MRS. PAUL’S face was white when Mrs. Jennings left her, and her hands shook. She could not bear excitement very well, she admitted, impatient at bodily weakness. She smiled a little, and frowned, and said, tremulously, to herself that it was outrageous that such an affair should have been brought to her ears. But by the time Davids, full of carefully concealed curiosity, returned from ejecting Mrs. Jennings to inquire if his mistress were ready for lights, he found her calm and almost agreeable.

“ When Mr. John comes in, say to him that I wish to see him, Davids,” she said pleasantly ; and Davids, who knew perfectly well that Mrs. Jennings’ visit “ meant something,” pursed up his shaven lips, and went out to the kitchen to say to Scarlett, “ She’s too polite to be safe, —poor Mr. John ! ”

But it happened that John Paul was late, and his mother had no opportunity for conversation with him before tea. He found her at the table, and glanced at her with some interest; for Davids had had a word with him before he entered the dining-room.

“If you please, sir,” the man had ventured, standing with a napkin over his arm, gravely watching John pull off his overcoat, “ Mrs. Paul wished to speak with you, sir; but that was when she thought you would be in, in good season for tea, Mr. John.”

The words were simple enough, but there was a significant look, which John had known from boyhood. However, the threatened storm was not of enough importance to think about, and he merely had a moment of surprise at finding his mother quite good-natured. Indeed, had he come a little earlier, this would have been more striking. She was beginning to remember something that the shocking old woman had said, which was neither amusing nor interesting, — something about a person called Townsend. This hint had begun to assume annoying proportions by the time John arrived, He had been going to see this young woman, had he ? Who was she ? The name was familiar, but a music teacher ? Johnny was always a ploughboy ! However, as he entered, she banished all that, and said her clever and unkind things in a really friendly way. Her son took the trouble to be glad of this eccentricity, for he had planned to tell her that night of his intentions for the future. The matter of his interest in a newspaper of the great city of his State had been concluded, and he was to leave Mercer by the middle of May, and, for the first time in his life, go to work. He was full of enthusiasm, and full of hope too, for the step which was to follow this, but of which, of course, no one could know until he had Katherine’s promise.

John Paul knew quite well that the breaking his purpose to his mother would not be an agreeable business, so it was a comfort to find her less irritable than usual. He only hoped that her amiability would last until they reached the drawing-room; but it never occurred to him to hurry through his supper, that he might assure himself of her mood. Supper was far too serious a matter to John Paul to be disturbed by anything so unimportant as his mother’s temper. Mrs. Paul bore his delay with a patience which confused Davids, who was standing behind her chair, and watching John with an expression of the deepest solicitude.

“ There’s something pretty bad up,” he said to Scarlett, when he went out to the kitchen for another plate of toast, — in his sympathy for his master, his eyebrows quite lost their supercilious arch upon his narrow forehead, —“ something pretty bad. Maria Jennings don’t come here and talk about him, and get put out, for nothing ; and she ain’t so smooth for nothing, either. But, law !

I ‘m glad he can eat. It ’s hard to stand a woman’s tongue on an empty stomach.”

“The toast is getting cold. * Scarlett observed. As usual, she kept her opinion to herself.

“ Like a woman ! ” Davids thought bitterly, with a man’s inconsistency in regard to the mothers of the race. His curiosity was really anguish when, later, he was obliged to shut himself out of the room, leaving the mother and son together. He invented a dozen excuses to go back again, but his common sense stood firmly in the way, — and Scarlett would not hazard a single guess, or even look interested! Davids gnashed his teeth. “ Women! ” he said. “ The world would be a sight better if there was n’t a woman in it! ”

Scarlett turned her passive face towards him, and looked at him.

“ See the trouble she makes for Mr. John,” the man hastily explained.

But in spite of Davids’ anxiety and sympathy, John Paul was not at all troubled, although towards the close of supper he felt that there was something unusual in the air. His mother’s face had grown harder ; she spoke with an increasing sharpness ; there seemed to be a deliberate preparation for anger ; yet, oddly enough, he could not rid himself of the idea that, beneath it all, she was more than ordinarily good-tempered.

They were no sooner in the drawingroom, where a little fire was burning on the hearth, and where the air was heavy with fragrance from the pots of hyacinths in the south window, than Mrs. Paul began with great bitterness to reproach her son for having been late to tea ; John, meanwhile,silently calculating how soon he could escape into the fresh night, and take a turn in the garden with his cigar. The thought struck him that, according to Katherine’s doctrine, he ought, in order to teach his mother a lesson in unselfishness, to refuse to play at draughts in a room which was made insufferable by a fire and by the heavy sweetness of flowers. But he shook his head, and laughed under his breath. Heat, and perfume, and interminable checkers were better than the possibilities in that voice. Yes, very likely he was a coward in such matters, but at least he had no shrinking from greater things. Now that the final moment had come, he had not the slightest disinclination to tell his mother of his plans, and he was really glad when Davids, having brought the footstool and arranged the fan-shaped screen, left him alone with his opportunity.

“Now!” said Mrs. Paul. “Davids dawdles so over his work, I really thought he meant to spend the evening with us. No, don’t bring the checkertable, — your intolerable lack of punctuality has lost me my game, — for I have something to say to you, and you are too selfish to stay with me later than nine. One would think I had plenty to entertain me, instead of sitting here alone for hours. Though to-day, thanks to you, I have had a diversion, — a most unpleasant, a most shameful interruption. I am astounded, sir, at your conduct! ” She struck her clenched hand on the arm of her chair, and John, sitting opposite, noted, lazily, how her rings sparkled. “Of course you know what I mean ? ”

Her son had been so heedless of her words that his face was quite blank.

“ I don’t pretend,” she said, “ that you are a pattern of virtue, though you are a fool; but at least you might keep such affairs from your mother’s ears, and not subject me to what I have endured this afternoon.”

“ What in the world is the matter now ? ” thought John Paul. He yawned furtively in his beard, and wished that he might begin his own story. If it had not been for a curious feeling that his mother was in a good humor under all this fierceness, he would not have noticed her railing; he observed that she addressed him as “ John,” with a hint of respect in her voice, which he could not understand ; he watched her, faintly interested.

Mrs. Paul polished her glasses delicately with her handkerchief, and then put them on and looked at him.

“ It is scandalous that I should know of it, — that you should have permitted that abominable old creature to come here about her daughter.” John sat up straight, in sudden attention. “ I do not propose to interfere in such a matter ” (her son leaped to his feet, with an unspoken word upon his lips) ; “ of course I deplore it, and all that, but it is n’t my affair, and I only refer ” —

John cried out, with a sharp gesture, “ Not your affair ? Oh, mother ! ”

She frowned at his interruption. “ Let me proceed, if you please. You should know enough to silence her mother’s tongue, and prevent her from coming here — to me — to ask for my interference, or aid, I don’t know which. It is outrageous.”

“ What are you talking about? ” said John Paul, very quietly.

“ You know perfectly well; the girl’s mother has been here. It appears that you have made her jealous. And I have to listen to that, too, — I, your mother ! ”

“My mother,” John repeated. His face was white. John Paul had borne many things from this handsome woman ; he had been railed at, and snubbed, and neglected ever since he was a child.' He had never shown her the affection which she apparently despised ; perhaps he had never stopped to see whether he had any affection; but beneath his indifference had been always the instinct of the child for the parent. Once he had rested on her heart, she had carried him in her arms, he had slept in her bosom ; she was his mother. And now it was his mother who said that the evil life which she believed he led was no affair of hers. John caught his breath in something like a sob. Then he said, “ Who is this person whom you have seen ? ”

Mrs. Paul shrugged her shoulders. “ I do not care to discuss it. I have merely mentioned it to insist that you shall keep such matters from me, and — and to say how such conduct distresses me — of course.”

“ I must insist upon the name of your informant.”

His mother made an impatient gesture. “ Be good enough to drop this affectation.”

“ I have no intention of defending myself to you,” John answered. “ I only desire to know who has said these things ; then I will drop the subject.”

“ Really ? ” said Mrs. Paul. “ But I certainly shall not tell you, my friend, for you know perfectly well. One thing, however, I will say : it is shameful that you should permit such a creature to gossip about you. You should know better than that, at least. This person who has made her jealous, apparently, this Miss Townsend ” —

“ Silence ! ” cried John Paul. “ What do you mean ? Who has dared to speak her name ? ”

His calm white face suddenly blazed with passion, and he stammered as he spoke. Mrs. Paul felt as though caught in an unexpected hurricane; she was breathless for a moment.

“ You — you — use that tone to me ? I dare ! I accuse you. I say plainly that I am astounded at your stupidity — and your low ways.”

“ Have you finished ? ”

“ No, sir, I have not! This Townsend girl that ” —

“ You will leave Miss Townsend’s name out of this discussion,” interrupted her son. He was standing before her, his arms folded, so that the grip of restraint in his hands was not seen.

“ What ? There is something in that, is there ? You do go to see this person, do you, this — school - teacher ? And perhaps she does think you are going to marry her ? The old woman knew what she was talking about, it appears.”

“ I don’t know what you are talking about, and I don’t know what you mean by your ‘old woman,’" John answered slowly. “ I have no idea to what absurd and lying scandal you have listened, nor do I care to inquire further into it, unless some damnable gossip has dared to use Miss Townsend’s name without reverence ; in which case, she will answer to me. I ask you once more, what is the name of this person ? ”

Her lip curled into a short laugh. “ You may ask me as often as you wish. I shall not tell you ; you know perfectly well. Unless, indeed, there are ” — (“ Oh, hush, hush!” John said. “Oh, mother ! ”) “ As for this Miss Townsend, I want it distinctly understood that I shall not permit such a thing for a moment.”

“ Permit what ? ”

Anger and shame had transformed John’s face ; it seemed to have grown years older.

“You — to marry her. Your friend informed me that the girl had some such expectation; but you had better make her understand that I will not allow it, and that if you choose to disobey me you shall not have one cent of my money. Not one cent! Do you hear me ? ”

“ I hear you perfectly ; and now, if you please, you will hear me. I have too much respect for my father’s wife to deny to my mother such an accusation as has been made, though I do ask you for the name of the person whom you permit to slander your son. But for this other matter. I have the honor of informing you that Miss Townsend is to be my wife.”

“ Go on,” said Mrs. Paul.

“ I had also intended, this evening, to tell you that I shall end my connection with the warehouse on the first of next month.”

“ Go on.”

“ I have nothing more to say.”

“ Then listen to me ! ” cried his mother. “ If you marry a beggar, you can live like a beggar. Do you understand what that means ? Answer me.”

“Yes, it is what I have done all my life. It is what comes to an end when I cease to eat your bread.”

Mrs. Paul choked with rage. “ I will not have you marry her! ”

John did not speak for a moment; then he said, under his breath, “ How terrible, how terrible ! ”

“ Ah, you are coming to your senses, are you? You are wise to reflect upon the husks that the swine do eat, rather than to try them. I warn you that the rôle of the prodigal son shall never be played in my house. If you disobey me once, it ends everything. Forgiveness is weakness. I never forgive.”

“ We shall be married very soon,”John said, looking away from her, almost as if he had not heard her. “ You may do what you please with your money ; it is nothing to us. But oh, I wish you could see Katherine, — I wish you could see her! It must make a difference.” His voice softened as he spoke. “ I have been a coward ; I see it now. I have helped to make this possible in you. Forgive me. And yet — and yet — I think I shall never forgive you.”

Mrs. Paul, staring at him, dumb with anger, and struggling to see some meaning in his words, suddenly shrank back into her chair, and put her hands before her eyes. “You look — like your father ! ” she said, in a whisper.

John, turning on his heel, glanced back at her. “ My poor father !”

He did not stop to call Scarlett or Davids, but went at once out into the heavy darkness of the moonless night. An intent purpose blotted out even the anger in his face, but his hands were clenched, and he breathed quickly between his teeth, in unconscious rage.

When he reached Katherine’s door, he stood with an impatient hand upon the knob, waiting the answer to his ring, and a moment later pushed past the mournful Maria without a word ; for he saw Katherine in the parlor, standing by the bookcase, absorbed in the volume in her hand. John was so intent upon his own thoughts that he would scarcely have noticed it had the room been full of people. As it was, there was only Ted, curled up in the big armchair, reading Mother Goose, like a wise baby.

John went at once to Katherine’s side, taking the book and her hands in his. “ Katherine,” he said, “ we must be married at once, dear.”

“ Very well,” she answered. She drew a quick breath and bit her lip, and then the tears came into her eyes.

“ John,” observed Ted, putting down Mother Goose, “why do you and Kitty look at each other so funny ? Why don’t you do something ? ”

Katherine laughed tremulously, but John’s face was stern with the greatness of the moment. He lifted her hand to his lips. “ I will try to be a good man, Katherine. God bless you ! ”

Ted did not see why he should have been taken in his sister’s arms, nor why she should have kept her face hidden so long in his little thin neck ; nor did it seem reasonable that he should have been sent to bed just “ as John is here, and we could ‘a’ gone and played with the pups !" It was hard, to be sure, so Mr. Paul promised to come earlier the next time.

After that, there was a very long talk, — very long and very happy. It seemed to John, watching Katherine with worshiping eyes, as though each moment showed him more clearly how great, and sane, and beautiful life was. He had not meant to do it, but he told her. briefly, that he had had a scene with his mother. ” I shall never forgive her, Katherine, and — she is my mother ! ” he ended.

“ Yes, dear, yes,” she answered, — he had heard that tenderness in her voice before, but it had always been for Ted or her sisters, — “ you will. I think you do already, John, in your pity and your own regret.”

But John Paul shook his head.

Katherine’s eyes had blazed with sudden understanding at the mention of “ some old woman and her daughter,” but she offered no explanation. How much her silence was kindness towards poor little silly Eliza, and how much that absurd anger which she had felt when she had learned the milliner’s harmless secret, she did not try to understand.

“ When can we be married ? ” John insisted, after many plans had been made and many things explained. “ In a week, Kate, surely ? ”

She laughed, with a rippling gladness on her face that was not a smile, but light in her eyes and tenderness about her lips. “ Why, you have never asked me to marry you, John ! We ’ve never been engaged. I have just thought of it.”

“ Have n’t we ? ” John said, frowning, joyously. “ It seems as if we had been, always. But that does n’t make any difference, you know; only it’s queer it did not strike me when I told my mother that we were to be married. I think we take the best things for granted ! Now, Katherine, when ? ”


The next morning, Sidney, walking up and down between her garden borders, heard her name called, and saw Mr. John Paul coming down the path. These spring mornings filled Sidney Lee with that strange joy which is quite apart from personal experience, and has nothing to do with reason, but which leaps with the sap in a lily stalk, and guides the frolics of the young sheep in an upland pasture, or brings a prayer upon a man’s lip and tears to his eyes.

Sidney could forget the sad world outside her garden walls as easily as she could forget that Miss Sally was busy in the kitchen, and that another pair of hands would have made her aunt’s work lighter. She had been singing softly to herself ; singing was like breathing, in this sunshine, and soft wind, and scent of growing things. She stopped when she saw John, and smiled, shielding her eyes from the fresh glitter of the sunshine with one hand, and giving him the other.

“Sidney, my dear,” John said, keeping her hand in his big grasp, “ look here ; will you do me a favor?”

“ I ’ll be glad to.” His face was so serious that she added, “ Is Mrs. Paul ill ? ” At which he scowled so blackly that Sidney felt she had said something wrong, and was puzzled, but waited for him to explain; like her father, she did not ask many questions.

“ I want you to do me a favor,” John began again. “ I want you to go and see Katherine Townsend, and ask Miss Sally to go, too. She knows her; Miss Townsend is Robert Steele’s cousin, you know. I believe you were n’t at home either time she came to call on Miss Sally ? ”

“ No, I have n’t seen her,” Sidney answered, wondering at the color which had come into Mr. Paul’s face. “ I ‘11 go with pleasure ; ” and she waited to he told why.

But John suddenly became aware of the observing windows of his mother’s house, and hurried his companion into the evergreen alley that ran across the garden from the green door in the wall, on one side, to the fence that shut off the lane, on the other. The alley widened in the middle of the garden into a little circle, where a sun-dial stood; but the path was always in the shade, and the dial did not mark the quiet hours on its stained copper face. The branches were so thick that the alley was quite dark, and the black earth was damp, and faintly green with mould, and powdery with white streaks about the roots of the trees. (There was no danger that Mrs. Paul could see them here : but before they turned into the pleached walk she had had a glimpse of her son calmly pacing up and down by Sidney’s side. That sight had been like wind upon a fire ; after an instant’s breathless silence, she called out to Scarlett with furious fault-finding, and even made as though she would strike the woman with her stick.)

“ I ’ll tell you what it is, Sidney,” John was explaining in the evergreen alley. “ Miss Townsend, she’s — she’s going to marry me. And my mother — well, she is n’t willing,you see. And though, of course, it does n’t make any difference, it is sort of unpleasant for Kate. So I want some of my friends to be nice to her. I knew Miss Sally would go to see her, she’s so good; but I thought, perhaps, if you would go — you are nearer her own age — you know ? ”

Sidney, with parted lips, stood quite still, and looked at him.

John blushed. “ I know I seem old to you, Sidney, and I’m sure I wish she ’d taken me ten years ago, twenty years ago ; only I did n’t know her until last fall. Oh, Sidney, she is — really, I don’t speak in any personal way — I mean I am unprejudiced, entirely unprejudiced — but, by Jove, Sidney, she ’s — she ’s — a very remarkable woman ! ”

Sidney drew a long breath. “ I will go, of course ; and aunt Sally will, too ; but I — I don’t understand ! ”

“You will love her,” John declared, following his own thoughts, and blind to Sidney’s confused look. “ We are not going to be married until August. Katherine won’t have it a day sooner, I ‘m afraid. Miss Sally is to be married then, too, is n’t she ? ”

Sidney nodded, frowning a little.

“ We shall not live in Mercer,” John proceeded. “ I am going into the office of The Independent Press. The major takes it, does n’t he ? ”

“ But Mrs. Paul,” Sidney said, scarcely hearing his reference to the newspaper, — “ what will she do ? ”

John’s face darkened savagely. “Sidney, you don’t understand these things, more’s the pity. But listen to me. If a man and woman care for each other, nothing in heaven, or earth, or the waters under the earth has a right to part them. Do you understand ? They belong to one another. See ? Why, it would be wicked to let anything interfere. There is,” declared John Paul, “ no such thing as duty to any one else (even if a — a mother deserved it) that should keep two people apart who — care, you know, at least who care as we do. The only thing in the world to be considered, Sidney, is love, my dear, love ! ” John lowered his voice, and looked up at the drift of white clouds above the swaying points of the cypresses. Sidney caught her breath. It was wonderful, this illumination in his good-natured face. “ And so,” he continued cheerfully, “ there’s nothing to be said about anybody’s wishes but just our own.” Then he fell to talking in the frankest way of his plans, and economies, and many practical things.

There was gladness in his face, to be sure ; but rent ? and the size of a house ? and whether it were better to be on the line of the steam or horse cars ? Sidney felt as though dropped suddenly from a height.

“ I will go,” she said slowly; “ only, if you please, I would like to tell Mrs. Paul.”

John looked uneasy. “ I don’t think it is necessary.”

But Sidney was determined. “ I will surely go,” she insisted, smiling. “ I want to.” And with that he had to be contented.

She watched him closely as he spoke again of Katherine; he was certainly very happy. She looked up at the soft blue of the April sky, and at the snowy clouds stretching across the east like a flight of cherubs. She shivered a little and seemed about to speak, but could not. “ Does he forget death ? ” she thought. After he left her, with this new joyousness in his eyes, which made his step lighter and his face younger, Sidney still walked up and down the shadowy alley.

Perhaps, for the moment, John Paul’s indifference to his mother and her wishes was the most forcible comment he could have made upon the power of that new emotion which so transformed him. Sidney’s very instincts were her father’s; disobedience had never been a temptation, because it was an impossibility. Of course she knew that, outwardly, John’s relation to his mother was quite different, but — she was his mother. That was the first wonder at what love could do, but the greater wonder came.

There was an old wooden bench near the sun-dial, curved like an irregular crescent; it had stood here so long that its paint had flaked and worn away, and its four thick posts were mossy green and stained with the rust of lichen. In summer the slats of the back were hidden by a tangle of vines, but now only leafless stems and brittle tendrils twisted in and out between them; crocuses grew close about the bench, and, opening their white and purple cups, filled the damp, warm air with that fresh earth-scent, which belongs to spring. Sidney sat down here, and leaned her chin in her hands.

“ Death, death ! ” she said to herself, — “he can forget it; he never thinks of anything but happiness. Perhaps that is because it is all new; perhaps as soon as he gets used to it he will begin to be afraid ? ” She watched, with absent eyes, a brown butterfly flicker along the shadows of the path into the open light of the circle ; then, with a start, she remembered that she must tell Miss Sally. Did Alan know? she wondered. Sidney’s mind was in a tumult. Never in her calm, self-centred life had she been so stirred. Miss Sally’s little love affair? She frowned as she thought of it. Yet to stop to talk about rents and steamcars ! What did it all mean ?

She told her aunt in the briefest way that Mr. Paul was to marry Miss Townsend, but she did not wait to listen to the little spinster’s delighted surprise. To have Miss Sally, with a ladle in her hand, fall into a chair, and gasp, and exclaim, and laugh with pleasure through twinkling tears, seemed to the girl profane ; she wished she could get away from it all. A strange dislike and passionate interest clamored in her mind.

When she went to see Mrs. Paul, the scolding of the older woman was almost a relief. It was something tangible and easily understood. “ I thought I ought to come,” she announced in her calm way, “to say that this afternoon I am going to see Miss Townsend. Mr. Paul asked me to.”

Mrs. Paul was so angry, so dismayed, so unwilling that Sidney should see her discomfiture at her son’s defiance, that for a moment she did not know how to reply.

“ I am very sorry to hear it,” she said, — “ very sorry and disappointed in you. This Miss Townsend has some foolish infatuation for John which I do not at all approve of, — not at all. I am very sure that she is not a proper person for you to know. I suppose, though, like every other young person in these impudent days, you set yourself up to know more than your elders, so I need not expect you to be guided by me when I say that you ought not to see her; but at least I can insist that you do not call upon this very offensive young woman without your father’s permission. Your aunt knows you are going ? As though Sally had the slightest sense in such matters ! I have no doubt she would think it proper to visit her washerwoman ! ”

“ But,” said Sidney gently, “ Miss Townsend is Mr. Steele’s cousin, Mrs. Paul.”

Mrs. Paul was astounded, but not for a moment dismayed nor softened. “ What, the girl whose mother was a Drayton ? I remember ; some one told me. Move shame to her, then, for her conduct in running after a rich man. — at least a man with a rich mother. I am perfectly disgusted with those Steeles and every one connected with them. I would n’t have had you look at young Steele for worlds, though it’s plain enough why he took Sally. You very properly repulsed him.”

Sidney looked at her with faint curiosity.

“This Townsend girl is shockingly forward,” continued Mrs. Paul, her voice shrill and her hands unsteady. “No well-brought-up young woman would try to marry a man against his mother’s wishes. I should think you would know better than to want to see her. It’s this talk of love and marriage that pleases you ; you are like all the rest of them, in spite of Mortimer Lee’s fine theories. But there shall be no wedding gayeties, — I can tell you that, miss ! ”

Another girl, with quick consciousness, would have disclaimed interest in such subjects; but Sidney only looked with puzzled surprise at the fierce old woman, whose eyes blurred once as though with terrified tears. Sidney was stinging with interest, and painful interest; it did not occur to her to deny it.

“ It shall not be ! ” cried Mrs. Paul, forgetting that she was betraying her own fear. “ Johnny knows his interests ; he won’t throw away his bread and butter, I can tell you ! ”

But Sidney was too much absorbed in her own wonder to care for Mrs. Paul’s dismay. She did not stay very long; she was impatient to see the girl who was going to take love into her life. Perhaps, without being aware of it, this experience of another woman was the greatest reality which Sidney had ever known; for her love for her father was so much a part of herself she was almost unconscious of it.

It was evident, from the confusion of her thoughts, as she walked out to Red Lane this April afternoon, that, whether she knew it or not, the slumber of her mind, which had followed an accepted opinion, had been rudely broken. She was beginning to live as she opened her eyes to the power of love.

Life was very bewildering to Sidney Lee. First, her calm and almost beautiful egotism (there is a certain beauty in anything which is perfect) had been touched faintly by Miss Sally’s timid happiness. It was as though a hesitating knock had fallen upon the outer gates of a sleeping palace, only loud enough to make the contented dreamer within stir impatiently. But now had come a clamor upon the very door of her heart. She must hear Life! Its importunate gladness banished dreams, even though she barred the door and refused to look upon its glowing face.

She went over and over in her mind John Paul’s words and looks. ” It is n’t just because he is happy in caring for her,” she thought, ‘‘but because he has imagined a heaven for his happiness. And there is no heaven! Oh, that is n’t what I should suppose he would imagine, for it does n’t seem to me that heaven would be enough to make up for the years that may come and stand between them. Time is like death, in a way; but if they were sure that their God knew what it all meant, — love and death in the same world,— why they lived and why they suffered, I should think they could bear to be without their heaven. But it is immortality, not God, apparently, that excuses love. Oh, I should imagine — Some One who knows! ” Then she fell to thinking of a certain wise man who left a field untilled for many years, that he might observe how it was altered or affected by the earth-worms below the surface. “If the worms could only have known,” she thought, intent upon this reality which had pressed upon her dreaming eyes, “ if they could have guessed why their field suffered those conditions, and why they were living their poor, dark lives, it would have been worth while. Oh, if there were only any great reason above all the little reasons and ignorances, I could understand that people might be patient to suffer ! ”

Katherine Townsend saw Sidney coming, and, guessing who it was (for John, taking every opportunity to send a note to Red Lane, had announced that she would call), opened the door herself, and took the girl’s hand in her cordial grasp.

“ You are Sidney Lee ? ” she said, leading her into the parlor. “ I am so glad to see you.” She looked at her with keen, friendly eyes. " John told me you were coming.”

Sidney was far more embarrassed than Katherine ; but it was not shyness nor any unworldliness, in the sense of what was unaccustomed ; only the wonder of the dreamer who has been unaware of any other landscape than the blurred world of sleep.

Katherine’s charming tact was for once at a loss. The weather, and the fresh, sweet skies, and the bird singing in the rain under her window the day before ; Miss Sally, and Robert Steele’s good fortune in winning her, and how kind, and gentle, and unselfish Katherine thought the little spinster; Ted and the pups, — all in vain ! Sidney answered quite sweetly and briefly, with a little dignity in her manner which held Katherine very far away. Yet there was an eager, wistful look in her eyes that seemed a shadow of trouble in their placid depths.

Katherine drew a sigh of relief when her guest rose to go, but, with a simplicity which was born of her great content, she held Sidney’s hand a moment as she said good-by.

“ I wish,” she declared, “ that everybody could be as happy as I am.”

“ Oh ! ” cried Sidney, with a halfsobbing breath.

Katherine looked at her, surprised and not understanding. Long ago John had told her of this young girl’s destiny as Major Lee had planned it, but to the very practical and warm-hearted woman it had been too absurd to remember.

“ Are you happy ? ” Sidney asked, almost in a whisper.

There was something in the way in which Katherine said, looking frankly at her questioner, “ Yes, indeed I am ! ” that gave Sidney Lee a pang. The tone was too glad. “ How can she say it ? ” would have been her thought, had she known enough to put it into words; it was exactly the same feeling she had had when Mr. Paul talked of rent and steam-cars.

The question brought back to Katherine the strange thing John had told her, and, with that common sense which hid amusement under the kindliest manner in the world, she added, smiling, “ Don’t you think I ought to be . ”

“ But”— Sidney said, and then waited a moment — " death ?

That word touched the glad content upon Katherine’s lips, and left her silent.

“ Forgive me ! ” Sidney cried. “ I had no right to say that, but oh, I do not understand ! ”

“Why” — the other began. It was towards dusk, and the room was full of shadows, but she could see the strained look in Sidney’s face. “ Oh, Miss Lee ! ” She had no words.

“ Are you not afraid — every moment ? I have no right to ask you, but it all seems so strange, so terrible.”

“ No, I am net afraid,” Katherine answered. “ Death ? Yes, of course, but life first; and life is so rich and so beautiful; and after that — heaven.”

“If — if,” Sidney protested hurriedly, “ there were not any heaven, then would the beauty and the richness be worth while ? ”

Katherine was flung into a seriousness which afterwards greatly surprised her. She put her hands up to her eyes for an instant ; then she shook her head. Katherine Townsend was too well satisfied with the comfort of her religion ever to have invited any doubts of it by subjecting it to the scrutiny of her intelligence, and therefore she did not feel the dismay which might have shaken some persons with the memory of a forgotten terror. Although not aware of her mental processes, Katherine had curtailed her perceptions to fit her creed, knowing, without having taken the trouble to reason about it, that she could not stretch her creed to contain her perceptions. As a result, she was quite happy, and found the endeavor to live up to her religion far more comfortable than would have been the endeavor to understand it. But Sidney’s words showed her a shuddering possibility. “ No,” she said, “ oh, no, it would not be worth while, — not without another life.” But her composure was shaken only for a moment. “ My dear Miss Lee, I know what you think, — John told me; but you won’t feel so when you care for some one. Indeed, indeed, you are all wrong. The good Lord meant us to love each other, and death does not end all, — it only begins it.”

Sidney smiled sadly ; it seemed to her very pathetic. “ Of course you could not love unless you thought that.”

“ I know it! ” Katherine declared.

“ How ? ”

The two women looking into each other’s faces had forgotten conventionality ; the tears were upon Katherine’s cheeks, and Sidney’s eyes threatened her for an answer. It was a cry for the unknown God.

But Katherine could only give her that longing of the human soul for compensation for the pain of life. " Oh,” she exclaimed, “because life would be too terrible if it were not true! It must be true ! ” She sobbed as she spoke; she was very tired, — nervous, she told herself afterwards, not remembering the fierce demand in Sidney’s young face, — or this would have been impossible.

“ I hope,” Sidney said, in a low voice, “that you will not be unhappy.”

“ I shall be — heavenly happy ! ” cried Katherine, half terrified. Then she put her hand on the girl’s shoulder and kissed her. “ I hope you may be, too. And — and, Miss Lee, we have Christ and his promises, — the Resurrection and the Life. Oh, do think of that ? ”

As for Sidney, she went home with a certain equilibrium of mind asserting itself. This love which could be indifferent to grief, because it hugged a fallacy to its heart, was not beautiful nor great. It deliberately refused to think of the coming of sorrow, or it even forgot sorrow ; and forgetfulness may be another name for cowardice.

“ If she had said ‘ yes,’ she knew that death would come, and that she had no imagined heaven, but that love was worth while, anyhow, it might seem great. But that would need — what ? ” Sidney had no words except that vague Some One who knows. Ah, with that! But she shook her head, with a wild instinct of freedom. She exulted, even while she pitied Katherine and felt the terror of life.

“And to talk of promises,” she thought, the old contempt coming back, — “ promises ! Oh, how strange it is that these Christians are not satisfied with their idea of God ! Why do they belittle it by their creeds and promises and their non-human man ? I should think a God would be enough. But they hang all these little thoughts about the one great thought until they almost hide it. I suppose one could cover a mountain with lace ! ” She smiled ; perhaps there is no conceit so arrogant as the conceit which follows a conviction of emancipation. Still, the mystery and wonder lingered in her eyes, and did not escape Major Lee. He watched her closely at their silent tea-table, that evening, and, later, he asked her what her afternoon had been.

They were sitting by an open window in the library, for the day had been very warm. The spring twilight, full of the scent of the sun-warmed earth, came in from the garden, and hid their faces from each other as Sidney told her story.

Major Lee’s astonishment made him put down his cigar. “ John Paul ! Is it possible that he found words enough to ask a lady to marry him ? ”

His face lighted as she told him of Katherine, and of that strange talk, and of her own conclusions. “ Yes, it is always so ; the young woman has the prodigality of youth in promising what does not belong to her. She can talk about this life, perhaps, although her experience is not large; but her suggestions of another life are pathetic or amusing, as one looks at it. The way in which persons who want to excuse or to explain a position wrench a statement from their imaginations, and then label it a fact, is amazing. But John Paul ? He seemed to me a young man of a fair amount of intelligence. Ah, my darling, ‘ we are the men, and wisdom will die with us’! ” He laughed a little ; the major felt more cheerful than for many a day. Sidney had seen it for herself.


John Paul’s engagement produced an astonishment in the small world upon the hill, second only to that felt when Miss Sally and Robert declared their passion; and in this case, as in the other, the most astounded and angry person was Mrs. Paul. John’s laconic note announcing that he was to be married in August, and repeating his intention of leaving the warehouse, gave her a pang of more personal pain than she had felt for a very long time; perhaps, indeed, she had never felt that kind of pain before. The smothered and forgotten instinct of maternity was wounded, although not deeply enough to rouse anything but anger.

The major was annoyed that Sidney should have to see more of " this sort of thing.”and somewhat disappointed in John Paul, but otherwise indifferent. Miss Sally was frankly delighted; she soon grew very fond of Katherine, and chattered about her incessantly to Robert ; repeating the bright and pretty things his cousin had said, and laughing so heartily herself that she scarcely noticed the forced and tired smile on her lover’s face. Robert had no heart for Katherine’s gayety ; he was absorbed in his own perplexities. When that storm of anger and determination in which he had left Mrs. Paul’s house had subsided, he was distinctly aware of the ebb of the convictions gained then, and the slow flooding in of the terrible demand of honor: he must tell Miss Sally he did not love her, and be forever a dishonorable man in the eyes of his friends ; or fail to tell her, and he dishonorable in his own eyes. How fierce was the alternative : to give her everything he was and hoped to be ; to make every day, by tenderness and loyalty, secret reparation for secret robbery ; in a word, deceive her so skillfully that she should never detect him,—or, humiliate and wound her!

With this was always the thought of what he owed her, — for surely it had been the will-of-the-wisp of love which had led him out of his slough of despond. He looked back and saw himself holding to her hand, — that poor, silly little hand, which believed (had he not taught it so ?) that it was a necessity to him, — saw himself struggling to emerge from the terror of weakness; gaining from her his life, his reason, his very honor. The fact that now, standing on firm ground, in clear sunshine, he could see how foolish was the amiable little soul that his imagination had clothed with every power and virtue could not alter the past conditions. Yet again and again returned the truer and the simpler thought. Was he to delude her, to offer her tinsel which she should accept as gold ? Was he to let her take, through ignorance, what knowledge might teach her to reject ? What answer could there be but No ?

With a nature which demanded sympathy and support, Robert was singularly alone; no one knew of his struggle. Once he thought of going to Mr. Brown for advice, but instantly realized that what he wanted was not man - to - man counsel, but direction which might not be questioned,— the relief of shifting responsibility. It was in this connection that, with blank wonder at his own possibilities, he found himself thinking of the refuge of the confessional. His mother’s church beckoned him, offering the allurement of infallible guidance, — the temptation to become as a little child. He said to himself bitterly that when his mother had been taken into the Catholic Church she had left him behind her. He despised his own intelligence, which had deprived him of such peace.

Perhaps, if Alan had been less joyfully absorbed in himself, he might have helped Robert; as it was, the doctor began to be a little impatient with his depression. " Steele is perfectly well,” he said to himself, “ and there is n’t any excuse for depression ; ” so he shrugged his shoulders and silenced his conscience. “ It does n’t do to notice that sort of thing,” he excused himself, with the instinct of the physician as well as the conviction of the practical man. It is a curious and not a pleasing experience to discover how much real selfishness and willingness to escape personal annoyance can be concealed beneath that “ conviction of the practical man,”that morbidness and super-sensitiveness must not be noticed, and to learn how often, in dealing with weak and unhappy souls, a little less sense would have been the greater wisdom. Robert was so alive to the doctor’s intentional neglect that he had had no impulse to ask his friend’s counsel ; and yet, one morning, after wandering aimlessly about the streets, he found himself standing miserably at their own door.

“ What would Crossan do ? ” he asked himself.

It was Alan’s office hour, — a time so free from interruption that the two friends had amused themselves by regarding it as the part of the day to be devoted to pleasant things. They did some translating together; or Alan practiced — quite faithfully for him — while Robert read. So the unhappy man felt sure of finding the doctor alone. He opened the door of their library, not even looking into the department dignified by the name of office. Alan knew the step, and did not turn as he called out, “ Hello, Bob ! ” He was standing by the window, with an intent look upon his face, stringing his violin. The room had all the comfortable confusion of a bachelor’s lodgings, and much luxury as well. There was the smell of chemicals, to be sure, for Alan did some experiments here, so there was a stand with retorts upon it, and traces of blackened ashes, and bottles of salts, and crystals; but the odor of cigar smoke was stronger, and a great bowl of roses stood upon the table, among his books.

“ I want to talk to you.” Robert said, throwing himself wearily into a big chair.

“ Go ahead,” responded the doctor, frowning over the strings of his violin.

Robert lifted an illuminated copy of Italian sonnets from the table beside him, and began, absently, to turn the yellow leaves.

“ Per esser manco almen, signiora, indegnio
Dell’ immensa vostr’ alta cortesia,
Prima, all’ incontro a quella, usar la mia
Con tutto il cor volse ‘1 mie basso ingegnio.
Ma visto poi c’ ascendere a quel segnio
Propio valor non é c’ apra la via ”—

He put the book down, as though the words had stung him.

“ Well ? ” Alan interrogated, suddenly noticing the silence, and glancing over his shoulder at his friend.

“ John Paul is fairly started, it appears,” Robert said. “ I saw his name on the editorial page this morning.”

“ Is that all you have to say ? ” inquired the doctor. " Ah, confound it! there goes another string ! ”

“ I wonder if his mother has forgiven him yet ? ” Robert went on, absently.

“ I believe not. Sidney told me he did not see her before he started.”

The spring wind from the open window blew one trembling chord back into the room. Alan smiled joyously ; Sidney’s name seemed blended with the music. He drew his bow lightly across the strings, and a burst of sound, like sudden sunshine, flooded the room. Then they talked of many things, in the old pleasant, desultory way ; Paul’s engagement most of all, with the amused question whether it was the major’s theories which had kept him so long unmarried.

“Ah, well,” said Alan, with half a sigh, turning round to look at Robert, “ the major is right, you know, but not human. Listen ; I ‘ve set those verses of Henley’s to a little air of my own. I want you to hear it.” He stopped, and tuned his instrument, and then, lifting his head, began to sing in a musical tenor, which was without that thread of pain that is so often woven into the tenor voice: —

“ ‘ Fill a glass with golden wine,
And while yet your lips are wet
Set their perfume unto mine, And forget
Every kiss we take or give
Leaves us less of life to live.
' Yet again! your whim and mine
In a happy while have met.
All your sweets to me resign, Nor regret
That we press, with every breath,
Sighed or singing, nearer death ! ’

There! is n’t that morbid enough for anybody? What do you think of that minor, — ‘ and forget — forget ’ ? ” Robert said something vaguely, but Alan was too pleased with himself to notice his friend’s lack of enthusiasm. “ Of course,” he proceeded, “ if there were no love, there would be no sorrow. But what are you going to do about it? Cripple and deform life, to be spared pain ? And we can’t be spared, anyhow; we ‘re bound to love, no matter how we fear it. There are really only two conditions in life : one is ignorance and the other is misery. Major Lee undertakes to create a third,—indifference. But it can’t be done ! The thing to do is to be ignorant as long as you can, — that’s my belief. Yes, it is the only rational plan: live in the present; forget the future. It is intolerable to think of death and love together. The major’s right.”

“ You are not so great a coward, Crossan,” said the other, smiling in spite of his misery.

“ My dear fellow,” Alan exclaimed gayly, “ I am exactly so great a coward. I don’t believe I shall have a very long life, with this heart of mine, and shall I refuse to make the most of it ? ”

“Why do you say that?” Robert protested uneasily. “You are as strong as anybody ; you know you are.”

Alan shook his head. “ Bob, the value of a medical education is, that you can number your days, and apply your heart to whatever seems most worth while. In a word, have a mighty good time, and don’t bother with a lot of unnecessary things.

'Quid brevi fortes jaculamur ævo Multa ? ’

(I think that line is the extent of my Horace ! ”)

“ You — you are not in earnest?” Robert insisted, not noticing the careless words, and his voice breaking with fear.

“ I am entirely in earnest, but please don’t look so dismayed. I am making the most of to-day, and I mean to make the most of to-morrow, trust me ! Why, bless you, I may live to be a hundred; only, I may not. But I assure you I intend to be alive as long as possible.”

With his easy sympathy, Alan knew quite well the stunned and horrified dismay in Robert’s mind, and so, with a touch that was a caress, he put his face against the violin, and hastened to talk of other things. He was sitting on the arm of a chair, swinging his foot with lazy comfort, intent upon enjoyment of the spring day, and the sunshine, and the soft wind which blew his hair about his forehead.

“ There, hang it! don’t look at me as though this were my last day. I ’ve a lot of life in me yet, I can tell you, and I mean — I mean to enjoy it.”

“ But,” Robert stammered, forgetting his own pain, “ I can’t believe it, Alan ; it can’t be. You must see a specialist, you must ” —

“ Stuff ! Do you doubt my knowledge ? And don’t I tell you I may live to be a hundred ? Drop it, Bob ! Don’t look so dejected; if there is anything I hate, it is dejection.”

All the while, running through his words, was the low and tremulous breathing of the violin ; his face, and his careless words, and the ripple of a song somehow blurred this terrible thing he had been saying. Robert drew a long breath of relief. He came back sharply to his own distress.

“ Alan,” he said suddenly, careful only to protect Miss Sally, and eager to display his own shameful uncertainty and weakness, " if you’ve made a mistake which involves somebody else, what ought you to do ? ”

“ Remedy it. Why ? ”

Robert got up, and began to walk about the room. The doctor had turned again to the window, and was tightening the strings of his instrument.

“ And yet the person might be happier — mistaken ? ”

“ Yes, a delusion is very comfortable once in a while,” Alan admitted ; “ only, unfortunately, we can’t delude people to make them comfortable. Look here; ask a straight question, will you ? You always go ahead sidewise ! ”

‘'I can’t,” Robert answered hoarsely, “ I’ve no right to ; but I ’ll tell you the sort of thing I mean. Suppose that I had learned, after giving it to you in good faith, that that Corot was not an original. Suppose that you could never discover the cheat for yourself. Should I tell you ? ”

Alan laughed, glancing at the dark canvas framed in a great oblong of dull gold, which made a glimmering brightness on the chimney-breast. “ Well, I should be happier to be ignorant, no doubt; but that does n’t help you any. I trust this is only an illustration, Robert ? ”

“You think I should tell you ? ”

“ Why, I don’t see how you could do anything else,” Alan said, with that interest in a question of ethics which is almost a part of a lazy temperament. “ I ‘m sorry for you if you’ve got to open anybody’s eyes, but I ‘m sorrier for the other man. You’ve no choice, so far as I can see. If you give what you think is a jewel to your friend, and afterwards discover that it is paste, you’ve got to tell him, — all the more, that the friend, just because he is a friend, might never know it (only he would : those things always leak out in time) ; and as for your picture illustration, which is unpleasantly personal, art would be profaned if you called a spurious thing by its name, to say nothing of the lie of silence ! Poor Bob ! ”

He drew his bow across the strings, and there was a rollicking laugh from the violin.

Robert groaned, “ But there are things one cannot do, because they are impossible ! ”

“ That does not follow, Steele,” Alan said sympathetically, watching his friend’s restless walk about the room. (“ What in the world has come into his mind now ? ” he was asking himself. “ I wonder if he means to divide his fortune among the stockholders who were pinched, and is afraid to break it to Miss Sally ? ”)

“ I know it! I know it! ” cried Robert passionately. ” Yes, if there is an impossible thing demanded by duty, by God, the impossibility is God’s, the duty is ours. Yes, you are right, —you are right; it is to be done.”

“ But, my dear fellow,” expostulated Alan, “ glittering generalities are my forte ; you must not make my words particular. The first thing I know, you ’ll say I have advised you to do Heaven knows what! And look here; I don’t believe in examining your conscience in this way. I tell you, Bob, there is a point where concern about right and wrong becomes the subtilest kind of egotism. Yes, sir, you ’d be a better man if you were n’t so confoundedly good, — if you had a little more of the devil in you ! ”

Robert was not listening; he shook his head, with a gesture which meant that all was decided. “ I will.” he said to himself; and yet, oddly enough, as he reached the point where he saw himself capable of his duty, a flash of memory brought back the peace of the conquered dreams, the refuge of morphine. He thrust it out of his mind in an instant; but it had come.

Alan looked at him anxiously. “ You make too much of this thing, whatever it is. If anybody is mistaken through a mistake of yours, it is n’t an unpardonable offense; go and explain, and get the thing off your mind. Man alive! it is n’t such a great matter. One would think you were a young woman upon the steps of the altar discovering that she did n’t love the man.”

A strange look came into Robert’s face. Alan had a sudden and terrible thought; so terrible did it seem to him that even as it flashed into his mind he banished it, as an insult to his friend. His face burned at his own meanness.

Robert sat down, bending forward, with his hands clasped between his knees. “ Alan, the space between a man’s ideal and the man himself is his opportunity. But God help the man who hates his ideal! ”

“ I don’t know what you ’re driving at ? ” said Alan cheerfully.

After a pause Robert spoke, and his voice was curiously dull : ” I’m going ; you have given me good advice, and I shall take it.”

“ Oh, now,” Alan protested again, “ I tell you, I object to giving suggestions in the dark ! ”

Robert smiled a little, but he had nothing more to say. There seemed to be no alternative now, and that brought a sort of peace.

“ It would profane love to call a spurious thing by its name,” he thought afterward, going over Alan’s arguments, " and silence would be a lie.” To hear his own convictions put into words by some one else gave him new confidence in his often broken resolution to tell Miss Sally.

The doctor was puzzled by Robert’s abrupt departure, as well as by those confused questions. “ I wish he was n’t so ridiculously conscientious,” he thought. " People don’t appreciate it unless they know him well, and it keeps them from liking him, — though it makes them love him! ” Then he smiled, and reflected that when Steele saw fit to speak out he would do so, and that it was absurd to feel any anxiety beforehand. Instead, he began to think of Sidney, and later, in the afternoon, he went to Mrs. Paul’s, where his hope of finding her was fulfilled. She had come in to read the paper to the fierce old woman, who had grown more bitter and impatient in these last weeks than Sidney had ever seen her. With the new look in Mrs. Paul’s face, since her estrangement from her son, had come a new feeling into the girl’s heart; it was pity. But she only knew it as a vague discomfort in Mrs. Paul’s presence, which she resented ; so she kept away from her as much as possible. She would not have been here today, had she not been sent for; although Miss Sally was too busy to come, conveniently, and had thought of asking Sidney to take her place. Miss Sally had developed in the last few months a mild self-assertion, which even Sidney had noticed, not because of what it was in itself, but because of its contrast with the past. However, as Mrs. Paul’s message had come, it had not been necessary for Miss Sally to make her request, and Sidney had gone over to the other house in silent reluctance. She did not look at Mrs. Paul in her usual direct way ; the pain and perplexity in the face of the older woman were too unpleasant. She made haste to open the daily paper, that she might begin to read at once, but stopped for a moment of surprise at seeing, instead of the broad head-line of The Republican, on which she had been brought up, the smaller Roman letters of The Independent Press. Mrs. Paul actually blushed.

“ I’m told that it is a very decent paper. I am not a person who looks only on one side. I was never unjust in my life. And — my — my son is connected with The Independent Press.”

“ Yes,” Sidney answered, “ I heard Mr. Paul talking of it to father, last Sunday.”

“ Last Sunday ? I did not see him on Sunday — I mean I would not see him. I disapprove of this newspaper folly, and he knows it. Though it won’t last, — it won’t last! But I am willing to overlook it; he may come in, if he wishes to, the next time he is in Mercer. You might tell him so. Only I ’ll have no talk of — of that Townsend girl! Just let him understand that!” Her hands trembled as she spoke.

“ Mrs. Paul.” said Sidney tranquilly, “if you knew Miss Townsend, I think you would like her.”

“What!” cried Mrs. Paul. “You would dictate my likes and dislikes, would you ? And I can tell you, I know quite enough of her. I know that she meditates marrying my son against my wishes. But how long is it that you have been an advocate of marriage, Sidney ? This shows what stuff your theories are made of.”

“ I think,” the girl answered, in a low voice, “ that it is a pity they should love each other ; but since they do, it would be happier for them if you were friendly.”

“ Well! ” said Mrs. Paul. “ But I don’t know why I should expect you to be different from the rest of the world ; of course you are inconsistent. Your father is the only consistent person I ever knew, and that is because he has no soul. There ! don’t look at me in that manner ; I know more about your father than you do, I can tell you ! And what does he think of your passion for this Townsend girl ? ”

“ Why, he admires her himself, — he thinks her charming.”

“ Mortimer Lee has not the slightest idea what charming means,” returned Mrs. Paul contemptuously. “ Now, remember you are to tell John I wish — or at least that I am willing that he should come here at once. I am tired of this folly.”

“ Shall I not write a little note.” Sidney pleaded, “ and say that you want to see him ? ”

“ Certainly not! I don’t want to see him unless he can behave himself. Tell him he may come ; do you hear me ? I am willing that he should come. Put it, any way you choose, only don’t bother me about it. Just say that he is to come.”

It was at this moment that Alan made his appearance, and the subject of John’s disobedience was dropped.

Mrs. Paul’s past was too vivid a remembrance to her to allow her to feel any surprise that Alan Crossan came so often to see her ; but for once she forgot herself in the purpose which had been growing in her mind since that day when she had suggested to Major Lee the possibility which had given him so much discomfort. She was waiting her time to make the same suggestion to Sidney. Indeed, so far as subtile words had gone, she had already done so, but had never yet brought the conscious color into the girl’s face. Now, as she saw Alan, she cried out, with a significant look, “ She is here, doctor! ” Alan’s radiant face answered her. That any one should recognize what his heart knew gave it a reality that elated him beyond words. “ You are just too late to hear Sidney advocating marriage,” she continued. “ Did you know that she approves of love? ”

Alan dared not look at the young woman at his side : yet he might have done so without giving her an instant’s embarrassment.

“ No, you misunderstood me, Mrs. Paul. We were speaking of some people who love each other, Alan, and I said it was a pity, — that was all.”

Alan walked home with Sidney, tingling with the exhilaration of recognized love, but, she was as unconscious of the passion in his eyes as a dreamer is of the sunshine.

Margaret Deland.