re- 
marked. "Didn't I hear you were at a dance last 
night?" 

"At the club. With Arno Rolff," Fanny mentioned. 

Her brother looked a little surprised. "I thought you 
went with H&nry " 

"Did you think I went everywhere with Henry? A 
gay life!" said Fanny briskly. "Arno's a much better 
dancer. The Rolffs are going to rent their house," she 
announced to the table at large. "They won't wait to 
$ell any longer. They are going to build in Lake 
Forest." 

"Lake Forest!" Both mother and aunt echoed it. 
Her mother added absently, "Your Uncle William 
owned a great deal of Lake Forest, once. I think he 

105 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



used it for wood lots or grazing. I know he sold it for 
a song." 

"Be sure he sold it for a song," said Jim. 

Fanny flashed him a glance of understanding. 

"Did any of our family ever do anything in business ?" 
she demanded. 

"No, they never were business men," her mother re- 
turned with a fine shade of reproof. "They always pre- 
ferred the professions. Uncle William was a physician 
and his father was treasurer of Yale College and his 
father was governor of the state." 

"Oh, if you go back far enough we amounted to 
something," the great-great-granddaughter of the gov- 
ernor flung airily back. 

The lines of her father's face tightened. 

"I'm sorry we've deteriorated so much, Fanny," he 
looked up from his paper to say with a forced humor. 
'Now, Fanny," murmured Aunt Callista. 

'Oh, father, as if I meant — you're worth the lot of 
them! That's what makes me so furious," the girl 
declared warmly, "when you are so much and you do 
so much and you get so little money for all your work. 
You ought to be with the best of them and — and " 

"Instead I have a hard time to keep my footing," he 
finished. 

"It's because you have a horribly expensive family to 
support," she insisted with compunction. "We're per- 
fect leeches, aren't we, Jim?" 

"Nothing ever hurt me more," said Robert Clarke in 
sudden expansiveness, "than that I had to take your 
legacies to complete your educations." 

"Father!" muttered Jim. Fanny reached out sud- 
denly and squeezed her father's hand. 

"It's the cost of living that has gone so far ahead of 

1 06 



"j 

Hi 



THE DEBUTANTE 



salaries, these days," said the mother. "When we went 
to housekeeping " 

She mentioned a number of prices and Aunt Callista 
supplemented her with, "When Mr. Carr and I set up 
our establishment " 

Suddenly Fanny interrupted with a little cry. Dur- 
ing the interval of ancient history she had disappeared 
into the paper and now she raised her head above the 
widespread pages to announce, "Here's your girl, Jim. 
'Miss Evelyn Day, one of the debutantes of Saturday. 
. . . Her mother, Mrs. Carter Day, entertained at a tea, 
followed by a dinner/ . . . Oh, Jim, were you there?" 

"At the tea," said Jim briefly. 

Fanny was reading again. "'Assisting were Miss 
Kathryn Royster and Miss Anne St. Aubuns and Miss 
Shirley Tree. ... A simple home affair but with that 
touch of distinction of which Mrs. Carter Day is mis- 
tress/ . . . Well, I should think- 



9f 



'^ 



Fanny's voice broke off. She looked at her mother, 
pouring her father's second cup of coffee. 

"I think it's funny you never cared to introduce your 
sister to Miss Day," said the mother coldly, without look- 
ing up. 

Jim made an unintelligible sound of scorn. He knew 
that according to their thought it was odd. He knew 
his mother would think it most natural for Evelyn to be 
lovely to Fanny and include her at this festivity. -In 
the old order of things he would have thought it natural 
himself. Now his misery urged him to sneer. 

"Getting Fanny into society?" he remarked. 

In a flash Fanny veered from her resentment against 
him, which she had been sharing with her mother, to 
a resentment against her mother and the home order of 
things. 

107 



"] 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



"Why certainly, Jim," she said with youthful bitter- 
ness. "I am supposed to get my society through my 
friends. My family aren't furnishing any for me." 

"Now, Fanny " 

"Well, what is there to the West Side ?" 

"You were at a dance last night." 

"So were all the Morans and the Polinskis and the 
Schmidts! That's what the clubs are now! You say, 
yourself, that everything is changed, but you expect me 
to grow up among the changes and not care." 

"There are many pleasant young people here." 

"Where ?" 

'Many in our church." 

They are older than I am — there's scarcely three my 
age, and I want a group, a crowd, or something like 
that." 

"You have your college friends " 

"About two of them on the West Side and we spend 
our lives going over to the North and South Sides to 
see the others. But we can't be in their set. And as 
for young men " 

"In my day," said Aunt Callista severely, "young 
girls did not berate the absence of men. We had too 
much modesty." 

"You didn't have to berate their absence. You had 
plenty." 

"Indeed we did." A complacent smile spread over 
the lady's plump and dimpled face, and in spite of her 
rather massive solidity — she was a large woman — she 
achieve*! a reminiscent girlishness and one saw how 
bared shoulders and side curls and crinoline had become 
her. "In our little coterie we had more beaux than 
there were young ladies, and there was always a choice 

108 



THE DEBUTANTE 



of escorts. I remember, that once when it came to see- 
ing me home — 



99 



"Well, if you had more than one apiece," said the 
ruthless Fanny, interrupting, "you could afford to be 
modest." 

"I've never noticed any lack of young men about our 
front room," said her father, emerging again. 

"Oh, there's too many," said the candid young lady, 
"but all boys I've grown up with. I want — I want 
something different." 

"You don't need to go to dances and parties all your 
life. There are more serious things to think about." 

Elizabeth Clarke was ruffled by her daughter's con- 
demnation, and a warm color was deepening in her 
cheeks. She was a handsomer woman than Fanny 
would make, molded on more bountiful lines, with a 
dignified softness of curve. Scarcely a thread of gray 
was showing in her soft brown hair and her dark eyes 
were youthfully bright, and all the brighter now for her 
indignation. 

She knew there was truth in Fanny's case, but she 
dddn't intend to have any failure of parental duty 
brought home to her. She could not conceive that a 
mother's responsibility included any social provision. A 
girl grew up, was sent to church, to school, and to such 
places as her mother went. ... As for making ac- 
quaintances that would be useful to her daughter, she 
shrank in horror from the thought. 

On her disinterestedness and her pride Fanny's future 
languished. 

"You can do some social settlement work," she went 
on. "I think that is the thing for you anyway; it will 
give you a chance to be of service." 

"Yes, in arranging dances for the immigrants I Peo- 

109 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



pie see the need for them to dance ! Sometimes I think 
the girls behind the counter have a gayer time " 

"Fanny, if you are going to fuss all through breakfast, 
I'll take my meal upstairs/' 

Two sharp downward lines were gathering the curves 
of Elizabeth Clarke's mouth. Her husband looked up to 
contribute wearily, "A little peace would be fitting for 
the Sabbath." 

Jim was still deep in the paper which Fanny had 
handed him. He saw Evelyn's face looking out with that 
remote, charming expression which the camera had 
caught ; a misty swirl of chiffon encircled her ; a single 
strand of pearls clasped her bared throat. 

He thought of her as she had been yesterday, a fairy 
vision in her filmy white, with its forget-me-not blue 
gleaming out under silver, a vision that was exquisite, 
ethereal, and almost too achingly lovely in its mysterious 
perfection. . . . There had been something unreal in 
that rare bloom, too exotic, febrile. . . . Rosalie, by her 
side, for all her apt casualness, had been a showman 
enchanted with her unsurpassable wares. ... 

He had felt no earthly connection between this 
gossamer remoteness and the girl of his love. 

But Aunt Callista was waiting for the paper. She 
put on her glasses to peer at the likeness. 

"Rosalie Day for all the world !" she pronounced, and 
Jim's heart sounded its secret and angry derision. 

"Are those real pearls ?" she demanded of her nephew. 

"How should I know?" he gave back with a short 
laugh. "I didn't buy them for her." 

"They are probably her grandmother's pearls — the 
Houstons were Southerners and had some very beautiful 
heirlooms. These must have belonged to her." 

no 



THE DEBUTANTE 



It was astonishing, thought Jim, the things these 
women remembered ! 

But Mrs. Clarke was unconvinced. "I shouldn't think 
she would get the jewels — she didn't get the house," she 
pointed out. "I heard the older branch had everything. 
The pearls are more apt to have come from her father. 
His father was very well-to-do, once, when he owned 
the General House." 

As if either of them could settle anything about those 
pearls! As if it mattered! Jim's tormented nerves 
knew an absurd impulse to hurl a plate upon the floor 
or do some enormous, crashing thing. . . . 

They were capable of keeping at it forever. 

Fanny made a tnoue at him. She understood, she 
seemed to say. He was always afraid of what Fanny 
understood, and he received her intimations of compre- 
hension with scant receptiveness. 

Now his aunt was reading the article. "'A brilliant 
season is predicted for this lovely daughter of an old 
Chicago family.'" 

"Old family, indeed!" echoed his mother with mild 
scorn. "Why, her father's father, the one that owned 
the General House, used to be a hotel clerk ... he 
began as a bell boy." 

It was enough for his mother, thought Jim in despair, 
if she could resolve people into their beginnings. She 
never appreciated the energy that made them rise, de- 
preciated it, even, as a sort of commercial smartness. 
. . . Was it? 

He wondered if he would rise. Or if he always 
would be too mindful of his dignity. He got up from 
the table unheeding his mother's, "You might wait, Jim," 
passed through the back parlor into the front room and 
sat down in the old bay window rocker. 

in 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

Presently Fanny appeared, armed with a snowy dust 
cloth, and attacked a table near him with a grimace for 
its albums. 

"How much is dynamite?" she whispered. 

He followed her laughingly expressive glance about 
the rooms. They had not changed in essence since he 
could remember, although the cushions and draperies 
had amplified. They were the expression of many 
modes and many tastes; the Spanish mahogany of the 
early Coltons was jostled by the black walnut and 
marble of Aunt Callista's "establishment," and his 
mother's additions had run to oak. 

On the walls the same large tolerance was displayed; 
there were the cherished oil paintings of the Colonial 
Clarkes and an enlarged crayon of Elizabeth's father; 
there was an old engraving of Niagara Falls, dating 
from the existence of the lighthouse, and there were 
several water colors of still life, done by a youthful 
cousin. A beautiful print of Chaucer's Pilgrims and an 
engraving of the Roman Forum testified to his father's 
taste. Everything was a mingling of inheritance, of 
affections and of association. It was a comfortable, 
cheery room, but it was not a coherent one. 

It seemed confusedly to Jim that this was the difficulty 
with his family. They inherited and passed on; they 
had refused to assert a discriminating will. 

Fanny was looking at the room with a real despair 
after her laughing inquiry about dynamite. She was at 
an age when conformity in taste is a passion and she 
longed for the rigors of period furniture. 

Hopelessly she went on with her dusting, handling her 
cloth with evident distaste but with efficiency. 

And suddenly Jim thought about 'Evelyn, moving 
about some such room, doing such work in it It seemed 
* 112 



THE DEBUTANTE 



monstrous, entirely out of her possibilities. . . . And 
her secret revolt at it must be even as Fanny's. 

It seemed dreadful that love should entail such a 
penance upon her. 

His mother and aunt were emerging from the dining 
room, discussing now the affairs of the Rolffs and Lake 
Forest 

"They are not at all Lake Forest people," Aunt 
Callista was saying serenely. 

"Oh, the old people don't care for society," Fanny 
whirled about to contribute. "It just gratifies them to 
live there, I expect. . . . But the boys will get on. 
There is always a place for a good-looking boy with 
money who knows his way about." 

Elizabeth Clarke picked up a couch cushion and shook 
it with energy. For some reason it seemed distasteful 
to her to have the Rolffs aspire to Lake Forest. 

"I don't think the Everleighs there will care to have 
their daughters interested in the Rolff boys," she said 
coldly. 

"Well, the Everleigh's daughter's daughter will be 
interested in the Rolff's boy's son," Fanny retorted with 
astuteness. "They are making a good family move." 

Aunt Callista shrugged her massive shoulders. 
"Fanny, you say very worldly things! I am thankful 
that I am satisfied with my friends. . . . There are no 
nicer people in the world than those you know. All the 
choice families are not living in Lake Forest!" 

"But the choicest are on the North Side — aren't they, 
Jim?" Fanny veered suddenly about to ask teasingly 
of Jim. 

He could not return her light smile. His heart was 
lead. He saw that brilliant winter with a heavy fore- 
boding. 

"3 



CHAPTER XIV 

THE LAST SANDS 



"Did you want anything, mother?" 
"Christopher, you must go to bed " 



I'm all right. I couldn't sleep. Can I get you any- 
thing?" 

"No, dear, there's nothing. But — if you could sleep. 
You know your heart's not strong, Christopher," the sick 
woman anxiously repeated. 

Emmeline Stanley was dying, as she had lived, in 
anxiety. 

"Nonsense, I was never better. For you to worry 

about me " Her son smiled reassuringly at her, and 

drew nearer the bed that his hand might enclose her own. 
She returned the pressure faintly and her eyes closed. 
"You've been a good son," she murmured. 

She seemed to sleep. He sat there, looking down at 
her face, just visible in the shaded night light. 

The clasp of her hand brought so many memories. 
His earliest impression was of the grip of that tight 
hand as his mother hurried him away from something — 
generally the sound of his father's loud voice. 

Old Edward Stanley had been a domineering pres- 
ence, a harsh, powerful, enigmatic-eyed old man. 
Christopher had feared his ironies as he had feared his 
angers. 

He had come to Chicago early in the fifties, a driving 
young New Englander, the son of a storekeeper, and 
having begun in Chicago by clerking, he had suddenly 

114 



THE LAST SANDS 



gone further back to the source of supply and concerned 
himself with beef on the hoof. 

He had married Emmeline Burt, a tall, gentle school 
teacher from Vermont. It is conceivable that Emme- 
line represented some ideal of a stage of Stanley's de- 
velopment, but it was inconceivable that she filled any 
need of his later years. 

His values were intensely material. Emmeline was 
a shy woman, alternatively impulsive and taciturn, easily 
frightened, and both defenseless and resourceless, and 
her life in that great house which his increasing success 
with cattle on the hoof raised over her, was a thing of 
secret terror. 

Stanley's tongue fairly clubbed her with her lack of 
social success ; he wanted brilliance, the right people, the 
smart touch. Emmeline could achieve nothing of that; 
she was too shy, too uninitiative, and her intense feeling 
for the importance of values other than the material 
unfitted her for the social world, while it was frustrated 
of distinction in any other field by the mildness of her 
disposition. 

She drew further and further into her shell, giving 
herself utterly to their one child, Christopher, and keep- 
ing the boy with her as much as possible. 

Christopher had an obscure memory of his mother's 
dragging him endlessly through long corridors of the 
Art Institute, and confronting him with paintings and 
statues. He remembered her urging him, very breath- 
lessly and earnestly, to realize that these were great 
works of art and the men and women who made them had 
the best sort of greatness — they were people who made 
the world fine and beautiful, she impressed upon him. 

Later he divined that she had been trying to combat 

"5 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

— — — — ■ • • 

the hard materialism of his father, trying helplessly to 
implant a love for beauty in her child's plastic mind. 

He was too much her son for beauty to be ignored, 
and what was an obscure groping with her, burned a 
clearer flame in him. He loved fine things and cherished 
them. But he had no creative impulse. 

Emmeline's effort in this direction had died out as 
spasmodically as others he recollected, but she was always 
trying. She whispered to him of kindness and gentle- 
ness. She was guilty of a hundred surreptitious char- 
ities ; through her he learned stealth in good or ill. 

"He wouldn't understand," was their conspirator's 
comfort. 

At bay, she fought for him like a frightened cat. 

Once it was for something he had done for which 
his father was going to punish him. She had lost, and 
he had never forgotten the sinking despair with which 
he saw her thin shoulders thrust rudely aside while 
his father's big hand hauled him helplessly into the 
library. 

Afterwards she had crept to him, crying, her body 
shaking with the sobs she tried to stifle. And she 
whispered queer, puzzling generalities to him. 

"Sometime," she said, "there will be a law, Christo- 
pher, and a man cannot whip a little child any more than 
he can whip a woman." 

The curious crumb of comfort this was intended to 
convey he overlooked. But he found another. 

"Is there a law," he asked tremulously, "that he can't 
whip you?" 

She nodded, and he was intensely relieved. 

But it was not only his father's punishing of his son 
that Emmeline dreaded; she feared his spoiling him, 
loading him with demoralizing favors, and familiarizing 

116 



THE LAST SANDS 



him to the flavor of the bragging boasts that he employed 
in later years. 

But she had done her work too well. Christopher was 
his mother's child, tender hearted, retiring and sensitive. 
He had neither his father's hardness, nor his ability. 
He hated business. The years he served in it, during 
his father's lifetime, were a tedious slavery to him. 

And when his father died it seemed a little late to 
look for the development of anything else that might 
have been in him. There was enough to do looking 
after the interests that could not be utterly delegated to 
his lawyer, and making himself useful in a thousand and 
one charities and civic reforms. He had a passion for 
committees, and a conscience about his money. 

But so thoroughly had his father impressed his will 
upon that house that long after he was dead it was 
hard to believe him so, and to breathe freely and act 
lightly and spontaneously. 

For years his mother continued doing as his father 
had planned, and never once did their relief become 
audible. But they understood each other; Christopher 
understood her even when she anxiously surrounded the 
memory of his father with the falsest of half truths. 
He was a "good father," a "generous husband," "a won- 
derful business man !" 

Christopher admitted his power but it was precisely 
the kind of power that he was most incapable of ad- 
miring. It was an irony of which he was conscious that 
he continued to enjoy its benefactions. Whenever he 
paid a large sum for a picture or a set of rare china he 
could hear his father's peculiar, blowing snort of disgust I 

They continued living in the old house, with its tur- 
rets and towers, and in summer they went to the other 
house at Lake Geneva, and sailed about the blue lake 

117 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



in the mild little yacht. Emmeline clung to her routine 
and her son gave her a rare devotion. He left her 
little. Once or twice he carried her off for careful 
excursions to Europe but she returned with satisfaction 
and relief ; she was glad of the experience and delighted 
that it was over. 

She had a weak heart, which her son had inherited, 
and more and more she let the stress of living go by. 
It did not matter what went by to her, as long as there 
;was Christopher. . . . 

He was thinking of these things and these long years, 
as he felt the faint pressure of her thin, long-fingered 
hand. He saw her life with a deep pity and under- 
standing. 

As she lay there on the bed, spent, weakened, old, 
he thought of her as young and grieving and afraid. 
He tried to think ^ack to her then, but the past could 
give him no image; she seemed always to have worn 
dark gowns, long skirted, and bonnets with a lavender 
flower. 

But of course that was absurd. . • • Sometime she 
had been young and worn coquettish crinoline, with poke 
bonnets and side curls. He had a portrait of her in side- 
curls, with himself beside her, a small boy in incredibly 
long trousers, with white frills between the lapels of an 
Eton jacket. 

And now it was all over for her, the wifehood, the 
motherhood, the long perplexing succession of circum- 
stances. . . . Had she thought it all worth while? 
Had he truly made up for her, as she had anxiously 
assured him — innocent, unconscious confession that there 
had been anything to make up ! 

For himself, he had a stone-heavy sense of loss. He 

118 



THE LAST SANDS 



felt a terrible loneliness descend upon him. He was 
utterly desolate as he sat there, gently pressing her hand 
from time to time as her eyelids fluttered. 

The doctor had said there was nothing to do. The 
end was inevitable. It might come to-day. It might 
come to-morrow. 

Beyond the curtains a night nurse sat waiting. An- 
other was sleeping, dressed, upon the couch in the adjoin- 
ing room, the oxygen equipment at her side. 

Vet all this care and precaution would ensure but 
moments more. 

Life, the measureless, the uncounted, was come to this. 

"Chris?" 

"Yes, mother ?" 

"You must — you must not wait too long — about marry- 
ing, you know. 3 

"No, mother. 3 

She moved her head with distinct impatience at the 
mechanical response. 

There's Evelyn. You mustn't let her slip. • « ? 
She's a dear girl. 3 

'Yes, mother. 5 






"i nere s iLver 

"Yes, mother." 

"I had a talk with her — last week." 



He looked at her with alarm. 

She tightened her hold of his hand. "She — she's 
fond of you, Chris. I showed her your little-boy pic- 
tures. I gave her one. I told her what a good son 
you'd made. . . . She said you ought to be happy. . . . 
She's always been fond of you." 

Christopher smiled painfully. "I hope so, dear." 

"Ask her. . . ask her again." The sick woman sum- 
moned a failing strength. "Don't hang back, Chris. . . . 
We're too much like that. You know you want her " 

"Mother, please ! You are making yourself worse " 

119 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



She closed her eyes and lay obediently silent. Then 
she looked at him and said in a mutinous voice, "I want 
to see Evelyn." 

"Yes, dear, you shall. As soon as it's day." 

Her breathing was thicker and thicker. She began 
moving her head a little on the pillow. He thought of 
calling the nurse but a jealousy of professional hands 
restrained him. 

Then her eyes closed again. She said, "Too late," in 
a sighing voice, and then, "Give her my love. Tell her 
—tell her " 



He waited, conscious of tightening fear. . . . She 
turned toward him and smiled with rare sweetness. He 
felt a great relief. There would be no attack, he thought. 
She would win through — she might win through every- 
thing, in spite of them. 

"No mother ever had a better son," she said with 
solemn distinctness, her eyes brimming with clear light. 
Then she closed them and slept. 

There was no attack. No need for the alert nurse 
and the tank of oxygen. 

Emmeline slipped out quietly on that slumber, with- 
drawing the shy, hampered spirit from that house which 
had held it so long. 

So quietly she went that Christopher did not know it 
until her hand was cold. 



CHAPTER XVj 

AGAINST ODDS 

It was a very quiet funeral, with a service at the house 
for only the relatives and nearest friends. Christopher 
had but few relatives, he thought, but it was astonishing 
how the brief lines in the paper had served to disinter 
old connections. There came faces and names he but 
vaguely remembered, and unfamiliar cousins pressed his 
hands. 

It was a horrible nightmare. 

Rosalie Day saved him all she could. She shrank 
from death, but she had been the dead woman's near 
friend — long had it been known that Mrs. Day's name 
on a committee would bring a cheque from Mrs. Stanley 
— and she owed her many a kindness and quiet favor. 
She took charge capably and she shielded Christopher. 

And she and Evelyn sat beside him in the darkened 
room, withdrawn from the group in the wide drawing 
rooms, gazing through another door at the black coffin in 
its wilderness of bloom. 

She was intensely sorry for the quiet, self-contained 
young man. And Evelyn broke down utterly at the 
graveside, in a mingled agony at the finality of death, 
the immensity of Christopher's loss, and sorrow of Mrs. 
Stanley's going. 

It was too pitiful, out there in the raw March wind, 
lowering the coffin to its last resting place! 

She was haunted by an image of the dead woman's 
face as it had been in life, only a week ago, as she had 

121 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



moved slowly about her room, bringing out the pictures 
she had wished Evelyn to see. Such pathetic transpar- 
ency in her poor design ! 

Evelyn had been as gentle as she could, but she thought 
now, shuddering from the sound of the clergyman's calm 
voice, that if she had only known, she would have 
buoyed her up with such kind, false hope ! 

It would have made her so happy! Now she was 
gone. . . . And Christopher had said that she had spoken 
of her, had sent her love, just at the end. An evidence 
of love always touched Evelyn deeply. This was her 
first experience with grief, and though it did not enter her 
life it came very near to it, and she knew a passion of 
pity. 

And her pity was complicated with Christopher's love 
for her. He had said nothing since that summer, now 
over a year and a half ago, and she had kept as much out 
of his way as she could, hiding behind those feverish 
gaieties of her debutante days, but she had known that 
his feeling was there always, waiting . . . hoping, 
perhaps. ... 

It was such a futile pity. Christopher, with so much 
money and so little chance for happiness, and Jim with 
his chance for happiness if only he had the money ! 

And everything had been crisscross between herself 
and Jim lately. They had so little time together — her 
engagements were always intervening, for she lived in 
a whirl of teas and dinners and dances — and Jim was 
often moody and low spirited, and she felt her chatter of 
her events was meaningless to him. 

If only he would hurry up and graduate — and make 
a lot of money, her aching thought finished uncon- 
sciously. 

Christopher had refused to dine with the Days. He 

122 



AGAINST ODDS 



had to go home sometime, he said with a crooked smile. 

"Then we'll come with you," Rosalie had announced. 
"There is a great deal for me to do. Evelyn and I will 
come." 

They came. They helped Christopher through the first 
time that he must sit in his mother's place at table, 
and they made gallant conversation and he responded 
bravely. But Evelyn's eyes were as red as his and she 
fingered a wet, disreputable handkerchief. 

She had never seemed so dear and real and utterly 
desirable to Christopher as in that human sympathy of 
hers. 

After dinner her mother went about, straightening the 
chairs that the maids had left in rows, and resolutely 
making arrangements. 

"I will be over in the morning and help you with her 
room and her things," she told Stanley. 

A fresh agony struck him. He had never thought of 
her room, of dismantling all her little treasures, and 
laying hands on the black and heliotrope gowns that hung 
in sober rows in her closet. 

He looked at Rosalie with anguish. 
Can't I leave it just as it is?" 

Of course you can't," said Rosalie decidedly. "There 
are things that have to be done." 

Then she turned the talk. She spoke of his collec- 
tions, of his pictures, of his china. She got up and 
went to the cabinet in the dining room and made him 
show her a particular piece of Spanish luster. 

It seemed singularly indifferent and heartless, thought 
Evelyn, but she tried to follow her mother's lead. . . . 
And she noticed that once or twice Christopher showed 
a real interest. 

"Do you ever use these for a dinner?" Rosalie in- 

123 



"( 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

quired, indicating the most beautiful of Royal Doulton. 
As if she did not know what dinners had gone on in 
that house ! 

Christopher smiled faintly. "Mother never did. She 
would have worried at the thought of food on such 
plates." 

"So should I," said Rosalie, "but they would look 
wonderful on a table." 

She turned and looked at the long, ponderously carved 
mahogany table, as if she saw it transformed with linen 
and light and crystal and china and silver and gold. 

And Evelyn caught that vision. 

Her feminine heart went out to those plates. It 
seemed such a pity that they were not used — though of 
course Christopher would marry some day; he would 
not go lonely and remembering forever. 

Christopher had ordered the brougham. There was 
space only for two, without crowding, then, moved by a 
sudden impulse, their host mounted to the box beside 
the coachman. 

He said he wanted the cold wind in his face. 

Mrs. Day leaned wearily against the cushions with a 
tired relaxing. Evelyn slipped a hand into hers; her 
mother's delicacy took on a sinister foreboding in the 
shadow of this tragedy. 

i Then Rosalie murmured, "Christopher has offered to 
let us have this whenever we wish. . . . He uses the 
car himself, but he likes this kept on as his mother's." 

"It's no use, mother dear," said Evelyn in a suddenly 
sharp voice, "for you to go putting ourselves under an 
obligation — it only makes it worse!" 

Rosalie waited for the flash to burn out. "You're hard 
on Christopher," she said in a quiet voice. 

124 



AGAINST ODDS 



"No, I'm not. I'm dreadfully sorry for him. . . . 
But that doesn't change things." 

"It doesn't change that you prefer young Jimmie 
Clarke at this minute." The mother's voice was very 
low. Yet there was a quality in it that made Evelyn 
listen. "But I wish it could change the fact that you 
want to marry him. If you could only see how mistaken 
you are in looking there for a permanent happiness " 

Her mother was always so quiet. She never pre- 
tended that she could coerce or prevent. She laid facts 
down very simply like a hand of cards. 

"Mistaken — because Jimmie hasn't any money!" 

Evelyn's voice thrilled to young scorn. But even 
to her own ears it failed of its highest effect. 

"And because we haven't any," Mrs. Day murmured. 
"It's hard, and I'm sorry for you, Evelyn. I'd like to 
be able to afford your fancies. But I've done too much 
now." 



She was silent a moment and Evelyn waited breath- 
lessly for her next words. She knew that her mother 
had drawn upon their capital for her coming-out and 
its succeeding expense, and she knew that Muriel had 
discovered the fact and was demanding an equal in- 
discretion for her music. ... It made her feel like a 
disappointing and refractory investment; she knew her 
mother had not drawn on that capital to have her sub- 
side tamely into a marriage with Jim Clarke. 

But her mother had no right to have placed her under 
that obligation! 

Still, she had been much to blame herself, too weakly 
pleased with all her pretty frocks and entertaining. 
She had known that they could not really afford it. 

She had let herself be carried along, saying to herself 
that she might as well be amused while she waited, and 

125 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

that she owed it to her mother to try the life she 
planned. . . . 

But Rosalie said nothing more about that money. She 
repeated, "I am sorry for you, Evelyn, if you are dis- 
appointed. . . . But I'd be sorrier if you were so weak 
as not to be able to face life. . . . Such happiness as 
you dream of doesn't last. It's glamor and romance — 
and when there comes want and hardship and the inevit- 
able friction life grows hard. I would hate to see you in 
such a life, Evelyn. And you would never forgive your- 
self. You would blame me bitterly for not having saved 
you." 

"Would it be saving to marry me without love?" 

"You are thinking of one thing as love — there are a 
hundred others. I only want you to place your life 
where there is a stability of character and of future — and 
a tried affection. . . . It's idle to bewail the fact that 
life isn't rosier. . . . We can not have everything. And 
there is something cheap about purchasing a little grati- 
fication of what you call love with all the future years 
of life — and your children's lives, too." 

"How can you be so sure that I would regret marry* 

• T* » 

ing Jim 

"I am deadly sure." Rosalie's voice sounded very 
weary. "I haven't brought you up to the life he must 
require — cooking and sewing and caretaking in a small 
apartment. You've been too precious to me. Nor do 
you really want that life. You think you'll get away 
from it. . . . But the world's too hard for poor young 
men to make any phenomenal success." 

"Young men, then, have to marry on their fathers ?" 
"It does seem so. And Jim's father has not laid any 
family fortune. Jim ought to marry a girl who will be 

126 



AGAINST ODDS 



contented the way his mother is. That's what would 
be best for him." 

"But if I want to " 

The young willfulness of the eternal blindness ! 

Rosalie sighed. 

"The hard thing is that in a few years you will wonder 
why you wanted to. And you will ask me why I didn't 
keep you from it. I don't think that you are sure in your 
own mind, now." 

"I would be if — if you would all let me alone." 

The girl's voice showed a little ragged; the tears rose 
in her smarting eyes again. 

She hadn't thought to come home from Emmefine 
Stanley's funeral crying over her own love affairs. 

Rosalie was silent and Evelyn, hating herself for her 
weakness, leaned back in her corner, pressing her wet 
handkerchief to her flushed face. She had a horrible, 
shaken feeling. She longed hysterically for Jim. He 
had a magic that could conquer this black depression— 
but of late he did not use that magic. He was depressed, 
too. He said he wanted her to be sure in her own mind. 

It was her mother's terrible sincerity, her clear, lucid 
belief in her wisdom that confused the girl. If she 
were right! If all this feeling for Jim, this blind, 
ecstatic thing that drew her to him, if this were only the 
fever of youth, a passion of the spring, that life would 
use and dull and stifle. . . . 

If there were even something a little unworthy in 
yielding to it ! She could make so many people happy if 
she gave up her own desire. She had the martyr-like 
obsession that sacrifice confers its nobility. 

If anything happened to her mother! She would 
never forgive herself, then ! 

Everything was against her. But she could not help 

127 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



tt She loved Jim. If only they could be married now 
and get away from this ! 

She turned her face aside as she went up the steps 
into her own home. She could feel Christopher's glance 
questioning it. He thought she had been crying again 
for his mother and he was touched and distressed. He 
did not want even his own loss to sadden Evelyn but it 
was a beautiful thing that she Wept for his mother. 

Evelyn divined this feeling and flinched at the mis- 
conception. She began to talk about the cold. The 
bleak wind that rattled the windows was more like No- 
vember than March. He must not ride back outside. 

Rosalie interposed a grave goodnight to Christopher 
and went directly upstairs. Christopher lingered in the 
hall ; it seemed to Evelyn that she was so tired that she 
must sink down. 

But Christopher was trying to thank her for all that 
she had done. 

"It is nothing, Christopher. ... It is so little " 

"It's everything — everything in the world to me," he 
said in a choked voice, and suddenly, to her horror, she 
saw that there were tears running out of his eyes; he 
put his hands to his face and began to sob in a horrible, 
strangled way that made her as weak as water. She had 
never seen a man cry. And quiet Christopher— of all 
men! 

"Please, please, Christopher " 

He turned a painfully working face towards her. "I'm 
all right. But your goodness was too much for me. . . . 
Don't you know what it means? It's all I have in the 
world." 

He went on brokenly, "Isn't it any use? Don't you 
care, Evelyn? Can't you even stand me, when I love 
you so?" 

128 



AGAINST ODDS 



"I do care very much. But it's not — not in that 
way " 

"How do you know what way it is? How do you 
know what way it might be, if only " 

"I do know/' she said unhappily. "It's not — not like 
— you know, there's some one else " 

He brushed that swiftly aside. He didn't want that 
some one else upon record. 

"It doesn't matter. There are lots and lots of some 
ones until you make up your mind to marry. But I 
truly believe that I could make you happier than anybody 
— even anybody you might care more for at first. I love 
you so, Evelyn, I've loved you so long. There isn't 
anything I wouldn't do for you. And to-night, when you 
were so sweet " 

"I'm so sorry for you, Christopher, so sorry." 

"It's the only thing that's kept me living. It would 
Be so easy to die. I thought about it, beside mother. I 
wondered what I had to live for. . . . Other men have 
so much. I can't seem to want the things they like.* 
It's been just you. . . . Mother knew. She talked about 
you. She told me you really were fond of me, dear. 
Aren't you? More than you know, perhaps? More 
than " 

"Oh, Christopher, I would if I could, you know that ! 
I'd be so glad to make you happy. It makes me miser- 
able to hurt you." 

"That shows you care, doesn't it, dear? And I'd be 
so good to you, Evelyn. I'd cut my right hand oif , if 
you wanted it. I'd do anything for your mother, your 
sister " 

Shamelessly he was bartering. He knew his shame; 
the blood was scarlet in his face, but that bright, fanatic 
fire burned on. 

129 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

She was abased for him ; for the lengths to which he 
would go. 

She murmured, "I know. I wish I could. I'd be so 
glad to care ! But I can't hel p " 

"You will, in time. This — this other, you know — it's 
just a fancy. You're so young and know so little of life. 
And I would do everything r" 

It seemed to her that he talked on forever. His voice 
seemed to drive on, broken, pleading. . . . 

She was morbidly sensitized to his pain. 

"I do like you — that's why this hurts me so," she could 
only whisper. 

She was trembling; she sank down on one of the 
stairs. All her griefs, her uncertainties, her difficult con- 
ditions seemed to rise and overwhelm her like a flood. 
And her affection for Christopher seemed to hold out 
sustaining hands across the waters, promising that if she 

would only grasp them, only trust to him In that 

moment of weakness she genuinely wished that she could 
care for Christopher. 

"I just want to go on as I am," she sobbed. "I don't 
want to marry. I want just to be left alone." 

"Dearest, you shall be. It won't be any marriage that 
you hate. Just let me take care of you — give me the 
friendship, the affection that you always have — the love 
will come. . . . And if it doesn't — if you aren't happy 
and want no more of me, why, it will be easy to be f ree» 
You'd soon be free, anyway, dear, for I'm not going to 
bother you long. That's why I want you so much now — 
why I haven't time to wait. I do want to be happy be- 
fore I die. I want you near me. I'd want to die now if 
I couldn't have you." 

His fervor was tragic. It was tragic and terrifying 
and disarming. It was like a breath from the other 

130 



AGAINST ODDS 



world, as he stood there, the scent of his mother's funeral 
flowers clinging to him, the mold of his mother's grave 
on his feet. 

She shrank back from him, clinging to the thought that 
if she gave in at all then she was utterly lost and Jim was 
lost and the old dream was lost. 

"Oh, Christopher, I can't — it isn't that I won't, but 
I can't. You mustn't ask me like this — you mustn't make 
me feel so terribly." 

He seemed to pull himself together. 

Drawn by the silence, she looked up at last. He was 
staring over her head, his own face quite composed. But 
it had the dreariest look she had ever seen. And his 
eyes had that bright, set gaze. ... It frightened her. 
It set her heart to beating with swift fear. 

She caught at his arm. "Christopher, promise me — 
promise me " 



"] 



Their eyes met and he seemed to smile at her divina- 
tion. 

"I don't really believe you have the right to ask me to 
go on with it," he said quietly. "It's too hopeless. I'm 
too sick of it all." 

That's weak — that's wrong." 

'Don't worry. I shan't be — violent." 
'But you'd kill me, too, if you didn't take care of 
yourself. Don't you see how cruel — when I couldn't 
help " 

He smiled down on her. "Oh, I shall be careful, of 
course. I was only playing on your fears for a little 
sympathy." He gave a queer, distorted smile. "I shall 
be quite sane and sensible to-morrow, and everything 
will go on as usual." 

Her heart was cold. She disbelieved him. She saw 
despair on his face, and morbid renunciation. And while 

131 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



she felt how inferior this weakness was to Jim's stronger 
courage and pride — Jim would not want to die if a 
. woman, even the woman, failed him — her pity for that 
weakness was insidious and undermining. 

Christopher was so intense, so kind, so lonely. 

And so rich! Surrender to him, compassion upon 
him, meant such rewards to her and hers ! 

Pure pity and unconscious calculation mingled and 
flowed in her like one. 

She began to cry. . . . She knew that her safety lay 
in flight, that the voice of courage called upon her to get 
up those stairs. But an utter weakness held her. . . . 

He was kneeling beside her, calling himself every 
name of disgust ; impotently he tried to comfort her, yet 
at once urging her to care a little, to give him hope, in- 
sisting that she did care a little. 

And her weakness, that did not take her flying from 
him, let her sit forlornly there upon the stairs, while his 
arm enfolded her, while it drew her wet face against his 
shoulder. ... It seemed to her that she felt nothing, 
that she minded nothing. . . . 

From afar off she heard her voice, a tired, almost in- 
audible voice, promising that she would take his name, 
that she would make him happy, that she would be happy 
herself. 

She let him slip a ring upon her finger. It was his 
mother's. He had that day drawn it off and placed it 
on his little finger. It was an old fashioned amethyst 
with a crest upon it, the crest of the old English family 
that Emmeline's forefathers had abandoned for the free- 
dom and the theology of Vermont. 

She felt herself floating, floating, in some unreal 
dream. 

At any moment it would break, she would rouse, and 

132 



AGAINST ODDS 



this chaining apathy would dissolve. . . . She closed her 
eyes and felt his timid kiss upon her cheek; he touched 
her as if she were some precious gossamer; he took her 
arm and drew it about him and pressed his head against 
her shoulder as he sat there, below her, on the steps. 

And suddenly it seemed to her exceedingly real and 
natural. Christopher was her dear friend, her lover of 
many years. And she was going to make him happy and 
everything would be simple and easy and joyous again, 
and nobody would be anxious any more. % 

It would always be just as every one had planned and 
hoped. It was the wise, the inevitable thing. 

If only she could shut those other years from her life! 
If she could tear out of her consciousness a self that was 
not this ! If only that other self would die, if her heart 
would forget and her blood would bear no pulsing 
memories. . . . Surely this happened! This was what 
people meant when they said that youth forgot. . . . 

When this happened she would be quite all right. She 
would not be afraid of a name — of a face that rose be- 
fore her. She would have done the wise thing, the un- 
selfish thing. She would have been the stay of her 
home, the comforter of Christopher's. . . . She would 
have saved him. 

And surely, surely she must be forgetting Jim now, or 
she would never have surrendered to this. She would 
never be sitting here, so quiet, so acquiescent. Why, 
already, she was calm, was content ! 

But in her room at last, in the bed to which her ex- 
haustion drew her, there was no calm, no rest. She had 
no more tears, but queer, choking gasps shook her with a 
mad violence, so that she buried herself among the pil- 
lows. A fire was running through her. . . . Then a 

133 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



lassitude descended that was not acquiescence but de- 
spair. She only knew that she wished that she were 
dead. 

And then she slept. Pillowed upon the hand on which 
clung Emmeline's ring, she slept like a worn-out child, 
each hour carrying her swiftly to the morrow. 

And Emmeline in her death achieved that which her 
anxious life had never compassed; she had effected 
.Christopher's desire. 



CHAPTER XVI 

CONFIDENCES 

Before she sat down Mrs. Day drew the tip of hen 
gloved forefinger across the chair. 

"Do you never dust?" she demanded. 

Walter Hinman chuckled. "Oh, that's safe! The 
clients dust it." 

"But the tops of your books in that outer office ! . . . 
What do you pay all those stenographers for ?" 

"Not to keep house." 

"And these books ! " She glanced about the walls, 
crowded with rows and rows of stout, identically bound 
volumes. "I can't think how you use them." 

"You are making comparisons with the lawyer's office 
in the drama — done by Belasco," Walter Hinman 
chuckled. He delighted in Rosalie's dainty disgust with 
his busy, dusty place ; he loved the invasion of her slim, 
modish figure in the severity of tailor-made, a smart 
spring toque topping her bright head. 

She had telephoned him that she wished to see him. 
He imagined that she intended to struggle against his 
determination to sell no more of her capital for her, and 
this feminine diversion about the dust amused him. 

But she did not present a business errand. She sat 
on the edge of the despised chair and leaning towards 
him, across the table, offered a countenance of demurely 
mingled triumph and defiance. 

"I've done it," she announced. 

135 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

His thoughts leaped to money, bills, debts. . . . He 
wondered what the devil now. 

She laughed outright at the blankness of his anxious 
expression. 

"I haven't sold the house over our heads! . . . It's 
something else. . . . I've engaged Evelyn to Christopher 
Stanley." 

"The deuce you have ! " His voice merely expressed 
relief from his suspense. 

"I have ! I've brought it off ! I've been a managing 
Mamma. I've pushed her over to Christopher and I've 
smashed her poor little romance with a nice boy into 
smithereens." 

She continued to look at him oddly, after she had* 
made this light announcement, a look that finally prompt- 
ed him to ask, "What do you want me to do — praise or 
blame you ?" 

"Praise to the skies," she vowed, with a hardiness 
which might have been to outtongue her secret compunc- 
tions. "It's the best thing for her — isn't it, Walter?" 

"Why, yes, if you say so," he answered slowly. 
"There's no better fellow in the world than Stanley, and 
he can take splendid care of her " 

He paused. Something within him was pleading for 
romance, for the young girl's preference. He could not 
deny romance when Rosalie's slim figure was before 
him. 

"But if she wanted the other fellow " 

"He was a boy," said Rosalie decidedly. "A law stu- 
dent. You know what that means, Walter. He hadn't 
any father to start him." 

Walter Hinman's father had been a lawyer before him. 
It had not been for any material lack that Rosalie Day 
had refused him, in the old days when Walter Hinman 

136 



CONFIDENCES 



had driven a smart dogcart to her grandmother's door 
on the old West Side. 

Money had no weight for the gay, light-minded girl 
she was then. He could always remember how she 
looked, how her eyes had sparkled, her high spirits 
played pranks. ... He thought it pathetic that she had 
sounded the fallacy of her choice and was considering 
so anxiously for her daughter. 

Evelyn was a sweet child — not the girl her mother 
had been, though! But she was very lovely. As their 
lawyer and their friend he was enormously relieved at an 
engagement which put an end to economy and contriv- 
ing, even while he knew a needle prick of jealousy 
towards the new son-in-law who would do so much for 
them. They would not need his own wisdom so much. 

"When's the wedding?" he inquired. 

"It's nearly April now — and I shall need six months. 
October, early in the month, probably. It will be very 
quiet, of course, so soon after Mrs. Stanley's death." 

"Then you are not announcing anything yet ?" 

"Not announcing — though it is leaking out," confessed 
Rosalie, with an indefinable look. "I think the papers 
may say something about the sadness of the loss just on 
the eve of the son's announcement of his engagement. 
It will look better if people think the engagement was 
made a little earlier." 

Walter Hinman shook his head at her. 

"How unsure you must be of her!" he murmured. 

Rosalie Day had the grace to color. "It's not that — 
not all that," she returned. "But if we wait to announce 
it we must wait some time. . . and I want people to 
know. ... In a little while Christopher can begin going 
about as usual. People are so much more sensible now. 
about mourning." 

137 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 






Yes, quite so," said the lawyer a trifle dryly. 
I'm taking Evelyn to Asheville next month and 
Christopher can join us there and we can do a little 
motoring. . . , Then we shall be East, at the shore, this 
summer — I can do a great deal of the shopping in New 
York. We'll return in August, late in August, and 
plunge into the wedding plans." 

"Incomparable general," murmured Hinman. 

But his badinage sounded absent, and he continued 
staring out his wide windows, streaked with Chicago's 
rain and soot. He was on the seventh floor but from 
the canyon of the street below the clangor of cars and 
the noise and jar of traffic sounded its monstrous ac- 
companiment. 

Rosalie turned a pencil up and down a few minutes ; 
she looked up suddenly. 

"You know it may be cancer," she said abruptly. 
"That pain I have. ... Of course I'm not counting on 
anything but tumor, but I can see that they aren't sure. 
I've got to have that out soon. I didn't want to leave 
Evelyn at loose ends if I should happen to snuff out 
— and she must look after Muriel." 

Her voice sharpened ; it betrayed the maternal anxiety 
consuming her. 

"They are so helpless — girls." 

Walter Hinman's voice came loaded with gravity. 

"Carey thinks that he must operate ?" 

"Oh, dear, yes — the man's hounding me with his 
knife." 

"I want — I want to be there, Rosalie." 

"At the hospital?" Her eyes widened at him. "But 
you can't, my dear Walter." 

He looked obstinate, clinging to his idea. 

She flung out briskly, "You know you really aren't 

138 



CONFIDENCES 



expected to go to 'the table even with old and dearly 
beloved clients. We take up far too much of your time 
already." 

With a decisive movement she rose to her feet. She 
caught up her toy bag and extended the other hand to 
him. 

"I just dropped in to tell you. Good-by." 

"Good-by, then." He got up slowly, walking to the 
door with her. "You're sure that you don't want me — 
that you'd rather not ?" 

"Have you attend the operation? Take down my 
last words?" She smiled with sudden affection upon 
him. "I'm quite sure, dear Walter. It wouldn't do, you 
know. But you're a dear for thinking of it." 

"Selma " he began a little awkwardly. "If she 

could come " 

Rosalie's smile gained subtlety. "Selma has no reason 
to be dragged into it. I haven't seen her for years, you 
know, and I have a swarm of women friends to come 
over if I want them — but I don't. It will be quite 
simple, only not very pretty. Ether makes me so hor- 
ribly ill. I'll wait till after Asheville, I think. And 
you'll know when it's all over. ... Be sure and con- 
gratulate Christopher. And say nice things about him 
to Evelyn if you see her." 

- She added, at the door, as he held it open, a defiant 
little twinkle touching her pale face to mischief, "I'm 
coming in and sell something for the wedding, you 
know!" 

For some moments Walter Hinman stood by his 
table, looking at the door which had closed behind her. 
A wonderful woman, that . . . and how she had man- 
aged for those girls. ... A dear woman. . . . After 
all, he was glad of this business of the engagement. 

139 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



Stanley was a fine young man. Not his notion of a 
fascinator, but a good husband. He deserved the girl, 
if any one did. 

He gave a funny sigh. Then he sat down abruptly 
in his chair, and pressed the buzzer sharply. When his 
secretary entered with her open book he was quite 
ready for her. 



CHAPTER XVII 

THAT NIGHT 

The evening of that same day young Garke was 
sitting at his study table. He was living, now, near 
the University, in the house of his fraternity, and he 
had a narrow hall bedroom whose restricted size brought 
the boon of privacy. His law books were spread out 
on the table beneath the green-shaded lamp, but he 
was not reading them. He was reading # letter. 

He had read it before. It had been in his possession 
since noon, when he had returned from a lecture. Eve- 
lyn had not written at once. Three days had elapsed 
since the day of Mrs. Stanley's burial and Christopher 
Stanley's engagement before the girl put her pen to the 
paper. 

She knew then that she must write, or Jim would be 
calling her up or trying to see her. For some months 
now — since shortly after her coming-out, in fact, — they 
had given up the daily letters and he did not call often, 
since she was so incessantly out and there seemed little 
point in journeying across the city merely to hear the 
voice of the Swedish maid. He waited for her to call 
him when she saw an evening of freedom. The pres- 
sure of his work made him often come and see her upon 
Sunday, a practice which Mrs. Day had regarded with 
mirth. 

"The Sunday night suitor," she termed him. 

Evelyn had telephoned him when Mrs. Stanley died, 
and postponed an intended call. . • • Then nothing had 

141 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



come from her until this letter. He had touched it 
with the painful joy that was inseparable now from his 
love. 

That was this noon. He had gone to a class since. 
He had gone to walk upon the Midway and eaten a 
strange meal in a strange restaurant. Then he had 
returned and opened his books. But he had drawn out 
the letter again. 

It was a long letter, incoherent often, cryptic, unex- 
plaining, but definite as lightning. At one moment she 
was ruthlessly insistent. She must be free. She was 
going to marry another man. It was the wisest thing . 
for both. He could forget her and be happy. The next 
moment she was pleading, pitifully, desolately, for for- 
giveness. 

She was so wrong, and she was so sorry and ashamed - 
— he must forgive her, and realize that she was heart- 
sick and ashamed. "Oh, Jimmie, be merciful to me in 
your thoughts," one agonized sentence ran. 

But in the next sentence she begged him not to try 
to interfere. It would be no use. He must not attempt 
to see her. She was resolved. This was the thing for 
her to do with her life. 

She did not vouchsafe a detail. She did not imply 
that the decision was unwilling. She said that she had 
made it. It was the only way. She had done what 
she thought was right, and if only he would not trouble 
her, but would please let her go her own way and 
forget her, she would be happy. 

An older man might have seen her as she wrote that 
letter, seen the weak misery, the tears that flowed for 
herself arid for him, the panic in her heart, the des- 
perate struggle against him, and might have understood 

142 



THAT NIGHT 



that this frantic exhortation to keep away was the secret 
acknowledgment of his power. 

He might have seen that this marriage, this thing that 
was so best and wise and inevitable, could only be ac- 
complished at the cost of his acquiescence. 

But Jim saw only the sudden, sharp decision, pleading 
to be allowed to go on in peace. She was sorry for 
him — he knew her undoing pity. She could hardly bear 
to tell him. He appreciated that Perhaps she had held 
off from this other man — she had not given his name — 
for fear of hurting him. But she had been different for 
so long ... he had known they would remold her. . . . 
Now they had done it. 

He had known ever since that letter that she had 
written him from Lake Geneva. He had gone to her 
then. He had rewon her. . . . He could go to her now. 

But he would not trouble her. He would stand aside 
as she had asked. His pride prompted him, and, subtly, 
his pity for her as a harassed, uncertain creature. Since 
he brought her only unhappiness he would let her go. 

But what held his hand and kept him from action 
was not so much the passion of her entreaties nor yet 
his stabbed pride, but the paralyzing conviction implanted 
in him these months that there might be an ultimate 
wisdom in her choice. 

She might be happier with this other man. She wrote 
of him as rich and good. She had the right to decide. 
She had reminded him of that. He could not, as a man, 
torture her with his persistence, and inflict the pains of 
a love which had no power to shelter her. 

The law was a long road. ... It was a dark road 
to the boy that night. It did not seem possible to his 
mood that he would really ever amount to very much, 

143 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



or be able to move freely in the world of men. He was 
a student, a pensioner, a mite in a swarming anthill. 

She was too fair for him. . . . He had no right. . . . 
She said he had no right. 

But that night Jim knew that even a mite in a swarm- 
ing anthill may have feelings comparable to those of 
the highest human destiny. There may be ten thousand 
crucified but the pangs of crucifixion are individually 
keen. . . . 

Finally he took paper and pen and wrote her that N he 
would do as she wished, if that was for her happiness. 
He went down and mailed the letter. 

And then he walked, blindly, regardlessly, trying to 
tire his young strength. . . . 

Long after midnight he returned to his room, and 
lay down upon his couch. Even in the gloom he could 
see the light from the window glint on her picture — 
not the new one of her coming-out time, but the young 
portrait of her college days. He could see her dream- 
ing blue eyes looking out under those delicate arched 
brows, could catch the sudden mischief of her smile 
and watch the flushed rose of her cheeks. . . . Again 
he seemed to know all the dear yielding tenderness 
of her. 

He fought with himself to keep from rising and writ- 
ing again. 

That she should never be his! But she had rejected 
their dream. She had passed from him. 

Suddenly he turned his face into his pillow and lay 
quite still with no sound or movement. 

And somehow that night passed. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

AFTERWARDS 

He told himself that he had given her up. He put 
her portrait away — grateful that this was not at home 
where comment would be roused — and he tied her let- 
ters systematically and locked them in his trunk. 

Then he sat down to his law books. 

He worked hard that spring, but he worked with the 
surface of his mind. He was like a man in the wilder- 
ness, alert for a distant sound. Under his air of inter- 
est he was listening . . . secretly . . . unconsciously. 

He read the papers. They told him who the man was. 
His name was Christopher Stanley, and Jim's thoughts 
flew back to that quiet, youngish man who sat by the 
piano that night a year ago in January, and had 
promised Muriel her trip to Russia. He had scarcely 
seen Stanley since then, though he had heard casual 
things about him from Evelyn, and a great deal about 
dear Mrs. Stanley. 

And he had known, of course, that she was visiting 
the Stanley's that last September when he had gone to 
see her at Lake Geneva. Odd, that he had never sus- 
pected ! 

He recalled the staid, carefully-tended estate, the well- 
ordered shrubbery, the bulky, pretentious house. So 
that was one of the ways that they had got at her ! And 
there was a town house on the Lake Shore Drive — he 
looked up the address grimly in the telephone book one 
evening — and there was the solid financial foundation 

145 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



which supported those houses. . . . What an ass he had 
been to think himself a competitor! 

His mood was of cold irony. That was the best one 
he could find to get himself through the days. He told 
himself that he could take his medicine without making 
faces about it, but he could not forbear to pull a 
mocking mouth at himself. 

The first Sunday at home after the paragraphs in 
the papers was a bad day. He had not realized that 
there would be anything in print ; he had thought of his 
family as being at the mercy of his pride. But after 
he read the papers he recognized that his pride had its 
.work cut out for it. 

His mother said nothing. She was unwontedly quiet. 
But Aunt Callista's fine dark eyes, like expressive 
marbles, were round with curiosity. 

"What's all this, Jim, about Evelyn Day's being en- 
gaged?" she very soon flung at him, and her voice 
sounded sharply eager in her excitement and her sense 
of resentment for him. He caught only the eagerness 
and it revolted him. 

He had to answer calmly and coolly. "Just about 
what it says," he returned. 

"Then she is engaged ?" 

Jim said it had been coming on for some time. 

And Fanny, peering round at him like some bright- 
eyed, malicious bird, put the decisive test. 

"Did you know of it?" 

Jim gave her an unrelishing stare. "I did." 

He added, "Is there anything else any one would like 
to know?" 

The moment after he knew how fatally he had given 
himself away. 

146 



AFTERWARDS 



4t 

it 



His mother began instantly to summon some talk of 
the church that morning. But Aunt Callista was not to 
be diverted She had a feeling that Jim was being 
wronged, that her family had been, as she might have 
phrased it, "sniffed at," by the Days, and she avenged 
her pride in recollections of the Stanley family. 

"He was a common man," she said. "Aggressive. 
Vulgar. Nothing at all in New England where he had 
come from." 

She supposed the son had inherited a lot of money. 
Had Jim met him? 

Yes, a lot of money. And yes, Jim had met him. 
A very decent chap," his pride constrained hiin to add. 
He's a great friend of Mr. Preebles," contributed 
Fanny unexpectedly. 

Then Jim's ironic mood could indulge its laugh. 
"So's the governor!" he retorted, for hobnobbing with 
the great in office was Mortimer Preebles* unflagging 
diversion, and he had never to be induced to inform 
his auditors of his intimacies. 

"But they don't either of them know it," Jim added, 
venting his mood. 

Unaccountably Fanny bridled. The increasing defer- 
ence of the discerning Mr. Preebles' to Fanny's youth 
and charms had infected the girl with a respect for his 
judgment. 

"He is," she insisted. "They are always going to 
luncheon together at some of their clubs." 

"Some of Stanley's clubs, you mean," her brother 
suggested. "And at Stanley's expense!" 

The girl's susceptible color rose. "If Mr. Stanley 
takes him, then Mr. Stanley must know he is his friend," 
she retorted, with unescapable logic. "And I don't see 

H7, 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



what you want to sneer at Mr. Preebles for, when he 
is always so nice to you." 

"He's talked of making some arrangement for you 
after you graduate," said his mother. 

"He is certainly successful," remarked Aunt Callista, 
who knew nothing at all of Mortimer's successes but 
;who valued his Sunday manners. 

"Oh, Preebles is right enough," Jim declared, suddenly 
ashamed of his humor and the triviality of its pretext. 

But Preebles had served to turn the talk from Christo- 
pher Stanley. 

That afternoon Jim and his father went for a long 
walk and the boy rarely remembered his father in a 
more discursive mood. He was discursive about every- 
thing, from his life in Chicago and his theories of 
teaching, to present politics and the Greek dramatists. 

He was especially expressive about the Greeks, and 
their lucid honesties towards life. And then he spoke 
of life itself, its changing values, its march and aston- 
ishment, its curious chances that contrive fate or luck, 
its unpredictable compensations. It was as if he were 
trying to give his son a little of his philosophy, with its 
sense of the vast divergence and yet the echoing iden- 
tity of human experience. 

Jim's irony wondered if this were his father's way of 
offering consolation. He was too sore for any speech 
to soothe, too hurt and proud for confidence. He was 
too proud, too, for a pretense of deception, beyond a 
decent reticence. He would hold his tongue and they 
could think what they liked ! 

He was queerly sorry for his mother. He saw that 
night that her eyes were red, as if she had been crying. 
She would take her boy's disappointment hard. But he 

148 



AFTERWARDS 



imagined that later she and his father would minimize 
the affair, calling it a girl and boy attachment . . • 
and agreeing that Evelyn would have made too difficult 
a wife for him. 

Later, they would think he had got over it. 

It was the papers that apprised him that Mrs. Carter 
Day and her eldest daughter were motoring in Carolina, 
and, later, that Mrs. Carter Day and her two daughters 
were visiting at York Harbor. His continued irony 
found savage entertainment in the recollection of 
Rosalie's economy of Evelyn's Christmas carfare! 

He had not been informed by any paper of Mrs. 
Carter Day's presence in town, in the interval between 
Carolina and York Harbor, and he credited Rosalie with 
thorough care in her announcements. 

But she need not have worried. He would not lift a 
hand. 

Yet all the time he was alert . . . listening for a 
signal. 

It was Diana Wilder who conveyed the news that 
Mrs. Day was ill. 

He was taking tea at Mrs. Wilder's — the lady was a 
South Side acquaintance become increasingly a friend — 
and they were alone in her garden which the September 
wind was carpeting with leaves. 

Brown and dulled, they floated on the top of her little 
pool, fleetingly enlivened by the gleam of goldfish. A 
Persian cat played languidly with a maple branch in the 
distance. 

The lady loved cats and gardens and human lives. 
And she had months ago divined in this unconfiding 

149 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



young man a swift accession of interest wfren her friend- 
ship with Evelyn Day was discovered. 

That had been in the past winter, during Evelyn's 
bright progress through her admiring world. Jim had 
spoken of Evelyn with eagerness then, admitting that 
they were great friends, and a little later he had con- 
veyed to Diana Wilder's instinctive understanding that 
it would not be unpleasant to come there with her to tea. 

Her impulsive heart tender to all young hopes, the 
lady had instantly arranged a little tea. They did not 
manage to be alone but Jim had captured some hours of 
his enchantment. 

Now, fearing that same understanding sympathy, Jim 
had kept away from Mrs. Wilder but was drawn back, 
little by little, by his liking for her, and his hope of 
hearing that secret name spoken. Several times she 
had lightly touched on it, to which he had as lightly 
responded; to-day, she was communicative. 

Evelyn had written her very anxiously about her 
mother. Rosalie had neglected a necessary operation, 
it seemed, and was desperately ill at a hospital in New 
York. 

It occurred to Jim that it was not impossible that 
Evelyn had recognized that he might know of this 
letter. 

The tints of the garden brightened; the boughs were 
clothed with grace, the sunshine with glory. Diana 
Wilder was a goddess of good augury. He noticed 
what beautiful hair she had, red gold now in the sun, and 
what charming eyes . . . golden, too ... so full of 
candor and warm feeling. 

The tea she served him was suddenly ambrosia. 

Yet he left this garden of enchantments with a certain 
speed. He returned to his room and wrote to Evelyn. 

150 



AFTERWARDS 



It was only decent, he felt, that, knowing that Mrs. 
Wilder would inform him, Evelyn should be assured of 
his sympathy. After all, he had not ceased to be her 
friend. 

Then, in the sudden, swift suspense that followed, Jim 
realized how perfunctory and mechanical had been the 
circulation of his blood those past months. 

She was not long in answering. She thanked him. 
He had been kind to write. Her mother was terribly 
ill, but it was not cancer. They were eager for the 
first sign of improvement, and the waiting was hard. 

He thought of Evelyn, suffering anxiety, and his heart 
contracted with a tenderness he had forgotten. He 
wished that he could rush to the train, and speed to her. 
. . . Then he recollected that this place was taken by 
a thoroughly competent and devoted fiance who had 
never known what it was to lack for a train trip in his 
life. 

He pictured Evelyn clinging to this man's comfort. 

And then his heart, which he had thought forgetting, 
but which was merely frozen by his cold bitterness, 
awoke to memory and life. The past, the old happy 
past, became real and vivid, and these past months a 
monstrous obsession. His own conduct appeared utterly 
incomprehensible. A man who could put up no better 
fight for his love! He deserved to lose her! He de- 
served to be cast aside. 

He began to plan, secretly, vehemently, incessantly. 
But all his plans depended upon such incalculable things ! 

He did not know whether he wanted Rosalie to die 
or not. If she did die, he could imagine that Evelyn 
would not be beyond carrying out her mother's wishes in 
a passion of sentiment. But he would have sacrificed a 
score of Rosalies to win back his love ! 

15* 



< 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



On the whole, he was relieved when Rosalie decided 
to live. 

But she was a very long time recovering strength for 
any zest in living, and her convalescence meant the 
South. 

He had not counted on this continual absence. And 
his letters to Evelyn dared not be too frequent nor 
outspoken. 

Then, suddenly, he discovered what he had escaped. 
He discovered that the wedding had been intended for 
October, and Rosalie's illness had been the preventive. 
When her mother was fully recovered, Evelyn wrote, 
they would return to Chicago for the wedding. She did 
not think that it would be until the cold weather was 
past, for Rosalie had suffered from bronchitis, after her 
first illness, and her chest was delicate. 

Meanwhile, Jim grimly supposed, Christopher Stanley 
was incessantly at Evelyn's elbow, urging her to instant 
marriage. 

In that he did wrong to Rosalie's astuteness. She 
kept Christopher coming and going between their so- 
journ in the South and his affairs in Chicago ; and Evelyn 
reaped the benefits of his devotion and the distinction 
of the engagement to him, without the complication of 
his continual presence. He had been a great comfort 
to her in her dark hour, and a real affection and reliance 
upon him had deepened in her. 

But she continued, now, to write to Jim. 

And Jim had ceased to be a law student and had 
become a lawyer; not only that but he had become a 
Junior Partner. Preebles, Borrow and Clarke, was the 
sign upon the door, although Borrow's connection with 
the firm was not as a partner, but as an associate. Bor- 

152 



AFTERWARDS 



row rented his office from the firm ; the firm shared their 
expenses and divided the profits. It appeared an inter- 
esting prospect for a young man just out of the Univer- 
sity, and Jim felt that he could stomach a great deal 
of Mortimer's grandiloquence for the sake of the man's 
evident friendliness. 

He tried to whip himself into a liking for Mortimer. 
Failing that, he told himself sternly that it was his duty 
as a lawyer to get on, and this offered the most direct 
avenue. 

What he did not admit was that he had swallowed 
Mortimer, partnership, obligations, uncongeniality and 
all, for the opportunity of appearing as a full-fledged 
partner to Evelyn, and the fallacious dignity of seeming 
now a financially independent attorney-at-law. 

For his initial expenses, and the months that must 
ensue before he could earn his share of cost — Mortimer's 
selection of offices was not inexpensive — Jim had bor- 
rowed a thousand dollars upon a life insurance policy 
from his old friend, Judge Carpenter. 

And he took unheedingly the remark Judge Carpenter 
made when he handed over the money. 

"Mind you, Jim," said he, "I'm not backing Preebles 
— I'm backing you." 

"I'm obliged to you, sir," said Jim gravely. 

"I wish that durn fool Henry had gone into the law," 
the old Judge added querulously. "Fooling around a 
machine shop and rebuilding automobiles in the barn— 
that boy will get blown up or run over one of these 
days !" 

It seemed to the Judge, and it was not refuted by Jim, 
that Henry Carpenter preferred tinkering as a substi-* 
tute for work. 

153 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

Not that he did not hold his place at the engineering 
he had elected. But his place had its desultory, experi- 
mental aspect. 

But Henry had a well-to-do father and no love like 
Evelyn. Henry could afford to take his time with life. 

Mrs. Carter Day did not return to Chicago until April 
of that spring, the spring of 1910. Cold had succeeded 
cold with her, and her old-time energy had been unable 
to do more than pull her wanly through a disheartening 
winter of breakdowns; but she refused to encourage 
herself longer in convalescence and arrived about the 
middle of the month, just in time for that astonishing 
snow storm of the twenty-third. 

If Jim had been hoping for another collapse he was 
mistaken. Rosalie suddenly thrived upon her Chicago 
cold; she flung herself animatedly into the plans that 
had been so long in simmering, telegrams to bridesmaids 
ensued and imperious demands upon dressmakers and 
cleaners and caterers and the wedding was set for the 
last of May. 

Evelyn wrote Jim of the date. She had refused to 
see him, but she could not let the abruptness of the 
announcement strike him unheralded. 

Her letter crossed with one from him, full of the love 
he had held back so long and urgent with appeal and 
question. 

Instantly he wrote another, demanding that Evelyn at 
least see him before she let that date be set. She wrote 
back that it was set and that the invitations were being 
engraved and addressed. 

And again Jim wrote, urging that for auld lang syne 
She give him at least the grace of a day. He would not 

154 



AFTERWARDS 



make her unhappy, he said. Only he wanted that one 
last day together to remember. 

Intuitively he knew that it was not in Evelyn to refuse 
that. The question now for her would be of ways and 
means, and Jim went straight for the lady of the garden, 
the pool, and the Persian cat. 

He found her at home and he told her bluntly that it 
was his chance of seeing Evelyn Day for the last time 
and invoked her aid. 

He had only to ask. Diana Wilder seized swiftly 
upon the situation and made it her own. She brushed 
Rosalie and Christopher aside as unessential atoms. 
Violence was being done to young hearts and all the 
childlike warmth of her own flew to their aid. 

"I'll have her here to tea," she vowed. "She'll give 
me a day! Then you shall have her to herself. " 

It was all very well to promise, but bells were apt to 
ring and callers seek admission. Evelyn would _ not 
endure an embarrassed seclusion. Jim had a better 
thought than that. 

"If we could only go off somewhere — into the 
country ?" 

"The dunes!" said the lady enthusiastically. "Well 
go to a shore I know in Indiana. It's only two hours 
away, and it's the most beautiful place in the world ! Ill 
bring some one with me — the right some one, Jim Clarke 
— and you and Evelyn can walk and talk." 

"I want to take her home," said Jim anxiously. 

Undaunted, the lady considered that angle. "I'll ask 
Edith Storey," she pronounced. "You don't mind 
having her understand ? She will, you know, without a 
word of explanation. And we'll spend the night at a 
farm house back from the shore. I'll arrange every- 

155 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



thing. And you and Evelyn can take the seven thirty 
train back. Will that do ?" 

It would do wonderfully, the young man told her. 

It had its merits, that plan ! One of them, to Evelyn, 
was that her mother could be told that she was going for 
a day's quiet in the country with Mrs. Wilder. 



CHAPTER XIX 

THE AWAKENING 

If only it would not rain ! 

But the expedition appeared to Jim so miraculous, even 
after it was finally consented to and arranged, that he 
simply could not believe his luck. It was bound to rain< 

He scanned the heavens on the night before with the 
minuteness of a soothsayer seeking his birds of augury,, 
and his first look on the momentous morning was ques«* 
tioning the sky. 

The day dawned in a serenity of sunshine and tfe 
amazing expedition was assured. 

Unless Evelyn failed ! She was to take the train from 
down town and Mrs. Wilder and Mrs. Storey and Jim 
Clarke were to board it at Fifty-Third Street. Until 
that train arrived Jim tasted every pang of an excruciate 
ing suspense. With a parched throat he made conver- 
sation with his two companions. 

As the cars rolled past he heard Mrs. Wilder call, 
"There she is," but he himself had glimpsed nothing. 
He helped them aboard and they hurried down the dusty 
aisles. 

Evelyn had not failed. She was there, indeed, guard- 
ing a section for them, and smiling nervously at their 
approach. 

It was his first sight of her after the long year of 
separation. His excitement and the reaction after that 
suspense made him feel utterly weak and hollow, and 
within that hollow his heart was pounding away lurch- 
ingly with the reverberations of a ship's engine. 

157 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

' ' * ^~-"— ■ ■ 

They established themselves in the section. Evelyn 
was still smiling, her eyes very big and bright, her 
cheeks flushed with poppy pink that deepened steadily 
to poppy flame. Her glance evaded his ; she greeted the 
ladies with gaiety and exclaimed how merry it was to 
be rescued from bridesmaids and clothes for a day in 
the country. 

"And it's so good of you to squire us!" she flung 
vivaciously at Jim, but with eyes that still slipped from 
his. 

"I'm a lucky Turk," Jim gave back. He was aston- 
ished at the steadiness of his voice. 

"This is a Turkish party," Mrs. Storey seconded, her 
amused glance seeking the solitary man. "We shall 
have to vie in charming you." 

It had been a touch of genius that had added Edith 
Storey to this expedition. An infinite discernment 
lurked behind that lady's lovely charm. She had come 
rather in curiosity, knowing Jim Clarke slightly, Evelyn 
Day even less, but Diana Wilder a great deal, and per- 
ceiving perfectly a situation. 

And now she saw the flushed, highly-strung girl, the 
tense, quiet young man, and their hostess's eyes of too- 
candid sympathy . . . she saw, too, somewhere in that 
Chicago they were leaving so rapidly, a houseful 61 
wedding presents and bridesmaids and a busy mother 
and an unconscious bridegroom. . . . 

Amiably she inquired of the wedding and breathlessly 
Evelyn gave her back an array of details, a pelting down- 
pour of them it might seem, for Jim Clarke's silent 
benefit. 

It was to be a blue and white and silver wedding, her 
sister as the young maid-of-honor and four friends as 
maids. A bishop, a special friend of her mother's, was 

158 



THE AWAKENING 



coming for the ceremony, and a boy soprano, whom her 
mother had discovered and launched, was to sing. 

"Your mother seems to have arranged it all," said 
Mrs. Wilder. 

Heaven knows the lady's intention ! 

The poppy flame dropped into ragged splashes of color 
on the girl's paled cheek; the lost color seemed to have 
been transferred mysteriously to the young man's face. 
He felt himself positively incandescent. 

But Edith Storey was looking at no one. She was 
recounting an anecdote of a wedding from her travels, 
which merged insensibly into an account of the travels, 
and from that moment she kept her deft hands directingly 
upon that conversation. 

Two hours later, when they descended into the Indiana 
woods, she felt a little breathlessly that she had been 
guiding some particularly frail canoe through the rapids. 

But the country touched them with its quieting delight. 
Through green ravines their path led to the shore. 

Evelyn had never seen the dunes at all. Jim had not 
seen this part of them; his memories had invited an 
anticipation of rolling mounds of sand and sparse live 
oaks. 

But this was different. There was sand, a wide gold 
beach of it, outflung in curves like a gull's wing, bordered 
by the blue vastness of the lake, but its mounds and 
foothills were backed by high cliffs, crowded with giant 
trees. And from those cliffs — triumphantly Diana 
Wilder led them a swift ascent — the eye fell on a far 
expanding sweep of green forest, melting into violet 
horizons like a rolling moor. 

"This is the most beautiful place in the world," said 
Diana Wilder with her intense conviction. "I am going 

159 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

to find out who owns this and see if I can build a house 
here. I want to live here. I want to live with this." 

"The blue of that water!" said Mrs. Storey under 
her breath. 

Evelyn and Jim said nothing at all, but involuntarily 
their eyes sought each other. 

And suddenly a sense of holiday invaded the party, as 
if that wind of pine and lake had blown its exhilaration 
into them. They laughed, they talked spontaneously, 
they scrambled after their hostess of the dunes until 
breath failed them save for remonstrance. They ate 
an excellent luncheon on a shaded hill top. 

"And now you children can take your walk to 
Tremont," Mrs. Wilder said decisively. "Mrs. Storey 
and I are going to remain near here — we shall stay all 
night at the farm house, you know." 

"You might walk a little way with us," Evelyn sug- 
gested. 

Mrs. Storey waved a book at her. "I'm going to be 
shamefully lazy — walking is for by and by," she laughed. 

"My dear/' she murmured to her friend, when the 
two young people, after an exchange of farewells, went 
running down the hill, "you needn't have looked at me 
like that — I wouldn't have gone for worlds !" 

"It's his only chance," said Diana Wilder. 

Edith Storey gave her companion a swift glance. 
"You don't mean that you really want her to break 
everything off — at this date?" 

"If he's the man she wants to marry!" 

"But to find it out now. . . . She never will," «he 
added absently. 

"Oh, I can't believe people are like that !" The other 
spoke with imperious anger. "To let a miserable hand- 
ful of wedding presents " 

1 60 



THE AWAKENING 



The eyes of the two women met in half humorous 
debate. 

"Nous verrons," said Edith Storey lightly. 

It was his chance, his unique chance, and he knew it. 

And he did not feel helpless before it. He felt 
strangely strong and confident. 

The naturalness of being with Evelyn again! The 
simple gladness of it ! . . . He had wondered if it would 
be like this. He had even questioned if he had not 
changed, grown cooler. . . . 

He could have laughed, now, at those cynical search- 
ings. This was Heaven again, Heaven with all the ex- 
quisite poignancy of reunion after separation. 

They were like children together. That first con- 
straint of being alone had slipped from them like a Hying 
mist before the sun, and they wandered happily along, 
loitering, pausing to examine the labyrinthine gull prints 
on the sands, not talking much, but simple things about 
the gulls and the day, and often singing little songs to- 
gether, half under their breath in the old way that they 
had known in the Amherst hills. 

It was like that first spring again, only with a fuller 
radiance. 

When the dry sands grew tiresome they took off their 
shoes and waded joyously. He carried her shoes, stout 
little tan oxfords, coupled with their laces, in a most 
tender hand. 

It was a day of blue and gold. The wide beach 
curved before them with the lake whispering at its edge, 
lonely and illimitable as a desert ocean. At their left 
the -bluffs rpse, less high now, breaking into a gorgeous 
golden shower of sand over which juniper and pine 
and linden raised their darkening heads. 

The breeze from the lake blew cool delight upon them ; 

161 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

the sun glowed but did not burn. The air was a molten 
amber bathing the world with a translucent beauty be- 
yond words. 

It was a day for love, a day for his beloved. Her hair 
was pure gold in the sunshine; her eyes were as blue as 
the unclouded sky. 

They met his with a smile. 

Absurd that they were to part! Impossible that he 
had known doubt and despair. . . . He knew his unhap- 
piness was false. Their joy was real, and their love. 
For she loved him. 

The difficulty was not to make her see it, but to see 
it in all its finality and to act upon that knowledge. 
The prescience of that moment to come made his heart 
beat fast and hard. He could not abandon himself 
utterly to the hour and yet every instant of perfect joy 
between them made so much stronger and more visible 
the bond he was to urge. 

"Let's just be gay," she said swiftly, after a winged 
glance at his darkening eyes. 

And they continued to be gay, even after they had 
grown a little weary, and stopped to open the basket he 
had brought and regale themselves with more fruit and 
sandwiches. They ate in the shade, under a bluff, and 
he spread his coat for her so she could lounge at her 
ease, free of the sand. Indolently languid, she lay back, 
an arm behind her head, her eyes on the waters. 

Remote and dreamlike they stretched, a gleam of tur- 
quoise shot with silver, darkening in far depths to deep- 
est lapis lazuli. Inshore the shallows shone like fairy 
jade. It was the treasure house of gods. . . . And, 
looking in her eyes, Jim knew why gods lavished their 
treasure. 

162 



THE AWAKENING 



She was as lovely, as mysterious, as changing as the 
66a. 

Jim stretched out a hand ; he bent over her and slipped 
an arm about her. 

She lay very still, even her breath withheld, her lashes 
suddenly motionless on her cheek. It seemed to him, 
in that moment, as if he had never before kissed her. 
Awe stirred in him, as he touched his lips softly to her 
cheek, her eyelids, to her dear mouth. . . . She moved 
softly, with a little laugh, and then, as if they had 
never been parted, she turned towards him and her lips 
kissed him back. 

Life seemed a glimmering, iridescent goblet of opal 
glass, brimmed and overflowing with the elixir of joy. 
He trembled with the ecstasy of it. He feared to stir, 
to break the spell. . . . And then he grew bolder. He 
murmured old words, half inarticulate whispers of ten- 
derness. . . . Tremulously her soft yoice gave them 
back. 

He could almost, in that moment, be glad that he had 
so nearly lost her, if life gave him now this sharp, 
imperishable ecstasy. 

And with all the wonder, the crystalline enchantment, 
there was ever the sense of its being so utterly natural 
and simple — the only true way that they could ever be 
to each other. Their love was so real! 

Time flew on wings. Shadows lengthened — the scrub 
oaks above them sent their twisted shapes farther and 
farther up the slopes towards their gnarled companions. 
The sun swung down, a golden ball, to the horizon. 

Disastrous recollection stole into the dream. Evelyn 
sighed and sat up, her face suddenly from him. 

163 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



"It's late," she whispered. "What time is the train?" 

It came over Jim, with a hard surprise, that she had 
gone only half the way with him ; he must conquer that 
remaining road for himself. 

"You're not going back, Sweetheart," he said pas- 
sionately. "You're going to marry me to-night You're 
going to be mine forever." 

Her eyes turned towards him, wistful, and touched 
with inscrutable sadness. 

"If I only could," she said. "But it's too late, dear. 
. . . I've been asleep all year. I've waked too late." 

"You know you love me." 

"I know it," she said simply. 

"And can you dream that you could marry another 
man in a week — after this ?" 

It was so triumphantly simple to him, then! Her 
slight figure seemed to droop away from him, with the 
shame she could not disown. 

"It's — it's because it is in a week," she murmured dis- 
tressfully. "It's so soon. I cannot change." 

"For all the years of your life," he said slowly. And 
grimly he added, "And my life, too." 

He knew, now, how that other had her. And he 
would be merciless in his turn. If pity would win the 
day for love, then he would wring her pity. 

He did. He told her of himself, of that year of 
desolation that he had endured. He told her that she 
was all he had in the world. That other man had so 
much. Surely they had a right to the love that belonged 
to them! Surely she could not be happy without love 
with that other man. 

How well she had known it! It had been a hard 
year for her, too. A year strangely striped with its 
sharp anxieties, its reliefs, its feverish gaieties, its 

164 



THE AWAKENING 



apathies, its listlessness. . . . And how well she knew it 
now I She felt as if waking from a long, drugged sleep. 

But it was another thing to cast the arrangements of 
that year behind her. 

She was bound to Christopher with a hundred bonds ; 
his goodness during her mother's illness was a claim 
from which she could not turn away without ingratitude. 
And there were material things — in secrecy she sus- 
pected that a private arrangement with the physicians 
had been responsible for the exceedingly moderate fees 
that they had charged. 

He had been a son to her mother. He was prepared 
to be a son, indeed. . . . He was their hope, their for- 
tune. He was Muriel's chance in music. She knew 
that her mother was running up high bills for the 
wedding, and her past illness had already cost her dear. 
It was a breach of faith with her mother to fling this 
wealth away. 

And for Christopher it was certain despair. She 
couldn't — she couldn't! Convulsively she cried when 
Jim urged her. It was too late ; the wedding dress was 
ready, the guests coming, the bridesmaids in the house. 
It would be a scandal, a shame ! She would never bring 
that upon them all ! 

She could not, she could not! 

Could she go back and marry Christopher? was Jim's 
eternal demand. 

Once, in her desperation, she flung a stammering ex- 
planation at him. 

"It won't be a real marriage. He isn't in a hurry for 
love. He just wants my friendship." 

Her lover's angry laugh rang out. "And you believe 
him capable of Sticking to that ? Forever ?" 

The color rose in her face like a scarlet tide, but she 

165 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



raised her chin with that gentle obstinacy she displayed 
in matters of which she was incredibly innocent. 

"He's a gentleman," she said. 

"The more reason for you not to cheat him." 

"Jim!" 

"It would be a cheat, darling. Don't you see, don't 
you feel? You'd cheat him of what he really wants, 
and you'd cheat me of what you've truly given me. . . . 
I wouldn't want you if you didn't care, if I didn't know 
that in your heart you want me, and I could make you 
happy. . . . What does anything else matter to us, 
darling? It's for all our lives, I tell you! Do you want 
another year like this last one, only a thousand times 
worse, no hope, no chance of hope? ... Do you want 
to deny to us both another hour like that to-day? Oh, 
Evelyn, life can be so real! Come away with me, I'll 
take care of you, sweet, and you shall never, never hear 
of the talk and the trouble. I'll take care of it all for 
you. You shan't see any one till they understand hovr 
they were trying to wrong you." 

"Oh, Jim, if I could ! If I could !" 

"You can, dear, you can! Only say that you will, 
. . . We can go to a minister to-night " 

"I couldn't do that — not that way. I'd have to go 
home and face them " 



And she added, suddenly broken and yielding, "Oh, 
you're right, I cannot marry him. ... It would be too 
horrible. ... I always knew it. ... I always felt as 
if it could never happen." 

Gathered to his heart, she promised him that it would 
never happen. She would free herself. 

Could he believe it? For all the courage he had 
doggedly avowed to himself, there had been no actual 
faith in him ; he knew that now by the leaping incredulity 

166 



THE AWAKENING 



of his blood, rejecting the report of his ears, by the 
terrific, dizzying upheaval of his world. 

She was his. She was going to be his. 

But she would not marry him tjiat night. She clung 
to that tenaciously. She said — and he could perceive 
that she had divined him — that he only urged that be- 
cause he distrusted her strength. But he need not fear. 
... If she were really weak she would let herself be 
carried off by him. But she was not weak now; her 
eyes were open, and she was going back and do the best 
she could with theterrible business. 

She did not pretend it would be easy. But it was so 
impossible, now, to think of marrying Christopher, that 
anything could be accomplished in her defense. 

Her idea, as gravely she pondered, was to tell Chris- 
topher first. She seemed, Jim thought, to be trusting 
to Christopher's chivalry and invention to discover a 
way out. Jim's idea was to return with her and face 
Rosalie. 

But Evelyn continued to shake her head at that. "I 
owe it to Christopher first," she murmured. "Besides, 
if he knows I don't want to marry him — don't you see? 
He can't urge me." 

There was a certain perspicacity in her idea. Jim 
felt a fleeting compunction for the poor devil . . . thus 
put on his honor to undo his nets. 

Then somebody could be ill, so Evelyn continued to 
plan, and the wedding postponed. Later it would be 
broken off, and the presents returned. And then 
later. . . . 

He had to agree that this seemed the most decent 
way of doing a brutal thing. And he dared not diminish 
her confidence by a betrayal of his own agonizing doubt. 

167 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



. . . But she was so slight, so gentle, so unmade for 
cruelties ! 

He drove her to the house, and in the taxi kissed her 
farewell. She had asked him not to come to the door. 

"Remember, how I shall be waiting — 



» 



Her last look was a promise. Her eyes, still radiant 
from their day of dreams, smiled at him in shining 
assurance. 



CHAPTER XX 

OUT OF THE. PAST 

Christopher was waiting for her. She had divined 
it, hence she had kept Jim from her door. 

At sound of her opening keys he came quickly down 
the hall, holding the book he had been reading in his 
hand. 

"Not a creature is stirring, excepting myself," he 
declared. "They are sleeping the sleep of the exhausted 
before to-morrow's festivities. Did you have a good 
day's rest?" 

Well, it was not going to be any worse than she had 
thought! She had known, out on the sands with Jim, 
that this telling Christopher would be the most terrible 
ordeal that she had known. 

But no, not worse than the time she had written Jim, 
a year ago, that she was to marry Christopher. And 
if she had to write Jim such words again ! 

Jim need not worry. It was unthinkable of her to 
fail him now. She would endure anything rather than 
that. 

Hurriedly she turned into the drawing room. "Please 
come in here, Christopher. I want to talk to you." 

When he followed, she faced him, revealing her tense 
excitement. 

"Christopher, are you — are you so awfully happy?" 

She saw his face blanch in the swift reaction of his 
blood. "Need you ask ?" he gave back steadily, his eyes 
fixing upon hers. 

169 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

"I do ask. I don't see how you can want me like 
this. I am giving you so little " 

"Your little is a supreme gift." 

She had begun all wrong. In a moment he would be 
telling her how wrapt in her he was. He would try 
to stop her with his dependence upon her. 

Desperately she hurried on. "It's not enough, Chris- 
topher. I knew it always. But you made me feel that 
it would do. Now I know that we were wrong. It is 
not right. It is not right for you. It is not right for 



me. 



She could feel that he was bracing himself. She felt 
like an executioner. But it must be Christopher or Jim. 

"I didn't know how weak I was to let you convince 
me, how wickedly weak. I — I ask you to help me — to 
forgive me " 

He did not help her with a word. He stood and 
waited, only the sick pallor of his face betraying the 
terror within. 

"I want to be free," she brought out. 

Ages afterwards, it seemed to her, as she faced him, 
he gave back the echo, "Free?** 

"I know it's no time to ask it now. But I didn't 
realize what marriage was — what it would be like for- 
ever and forever " 

At that something seemed to soften in his face. "You 
mustn't worry about marriage," he said swiftly. "I've 
told you — it shall be just what you like." 

"It would be cheating you. And it would be cheating 
me." She spoke with force for Jim's words were eddy- 
ing about her and she could see his face bending over 
hers, and the bloom and glitter of the day about them. 
"I understand now. And it must not go on. Chris- 

170 



OUT OF THE PAST, 



■fiii. 



topher, it would be a terrible mistake to let this cere- 
mony go on." 

"Evelyn, child, you are nervous. Because the wed- 
ding is so near — you don't know what you are saying." 

"I do know. I know too well. I — I beg you to — to 
realize that I am sane, terribly sane, and that I implore 
you to — to help us both. For you are being wronged, 
too. You know that you mean for love to come out of 
this. My little will not be enough forever. And you 
are so good and dear that love ought to come — you 
should take nothing less. And I would give it to you 
if I could. But it is too late. ... I should have told 
you. I did try to. And you knew. You knew I'd 
cared for — for Jimmie Clarke." 

"You've seen him?" 

"To-day. And I— 



>9 



"You'd leave me for him?" 

, Suddenly Christopher's face seemed to change and 
gleam before her. It looked longer and sharper; his 
mouth was a thin line, and his eyes were a flame. 

She had a sense of terror, but terror was easier to 
withstand than her undoing compassion. 

She articulated, "I've tried not to. But it is too 
strong for me." 

"My God, and for a man like that !" 

He made a gesture of strange wildness. "Don't you 
know what he is?" 

"He's the boy I — I always cared for." 

"And you think he's cared for you ? You think he's 
worthy of you?" 

She answered, "I have been unworthy of him." 

"Oh, my God!" said Christopher again. And then in 
that rapid, choked voice of passion, "I was never sure 
that it was he. But I wondered. , • • That fellow — for 

171 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

you to cast yourself away on him ! I know what he is. 
I saw him myself. And Preebles told me about him, 
later. Running with fast women — and he dares to say 
he cares for you !" 

Into the shocked pause his words seemed to come 
to her, faint and far off, absolutely without meaning. 
They were only grotesque and abominable. It was 
abominable to reply to them. 

Coldly she said, "That is not true." 

"Not true? I tell you I saw him myself. I was in- 
vestigating those rotten dance halls for a vice commis- 
sion and I was there one night with Preebles. And 
Clarke was there with a girl. They were going into 
those vile rooms. . . . Preebles has talked of it since. 
He is an old friend of the family. ... I said nothing, 
here, of course. You chose to receive him. There 
seemed no danger. But now — Evelyn, do you realize the 
base stuff of him, that can take up with a girl of the 
streets ! Do you think I shall surrender you to that " 

"Will you please say nothing more?" 

Her voice was so low and so quiet that for a moment 
he stared, questioning her understanding. 

Then he saw a trembling run through her. Her eyes 
closed, curtaining their tragedy from the inquisition of 
his gaze. . . . She had a feeling that the whole world 
was at a standstill and every faith was broken. She 
could not doubt Christopher. And he could not be 
mistaken — there was this Preebles to reinforce him. . . . 
Jim — her Jim. . . . Were men like that? When had 
this happened ? Not so long ago, of course, — either that 
first winter of her coming-out, or this last of her engage- 
ment, but her frozen pride would never stoop to question. 

Jim . . . with a girl ... in some vile place. . . . 

172 



OUT OF THE PAST 



The Jim that she ha<J known was an image crashed 
into a thousand atoms. 

If he could console himself like that! 

And suddenly a cold and icy anger swept her as she 
thought how easily she had been reconquered by his 
ardor — that ardor of which he was so basely spendthrift. 
She felt cheapened, defiled. . . . She flinched from the 
understanding that Christopher's words were forcing 
upon her. 

"If you are quite sure," she said in a still and frigid 
voice. "If you are quite sure " 



"Evelyn, I know. But it is horrible for me to have to 
tell you this. You are so innocent. You know so 
little of life, of what some men " 

"I would rather not know. I never want anything 
more of life — or men — again." 

Only youth can know that cold misery of finality. 
Only youth can know that shocked and shuddering recoil 
from the nakedness of evil. 

She thought that her love for Jim was dead forever. 
She had not even grief for it, nor anger at him. Only 
that flinching aversion from the thought of it all, and 
the sense of glacial coldness. 

"I know how you feel, darling. But all men aren't 
like that " 

Christopher's passion was spent. He was broken 
now, and urgent and tender. 

"You may trust me, Evelyn. I shall never give you 
cause for pain. . . . Forget that you ever thought of 
this boy. Let me guard you, care for you " 

She raised slow eyes of utter apathy. She was sensi- 
ble of his suffering, but it did not seem to touch her. 
She thought that she felt nothing. 

"If you only knew how little I want to marry " 

173 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



"But I have told you, dear, that it need be nothing but 
a marriage of friendship. I ask for nothing more than 
I have — only the right to protect you as your husband 
before the world. We shall be friends, companions, the 
happiest of companions! It will be enough for me — 
always. If only I make you happy. And if you are 
not happy, and if you do not come to love me — why then, 
we can talk it over and find a way out. There could 
always be an annulment! We should be only where 
we are now. . . . Surely, when I ask so little you will 
go on with this. With everything ready — Try it, try it 
for a year, or two, and then you can know what you 
want. ... I ask so little, so very little. Surely you 
love me enough for that!" 

She might have known that she could not escape! 
Love, her only refuge, had been struck down. . . . She 
had now a giddy sense of the madness of her day's in- 
fatuation. For such a roisterer as Jim she had thought 
to disrupt her home, her mother's happiness, her own 
assured future ! What an escape ! 

She thought of her bridesmaids, of her wedding pres- 
ents, of her frocks. She felt almost brokenly thankful 
that Jim was unworthy and that she need not struggle 
against the inevitable. ... It came to her that Christo- 
pher was more than generous to be willing to take her 
on those terms, but she could feel no warmth of grati- 
tude, only that strange, cold listlessness. 

She wondered, dispassionately, why he should want 
her so much. His eyes upon her were intolerable in 
their appeal and distress. They were poignant with his 
vision of her as the incarnation of beauty and desire. 

She looked at him with a pale and quivering smile. "I 
think I have been quite mad, Christopher, ,, she con- 
fessed. 

174 



k 



OUT OF THE PAST 



He was eager to erase all seriousness of the memory. 
It was because you were so wrought up, dear — he 
played on your sympathy. We'll forget it ever 
happened " } 



a 



"Will you mail a letter for me ?" 

It pleased the bitter, distorted irony of that hour that 
Christopher's hand should mail that message to Jim. 
She wanted to scourge him with her cold, terrible dis- 
dain. But at her desk the words did not come. The 
thing was too sullied for speech. She shrank from the 
shame of it. 

She wrote : "I have heard things of you to-night that 
have made me regret to-day. I beg you to forget it as 
I shall." 

"He will know well what I mean," she thought, and 
knew a cruel satisfaction in his pain. ... A woman of 
the streets! ... 

"Good-night," she said evenly to Christopher, and 
went upstairs, pausing stonily in her dressing room by 
the wedding dress, hanging beneath its dust-shroud, its 
white paper stuffing giving it the eerie semblance of a 
decapitated corpse. 

The comparison afforded her a curious amusement 
She had a continued pleasure in her insensibility. If 
that frozen something within her breast ever gave 
way ! 

But no, she was quite sane, now, and sensible. And 
she would never think about that day again, nor about 
Jim Clarke, nor the girl of the dance hall. Nor could 
she think about her college again because the memory 
of Jim Clarke was there, and it was now all blackened 
and besmirched. ... A woman of the streets. . . . 

What, then, did men call love? 



CHAPTER XXI 

THE WEDDING DAT 

The note reached Jim at his office at noon. As his 
fingers touched its crisp thinness he felt a pang of 
prescient alarm, a resurgent recollection of that other 
letter which had come to him that other noon, in March, 
a year ago at his fraternity house. 

He took time, before he opened it, to insist to him- 
self that there was comfort in this thinness, compared 
to the disastrous bulk of that other letter. Evelyn 
would not have occasion to write much now. Probably 
only the time of meeting. 

Afterwards, he told himself, a set smile on his grim 
mouth, that it was exactly what he had expected. How 
imagine that the evanescent emotion of a May day over- 
throw the year's building? He had known the soft, 
pliable stuff of her! He had worked with it, himself, 
that day. And Christopher had as promptly reworked 
it in his own image. 

As for her words, they touched a certain curiosity, 
but not much. She evidently preferred this curt vague- 
ness to another effusion of confessing weakness and 
compunctions. 

So be it. He had not really hoped. (Jim had lived 
deliriously upon hope through all the hours of that 
night.) He had known that they had built only a castle 
of sand. . . . Any sensible girl preferred one on the 
Lake Shore Drive. 

176 



THE WEDDING DAY 



She must have found him a tiresome idealist, trying 
to hold her to those intangible dreams of theirs ! 

There were five days to the wedding. In every one 
of them Jim told himself that it was all over, but in 
never a one of them did he lift down the receiver at his 
telephone's ring without a contraction of the heart. 

He did not believe, for all his cynical assertion of 
belief, that life could achieve this disaster. 

He did not believe it, even when the wedding day 
dawned, warm and gracious, in May's sunniest mood. 
He did not believe it when he unfolded the evening 
paper, with Evelyn's face smiling out. . . . He did not 
believe it, even as the time drew near. 

He walked up and down by the lake, people crowding 
by, lights flashing from rolling motors, the waves break- 
ing into spray on the stones below. . . . He had his 
watch in his hand. 

Seven — eight— eight-thirty. 

The time. . . . Half an hour afterward he told him- 
self that it was all over. 

Then he thought that if she had fled at the last and 
telephoned him, he would not have been at home. He 
had occupied his old room at his fraternity house these 
past months, for the sake of a course he was taking at 
the University, and he hurried back there now to drain 
his cup of folly to the dregs. 

And then he lay, face down, across the bed. 

Somewhere, at that moment, he thought, she was be- 
side Christopher. She would be in his arms. 

And this was only the first o£the nights and of the 
days to come that he must live . . . without her. ... . 



CHAPTER XXII 

AFTER FIVE YEARS 

In the dining room Fanny was unrolling a present. 
It was an engagement present destined for her future 
home, a pair of absurdly small, elaborately embroidered 
towels. 

Fanny was exaggeratedly pleased with the ingenious 
things. She brought them into the front room to dis- 
play to Jim who sat reading in the bay window. 

Five years had passed, and this was April, 1915, but 
it was the same front room, with the Roman Forum 
over the mantel and the oil paintings on the side walls. 
The engraving of Niagara Falls was there, between the 
windows, but the crayon enlargements had receded to 
the shadows of the back parlor and the still life from 
the hands of the talented cousin was banished to the 
floors above — a tribute to Fanny's devastating will. But 
not all her energy could banish Aunt Callista's stereo- 
scope and its photographs upon a marble topped table, 
an alleged implement of culture which Fanny main- 
tained that she had dusted for innumerable years, but 
into which she would never admit having looked but 
once. 

There was change in the view from the front room, 
however. A red brick mansion and its pleasant grounds 
were dispossessed by an apartment house that seemed to 
crowd the sidewalks. The white stone Houston House 
that had towered over the neighborhood from the oppo- 
site corner, the house from which Jim's earliest recol- 

178 



s AFTER FIVE YEARS 



lections remembered the mincing old lady advancing to 
her victoria and the black coachman and the horses with 
the jingling, shining harness — that house was swept 
away, too, and in its place another apartment dwelling 
stood. 

And the air about them told of factories ringing 
them in. 

There had been changes, too, in the world without the 
West Side. 

It was of those changes that Jim Clarke was reading, 
and it was out of the thought of them he spoke, as his 
sister dangled those absurd towels. 

"Lord, Fanny," said he. "How can you marry a 
German?" 

"A German — I'm notl" said Fanny promptly. 

The five years had effected but subtle alterations in 
her; she seemed younger, if anything, for the mode was 
now of short skirts and loose belts and open throats. 
The brilliance of her youthful coloring had paled but 
she liked herself a little white, in piquant contrast with 
her dark hair and eyes, and the vague dissatisfactions of 
her immaturity had blossomed into a triumphant assur- 
ance. 

Fanny felt that she was making a success of things. 

"Arno isn't a German!" she flashed back at her 
brother now. "He was born on the West Side just as 
much as you were and his father has been a voter nearly 
as long as ours." 

"How does the old man stand on this war question?" 

Fanny regarded the towels. "Oh, well, you can't ex- 
pect him to be neutral. He was born in Germany. He 
can't forget that." 

"I don't ask him to forget his birthplace, but I do ^sk 
him to condemn it when it behaves like a mad beast." 

179 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

L 



"Oh, he doesn't believe those things. He reads the 
German papers." 

"A peach of an American citizen, reading papers in 
a foreign language. . . . Old Carl Schultz, a chap at 
my club, is a different stripe. When the war broke out, 
'That's the end of our Germany/ he told me. 'The 
Prussians have finished her. They have debauched a 
nation.' And he said, 'That is what we saved ourselves 
from when we came to these shores.' A man doesn't 
have to be blind as a bat, Fan, because he was born in 
Germany." 

"Well, I can't help Arno's father," said Fanny easily. 
"Arno keeps telling him to be neutral." 

"Is Arno nejitral ?" 

"Certainly he is. America is " 

"America is not" said Jim flatly. "A government 
may be, but a people never is. . . . You were never 
neutral about anything, yourself, Fan, from the time you 
could speak." 

"I know," the girl acknowledged. "And I'm not 
about this. But there isn't any use in harping on it to 
Mr. Rolff. He's an old man — and he's been wonderful 
to Arno." 

"He's buttered your bread, all right," Jim returned, 
with a touch of mockery. He added, "I don't mind 
your admission that you and Arno are swallowing your 
opinions from domestic policy, and I'll assume for 
Arno's sake that it's as much a matter of affection as of 

policy. But when you talk of being neutral ! 

There isn't such a worm." 

"Mortimer Preebles is neutral," said Fanny, with a 
sudden smile. "He's lecturing on it this week — to some 
Woman's Club." 

"I withdraw my generality. It was too sweeping. I 

1 80 



AFTER FIVE YEARS 



admit that Mortimer may be that worm/' Jim gave back 
with an answering grin. He added, after a moment, 
"How did you ever happen to break it off with Mortimer? 

I thought at one time Oh, in the long ago — he had 

you fooled." 

Fanny leaned back against a table ; her eyes, filled with 
sudden reminiscence, appeared amusedly to question the 
past 

"I rather think he had," she admitted. "I was too 
young to be skeptical. I thought he was sincere. I did' 9 
she protested, laughingly. "I thought he was sincere 
and dignified and ambitious, and that appealed to my 
ambition. He talked so much about the governor, I 
used to think of him in Springfield. And when I began 
to see through him I couldn't just believe him a sham all 
at once." 

"You were as thick as thieves," said Jim, remembering. 
"And then all at once " 

"You did it." 

"I ?" 



"It was after you had broken your partnership with 
him." 

"That was nothing against him.. I said precious little," 
Jim declared. "Just that he was too taken up with his 
politics, and I couldn't afford to carry him, like a pack 
on my back." 

"I know. And I rather blamed you. I thought you 
just didn't like him. And then one night he was out 
with me and he began to explain. Evidently he was 
afraid you had been saying things." 

Jim shut his mouth with unconscious grimness. Even 
after these years the memory of that partnership was 
repugnant to him. There had been other things than 

181 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

Mortimer's egotism and Mortimer's grandiloquence. But 
those things Jim never talked about. 

"I could tell," said Fanny, "because he seemed bound 
to justify himself and belittle you. He told me how 
anxious he was for you, since you had left him. He told 
me he had always been a good friend to you — you never 
knew how good. He said he had found you at a dance 
hall once, when he was doing some vice investigating. 
Oh, a perfectly disreputable place, and that he had 
hushed the matter up with his friends, who wanted ex- 
amples made of the boys there. . . . And then I blew up." 

Fanny stopped and laughed. "I hadn't been in such 
a rage since I was a child and the McGovern boys shot 
our cat ! I boiled. ... I told him I didn't believe him, 
but that if it were true he was abominable to tell of it 
behind your back. ... I behaved like a young volcano I 
And that," said Fanny with frank enjoyment, "was the 
end of Mortimer and me !" 

She added, "Did you ever go to such a place, Jim ?" 

And Jim thought back to that April night, twelve 
years ago that very month. 

"Once. Before I went to college. A crowd of us 
went — out of curiosity," he told her slowly. 

"Any boy is curious," Fanny acknowledged, in gener- 
ous tolerance. 

But Jim was remembering — and not for the first time 
— Arno Rolff's connection with that escapade. It had 
recurred to him, painfully, persistently, against his will,, 
since the beginning of his sister's engagement. If it 
had only ended there! But he had an uncomfortable 
suspicion that Arno had made the most of being a hand- 
some chap with too much money to spend and rather a 
conquering way with women — especially wojpaen just a. 



AFTER FIVE YEARS 



little below liim socially. He was the kind, for instance, 
to flirt with his stenographer. 

There was nothing actually against Arno, but this un- 
comfortable suspicion of Jim's had been at the bottom 
of his secret sense of offense at the young man's engage- 
ment to his sister. But he hadn't, really, a word to say 
against him. Any boy in his place was apt to be a bit of 
a fool. He was old enough to have outgrown it now, and 
his devotion to Fanny was unquestionable. 

Jim's thought reverted to Mortimer's share in the 
curious affair. So Preebles had been there that night 
and seen him ! And never a word from the old fox in 
all the months they had been together! Then this tat- 
tling to Fanny. ... He grinned as he thought how 
dashed Mortimer must have been to find that he had 
done for himself. Expecting Fanny to thank him for 
his protection of her brother, and then having her round 
on him like that! 

"Good old Fan," he murmured, cheerily. 

They exchanged a glance of great good will. 

A figure mounting the steps drew Fanny's attention, 
and suddenly she hurried her towels back into, their 
tissue paper coverings. 

"There's Henry," she said swiftly. "I'm going to 
ride down in his car with him this morning. There's no 
need for him to see all these." 

"But since he knows you're engaged he must know; 
you receive engagement presents," protested Jim ;with 
masculine logic. 

He rose, as Henry's ring peeled through the house, 
but he heard Aunt Callista forestalling him in the hall. 

"Oh — well — no use in rubbing it in," Fanny mur- 
mured inconsequently. 

It could be no secret to any of the Clarke household 

183 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

that Henry Carpenter had been Fanny's satellite from 
the days of her girlhood — a very friendly and matter-of- 
fact young satellite but nevertheless one of positive and 
dependable revolutions. 

Jim was suddenly struck with the mystery of the secret 
hours about him. Had Fanny and her inner desires 
come under the wheels of that Juggernaut of material 
wisdom? Was here another parallel to Evelyn and to 
his own story? 

He turned on his sister suddenly. "Fanny, tell me," 
he said impulsively, "did you care — for Henry?" 

She gave him back a look of pure astonishment 

"Heavens, no !" she uttered, in frank disclaimer. 

Jim felt himself whimsically a romantic fool. 

In the hall Henry Carpenter greeted him gaily and 
invited him to motor down with them. 

Jim declined. He was not ready to start yet, he 
averred. 

'Leisurely these days, aren't you?" Henry grinned. 

'Losh, man, it's only eight o'clock!" 

'But in the old days, when we had a Preebles to sup- 
port !" murmured the irrepressible Henry. "It's 

a different thing, these days with Hinman — eh?" 

"It isn't a partnership with Hinman, you know," Jim 
reminded him. "I just have one of his offices — and a 
share in the cases he doesn't want to do all the work on." 

"How is the old chap ?" Henry questioned idly. "Didn't 
his wife die or something a while ago?" 

"She died. Nearly a year ago, now. . . . Oh, it hit 
him hard, of course, but he has a lot of ballast. And 
there are three children, you know." 

"I should think," said Aunt Callista, lingering near 

184 



"] 

"] 
a' 



AFTER FIVE YEARS 



them in the hall, "that one of those young ladies would 
be about on the market." 

That was fire to Fanny's tinder, who caught it as she 
came running back down the stairs, her hat and coat on. 

"On the market! ... I suppose that was the old 
fashioned way of regarding girls/' 

Aunt Callista felt herself convicted of stark realism. 

"I only meant to say " She gave that up in per- 
plexity, and turned defensively toward Jim. 

"Don't you ever go to Mr. Hinman's house ?" 

Jim had gone, but not since the death of Mrs. Hin- 
man. 

"Why, not lately. I believe the oldest daughter is 
keeping house for him." 

"Well," said his Aunt Callista, "if she's anything as 
nice as you seem to think her father you might take some- 
thing of an interest in her!" 

Jim broke into a laugh, tickled at the old lady's undy- 
ing sentiment. She had always been an old lady to him, 
but she looked not a whit older to-day than ten years 
ago. She was as stately, as plump, as complacent 

"So you are cooking up a nice little romance between 
me and a Hirjman child! Don't you trouble — I'm not 
going to lose my estate of popular diner-out." 

He waved his hand gaily at Fanny and Henry, hurry- 
ing down the front steps together, kissed his Aunt Cal- 
lista and his mother, who had been drawn by the voices 
to the hall, and went his way to the Elevated. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

ROMANCE RESURGENT 

He entered his office with that uplift of spirit whicK 
contact with his work brought him these days. He had 
worked hard, those five years, bitterly during that first 
year of bondage with Preebles, zealously during the next 
two years, when he had been employed by Standish and 
Wynn, and struggling to pay back to the Carpenters 
the loans which had kept him afloat at first, and now 
ambitiously, these last two years when he was his own 
master. 

Standish and Wynn had been an old firm much in need 
of such young energy as Jim's. Mr. Wynn had long 
been a member in name only; his health for years had 
kept him in the South. Standish did the work of two 
men, employed innumerable clerks, but jealously refused 
admission into the firm. 

His sudden death, overnight, left Jim with two years 
of valuable experience, and the confidence of a number 
of clients whose affairs he had been conducting. He 
arranged with Walter Hinman, who had been a close 
friend of Standish, for an office in his suite, and his 
name on the door, and for two busy and self-reliant 
years he had every cause to congratulate himself upon 
the arrangement. 

Hinman had thrown a good deal of business his way ; 
he employed two clerks and there was another man in 
the suite with the same arrangement as Jim had, but of 

186 



ROMANCE RESURGENT 



them all Hinman depended the most on young Clarke 
and a genuine liking had developed. 

To-day Walter Hinman was already at his desk. He 
looked up and nodded, then called out, "Come in, Clarke, 
I want to talk to you." 

Jim came, expecting to listen to any case that the 
other wanted to talk out. Something in the older man's 
air caught his attention. He looked queerly unsettled, 
even troubled. 

"The truth is, Clarke " He stopped and looked 

oddly at the young man. "I expect you think of me as 
a mighty old f ellow," he finished abruptly. 

"An old head on young shoulders," said Jim, with a 
quizzical smile. 

"Thanks. . . . You are tender of me." Hinman re- 
garded his associate with a certain affection and con- 
fidence. 

"Clarke, why don't you marry ?" he flung unexpectedly 
at him. 

Irrepressibly Jim's thoughts leaped to Aunt Callista's 
romantic suggestions. He had the freakish fear that 
Hinman was about to say something of the same sort, 
take matters into his own hands and play the managing 
parent. It was farcical, of course, but still 

In spite of himself the blood burned in his face. 

He laughed uncomfortably. "You think I need a wife 
to spend my income ?" 

"Oh, you could afford to marry, if you wanted to. 
But that's not the point. I meant — I wondered, perhaps, 
why a young fellow like you was so uninterested in 
matrimony when an old fellow like me — the truth is, 
Clarke, I'm going to be married. And I'm beating about 
the bush trying to tell you." 

187 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



Jim looked at him queerly. He had credited this man 
t with a deep loss. Twelve months ago he had laid away 
the wife of twenty years. Jim had thought of him as " 
going home to his lonely house, remembering always that 
the wife he had brought to it was sleeping out in the 
ground. He had felt intensely sorry for him. 

But it appeared that a man's emotions were facile 
things. . . . Companionship, that was the reality. The 
need for a sympathetic face, for some one to talk to, 
to touch. . . the need for seeing oneself reflected in an- 
other pair of eyes. 

He felt a species of contempt. . . . His face reflected 
merely a hard wonder. 

Hinman did not look up to meet it. He was gazing 
at his blotter, busily drawing little circles, his old habit 
of preoccupation. 

He remarked, "I expect you think an old fellow hasn't 
any right to romance." 

It was exactly what Jim did think. He was willing, 
with young manhood's hard condescension, to grant 
companionship to loneliness, plus a mild, middle-aged 
affection, but romance — he thought the winged word 
must mean very little to some men. 

He said, perfunctorily, "I'm sure I wish you every 
happiness." 

"Lord, you sound like a challenge." Hinman looked 
up suddenly with a laugh. 

Jim smiled. "There isn't any one I want to see 
happier." 

And he began to feel really glad. . . though, of course, 
there was something easy and too reconcilable in Hin- 
man or he could never do it. 

"I haven't told you the name of the lady yet." It 
was the first time that Clarke had ever seen Hinman 

1 88 



ROMANCE RESURGENT 



embarrassed. "You may have met her here — I've 
handled her affairs a good many years. Knew her as a 
girl in fact. . . . It's Mrs. Carter Day — Rosalie Day," 
he added, as if to get the previous husband's name off 
of it. 

It had been years since any words had produced such 
an effect upon Jim. At last he gave a low laugh. 

"I have met her — but not here," he answered. 

"No? Well, she is sometimes in and out — not so 
often, lately, since Mrs. Hinman died," he painstakingly 
mentioned. "The truth is, Clarke, I always used to 
think a good deal of that lady " he made two inter- 
secting circles very carefully and embellished them with 
rays — "and I wanted to marry her, once, very badly. . . . 
No disrespect to Mrs. Hinman. She made me very 
happy," he painstakingly threw in. "But — but you know 
how it is when the mind has any bias." 

He said mind. Clearly he meant heart. 

"And I find that she has come to depend more and 
more on me. . . . We hope to get a good deal out of 
life yet." 

It struck Jim that it was one of the funniest things 
he had ever heard. . . . Rosalie Day. ... He could see 
how Hinman could feel — he granted the mother enough 
of Evelyn's elusive charm. So this was Hinman's story. 
Poor old duffer! And he had been thinking him just 
after consolation and diversion. 

A shrewd suspicion of life with the late Mrs. Hinman 
crossed his mind. She had always seemed to him one 
of those utterly unrelated women that men must have 
married when they were very young. 

So Rosalie had been coming to this office! He re- 
flected upon it with a kind of wonder, while he sat in 
the very chair in which Rosalie had sat, when, leaning 

189 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

across that very table she had said to Hinman, "Well, 
Walter, I've done it! I've engaged her to Christopher 
Stanley — and smashed her poor little romance with a 
nice boy into smithereens/' 

It struck him that Rosalie might have talked about 
him to Hinman. Perhaps Hinman knew. . . . Perhaps 
he had forgotten. . . . Perhaps she had never mentioned 
his name. 

That was the truth, though Jim credited it slowly. He 
had to conclude however from Hinman's manner, that 
Rosalie must have kept her own counsel even as he, Jim, 
had kept his. 

For he had never mentioned Evelyn. 

Meanwhile Hinman was explaining his plans. "My 
oldest girl is going to be married. And the boy is at 
West Point, and the youngest girl goes to boarding 
school. She will share her vacations with the grand- 
mother — the old lady adores her. It is all working out 
wonderfully well." 

It occurred to the listener that Rosalie must be really 
fond of this man to swallow a step-family. Or did she 
find a son-in-law's benefits irksome and long for more 
substantial independence? 

Hinman turned round and abandoned his blotter. He 
was smiling; he showed Jim the face of a frankly happy 
man. 

"You must come and see us, Clarke," he said heartily. 
"I shall enjoy seeing more of you— outside this office." 

"I shall be delighted," said Jim, with secret joy. "Will 
you give Mrs. Day my very best wishes? . . . Tell her 
I think you have a wonderful step-mother for your 
girls." 

A youthfully clumsy compliment, thought Hinman, but 
he liked Jim's heartiness, and the warm grip of his hand 

190 



ROMANCE RESURGENT 



when they separated. He wished his older daughter 
were marrying such a chap, instead of that untried 
youngster, Davis. And he thought, benevolently, that it 
was time Jim began to think of settling down. 

Jim went to his office and closed the door. His mail 
lay before him, and his stenographer's memorandum for 
the day ; it was nine-thirty and he had a thousand things 
to do. 

But he sat there unstirring, confronted by the spectacle 
of his associate of these two years as the step-father of 
the girl he had tried so persistently to marry. 

Probably now he would see Evelyn. He had never 
seen her since her marriage. There had been references 
to her comings and goings in the papers, and rarely he 
had caught her name on the lips of Diana Wilder. Some- 
times the men at his club spoke of Stanley. 

But undoubtedly, now, he would encounter her. 

He did not feel stirred. He felt calmly curious. He 
tried to test himself to count the pulse of his emotion. . . . 
Ironically it occurred to him that if Stanley's bad heart 
snuffed him out — he was spoken of as a frail chap — then 
in time he himself might fill another such pair of shoes as 
Hinman . . . trying to recapture an old dream. . . . He 
didn't want it. 

When he married — if he married, and Lord knows he 
was in no hurry ! — his ideal would be very different. No 
frail, veering beauty to trouble and obsess him. No one 
to make his pulses beat too fast. He had had enough 
of that. 

He had had a dose of love to last him a lifetime. 

Now from the girls he knew his indifferent interest 
could derive just that pleasant, stimulating entertainment 
which laid no compelling hands upon his life. 

191 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



He reflected upon the utter detachment with which he 
could meet Evelyn. 

Yet he was shaken. For all his calm he was shaken. 
The past had stirred in its grave. . . . With a sardonic 
amusement he recalled Evelyn's tremulous anxiety to 
provide for her mother. He had always respected 
that mother's ability to provide for herself, and the event 
justified that respect. . . . He would enjoy meeting Rosa- 
lie. But of course Hinman would take the edge off the 
situation, by previously mentioning his name. 

Then, violently, he wrenched himself from these re- 
flections, and turned to his mail. But in the back of his 
mind, as he dictated his replies to the stenographer, there 
formed unsolicited the brilliant and subtle remarks that 
he would make to Rosalie. 



CHAPTER XXIV1 

MRS. OGDEN RECEIVES 

It was a day of astonishing developments. Life was 
like that. It jogged along cheerily or dully, without 
event, and then chance, some hazard more fortuitous than 
the usual random throw of circumstances, broke up the 
accustomed order in an instant. 

This development came of the tea. It was one of Mrs. 
Ogden's afternoons, and Jim left his office an hour 
earlier, dressed rapidly at his club, and sped to the 
South Side. 

He had an immense appreciation of Mrs. Ogden. She 
was a hostess both handsome and charming, with a 
vivacity that sent a flash of spirit through her wide 
rooms, a touch of French verve with all of French 
dignity. 

And Mrs. Ogden liked Jim. She summoned him to 
her afternoons and often to dinners and her box at the 
opera. He had qualities, she felt, which set him apart 
from other personable young bachelors fluttering about 
her tea urns, and he had an unconscious charm. . . 
something inexplicable, perhaps, in his gray eyes under 
the boyish sweep of black hair . . . something contra- 
dictory, both eager and cold, in his youthful face. 

Now he lingered by his hostess till newcomers claimed 
the place, then strolled into the dining room where the 
presence of the University accounted for some of the 
men about the tables, and literature and art for the 

193 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



leisure of the others. Jim felt himself the only man 
of the business world and he savored the delight of his 
freedom that he could permit himself the indulgence 
of an hour. There was no daughter of the horse-leech 
in his life, crying "Give, give!" 

From upstairs the sound of music announced dancing 
in the ball-room and he was waiting by the coffee urn, 
for Mrs. Storey to conclude her pouring, when he heard 
his name spoken. 

Mrs. Ogden had entered, personally shepherding a 
new guest. 

It was the second time that day that his composure had 
been shaken. Chance had not waited for Rosalie's ap- 
pearance upon the scene to introduce Rosalie's daughter. 

It was Evelyn. 

He did not call her so. He said, "Mrs. Stanley," in 
a clear and quiet voice. He\took the gloved hand she 
extended, and smiled mechanically, and got her tea and 
sandwiches and nuts. 

Five years. After five years. . . . She looked amaz- 
ingly unconcerned. She called him, "Jim Clarke," and 
spoke delightedly — but women are well schooled. Only 
that sensitive color of hers rose and the very directness 
of her gaze was like a bright shield under which her 
spirit went scudding to cover. 

Queerly enough, he was reminded, not of the last time 
he had seen her — that farewell kiss in the taxi when she 
was going in to obtain her freedom — but of the time that 
he had first met her, at his fraternity house at Amherst. 

Then she had been embarrassed because she had 
strayed into his room while he was dressing, emerging 
triumphantly from his closet, in fact, with that elusive 
new shirt. ... He recalled the shirt distinctly, and the 
fond sentiment with which he had cherished it — also 

194 



MRS. OGDEN RECEIVES 



the determination with which he had cast it to the ragman 
at a later, a much later, day. 

Evelyn had that same soft look of youth, that crystal 
brightness and lightness of color. If he had ever cyn- 
ically mistrusted his memory of her beauty he was routed 
now; he felt again the winged play of her glamor over 
his senses. It was the mode, that spring, for women to 
go decorated with white fox, and a huge, silken pelt of 
it, dangling from the filmy transparencies of her 
shoulders, offered a snowy relief to the flower tints of her 
face. ... He found himself resenting her hat that hid 
much of her fair hair from him. 

Mrs. Ogden had told him to take her up to dance. 
They went, leaving Mrs. Storey still at her urn, and 
Jim was pervaded with a recollection of the day that they 
had left Mrs. Storey upon the sand dunes as they went 
off together. 

He was grateful that the other lady of the excursion 
was not present. 

The dancing made him think of the fraternity party 
again. They had begun by dancing. 

"A remarkable day !" he said lightly. "After a 
silence of years I hear nothing but news of you. First 
of your mother — of her marriage to Walter Hinman. 
Then I meet you." 

He had achieved an effect. 
Her marriage ?" Evelyn exclaimed. 

f I mean, — her engagement, of course. . . . My word," 
he said amazedly looking down at her, "didn't you know 
of it?" 

"I've sometimes thought — but I didn't know — I ex- 
pect," said Evelyn with a dash at recovery, gliding into 
step again, "that she was coming to tell me to-night. 

195 



a: 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



She's coming to dine. . . . She's had something on her 
mind, I know." 

"I only heard this morning. Mr. Hinman himself told 
me — you see, we are associated in a way in the practice 
of law. I rent an office in his suite and we do quite a 
little work together." 

"Are you ? Walter Hinman — how odd !" Clearly she 
was astonished. "He's our lawyer/' she said, "but I 
never go to the office." 

"I only knew to-day that he was. He said he took 
care of your mother's affairs." 

He saw suddenly from Evelyn's face that her "our" 
had another significance. 

"He didn't mention you — but perhaps he looks after 
your husband's affairs, too?" he said coolly. 

It afforded him a hard pleasure to speak of her 
husband. 

She nodded. "You couldn't have a better man," said 
Jim condescendingly. "And I'm sure your mother will 
be well taken care of — and his daughters, too." 

"I know they will be happy," said Evelyn, but her 
treacherous color betrayed that the youthful shot had 
gone home. 

She was still vulnerable, then! She had the grace 
to blush ! 

But she recaptured her lightness instantly. "How odd 
we haven't met ! I've wondered about you . . . and hoped 
you were having a successful time." 

"Still struggling for my three meals a day. But I 
piece out with teas and dinners!" 

Evelyn looked brightly at him. "Come to tea with 
me, some time. I'm at home on Mondays." 

"I shall love to. I make a specialty of young married 
women," said Jim gaily. 

196 



MRS. OGDEN RECEIVES 



"But, remember, I'm such an old married woman !" 

"You're so well preserved! How is your sister ?" 

"She's well- " 

"And her music? Russia?" 

"Not Russia now, with this war. She has been in 



New York, studying, this past year." 

"I should like to hear her play again." Jim was de- 
termined to spare himself no penalties. 

Evelyn looked at him in an oddly puzzled way. It 
drew secret laughter, a laughter like the bitterness of 
gall, that she could be vulnerable to her sex's pique at 
the heart's recovery. 

The music had ceased for some moments and her next 
partner now approached. She gave Jim a smile of 
parting. 

"It's been so nice to see you. Remember, Mon- 
days." 

A mechanical doll could have done no less ! What a 
farce it all was. . . . The girl he had drained his heart 
for — and now he had fed her tea and danced with her 
and asked after her husband. No, thank God, he had not 
asked after him. But he had named him. 

Mondays ! Mondays, in that house upon the Drive. . . . 
He remembered the time he had looked up Christopher 
Stanley's address. . . . And the youthful self-torture 
which had taken him past the place. . . . Did she imagine 
that he would come ? 



CHAPTER XXV 

A HOME DINNER 

"My dear, I am ravenous !" Mrs. Day dipped her spoon 
into the clear soup. "But a little more and I should have 
persuaded Christopher not to wait for you." 

Evelyn had returned late to dinner. She sat facing 
her husband in the old Stanley dining room, with her 
mother and Muriel on either side. 

"Did you have a pleasant day?" said Christopher, 
smiling at her. 

"A most interesting one. Full of news!" She was 
conscious that her excitement was perceptible and she 
hurried out her information before her mother could 
pave a way to it. "What do you think? Walter Hin- 
man is going to be married !" 

"No!" Christopher shot the word out with strong 
concern. Then he looked involuntarily at Mrs. Day to 
see how she was taking it. After the long friendship, 
would she feel Hinman's defection ? 

Impishly Evelyn laughed. 

Her mother was looking so taken aback ! "Where did 
you hear this?" she demanded. 

c Oh, from the man to whom Mr. Hinman told it." 
'He had no right to do any such thing." Rosalie 
spoke with vigor. 

To marry ? Or to tell ?" 

To tell, of course." Rosalie looked directly at Eve- 
lyn. "I'm awfully sorry that it happened this way. I 
only told him last night." 

198 









-■■■., ■«. 



A HOME DINNER 



It was a moment before Christopher could clear his 
latest notion out of his head and reinstate the previous 
one. He continued to stare surprisedly at her. 

Muriel came out of her dreaminess with swift atten- 
tion. 

"Mummie, you're not!" 

"Why not, my dear? Don't you think it's a very nice 
thing for all of us ?" 

Rosalie held them all with a fixed brightness behind 
which they saw her resolution in arms. 

Her daughters were silent, Muriel plainly turning over 
the relation of this amazing news to herself. Then she 
sighed. 

"I suppose it is nice for you," she conceded. "You 
can have your own hpme again here, and not feel that 
you must keep near me in New York. Of course you'll 
come on a great deal. . . . And we've always liked him. 
But his children " 

She looked up at her mother in swift aghastness. 
Hasn't he a frightful lot of children?" 
Simply swarms." Rosalie's voice maintained its su- 
perficial lightness with a strain, and there were spots of 
color burning in her cheeks. "You stumble over them in 
his front hall. And as for the stairs !" 
Really, mother- 



M 

it 






Well, really, Muriel, he has only one more than I, 
Of course I could ask him to drown the third ! But his 
oldest girl, Dorothy — she's your age, Muriel — is to be 
married immediately, and the boy, Donald, is at West 

Point. The youngest, Selma " Rosalie hesitated an 

imperceptible second before pronouncing the name, the 
name of the dead mother, "is going away to boarding 
school and will divide her vacations with her grand- 
mother. It would be cruelty to part them. They have 

199 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



always lived in the same house or on the same block." 

"But are you going to live — where is his house " 

"Oh, in some remote suburb! But we shall take an- 
other — that's much too large. We haven't decided every- 
thing ; as I said, I only told him last night. But if there 
is anything else that I can inform you about, Muriel " 

Rosalie's tone was so dangerously silken that Rosalie's 
nerves must be on edge. 

"Well, mother, I think we have the right to know. 
It's awfully queer to think of our mother marrying — 

and with all those children — I suppose you want to " 

she finished uncertainly her voice trailing into faint 
wonder. 

It was as if she said, "But whatever are you doing it 
for?" And her eyes wandered to Christopher. It 
wasn't as if her mother had to, those eyes said. There 
was Christopher! 

It seemed to Evelyn that if she saw things much 
clearer she should laugh aloud. 

"It might occur to you," said Rosalie with distinct- 
ness, "that I am doing this because I want to." 

Evelyn had a sorry feeling for her. There must be 
real emotion here, or her mother would never have be- 
trayed so much. . . . They had been horrid to her — as 
if she were on a witness stand. It seemed to her that 
her mother was suddenly a pathetic figure snatching be- 
latedly at what all desire — a little warmth of love and 
happiness. 

And she had never realized that just children might 
not be enough for her ! 

But her sorry feeling seemed to be outside of her. It 
did not enter into her inner mood at all. 

She said vivaciously, "We do congratulate you both, 

200 



A HOME DINNER 



"i 
it- 



mother, if you want our congratulations. We all like 
Mr. Hinman and we know he is devoted to you." 

Her voice sounded too fluent and cold to herself. But 
she added, with the irresistible nervousness that drove 
her on, "Only it was so droll — hearing the news at Mrs. 
Ogden's tea !" 

"Yes, that was too bad," Rosalie acknowledged. *T)id 
you contradict it — or s^y anything ?" 

"Of course I couldn't contradict it. The man was in 
a position to know. The man was one of Mr. Hinman's 
associates and he had told him this morning." 

Her eyes were on her mother and she saw a sudden 
intelligence illumine her. So her mother did know that 
Jim Clarke was in that office ! She wondered how long 
she had known. 

1 Oh!" Mrs. Day offered, uncomfortably. 

I can't imagine you're having another name," burst 
out Muriel, who had relapsed into brooding. 

"He is a very lucky man," declared Christopher with 
sincere gallantry. 

Evelyn was holding her mother with sparkling eyes. 
The roles were changed between them; she felt herself 
the possessor of the subtle whip hand. 

"It was Mr. Clarke, you know, Christopher, who told 
me," she said pleasantly to her husband. "You remem- 
ber — Jim Clarke, the old college friend of mine, with 
whom I was so immensely in love." She laughed. "The 
one you warned me away from." 

Christopher had no words for this occasion. In five 
years Evelyn had never mentioned the man's name and 
now she flung it at him in laughing raillery. If she had 
caught up . the lighted candles from the table and hurled 
them he would not have been more unprepared. 

Muriel looked up at the name, but only casually. She 

201 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



had always suspected that there had been something be- 
tween young Clarke and her sister and she had resented 
Evelyn's want of sisterly confidence. 

"I remember him," she murmured. 

"So he was at the tea," said Mrs. Day. 

"Oh, dear yes, mother, he seems to know quite a few 
of our best people." Evelyn was deliberately mocking 
now. The processes of her mother's mind were as clear 
as the water under Catalina's glass-bottomed boats. "He 
didn't stay a law student forever. He tries cases with 
Walter Hinman, and dines out of nights — he will make 
a nice dinner partner for you, Muriel. He is a year 
older than I and that means that you will be just young 
enough for him. Five years more and I should have to 
find a bud." 

Is he married?" asked Muriel, the direct. 

I never thought to ask! He didn't mention a wife, 
and I think he'd have thrown one at me. People in- 
variably hurl their present bliss upon old flames. But 
we'll ask him. . . . Oh, I forgot — Christopher doesn't 
approve of him !" 

"My dear!" Her husband found tongue enough for 
that 

"Oh, but you didn't ! You said that you and Mortimer 
Preebles had seen him dancing with a shocking girl — 
when you were vice reporting. But he might have been 
only getting material. At one time, I think, he aspired 
to write." 

She wanted now to stop talking about Jim Clarke ; she 
knew that she was saying too much and behaving very 
oddly, but she seemed unable to stop. 

"He sent a message to you, mother. He said some- 
thing about Mr. Hinman's daughters. That they would 
be well taken care of or something like that" 

202 






A HOME DINNER 



Rosalie gave Evelyn a sharp look. And Evelyn met 
it with blue eyes of thwarting clarity and a smiling face, 
too fixed in its vivacity, too brilliant in its color. A 
queer misgiving wormed about Rosalie's heart. She did 
not often have misgivings ... of course girls merely 
liked to work themselves up sentimentally. . . . 

She glanced about the dining room for reassurance. 
If she had not been a wise manager Evelyn would not 
now be eating such delicious squab within its paneled 
walls, on such beautiful plates — not the plates of dinner 
parties, but still Royal Doulton — served by such deft 
hands. 

Of course Evelyn was happy! But Rosalie did wish 
that she had children. . . . She never broached that sub- 
ject — she had her reticences, had Rosalie — but she im- 
agined that the young wife was cherishing a regret. 

To Evelyn's message Rosalie gave a light laugh, care- 
fully free from resentment. "Of course they'll be well 
taken care of! But he may do very nicely for Selma, 
since Walter Hinman is so fond of him. . . . But none 
of you has noticed my ring." She held out a slim hand, 
and turned over for inspection a delicate filagree of plati- 
num and diamonds about a central, glistening stone. 

r We had quite a time over the design," she mentioned. 

Then you have been agreed for some time !" Evelyn 
struck in swiftly. 

"Agreed — but not agreed to announce." Rosalie was 
proof against further disconcertment. "It was done by 
those clever girls in the Fine Arts — isn't it charming?" 

They declared with admiration, that it was charming. 
Evelyn was especially enthusiastic. It was a relief to 
her to talk about the ring. For the life of her, she found 
herself unable to say one simple, heart-felt thing about 
her mother's happiness. 

203 






CHAPTER XXVI 



QUESTIONS 



Jim Clarke did not come to tea upon a Monday. 
Perhaps he had no desire to see Evelyn in her home 
surrounded by Stanley Lares and Penafes. Perhaps it 
was the old feeling about bread and salt. Perhaps he 
did not want to meet her husband and have crystallized 
into concrete form the rather fluid, anaemic vagueness 
of the image that was in his consciousness. 

He had never encountered Stanley since the old days. 
Deliberately he had avoided a meeting, refusing member- 
ship in certain civic committees in which the other was 
interested. And the frequent absence of the Stanleys 
from the city had decreased all chances of contact. 

Now, even though he did not go to tea, he did return, 
with persistent constancy, to Mrs. Ogden's Wednesdays. 

He told himself that he was drawn by the gathering 
of interesting people. There he heard authentic talk of 
the war, and met men and women returned from the 
battle fields. 

For nine months now the Great War in Europe had 
laid its horror on men's souls. For nine months a 
Germany unchained had ravaged and laid waste. Kultur 
and Frightfulness and Prussia had acquired a hideous 
significance, and the German had become their creature. 

Never a nine months of the world had seen a darker 
brutality, and never a nine months had seen brutality met 
.with finer courage and more heroic resistance. 

204 



QUESTIONS 



Belgium had been overthrown but Belgium had be- 
come imperishable. 

Liege, Namur, the Marne, the Aisne, Neuve Chapelle 
and Ypres had become names of a deathless life in 
history. "Kitchener's Mob" was a byword of honor, 
and "lis ne passeront pas?' was a familiar phrase that 
thrilled the blood. 

Belgium, France and Britain, they had saved the world 
between them, and each day they were saving it afresh 
on that unbreaking Western Front, while in the East, 
Russia was pouring out an army that bureaucracy neg- 
lected. 

Wherever the eye turned it met horizons reddened with 
the fires of German Empire. Belgium and Northern 
France were smoking ruins. The Dardanelles ran rich 
with blood. In Persia uncounted Christians were 
slaughtered by the Turks, under their German officers. 
In Mesopotamia the British faced thirst and hunger and 
an outnumbering enemy. In England, over undefended 
towns, each moon brought German Zeppelins to hurl 
bombs upon the women and children. Submarines in- 
fested every sea with piracies, sending hundreds of non- 
combatants to their graves. 

And of these noncombatants there had been many 
Americans. American ships had been sunk, American 
lives had been lost. The war had crossed the Atlantic, 
and treachery had crossed before it, for incendiary fires 
were blazing here, factories destroyed and workmen 
murdered. A pestilential web of espionage was revealing 
its traces, and the deep-laid foundations of German prop- 
aganda were being discovered. 

In Washington a Bernstorff was making his assur- 
ances to Wilson and paying his spies and sending his 
reports to Germany, while from Long Island John 

205 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

Rathom, of the Providence Journal, was quietly inter- 
cepting the German wireless. 

Tremendous times! Days in which these United 
States, one and indivisible, as Webster had proclaimed, 
were awakening to the separate and divergent courses in 
their blood. Elements alien and unassimilated were 
speaking in the Country's name. Pacifism, long an 
honored ideal of a peace-loving people, became a craven 
obsession of weak minds. Any submission, any slavery, 
any surrender, but give us peace! these cried. Earnest 
women became infected with the idea that their talk could 
enlighten and restrain the Hohenzollerns, and on these 
people the German propagandists seized and played with 
the skill of trained performers upon ready instruments. 

But these were the undercurrents. 

Over them the great stream of American life and feel- 
ing ran clear and true. The Country's heart was one 
with the Allies. Her sympathy, her friendship surged 
out to France and Belgium and Poland, and for England 
she felt stirring the old sense of kinship; the blood in 
her veins was proud that it drew from the same sources 
as those of Britain's soldiers. 

Woodrow Wilson and James Gerard, Brand Whitlock 
and Herbert Hoover, Walter Page and Thomas Nelson 
Page, Henry Van Dyke and David Francis, were the 
men who fitly represented the United States. 

That was the country that Jim Clarke knew in the first 
of that spring of 191 5. 

Throughout that country, upon the seventh of May, 
there ran a shock of horror and deepest anger. The 
sinking of the Lusitania by a German submarine and the 
drowning of twelve hundred helpless people roused a 
storm that was not to find its outlet for many months. 

Hot bloods urged war at once ; cooler heads counseled 

206 



QUESTIONS 



patience. Every one's eyes were upon the President and 
every one was waiting, hopefully or incredulously, for 
the results of his first Lusitania note. 

The Lusitania was the first word that Jim Clarke 
caught when he entered Mrs. Ogden's drawing-room 
some ten days later, and in the knot of people discussing 
it he saw Evelyn Stanley's slender figure. 

He made his way to her side and the tragedy of which 
they talked became a bridge over that sharp gulf between 
them, for their depth of feeling carried them now out of 
the consciousness of self. 

Jim's imagination had been invaded by that sinking 
liner. He could see Frohman — whom once he had met 
— standing by the rail, and he vibrated to the calm cour- 
age of those last words, "Why fear death? It is the 
most beautiful adventure of all." 

"A man's death," he said quietly now to Evelyn. 

Her answering smile was tender. "And he had taken 
off his life belt to give a woman," she murmured. "Not 
a chance left against death — and he could face it like 
that !" 

"They all faced it like that !" said a white-haired man 
at her side. 

"And we're not at war!" said another voice in the 
group. "We ought to have been by morning — we ought 
to have been the day Germany invaded Belgium." 

Jim looked curiously at the speaker; he was a tall, 
fiery man, with gray hair and sunken cheeks. 

"But you wouldn't be doing the fighting," thought 
Jim to himself, with a secret hardening of spirit. 

"I'd go this minute," a boy of twenty-one spoke up. 
His mother, beside him, looked swiftly at him with 
strange eyes. 

207 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



"Would I go?" Jim was asking himself in cold honesty. 

He thought he would. Certainly if he were needed. 
But he didn't feel that youngster's leaping flame of ad- 
venture. . . . He saw the damnable consequences of the 
thing too clearly. Dirt and vermin, barbed wire and 
gas. . . he was thinking very soberly of these things 
while the talk rolled on. 

When suddenly he attended to it again he heard the 
white-haired man speaking. 

"No, the country isn't ready for war yet," he was 
pronouncing. "The people have to get this thing clearer 
— there will not be wanting agitators* to tell the man in 
the street that he is going to war for the rich man's 
right to travel." 

"With Bryan urging us to stay home !" said the fiery 
man with an angry laugh. "Abandon your rights, 
abandon the highways, abandon the men away from home 
but race for your cellars, Americans! By and by the 
Germans may let you come up and go about your honest 
business — perhaps! Gad, that fellow makes me sick!" 

"This business has done one thing for the country — it 
has shown him up," said Jim slowly. "A man who isn't 
ready to sacrifice what his forefathers sacrificed for the 
liberty which he enjoys " 

He stopped, feeling that he was talking like a Declara- 
tion of Independence. But suddenly he felt that he 
would like to be shouldering a gun, marching towards 
the trenches that were keeping his world free. 

"And what his foremothers sacrificed," the boy's 
mother added in a quiet voice. 

"There's a presidential election coming on next year," 
the white-haired man was saying thoughtfully. "We've 
got to have a tried man in the saddle " 

The group began to talk of politics and Evelyn Stanley 

208 



QUESTIONS 



detached herself and with Jim at her side went towards 
the dining room. 

"Do you think we ought to go to war ?" he asked her. 

She turned a troubled face toward him. "How dare 
I say ? If I, myself, could fight — yes ! Bu$ since I should 
be safe at home — it's the tragic finality of it that appalls 
me!" she broke out. "War can crush this horror and 
prevent its ever happening again, perhaps, but it can 
never bring back all the dead and undo the destruc- 
tion. . . . When they talk of terms of peace I think of 
all those ruins that were the happy villages that I saw 
two years ago, and I think of the ruined lives and the 
dead bodies in the fields ... no peace can restore those 
things that are gone !" 

"Those that are gone are out of it," said Jim slowly. 
"There is no other comfort " 



"And the Lusitania ! I keep thinking that those peo- 
ple are drowned — drowned — and dead — and some of 
them I said good-by to ! You know I was working with 
Madame Depage, the Belgian Red Cross agent . . . and 
there were others. But it isn't only the ones I knew. 
It's the babies " 

Jim was silent. 

"That dead woman that was washed ashore upon the 
Irish cliffs," said Evelyn almost inaudibly, "with her two 
little babies drowned in her rigid arms " 

"You mustn't think of that " 

"And they have a medal in praise of it in Germany !" 
She turned darkening eyes upon him. And the pain and 
bewildered hurt in those eyes reminded him of that 
young girl who had turned from the beaten horse, that 
long ago day in Amherst, asking of him and the world 
why there should be such pain and hurt in it. 

He had thought her such delicate, tender stuff ! 

209 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



Strange that through her soft, pitying youth had come 
to him such a stark, irremedial wound. . . . 

"I wish that I could go to France and work,*' Evelyn 
went on. "But Christopher's not strong. And he doesn't 
think it our affair, anyway — of course he wants to help," 
she flung in quickly, as if her feeling had betrayed her. 
And the consciousness of Christopher's name between 
them brought a quick, enveloping restraint. 

"Financial help is what France needs now as much as 
anything," Jim responded evenly. 

"I know. . . . They are talking of a huge Allied Bazaar 
here for next winter. We must make that go," she an- 
swered, but the spontaneity had gone out of her. 

The idea came to Jim that the young and beautiful 
Mrs. Stanley who aided bazaars and prompted charities 
looked suddenly a little drooping. 

It was a remarkably unwise idea to get into his head. 
It tempered his light, protective irony. It tugged, in- 
sidiously at memory and suggestion. . . . 

And, undeniably, there were shadows under Evelyn's 
eyes, and those eyes, themselves, when not lighted in talk, 
held a strange and touching wistfulness. . . . They were 
the eyes of a child, unlit with expectation. . . . 

And very uselessly for that hard-won peace of mind 
of his, he began to wonder about her life with Christo- 
pher. 



CHAPTER XXVII 

REVELATIONS 

Exactly one year later he was facing her across a tea 
table at the Blackstone. 

It was of her initiative, that meeting. She had sug- 
gested lightly that he take her to tea some day where 
they could have a real talk, and with a secret irony he 
elected the day that was the very anniversary of that 
extraordinary expedition to the dunes. 

Six years ago. . . . Six years. . . . And how little he 
had expected, in those passionate hours, that he would 
ever be sitting here at tea with her, quietly, warily even, 
without heart-rack — actually, calmly, egotistically proud 
of the society of so beautiful a young woman. 

He wondered very much what she wanted of him. 
. . . Biography, apparently. 

"Tell me about yourself, Jim," she began. "I really 
want to know." 

"What about myself ?" 

"Oh — the law — and everything. How did you hap- 
pen with Walter Hinman? I thought when " she 

hesitated, then came out clearly, "when I was married 
that you were in some other firm — I forget the name. 

"I was in a partnership with Mortimer Preebles. 
Jim always smiled a little sardonically at the memory of 
that partnership. He never felt so free a man as when 
he recalled that parting of the ways. 

"Mortimer Preebles?" The name struck Evelyn into 

211 



99 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

a swift astonishment "Why, I thought that you — that 
he " 

"Yes?" 

"I thought you weren't very good friends." 

"We aren't— now." 

"But then, I thought — " a swift recklessness seized 



upon her — "I thought he disapproved terribly of you — 
of your wild ways, you know." 

"My wild ways T 9 Jim stared oddly. "My dear Mrs. 
Stanley, I have no wild ways. If you will pour my tea 
— and perhaps tell me what you mean " 

Evelyn poured his tea. She poured her own and 
took a scalding sip of it with lips unmindful of the 
heat "I mean a perfectly horrid old story," she said, 
"about you at a dance hall with some dreadful 
woman " 

"But I never took a dreadful woman to a dance hall 
in my life." 

"But — but my husband said he saw you — and Mortimer 
Preebles " 

"Good heavens, is that blackguard talking about the 
time I went on a crazy lark, as an eighteen-year-old 
boy " 

"Eighteen years old ?" said Evelyn Stanley in a 

suddenly faint voice. 

"Just that. And there was no real harm in it. ... I 
never knew that Preebles saw me. He has never opened 
his mouth to me. But once, to my sister, he tried to 

talk So your husband was with him !" said Jim with 

a short laugh. 

"Yes. And he told me — that night I came home from 
the dunes." Her voice was just audible to him; he 
leaned closer across the table. "And I thought — I 
thought it had all happened since you had known 

212 



REVELATIONS 



-\ 



that — that you had consoled yourself in a horrible 

way " 

Jim leaned back. "I see." 



"You see? You do see, don't you — that was what 
made me do it? I did believe — Christopher told me so 
clearly — I felt that you couldn't really care for me and 
I never wanted to see you again. It was that that made 



me " 



<< 






'As well one thing as another," said Jim. 

A long silence enabled her to turn that remark over 
thoroughly. 

A waiter brought them chocolate cake. 

"Wonderful food," Jim mentioned, finally. 

She had not pretended to eat. She leaned towards 
him across the table, appeal between her long lashes. 

'Jim — haven't you forgiven me ?" 

Tor flinging me over six years ago? No, of course 
not." 

"You might, Jim. You might forgive me, if — if you 
knew." 

"I wonder," said he deliberately, "why women want 
to tear our hearts out and then ask us to deny the 
bleeding." 

"Was that what I did to you — tear your heart 
out ?" 

"I rather think you did, my dear." 

"I tore out my own, Jim." 

"That was your choice." 

"It was not my choice ! I believed that horrible story. 
It turned me — it turned me into another girl. You think 
it was just my weakness that made me succumb and 
take cover behind this, but I had already told Christopher 
— I was fighting for my freedom " 

"You were oddly ready to believe a lie." 

213 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



"But he said he had seen you — he had seen you him- 
self. And I thought it was so recently." There flashed 
through her the thought that Christopher had not been 
unaware of her misunderstanding. . . . Perhaps he 
thought it did not matter. That a boy who could do 
such things at eighteen — It was too terrible to believe that 
Christopher had allowed her to deceive herself. 

"You don't know how a girl feels about things/' she 
murmured brokenly. 

"I wonder that you spoke to me at Mrs. Ogden's !" 

She smiled with sorry humor. "By then I had com- 
pleted the circle. I felt that whatever you had done, I 
was to blame. For I had failed you first — 



»> 






Her glance, curiously timid, met his in shy reminder. 
He was angry at its effect upon him. He did not want 
that cold, brutal irony of his to melt. . . . 

"Perhaps it would have been better if you had not," 
he told her. 

'Not completed the circle ? Not — not spoken to you ?" 

'Exactly. . . . You see, you can make me remember. 
. . . And I had been meeting some remarkably charm- 
ing girls . . . you turned them all into dolls." 

"You could have stayed away — from those Wednes- 
days." 

"Confessed my rout? And you? . . . You hadn't been 
often before." 

"Would you rather I did not come now?" 

The man's smile was wry. He did not answer. 

Her eyes looked away from him; they filled with 
clouding hopelessness. 

"I haven't anything in the world, Jim." 

His heart knocked suddenly against his side, savage 
with the old pain. That shaken, sorry little voice. . . . 
He was filled with the overpowering memory of her 

214 



REVELATIONS 



soft cheek against his lips . . . her cheek wet with tears, 
on the night that she had said good-by for college ... in 
the days when she had been wholly true. 

Strange, that a voice could bring that back! He did 
not want to remember those days. He did not want to 
remember those kisses. 

He took refuge in a cool mockery. 

( My dear Evelyn, you have a husband " 

'Only in the eyes of the world, Jim." 

She looked steadily down at her plate, conscious of 
his gaze beating sharply upon her. She felt the color 
rising, a warm, shamed flood-tide in her cheeks and 
in her temples, before that unseen look whose hard in- 
credulous searching she could divine. 

"You mean — you " 



Hi 



She had made him speak the first. She was trembling 
with a queer fright at herself, and a strange elation that 
the fatal words were out. 

"I told you," she said in a muffled voice, "that he 
promised me — it was to be a marriage of companion- 
ship " 

To her amazement she heard him give a sudden laugh. 
She looked up at that; the color was dying from his 
cheekbones; his face was strange. 

He was thinking of the agonies that he had undergone 
... six years this May. ... A marriage of friendship ! 

"My good God !" he said under his breath. And then, 
in a queer voice, "The poor devil I" 

It was the last thing in the world that she had ex- 
pected. 

"It was his offer/' she said swiftly. "It was to be just 
friendship. He said that would be enough." 

"Forever?" 

"He said it would be enough for him." But she was 

315 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



looking down again now, sorry memories surging in her. 

"Of course I didn't know better — I thought it would 
be enough/' she said helplessly. "And he said that if 
it didn't turn out well we could get an annulment — it 
would all be very easy." She gave a trembling laugh at 
her simplicity. "Every anniversary I thought that we 
would talk it over/' she said. "But something has 
always happened— once I had bronchitis, once he had the 
typhoid, and that year went in his convalescence. And 
then, last year, mother was just to be married " 

She stopped. A sudden lucidity flamed in her and 
told her why she had brought this man to this meeting 
place to-day. To talk, indeed! She had wanted his 
courage, his support, his incentive 

A terrible self-scorn swept through her and on its 
wings a defiant, animating hope. . . . 

Jim's face was very pale. He looked at her, and his 
eyes were sad with an old sadness. 

"My dear, my dear," he said softly, "do you think 
that you will ever dare ?" 

Meeting that look it seemed to her that her heart was 
filled. 

"I am going to try," she said quietly. 

After a long moment she leaned towards him. "Do 
you think it is wrong?" she said. "For me to try to be 
free — after all these years — from this mockery? You 
do not know the emptiness of my life. I have tried — I 
have tried to make it a success. And I think he has 
been happy — in a way. But I am desolate. And I 
realize that if I do not free myself now. . . . But he 
has been very kind — generous — Tell me truly, would I 
be wickedly wrong?" 

He was a long time silent. And she waited, her lips 

216 



REVELATIONS 



parted but inarticulate now, her cheeks feverish, her 
eyes dark with unhappy pleading as if her fate were 
about to be spoken. 

"Wrong, no," said Jim slowly at last. "It's the present 
arrangement which is wrong. ... It might be right for 
two middle-aged old cronies, but for you — You see, I 
am trying hard to be fair and cool and impartial. . . . 
He bought you and is keeping you like an exhibit in a 
cage. And you have the choice of going on with that 
emptiness ... or accepting him as a husband — which I 
suppose he has been counting on— or getting yourself 
free. It seems to me that it should be now what you 
want. He has had his chance; you have given him six 
years. If, in that time, he has become nothing more to 
you " 



ti- 



'He is like a dear brother." 

Then, for God's sake, get free of him." 

He added, "You have lived up to the bargain. You 
have given him his money's worth." 

After another pause he said, "When you married him 
— when you went through that meaningless ceremony — 
what did you think you were going to make of your life ?" 

She answered with terrible truth. "I thought Chris- 
topher was going to die. . . • He talked as if he were. 
And I thought I would make him happy and keep him 
from being lonely. I didn't really look ahead." Dis- 
tressfully, she added, "Not that I wanted him to die! 
Oh, not that, Jim! I think perhaps I married him as 
much as anything to keep him from it — from an inten- 
tional neglect that would have been suicide." 

"And you are not afraid of that now?" 

"He is stronger — and I can't believe that he would 
talk like that now. He is an older man. And he 

promised me " 

217 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



After a moment, "I think, perhaps, I was easily fright- 
ened," she confessed. 

Jim was silent. A deep, bitter anger had been 
strengthening within him. . . . What terms to snare her 
unknowing youth ! . . . And to keep her chained so for 
life — hands off, no trespassing for the rest of the world ! 
What a hollow life it was! . . . What evasions, what 
formalities ! 

A grim smile flickered across one corner of his mouth. 
She caught the look ; he answered her unspoken question 
with the wry acknowledgment, "I was thinkiqg that it 
takes money to keep a man at a distance." 

She gave a little twitching smile. 

It had taken money — money and dressing rooms and 
correct servants. And no visits to relatives. . . . She 
looked back over those six years and she thought of 
strange hours — hours that she had lain awake with a 
beating heart, hours when she had slipped out of bed to 
turn a key at sound of hesitating footsteps — and the 
shamed blood seemed to recede from her heart. 

She raised her eyes and found his upon her. There 
was new strangeness in his look, a touch of wonder that 
reclothed her with the pride of the vestal. It was like 
a lovely mantle flung over those rags of her humiliation. 

Her heart quickened. She felt she had the courage 
now to go through with it. . . . Jim would be there. . . . 

They parted almost in silence. 



He told himself nothing would come of it. He told 
himself not to play the credulous fool again. After six 
years — how could she ever strike herself free? 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

MURIEL ANNOUNCES 

"I thought you were never coming in! What has 
been keeping you?" 

"Just walking." 

"This horrid day?" 

"The lake was lovely. . . .Were you waiting long?" 

"Yes, I wanted to see you. . . . It's too late now, I 
suppose." Muriel hesitated, and fumbled with the vio- 
lets on her frock. 

Mechanically her sister extended her hand. "How 
sweet ) Were they for me?" 

"You can have them," said the girl good humoredly, 
"but they were a gift to me." 

"How stupid of me! When I saw you unpinning 
them — I thought you were remembering our anniver- 
sary." 

"Oh, is it your anniversary? Then do take them/' 
Muriel thrust the violets upon her. "Charley will bring 
more to-night," she added, with a confessing laugh. 

"Charley?" 

It seemed to the younger girl that Evelyn was dis- 
tinctly distrait. "Charley Waters," she repeated a little 
crisply. "Have you been blind, my dear? ... I want 
to bring him over to-night." 

"Oh, not to-night ! We — we have an engagement. . . . 
Another time." And then the significance of Muriel's 
words pierced her preoccupations. "You don't 

mean ?" 

219 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



Smilingly Muriel nodded. "We're to tell mother to- 
night." 

"But, Muriel, darling — your music !" 

Muriel turned her glowing determined eyes upon her. 
"Isn't love more than art?" she said rebukingly. 

But she was considerate with her sister. "I didn't 
know myself till just lately. I had thought, of course, 
that I never would. . . . We think we'll be married in 
December. He's going to ask Arthur Wayne for the best 
man, and I want the Morell girls " 

Muriel's decisiveness shaped the preposterous thing 
into a reality. 

Still Evelyn heard herself mechanically protesting. 
"But you said you'd never be happy — you've always hated 
a house. And your music " 



"Oh, I shall keep that up, of course," said the girl, 
easily. "But not professionally. Charley wouldn't like 
that. You know it's different — when one's married." 

Quite silently Evelyn let the debris of the crash settle. 
So that castle that she had reared was down, pillars, 
roof, foundation. . . . And how she had done homage to 
Muriel's dedication to her art! . . . She found Muriel 
suddenly a little pathetic. Charley Waters appeared so 
trivial an angel of miracle. 

And suddenly she thought perhaps that her mother 
had once cherished this view of Jim. The recollection 
of her mother made her very hesitant as she went on 
slowly, "But I thought he had been very dissatisfied with 
his position lately " 

"He'll get something better," Muriel assured her. 
"Christopher ought to know of something. Charley is 
going in to see him." 

"Yes," said Evelyn mechanically. She felt that her 
reticence was disappointing to Muriel, and she asked her- 

220 



MURIEL ANNOUNCES 



self why she discovered no glow of sisterly feeling to 
sweep away the secret disparagements, the miasmic 
vapors of her dampening distrusts. 

Even when she held her sister's hands she felt herself 
merely executing the correct gestures. It was not that 
she was indifferent to Muriel's happiness — Heaven knew 
it had once been a potent factor in her own decisions ! — 
but she felt as if that happiness was far outside of her 
and her secret dreams. It could be trusted to take care 
of itself. Her dream took all her strength* 



CHAPTER XXIX 

EVELYN MAKES UP HER MIND 

Dinner had passed and they had come to coffee in the 
library, and the talk of Muriel's surprising engagement 
was wearing a little thin. Christopher had summed up 
Charley Waters very thoroughly. He was a nice boy, of 
nice people — there were decided expectations from an 
uncle— but he took his work as architect too easily — a 
curious objection from a man who did no work at all, 
thought Evelyn — and he was too anxious for change. 

"He is with an excellent firm ; he had better stay where 
he is/' said Christopher. "Unless," and he looked 
quickly^at Evelyn, "you want me " 

"I want you to make yourself in no way responsible 
for*them," said Evelyr>. 

"Then I'll just keep my hands off. Of course I can 
throw some things his way — there are some flat buildings 
to be put on those lots of mine, out south. . . . But I 
gather he's out for bigger game." 

Evelyn was silent. She put down her coffee cup and 
leaned back in her chair. In the stillness a French clock 
chimed. 

"There's time to go somewhere," said Christopher 
quickly, "if you will change your mind." 

She shook her head. "I'd rather stay here, Christo- 
pher. I told you I wanted to talk." 

"You know I like this better, too," he said quickly, but 
she saw the secret nervousness in him. He went to a 
drawer and came to her with a velvet case in his hand. 

222 



EVELYN MAKES UP HER MIND 






You didn't want a gift — but I couldn't let the day go 
by.' 

She looked down at the case which he placed in her 
lap and then up at him. She did not move to open it. 
"It's been six years, Christopher." 

"Six happy years, Evelyn." 

"Have I really made you happy?" 

"Can you doubt it ?" 

She had not doubted it before, in her own absorptions, 
but now she doubted it completely. She was struck by 
a spareness in the man, by something worn and repressed 
in the deep lines of his face that was just verging upon 
middle age. He reminded her suddenly of the head of 
a religious brotherhood she had once seen in England; 
there was the same strained, eager intentness, the stained- 
glass look in the eyes. 

She gazed at him a long time. The silence grew very 
quiet about them. The flames in the fireplace — it had 
turned chilly for May — made a soft purring to them- 
selves. 

"What have I given you," she asked at last, "that has 
made this life happy ?" 

"Everything," he assured her. "Everything. It's 
been wonderful to have you near — always. It's more 
than a man in ten thousand gets out of his life. I don't 
ask anything more." 

He moved away from her, to the windows, as if his 
face were too exposed to her clear eyes. "Of course, 
there are times," he murmured painfully. "A man isn't 
always — himself. There are moments." 

She sat silent. She knew now that look in his eyes. 
Frustration. Self-immolation. 

She thought of Jim Clarke's unexpectedly pitying, 
"The poor devil !" 

223 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



"I have been no wife at all," she said very clearly. 

He was leaning nearer the windows. "Some poor cat 
is howling out there," he muttered. "It sounds starving. 
Why the deuce can't people take care of their beasts ?" 

She hardly attended to that. "We said we'd take 
stock of ourselves on this anniversary. It's rather im- 
portant, Christopher." 

He turned back towards the room. "What is it? 
You're not worrying about me, are you, my dear ? Carey 
hasn't been to see you ?" 

"No." 

"Because I'm quite all right. It's something else that's 
troubling you? Anything you want? You know if 
there is anything in the wide world that I can get for you, 
Evelyn, it's yours. You need never hesitate to ask." 

She had a perverse feeling that he knew what she was 
trying to talk about and was screening herself with this 
blindness and this gratitude-provoking talk. It would be 
the most pitiable artifice that he had yet resorted to. If 
he used it now it meant that he was destitute. 

She had an invasion of that devastating pity that she 
feared. She knew it as her chiefest enemy. 

"It's something that you can get for me, Christopher, 
and for yourself," she said swiftly, before her courage 
could be sapped. "We both want something very dif- 
ferent from this — comradeship. . . . Did you truly think 
that it would go on forever ?" 

He did not answer at once. He walked towards those 
windows again and appeared to listen. "There is a poor 
little beast out there. Half drowned in the rain. Hun- 
gry." He hesitated, then swung round on his heel. 

"You're — not — satisfied ? 9 

By every urgency of her will she stiffened her strength. 

224 



EVELYN MAKES UP HER MIND 

There was a pause in which her heart seemed to stand 
still. 

"No," she said very distinctly. 

She was not sure whether he said anything. He was 
off again, tramping about the room; there was an over- 
whelming confusion in her pulses. 

Nothing, she thought, could be worse than this shock. 
And yet there would be worse, her experience cried out. 
He would plead. He would entreat. 

But he knew the truth now. The rest was inevitable. 

She began to speak very rapidly. "This is not a real 
life for any man or woman, Christopher. We could not 
have borne it if it had not been for travel, for society. 

You said yourself that there were moments It's not 

happy for me to know that I am — am shutting doors on 
you " 

He muttered something incoherent. It seemed a dis- 
tressful protest that he had never been a nuisance. 

"And it can't be happy for you. You aren't getting 
what you might out of life. You ought to have a real 
wife — and real children, Christopher. Any man wants 
them. And any woman/' 

She paused, painfully. Had he counted on this ? That 
the craving for children would drive her to him? . . . 
He must have been very hopeful. . . . Those six years 
had been a hard surprise to him. 

Of course, he would have won, if she had not had 
another man in her blood. 

Deliberately, she summoned the image of Jim to aid 
her. She saw him there by the fireplace as she had last 
seen him at the Blackstone, tall, young, *rect, carrying 
himself with that air of pride. She saw his gray eyes 
look at her, cool and a little hard — she knew what had 
put that hardness there ! — and then soften magically into 

225 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



the smile they wore for her alone. . . . She drank cour- 
age from that imagined look. 

Christopher seemed to have absolutely nothing to say. 
He was turned from her, very still now. 

She said, "I think that you must realize that we must 
make a change." 

After an eternity his voice came. "You don't — you 
don't want to go on — any longer?" 

All her strength was in her answering cry. "Not any 
longer!" 

A faint sound escaped him, a long-drawn breath. She 
thought that people might sigh like that in extremity of 
pain. . . . But she could not recall the blow. 

Then he spun about with a brusque motion. "I simply 
can't stand that noise out there," he said savagely. "I'll 
have to see to that cat — it's hurt, half dead-— 



» 



He was gone, driven, perhaps by the need to escape, 
or by some kinship of sympathy with the suffering crea- 
ture in a hostile world. 

She got up and walked to the window, looking out into 
the gray downpour. Then she put a hand to her eyes 
and found the still tears running down. 

She had not been conscious that she was crying. She 
was not sobbing; her breathing was quiet, but queerly 
difficult. Her breast felt an intolerable ache. 

She could not forget that gasp he had given, and the 
writhing of his long body as if his pain had shaken it. 

She could see him out there now, in an old hat and 
overcoat, poking about corners, a disgusted chauffeur 
following with an umbrella and a pocket flare. Then the 
light disappeared, following the opposite wall. 

That was Christopher all over. His tenderheartedness 
called to hers. He simply could not stand pain. Odd, 
that he should have been willing to inflict it upon her I 

226 



EVELYN MAKES UP HER MIND 

But he had not known what he was doing — she absolved 
him from that. She had hidden herself from him so 
proudly, small wonder he had been willingly deceived. 
He had snatched at his half loaf . . . counseling 
patience. . . . 

From the beginning she had been to blame. Christo- 
pher had been driven by a passion against which he had 
no defenses. She had had a passion equally deep but not 
equally driving. She had betrayed her passion. She 
had sold out — from such a pitiable confusion of motives 
that it was hardly worth while to distinguish any but 
the fundamental weakness. 

Still, they had not played fair with her. They had 
told her that hearts forget. She knew better, now. 
Hearts spoke in the silence of the night; they cried out 
at inconvenient, hurried moments ; they sent stabs of pain 
into hours of triumph. 

This thing that she had, that she and Jim had between 
them, was an unforgettable thing. They might bleed it 
to weakness or starve it to inanition, but now it was 
still living and strong. It existed between them, a 
solemn, radiant thing. 

Meanwhile Christopher was searching for the cat. And 
the mingled absurdity and compassion of him — to go out 
hunting cats when his life and love were in the balance — 
preyed upon her tense nerves. She thought that she 
heard herself laugh. She went back into* the room and 
saw the velvet case. It seemed to her the most ineffec- 
tual thing in Christopher's ineffectual life. 

At that moment he seemed to her unreal; it was unreal 
that she had ever been called his wife. A dream already 
fading. Impossible that he should have brought her to 

227 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



that house; have paid for that gown that she was 
wearing. . . . 

Then Christopher came back into the room. He was 
rather damp, for all the coat and hat and the chauffeur's 
umbrella, and he was rubbing his hands which he had 
evidently just washed. He moved towards the fire. 

"It was starving/' he reported, as if she were waiting 

for important news. "Fallen down a grating — may have 

been there for days — the maids said they had heard it. 

Funny, no one had decency enough to look. But it's 

.all right now. I fixed a bed. . . ." 

He added, "It's a hard world for beasts. I wish you 
could have heard it purr, out of those thin sides !" 

She could hear it purr. With her immense clarity of 
visualization she could see the thin, rigid back arching 
itself under Christopher's gentle hand. 

She looked at him with a sudden hopeless commisera- 
tion. How could one strike down innocents that went 
about rescuing dumb creatures! 

Almost instantly, without a change of tone from his 
sudden fluency he went on, "About our own affair, dear, 
—certainly it can be arranged. If you don't want to 
go on, we can undo it. It's quite simple. We'll arrange 
it. Only give me a little while to think it over " 

He had thought it over. She saw that. There was 
strength and resolve now in his clear, ascetic lines. 
Somewhere in the wet area way, between the rescuing 
of the cat and the comforting, he had laid away his past 
and accepted his future. 

Quite suddenly she knew. She resisted the knowledge. 
She told herself that he was sensible, that her imagin- 
ings were morbid moonshine. Once before she had let 
herself be overwhelmed by the fear of the self-destruc- 
tion she had read in Christopher's eyes. 

228 



EVELYN MAKES UP HER MIND 



She had told Jim that she was not afraid of it now. 

She had said that Christopher was too sane. 

But she knew. It would be quite simple, of course — 
she had heard him speak contemptuously of the stupidity 
of obvious suicides. There were so many ways! No 
one would know. No one would suspect. And she 
would have her freedom. 

The knowledge penetrated her veins like an icy draught. 
It chilled the very heart of her ; it arrested the galloping 
pulses. She felt turned to stone and ice in a world of 
desolation. Impossible to demur that she did not know 
— impossible to reject this fear as weakness ! 

Quite surely she realized that she would never accept 
her freedom at that price. She must have been mad 
to dream that Christopher would let her off without pay- 
ing that price. . . . She seemed to see all her life as a 
series of attempted escapes from Christopher and sinking 
surrenders. 

Only this time it was not weakness that laid its palsy 
hand upon her. She stood up very straight and strong 
under this. Christopher was going to let her go. He 
was going to take himself out of it. . . . Because she 
meant so much to him that without her he was lost. . . . 
And he had his pride, too, his abnormal sensitiveness, his 
lack of resource. 

She had gone on these six years building up this pre- 
posterous situation, blindly feeding his passion, soothing 
his pride. . . . And now she was going to topple it over ! 

Or rather, she was not going to topple it over. She 
was his wife. She had married him. She had lived on 
him. He had spent himself on her and her family. As 
far as a human being can be responsible for another in 
this world, she was responsible for Christopher. 

She had just one fleeting, submerged glimpse of the 

229 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

grim irony of Jim's gray eyes. Again! he would say 
contemptuously. 

She would have to bear that. She would have to Bear 
everything. She had made her bed, and she must, in very 
truth, lie in it. 

Steadily, with an effort of deliberation, she turned to 
Christopher. It had seemed a long time that she had 
stood rigidly there, but it was truly so short a space that 
only a little question at her muteness was beginning to 
steal into his gaze. 

"You didn't quite understand me, Christopher," she 
told him. "I said I didn't want to go on any longer — 
as we were. It will have to be a real home. I will be 
a real woman, a real wife. Not a doll, a petted doll." 

He looked at her, and looked in swimming incredulity. 
The blood receded from a face already pale ; he was posi- 
tively gray and ghost-like in his astoundedness. His lips 
parted on a sound that was like her name, and before 
that cry, with its rush of almost unbelievable joy that 
pinioned her forever, the last rivet was welded. . . . 
Chained and barred, she looked down the lost avenue to 
freedom. Down those aisles a figure was fading, 
receding. . . . 

All that she wanted of life faded and receded with it. 

"You mean you'll be mine — really mine?" 

She nodded mutely; caressing hands clasped her and 
pressed her against a heart she heard racing with its 
delight. And never had her own heart known such pure 
welling of pity, and never had her shrinking flesh felt 
such dumb compulsion, such acquiescence that was dark 
as shame. 



CHAPTER XXX 

UNFORESEEN 

They set a date, like a very wedding. They planned 
a trip to California again. And again they would break- 
fast on the balcony, with the roses about them, and the 
Pacific crashing below, and at the left the snows of 
mountains meeting the burning sky. 

Only this time there would be union in their hearts, 
and a bridal gladness. . . . 

Christopher was lyric about it. He planned; he 
packed; he bought tickets and engaged staterooms and 
wired ahead, specifying the rooms. 

Evelyn flung herself into her shopping. The anodyne 
of the shops is a familiar feminine drug; only widows 
are denied it. 

She did not write Jim. The repetition was too miser- 
ably ludicrous. She went to Mrs. Ogden's and met him, 
quite encompassed with two laughing girls. And when 
he came to her later a youthful philosopher was trying 
to explain his soul to her, revealing his hate of these 
scenes of meaningless activities, of pallid speeches, of 
empty nothings. 

"You must come, then, for the tea?" said Evelyn 
sweetly, and had to look up from him to meet Jim's 
gravely questioning eyes. 

She knew that he read her own face. Later, in a few 
moments of half privacy, she told him that they were 
going to California. And she told him her decision. 

231 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

She did not dare look at him. She offered her hand. 
"Good-by. I shan't write this time/' 

He understood. This was their leave-taking. 

For a second of time they stood there, eddying people 
about them, a waitress discreetly evading offering them 
a silver wagon of bonbons. 

He said, "Isn't that rather hard on me ?" 

"No," she gave back, "it's kind to you. I ought to 
have gone away long' ago. I can hear of you through 
Walter Hinman." 

With a wry smile just edging her pale lips, "At least 
you didn't fall in love with Muriel. I was once afraid of 
that," she murmured, and moved away. 

He looked after but made no effort to follow. Pres- 
ently he sat down by Mrs. Storey, and for a long time 
that understanding lady poured out a light flood of 
words upon his silence. There was a look in his face 
that troubled her. 

And when the philosopher came wandering up with 
another cup of tea and began to mention how this chatter 
of light souls revolted him, she took him gently but firmly 
away. Not that he would have divined Jim's face. But 
it seemed useless for Jim to be annoyed with him. In- 
stead, Jim found a congenial occupation in talking to a 
returned Canadian about the Germans. 

It was the same hotel. And they had dinner, as be- 
fore, looking through the archways to the sea. They had 
the very suite of old, with the balcony, and the waves 
and the roses and the mountains. 

Evelyn had expected an excitement to sustain her, 
excitement and a fine dramatic sense, even the sensation 
which a Sabine girl might feel in the arms of her con- 
queror, but instead she was curiously calm and composed* 

232 



UNFORESEEN 



She smiled at him across the table and talked about the 
view and the coolness and the people. Her pulse was 
not hurried by a single beat 

She tried to stimulate her feeling, even her horror, by 
remembering the strangeness of it all. A woman, six 
years married, keeping her first rendezvous with her 
Husband ! 

"Men marry their housekeepers — it must be very much 
like this," she thought, ironically. "The housekeeping 
comes first — then the marriage." 

Probably in their hearts those women remained house- 
keepers to the end. . . . And she would be Christopher's 
housekeeper. There was no mystery about him. He 
was like a brother; there was something even a little 
scandalous in the thought of marriage after their quiet 
intimacy; she had bought his pajamas and mended his 
linen and faced him across innumerable meals. 

But Christopher was tremendously excited. He could 
not eat. He smiled meaninglessly. He stared at her 
out of his light hazel eyes whose rims were suffused with 
pinkness as if he had not slept. 

And within herself Evelyn discovered that terrible, 
cold, cruel contempt that comes to women who must play 
such parts. . . . Secret, cutting phrases ran through her 
mind, words of a mocking disdain. . . . She felt the 
rise of this cold dislike with horror. What was it going 
to do to her ? In having to take Christopher as a lover 
was she to lose him as a friend? Was her real respect, 
her real affection, vanishing? 

She noticed things about him she disliked. And yet 
he was the most fastidious of men at table. Now the 
quirk of his little finger irritated her. 

And suddenly she knew that she was initiated into the 
dark substratum of slave women's minds. What un- 

233 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



plumbable, secret thoughts had formed for generations 
below the surface ! What bitter, cold furies of scorn had 
been masked by smiling lips ! 

Was it nature's play to restore the balance ? To keep 
a grain of integrity unyielded? She knew that she had 
been feeling this more and more for days. . . . Was it 
going on, sharper and sharper, or would it dull, as the 
fine edge of all else blunted, and wont force affection? 
That was something she would find out, she thought help- 
lessly. 

He smoked, after dinner, on that wide-arched veranda 
by the sea. He drew his chair close to hers and talked 
whisperingly. She felt strangely quiet in the twilight 
there, only his whispering teased her. She did not want 
to stir; she felt a lassitude that she feared to betray lest 
he should read it as reluctance. 

It was not reluctance; it was utter apathy. 

He talked incessantly about his happiness. How he 
had longed for it. How he had waited. . . . 

"You were so young — I never wanted to hurry you/' 
he whispered. 

He could be safe in not hurrying her, she thought, as 
long as he had her safely married ! Get the victim under 
lock and key, then be considerate about adjusting the 
leash. 

She could think of these queer, detached things to say 
in that cold mind of hers, but outwardly she was mild- 
ness itself. A soft, silent, .acquiescent mildness. 

She kept thinking of the most curious things'. Of the 
women in the East who caressed their lords and masters 
and taught their finger tips to thrill and whipped their 
sense to inspire. . . . And one did not have to go to the 
East. All about her other women had married mjmfor 
whom their senses did not quicken, kind men, amorous 

234 " / 



UNFORESEEN 



men — not all so rapt in devotion as Christopher — but 
eager, desiring. These other women got contentedness 
out of life. They had children and nursed them through 
measles and picked out desirable schools, and married 
them off. . . . That was her road. 

But other women didn't remember love. Didn't re- 
member other arms, other kisses. . . . 

It might be a comfortable road, when one had learned 
to forget — provided one went along with cushioned 
wheels, with everything ample and luxurious about the 
conveyance. 

He let her go upstairs first. The fog had begun to 
come in and the white billows of it were pressing in the 
open windows, bringing a salty dampness. There were 
wet drops in the bright curls of hair about her face. 

She looked at herself in the glass, and suddenly she 
was aware that she had been queerly mistaken. She was 
not cold and quiet at all ; her cheeks were blazing for all 
the ocean's coolness, and her eyes were brilliant, dilated. 
. . . The pupils were so large that they looked black 
beneath the shadowing lashes. . . . 

She appeared radiant. And a pang went through her 
that was like a cleaving sword. . . . All this youth and 
loveliness — but not for her lover. . . . 

She heard Christopher's steps, and thought that he had 
not reckoned with her mad impulse to turn a key. She 
picked up a book, to snare a few more moments of quiet 
talk. 

But she had forgotten the appeal of her beauty. He 
came in through the dressing room, and stood still an 
instMty looking at her there, so small and young, in her 
loosened hair, so utterly lovely, so utterly his, and he 

235 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

hurried to clasp her to him in a crushing compulsion, 
murmuring her name over and over again. 

A sob, a cry would have stopped him, would have un- 
locked those arms. She leaned against him, resolved that 
no lack should be tragically manifest, and the wash of 
desolation seemed to rise to her lips and overwhelm her. 

"You love me ? You love me ?" There was a haunting 
insistence in his question, and a hundred times she whis- 
pered her assurances. She could do no less for her own 
pride, as his. She had sold herself to companionship 
without love, but she could not sell herself to love with- 
out the lie that saved her shame. 

"Yes, yes, dear," she whispered back. 

He was like a child in his happiness. He talked of 
himself, of his pent feeling for her, of his wild delight. 
And through her detachment she felt an unutterable pity 
stealing. She stroked his face with her cold hands. 

She was lost, if ever a woman was lost. She felt as 
if she were drowning, all alone, on some dark sea. 

"Oh, God, God!" His sharp gasp brought her sud- 
denly alert. He seemed falling away from her, his mouth 
opening grotesquely. 

"Christopher, Christopher, what is it? Are you ill? 
Tell me " 

His hand went jerkily to his side. She knelt upon the 
bed beside him, and put her hand beneath his, feeling a 
heart that was lurching wildly. 

"Wait!" she uttered senselessly. "I'll phone for the 
house doctor " 

The house doctor was out motoring; there was no 
physician among the guests. The clerk promised he 
would send out a call to the city at once ; she dropped the 
phone and fled back to the bed. 

236 



•* 



UNFORESEEN 



Christopher was lying on the pillows on which she had 
left him, but he seemed struggling for a higher position ; 
his breathing was terrifying. She had never seen any 
grave illness but that of her mother's ; she had never seen 
a human being in extremity. Agonized at her helpless- 
ness, she could only slip an arm about him to support his 
head, and beg to know if he wanted water? — brandy? — 
the medicine case ? 

His voice came in a gasp. "Never mind — I know — 
mother " 

He turned his head on her arm up towards her and 
smiled. . . . She saw the light fade out of his eyes. . . . 
Something sounded in his throat — a faint rattle. . . . He 
seemed to be still smiling at her but the shine was wiped 
out of his gaze like writing with a damp cloth. There 
succeeded blankness, glassy, staring blankness ... his 
lips fallen slightly apart. 

She held him till the doctor came. Then he placed the 
head back upon the pillow and closed the eyes that would 
smile no more at her and shut the mouth that had tried 
to say those last words. The too-eager hands were 
folded upon the breast. 

"Instantaneous !" the doctor said. 

Instantaneous! That violent wrenching out of the 
spirit — that brutal pang which thrust life and feeling and 
sound and sight out of doors like homeless tenants. 

Where was it now, that kind, passionate spirit which 
had been Christopher, which an hour before had been 
alive, dreaming its intense dreams of love ? Kneeling be- 
side her in this room, crushing her in strong arms, kissing 
her with hot lips. . . . Gone — gone into the night and 
the unanswering mystery. 

Dead in his gladness. . . . She sobbed with a bitterness 
which could never be divulged. To bring him back, to 

237 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

make him happy, to pour the future years of her life 
like healing water upon him — she beat with her useless 
importunities upon the gates of death. ... It was all too 
terrible, too cruel. 

The strangeness and the horror of it racked her. 

Gone from a world in which he had played so narrow 
yet so intense a part, gone loving her, believing, de- 
siring. . . . 

Gone as every living thing must go. 

A cold wind seemed to blow upon her. She was cold 
to the very marrow of her bones. She was there alone, 
where they had left her at last kneeling upon the floor 
beside the body. 

He slept well — that first night in her bed. 

A shadow filmed his features ; they grew more remote 
and yet sharper, defined in their delicacy and aloofness. 
He looked stern and withdrawn, hardening to other 
spheres and undesirous of being drawn back to the 
lamentations that he had left. 

Darker the night and stiller; sometimes the whir of a 
motor beneath the windows and the wash of the waves 
rolling in and drawing back. Sometimes late voices, 
lowered or raised to sudden laughter. . . . And in the 
grayness that floated in with the salt breath of the sea 
the hurried feet of the early delivery boy with the morn- 
ing paper that Christopher would not read, and the rattle 
of the cans with the cream that Christopher would 
not use. 

He lay remote, unconcerned. He had no traffic now 
with little things. 

If only she had loved him ! If only she had made him 
happy ! 

Oh, life was so cruel, and death too terrible. 

238 



CHAPTER XXXI 

ANOTHER YEAR 

One year later Jim Clarke was at the station to meet 
the California Limited. It was a showery Saturday in 
May, 1917, and he paced the close platform with more of 
a nervous discomfort than a loverlike expectation. 

He could not believe in his own errand. 

Turning sharply he encountered a stout, ruddy man of 
middle age, pausing to unfold a paper. Their eyes met 
with a flash of surprise. 

"Well, Clarke," said Hinman, smiling. 

He added, "I might have known that when Mrs. 
Stanley wrote her mother not to trouble to meet her " 

"She telegraphed me," said Jim. 

"Quite so . . . quite so. . . . Good thing she's coming 
home. When her mother and I were out at Christmas, 
well, we were glad to see her getting away from that 
melancholy of hers, but we didn't exactly like the set 
that she was drifting into. That Russian princeling, you 
know, that followed her back from Hawaii, and too many 
Americans that never did an honest day's work in their 
lives. I'm old-fashioned. I like a man that can stand 
on his own feet. . . . This war will be a good thing for 
those chaps," he added vigorously. 

"Beastly air raid in England last night." 

"Wretched. Seventy-five killed. . . . I'm glad we're 
getting after those fellows. Lord, we stood enough! 
They can't believe now that we will light. But it looks 
as if we were going about this thing right," Hinman de- 

*39 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

clared. "That Appropriation Bill now, and Hoover as 
Food Commissioner. He's the man for our job. . . . 
And that Conscription Bill — that's democracy! It will 
be share and share alike for us all now. I'm frank to 
say I don't believe in letting a few chaps, like my own 
boy, do all the fighting for the stay-at-homes. Donald is 
through West Point now," he added proudly, "and he's 
very keen to get over at once with General Pershing. I 
don't know what chance he has." 

Jim was silent. 

Hinman added, looking down at his paper, "Does 
this Selective Draft mean you, Jim? Let's see, twenty- 
one to thirty-one " 

"I'm just thirty-two," said Jim slowly. 

Something of awkwardness stole into the pause be- 
tween them. 

He might have added, "And I am hoping to be married 
to your step-daughter." 

But he did not believe in his own hope. The promises 
of those letters which the last few months had seen pass- 
ing between Evelyn and himself appeared separate from 
the realities of existence. And the figure of Evelyn was 
subtly blurred and altered. She had stayed away a year 
out of convention. He was aware, from talk about him, 
that she had become a figure of romance. She was a 
widow, young and lovely — and disconcertingly rich. He 
could see lions in the path before them which Evelyn 
appeared to find so clear. 

The skepticism which his whole relation with her had 
ingrained in him held him warningly back from another 
fool's paradise. . . . She would probably find him 
changed. . . . And he was not going to take advantage 
of her old sentiment. 

"Magnificent speech of Wilson," Hinman was saying, 

240 



ANOTHER YEAR 



and at Jim's absent assent he went on to quote its conclu- 
sion, his face kindling. 

" 'The right is more precious than peace, and we shall 
fight for the things which we have always carried nearest 
our hearts — for democracy, for the right of those who 
submit to authority to have a voice in their own govern- 
ments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for 
a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free 
people as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and 
make the world itself at last free. To such a task we 
can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that 
we are and everything that we have, with a pride of 
those who know that the day has come when America is 
privileged to spend her blood and her might for the 
principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace 
which she has treasured. God helping her, she can do 
no other/ 

"Great times, Jim !" he uttered. 

And Jim knew that they were great times. His own 
blood leaped at the significance of those historic words. 
His pride stirred. It had been well enough to be proud 
of his country before, of her forbearance, her peace, her 
patience, but it was a deeper thing to be proud of her 
courage, her just and sacrificial resolution. 

But to that pride a constraint forbade him to give ex- 
uberant utterance. If he had no part in those armies of 
hers ; if he himself ran no risks and shed no blood, why 
then he felt his satisfaction in the war open to grim irony. 
It was not as if he were too old to fight — or had a host 
of dependents. 

But there was Evelyn. And if the future justified the 
hope he dared not trust — well, God knew that he had 
need of some love and compensation ! 

241 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



The Limited was in. Clark, with Hinman a little 
behind him, hastened down the platform filling with 
porters and baggage and alighting passengers. 

He saw Evelyn, a slender figure in dark blue, her bright 
face and slender throat lifted from the crisp freshness of 
a white collar, a small, dark, saucy hat crowning her fair 
hair. She looked amazingly young, young as a school 
girl, but there was a delicate and aristocratic distinction 
about her that was like the accent of authority. 

"Well, Jim !" They clasped hands. Then she caught 
sight of Hinman. "And Father Hinman — this is nice 
of you !" 

"Rather intrusively nice/' offered Hinman with eyes 
that wanted to twinkle, but Evelyn would have none of 
knowing secrecy. 

"There is enough baggage for you both to look after," 
she declared. "Then — if we could find something cool 
after that train " 

She carried off her return, her first to this station since 
she had brought back her husband's body, twelve months 
before, with a resolutely oblivious vivacity that swept 
Jim and Hinman in its current. 

From the bitterest self-reproach, from the passionate 
regrets which overwhelmed her, Evelyn Stanley had 
emerged, dazed, but questioning. 

Was there a pattern to life? 

Something that she had not spoiled by that mad weak- 
ness of hers, in the past, but assisted unconsciously to its 
unknown symmetry? 

It was very hard for her not to believe it, when events 
all befell so miraculously. She was ready to look upon 
her sufferings now as a price exacted by some far-seeing 
power for thus endowing and securing the rest of life so 

242 



ANOTHER YEAR 



sumptuously. . . . And the price had not been too high. 

She was ready now to banish the sentimental regret 
wrung from her in the first hard anguish of pity that 
she had not paid her debt to the full ere Christopher was 
gone. 

Her immunity, that had seemed to her then so narrow 
and harsh and unlovely, became valuable and divine. 

Her own denials and Christopher's long frustrations 
had been imposed apparently by an all-wise providence. 
Her refusals had undoubtedly prolonged his life. 

And now, virginal and dowered, she could turn to Jim. 



CHAPTER XXXII 

COMPARISONS 

The entrance hall was a charming pallor of French 
grays to which the liveries of the attendents were attuned, 
and the elevator suggested a delicate reception room 
with its divan of dull blue. 

Evelyn Stanley smiled about her. Already she liked 
this building. 

She emerged from the lift, followed by Jim Qarke and 
the agent of the building, into a small, square hall, before 
a door of delicate restraint of design. The agent turned 
the key and stepped back ; through the open doorway ap- 
peared a wide hall from which opened the bare spaces 
of the empty rooms. 

Everything was completed but the decorations, and the 
walls were waiting the tastes of future occupants. 

Evelyn stepped into the long living room, with its gra- 
cious wall spaces, its silver-frosted side lights, its white 
fireplace high at one end, and then passed into the 
orangerie, a circle of shining glass facing the blue waves 
of Lake Michigan. Appreciatively her glance flashed 
about. 

Then back into the living room, the two men at her 
side, and through the French doors into the spacious 
dining room, and through the white-tiled butler's pantry 
to the kitchen with its immaculate apparatus, its niche for 
the servant's dining, its ice-making pipes, its entrance on 
the service lift and service hall. 

Wisely she looked and nodded and the agent expounded 

244 



COMPARISONS 



and Jim Clarke loitered behind them, feeling more than 
a masculine helplessness. Then back they trailed into 
the main hall and into a room that might be library or 
bedroom, and down a wide corridor to other bedrooms 
with luxurious conveniences of dressing rooms and baths 
and sleeping porches. 

From threshold to threshold Evelyn flitted, taking it 
all in with her winged glance of competence. 

"The bells?" 

Hastily the agent indicated their location. 

Jim felt the threat of wry amusement. It was a luxury 
beyond the Clarke household, this ringing for maids from 
the bedrooms. One rang, at home, from the dining room 
and the front door. 

"The service quarters ?" Evelyn was proceeding. 

"On the inner hall." The man indicated the direction. 
"Rooms for two maids here and another on the laundry 
floor and there are chauffeur's quarters below. The 
chauffeur's room can hold two men if desired. They are 
over the enclosed garage, but a separate bell can summon 
them." 

Two men! A sudden vision of a butler, invaluable 
property of distinction, swam through Evelyn Stanley's 
mind. Christopher had wanted nothing but maids, and 
they had those who were old in the service of that house. 

In the orangerie from which the agent discreetly had 
withdrawn to permit of genuine opinions, the girl turned 
gaily to Jim, her smile summoning his response from 
the distance where it seemed hiding from her. 

"Don't you love this ? Look at all that lake !" 

The young man looked at the lake and then back at 
her. Her eyes seemed flashes of the water, as blue, as 
imclouded. She was so gaily pleased! 

Her glance had left him now to sweep through the 

245 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



empty spaces, picturing wicker chairs here about them, 
lazy lounges and low tables with bowls of flowers. . . . 
In the living room she created a rich formality, yet in- 
stinct with comfort and simplicity. There the grand 
piano, there a sofa, there a table. . . . She hung the old 
Stanley mirror of dulled gold between the windows, con- 
jured lovely paintings upon the walls and spread the rich 
Stanley rugs upon the floor. 

"Don't you like it, Jim ? This is the best I've seen." 

"How much does this one cost ?" 

"Five hundred — and that's a bargain. It was finished 
too late for the renting season, and then, of course, the 
war " 

But she fled from the mention of war. She had 
argued convincingly that if the government had wanted 
Jim the government would have included him in the draft, 
but she didn't wish to touch on that too much. 

"You would need two maids ?" 

"Two and a man — there's an air to a man! And a 
chauffeur and a laundress — we might do with a laundress 
for half the week." 

She paused, rapidly considering. She looked exhila- 
rated as she thought of this new home with its bright 
freedom, after that other cumbersome house. She was 
eager to be out of that house and its reminders. 

She glanced at Jim and saw that his face was 
shadowed. 

"Don't worry about the money, Jimmie," she said 
lightly, yet with a touch of impatience. "As long as 
one of us has it — does it matter which?" 

That was the doctrine to which they had subscribed in 
the first pleasure of planning. Now Jim felt like a 
Prince Consort. 

Never before had he realized exactly what it would 

246 



COMPARISONS 



mean. He had been afraid from the beginning, but with 
Evelyn scoffing at his doubts and accusing him of un- 
worthy narrowness, he had felt ashamed of his objections. 
And he had been very hungry for his happiness. 

He felt emerging now from some fantasy of mist and 
roseate cloud. 

How could he, he asked her, as they left the build- 
ing* So to live with her upon Christopher's money? 

It had always been his enemy. It had taken her cap- 
tive from him and held her through those useless years. 
. . . Now they had nothing more to do with it. He 
could not live upon it. He could not touch it. She 
could give it away, pour it upon her mother and sister; 
she could build homes for charities — but let her be free 
of it and be all his ! 

From astonishment Evelyn slipped to dismay, but her 
shocked perception of his earnestness did not discount 
her deepened knowledge of her powers. But it was 
difficult — and very childish, she thought — to have to 
discuss it that instant, marching up and down the Lake 
Shore Drive with the Stanley motor waiting at the curb. 

They went over it in quiet tones, with low and reason- 
able voices. Jim was not voluble. Often he admitted 
his prejudices, his inconsistencies, but the admission 
could not change his mind. The very fiber of his self- 
respect was subtly involved in that question of support. 
He felt himself an appendage, a hanger-on, a luxury 
that Christopher had finally enabled her to afford. 

Useless to present the case differently. There was a 
reality in his vision. 

Evelyn turned to more subtle appeal. "But surely, 

Jim — if you love me ? You ought to be willing, for 

my sake." 

"I know," he said grimly. "When I would have 

247 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

•walked on hot plowshares to get you, you think it 
finicking to rebel at Persian rugs. . . .But I cannot 
help it." 

Dimly he perceived that he would have to surrender 
some more vital spark in himself than his love for 
Evelyn if he gave way. 

The concreteness of that apartment had evoked his 
mood. He had seen the very walls closing about him, 
he had caught something of the woman's vision of shin- 
ing surfaces, of rugs and rich hangings. 

It wouldn't do. And because he darkly divined that 
some day he might grow not only wonted to it, but to 
revel in it and to accept the price that had conferred 
this luxury upon them, his repudiation was the more 
intense. 

He asked her, "Do you want me ever to feel recon- 
ciled that you were married to him?" 

She flushed and looked away. Little sail boats were 
scudding obliquely over the bloom and sparkle of the 
lake, their sails afire in the west sun. 

"Don't be horrid," she brought out weakly. But she 
still flushed, as if he had confronted a secret thought in 
hiding. 

And out of the warmth of her flush burned a wonder 
at herself. Was that indeed her inner thought? Was 
she reconciled — were her empty days and heart-sick 
nights to go for French damask and silk rugs? 

She turned to Jim. "Just what can we live on then?" 

"Three hundred and fifty a month. Four, perhaps — 
but three fifty is safe to begin with." 

"Would you mind my keeping something for my own 
use — for dress and charity?" 

"I'd like to dress you " He stopped, feeling un- 
utterably mean. "Of course you can keep out what- 

248 



COMPARISONS 



ever you like. I only want it to be the home I can 
afford and the way of life that I can provide. I don't 
want to be a — a kept man." 

He divulged the bitterness of his heart. And she 
wondered if she had indeed grown dulled, living so long 
in that house, accepting so much from which she had 
first flinched. . . . 

Or had she merely grown more initiated to the hard 
ways of the world, more perceptive of the solid founda- 
tions which must underlie its beautiful heights, while 
Jim was still a moody boy, unreasoning? 

"Where could we live?" she asked. 

At once Jim was eager. He urged the South Side, 
anxious to spirit her as far as possible from that old 
somber, opulent house, and to bring her nearer to his 
own friends. Then, too, he had an idea that living 
might be simpler. 

Christopher's motor took them to the city; dismissing 
it, they took the Central to discover the transportation 
that they would have to use. . . . After two hours of 
experiment they had journeyed some way from the lake. 
Prices had been little better there, five hundred, three, 
two fifty, one. Everything more reasonable seemed 
grasped and occupied. Then on a side street, not far 
from a boulevard and the water, they found a pleasant 
apartment for seventy-five. 

Pleasant, that is, unless- 



Evelyn, glancing about, saw that spacious orangerie 
contracted to a narrow sunparlor, the cream-paneled 
dining room shrinking into a darkly wainscoted square. 
The very walls seemed crowding her, narrowing, com- 
pressing. . . . She thought of the Pit and the Pendulum. 

Instead of a spacious drawing room with its dull 
velvets, its wide windows on the lake, its open fire, its 

249 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



grand piano, she saw a living room with its gas grate, 
room for an upright instrument, a fixed place for every- 
thing. 

Bed rooms and dressing closets vanished with service 
hall and enclosed garage. 

No elevator! Her guests must pant up the stairs, 
trudging heavily. No cushioned couch would waft 
them to their destination, no liveried attendant draw 
back the gray French doors. 

It was ridiculous of Jim! It was tiresomely stupid. 
He was the man for a rich background. That very in- 
dependence of his demanded it. 

With a sinking heart she regarded the maid's room. 
One maid, and a laundress for one day of the week- 
Monday for the first floor, Tuesday for the second, 
Wednesday for the third! 

He was absurd! He was standing in his own light. 
He would — he must — get over it. ; 

Her silence was illuminating. She looked — and she 
communicated marvelously to Jim her perception of 
what she saw. He beheld the apartment through her 
eyes in all its narrowness, its meager unprovision for 
ample hospitality, its unsuitability for that pageant 
which her fancy now spread about their days. 

He saw all this, and yet he felt that he could have seen 
otherwise if she had willed. These rooms might have 
been a friendly setting for some happy drama of life, 
comfortable, hospitable, delightful. 

But he reflected her moods too exactly not to be 
untinged with her blank disappointment, her bewilder- 
ment, her worry. 

"It won't do?" he asked. 

She shook her head, with that faint, impersonal smile 
of distaste. 

250 



COMPARISONS 



"It won't do at all, dear Jim." Her tone hinted humor. 

She reminded him suddenly of her mother. But she 
was more beautiful and more elegant than her mother. 
. . . He saw her suddenly as a very lovely and expen- 
sive woman ... who looked at him from ?he eyes of a 
girl he used to know, but who was years removed from 
that girl's sweet surrenders. He saw her as a stranger. 
And he realized that she had been a stranger in these 
three weeks of her return. They had both been con- 
strained, striving to reinstate the past, and to construct 
a future. 

A terrible dreariness came over him as he told him- 
self that they had outgrown their love. 

Folly to ask that lovely, costly creature to occupy 
herself with his economies! Impossible that he should 
become her pensioner ! 

He saw that she was as determined as himself. 

A careful silence reigned between them as he returned 
her to down town and Christopher's motor. 

She received his letter next morning. It sounded 
complete in its finality because he was determined not 
to appear to beg. He told her that he realized the un- 
fairness of asking her to divest herself of any of her 
wealth, and he appreciated the uncongeniality of his 
own way of life. He did not want to take advantage of 
her generosity. In every word his hurt pride spoke. 
He suggested that it might be better for him to drop out 
of her existence. He realized that there were many other 
men who would be eager to enjoy life with her, men 
without his scruples, for chey had never known Chris- 
topher and those years. It seemed to him now that if 
he accepted all that wealth of Christopher's and lived 
upon k he would appear to be profiting from those years 

251 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

he hated. She wouldn't want him like that, would she? 
. . . And he could see that nothing less than Christo- 
pher's wealth would make her happy now. 

It was a very boyish letter, ungrateful-seeming, per- 
haps, and driving its words home with the graceless 
directness of a brief, but it was the letter of a rarely 
honest man. 

It might, through that consideration, have softened 
the temper of the woman who received it. But never 
in Evelyn's loved and much-entreated life had she met 
so wounding a rebuff. For Jim — whom she had been 
faintly conscious now of condescending to honor — for 
Jim to dictate and reject ! 

Perhaps he would consent to take her if she com- 
promised, and reserved an income only for clothes and 
private charities! 

He could care very little if — that was it, he did care 
very little! They had not been the same since her 
return. He had been ridiculously constrained. Every- 
thing had been different. 

Just when the world could have been so wonderful! 
But if he thought that she was going to destroy all her 
possessions for the privilege of becoming his wife ! 

It was the mention, perhaps, of the other men, so 
worthy and scrupleless with whom she was apparently 
to console herself for his loss, that fired Evelyn to the 
hottest of her anger. For reckless hours she contem- 
plated marrying at least six different men — but life had 
at least taught her that after to-morrow follows another 
day. 

Her pride dictated a response of smoothly flowing 
agreement. If he cared no more for her than that, 
then they had better plan no more. And a few days 
later that same pride, still tense and armed, took her 

252 



COMPARISONS 



to Washington with her mother where Walter Hinman 
.was engaging promptly in war work. 

Jim told himself that it was no more than he had 
expected. Once she had thrown him over for a man 
and his money — now it was for the money without the- 
man. 

Given that choice few women would hesitate, especially 
when to freedom and riches were added the spur of a 
piqued pride and an unsubdued resentment, a memory 
of rebuff fixed in chill and hard astonishment. 



CHAPTER XXXIII 



JIM GOES TO DINNER 



Now, spoke a clear, cold inner voice, you can go out 
and fight You are free. 

Free to bleed and die, said Jim cynically. His secret 
disappointment made the prospect no more inviting. Be- 
cause a man had lost his chance of happiness with a 
woman, was he therefore elected to lose his life ? 

There was no dearth of younger men. And yet he 
wanted, passionately, for that war to be won. 

He felt that he would have been glad to have been 
within the draft. There was something care-free in 
the finality of a decision made for him. But now a 
hundred considerations raised their heads as conscien- 
tious objectors. His mother — his work (his profession 
had only begun to pay dividends upon the past labor 
and investment) — his usefulness in his own place. Hang 
it, if the country had taken him he would have been 
ready enough! But there was no need to stick his 
head into the noose. He didn't mind the thought of 
dying as much as the mutilation, the blindness, the 
gassed lungs! His grandfather had coughed his life 
away after the Civil War. 

Besides, he wanted most awfully to see the thing 
through. He wanted to be here when that end came. 

And so, until they raised the draft age ... no use f 
he thought, to go rushing, unneeded, into the thing. 

254 



JIM GOES TO DINNER 



The dinner was being given for a girl from France. 
She was an American who for over two years now had 
been giving her time and skill and strength to the Allies, 
nursing under the French Red Cross. Now she had 
come under the American and a hurried errand had 
sent her to Washington and at present she was making 
a flying visit to Chicago. 

"Just the girl for you," Mrs. Storey had suggested, 
and immediately Jim had conjured up a sweet-faced 
ministering angel to whom he had taken an instant 
aversion. 

But the girl from France had no relation to that 
image. She was a thin young person with dark hair 
that crinkled and dark eyes that laughed, and the 
stories of her life over there that she told were full of 
such light-hearted, lovable fun that she had all the table 
laughing. She was a trump, Jim decided heartily. 

She didn't talk of horrors at all, and at last one of 
the guests interposed, "You don't make it sound terrible 
one bit!" 

Subtly the nurse's face changed. "A hospital full of 
wounded men — of course it's terrible. That's the back- 
ground to the whole thing. One has to take that as a 
matter of course. . . . But they are so merry. Not 
heroic — just humanly gay." 

"They are all in the same boat," said Jim. "Now they 
are in it together. Later, when they are a lot of useless 
cripples ?" 

The girl's eyes met his in understanding. "That's the 
hard time," she said. "Coming. . . . When people are 
tired paying tribute. When noble Uncle Jacques is just 
a trying old shuffler. . . ." 

"Surely, surely," said a sweet feminine voice, "human 
nature will never fall so far below its dues to heroism ?" 

255 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



Before they separated the nurse's eyes and Jimmie's 
had exchanged another spark of intelligence. 

"Don't talk of being heroes to the French," she coun- 
seled a little dryly, the lady of the sweet voice. 

But talking of heroism to the French was exactly 
what most of those diners conceived to be the thing, and 
they looked bewildered. 

"If only I weren't so out of it!" came the robust 
complaint of the gray-haired man at Mrs. Storey's left. 
The nurse looked musingly at him and Jimmie felt the 
finger of opposition stiffening his spine. All very well 
for the gray heads — perhaps they believed their passion- 
ate longings. Let them try the Canadian army — that 
might not be so discriminating. 

He wondered if the nurse thought that he ought to 
be in it and he bristled again. He remembered Evelyn's 
assurance that if the country had wanted him the country 
would have called him. And the country wasn't going 
to pay his rent. He had gone so far as inquiring; his 
building had no intention of letting soldiers off their 
leases; the management's patriotism went no further 
than a large Red Cross subscription and hanging out a 
flag. . . . His rent would go on, and it would be as 
much as his presumable pay. 

So his secret thoughts ran on, resisting the appeal 
of the nurse's stories. He was not going to be stampeded 
by false shame, or any enthusiasm for splendid girls ! 

Since particulars had been asked for, the nurse gave 
them a few. There was Raoul, whose young wife had 
wheeled him from the hospital with just one arm left 
of all his limbs. There was the boy, the dear little 
Parrot that had mimicked their English so drolly, who 
had so gaily endured such dreary pain, only to sleep 

256 



JIM GOES TO DINNER 



at last under the anaesthetic of his last operation. There 
was old Louis — one was old and nicknamed Grandplre 
after thirty, be it understood! — whose arm tendons had 
been rut by the Boche while lying wounded on the field, 
and whose calloused hands hung forever helpless. And 
there was Deschamps, the artist, whose right hand was 
gone and who was gallantly learning to paint with his 
left. 

"Horrible!" said a sudden voice across the table. It 
was a New York young woman opposite Jim who spoke, 
a Greenwich village apostle of freedom, who preferred 
her own name to her husband's. Her husband was a 
stalwart young painter who sat beside the sweet-voiced 
idealist. 

The New York wife had her hair cut short to signify 
emancipation and she wore a Greekish costume of green 
out of which her bronzed, splendid arms fell with a 
certain awe-inspiring strength. 

Opposite her, the nurse looked very slim and white, 
like the incarnation of things delicate, but indominable. 

"Horrible !" the woman repeated, and the nurse smiled 
sympathetically at her feeling. The hostess had men- 
tioned this New York couple to her as interesting people, 
— the wife did something in either pottery or jewelry — 
and she liked the muscular modeling of her, assuming 
unconsciously, that the splendid arms were busy in war 
relief. As for the young husband, he was not in uniform 
— but perhaps he had a weak heart. 

It still looked strange to the girl from France to see 
any strong-looking young man in mufti, but she took the 
artist and Jim Clarke on faith. 

After her second "Horrible !" the woman in green 
leaned across the table. 

257 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



"Isn't France doing anything," she demanded, "ta 
spare her artists ?" 

"Her artists?" Surprise touched the nurse. "Whyv 
how can she? She needs every one." 

"But for the world to lose all they could do, all they 
could paint — or write!" 

"But they are doing so much more." 

"More— than art?" 

The dark eyes of that nurse could kindle. "Is there 
anything Alan Seeger could have written later," she de- 
manded, "that would have meant more than his death? 
He could write the Rendezvous with Death — and he 
could keep it !" 

But the devotes of art had never heard of the Ren- 
dezvous with Death. Nor had they heard of Alan 
Seeger. They hedged. 

"I suppose," said the lady, shrugging those muscular 
shoulders that the nurse began to perceive bore no 
burdens but those self-imposed, "I suppose that there 
are artists who do not feel that art is everything!" 

"Does any one?" said the nurse naively. Her 
naivete was the best thing about it. "Oh/* she indig- 
nantly repudiated, "I know that the big men don't feel 
that way. You couldn't save them. They have a very 
special love for France. She has always done so much 
for them, more than any other country for its artists, 
and now they feel they have the chance to repay. . . . 
I know that all the first rank men are like that. They 
wouldn't be less than men — than Frenchmen. . . . As 
for the second rankers, it wouldn't matter, would it ?" 

The artist husband looked oddly startled. 

"The value of the artist to the community," began his 
wife dogmatically. 

258 



JIM GOES TO DINNER 



« 



"Aren't you confusing that/' said the nurse, "witH 
the value of the artist to himself ?" 

Well, he is worth more than a butcher!" 
'An artist who would not die for a cause and a 
butcher who would — I wonder!" said the pretty girl 
beside Jim who had been talking across to a young man 
with the ensign's anchor. 

"It comes to what you value most in life," said the 
artist rather loudly. He had a look on his face as if he 
were not insensible to the figure he cut. 

"I should hate to be in danger with an artist of those 
views," the pretty girl murmured to Jim. "Suppose 
we were on a raft with only a little ration left — 



it 



The artist ignored them. "A man must refuse to be 
a catspaw," he stated. "We must resist this duping 
sentiment and play upon the passions. . . . 'The best gift 
that a man can make to his fellow men/" he quoted 
from his familiars, " 'is the gift of his unbending soul/ " 

A queer silence fell. The nurse had a faraway look 
in her eyes as if she were remembering the miles of 
tired, marching men who went out to give their bodies 
to be broken that a greater thing than themselves might 
have everlasting life. . . . 

"Ah, that's pacifism," said the gray-haired man dubi- 
ously. 

The Greenwich village couple gave a simultaneous, 
knowing smile. ... As if it could be anything else! 
they seemed to say. Childish, to doubt their emancipa- 
tion ! They were the ungulled, the ungiving. 

"Did any one see 'Getting Married ?' " offered Mrs. 
Storey, remembering that dearly as her hostess loved an 
intellectual air to her dinner discussions she recoiled, 
possibly, from personal plain speaking, and the sweet- 
voiced woman responded that she had, and every one 

259 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



started off again, with a cautious eye now for thin ice 
and cracks. 

Jim Clarke had said nothing. Later he was silent, 
when the men were lett to their cigars, and the artist 
husband came and sat by him — he was the farthest from 
the naval uniform — and became confidentially expansive 
upon Trotsky and Lenine and their vast idealism, and 
the menace of patriots and realists to the future of 
America and the necessity for ignoring the whole brutal 
thing and living in one's soul until sanity was re- 
established. 

He did not say what remedy he had found for the 
submarine, and for invasion, and for a Germany intent 
upon spoils and murder. 

And suddenly Jim Clarke found his tongue. 

"I am damned," said he very quietly, but with slow, 
corroding emphasis, "I am damned if I am going out 
to fight myself. Why should I bleed and die for any 
huskies who sit at home and paint and scorn me for 
saving them with my skin? . . . Emancipated? Eman- 
cipated from what, in Heaven's name? Responsibil- 
ity. . . . That's what your pacifists are emancipated 
from. . . . They are the let-George-do-it gang, squirting 
out words like a squid to keep themselves under cover." 

A perceptible start ran through the artist; he stirred 
as if to move away. Jim turned a little in his chair and 
faced him. 

"I've respect for the good old Quakers who believed 
in non-resistance through and through. They suffered 
for it. But the present day pacifists gain by their opin- 
ions— they gain safety first. Their doctrine isn't non- 
resistance." 

He eyed the astounded six footer reflectively. "I'd 

260 



JIM GOES TO DINNER 



hate to try to take a dollar away from you," he said 
pleasantly. "It's tackling a bigger proposition than your- 
self that you dislike." 

The other cast an uneasy glance across the table. 
The gray-haired man appeared to have caught something 
unusual in Jim's voice and was glancing interrogatively 
that way. The New Yorker decided that the least 
noticeable course was to affect a nonchalant ease with 
this firebrand and disarm attention. 

"Do you conceive of war as beautiful?" he muttered. 

"Beautiful? Lord, man, aren't we all pacifists in our 
detestation of it? A few chaps enjoy a healthy scrap 
but nobody wants this business. . . . Nobody ever did 
want to die very much. I don't believe our ancestors 
cared about being burned at the stake or stretched on 
the rack or tortured in the Inquisition, but they believed 
they had to testify to the truth that was in them, and 
testify they did, against odds, helpless and despised. . . . 
And yet, they won. They made the world safe for 
truth. . . . They had results, those old dead men, and 
we live in the results. And the slackers of those times, 
they are just as dead to-day, but they accomplished 
nothing but their own safety. It's the same now." 

The pacifist was restraining himself better than lady 
pacifists that Jim had seen, but his eyes were burning 
under their heavy lids. "What of yourself," he mur- 
mured, "since you are using plain words? A slacker? 
You are not in khaki." 

"I am not — yet," said Jim. "I wasn't called and I 
wasn't convinced that I was needed. But I'm not stay- 
ing home to warm my toes and sneer at marching men. 
I know those men are the breastworks between me and 
certain destruction of all I value in this world. . . . 
Mind you," said Jim, "I wasn't hurling words at you for 

261 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



not fighting — I can't blame any man for owning that he 
shirks that — but I can't forgive you for not thinking 
straight — for not feeling straight." 

He drew a long breath. "This war is going to prove 
us, here in America. Either we are chips of the old 
block or we are not. We are either good red blood, or 
a diluted, disintegrating, sewerage infused swamp." 

Thoughtfully he relighted his cigar. 

"I suppose there always have been shirkers," he went 
on, carefully considering it, and unmindful that a silence 
had fallen upon the table save for his quiet, cutting 
voice, "and don't-care people and politicians who sell 
their country and profiteers who make their fortunes — 
my grandfather marched with Sherman in some of those 
paper-soled shoes. I have been permitted to waltz some- 
times with the gilded granddaughter of the contractor 
who furnished them. . . . And Washington had his 
troubles. These things aren't new. And it isn't sur- 
prising that with our open door we have a lot of Bol- 
sheviki and anarchists and I. W. W. and German spies 
who fatten on us like vampires and stab us in the back. 
But it is new that the old fiber should be so lax that 
we assimilate these poisons. 

"I suppose the thing that has held me back was the 
thought that I would be fighting for all these stay-at- 
homes, all the chaps with war titles, smug in their 
swivel chairs," — he thought contemptuously of Preebles 
and his prompt worming into safe authority — "and the 
silly pacifists spouting about assimilating the Germans 
with kindness, and the Jewish scribblers writing for their 
art journals about obstructing the war that must not 
break in upon their consciousness — God, how they must 
long for a present-day equivalent for the old Ghetto 
where they were locked up safely at night and not ex- 

262 



JIM GOES TO DINNER 



pected to do any fighting ! Those chaps— you quoted one 
at dinner — make one forget the Jewish lads who have gone 
out unhesitatingly to meet the enemy of their country, 
just as the German spies blind one to the loyal Germans 
who cut out the hyphen and followed their American 
flag." 

"How you adore a dupe !" said the pacifist. 

"I would rather be a German- Jew in the American 
trenches," Jim mentioned gently, "than the safest Ameri- 
can in Chicago." 

"You have your opportunity," said the pacifist. He 
smiled as he said it and looked sideways at Jim, and Jim 
met the look with understanding. 

"I began by saying I wouldn't bleed and die for 
you," he stated pleasantly. "I was wrong. You make 
me want to get away — into the company of men whose 
lives are counting. ... I believe," he said slowly, "that 
I am indebted to you." 



On the way out of the dining room the gray-haired 
man gripped Clarke heartily by the arm. 

"I could hear a bit of that — gad, you gave it to the 
fellow in fine shape," he said. "I wish my boy Frederick 
could have heard you. He can't stomach a pacifist." 

"Fred's in the army, isn't he, sir?" the ensign stepped 
forward to inquire. 

"Well, not exactly the army — the commissary. Can- 
tonment work. Fred's not exactly trench material," said 
the father hastily. "He is a wonderful executive — more 
use where he is." 

As they fell behind the others the Ensign winke^ 
deliberately at Jim. He had three brothers in the army 
and navy. And he had his own ideas about a young 

263 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



man's use to his country and the commissary which that 
wink communicated. 

"You'd like the sea," he said to Jim. 

"Sea-sick," Jim gave grimly back. "I'm in for a 
trench and the cooties." 



CHAPTER XXXIV] 

THE CLARKES DECIDE 

The next afternoon he left his office early and walked 
home from High School with his father. 

It was hard for him to say what he wanted to; the 
amazing flow of words that had poured through him 
last night had left him as dry as a sand bank. He was 
ashamed now of his fireworks and hesitant about drag- 
ging his feelings out again. 

"Do you want to go ?" Robert Clarke said very quickly, 
and as quickly his son had answered. "No ! I hate the 
whole business. There's a thrill in the flag and the 
sight of guns and uniforms, but there's no romance to 
this war. I'm fed up on it ; I know the whole beastly 
grind beforehand. And I hate the job." 

"Then why " His father paused and began again. 

You're above the draft. That lets you out." 
I know. And yet it lets me in. Because I feel the 
thing so strongly. I want to beat Germany. And I can't 
feel right about letting the other fellows do it as long 
as I haven't any one dependent upon me." 

The elder Clarke hesitated. "I rather thought you 
were going to be married," he suggested. 

"I didn't really think it myself," said Jim. "It's been 
on again and off again and gone again with that affair 
all my life. Now it's over." 

He had indeed written that day to Evelyn, who had 
decided to correspond pleasantly, as friends, that he 
would rather not hear from her. He meant to forget 

265 






THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

her this time in good earnest. No more of these madden- 
ing resurrections ! 

An uncommonly long silence followed these remarks, 
but Robert Clarke was thinking at that moment neither 
about the war nor his son's affairs. He was concerned 
with that pain in his side. He had no mystification about 
it now. It had taken some time and a good many fees 
but he had the word of the best physicians in the city. 

He thought he might keep on teaching for another year 
or two. Possibly he could hold out until the boy came 
back, if the war was over soon. It would be hard, to 
leave Elizabeth alone. He had been careful in the 
matter of insurance, but the cost of living had risen be- 
yond all provision. Jim ought to be there to see that 
things were wisely invested — the world robbed women. 

He was so long answering that Jim grew impatient 
"Well, father?" 

Clarke looked at his son and smiled. A word would 
have kept him — and only his gods knew how he longed 
to speak that word. He was not sure, for the mother's 
sake, whether he ought not to speak it. But life had 
taught him not to be sure of anything. He was cautious 
of duty, suspicious when it coincided with desire. . . . 
"Are we to bring them into the world and tie their 
hands?" he asked himself, remembering, perhaps, that 
his own wrists had not been free of cords. 

"It's your right," he said soberly, "and if you feel it, 
it's your duty, son. Your grandfather went, when 
Lincoln called. . . . Sometimes I've felt that mother and 
we children paid for some of that soldiering, for my 
father gave up a good profession to go, and was never 
strong afterwards, but I came to see that was little 
enough for us to do. The Union cost me my chance at 
college, but I can say that I have never grudged it, Jim. 

266 



THE CLARKES DECIDE 



And often now I think I have been more useful here, 
for Americans are more needed in these secondary 
schools than anywhere in God's green earth. . . . I've 
had a good life. A good wife — none better — and two 
good children. I want you always to remember that 
I've been satisfied, Jim." 

His voice dropped, consideringly, and Jim was silent. 
He was seeing his father's life in a flash of entirety; he 
saw the steadiness of it, the supporting unity, the aims 
that had not lowered nor dulled, and the honesty that 
had kept the faith. . . . Sometimes he had wondered at 
his father's lack of worldly ambition. . . . He felt now 
very humble towards him. His bent shoulders seemed 
Atlas-like, carrying their world, the old, high house, the 
wife, the children. . . . 

"You've done so much," said Jim abruptly. "It's like 
this — I don't feel I've a right to rush off and get killed 
when you might need me at home." 
. The man beside him was shaken with a sudden vision. 
He saw the old house with blinds drawn, saw the long, 
black coffin among the flowers in the front room, saw 
Elizabeth shattered with her grief. ... If Jim knew 
this thing wild horses could not drag him away. After- 
wards, who can tell how bitterly Jim might blame him 
for this silence? 

Well, he would be beyond praise or blame. A man 
can but do his best. And even her son would not suffice 
Elizabeth in that day to come. He could wish that they 
might go together. 

He was so long in answering that his son, with a pang 
of compunction, thought to himself, "He's taking it 
hard." 

"It's all right, Jim, you're free to go," he said at last. 
And I — I'm proud of you for going. . . . There's only 

267 



a 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

one thing. Your mother/' He hesitated and of the 
things that Jim half expected none came but instead 
his father murmured, "I don't want you to worry your 
mother about religion, Jim. I realize how you feel — 
you want the world to be outspoken and frank, altogether. 
But if your mother gets any comfort in an implicit faith 
— and many wise people do, my son, — I don't want you 
to disturb it." 

Jim thought he understood. "I'll give her prayers the 
credit for stopping the bullets," he promised. But he 
added, with his irresistible irony, "Hard on the poor 
chaps who never had any mothers to pray, isn't it ? First 
they have to be orphans, and then killed !" 

It wasn't easy, telling his mother. When she felt that 
he didn't have to go. Womanlike, she saw everything 
at first in agonies of apprehension. 

"Would you have me a coward, mother?" Jim asked. 

"Yes, I would." She gave a gulping little laugh. "I'd 
never have saved the Union, Jim, nor flung the tea over- 
board. Women aren't fighters — not many of us. When 
trouble comes I just want to lock my own in some 
cyclone cellar' till it passes." 

"But all the boys are somebody's sons " 

"That is the horror of it — somebody's sons and some- 
body's fathers and somebody's husbands! And I know 
it has to be — we can't do differently and yet — But, oh, 
Jim, they didn't call you !" 

Suddenly she was crying. Rarely had Jim seen her 
tears. She had been shy and secret about her griefs 
as about her caresses. . . . He was reminded curiously 
enough of the time of all times when he had seen her 
eyes reddened with her hidden tears for him, the day that 

268 



THE CLARKES DECIDE 



Evelyn's engagement was announced. . . . How many 
pains he must have cost her! 

A warm and tender consciousness of her love pene- 
trated him with a sudden deep perception of the undying 
closeness of that bond. His mother and father and him- 
self . . . hearts and destinies linked and inseparable, 
whatever invasions of other desires and other loves might 
come. . . . 

His mother's tears had told him of her surrender to 
the thought. And now, though she had broken down 
with a passion that overwhelmed him she rose to heights 
of pure self-sacrifice that he felt left him far behind. He 
felt capable of going to war. He was not capable of 
feeling about it as she was. 

Even in the midst of their plans he knew a grimly 
humorous pang. The thing was settled! He would 
have to go ! No going back for him now. 

And he said sternly to himself that night, wondering 
how his lean, black-haired image in the glass was going 
to appear in unfamiliar khaki, "This is what comes of 
your waxing wroth at pacifists !" 

Jim entered the second officer's training camp at Fort 
Sheridan. His enlistment developed another sudden 
change in the Clarke family. 

Two nights before he left for camp he entered the 
house rather late, after calling upon the pretty girl of 
the pacifist dinner, and sat down at his desk, packaging 
old letters. 

Considerably later he heard Fanny come in. She had 
been dining with the Rolffs in Lake Forest; Arno had 
returned from the year in the west as manager in one of 
his father's lumber companies and the wedding was 

269 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



expected to be soon. There was a protracted murmur 
of voices ; eventually the closing of the doors. 

Still Fanny did not come upstairs and Jim strolled 
down to seek her. He found her pacing up and down the 
darkened rooms in a caged-wildness manner which be- 
tokened a mind distraught. 

"Where's Arno?" he inquired uselessly, for he had 
heard the doors close. 

Fanny turned and looked at him as he clicked on the 
lights. (One of his contributions to the home had been 
electricity.) 

"Gone," said she, concisely. "Gone — for good." 

"Oh, come — a spat?" said Jim easily. He smiled a 
trifle quizzically at her hot cheeks and fiery eyes. " 'Oh, 
to be wroth with one we love, doth work a madness in 
the brain/ " he murmured. 

"It isn't Arno — so much," Fanny vouchsafed. 

Jim was perplexed. He had an idea that Arno might 
have been up to mischief during that year out west. 
Strongly he had advised Fanny to accede to his demands 
and marry him before he went. 

Well, then ? If it isn't Arno — so much?" 

It's the whole thing — the whole German thing," the 
girl burst out "I can't stand it, and I won't marry into 
it. Not for Arno nor all his money nor all Lake Forest !" 

Still he looked at her in rather a humorous perplexity. 
"I didn't know your patriotic fervor had reached that 
pitch !" 

"I suppose you thought it was all plain sailing for me 
with the Rolff 's !" 

Her words took him aback. To tell the truth he 
had hardly thought at all about Fanny and her affairs, 
except to feel comfortably assured of her own intel- 
ligent capacity. He thought of her now, rather surpris- 

270 



a- 



THE CLARKES DECIDE 



ingly, as a creature like himself of secret hours and 
anxieties. 

"I thought you got along very well with the old people," 
he said. 

"I did, up to the time we got into this war. I could 
make all the allowances in the world, and I thought it 
didn't matter what they felt, as long as things went right 
for Arno and myself. It would all be over some day. 
. . . And Arno used to turn everything off. ... I was 
just wrapped up in our future, and the good times we 
would have, and the lovely home they were going to 
build for us. Of course I thought I was wrapped up in 
Arno," said Fanny with hard lucidity, "and Arno is a 
dear — but it was the other things that dazzled me." 

"You haven't met somebody else, have you?" asked 
Jim uncomfortably. 

"I have not! I've burnt my bridges and I haven't a 
boat." The girl laughed unsteadily. "There's madness 
for you — after a two years' engagement." 

"By to-morrow morning " 



"No more to-morrows. I tell you, it's over. It's fin- 
ished — and I am finished with them. . . . They began 
feeling a little cooler to me when I wouldn't marry Arno- 
and go out west with him, when all that trouble came 
up out there and he had to go out for his father. I was 
surprised at myself for not doing it. But I didn't 
want to. I wanted to be engaged to Arno and finally 
marry him and live in Lake Forest but I would rather 
wait a year than go out there with him — so I urged all 
that about Aunt Callista's being so ill and mother need- 
ing me, and persuaded him to wait. That," said Fanny 
reflectively, "was what made me begin to see that I wasn't 
as romantic as I had thought — but I didn't care." 

271 



J 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

Jim cjiuckled. Fanny, in her moments of revelation, 
always tickled him with her plain speaking. 

"You were a peach of a fiancee," he said derisively. 
"And now ?" 

"Now the Rolffs have gone mad since America got 
into the war. Of course they don't dare say a word out 
loud, but in the home circle—and I was supposed to be 
the home circle. It used to be bad enough about the 
wickedness of America to sell the Allies ammunition — 
as if you couldn't hand a club to a man that was being 
assassinated by an armed bully! — but now it was all 
about the rights of the U-boats, and English lies, and 
the smartness of Bernstorff and the glory of the Kaiser. 
What," Fanny stopped to demand, "is that Kaiser to 
them? Old Rolff left there after his service, without an 
extra dollar but the fifty he needed to pass Ellis Island, 
and this country has given him everything ! And he has 
always called himself an American. Now he's rejoicing 
in the way the U-boats are going to sink our transports 
and told me to tell you not to be such a fool as to go 
feed the sharks " 

"Thanks." 

"And that you need not show yourself there after you 
went to camp, for he would have no uniforms about his 
place ! And I said that where my brother could not come 
I would not, and Arno kept trying to laugh it off, but 
I told Mr. Rolff that Arno might have to wear his coun- 
try's uniform yet, if they raised the draft age, and then 
he did go mad! ... He damned the United States and 
I walked out of the house, and Arno had to walk with 
me to take me home, but he was all stirred up, too, and 
wanted me to back down and smooth it over, and then 
I pitched into him. I told him I wouldn't marry any one 
but an American, and he certainly wasn't an American if 

272 



THE CLARKES DECIDE 



he let his father damn his country in this hour. Oh, 
you don't know how weak and subservient and selfish 
Arno seemed to me when I thought of the way you were 
doing, and the other men I knew — Henry Carpenter 
driving an ambulance for six months and then coming 
back to enlist — and Cousin Arthur's two sons already in 
camp, and both our Annie's nephews gone. No, sir, I 
want a real man." 

A silence followed that declaration. Jim was lounging 
on the couch, hugging his knee; now he looked up 
thoughtfully to where his sister stood, facing him. 

"I suppose you're old enough to know what you're 
doing, Fanny." 

"Plenty." She gave a faint laugh. "Thirty, in 
April." 

"Lord, so you are." He stared at her. "How do the 
girls do it nowadays ? Well — you've taken time to make 
up your mind, and you've held Arno on and oft a long 
time, and it doesn't seem quite fair now to throw him 
over for his father's sins." 

"It's not his father's sins. It's Arno himself — his 
father has shown him up. Oh, I understand you, Jim," 
said his sister with a touch of bitter mirth. "Don't think 
I want to throw over the Rolffs and all they mean for 
me — I just can't help it. I've got to be myself — it's 
in the blood, I guess." 

"I rather think it is. You and I have got a line of 
outspoken, downright old dissenters in us." The young 
man laughed, a little unhappily. "It seems to have done 
the business for both of us, these days." 

He was thinking of Evelyn, and his repudiation of 
her terms . . . and then of his enlistment. 

Later he added, resting his hand lightly on her shoulder 

273 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



as they went up the stairs together, "I don't want you 
to be sorry for this, that's all/' 

He felt Fanny's thin shoulder straighten imperiously 
under his hand. "I don't have to compromise because 
I'm a woman," she retorted. "There are other things in 
this world for me beside marriage." 

He was rebuked, because in his thought he had been 
willing to compromise for her. 



CHAPTER XXXV 

IN KHAKI 

Yet within thirty days Fanny was married. It was 
one of those surprising volte-faces that replenish the 
drama of life, and Fanny carried it off with innocent 
and audacious composure. 

She married Henry Carpenter. He was first lieuten- 
ant now at Plattsburg, where he had taken his preliminary ' 
training before he went to France as an ambulance 
driver, and Fanny went to live near the camp until he 
should go overseas. 

The romance with which Fanny managed to invest this 
affair, and the aura that she draped behind Henry's 
sandy head, occasioned Jim a diverting but irritating 
astonishment There were so many years in which she 
could have married Henry! She had had many oppor- 
tunities to discover these heroic qualities of his ! 

His old chum appeared to Jim as ludicrous in the role 
of a hero as he himself appeared to his own vision. 
Henry, he formulated to himself, waS just a good chap, 
warm-hearted, loyal, unsettled, fond of adventure, and 
ready to risk his neck with the other fellows. . . . But 
after all, he reflected, perhaps that was just what a hero 
was. Perhaps Fanny was right and those qualities one 
took so simply for granted in Henry — his enlistment had 
struck his friends merely as the natural thing for him — 
were the bask qualities of the world's best. 

Henry had made no secret of his feeling for Fanny. 
And perhaps the girl had cared more than she knew* 

275 



I 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

Certainly now her ardor was on fire. She saw Henry 
glorified — indeed his air of military authority was an 
addition! — and she saw him against a background of 
duty and devotion and risk and death and hardship. 

Her heart had always wanted a hero. And cleansed 
of her ambition and her discontent her heart was a holy 
place. 

Jiin had dreaded his work at camp as dull and boring, 
but he found it of the keenest interest to him, demanding 
the utmost of his mind and body. He had passed into 
another life and it was the only life now that counted. 
Peace came to him with this concentration, the peace 
of a decision made and unregretted, and the only anxiety 
he knew was the sharp fear of not deserving a com- 
mission. 

Those moments in field practice, when he had his 
men between a ditch and wall, and a prompt and safe 
extraction was demanded! 

He grew bronzed and hardened, erect of shoulder and 
vigorous of step. Into his sensitive face crept the char- 
acteristic definiteness of the soldier, the hardy readiness 
of swift decision and action. The look at the back of 
his eyes was gone. He had no more traffic with his 
heart's desire. 

Twice he thought of writing to Evelyn. The first 
time was when he won his captaincy. Those fc two silver 
bars made him a boy again. But he rejected that 
thought, flouting his ingenuousness. Evelyn was in Can- 
ada now, at somebody or other's lodge; the papers had 
vouchsafed him that much. 

The second time was when he was ordered East, sud- 
denly, from the cantonment which had succeeded Fort 
Sheridan. That meant France — or he hoped with all his 

276 



IN KHAKI 



heart it did — and for several tempted moments he thought 
it not unfitting to bid her a soldier's farewell. 

But of what use ? More letters — she would be sympa- 
thetic with a departing soldier — and infallibly that soft, 
snaring, reawakening interest. . . . Even now, after 
months of absence, dispassionate as you please and 
coldly clear-sighted, he could not think of her without 
a quickening of the blood. But he had no vivid image 
of her to cherish — there were so many Evelyns! And 
the latest, unfortunately, was that lovely, expensive crea- 
ture, richer blossoming of Rosalie, looking about her 
with that cool, delicately scornful refusal. 

She had not written him since his blunt demand to 
be allowed to forget her. 

He had never been so near his mother and father as 
in those days after his enlistment. Whatever time he 
could spare he spent with them. They talked not so 
much of the war now. He sketched his present work 
for them, and they gave him a rapt attention, but when 
they talked to him it was invariably of the past. 

His mother, especially, appeared reliving it, and the 
many stories, some new, some old but amplified for his 
maturer understanding, built up for him the life that his 
family had lived. 

He saw his mother as a bride, saw her young mother- 
hood with Fanny and himself about her knees, saw her 
maturing years. He perceived, too, the tragedy of Aunt 
Callista's existence; the cruelty of the blow that had 
taken her husband from her, and left her, childless, to 
feed her heart with her sister's family. 

Very clearly Jim saw the life that had been lived in 
that high, white-stoned house, a life of the affections, 
devoted, unselfish, narrow, simple and fine in quality. 

277 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



One Sunday — it happened to be the last one before he 
sailed — he was at church with them, in the old pew 
and place, between his aunt and mother — only now 
Fanny was absent between the mother and the father 
and they sat very close together — and his thoughts went 
back to that Sunday which he had never forgotten, when 
his boy's mind, shocked and tormented with its gross 
discoveries, had grappled unavailingly with life and death 
and sin and heaven and hell and their bewildering the- 
ology. 

It seemed curious to him now, that when danger was 
so sure and death so possible, that its mystery was of so 
slight interest He was not concerned with it at all. If 
it were a long skep — good ! and if it were something more 
— certainly a future life had never been disproved — that 
was also good. He could but do his best and look ahead 
unafraid. 

As for God — that was a mystery! There was Some- 
thing there — some cause, some great Creative beginning. 
. • . There was a Power which when men laid hold of 
it entered into them. Men dedicated to the right grew 
strong in the right. There were eternal truths — justice 
and mercy and love and beauty. It mattered passion- 
ately to him that these truths should prevail. 

A simple theology but sufficing. There were no devils 
in it, nor fear, nor eternal penalties. There was no room 
in it to take refuge in the next world from the wrongs 
of this ; the wrongs must be met and righted now, as far 
as might be. 

He thought these things and gazed about at the familiar 
faces that he had scanned so curiously as a boy. They 
had changed little, but were defined more sharply. Many 
were missing — the West Side was growing drained of 
those New England faces — but many were present who 

278 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



had moved away, drawn back on Sundays by the old 
associations, the old meeting place of friends. 

In his thoughts he gave that Quaker name to the 
church, thinking how well it served. 

Sentiment was strong in him that day; his heart re- 
sponded warmly to the affection of those who crowded 
about him welcomingly. 

A former teacher slipped a Bible in his hand. "I 
wish you would carry that over your heart, Jim. It 
might stop a bullet." 

He laughed as he promised, little thinking how true 
it would all come. 



CHAPTER XXXVI 

AT THE FRONT 

His only dread had been that a submarine might get 
him before he had a chance to fight, but he ceased to 
entertain the thought after he had looked out upon the 
convoys, with the waspish destroyers circling like hounds 
for a lost trail. The cold gray zigzag across the Atlantic 
was uneventful and on a winter day, with snow flakes in 
the blowing wind, the transports slipped within the dim 
outlines of the harbor, the massed troops upon the shore 
sang the Marseillaise, the bugles rang out the Star- 
Spangled Banner, and the men felt the soil of France 
beneath their feet. 

"Now lead us to 'em," said a rollicking young lieuten- 
ant, who swore sorrowfully when told he would be led 
to a camp for more training, and not immediately to the 
trenches he demanded. 

Those first weeks were very far from trench life. 
Such a welcome the French gave them! Their contin- 
gent was one that was paraded through Paris and the 
crowds and the flags, the shouting and enthusiasm, were 
all heart-warming to the men, but more touching still 
was the greeting that every little village gave them, the 
quick smiles on sad faces, the shy offering of simple 
gifts and flowers, the thin, piping cheers of the little 
children for the Americans ! 

Even under the wintry sky France was beautiful to 
them, and the little villages themselves, thatched and 
white-washed or bricked and tiled, snugly gathered on 

280 



AT THE FRONT 



cobbled streets beneath the shadow of the solitary church 
made vivid the tragedy of those other villages turned 
to smoking ruins. 

And the French people! They learned to know a 
little of the French, those weeks in camp, and their first 
lively friendship deepened to understanding and a sober 
admiration. 

"Some people!" said a stocky young sergeant to Jim 
reflectively one night. "The way they stand up to it! 
. . . We were all up against the same thing," he went 
on, "but the French were out in the front yard getting 
run over, while we had time to come on in from the hay 
fields. And at that, I think some of us had time for a 
nap in the hay — eh, Captain?" 



They got to the trenches at last. It was a wet night 
— they were all wet nights and wet days, that terrible, 
cold, bone-chilling winter — and the men marched with 
mud clinging to each leg, dragging like a drowning hand. 
But they went forward hurriedly, to the booming of 
the guns ahead, to a crossroads where a major on horse- 
back, emerging from the dark, sent them to left or right 
with low, quick orders. 

The mud grew thicker and heavier, weighting each foot 
that lifted heavily from it, and setting suckingly about 
each foot that was lowered into it, but the men were 
not so impatient of it now. Ahead of them the flare 
of star shells lighted the sky. And out of the night 
came other men, passing them, going out. 

Jim looked at them curiously; he could catch nothing 
but the pallid outlines of their faces and the whites of 
their eyes ; they moved wearily but with enduring steadi- 
ness, their heavy breathing lost in the squelching of the 
mud. 

281 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

This thing that was so new to him — how many nights 
had those French moved back and forth upon these cross- 
roads ! 

Jim came to the trenches with that foreknowledge that 
makes Gibraltar so familiar to tourists. The crumbling 
eafth, the soggy mud, the yellow flood beneath the 
squelching duckboards, the firing step, the sand bags, 
the dugouts, the barbed wire, the desolate upheavals of 
waste land, these were familiar to him from book and 
picture and he looked upon them with a grim sense of 
coming home. 

All that first night he nervously patrolled his trenches, 
and often stood staring out into the dark where lay the 
enemy. There, opposite him now, were the men who 
had turned Belgium into a shambles and France into a 
flame, the butchers of Europe, who had torn fifty million 
men from their homes and set them at this business of 
killing. 

Tools, perhaps, but apt tools. 

He knew something, now, in these weeks in France, of 
those men's work. 

He was quite simply glad that he was there, ready to 
oppose them. There was no fear in his soul, although 
he thought very humorously that very likely his knees 
would quake and his throat go dry before the first en- 
counter. 

He flinched involuntarily now when a shell whined 
towards him, and stiffened to strained attention at each 
star light that went up, shedding its radiance upon the 
night. One part of his mind was alertly concerned with 
the meaning of these, but the other part seemed released, 
thinking other things. 

And quite suddenly he thought of Evelyn, not the 
woman of his last meeting but of the girl Evelyn, his 

282 



AT THE FRONT 



love. That image had not come to him for months, but 
now— curious bestowal of No Man's Land! — he saw, 
clear as of old, wistful-eyed and laughing-lipped, that 
young face touched with the innocent wonder of love. 
A bitter pang went through him. What a life of love 
they could have known, if the world had not caught 
her and tamed her! 

And then he thought that it was for her safety that 
he was fighting, and for millions of women like her, and 
his mind went on to the other men who had fought here 
in his place, those first men who were gone. 

"The Mercenaries," some one had called that army. 
His lips moved and to himself he quoted Housman softly : 



"'These, in the day when Heaven was falling, 

The hour when Earth's foundations fled, 
Followed their mercenary calling 
And took their wages and are dead. 

Their shoulders held the Heavens suspended; 

They stood, and Earth's foundations stay: 
What God abandoned, these defended, 

And saved the sum of things for pay.' " 

It was good to have taken their work upon him ! 



CHAPTER XXXVII 

A FRIEND INDEED 

He found war a grim and nonchalant business ; he had 
been prepared for the grimness but not for nonchalance, 
and the jovial hardiness with which they all settled into 
the life at the Front. The humor of his men was of all 
degrees and kinds — he had Slavs, Swedes, Danes, Poles, 
Italians, Irish and German-born among them — but it all 
dealt in the same rude spirit with the fundamental facts 
of their existence. 

Danger they were contemptuous of but towards death 
they were yet respectful and the first fatality among 
them — two youngsters caught by a shell on the steps of 
Jim's own dugout — awakened sobriety and a fermenting 
resentment. 

"We'll give the Huns an extra punch for them boys," 
Jim heard one doughboy promising. 

And some nights later that same doughboy brought 
back two captives as his share in a patrol of No Man's 
Land. "One for me and one for that poor HI' Bill that 
got busted," the captor proudly explained. And the 
epaulets of that prisoner went home to Bill's family. 

His men were an unending joy to Jim and a deep 
responsibility: his anxious care for them earned the 
nickname of "Remember-Boys," from his dinning into 
them the need for care with gas masks, grenades, duds, 
and other little incidents of their existence. 

For days life was all a succession of "first times," the 
first patrol, the first prisoners, the first losses, the first 

284 



A FRIEND INDEED 



German raid, the first time over the top, but soon the 
succession of experience merged all the times in a swift- 
running stream from which it was hard to separate the 
details. 

But the first going over the top Jim never forgot ; he 
had brought to that a strain of anticipation which charged 
every aspect with an odd mechanical familiarity, but 
which had given him no prevision of that horrible feeling 
in the pit of his stomach at the actual blowing of the 
whistle, nor of the peculiar sensation when racing over 
the hummocky waste, that he was standing futilely still, 
arriving nowhere and that it was the ground which was 
flowing back beneath his feet, like a grotesque sideshow 
at White City. And then the amazing suddenness with 
which he found himself actually at the Hun's trenches! 

A half hour before he had been reflecting very soberly 
that within the hour he was either going to kill his man 
or be killed, and he had felt a distinct diffidence as to 
the outcome; now at the moment of conflict he knew 
no hesitation whatever. He caught the gleam of the 
man's steel and with the instinctive dexterity of his 
training he dodged, lunged — and knew the horrors of 
the withdrawal of the bayonet from the fallen body. 

He was conscious of hoping that the man had been 
one of the baby-killers of Belgium. But it was the inno- 
cent with the guilty now ; these men were all standing for 
that devil's work. He felt the fingers of another on his 
throat, and he wrenched himself from the throttling hold 
to strain, locked and grunting, back and forth in the 
slime, till the other lost his footing and they went down. 

As he staggered to his feet, free at last, his rising 
form was tackled by an over-zealous American, and for 
a moment he nearly met one of his own bayonets. 

"Gawd help me, I nearly did in 'Remember-Boys,' " the 

285 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

remorseful doughboy related later. "And say, he gave 
me a mouthful !" 

And then, the trenches cleared of fleeing figures, a 
handful of captives collected from dugouts, the boys went 
racing back, and the first raid was over. 

But it had imprinted on Jim Clarke sensations which 
he knew would last his lifetime. He wondered if ever 
he would grow old and calloused and chuckling toward 
them as he had seen veterans of the Civil War to their 
reports of winging Johnny Reb. 

Well, Johnny Reb and Johnny Yank were all one to- 
day! South and North, East and West, American-born 
and American-made, they answered cheerily to Yank and 
damned the one that called them Sammy. 

"If them newspaper boys think they can set back and 

think up a label to paste on us !" muttered the same 

doughboy who had brought back the prisoner for "poor 
HI' Bill." 

"O' course," he added, "some of the Frenchies say it 
because they been told it and they don't know no dif- 
f runt — but we'll learn 'em better." 

And learn them he did, at each billet out of the 
trenches, earnestly and unwearyingly, and the little chil- 
dren could be heard correcting each other anxiously, in 
their young eagerness to please those Americans, "Pas de 
Sammees, Jean; faut dire Yank!*' 

It took but days to make them accustomed to war ; in 
weeks it was a familiar monotony, and a few months 
made Jim feel a veteran. 

It was March and it seemed as if all the guns in the 
world were roaring from the German lines. Great crater 
holes pocked the trenches; breastworks that had been 
the heart-breaking work of hours were demolished in 

286 



A FRIEND INDEED 



minutes; working parties were kept busy repairing the 
barbed wire. Steel enough for a Woolworth Building 
had been hurled upon their sector, a straggling line be- 
tween two French salients. 

Offensives and the rumors of offensives came down the 
wind with the guns. 

A furious raid caught one elbow of the American 
trenches one night, and prisoners were taken; in Jim's 
section the signal was given for a counter raid, and under 
cover of the darkness the men, faces and hands blackened 
against the illumination of the incessant star lights, 
swept out across the gun-churned waste. 

Jim had a grenade in his hand; he remembered one 
instant on the edge of the Hun trench, hurling the 
grenade, then his foot slipped and he pitched downwards. 
The crack of doom seemed to sound in his ears and 
oblivion sucked him in. 

A darkness that crackled and sputtered with little 
lights, a darkness that revolved, shot with streaks of red, 
and the rushing of fierce winds in his ears. Then spots 
and streaks blurred and brightening and an intolerable 
fury of light beating in upon him. 

He moved his head and heard his own voice moan from 
a far distance. 

Then a blow in his ribs. . . . Again. . . . Some one 
was kicking him. Another voice, not his own, a voice 
harsh and guttural, was rasping out a "Vorwaerts, vor- 
waerts !" 

A sickening horror swept him His veins ran cold; 
his head cleared of every sensation but the realization 
that he was a German prisoner. 

It was one of those overwhelming, irremediable hor- 

287 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



rors that might happen to any other man, but not to one- 
self! 

He rose stumbling; he was disarmed and his pockets 
were turned inside out. A wise precaution to have left 
his papers with a friend ! 

His guard with the bayonet was ordering him on and 
Jim plodded dizzily forward down the trench in which 
he had been lying to a dugout door. A squatting guard 
stared eagerly as he stooped and scraped his way past 
him, his heavily breathing captor at his side. 

It was a deep passage leading into a room where three 
officers sat at table over some prints. Candles stuck into 
bottles flung their flickering light upon the faces. 

"Na!" said the man facing Jim, with heavy satisfac- 
tion. Jim comprehended that he was expected, and the 
guard had been acting under orders. He was a big man, 
with a heavy-jowled face and small, sharp eyes gleaming 
out under baggy pouches. The two other men were 
younger. 

The one nearest Jim had a sallow, bony face, with pro- 
truding teeth and nose, and receding chin and forehead, 
suggesting the caricatures of the Crown Prince. He 
turned to the American and spoke in excellent English. 

"So they have not taught you Americans to salute — 
eh, Captain? Is that little task left also for the Ger- 
mans ?" 

With his left arm Jim touched his right shoulder. 
"Out of commission," he replied. He had thought of 
that when stumbling along the trench. If they accepted 
it — and they were not apt to give him prompt medical 
inspection — it might leave him the use of his arm for a 
few minutes more. 

"Use the left, then," snapped the officer, and Jim 
saluted with his left. 

288 



A FRIEND INDEED 



The young German turned to the big man who was evi- 
dently the Herr Oberst in command of this sector and 
received his instructions, then came back at Jim with a 
volley of questions. 

"So you are really an American? A miserable busi- 
ness for you — you shall pay the bill for all this, now! 
And what name? Company? Division? How long 
have you fine fellows been there in the mud — and how 
many of you ?" 

Slowly Jim gave his name and company, racking his 
aching head for inspiration. He could refuse informa- 
tion, of course, but would there be any benefit in a lie? 
If he quadrupled their strength? Then the Germans 
might rally numbers for an attack. If he minimized it? 
. . . The event seemed to him incalculable. 

He took refuge in ignorance. He said he had but 
just arrived at the front. 

"Where are your camps? Your routes ?" 

He was silent. 

The blond underling leaned forward. "Find your 
memory, I advise you. A little cold steel or hot iron — 
there is nothing like that to help the tongue." 

A grim smile played about the corners of Jim's mouth. 
He felt his helplessness to the hilt, but he felt, too, the 
thing that must have inspired countless of helpless cap- 
tives before him, the stiffening antagonism to the captors 
that made resistance a personal satisfaction. 

"You confirm our impression of you, sir," he replied. 

There was a rattle of German; the Oberst was de- 
manding and receiving a translation, and then he half 
rose menacingly, leaning across the table, his lips rolled 
back from blunt teeth that caught the candle's light, and 
spat out a flood of mingled German and broken English. 

'Madness, insolent madness! Schweinhund! You 

289 



«i 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

dare to speak of the German people. . . . You see. . . . 
Wait. . . . We stick you like pigs. And you — you will 
be rotten!" 

"Remarkable beast," thought Jim dizzily. "Extraor- 
dinary pleasantry — to offer a prisoner." 

The room was swimming curiously about him. The 
head of the Oberst was like a magic jack-o'-lantern, now 
swelling to enormous size, now dwindling to insignifi- 
cance. The ground appeared rocking under him and the 
voices were muffled to a distent humming. 

Savagely he told himself that he must not faint — not 
before these men. If only he had a chair. . . . They 
must have seen the blood running down his head. And 
there was something queer about his side. . . . 

Some one kicked him. That must have been after he 
had fallen. There was another blow — this time on his 
head. Some one had booted up his head then let it fall 
back. 

When again he recovered consciousness he was out 
in the mud, drenched with a cold rain that was falling. 
He opened his mouth to catch the drops. For all his 
shivering he was intensely thirsty. He stirred; another 
man was crouched beside him, muffled in the rags of a 
coat, nursing his arm. Another captive? Jim sat up; 
the guard started up behind him and with his boot urged 
them both to rise. 

They seemed to be somewhere behind the German 
trenches and the man was taking them to the rear. 

The other prisoner was French; Jim had one word 
from him before the German interposed his bayonet. It 
was his right arm which hung dangling, and Jim re- 
membered to let his own appear injured. They were 
moving down a communication trench and the soldiers 
here, dark shapes in the gray wet, drew back to let them 

290 



A FRIEND INDEED 



by. They moved on endlessly, past other trench open- 
ings, then over a morass of mud into clearer ground. 
The unmistakable smell of ether and rent flesh indicated 
a first aid station. 

"Fall !" breathed Jim inaudibly to his companion, and 
suddenly the Frenchman lurched and stumbled to one 
knee. The guard rushed over him, bayonet out to prod, 
and in that instant Jim was on him, wrenching the 
weapon from his grasp. He had the strength of des- 
peration and it served his need. He rose to his feet and 
over the body of the dead German the two prisoners for 
an instant eyed each other with a new and desperate 
hope, then Jim dropped beside the fallen man and 
stripped his uniform from him. 

He had wondered, in his old lifetime, how men could 
do these deeds, and now he knew the fearful compulsion 
that urged them to extremities. He clothed himself in 
the man's uniform and gave his own to the Frenchman, 
who bundled it under his coat ; he drew down the helmet 
over his head where he felt a thin stream of warm blood 
still trickling through the stiffened cakes, and he gripped 
the German bayonet in his hands. 

Then he reflected a swift instant, and tore up the man's 
shirt, red with his blood, and bound it about his own face 
and jaw. That would account for his silence, and his 
college German must suffice for a little understanding of 
what was said to him. 

In desperate haste the Frenchman aided him to pack 
the body over with mud, then the two turned, and after 
a whispered parley, the Frenchman limped ahead, still 
nursing that arm through which Jim had seen the splin- 
tered bone protruding, while Jim plodded after, imitating 
their dead guard, threatening with the dripping bayonet. 
Back towards the front they went, but circling to the 

291 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



right to bring them to other trenches than those they had 
traversed. The rain had ceased now, and the clouds 
were dispersing, with faint gleams of paling stars. Dawn 
could not be far away. 

The Frenchman had found a communication trench; 
they slipped swiftly into it and hurried on, passing a file 
of Germans coming out. Straight ahead Jim drove his 
man, and his air of going about his business brought its 
usual result, for no one detained or questioned him. 

The danger would come with the forward trenches and 
very cautiously they passed the openings to these. A 
narrow cut zigzagged off to the left ; they slipped along it, 
feeling each step, listening warily, and caught, ahead of 
them, a sudden squelching sound. 

The fugitives scrambled up a bank and crouched among 
the sandbags while below them a file of men went by, 
evidently a working squad back from repairing the wire. 

When sure that the last man had passed they slid 
down again and stole on. The trench ended in a welter 
of sandbags through which they emerged in open ground. 
But the wire! Evidently it had just been repaired. 
Snake-wise they wormed and wriggled, fearful of every 
sound they made, crawling painfully under entanglements 
that lacerated the flesh, leaving their blood on the barbs, 
lying flat, with buried faces, at each star shell. 

Beyond the wire at last, then on across that endless, 
crater-marked mud, crawling, crawling, with those rigid 
pauses. Thirst was tormenting Jim and his head was 
agonizing. The Frenchman had but one arm to use and 
with all his failing strength Jim dragged him on. 

His chief fear was that they were traveling in a circle. 
The stars were withdrawn from a sky paling with intima- 
tions of dawn and their landmarks were only looming 
shadows. When at length his hand closed on barbed 

292 



A FRIEND INDEED 



wire his heart sank with the tormenting fear that they 
were back at the German lines, but there was nothing to 
do but try to go through. 

He crawled on and on without finding an opening. 
The Frenchman lay very still beside him now, and Jim 
turned back to lift him, but it was more than he could 
manage and he dropped back beside his comrade and 
lay as still as he. 

It was a Red Cross dog snuffing anxiously his quiet 
form that brought him to dim consciousness of life. He 
stirred; that dog must not think him dead! But the 
wise creature was searching for something to bring back. 
Jim was bareheaded and there was no cap to seize, but 
he found a strip left of the bloodied shirt that Jim had 
bound about his jaw and made off with that. 

Would he get back in safety? And was it credible 
that he was wise and plucky enough to guide the relief 
party back to that spot ? 

These thoughts held Jim to consciousness for moments 
that he thought were hours. Then he slipped back into 
merciful darkness again and the stretcher bearers found 
their captain unconscious and unstirring, beside the form 
of his French comrade. 

He did not know when he regained his trench. Ijte 
was spared the agonies of that slow trip back from the 
front. When at last, in hospital, he opened his eyes, 
the nurse bending over, thought that he was delirious, 
for all she could make of his mutter was the phrase, 
"Good dog!" 



CHAPTER XXXVIII 

PARIS AND A PURITAN 

"Mon brave, but you have the luck!" Raoul Tinseau 
was saying gaily. "To be 'stuck/ as you say, in Paris — 
what chance! For me, I have but two days. Oh, the 
luck of you !" 

Jim Clarke smiled a little doubtfully. After thirty-six 
hours he was wearied with the loneliness of the Paris 
that he knew and bored with the details of the staff posi- 
tion that had been assigned to him there, until the healing 
of his head should better satisfy the tediously particular 
surgeon who kept him from the front. 

"I am sorry I cannot change with you," he told the 
young Frenchman. 

Tinseau laughed his gay derision. "Oh, to be sure! 
The seduction of our dear trenches! The romance of 
war! . . . But I comprehend your mood," he went on 
in an altered tone. "This is not your New York or 
your Chicago and there is no solitude like the solitude 
of cities. And all these kind ones who are so welcom- 
ing " he waved his hand vaguely in the direction of 

the American Soldiers and Sailors' Club in the Rue 
Royale, "these are not old friends — it is always a begin- 
ning and a strangeness, riest-ce pas?" 

Jim nodded, a little gloomily. Raoul had penetrated 
his mood. The solitude of the cities — always a begin- 
ning and a strangeness. Homesickness was upon him, 
and a fierce longing for his own. He would have been 

294 



PARIS AND A PURITAN 



glad to return to the hospital to see the friendly, accus- 
tomed faces. 

It would not have been so bad if he had heard from 
home, but he had been months now without letters. 
The American mail had been overwhelmed, he knew, and 
there had been a shortage of French cars for it, and in 
his own case the delay must have been increased because 
of his withdrawal from the Front, and a hurried change 
of hospitals — the first he was in had been bombed. v 

He pictured his mail as trailing him hopelessly from 
the Front to hospital after hospital before it could be sent 
on to Paris. And by then, he darkly concluded, he 
would be back at the Front. Well, at least they were 
hearing from him at home ! 

His French acquaintance was looking at him with eyes 
of understanding sympathy. Suddenly he muttered an 
apology and darted ahead to a girl who had just turned 
the corner before them. 

Jim heard her laugh of pleasure at the meeting and for 
a few moments the two stood in talk while he loitered 
before the kiosk of a little news vendor, then Tinseau 
was back beside him, his glance beaming. 

"Now that is fortune, my friend. I was just to call 
upon her — her telephone is taken out — and behold her! 
A nice girl, that one. . . • We are to go to a dinner 
to-night, a merrymaking, you understand." 

He hesitated and looked at Jim. "Will you not come ? 
There will be a girl for you, if you know no one to ask 
— Antoinette will arrange. Come, let us divert you 

Jim looked at him smilingly. 

f I should be mortally afraid " 

f No ? Not of a very sweet young girl ?" 



» 






Jim's smile broadened, even as he shook his head. 

295 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

"You're a brick to suggest it. But I should be an 
outsider " 

The young officer shrugged. "As you will. . . . But 
it might raise your spirits. . . . Is it that you are a devil 
of a Puritan then?" 

Jim's eyes reflected the other's twinkle. "Not even the 
devil of a one!" 

"Eh, bien, mes compliments! But you need' not 
tremble. I could warn the ladies — the thing has not been 
unknown. I, myself, last winter, took a delightful 
American to a dinner that was — of an intimacy, you 
know. He informed me explicitly that he was married 
and of an incredible loyalty. ... I gave him to a charm- 
ing girl who spoke a little English, and she was discre- 
tion itself, that girl !" 

Tinseau paused to laugh. "At intervals," he resumed, 
"she leaned towards him, very soothingly like a bonne 
mire to a timid child and said in her best English, 'I 
undairstand, my friend, I undairstand V and patted his 
arm most reassuringly. His face was the color of a 

plum but he laughed Well, you see, she was keeping 

her word. And I could find such a marvel for you — 
though, indeed, a dash of love and frolic before the dust 
of the end, that is not too uninviting, is it?" 

Jim laughed out though he persisted in his refusal. 

"I have a grouch," he said. "I don't know how to 
explain that in French. A mood, perhaps " 

"The blue moon hunger?" said the other lightly. 
"That is what we call it when one— eh, I cannot explain 
that in English." 

They sauntered a little while together, long enough to 
hear once the distant, muffled crash of a shell from Big 
Bertha dealing its ruin on some unknown spot, and then 

296 



PARIS AND A PURITAN 



Tinseau with a last word of good cheer, turned off to an 
appointment. 

For a moment Jim was tempted to recall him and ac- 
cept that invitation. It was not only homesickness that 
oppressed him; he was stirred with restlessness, with 
vague, agitated longings that came perhaps of his new 
freedom and the new spring — it was April — and the blue 
sky and the leafing trees and the soft airs. 

It was more than a mild melancholy ; it was poignant, 
intolerable ache, a rebellion at the loneliness, the unemo- 
tional starkness of his life. 

It was not a new mood; it had begun in those long 
hours of convalescence in the French hospital to which 
he had been transferred after the bombing of the other. 
There he had watched the visiting women, wives and 
sweethearts, tender, solicitous, living in those moments 
of reunion, or if no visitors were near enough to come, 
there were always letters, bulky, affectionate packets, en- 
closing the pictures of some girl or some little child that 
the men like to pass from bed to bed. 

There were some who had even an embarrassment of 
these letters. 

"The devil, what shall I say to them all!" one mis- 
chievous-eyed pailu used to exclaim: 

Jim felt like one of the men from the occupied dis- 
tricts to whom no letters ever found their way. And, 
even if news came from his home, that was not quite 
the same, after all, as these other ties. . . . 

There was a curious ache at his heart. He felt frus- 
trated, defeated. Life — that is, love, had passed him by. 

And with the bitterness with which he felt this, he 
felt, too, that afternoon, that ineffable hunger after love. 
He supposed it was that which had got into him, which 
tormented him at the sight of these other couples to- 

297 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



gether, which made even the beauty about him a strange 
pain. The soft investiture of sunlight on the old, gray 
fagades, the indescribable pale plum of the tree boles in 
the park, the curves of the Arc de Triomphe framing a 
wash of blue sky, the very breath of spring itself, stealing 
to him on the violets of the flower vendors in the Made- 
leine, held a soft, haunting trouble. 

The golden hair of a child that he passed reminded 
him of Evelyn — but he found suddenly that he could not 
bear to think of Evelyn. 

The streets were darkening; he looked at his wrist 
watch. Six-twenty; that meant that Big Bertha had 
stopped and one could breathe freely for the children till 
another day — unless, perhaps, there was a moon to-night. 

Down one street he could hear the echoes of American 
jazz music and his mood led him to turn sharply away — 
it was not jolly boys he wanted! Across a corner a 
stream of refugees was being hurried from the Gare du 
Nord, and he turned abruptly back from that, too — he 
could bear no more of their dazed eyes, their pitiful 
possessions, their poor, heart-breaking children. 

Restlessly he wandered on, bitterness gaining on him 
with every step. 

He called himself a fool for having rejected Tinseau's 
suggestion. What had the chap said — something about 
love and frolic before the dust of the end ? . . . What a 
prig of an outsider he was, a drifter, an onlooker of other 
men's lives! What, in truth, had been his own? He 
had studied a little and worked a great deal; he had 
kissed one girl and hoped to marry her; not twice but 
thrice had the cup of expectation been dashed from his 
lips and a brew of sorrow substituted. Hope and de- 
spair — and then enduring frustration. He had known 
the thrill of war, the sudden glory of danger and the 

298 



PARIS AND A PURITAN 



sick grip of fear, but these were but flashes in the steady, 
heart-sapping monotony of the game. 

A poor story, he thought it in that moment. A narrow 
tow-path of experience for an eager man's spirit. 

In the dusk, ahead of him, a slim figure was pausing, 
looking back with that indefinable air of expectation. 
Defiantly Jim quickened his pace. If adventure held out 
her gleaming hands again—: — ! 

She was very young. Her face was smoothly white 
beneath its powder, and her lips were not too reddened. 
There was something engaging in her smile and the 
curves of the little face she tilted towards him. 

The encounter — hampered by Jim's halting French — 
was achieved in phrases of simplicity. 

"Monsieur the officer appears a stranger . . . desirous, 
perhaps, of a friend ?" 

It was exactly what monsieur the officer desired. He 
wished a companion to dine with him and give him a 
little of her brightness. 

"Monsieur was very kind." . . . The girl appeared to 
hesitate, although Jim could perceive that the mention of 
dinner had produced a discernible effect. But evidently 
she felt hesitation was her due. 

With pathetic proudness she explained herself. She 
was not one who could be approached in the streets, no — 
but monsieur was an officer and a stranger, one of those 
dear Americans. And then she was always impulsive! 
What was the heart then for, if not to follow? If it 
was but a whim, well, that was life. 

She could wrap all the pride about it she wished, Jim 
reflected. He would like to idealize her a little himself. 

She came. She named a restaurant, rather a bright 
place for the times, where French officers were dining and 
where there was a girl or two to whom she spoke in 

299 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

■ ■ ■* 

passing, and in the restaurant she had sudden new airs 
of possession, of .laughter, of touches on his arm. 

He ordered a good meal with native champagne. They 
ate; they drank; very valiantly the girl talked and 
laughed, trying hard to infuse that brightness ; .ito the 
affair of which he had spoken. 

Jim had a sense of painful inadequacy. His French 
could grapple with the emergencies of camp, but not 
with the intimacy of this tete-a-tete; he more than sus- 
pected that she saw through his pretenses of understand- 
ing the little French stories she told. The war was his 
only background and of the war he said little and she 
less. 

"That horrible war — when will it finish?" she sighed, 
with a fatalistic shrug. 

She was really very pretty, and it was a prettiness that 
appealed to him with its soft unobtrusiveness of charm. 
Her eyes were hazel, with gold lights ; her mouse-colored 
hair, smoothly banded across her brow and ears beneath 
a flimsy black hat, displayed the lovely outlines of a 
small head. Her arms appeared a little meager through 
the black transparencies of her sleeves and their very 
meagerness was attractive and young; Jim hated volup- 
tuousness. 

She could not have been at this business long, for her 
eyes had not the look of the women seen in the streets of 
Chicago ... the darting stealth, the straight, boring 
defiance of those who face a world against them; this 
girl had a softer look with something of the humorous 
gaiety that takes life with a shrewd tolerance and under- 
standing. 

He wondered intensely about her. He asked her about 
herself. She shrugged with a faint lift of the upper lip 
as if this sentimental curiosity of men amused her. 

300 



PARIS AND A PURITAN 



She was free, she assured him, and independent, for 

she sewed for the soldiers in an establishment not far 

.from where they had met. She lived alone. . . . She 

was not of the metier — she was very anxious to establish 

that. 

"One must have these instants of romance," she sighed, 
doing her best, poor stray, to throw a tinsel glamor about 
the sordidness. 

It gave Jim a remarkably queer feeling to reflect that 
this girl was his. He was master of her next hours. 
She must play odalisque to his pasha. 

He felt a furtive, mounting excitement. If one could 
only take this pretty toy brutally in the arms and kiss 
it . . . but this pretense of treating it as a human thing, 
with conversation — conversation in halting, utterly inade- 
quate French ! 

He even heard himself suggesting idiotically that 
Paris was gayer before the war ! But this imbecility at 
least unlocked a flow of narration. The girl began to 
talk, at first of glittering events, then, insensibly she 
drifted into that reminiscence he had tried to prompt 
before. 

She was the daughter of a little merchant, quite nicely 
educated — monsieur could see for himself! But the 
father had inconveniently married again, and she had 
been sent as apprentice to a hard shop . . . she had been 
put upon . . . tljere were difficulties at home and no 
dowry — in short, a very good friend had taken her pro- 
tection upon himself. He had been a most respectable 
man (with a wife who remained always in the provinces), 
and he had placed her at once among her own furniture, 
so that life with him, as Jim caught it from her quick, 
clipped sentences, had been an utterly roseate existence. 

301 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

The man had been a good deal older but she had been 
very fond of him. 

"We were most domestic, do you comprehend?" she 
said with a sudden, happy laugh of reminiscence that 
showed Jim what an utterly mechanical product he had 
been hearing. "Once every week we went to my uncle 
and aunt — but never to that step-mother !" 

His own relatives were not above dropping into their 
little flat, Jim gathered — if they were male relatives. 

Then the war and his call %o colors, and his death. 
She had tried to sell the furniture — but Paris was not 
buying furniture — and had gone to live with the aunt 
whose husband was also at war, and both women had 
done sewing, but the aunt had quickly become poitri- 
naire. . . . 

Here another friend entered the story, a dashing young 
officer with all the graces, stationed at first at Paris. 
Life became simpler. Then the officer went — at Neuve 
Chapelle. The aunt died. And the girl was drifting 
now, Jim gathered, piecing out with the sewing; selling 
herself casually, but hoping always for some anchor of 
attachment. 

"Of course, one has a heart, one remembers, mon- 
sieur," she said — that was when she was speaking of the 
young officer — "but that is no reason for crying — no? 
When one is young one must live ; the heart must have 
its way. And when I saw your face, my American, smil- 
ing at me in the dusk — ah, what black brows you have, 
and what deep eyes !" 

It was a pity, Jim thought, that he could not play up 
to her, but his heart felt curiously heavy. While her 
story had made her human to him it had depressed him, 
and neither her smiles nor the champagne gave him any 
intoxicating joy. 

302 



PARIS AND A PURITAN 



Mechanically he responded to the pressure of her foot 
beneath the table and felt she must have divined what a 
chump he was at this business and be despising him. 

They found a cab, by some miracle, an antedeluvian 
affair with a pre-historic horse and wound creakingly 
through the black streets to the address which she had 
given. 

"I am not chez moi," she sighed. "I have but the one 
room. Ah, if you knew what an agreeable place I kept, 
monsieur, and how well I cooked 1" 

It was not the line of conversation that Jim had been 
led to expect from a Parisian cocotte, but he reflected 
that he had drawn his bow at random and this girl was 
no professional, but the young and respected mistress of 
a man with whom she would yet be living in domesticity 
if the war had not uprooted them. 

She nestled to him in the cab and he put his arm about 
her. Her head sought his shoulder. She used a vague, 
rather pleasant scent. She had taken off her hat and 
he concluded that she scented her hair. Such pretty 
hair, smooth and soft ... he touched it lightly. 

But he felt queerly cold and heavy. The life had gone 
out of his mood — it had burst like a bubble at the first 
prick of reality. April had challenged him, the spring 
winds had run their caressing fingers through his hair 
till he had thought to crown himself with vine leaves 
and dance like a mad faun — and instead he sat rigidly in 
a cab, alien to the lure of this soft creature nestling at 
his side, his heart filling with the distillation of strange 
sadness. 

What the deuce, now, was the matter with him ? Was 
he not as other men, gay, warm-hearted, careless, laugh- 
ing men? 

303 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



They left the cab for the dark well of her entrance; 
there was no concierge and she led the way to the stairs. 

The hand that had paid the cabman was still fumbling 
desperately in his pocket. It came up with a loose grasp 
of bills and silver. 

"Mademoiselle, I regret that I must go. For your 
kindness " 

She whirled about; he could not see her face in the 
dusk except as a pale blur, but he caught the widening 
gleam of her eyes. 

"You have been most kind. And I wish to thank 
you " 

Her chin lifted, her eyes flashed bitter lightnings. "I 
regret that I do not invite monsieur !" 

Impertinence was trying to clothe her pride against his 
rejection, even as her fingers closed over the money that 
he was crowding into them. 

"You do not understand — I am feeling ill " 

Instantly her manner changed. "Monsieur should 
lcnow that I am the good nurse! I could make him so 
comfortable — as at his own home." 

Shamefacedly he muttered that he must get to a doctor, 
that he was just out of hospital, pressed her hand and 
fled, as once before, a dazed boy, he had crowded money 
upon another girl and fled. 

Apparently he managed things no better then than now. 
Even when vice was silken, delicate, sympathetic, he had 
no more of a mind for it. 



CHAPTER XXXIX 
journey's end 

As he fled, his quick steps ringing over the old gray 
stones of Paris, he was wondering what the devil was 
the matter with him. ... A puff of lovely blue smoke 
and a glancing splinter of steel would get him as soon as 
he returned to the Front, and he would go from life still 
a stranger to her. 

His precious Puritan training, he thought with a 
quizzical smile, recalling Tinseau's words. There was 
no comfort to be got out of it! It sent you out to be 
shot like a soldier but denied you the soldier's dissipa- 
tion on the way. 

But for all his self-mockery he was queerly grateful to 
be out of it. . . . Innocent or ignorant, prude or Puritan, 
he felt clean. And however other men might take a 
lighter view he knew he should have felt himself a sorry 
beast. . . . 

He lighted a cigarette and walked more slowly, turn- 
ing towards the Seine. He had tramped over a great 
deal of Paris since that afternoon but he was not tired. 
He had not been very ill in hospital. He had lost a good 
deal of blood from his head wound and from a superficial 
cut in his side, but the head wound had not been deep 
and his wiry constitution had refuted any serious damage. 

His mood turned to reminiscence. He still felt alone, 
but not solitary, for memories and dreams walked with 
him. He could still think of "Evelyn — he divined re- 
motely that he could not have thought of Evelyn if he 

305 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 



had lingered with that poor, pretty creature of the street. 

And he thought of Evelyn very steadily, with no hard- 
ness now, but with a gentle, not unhappy tenderness. 
What was it, he wondered, that made one woman so dif- 
ferent from all the others, what was it in her that wound 
about the heart strings and never quite loosened its soft 
hold? 

He knew Evelyn well, in all her faults and weakness. 
He knew that soft, undoing blend of compassion and. 
frailty and sacrificial passion, and he held very little 
blame for her in his heart— except that on that return 
from the dunes she had let Stanley turn her so swiftly 
with his calumny. 

Strange, that that old boyish scrape should have flung 
so far a wave ! He remembered with involuntary humor 
the expression of Preebles' face when he had paid him 
a call upon that matter, advocating a closed mouth. . . . 
But by then, the gossip's work had long been done. 

And after all, he thought, without resentment or much 
bitterness, Evelyn had perhaps a happier and a safer life 
than she would have had as his wife. . . . But some- 
thing in him, something deep and unconquered, cried out 
at that worldly compromise. If they had ever married 
. . . life would have been so different. . . . 

He leaned his arms on the parapet of the river and 
closed his eyes and deliberately yielded to the thought of 
her. . . . How gold, like hers, had been that child's hair 
to-day. . . . His mood saw traces of her now in every- 
thing. Even the step of a woman who had passed him 
a moment before had held something of her grace. . . . 
He remembered that winged lightness of hers. 

Well, he had his dreams! And his life which had 
seemed such a poor thing to him that restless afternoon 
appeared suddenly very wonderful. He had loved 

306 



r 



JOURNEY'S END 



deeply, and to know that love had been worth even the 
losing of it. He had worked and played, and he had 
fought. That was the supreme thing for him now, that 
he had found his place in the tremendous struggle. It 
was worth living for and dying for. 

And if he died he should not go out craving and un- 
satisfied. He had savored existence ; he had known its 
passions, its deep astonishments. 

With the word came a half memory that made his hand 
move instinctively to the pocket where had been the Bible 
his teacher had given him, a Bible which had once ful- 
filled the donor's wish of stopping a bullet for him, but 
which the Germans had taken from his pockets when he 
was prisoner. 

His hand fell back but he knew what it was his thought 
had suggested — that old verse in the Psalms which had 
puzzled and detained him that long-ago Sunday. He had 
thought of it since, rather vaguely, as an unmeaning 
phrase ; now the words came to him distinctly : 

Thou hast shewed thy people hard things; Theu hast 
made us to drink the wine of astonishment. 

That was it — the wine of astonishment. The very 
spirit of life. Heady . . . astounding . . . sparkling 
at the brim, and bitter in the dregs. . . . 

Well, he had been shewed hard things and he had 
drunk his wine of astonishment. He had lived, and he 
would not have had it otherwise. He would not have 
surrendered one drop of experience, bitter or sweet. 

The woman he had vaguely noticed was passing back 
of him again. She seemed to loiter. . . . Another crea- 
ture of the night, he thought pityingly, and looked away 
over the water where lay the first gleams of a moon, 
slipping from its cloud. 

307 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

Then he reflected that she might be hungry, and his 
new softness of mood made him turn suddenly and walk 
after her as she made her way, more swiftly now, in the 
shadow of the buildings across the street. 

Lacking courage to approach him, she had turned to 
other fields. 

It was the likeness of her air, real or fancied, to 
Evelyn, that made him resolve to overtake her and give 
her the means of safety for the night. He quickened his 
steps. She was just turning the corner. 

The moon had flung off its last wisp of cloud and was 
sailing high in splendor, pouring a silver wash of bright- 
ness across the city's night. He was so lost in dreams 
that he felt pleasure in the sight, not remembering the 
Hun. 

There was no sounding of the alerte. The enemy had 
stolen on them in the clouds. There was an instant in 
which Jim caught a humming, like a hive of all the bees 
in the world, and glancing swiftly up fancied he dis- 
cerned a flitting wraith across the moon, and there was 
another instant in which the ground appeared to roar 
and shake under his feet and the solid street ahead of 
him rose tempestuously into the air. 

He staggered, then ran ahead. He could see nothing 
but the confusion of the fallen debris ahead. Where 
there had been a woman's figure he saw none. 

And then over the rending crash and splinter of glass 
shrilled the sirens, sounding madly as the engines raced 
through the streets, while the Archies broke out into their 
furious barking, giving tongue like a pack of night 
hounds. 

Somewhere, farther to the north, there was another 
boom and crash. 

It was not enough to harry Paris all day with method- 

308 



JOURNEY'S END 



ical murder, but the night, too, must be taken for the 
mangling of her helpless ones. 

Jim found the girl lying upon the pavement, without 
the circle of destruction. Shock might have thrown her, 
or a falling stone ; he could not wait to discover which 
for the wall at their right appeared to be wavering. 

Quickly he caught her up and ran across the street 
into the scant shelter of a stone-arched passage leading 
to some court beyond, protection at least from the fall- 
ing shrapnel of the defender's guns. 

He felt the girl stir against him and let her slip down 
to her feet. "Hurt?" he questioned, his arm steadyingly 
about her. 

She shook her head. It was black as a cave in that 
passage, though without its mouth the wrecked street lay 
white in the exposing moonlight. Opposite them the wall 
shivered, lurched, then came groaningly down in a fringe 
of shattered bricks and a cloud of dust and plaster. 

"Oh, dear God!" said the girl chokingly. "If there 
are babies there " 

"A warehouse," said Jim quickly. "They missed their 
mark — this place would have been a rabbit warren for 
them." 

Back of them, across the court, sounded hurried feet 
and frightened voices as the inhabitants streamed down 
to some cellar openings. 

"Shall we try for it?" Jim asked, considering. "There 
may be better shelter — 



99 



He felt the girl shake her head. Then she turned to- 
wards him in the darkness, within the circle of the arm 
that sheltered her. 

"So it was you !" she said, in a voice between a sob and 
a laugh. 

The sob and the laugh were Evelyn's. 

309 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

"I went past you twice but I was not certain. . . . 
(Then I grew frightened. ... I was coming alone from 
a sick woman's. . . ." 

Sheer wonder held him wordless. Outside their dark 
retreat the guns and bombs increased their din. 

"I was following you," said Jim slowly. "You looked 
so like " 

Bewilderingly he remembered the charity of his inten- 
tion. 

"So like ? You didn't know I was here ?" 

At his negation she laughed astonishingly, "Then you 
'didn't get my letters ! I didn't know and I began to be 
afraid — it was so very long. I crossed just after you 
did," she broke off to explain. "And I wrote you — first 
— from your old room." 

"I haven't heard — from anybody. And I've been in 
two or three places," said Jim slowly, "so my mail has 
been lost for months. I didn't know — I didn't dream. 
. . . What are you doing in this place?" 

"In this place, Jim? . . . When you are not carrying 
me into passageways I am taking care of refugees." 

His eyes were used to the dark now. He could see 
the pale curves of her face so close to him and the look 
in her lifted eyes. He felt her soft slenderness against 
him and he heard nothing of the wild racketing without 
for the wilder beating of his heart. 

His arm which had been lightly about her tightened 
very suddenly. He put a shaking hand on her shoulder 
and crushed her to him. 

"My dear, my dear," he whispered dizzily, and her 
kiss answered his. 

Again she was his, his Evelyn, his sweet, lost girl. 
And love was his again, and spring delight, gladder and 

310 



1 
i 



JOURNEY'S END 



wilder and deeper. . . . He could not speak for the 
wonder of it, but to her, who had waited long for that 
wonder the miracle was very simple, and she told him the 
story of it eagerly. 

She had never dreamed that he had given her up, had 
really intended to forget her. She had thought that he 
was playing a game, the same as she, trying to outwear 
the other's endurance. She had meant to have love and 
her own way. 

At last she had grown frightened, then despairing. 
But pride would not allow surrender. She flung herself 
into war work and finally engaged to go to France. She 
had been South at the time and on her way East to sail 
she had wired him to meet her in Chicago. 

"I thought I would astonish you," she whispered. 
"And going to France made it natural to say good-by!'* 

He remembered his own temptation to write her his 
farewell. 

"I know," he murmured. "I nearly wrote you." 

"But you didn't, Jim ! And you were gone. . . . Your 
mother met me. 

"She was so good to me," said Evelyn simply. "She 
asked me to the house and I came. ... I spent the night 
in your old room, dear, and I wrote you. ... I told your 
mother everything. She was so good, Jim, so dear and 
fine and good. . . . Not many women like her! Fm 
not," the girl told him between tears and laughter. 

"You're the heart of my heart," he whispered unstead- 
ily. He was profoundly stirred. Evelyn and his mother 
together ... in his old home. His heart went out to 
his mother. . . . Not many like her, indeed ! 

"Your father was there, too. He's looking worn, I'm 
afraid, but he said to tell you that he was better than 
he expected and all was well. They thought I would be 

3ii 



THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT 

seeing you soon/' said Evelyn wistfully. "And your 
sister Fanny was coming home as soon as her husband 
sailed — they thought not long now. And you haven't 
heard from hert" 

"Not one word, sweet, from a soul that mattered." 

"Your aunt Callista was knitting a little cap, dear, and 
covered it up very delicately from me — but your mother 
showed me the dress. They are going to be so happy 
... it will make such a difference. And that's all my 
news, Jim, for I haven't heard since from them ; I have 
been moving too, from Paris to Evian and then to 
Paris." 

She raised her face towards his and one hand went 
shyly to stroke his thin cheek. 

"You're all right, Jim? I've been so heartsick " 

All right? He, who had been so nearly all wrong \ 
His heart gave a great leap of glad and deep thanksgiving. 

"All right, now, darling — or I shall be when you marry 
me. No more waiting " 

"No more waiting, Jim." 

Later she whispered, her voice gay again with mis- 
chief, "But my money? My hateful, heaping money? 
Aren't you afraid ?" 

He chuckled. "Afraid you'll rent a richer dugout for 
me? No, sweet, the money doesn't matter now." 

Her laugh joined his a little tremulously. "I'll just keep 
enough for our old age," she murmured. "The refugees 
can have it Oh, Jim, I've been so glad to give " 

No, money didn't matter now. War and its purifying 
passion had swept their hearts clean of little cares. He 
;who was spending his life was contemptuous of dollars. 
And she who was ministering to the direst of need had 
no more want of luxury. Service and love— these were 
their riches. 

312 



JOURNEY'S END 



The guns they had ignored were silent now. The gray 
shapes of terror had fled before a winged pursuit. Aloof 
and innocent of evil, the moon was sailing her high ways. 

And throughout all Paris, the Paris that they had for- 
gotten, rang the bugles that all was well. 



(1) 



THE END 










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