Out of the Question: Comedy


ALONG the road that winds near the nook where the encounter with the tramps took place, Leslie comes languidly pacing with her friend Maggie Wallace, who listens, as they walk, with downcast eyes and an air of reverent devotion, to Leslie’s talk.

Leslie. “But it’s all over, — it’s all over. I shall live it down; but it will make another girl of me, Maggie.” Her voice trembles a little, and as they pause a moment Maggie draws Leslie’s head down upon her neck, from which the latter presently lifts it fiercely. “I don’t wish you to pity me, Maggie, for I don’t deserve any pity. I’m not suffering an atom more than I ought. It’s all my own fault. Mamma really left me quite free, and if I cared more for what people would say and think and look than I did for him, I’m rightfully punished, and I ’m not going to whimper about it. I ’ve thought it all out.”

Maggie. “ Oh, Leslie, you always did think things out so clearly ! ”

Leslie. “ And I hope that I shall get my reward, and be an example. I hope I shall never marry at all, or else some horrid old thing I detest; it would serve me right, and I should be glad of it! ”

Maggie. “ Oh, no, no! Don’t talk in that way, Leslie. Do come back with me to the house and he down, or I ’m sure you ’ll be ill. You look perfectly worn out.”

Leslie, drooping upon the fallen log where she had sat to sketch the birch forest: “ Yes, I ’m tired. I think I shall never be rested again. It’s the same place,” — looking wistfully round, — “and yet how strange it seems. You know we used to come here, and sit on this log and talk. What long, long talks! Oh me, it will never be again! How weird those birches look! Like ghosts. I wish I was one of them. Well, well! It’s all over. Don’t wait here, Maggie, dear. Go back to the house; I will come soon; you must n’t let me keep you from Miss Robertson. Excuse me to her, and tell her I ’ll go some other time. I can’t, now. Go, Maggie ! ”

Maggie. “ Oh, Leslie; I hate to leave you here! After what’s happened, it seems such a dreadful place.”

Leslie. “ After what’s happened, it’s a sacred place, — the dearest place in the world to me. Come, Maggie, you must n’t break your appointment. It was very good of you to come with me at all, and now you must go. Say that you left me behind a little way; that I ’ll he there directly. ”

Maggie. “ Leslie! ”

Leslie. “Maggie!” They embrace tenderly, and Maggie, looking back more than once, goes on her way, while Leslie sits staring absently at the birches. She remains in this dreary reverie till she is startled by a footfall in the road, when she rises in a sudden panic. Blake listlessly advances toward her; at sight of her he halts, and they both stand silently regarding each other.

Leslie. “ Oh! You said you were going away.”

Blake. “ Are you in such haste to have me gone ? I had to wait for the afternoon stage; I couldn’t walk. I thought I might keep faith with you by staying away from the house till it was time to start,”

Leslie, precipitately: “ Do you call that keeping faith with me? Is leaving me all alone keeping — Oh, yes, yes, it is! You have done right. It’s I who can’t keep faith with myself. Why did you come here? You knew I would he here! I didn’t think you could be guilty of such duplicity.”

Blake. “ I had no idea of finding you here, hut if I had known you were here perhaps I could n’t have kept away. The future doesn’t look very bright to me, Miss Bellingham. I had a crazy notion that perhaps I might somehow find something of the past here that I could make my own. I wanted to come and stand here, and think once more that it all really happened—that here I saw the pity in your face that made me so glad of my hurt.”

Leslie. “No; Stop! It wasn’t pity! It was nothing good or generous. It was mean regret that I should be under such an obligation to you; it was a selfish and despicable fear that you would have a claim upon my acquaintance which I must recognize.” Blake makes a gesture of protest and disbelief, and seems about to speak, but she hurries on: “ You must not go away with one good thought of me. Since we parted, three hours ago, I have learned to know myself as I never did before, and now I see what a contemptible thing I am. I flattered myself that I had begged you to go away because I did n’t like to cross the wishes of my family, but it wasn’t that. It was — oh, listen, and try if you can imagine such vileness: 1 ’m so much afraid of the world I’ve always lived in, that no matter how good and brave and wise and noble you were, still if any one should laugh or sneer at you because you had been — what you have been— I should be ashamed of you. There! I’m so low and feeble a creature as that; and that’s the real reason why you must go and forget me; and I must not think and you must not think it’s from any good motive I send you away.”

Blake. “ I don’t believe it! ”

Leslie. “What!”

Blake. “ I don’t believe what you say. Nothing shall rob me of my faith in you. Do you think that I’m not. man enough to give up what I’ve no right to because it’s the treasure of the world? Do you think I can’t go till you make me believe that what I’d have sold my life for isn’t worth a straw? No! I’ll give up my hope, I’ll give up my love, — poor fool I was to let it live an instant!—but my faith in you is something dearer yet. and I'll keep that till I die. Say what you will, you are still first among women to me: the most beautiful, the noblest, the best! ”

Leslie, gasping, and arresting him in a movement to turn away: “Wait, wait; don’t go! Speak; say it again! Say that you don’t believe it; that it isn’t true! ”

Blake. “ No, I don’t believe it. No, it is n’t true. It’s abominably false! ”

Leslie, bursting into tears: “ Oh, yes, it is. It’s abominable, and it’s false. Yes, I will believe in myself again. I know that if I had cared for—any one, as — as you cared, as you said you cared for me, I could be as true to them as you would be, through any fate. Oh, thank you, thank you !” At the tearful joy of the look she turns on him he starts toward her. “Oh!” — she shrinks away—“you mustn’t think that I ” —

Blake. “ I don’t think anything that doesn’t worship you! ”

Leslie. “ Yes, but what I said sounds just like the other, when you misunderstood me so heartlessly.”

Blake. “ I don’t misunderstand you now. You do tell me that you love me, don’t you? How should 1 dare hope without your leave? ”

Leslie. “You said you would n’t have taken me as a gift if I had. You said you ’d have hated me. You said ” —

Blake. “ I was all wrong in what I thought. I’m ashamed to think of that; but I was right in what I said.”

Leslie. “ Oh, were you! If you could misunderstand me then, how do you know that you ’re not misunderstanding me now ? ”

Blake. “Perhaps I am. Perhaps I’m dreaming as wildly as I was then. But you shall say. Am I? ”

Leslie, demurely : “ I don’t know; I ” — staying his instantaneous further advance with extended arm — “ No, no ! ” She glances fearfully round. “ Wait; come with me. Come back with me — that is, if you will.”

Blake, passionately: “If I will!”

Leslie, with pensive archness: “I want you to help me clear up my character.”

Blake, gravely: “ Leslie, may I ” —

Leslie. “ I can’t talk with you here.”

Blake, sadly: “I will not go back with you to make sorrow for you and trouble among your friends. It’s enough to know that you don’t forbid me to love you. ”

Leslie. “Oh, no, it isn’t enough — for everybody.”

Blake. “ Leslie ” —

Leslie. “Miss Bellingham, please!”

Blake. “ Miss Bellingham ” —

Leslie. “Well?” -

Blake, after a stare of rapturous perplexity: “Nothing!”

Leslie, laughing through her tears: “ If you don’t make haste you will be too late for the stage, and then you can’t get away till to-morrow.”


In the parlor with Mrs. Bellingham and Mrs. Murray sits a gentleman no longer young, but in the bloom of a comfortable middle life, with blonde hair tending to baldness, accurately parted in the middle, and with a handsome face, lazily shrewd, supported by a comely substructure of double chin, and traversed by a full blonde mustache. He is simply, almost carelessly, yet elegantly dressed in a thin summer stuff, and he has an effect of recent arrival. His manner has distinction, enhanced and refined by the eye-glasses which his nearsightedness obliges him to wear. He sits Somewhat ponderously in the chair in which he has planted a person just losing its earlier squareness in the lines of beauty; his feet are set rather wide apart in the fashion of gentlemen approaching a certain weight; and he has an air of amiable resolution as of a man who having dined well yesterday means to dine well to-day.

Charles Bellingham, smiling amusement and slowly getting the range of his aunt through his glasses: “ So I have come a day after the fair.”

Mrs. Murray. “That is your mother’s opinion.”

Mrs. Bellingham. “ Yes, Charles, Leslie had known what to do herself, and had done it, even before I spoke to her. I ’m sorry we made you drag all the way up here, for nothing.”

Charles Bellingham. “ Oh, I don’t mind it, mother. Duty called, and I came. My leisure can wait for my return. The only thing is that they’ve got a new fellow at the club now, who interprets one’s ideas of planked Spanish mackerel with a sentiment that amounts to genius. I suppose you plank hornpout, here. But as to coming for nothing, I’d much rather do that than come for something, in a case like this. You say Leslie saw herself that it would n’t do? ”

Mrs. Bellingham. “ Yes, she had really behaved admirably, Charles; and when I set the whole matter before her, she fully agreed with me.”

Bellingham. “ But you think she rather liked him? ”

Mrs. Bellingham, sighing a little: “Yes, there is no doubt of that.”

Bellingham, musingly: “Well, it’s a pity. Behaved rather well in that tramp business, you said? ”

Mrs. Bellingham. “Nobly.”

Bellingham, “ And has n’t pushed himself, at all ? ”

Mrs. Bellingham. “Notan instant.”

Bellingham. “ Well, I ’m sorry for him, poor fellow, but I ’m glad the thing ’s over. It would have been an awkward affair, under all the circumstances, to take hold of. I say, mother,” — with a significant glance at Mrs. Murray, — “there hasn’t been anything — ah — abrupt in the management of this matter? You ladies sometimes forget the limitations of action in your amiable eagerness to have things over, you know.”

Mrs. Bellingham. “I think your mother would not forget herself in such a case.”

Bellingham. “ Of course, of course; excuse my asking, mother. But you ’re about the only woman that would n’t.”

Mrs. Murray, bitterly: “ Oh, your mother and Leslie have both used him with the greatest tenderness.”

Bellingham, dryly: “ I’m glad to hear it; I never doubted it. If the man had been treated by any of my family with the faintest slight after what had happened, I should have felt bound as a gentleman to offer him any reparation in my power, — to make him any apology. People of our sort can’t do anything shabby,” Mrs. Murray does not reply, but rises from her place on the sofa and goes to the window. “ Does Leslie know I ’m here? ”

Mrs. Bellingham, with a little start: “ Really, I forgot to tell her you were coming to-day; wo had been keeping it from her, and ” —

Bellingham. “ I don’t know that it matters. 'Where is she ? ’ ’

Mrs. Bellingham. “I saw her going out with Maggie Wallace. I dare say she will be back soon.”

Bellingham. “ All right. Where is the young man? Has he gone yet? ” Mrs. Bellingham. “No, he couldn’t go till the afternoon stage leaves. He’s still here.”

Bellingham. “ I must look him up, and make my acknowledgments to him.” Rising: “ By the way, what’s his name? ” Mrs. Murray, standing with her face toward the window, suddenly gives tokens of a lively interest in some spectacle outside which has casually caught her notice. She leans forward and inclines to this side and that, as if to make perfectly sure before speaking, and at the moment Bellingham puts his question she summons her sister-in-law in a voice of terrible incrimination and triumph: “ Marion, did yon say Leslie had gone out with Maggie Wallace? ”

Mrs. Bellingham, indifferently: “Yes.” Mrs. Murray: “ Will you be kind enough to step here? ” Mrs. Bellingham, with a liitle lady-like surprise, approaches, and Mrs, Murray indicates, with a stabbing thrust of her hand, the sight which has so much interested her: “ Does that look as if it were all over? ” Bellingham, carelessly, as Mrs. Bellingham with great evident distress remains looking in the direction indicated: “ What’s the matter now? ”

Mrs. Murray. “Nothing. I merely wished your mother to enjoy a fresh proof of Leslie’s discretion. She is returning to tell us that it’s out of the question in company with the young man himself.”

Bellingham. “ Wha— ha, ha, ha! — What ? ”

Mrs. Murray. “ She is returning with the young man from whom she had just parted forever.”

Bellingham, approaching: “ Oh, come now, aunt.”

Mrs. Murray, fiercely: “ Will you look for yourself, if you don’t believe me? ”

Bellingham. “ Ob, I believe you, fast enough. But as for looking, you know I could n’t tell the man in the moon at this distance, if Leslie happened to be walking home with him. But is the — ah — fat necessarily in the fire, because ” —

Mrs. Murray whirls away from Belingham where he remains with his hands on his hips lazily peering over his mother’s shoulder, and pounces upon a large opera-glass which stands on the centre table, and returning with it thrusts it at him.

Bellingham. “ Eh? What ? ”

Mrs. Murray, excitedly: “ It’s what we watch the loons on the lake with.”

Bellingham. “ Well, but I don’t see the application. They ’re not loons on the lake.”

Mrs. Murray. “ No; but they ’re loons on the land, and it comes to the same thing.” She vehemently presses the glass upon him.

Bellingham, gravely: “ Do you mean, aunt, that you actually want me to watch my sister through an opera-glass, like a shabby Frenchman at a watering-place? Thanks. I could never look Les in the face again. It’s a little too much like eavesdropping ” He folds his arms, and regards his aunt with reproachful amazement, while she dashes back to set the glass on the table again.

Mrs. Bellingham, in great trouble: “Wait, Kate! Charles, dear, I—I think you must.”

Beilingham. “ What ? ”

Mrs. Bellingham. “ Yes, you had better look. You will have to proceed in this matter now, and you must form some conclusions beforehand.”

Bellingham. “ But mother ” —

Mrs. Bellingham, anxiously: “ Don't worry me, Charles. I think you must.”

Bellingham. “ All right, mother.” He unfolds his arms and accepts the glass from her. “ I never knew you to take an unfair advantage, and I ’ll obey you on trust. But I tell you I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all,” — deliberately getting the focus, with several trials; “ I ’ve never stolen sheep, but I think I can realize, now, something of the selfreproach which misappropriated mutton may bring.Where did you say they were? Oh, over there ! I was looking

off there, at that point. They ’re coming this way, are n’t they? ” With a start: “Hollo! She’s got his arm! Oh, that won’t do. I ’m surprised at Les doing that, unless ” — continuing to look — “ By Jove! He ’s not a bad-looking fellow, at all. He — Why, confound it! No, it can’t he! Why, yes — no — yes, it is, it is —by Heaven, it is&emdash; by all that’s strange it is — BLAKE!” He lets the glass fall; and stands glaring at his aunt and mother, who confront him in speechless mystification.

Mrs. Bellingham. “Blake? Why, of course it’s Blake. We told you it was Mr. Blake! ”

Bellingham. “ No, I beg your pardon, mother, you did n’t! You never told me it was anybody — by name.”

Mrs. Bellingham. “ Well? ” Bellingham. “ Why, don’t you understand, mother? It,’s my Blake!”

Mrs. Bellingham. “ Your Blake? Your— Charles, what do you mean ? ” Bellingham. “ Why, I mean that this is the man ”&emdash; giving his glasses a fresh pinch on his nose with his thumb and forefinger— “ that fished me out of the Mississippi. I flatter myself he could n’t do it now. ‘ The grossness of my nature would have weight to drag him down,’ — both of us down. But he’d try it, and he’d have the pluck to go down with me if he failed. Come, mother, you see I can’t do anything in this matter. It’s simply impossible. It’s out of the question.”

Mrs. Murray. “ Why is it out of the question ? ”

Bellingham. “ Well, I don’t know that I can explain, aunt Kate, if it is n’t clear to you, already.” *

Mrs. Bellingham, recovering from the dismay in which her son’s words have plunged her: “Charles, Charles! Do you mean that this Mr. Blake is the person who saved you from ” —

Bellingham. “From a watery grave? I do, mother.”

Mrs. Bellingham. “ There must be some mistake. You can’t tell at this distance, Charles.”

Bellingham. “ There’s no mistake, mother. I should know Blake on the top of Ponkwasset. He was rather more than a casual acquaintance, you see. By Jove, I can’t think of the matter with any sort of repose. I can see it all now, just as if it were somebody else: I was weighted down with my accoutrements, and I went over the side of the boat like a flash, and under that yellow deluge like a bullet. I had just leisure to think what a shame it was my life should go for nothing at a time when we needed men so much, when I felt a grip on my hair,” — rubbing his bald spot,— “it could n’t be done now! Then I knew I was all right, and wailed for developments. The only development was Blake. He fought shy of me, if you ’ll believe it, after that, till I closed with him one day and had it out with him, and convinced him that he had done rather a handsome thing by me. But that was the end of it. I could n’t get him to stand anything else in the-way of gratitude. Blake had a vice: he was proud.”

Mrs. Bellingham. “ And what became of him? ”

Bellingham. “Who? Blake? He was the engineer of the boat, I ought to explain. He was transferred to a gunboat after that, and I believe he stuck to it throughout the fighting on the Mississippi. It’s — let me see — it’s five years now since I saw him in Nebraska, when I went out there to grow up with the country, and found I could n’t wait for it.” After a pause: “ I don’t know what it was about Blake; but he somehow made everybody feel that there was stuff in him. In the three weeks we were together we became great friends, and I must say I never liked a man better. Well, that’s why, aunt Kate.”

Mrs. Murray. “ I don’t see that it has anything whatever to do with the matter. The question is whether you wish Leslie to many a man of his station and breeding, or not. His goodness and greatness have nothing to do with it. The fact remains that he is not at all her equal—that he isn’t a gentleman” —

Bellingham. “ Oh, come now, aunt Kate. You ’re not going to tell me that a man who saved my life is n’t a gentleman? ”

Mrs. Murray. “ And you ’re not going to tell me that a steamboat engineer is a gentleman? ”

Bellingham, disconcerted: “ Eh? ”

Mrs. Murray. “ The question is, are you going to abandon that unhappy girl to her fancy for a man totally unfit to be her husband simply because he happened to save your life? ”

Bellingham. “ Why, you see, aunt Kate ” —

Mrs. Murray. “Do you think it would be gentlemanly to do it? ”

Bellingham. “ Well, if you put it that way, no, I don’t. And if you want to know, I don’t see ray way to behaving like a gentleman in this connection, whatever I do. ” He scratches his head ruefully: “ The fact is that the ad vantages are all on Blake’s side, and he ’ll have to manage very badly if he does n’t come out the only gentleman in the business.” After a moment: “ How was it you did n’t put the name and the — a — profession together, mother, and reflect that this was my Blake? ”

Mrs. Bellingham, with plaintive reproach: “Charles, you know how uncommunicative you were about all your life as a soldier. You never told me half so much about this affair before, and you never — it seems very heartless now that I did n’t insist on knowing, but at the time it was only part of the nightmare in which we were living — you never told me his name before.”

Bellingham. “Didn’t I? Well! I supposed I had, of course. Um! That was too bad. I say, mother, Blake has never let anything drop that made you think he had ever known me, or done me any little favor, I suppose? ”

Mrs. Bellingham. “ No, not the slightest hint. If he had only ” —

Bellingham. “ Ah, that was like him, confound him! ” Bellingham muses again with a hopeless air, and then starts suddenly from his reverie: “ Why, the fact is, you know, mother, Blake is really a magnificent fellow; and you know — well, I like him! ”

Mrs. Murray. “Oh! That’s Leslie’s excuse! ”

Bellingham. “ Eh? ”

Mrs. Murray. “If you are going to take Leslie’s part, it’s fortunate you have common ground. Like him! ”

Bellingham. “ Mother, what is the unhallowed hour for dinner in these wilds? One o’clock? I ’ve a fancy for tackling this business after dinner.”

Mrs. Bellingham. “I’m afraid, my dear, that it can’t be put off. They must be here, soon.”

Bellingham, sighing: “Well! Though they did n’t seem to be hurrying.”

Mrs. Murray, bitterly: “ If they could only know what a friendly disposition there was towards him here, I ’m sure they’d make haste! ”

Bellingham. “ Um! ”

Mrs. Bellingham, after a pause: “ You don’t know anything about his — his — family do you, Charles? ”

Bellingham. “No, mother, I don’t. My impression is that he has no family, any more than — Adam; or — protoplasm. All I know about him is that he was from first to last one of those natural gentlemen that upset all your preconceived notions of those things. His associations must have been commoner than — well it’s impossible to compare them to anything satisfactory; but I never saw a trait in him or heard a word from him that wasn’t refined. He gave me the impression of a very able man, too, as I was just saying, but where his strength lay, I can’t sav.”

Mrs. Bellingham. “Leslie says he’s an inventor.”

Bellingham. “Well, very likely. I remember, now: he was a machinist by trade, I believe, and he was an enlisted man on the boat when the engineer was killed; and Blake was the man who could step right into his place. It was considered a good thing amongst those people. He was a reader in his way, and most of the time he had some particularly hard-headed book in his hand when he was off duty, — about physics or metaphysics; used to talk them up now and then, very well. I never laid any doubt about his coming out all right. He’s a baffler, Blake is, —at least he is for me. Now I suppose aunt Kate, here, doesn’t find him baffling, at all. She takes our little standards, our little weights and measures, and tests him with them, and she’s perfectly satisfied with the result. It’s a clear case of won’t do.”

Mrs. Murray. “ Do you say it is n’t? ” Bellingham. “No; I merely doubt if it is. You don’t doubt, and there you have the advantage of me. Yon always were a selected oyster, aunt Kate, and you always knew that you couldn’t be improved upon. Now, I ’m a selected oyster, too, apparently, but I bn not certain that I ’m the best choice that could have been made. I’m a huitre de mon siècle; I am the ill-starred mollusk that doubts. Of course we can’t go counter to the theory that God once created people and no - people, and that they have nothing to do but to go on reproducing themselves and leave him at leisure for the rest of eternity. But really, aunt. Kate, I have seen some things in my time —and I don’t mind saving Blake is one of them — that made me think the Creator was still — active. I admit that it sounds ” — fitting his glasses on — “ rather absurd for an old dinerout like myself to say it.”

Mrs. Murray, with energy: “ All this is neither here nor there, Charles, and you know it. The simple question is whether you wish your sister to marry a man whose past you’ll be ashamed to be frank about. I ’ll admit, if you like, that he’s quite our equal, — our superior; but what are you going to do with your exsteamboat engineer in society? ”

Bellingham, dubiously: “ Well, it would be rather awkward.”

Mrs. Murray: “ How will you introduce him, and what will you say to people about his family and his station and business? Or do you mean to banish yourself and give up the world which you find so comfortable for the boon of a brother-in-law whom you don’t really know from Adam? ”

Bellingham. “ Well, I must allow the force of your argument. Yes,” — after a gloomy little reverie,— “ you ’re right. It won’t do. It is out of the question.

I ’ll put an end to it. — if it does n’t put an end to me. That ‘ weird seizure ’ as of misappropriated mutton oppresses me again. Mother, I think you ’d better go away, — you and aunt Kate, —and let me meet him and Leslie here alone, when they come in. Or, I say: if you could detach Les, and let him come in here by himself, somehow. I don’t suppose it can he done. Nothing seems disposed to let itself he done.”

Mrs. Bellingham. “ Charles, I’m sorry this disagreeable business should fall to you. ”

Bellingham. “ Oh, don’t mind it, mother. What’s a brother for, if he can’t he called upon to break off his sister’s love affairs? But I don’t deny it’s a nasty business.”

Mrs. Murray, going out: “ I sincerely hope he ’ll make it so for you, and cure you of your absurdities.”

Bellingham. “ O Parthian shaft! Wish me well out of it, mother! ”

Mrs. Bellingham, sighing: “ I do, Charles; I do, with all my heart. You have the most difficult duty that a gentleman ever had to perforin. I don’t see how you’re to take hold of it; I don’t, indeed.”

Bellingham. “ Well, it is embarrassing. But it’s a noble cause, and I suppose Heaven will befriend me. The trouble is, don’t you know, I haven’t got any — any point of view, any tenable point of view. It won’t do to act simply in our own interest; we can’t do that, mother; we ’re not the sort. I must try to do it in Blake’s behalf, and that’s what I don’t see my way to, exactly. What I wish to do is to make my interference a magnanimous benefaction to Blake,—something that he ’ll recognize in after years with gratitude as a—a mysterious Providence. If I’ve got to be a snob, mother, I wish to be a snob on the highest possible grounds.”

Mrs. Bellingham. “Don’t use that word, Charles. It’s shocking.”

Bellingham. “ Well, I won’t, mother. I say: can’t you think of some disqualifications in Leslie, that I could make a paint d’appui in a conscientious effort to serve Blake? ”

Mrs. Bellingham. “Charles!”

Bellingham. “ I mean, is n’t she rather a worldly, frivolous, fashionable spirit, devoted to pleasure, and incapable of sympathizing with — with his higher moods, don’t you know? Something like that? ” Bellingham puts his thumbs in his waistcoat pockets and inclines towards his mother with a hopeful smile.

Mrs. Bellingham. “No, Charles; you know she is nothing of the kind. She’s a girl and she likes amusement, but I should like to see the man whose moods were too lofty for Leslie. She is everything that’s generous and true and highminded.”

Bellingham, scratching his head: “ That ’s bad! Then she isn’t — ah — she has n’t any habits of extravagance that would unfit her to be the wife of a poor man who — ah — had his way to make in the world? ”

Mrs. Bellingham. “ She never spends half her allowance on herself; and besides, Charles, — how ridiculously you talk! she has all that money your uncle left her, and if she marries him, he won t be poor any longer. ’ ’

Bellingham, eagerly: “ And that would ruin his career! Still” — after a moment’s thought— “ I don’t see how I ’m to use that idea, exactly. No, I shall have to fall back on the good old ground that it’s simply — out of the question. I think that’s good; it has a thorough, logical, and final sound. I shall stick to that. Well, leave me to my fate; you — Hollo! That’s Blake’s voice, now. I don’t wonder it takes Leslie. It’s the most sympathetic voice in the world. They’re coming up here, aren’t they? You’d better go, mother. I wish you could have got Leslie away ” —

Leslie, without: “ Wait for me, there. I must go to mamma’s room at once, and tell her everything.”

Blake, without: “ Of course. And say that I wish to see her.”

Leslie. “Good-by.”

Blake. “ Good-by.”

Leslie. “We won’t keep you long. Good-by.”

Blake. “Good-by.” As he enters one of the parlor doors, flushed and radiant. Mrs. Bellingham retreats through the other.

Bellingham, coming promptly forward to greet Blake, with both hands extended: “Blake!”

Blake, after a moment of stupefaction: “Bellingham! You!”

Bellingham. “ My dear old fellow!” He wrings Blake fervently by the left hand. “ This is the most astonishing thing in the world! To find you here — in New England—with my people; it’s the most wonderful thing that ever was! They’ve been — ah — been telling me all about you, my mother has; and I want to thank you— you look uncommonly well, Blake, and not a day older! Do you mean to go through life with that figure? — thank you for all you’ve done for them; and — I don’t know: what does a man say to a fellow who has behaved as you did in that business with the tramps?” — wringing Blake’s left hand again and gently touching his right arm in its sling. “ By Jove, old fellow! I don’t know what to say to you; I— Do you think it was quite the thing, though, not to intimate that you ’d known me? Come, now; that was n’t fair. It was n’t frank. It was n’t like you, Blake. Hey ? ” — affectionately pressing Blake’s hand all the time.

Blake, releasing himself: “I didn’t like it; but I could n’t help it. It would have seemed to claim something, and I should have had to allow — they would have found out ” —

Bellingham. “That you happened to save my life, onee. Well, upon my word, I don’t think it was a thing to be ashamed of; at least, at that time; I was in the army, then. At present— well, I don’t know that I should blame you for hushing the matter up,”

Blake, who has turned uneasily away, and has apparently not been paying the closest attention to Bellingham’s reproaches but now confronts him: “ I suppose you ’re a gentleman, Bellingham.”

Bellingham, taking the interruption with amiable irony: “There have been moments in which I have flattered myself to that degree; even existence itself is problematical, to my mind, at other times; but — well, yes, I suppose I am a gentleman. The term’s conventional. And then? ”

Blake. “I mean that you’re a fairminded, honest man, and that I can talk to you without the risk of being misunderstood or having any sort of meanness attributed to me? ”

Bellingham. “ I should have to be a much shabbier fellow than I am, for anything of that sort, Blake.”

Blake. “I didn’t expect to find you here; I was expecting to speak with your mother. But I don’t see why I should n’t say to you what I have to say. In fact, I think I can say it better to you.”

Bellingham. “Thanks, Blake; you’ll always find me your— That is — well, go ahead!’ ’

Blake. “ You don’t think I’m a man to do anything sneaking, do you? ”

Bellingham. “ Again? My dear fellow, that goes without saying. It’s out of the question.”

Blake, walking up and down, and stopping from time to time while he speaks in a tone of passionate self-restraint: “ Well, I ’m glad to hear that, because I know that to some the thing might have a different look.” After a pause in which Blake takes another turn round the room, and arrives in front of Bellingham again: “If your people have been telling you about me, I suppose they’ve hinted —but I don’t care to know it — that they think I’m in love with Miss Bellingham, your sister. I am! ” He looks at Bellingham, who remains impassive behind the glitter of his eye-glasses: “ Do you see any reason why I should n’t be?”

Bellingham, reluctantly: “N-no.”

Blake. “I believe —no, I can’t believe it ! — but I know that Miss Bellingham permits it; that she— I can’t say it! Is there any — any reason why I should n’t ask her mother’s leave to ask her to be my wife? Why, of course, there is ! — a thousand, million reasons in my unworthiness; I know that. But is there ” —

Bellingham, abruptly: “Blake, my dear follow — my clear, good old boy — it won’t do; it’s out of the question ! It

is, it is indeed! It won’t do at all. Confound it, man! You know I like you, that I’ve always wanted to be a great deal more your friend than you would ever let me. Don’t ask me why, but take my word for it when I tell you it’s out of the question. There are a thousand reasons, as you say, though there is n’t one of them In any fault of yours, old fellow. But I can’t give them. It won’t do! ” Bellingham in his turn begins to walk up and down the room with a face of acute misery and hopelessness, and at the last word he stops and stares helplessly into Blake’s eyes, who has remained in his place.

Blake, with suppressed feeling: “Do you expect me to be satisfied with that answer? ”

Bellingham, at first confused and then with a burst, of candor: “ No; I would n’t myself.” His head falls, and a groan breaks from his lips: “This is the roughest thing I ever knew of. Hang it, Blake, don’t you see what a devil of a — a — box I’m in? People pulling and hauling at me, and hammering away on all sides, till I don’t know which end I’m standing on! You wouldn’t like it yourself. Why do you ask? Why must you be—ah—satisfied? Come! Why don’t you let it all — go? ”

Blake. “ Upon my word, Bellingham, you talk ” —

Bellingham. “Like a fool! I know it. And it’s strictly in character, At the present moment I feel like a fool. I am a fool! By Jove, if I ever supposed I should get into such a tight place as this! Why, don’t you see, Blake, what an extremely unfair advantage you have of me? Deuce take it, man, I have some rights in the matter, too, I fancy! ”

Blake, bewildered: “Rights? Advantage? I don’t understand all this.”

Bellingham. “ How not understand ? ”

Blake, staring in mystified silence at Bellingham for a brief space, and then resuming more steadily: “There’s some objection to me, that’s clear enough. I don’t make any claim, but you would think I ought to know what the matter is, would n’t you ? ”

Bellingham. “ Y-yes, Blake.”

Blale. “ I know that I’m ten years older than Miss Bellingham, and that it might look as if ” —

Bellingham, hastily: “ Oh, not in the least — not in the least! ”

Blake. “Our acquaintance wasn’t regularly made, I believe. But you don’t suppose that I urged it, or that it would have been kept up if it had n’t been for their kindness and for chances that nobody foresaw ? ”

Bellingham. “There isn’t a circumstance of the whole affair that isn’t perfectly honorable to yon, Blake; that isn’t like you. Confound it ” —

Blake. “ 1 won’t ask you whether you think I thought of her being rich? ” Bellingham. “No, sir! That would be offensive.”

Blake. “ Then what is it? Is there some personal objection to me with your family? ”

Bellingham. “There isn’t at all, Blake, I assure you.”

Blake. “Then I don’t understand, and”—with rising spirit — “I want to say once for all that I think your leaving me to ask these things and put myself on the defensive in this way, begging you for this reason and for that, is n’t what I ’m used to. But I’m like a man on trial for his life, and I stand it. Now, go on and say what there is to say. Don’t spare my feelings, man! I have no pride where she is concerned. What do you know against me that makes it impossible? ”

Bellingham. “O Lord! It is n’t against you. It ’s nothing personal; personally we’ve all reason to respect and honor you; you’ve done us nothing but good in the handsomest way. But it won’t do, for all that. There’s an incompatibility— a — a — I don’t know what to call it! Confound it, Blake! You know very well that there’s none of that cursed nonsense about me. I don’t care what a man is in life; I only ask what he is in himself. I accept the American plan in good-faith. I know all sorts of fellows; devilish good fellows some of them are, too! Why, I had that Mitchell, who behaved so well at the Squattick Mills disaster, to dine with me; went down and looked him up, and had him to dine with me. Some of the men did n’t think it was the thing; but I can assure you that he talked magnificently about the affair. I drew him out, and before we were done we had the whole room about us. I would n’t have missed it on any account. That’s my way.”

Blake, dryly: “ It’s a very magnanimous way. The man must have felt honored . ”

Bellingham. “What?—Oh, deuce take it! I don’t mean any of that patronizing rot, you know I don’t. You know I think such a man as that ten times as good as myself. What I mean is that it’s different with women. They have n’t got the same — what shall I say ? — horizons, social horizons, don’t you know. They can't accept, a man for what he is in himself ; they have to take him for what he is n’t in himself. They have to have their world carried on upon the European plan, in short. I don’t know whether I make myself understood”—

Blake, with hardness: “ Yes, you do. The objection is to my having been ” —

Bellingham, hastily interposing: “ Well — ah — no! I can't admit that. It is n’t the occupation. We ’ve all been occupied more or less remotely in — in some sort of thing; a man’s a fool who tries to blink that. But I don’t know that I can make it clear how our belonging, now, to a different order of things makes our women distrustful— I won't say skeptical, but anxious—as to the influence of — ah—other social circumstances. They ’re mere creatures of tradition, women are; and where you or I, Blake,”—with caressing good comradeship and the assumption of an impartial high - minded ness,—“ would n’t care a straw for a man’s trade or profession, they are more disposed to—ah — particularize, and — don’t you know — distinguish!”

Blake, gravely: “ I tried to make Miss Bellingham understand from the first just what I was and had been, I certainly never concealed anything. Do you think she would care for what disturbs the other ladies of your family? ” Bellingham. “Leslie? Well, she’s still a very young girl, and she has streaks of originality that rather disqualify her for appreciating — ah — She ’s romantic! I’m sure I’m greatly obliged to you, Blake, for taking the tiling in this reasonable way. You know how to sympathize with one’s extreme reluctance— and — ah —embarrassment in putting a case of the kind.”

Blake, with a sad, absent-minded tone: “ Yes, God knows I’m sorry for you. I don’t suppose you like to do it.”

Bellingham. “ Thanks, thanks, Blake. It was quite as much on your own account. that I spoke. They would make it deucedly uncomfortable for you in the family, — there’s no end to the aunts and grandmothers, and things, and you ’d make them uncomfortable too, with your — history.” Mopping his forehead with his handkerchief: “You have it infernally hot, up here, don’t you? ”

Blake, still absently: “ Then you think that Miss Bellingham herself would n’t be seriously distressed? ”

Bellingham. “ Leslie’s a girl that will go through anything she’s made up her mind to. And if she likes you well enough to marry you ” —

Blake. “ She says so.”

Bellingham. “Then burning plowshares would n’t, have the smallest effect upon her. But” —

Blake, calmly: “Then I won’t give her up.”

Bellingham. “ Eh? ”

Blake. “I won’t give her up. It’s bad enough as it is, but if I were such a sneak as to leave the woman who loved me because my marrying her would be unpleasant to her friends, I should be ten thousand times unworthier than I am. I am going to hold to my one chance of showing myself worthy to win her, and if she will have me I will have her, though it smashes the whole social structure. Bellingham, you ’re mistaken about this thing; her happiness won’t depend upon the. success of the aunts and cousins in accounting for me to the world; it’ll depend upon whether I’m man enough to be all the world to her. If she thinks I am, I will be! ”

Bellingham. “ Oh, don’t talk in that illogical way, Blake. Confound it! I know; I can account for your state of feeling, and all that; but I do assure you it’s mistaken. Let me put it to you. You don’t see this matter as I do; you can’t. The best part of a woman’s life is social ” —

Blake. “ I don’t believe that.”

Bellingham. “ Well, no matter: it ’s so; and whether you came into Leslie’s world or took her out of it, you’d make no end of — of — row. She ’d suffer in a thousand ways.”

Blake. “ Noth' she loved me, and was the kind of girl I take her to be.”

Bellingham. “ Oh, yes, she would, my dear fellow; Leslie’s a devilish proud girl; she’d suffer in secret, but it would try her pridein ways you don’t know of. Why, only consider: she’s taken by surprise in this affair; she’s had no time to think ” —

Blake. “ She shall have my whole life-time to make up her mind in; she shall test me in every way she will, and she may fling me away at any moment she will, and I will be her slave forever. She may give me up, but I will not give her up.”

Bellingham. “ Well, well! We won’t dispute about terms, but I’ll put it to you, yourself, Blake, — yourself. I want you to see that I ’m acting for your good; that I’m your friend.”

Blake. “ You ’re her brother, and you ’re my friend, whatever you say. I’ve borne to have you insinuate that I’m your inferior. Go on!” Blake’s voice trembles.

Bellingham. “Oh, now! Don’t take that tone! It isn’t fair. It makes me feel like — like the very devil. It does, indeed. I don’t mean anything of the kind. I mean simply that — that—ah — remote circumstances over which you had — ah — no control have placed you at a disadvantage, — social disadvantage. That’s all. It isn’t a question of inferiority or superiority. And I merely put it to you — as a friend, mind — whether the happiness of — ah —all concerned could n’t be more promptly— ah — secured by your refusing to submit yourself to tests that might— Come! Slie ’s flattered —any woman might be — by your liking her; but when she went back to her own associations ” —

Blake. “ If slie sees any man she likes better than me, I won’t claim her. But I can’t judge her by a loyalty less than my own. She will never change.”

Bellingham. “ Of course. I was only thinking — I ” —

Blake, quickly: “ What, do you mean ? Out with it, man! ”

Bellingham. “ Don’t take it in that way! My dear ” —

Blake. “If I’m her caprice and not her choice, I want to know it! I won’t be killed by inches. Speak! ”

Bellingham. “ Stop! I owe you my life, but you must n’t take that tone with me. ”

Blake. “ You owe me nothing, — nothing but an answer. If you mean there has been some one before me — She lias told me that slie never cared for any one but me; I believe her, but I want to know what you mean.”

Bellingham. “ She ’s my sister! What do you mean? ”

Leslie. “Oh, what does it mean?” She enters the room, as if she had been suddenly summoned by the sound of their angry voices from a guiltless ambush in the ball. At the sight of their flushed faces and defiant attitudes she flutters, electrically attracted, first toward one and then toward the other, but at last she instinctively takes shelter at Blake’s elbow: “Charles, what are you saying? What are you both so angry for? Oh, I hoped to find you such good friends, and here you are quarreling! Charles, what have you been doing? Oh, Charles, I always thought you were so generous and magnanimous, and have you been joining that odious conspiracy against us? For shame! And wliat have you found to say, I should like to know? I should like to know what yon’ve found to say — what a gentleman COULD say, under the circumstances! ” She grows more vehement as their mutual embarrassment increases upon the men, and Bellingham fades into a blank dismay behind the glare of his eye-glasses. “ Have you been saying something you re ashamed of, Charles? You could n't say anything about him, and so you’ve been trying to set him against me. What have you said about vour sister, Charles? — and always pretending to be so fond of me! Oh. oh, oh!” Miss Bellingham snatches her handkerchief from her pocket and hides her grief in it, while her brother continues to stare in entire petrifaction at her prescience.

Bellingham, finally: “Why, Leslie — Deuce take it all, Blake, why don’t you say something? I tell you, I haven’t said anything against you, Les. Blake will tell you himself that I was merely endeavoring to set the thing before him from different points of view. I wanted him to consider the shortness of your — acquaintance ” —

Leslie, in her handkerchief: “It’s fully three weeks since we met,—you know it. is.”

Bellingham. “ And I wanted him to reflect upon how very different all your associations and — traditions — were ” —

Leslie, still in her handkerchief: “ Oh, that was delicate — very!”

Bellingham. “ And to — ah — take into consideration the fact that returning to another—atmosphere — surroundings, you might — ah — change.”

Leslie, lifting her face: “ You did! Charles, did I ever change? ”

Bellingham. “ Well, I don’t know. I don’t know whether you’d call it changing, exactly; but I certainly got the impression from aunt Kate that there was some hope on Dudley’s part last summer ” —

Leslie, quitting her refuge and advancing fiercely upon the dismayed but immovable Bellingham, with her right hand thrust, rigidly down at her side, and her left held behind her clutching her handkerchief: “ Charles, have you dared to intimate that I ever cared the least thing about that — that — horrid — little — reptile? When you knew that my life was made perfectly ghastly by the way aunt Kate forced him on me, and it was as much as I could ever do to treat him decently! I never encouraged him for an instant, and you know it. Oh, Charley, Charley, how could you? It isn’t for myself I care; it’s for yon, for you ’re a gentleman, and you let yourself do that! How painfully strange that low, mean, shabby feeling must have been to you! I don’t wonder you could n’t face me or speak to me. I don’t ” —

Bellingham, desperately: “ Here; hold on! Good Lord! I can’t stand this! Confound it, I’m not made of iron — or gutta-percha. I ’ll allow it was sneaking, — Blake will tell you I looked it, — but it was a desperate case. It was a family job, and I had to do my best —or my worst — as the head of the family; and Blake would n’t hear reason, and ” —

Leslie. “ And so you thought you “d try fraud ! ”

Bellingham. “ Well, I should n’t use that word. But it ’s the privilege of your sex to call a spade a pitchfork, if you don’t like the spade. I tell you I never professed to know anything personally about the Dudley business. Come, Blake ” —

Leslie, turning and going devoutly np to Blake: “ Yes, he will defend you. He must save your honor since he saved your life.”

Bellingham, with a start: “ Eh? ”

Leslie. “ Oh, I know about it! Mamma told me. She thinks just as I do, now, and she has been feeling dreadfully about this shabby work she’d set you at; but I comforted her. I told her you would never do it in the world; that you would just shuffle about in your way ” ——

Bellingham. “ Oh, thanks! ”

Leslie. “But that you had too good a heart, too high a spirit, to breathe a syllable that would wound the pride of a brave and generous man to whom you owed life itself; that you would rather die than do it! ” To Blake: “ Oh, I’ve always been a romantic girl, — you won’t mind it in ine, will you? — and I’ve had my foolish dreams a thousand times about the man who risked his life to save my brother’s; and I hoped and longed that some day we should meet. I promised myself that I should know him, and I always thought how sweet and dear a privilege it would be to thank him. I want to thank you for his life as I used to dream of doing, but I cannot yet. I cannot till you tell me that he has not said one word unworthy of you, — unworthy of a gentleman! ”

Blake, smiling: “ He ’s all right! ”

Leslie, impetuously clinging to him: “ Oh, thanks, thanks, thanks! ”

Bellingham, accurately focusing the pair with freshly adjusted glasses: “ If you ’ll both give me your blessing, now, I ’ll go away, feeling perfectly rehabilitated, in the afternoon stage.”

Mrs. Bellingham, entering the parlor door: “Stage? Why, Mr. Blake isn’t going away! ”

Bellingham. “ Oh, no, Mr. Blake has kindly consented to remain. It was I who thought of going. I can’t bear to be idle! ”

Mrs. Bellingham, apart from the others: “ Charles, dear, I’m really sorry that I asked you to undertake that disagreeable business, and I ’d have come back at once with Leslie to relieve you, — to tell you that you need n’t speak, after all, — but she felt sure that you would n’t, and she insisted upon leaving you together and then stealing back upon you and cnjoy-

ing ” — Bellingham, solemnly: “You little knew me, mother. I have the making of an iron-hearted parent in me, and I was crushing all hope out of Blake when Leslie came in.”

Mrs. Bellingham. “ Charles, you don’t mean that you said anything to wound the feelings of a man to whom you owed your life, — to whom we all owe so much? ”

Bellingham. “ I don’t know about his feelings. But I represented pretty distinctly to him the social incompatibility.”

Mrs. Bellingham. “ Charles, I wonder at you! ’ ’

Bellingham. “Oh, yes! So do I. But if you ’ll take the pains to recall the facts, that’s exactly what you left me to do. May I ask what has caused you to change your mind ? ’ ’

Mrs. Bellingham, earnestly: “ I found that Leslie’s happiness really depended upon it; and in fact, Charles, when I came to reflect, I found that I myself liked him.”

Bellingham. “The words have a familiar sound,— as if I had used them myself in a former existence.” Turning front his mother and looking about: “ I seem to miss a — a support — moral support— in those present. Where is aunt Kate?”

Mrs. Murray, appearing at the door: “Marion! Ma—” She hesitates at sight of the peaceful grouping

Bellingham. “ Ah, this is indeed opportune! Come in, aunt Kate, come in! This is a free fight, as they say in Mr. Blake’s section. Any one can join.” Mrs. Murray advances wonderingly into the room, and Bellingham turns to his sister, where she stands at Blake’s side: “ Leslie, you think I’ve behaved very unhandsomely in this matter, don’t you ? ’ ’

Leslie, plaintively: “Charley, you know I hate to blame you. But I never could have believed it if any one else had told me.”

Bellingham. “ All right. Mother, I understand that you would have been similarly incredulous? ”

Mis. Bellingham. “I know that you acted from a good motive, Charles, but you certainly went to an extreme that I could never have expected.”

Bellingham. “ All right, again. Blake, if the persons and relations had all been changed, could you have said to me what I said to you? ”

Blake. “That isn’t a fair question, Bellingham.”

Bellingham. “ All right, as before. Now, aunt Kate, I appeal to you. You know all the circumstances in which I was left here with this man who saved my life, who rescued Leslie from those tramps, who has done you all a thousand kindnesses of various sorts and sizes, who has behaved with the utmost delicacy and discretion throughout, and is in himself a thoroughly splendid fellow. Ho you think I did right or wrong to set plainly before him the social disadvantages to which his marrying Leslie would put us? ”

Mrs. Murray, instantly and with great energy: “Charles, I say — and every person in society, except your mother and sister, would say — that you did exactly right! ”

Bellingham. “ That settles it. Blake, my dear old fellow, T beg your pardon with all my heart; and I ask you to forget, if you can, every word I said. Confound society!” he offers his hand to Blake, who seizes it and wrings it in his own.

Leslie, as she flings her arms round his neck, with a fluttering cry of joy: “Oh, Charley, Charley, I’ve got my ideal back again! ”

Bellingham, disengaging her arms and putting her hand into Blake’s: “Both of them.” Turning to Mrs. Murray: “And now, aunt, I beg your pardon. What do you say? ”

Mrs. Murray, frozenly: “ Charles, you know my principles.”

Bellingham. “ They Tc identical on all points with my own. Well? ”

Mrs. Murray, grimly: “ Well, then, you know that I never would abandon my family, — whatever happened ! ”

Bellingham. “By Jove, that isn’t so bad. We must be satisfied to take your forgiveness as we get it. Perhaps Leslie might object to the formulation of” —

Leslie, super - joyously: “ Oh, no. I object to nothing in the world, now, Charles. Aunt Kate is too good! I never should have thought of asking her to remain with us.”

Bellingham. That isn’t so bad, either! You are your aunt’s own niece. Come, Blake, we can't let this go on. Say something to allay the ill feeling you’ve created in this family.”

Blake. “ I think I’d better not try. But if you ’ll give me time, I ’ll do my best to live down the objections to me.”

Bellingham. “ Oh, you’ve done that. What we want now — as I understand aunt Kate — is that you should live down the objections to us. One thing that puzzles me” — thoughtfully scratching the sparse parting of his hair— “ is that our position is so very equivocal in regard to the real principle involved. It. seems to me that we are begging the whole question, which is, if Blake” —

Leslie. “There, there! I knew he would! ”

Bellingham, severely: “Mother, you will allow that I have been left, to take the brunt of this little affair in a — well, somewhat circuitous manner? ”

Mrs. Bellingham. “ Charles, I am very, very sorry ” —

Bellingham. “ And that I am entitled to some sort of reparation? ”

Leslie. “ Don’t allow that, mamma! I know he’s going to say something disagreeable. He looks just, as he always does when he has one of his ideas.”

Bellingham. “ Thanks, Miss Bellingham. I am going to have this particular satisfaction out of you. Then I will return to my habitual state of agreeable vacancy. Mother” —

Leslie. “Mamma, don’t answer him! It’s the only way.”

Bellingham. “ It is not necessary that I should be answered. I wish merely to have the floor. The question is, if Blake were merely a gentleman somewhat at odds with his history, associations, and occupation, and not also our benefactor and preserver in so many ways, — whether we should be so ready to — ah ” —

Mrs. Bellingham. “ Charles, dear, I think it. is unnecessary to enter into these painful minutim. ”

Mrs. Murray. “ I feel bound to say that I know we should not.”

Bellingham. “ This is the point which I wished to bring out. Blake, here is your opportunity: renounce us!”

Blake. “ What do you say, Leslie? ”

Leslie. “I say that I don’t believe it, and I know that I like you for yourself, — not for what you’ve done for us. I did from the first moment, before you spoke or saw me. But if you doubt me, or should ever doubt me ” —

Blake, taking in his left both the little hands that she has appealingly laid upon his arms: “ That’s out of the question ! ”

W. D. Howells.