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A' i <
The WINE of
The WINE of
MABY HASTINGS BRADLE Y
i 01 "nil mjutniD cratca," "™» ruics or ui»m wo
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
NEW YOBK LONDON
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••■■■ •••• <;.';:< \
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I •;•-" ■' ' •• •■ a -. M ,
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Copyright, 1919, by
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
Printed in the United States of America
Forbidden Fruit .
The Strange Woman .
The God of His Fathers .
The Invasion .
The Spring ....
A Secret Matter '•
In Chicago .
Christopher Declares Himself .
By the Lake ....
The Debutante .
The Last Sands .
Against Odds .
Confidences • x .
That Night .
The Awakening * . •
Out of the Past •
The Wedding Day .
After Five Years •
Romance Resurgent .
Mrs. Ogden Receives .
Evelyn Makes Up Hei
Jim Goes to Dinner .
The Clarkes Decide .
» • •
At the Front
A Friend Indeed «
Paris and a Puritan «
Journey's End .
THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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 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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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.
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 ?"
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
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 —
He could not look in the face of the girl who came up
"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-
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
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
THE STRANGE WOMAN
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
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
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
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-
THE STRANGE WOMAN
pected his father of a greater freedom of ideas than he
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
"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.
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
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
"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
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-
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-
"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
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
"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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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. . . .
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
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
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.
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-
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
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
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."
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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-
And suddenly he was reminded of the verse which had
seemed so far away when his ears had caught it that
"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
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
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
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.
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
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."
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 ?"
"I guess he spent the night with Jackson as we
"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
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
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-
And Jim thought nothing at all about Mortimer
Preebles, who seemed part of the unessential background
"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-
"You clear on out, kid," he unfeelingly advised. "The
woods are full of fussers — pick another victim."
"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
"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
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
thin paper. Breathing heavily, his hair disheveled by
protruding garments, he emerged in triumph with the
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
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
"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
Her glance seemed to dance elusively across that inti-
"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
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
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
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
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
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
THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT
boys talk interestedly of getting on and marrying and
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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. • . .
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
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
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.
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
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
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-
'Don't you ?" Jim's smile was very gentle.
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
"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
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
"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
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.
THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT
But of course there were other men awaiting that
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.
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
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
THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT
not A deux, for the mortmain of New England tradition
interposed its rigidities and added another couple to the
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
But so it was. Jim met the need with desperate
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
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.
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
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.
THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT
It held a gleam of green and saffron from the lingering
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
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
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-
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
"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
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.
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
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,
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
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.
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
"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
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
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-
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-
"I do remember going to ride in that victoria/' she
"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
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
It was their farewell until they met in Chicago. She
was to make some visits in the East with her mother.
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
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
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
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
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-
"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.
"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
"I remember that family," she said. "Nice people.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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-
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
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.
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.
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-
He had been her stanch friend through the years.
It was partly on his advice that she had sent her girl to
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
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.
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.
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
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
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-
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
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;
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
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-
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 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
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."
CHRISTOPHER DECLARES HIMSELF
He insisted so anxiously upon it that she assented
eagerly in her reproach at having to deny him so much
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
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
"All by our two selves," said Jim.
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.
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
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.
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
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
so much — I hate to stake it . . . except upon the great-
est talent. But Muriel herself is so passionately re-
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-
"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 "
'My dear " Mrs. Day flung out.
'You must go to Russia for the real thing," the girl
"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
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-
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
"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
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.
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
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
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-
"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
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
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
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
"You think / ought to be?" he flung back with an
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
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
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
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
And at once it appeared madness to have thought of
"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
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
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
Elizabeth Clarke's remark was a counter attack for
"Did they teach you at college to put your elbows on
"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
THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT
wall that the three windows of the dining room opened
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
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
She was ready for him. "Well, to shave before
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
Curious, that a man who had niceties about past parti-
ciples, should have no feeling for delicacy toward an
She wanted sunshine and elegance and daintiness.
Failing this, she saw small merit in living up to the
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-
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
"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
"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
THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT
used it for wood lots or grazing. I know he sold it for
"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 ?"
"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
"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
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-
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-
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
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."
'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
"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
"You didn't have to berate their absence. You had
"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
of escorts. I remember, that once when it came to see-
ing me home —
"Well, if you had more than one apiece," said the
ruthless Fanny, interrupting, "you could afford to be
"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
"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
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
"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-
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
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."
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
"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.
THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT
Presently Fanny appeared, armed with a snowy dust
cloth, and attacked a table near him with a grimace for
"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
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
"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
"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
He could not return her light smile. His heart was
lead. He saw that brilliant winter with a heavy fore-
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-
"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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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-
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
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
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
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
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
Life, the measureless, the uncounted, was come to this.
"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
There's Evelyn. You mustn't let her slip. • « ?
She's a dear girl. 3
'Yes, mother. 5
"i nere s iLver
"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 "
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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,
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-
Christopher had refused to dine with the Days. He
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
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
After dinner her mother went about, straightening the
chairs that the maids had left in rows, and resolutely
"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-
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
"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
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.
"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
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
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
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
"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* »
"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
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 !
"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
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
"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
He went on brokenly, "Isn't it any use? Don't you
care, Evelyn? Can't you even stand me, when I love
"I do care very much. But it's not — not in that
"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
"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
Shamelessly he was bartering. He knew his shame;
the blood was scarlet in his face, but that bright, fanatic
fire burned on.
THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT
She was abased for him ; for the lengths to which he
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
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
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-
"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
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
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
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
At any moment it would break, she would rouse, and
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
THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT
lassitude descended that was not acquiescence but de-
spair. She only knew that she wished that she were
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
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.
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
"I haven't sold the house over our heads! . . . It's
something else. . . . I've engaged Evelyn to Christopher
"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
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
"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
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.
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-
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
"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
"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
expected to go to 'the table even with old and dearly
beloved clients. We take up far too much of your time
With a decisive movement she rose to her feet. She
caught up her toy bag and extended the other hand to
"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
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.
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.
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
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
"The Sunday night suitor," she termed him.
Evelyn had telephoned him when Mrs. Stanley died,
and postponed an intended call. . • • Then nothing had
THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT
come from her until this letter. He had touched it
with the painful joy that was inseparable now from his
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-
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
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,
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
He fought with himself to keep from rising and writ-
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.
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-
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
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
The moment after he knew how fatally he had given
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
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
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
"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
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-
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
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
Yet all the time he was alert . . . listening for a
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
The lady loved cats and gardens and human lives.
And she had months ago divined in this unconfiding
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
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
It occurred to Jim that it was not impossible that
Evelyn had recognized that he might know of this
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.
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
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
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 !
THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT
On the whole, he was relieved when Rosalie decided
But she was a very long time recovering strength for
any zest in living, and her convalescence meant the
He had not counted on this continual absence. And
his letters to Evelyn dared not be too frequent nor
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
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-
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
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
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
It seemed to the Judge, and it was not refuted by Jim,
that Henry Carpenter preferred tinkering as a substi-*
tute for work.
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-
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
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
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
"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-
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.
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
Evelyn had not failed. She was there, indeed, guard-
ing a section for them, and smiling nervously at their
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.
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
"And it's so good of you to squire us!" she flung
vivaciously at Jim, but with eyes that still slipped from
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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-
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
"Oh, I can't believe people are like that !" The other
spoke with imperious anger. "To let a miserable hand-
ful of wedding presents "
The eyes of the two women met in half humorous
"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
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
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 ;
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-
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
She was as lovely, as mysterious, as changing as the
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
He could almost, in that moment, be glad that he had
so nearly lost her, if life gave him now this sharp,
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.
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
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
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
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
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."
"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
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
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.
THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT
. . . But she was so slight, so gentle, so unmade for
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
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
"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
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
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
"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.
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
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
"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-
OUT OF THE PAST,
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—
"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
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. . . .
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
"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 "
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-
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 " }
"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
"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
The comparison afforded her a curious amusement
She had a continued pleasure in her insensibility. If
that frozen something within her breast ever gave
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?
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
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.
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. ... .
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
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
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-
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
And the air about them told of factories ringing
There had been changes, too, in the world without the
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
"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-
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."
THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT
"Oh, he doesn't believe those things. He reads the
"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
"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
"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
"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
"I withdraw my generality. It was too sweeping. I
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
Fanny leaned back against a table ; her eyes, filled with
sudden reminiscence, appeared amusedly to question the
"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
"You were as thick as thieves," said Jim, remembering.
"And then all at once "
"You did it."
"It was after you had broken your partnership with
"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
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-
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
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-
It could be no secret to any of the Clarke household
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
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
'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
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-
"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.
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
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
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
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,
"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
"Thanks. . . . You are tender of me." Hinman re-
garded his associate with a certain affection and con-
"Clarke, why don't you marry ?" he flung unexpectedly
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."
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
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
"Lord, you sound like a challenge." Hinman looked
up suddenly with a laugh.
Jim smiled. "There isn't any one I want to see
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Hinman turned round and abandoned his blotter. He
was smiling; he showed Jim the face of a frankly happy
"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
A youthfully clumsy compliment, thought Hinman, but
he liked Jim's heartiness, and the warm grip of his hand
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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.
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
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
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.
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
"It's been so nice to see you. Remember, Mon-
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 ?
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."
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-
"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
"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 !"
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
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
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
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
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,
A HOME DINNER
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
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
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
"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
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"
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
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.
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
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.
Belgium had been overthrown but Belgium had be-
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-
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
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
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
"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
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
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 !
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-
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
THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT
a swift astonishment "Why, I thought that you — that
"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
"But I never took a dreadful woman to a dance hall
in my life."
"But — but my husband said he saw you — and Mortimer
"Good heavens, is that blackguard talking about the
time I went on a crazy lark, as an eighteen-year-old
"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
that — that you had consoled yourself in a horrible
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
'As well one thing as another," said Jim.
A long silence enabled her to turn that remark over
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
"You might, Jim. You might forgive me, if — if you
"I wonder," said he deliberately, "why women want
to tear our hearts out and then ask us to deny the
"Was that what I did to you — tear your heart
"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."
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
"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-
"Confessed my rout? And you? . . . You hadn't been
"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
"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
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 "
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-
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-
"It was his offer/' she said swiftly. "It was to be just
friendship. He said that would be enough."
"He said it would be enough for him." But she was
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
"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
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
'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 "
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
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?
"I thought you were never coming in! What has
been keeping you?"
"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-
"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.
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
THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT
Smilingly Muriel nodded. "We're to tell mother to-
"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-
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*
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
"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.
EVELYN MAKES UP HER MIND
You didn't want a gift — but I couldn't let the day go
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-
"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.
She thought of Jim Clarke's unexpectedly pitying,
"The poor devil !"
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-
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 ?"
"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.
EVELYN MAKES UP HER MIND
There was a pause in which her heart seemed to stand
"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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT
grim irony of Jim's gray eyes. Again! he would say
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
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
"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.
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
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*
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
"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-
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-
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 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
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 " /
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
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
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
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
"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.
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 —
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
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
He lay remote, unconcerned. He had no traffic now
with little things.
If only she had loved him ! If only she had made him
Oh, life was so cruel, and death too terrible.
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-
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-
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,
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
"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
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 !
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
"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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
"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
Never before had he realized exactly what it would
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
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
"I know," he said grimly. "When I would have
THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT
•walked on hot plowshares to get you, you think it
finicking to rebel at Persian rugs. . . .But I cannot
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
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
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-
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
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-
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
"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 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
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
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
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
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
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-
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.
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.
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
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
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
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 ?"
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
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
"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
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.
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
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 —
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-
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
THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT
started off again, with a cautious eye now for thin ice
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-
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
"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-
He eyed the astounded six footer reflectively. "I'd
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
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-
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
"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
THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT
man's use to his country and the commissary which that
"You'd like the sea," he said to Jim.
"Sea-sick," Jim gave grimly back. "I'm in for a
trench and the cooties."
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
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
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.
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
"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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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-
THE CLARKES DECIDE
ingly, as a creature like himself of secret hours and
"I thought you got along very well with the old people,"
"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
"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."
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 "
"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
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
"Plenty." She gave a faint laugh. "Thirty, in
"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
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.
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*
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
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-
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
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
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.
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-
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
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
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.
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
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
"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
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-
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
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
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-
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
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 !
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
"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
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
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
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
"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
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-
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-
THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT
rors that might happen to any other man, but not to one-
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
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-
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.
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
THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT
dare to speak of the German people. . . . You see. . . .
Wait. . . . We stick you like pigs. And you — you will
"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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
PARIS AND A PURITAN
glad to return to the hospital to see the friendly, accus-
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.
THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT
"You're a brick to suggest it. But I should be an
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
PARIS AND A PURITAN
Tinseau with a last word of good cheer, turned off to an
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
"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-
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
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
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
"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-
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-
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.
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
"One must have these instants of romance," she sighed,
doing her best, poor stray, to throw a tinsel glamor about
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
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.
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
"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
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
"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
What the deuce, now, was the matter with him ? Was
he not as other men, gay, warm-hearted, careless, laugh-
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Somewhere, farther to the north, there was another
boom and crash.
It was not enough to harry Paris all day with method-
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
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
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 —
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
The sob and the laugh were Evelyn's.
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-
"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
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
"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
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
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
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.