The Coöperative Ghosts

June 10, 190-
NOT one ghost, Hal dear, but three! Yes; the housekeeper says so; I asked her, first thing. “ But we don’t speak of them, Miss, before the maids; it makes them hystericky-like.” Which, do you suppose ?
We came up from London — or do I say down ? — last night in the Limousine, Jessie and her father, and I; and he did n’t speak all the way, four twilight hours of hedgerow. It’s not that I mind silence; I can always talk enough for three; but he sits so rigidly still, with his head turned a little aside, as if his neck were in a photographer’s vise. We are to golf with him, the doctor said; keep his mind off America and business; try to get him to take up a new interest : “Nature, his English ancestors, some early period in history.” Perhaps ghosts will do. One of ours is late fourteenth century, the housekeeper says; another is Cromwellian, or, it may be, Carolian, I don’t know its politics. The third is midVictorian. Here’s historic perspective to choose from, you see. Shall I suggest the ghosts to Jessie — as a resource? Dear, blessed little Jessie! so bewildered; and she can’t manage him one little bit. Not that I do much better; but then, I’m not his daughter and not supposed to. Perhaps I’m hard, but when I think of his mills and the children in them — he ought to have nervous prostration. And yet he is pathetic; and he adores his own child. The only time he’s spoken directly to me since we landed was the morning we went to Brown, Shipley’s to get our first batch of mail, and no American papers had come except my copy of The Peacemaker. I gave him that, and he snorted, but he was glad enough to get

even “ a vile socialist sheet ” (that’s what he called it later; it had one of your editorials on Child Labor in it). Jessie asked me not to do it again. But now that we are really settled and in the quiet country, perhaps he’ll begin to sleep a little.
As for me, I sleep like a dormouse. No, dear boy, I’m sorry, but I don’t even dream of you. Jessie thinks I’m shocking for an “ affianced ” person. I have none of the little tender intuitions that sort is supposed to have. At least, if I do she does n’t know it. When we were choosing rooms last night, she brought me in here and said, “ This is going to be yours. Guess why! ” And I said, “ I can’t guess.” And she suggested, laughing, “ Its windows open to the west.” And I said, “ Still I can’t guess.” So then she shook me and said, “ What’s in the west ? ” And I thought a minute: “Sunset?” She looked so astonished and disturbed,—funny little Jessie. “ Why, America, for one thing! ” she cried. And of course I said, “ But you know, dearie, I am a Socialist, and my thrills are international.” “ But Hal is in the west,” she sighed, reproachfully, and she almost wept. And all I could say was, “ So he is.” It sounded rather flat. I might have said, “ Hal is — nearer than that — to me.” But are n’t you glad I did n’t ?
Yes; I sleep like a dormouse. The stillness is so deep, you have no idea! There is n’t another house in sight, only a square church tower away off on the billowy sky-line among trees; and green downs rise and fall between. Cottages are in the hollows, here and there, but we can’t see them. Between us (you and me) lies the moat. On this side it is close under the house-wall, a green trench spattered thickly blue with harebells. A dry moat, of course. It goes all round the house, making a wide loop in front to girdle what is now a flower-garden, and another at the back where the barn and stables are. On the east side there is a narrow bridge across, and beyond that a little down-hilly place to a brook, where once the lord of Moat House had a mill, for there is an old millstone with a hole in it (I suppose all millstones have holes in them), lying by the brookside. I am sitting on that millstone now, writing to you. And every time something rustles I think it is a ghost. Would a ghost rustle? But I mean to see those ghosts, and size up their curative possibilities. Nature and his ancestors are out of the question.
There! — that time I was sure it was. But it was n’t. It is only Jessie coming over the bridge. I’ll tell her I’ve been writing to you.
And Hal dear, don’t stop sending The Peacemaker. It does n’t keep me awake nights, if it does some other people. Send it, and I’ll secrete it — under my pillow. But we won’t tell Jessie. . . .

MOAT HOUSE, June 13, 190-
You shall have my adventure just as I told it to them this morning at the breakfast-table. Yes, adventure! But don’t be frightened ; I’m none the worse for it, and I think Mr. Clayton is the better; at least, he forgot himself and listened at breakfast, and he asked me a question about it at luncheon; and he’s walking in the moat now.
It was last night after supper. These English servants are scandalized by our barbarous meals, but Jessie thinks late dinners may not be good for nervous prostration. She and her father were pacing the prim, box-hedged gravel paths in the flower-garden, but I had gone down into the moat to hear the harebells ring the curfew. She called me once, remembering the dew and the deep grass, — anxious little Martha-Jessie, — but I did n’t come. And oh, how glad I am I did n’t. I had the Dream of John Ball in my hand, the dear little edition you gave me for the steamer; and I had been reading it in the green twilight, and dreaming our dream, yours and mine, — and The Peacemaker’s, and Mr. Wells’s and Karl Marx’s and all our Fellowship’s (no matter how much we scrap). And I was saying over, half-aloud, those old fourteenthcentury catch-words,—
“ John Ball greeteth you all, And doth for to understand he hath rung your bell; ”
and, —
“ When Adam delved and Eve span Who was then the gentleman ? ”
You know those quaint old things. I think I must have been saying them over and over, first one and then the other, in a kind of slow singsong, the way one does when one is preoccupied. And my dim shadow, rather longer than I, moved with me, against the curved side of the moat. And I don’t know when it was that I realized that there was n’t any sun nor any moon, so I had no shadow. And I turned, with a sudden flutter at my heart — and it spoke to me.
“ Thou art one of them,” it said.
Oh, Hal! I could n’t answer for a moment, my heart was beating so. And the shadow came closer; it was a tall man in jerkin and stockings that stuck to him as if they were wet; and his long hair was plastered in flat strings on his forehead as if he had just lifted his head out of the water.
“ Thou must be one of them,” he said imploringly.
“ Of whom,” I asked, whispering, my voice was so frightened.
“ The Fellowship,” said he.
“ Yes,” I answered him.
“Thank God!” he said then, in a louder voice; and he covered his face with his two hands and went down before me, on his knees in the long grass. And his voice was all muffled with sobs, but I could hear him saying, “ Forgive; ” and again, and again, “ Forgive.”
Till at last I said: “ What shall I forgive?”
“ I could not find any of those that did me to death, afterwards,” he began; “ for the sheriffs came into this country and took them and hung them up at the cross-roads, and drew them and quartered them. And when my son was grown to manhood and entered into his heritage, and mended the roof where they had burnt it, and the hole in the house-wall, his heart was hot with vengeance of my death, and his hand was heavier upon them than my hand; so that there was no peasant on the manor would come nigh the moat, for that they knew I lay therein. They that might have forgiven me were slain, and their spirits scattered, I knew not whither. And their children were afeared.”
Then I said very gently, — one had to be gentle with such remorse, and I was no longer afraid, — “ Tell me why they killed you. I do not understand.”
He lifted his face, and his eyes looked up at me with sombre melancholy beneath his straight, slick hair. “ Those were the days of the great Rising,” he explained. “ They were my villeins, bound to the soil. I might brand them and maim them when I would. They must grind their corn at my mill. Then they rose up with their fellows, east and south and west. And mine came hither on a June day at this hour, and set fire to my ricks and my great house; and me they flung out of window into the stinking waters of the moat. And when I drank those bitter waters I came to know that theirs was a righteous cause, for it was the cause of brotherhood and love! And before my soul was drowned out of my body I knew that I would give much to be of that Fellowship. I knew that if I and my kind had been minded to be one with those rude peasants, the great Rising had never failed of its end. So, I came to myself, but it was too late.”
Then suddenly he stood on his feet and came nearer, peering into my face. “ But thou art one of them! ” he cried in a thin voice. “Who art thou that singest the watchword of the Cause that was lost ? O friend, I was one that lost thee thy Cause; but I repent me, I repent me! Forgive! ”
“ Listen!” I said pitifully to the poor creature. “ The end of that Fellowship is not yet. Give me your hand, brother, the right hand of forgiveness and fellowship. Let us be at one! ”
“ Thou canst not grasp a shadow,” said he to me. “ Too late! Too late! ”
And then I could not find him any more.
When I went into the library just now I found an old black-letter Froissart in Mr. Clayton’s armchair, — the one he sits in, — and it was open at the description of Wat Tyler and the Peasants’ Revolt. And when I looked out of the window, there he was, walking in the moat. Mr. Clayton, I mean. I think I ’ll go down and walk with him, and draw a parallel between the manor mill and the Company’s store. Or shall I let well enough alone ? . . .

June 17,190-
Your most irenic of journals is as the red rag to the bull, in this household. It’s my fault. I leave them round. I don’t do it on purpose; honestly, I don’t. Some things I do do on purpose, — ghosts at the breakfast-table, for instance; but I do mean to be careful about The Peacemaker, only I’m not; and if he sees so much as a corner of one sticking out from under a sofa-pillow he reads it. He is perfectly possessed to read them. And then he sits down beside me and goes over all the interminable details of his position, — all the fallacies about its being better for them to be protected in the factories than to be learning all kinds of wickedness out of doors. And then he switches off and describes his mill villages, with their evening schools and their neat little churches and their recreation halls, — and how some of the other mills are, he will acknowledge, little hells, — but his are little paradises, every one. And then he takes up the Education bill, and how it would ruin the commercial interests of the country to have the bill passed in one Southern state (the one where his are, I suppose), and not in all the others at the same time; because of course if the children have to go to school in one state the mills will have to move over to where they don’t have to go. And of course he never fights the Education and Child Labor bills, — not he; he would be glad to see the little children of the South taken out of the mills and put to school. But the Southern people know that prosperity depends upon child labor in the South, for some years to come. And so, with true idealism, — the Southerner is always an idealist, you know, — they offer up their little children of this generation a sacrifice, that the next generation may go to school and abjure the mills. I don’t see how; but that’s what he says.
And he repeats things over and over, stopping me on the links for fifteen minutes at a time and holding the lapel of my jacket and explaining, explaining, in a kind of white, still excitement, with his eyes boring into mine as he talks. Why should he justify himself to me ? What difference do I make ? But it’s his nervous prostration, I suppose. It was your editorial on the graft in the education lobbying that stung him keenest, I think. I really was thankful to be able to create a diversion with another ghost this morning; and Jessie, the most timid of mortals, actually eggs me on to see the ghosts. She thinks they do him good, — divert his mind. Between you and me, dear, they don’t divert his mind as much as she thinks. He keeps right on looking at his same mental landscape; I know. But from a different point of view, — historic perspective.
But you would rather hear about the ghost, — would n’t you, Editor dearest ? It was the seventeenth-century ghost this time, and it used to be a lady. Late last night, somewhere near twelve, I suddenly remembered that I had left the last copy of The Peacemaker, with some other mail, in the library, and I did n’t dare leave it there till morning, for fear he’d find it. So I took my candle and hurried downstairs. And as I came to the library door I heard the wind moaning, a faint, shrill little wavering moan, in the library chimney. For there is a great fireplace in the library, and a high-backed oaken settle beside it, standing out into the room; and on the chimneypiece is the carved motto of Moat House, LOVE FIRST. But it was n’t the wind; it was the lady, singing. She sat on the oaken settle with her head against the straight, high back, and her eyes fixed on the words of the motto above the chimneypiece. And the words of her song were: —
“ I could not love thee, dear, so much, Loved I not honor more.”
You know it, — the old Cavalier song by Lovelace, or Suckling. I wish you might have heard her sing it, with her dim ghost voice.
I waited by the door until she had finished, and then when she began all over again I tiptoed in and tried to take The Peacemaker off the sofa without disturbing her. But she heard me and turned her head (O, Hal, it is such fun writing ghost stories to you!) and beckoned me to her; and made room for me on the settle.
“ You are the one with the lover,” she said.
And it was silly of me, but she was so direct, I blushed. And I did n’t say anything; I just nodded.
Then she pointed to the motto above the chimney, and, “ Tell me what you think it means,” she said.
I was stupid; I thought she meant translate. So I stammered, “ Love, before all else.”
“ Then you would have done it ? ” she asked; and she seemed to plead with me.
“ Oh, I thought you might know; I thought you might have heard,” she said.
“ And yet, how should you, for I carried it to my grave. But I feel as if every one knows. As if the angels trumpeted it abroad each new day.”
And then she told me her story. How they were King’s men, and women, at Moat House. And her lover was a King’s man, too. And how her father went out on a mission with campaign papers to be delivered, and her lover and a servant or two with him; and they met a company of Roundheads, and her father was shot, but got away home to die; and her lover was a prisoner, and the servants also killed. Then her dying father gave her the papers and told her where that company of Roundheads was encamped on the downs for the night, that she might avoid them and carry the papers another way round. And she dressed herself like a Puritan maiden and went out alone in the night. But she saw their camp-fire, and she thought of her lover in their midst. They thought he had the information, her father said, and they would doubtless torment him a while to get it from him, and when they could not they would kill him; and that would give her the more time to do her errand. But she went to the camp, — Hal — think of it! — And she saw the captain and showed him the papers, and said they were found on a man who had just died at her father’s house. “ And now one thing I ask,” she said to him. “ Let the young Cavalier go free; for he was kind to me once, and saved me from the insults of his friends. I would do him a good turn. But do not tell him it was I, for I will not see him again. I am afraid of him.”
And afterwards they were married, Hal; and he never knew. But now he knows, and so she sits under the chimney-piece and sings that song.
No, dear! — I should have let them kill you. . . .

MOAT HOUSE,<BR/> June 20, 190-
DEAR HAL., DEAR:—AMP;LT;BR/> It seems a little far from things — and people — here at Moat House. I wish you could run across for a short visit — to divert the invalid. I ’m sure you would divert him, and I’m rather at my wits’ end sometimes. I’m afraid I divert him in the wrong direction, and I don’t want to do that. There is something lovable about him, Hal; one is always drawn to any one who has growing pains in his conscience, and he so evidently has.
The doctor came up — down — from London yesterday, and before he left he had a talk with me. He says the dumbness seems to be breaking up — thanks to me! — but there are other symptoms — excitement — which he does n’t like. We’ve had to write the Merriams not to come, and Jessie feels dreadfully about it, because this is their first trip abroad and she knows they were counting on being here, and a lot of motoring. And the Parkers are over, too; and they will think it very queer not to be asked. But the thought of guests makes him so nervous and distraught that the doctor says we must n’t. So it’s just as well you can’t come, for we could n’t have you. Still, — I wish we could, — for the invalid’s sake. Oh, my dear, I’m glad you’ve put every penny into The Peacemaker and can’t spend it on salubrious ocean voyages. It’s much better so. And how the subscription list is growing! It ought to. Really, you know, it compares very favorably, in tone, with the English Commonwealth ; at least, the things you write do. We’re “ taking that in ” now, at my suggestion. Its name sounded so Bostonian and solid that he did n’t know what he was being let in for. He is n’t quite sure yet, for we’ve only had one number; but I can see he has his suspicions.
I’ve seen the Moat ghost again, walking under my window in the moat, in the moonlight; but I have n’t had any further conversation with him, as it was late, and I thought if the servants heard me talking out of the window they might think it queer. They all know I’m engaged, — somehow. I suppose it is so many letters in the same “ bold masculine hand.”
The seventeenth-century lady I have n’t seen since the first time; but Jessie thinks she heard her singing night before last. She did n’t go downstairs to see, however. I can always count on Jessie’s not being too bold.
But yesterday afternoon, after the doctor had left, I saw number three. We had been shaking hands with him (the doctor, I mean) at the front door; he’s the dear, fatherly kind, — but keen, too, and he likes me. And then Jessie stayed out in the garden to walk with her father, and I went into the library. And there at the desk sat a middle-aged, grizzled man. The sunlight from the window behind struck through him and fell unshadowed on the blotting-pad. He had on the wraith of a tweed garment, — mid-Victorian, — and those familiar Matthew Arnold side-whiskers. He was reading Mr. Clayton’s letters, or private papers, or documents of some kind, that lay on the desk. Ghosts are privileged, I suppose. And he would sigh from time to time, and pass his hand over his forehead. He looked worn and worried, poor thing! I watched him for fully fifteen minutes, but he was so absorbed he did n’t see me, and at last I went out softly without speaking.
But he’s not the real mid-Victorian ghost; he’s its brother, and not in the catalogue. The housekeeper had told me about them before. The legitimate ghost broke his neck on the hunting-field. He was a red-faced man, fond of his glass. Then the brother came into the estate; but, by rights, he ought not to be haunting the house at all, as far as I can make out; at least, the housekeeper does not know he does. He was only an owner of coal mines in the North. According to the housekeeper he has no history, and was very estimable. Rich, kind to his family, but, “ Very hard, so I’ve heard tell, with them colliers. And who would blame him for that, Miss, knowing as how they’re a bad drinkin’ lot, they and their wives, and never washes theirselves from Christmas Eve to Good Friday.” And his end, it seems, was as uneventful as his life. He died in his bed — Mr. Clayton sleeps in it now — like any Christian.
I have n’t told the housekeeper I’ve seen him. It would only upset her to try to account for him, — she lives in a rut, — and, anyway, she probably would n’t believe me.
How do you account for him, Hal ? I mentioned him at supper, and Mr. Clayton was rather annoyed at the thought of his papers being read. He did n’t say anything, but I noticed this morning that there was nothing lying about.
It is the witching hour of golf, — Jessie is calling. . . .

MOAT HOUSE,<BR/> June 27, 190-
YOU NICE, APPRECIATIVE BOY:—AMP;LT;BR/> I did think that was a rather good letter, myself. Did n’t you like his long hair plastered in strings on his forehead ? Really, do you think it good enough for The Peacemaker ? You tempt me dreadfully, for I could write a series of them as easy as falling off a log. Oh, it would be fun! And we could call them “ Ghostly Counsels to Unsocialists.” But, of course, I must n’t. It would be in horrid taste; and besides, he might see them; and though I hate his point of view, there is something appealing about him. I suppose it’s because he is genuinely ill. I should n’t want to hurt him except for his own good, you know. But it is tempting. Perhaps if he gets well, or converted, he won’t mind. It will do no harm to keep them a while, any way. I wonder if you do keep my letters ? Do you, Hal ?
I came upon the third ghost again last night, late, in the library. I went down to see if it was the lady that I heard singing; and sure enough, she was sitting on the settle, looking up at the motto, wailing her song. And he was at the desk, with his head bowed down on his arms.
I did n’t go in.
Mr. Clayton does n’t like this nineteenth-century ghost. I suppose he’s too recent, — there is n’t glamour enough, perspective enough, about him. Mr. Clayton is quite sympathetic about the fourteenth-century villeins, and thinks they were in the right of it to revolt, and he respects the Moat ghost immensely, you can see, for repenting. He agrees with Jessie and me, too, about the seventeenth-century lady. He said once that it was a dastardly betrayal; and presently I remarked that I supposed that every time any one of us sacrificed the good of the many to his own personal gain, or desire, it was a dastardly betrayal. Every time we deliberately “ did ” the other fellow, it was a dastardly betrayal, was n’t it?
He did n’t answer. He was dumb all the rest of the day. Sometimes I wish I could hold my tongue. Then, that night, when we were lighting our candles to go to bed, and Jessie had already gone, he turned around upon me with his lighted candle, shaking the wax all over his fingers, and said abruptly, hurriedly, —
“ Do you think I like to ‘ do ’ the other fellow ? Do you think I ‘ do ’ him for the fun of it ? I have my child to provide for, have n’t I ? Who will take care of her if I don’t ? I’m not in this for myself. Before God, I swear I’m not. I never make a deal that I don’t think of Jessie.”
“ And the seventeenth-century lady thought of her lover,” said I.
Then I was frightened, he looked so wild.
“ Whom have I betrayed ? Whom have I betrayed ? ” he demanded; and he shook my arm. “ What pledge have I taken ? It’s every man for himself, is n’t it ? Answer me: is n’t it ? ”
And I said, “ No, it is n’t. It has n’t been for more than nineteen hundred years.”
Jessie called over the stairs just then, “Are n’t you two coming? Father, shall I fix a sleeping powder ? ” And he gathered himself together, and let go my arm, and motioned me to go ahead of him.
He is devoted to her, there’s no denying that; and he’s kind-hearted in other ways. He subscribed very generously three years ago to the Russian relief fund, and he says he should be a Young Turk if he were in Turkey to-day. I’m pretty sure he would n’t, but it’s nice to have him think he would.
But he does n’t enjoy the mid-Victorian ghost. He is irked by the thought of him; I can see it. The others he would like to meet, but he avoids the library of late, and has taken to writing his letters — the few he is allowed to write — down by the brook, sitting on the millstone. As I had come to regard that millstone as mine, I have a grievance of my own.
Bedtime. — I just looked out of the window, and saw the Moat ghost walking below. . . .

July 5, 190-
You are very rude to my ghosts, very rude indeed! Don’t you know there is nothing a ghost hates more than to be interpreted as an allegory? It is just your skeptical, journalistic mind. Is it my fault if you can’t see the point of the seventeenth-century lady ? Perhaps she has n’t any point. You write as if I were responsible for the morale of these ghosts. Here is Jessie complaining that no matter what we begin to talk about I am sure to discover an analogy in it to the competitive system, and here are you telling me to make the seventeenth-century lady more obvious. Why not take her simply, as true love gone wrong, the way Mr. Clayton prefers to?
I dare not leave your last letter lying round lest one of the ghosts should see it, and have his or her feelings hurt. Think how I should feel then! And they are very sensitive, — you can see that for yourself by the way in which their feelings last. Even if they do point a moral, so does Mr. Clayton, so does The Peacemaker, but we need n’t mention it; morals are n’t artistic if they’re mentioned, Hal. You ought to know that.
No, — these are simple, single-minded ghosts. If any one has an ulterior motive, it is not they.

But they are not doing as much for Mr. Clayton as I hoped they would. At least, they may be, but we’re rather worn, Jessie and I, just now. He can’t sleep. Two or three days ago he changed his room. The bed was n’t comfortable. And now he is just over me, — and I can’t sleep. Last night he walked the floor for three hours. At dawn I thought I heard the Moat ghost moaning, and I got up, and put my head out of the window; but it was Mr. Clayton at the window above me. It made me cry, — somehow; though you know how I hate his point of view.
Perhaps it was not wise of me to mention the mid-Victorian. I wish I knew. The things that do rouse him, rouse him so intensely.
There me plenty of servants, men and women both, and within call. Your letter was a comfort, dear boy, my boy, even if you did interpret the ghosts. But you need n’t be the least bit anxious, truly. It’s just N. P., — the doctor has not once mentioned anything else.
They have sent him the plans for a new church that he is building down South, in memory of his wife. The little squaretowered church we see on the edge of the hill, among the trees, was restored by the mid-Victorian in memory of his wife. I think, now, Mr. Clayton wishes he had built a public bath-house instead.
Don’t worry, dear! . . .

MOAT HOUSE,<BR/> July 6, 190-
The cable came this noon. Oh, terrible, terrible! And yet in the midst of the horror, I have a fierce thankfulness for them, delivered all in an hour from their slavery. These, at least, cannot grow up to be human rags and refuse; these, at least, we cannot stunt and starve and smother; no more lint-laden air for them, but the sweet airs of paradise. Poor, poor little innocents, set free from worse than death!
We have no details, — we only know that the big mill has burned. One hundred and ten children. He has cabled for full information, and meanwhile he is walking up and down in the library, walking up and down, up and down. He lifts his hands above his head, and shakes them in the air as he walks, and then he wrings and twists them together. I went into the library a few minutes ago, to see if I could do something for him, and when he saw me he stood still a moment and mouthed at me, silently, and then he put me out of his way, and kept on walking back and forth.
How slow, how dense, how dull we are! He sucked the life out of their starveling bodies for years without turning a hair; but now, because one hundred and ten of them are burned to death, — I suppose the place was a fire-trap, and he knows it. I must be sorry for him, too. I must; I will. But I have my limitations.
Now I must go to Jessie. She is awed and shocked, and she clings to me. But she is triumphant also. She said to me, “ You thought my father was cruel, you thought he did not love children, but I knew! ”
I do not know what we shall do. Perhaps he will want to sail at once. . . .

July 8, 190-
I would give a great deal to feel the good, firm grip of your big hand. Such a comfortable hand!
I have n’t told Jessie, but I’ve written the doctor. He told me to send for him if I got anxious, — and Mr. Clayton has n’t slept since the news came, I ’in afraid; and now he is refusing to eat. He quieted down after we got the second cable, but this impervious, black brooding troubles me more than the other. He speaks very little, but to-day he has said two or three strange things. He asked me if I heard them; it seems he hears them screaming all the time, — those little burning children. Oh, poor creature! I guess I won’t try to discipline him any more; he’s getting enough. I wish I could comfort him. But how ?
This morning he had refused to come down to breakfast, and I went up to his room to coax him. I said he ought to try to eat for Jessie’s sake, and he asked suddenly, “ What virtue ? Even a beast cares for its young, — and preys upon the young of other beasts.” But he came to the table, and ate a spoonful or two of oatmeal, and a crumb of toast.
At dinner we thought he was going to say grace; he always does, you know. He sat with his head bowed a long time, and at last Jessie touched him, and he said, —
“ Whoso shall offend one of these little ones,” — and stopped and looked up with curious, watchful eyes, first at me and then at Jessie; and I looked back at my plate and said “Amen,” as if I thought he had said the regular grace. Poor little Jessie was so startled; but when she saw me quite unconcerned I think she thought she had n’t heard straight, — and she did n’t speak of it afterwards.
Dear, you know you must not be worried when you get my letters. You must remember that if anything had really happened, you would have heard of it by cable long before the letter reached you.
Oh, the irony of it! A common, cannon-cracker brought into the factory the day after the Fourth. Poor little mites, starved of their play! There was something in the London Times, but I squirreled it before he saw it. I am not taking any chances these days. My mood is not didactic.
I’m getting comfort out of the fact that my windows open to the west. I am writing now at a western window. Why — do you s’pose ?

P. S. — I have had to open this letter because I am so frightened, — I must tell you. Oh, dearest, I met him just now on the little bridge over the moat, and he stopped me, and stood looking at me for fully a minute, without a word. Then he came closer, his eyes staring into mine, and he said in a low voice, —
“ I have seen the ghosts.”
“ No, no; you have n’t,” I cried. But he paid no attention.
I have seen them together, all three,” he went on. “ They spoke to me. Do you want to know what they said ? ”
I nodded; I felt as if I must humor him.
And in that quiet, tense voice he whispered, —
“ They said, ‘ Hail!’ ”
Then he flung up his hands with a loud cry, and hurried past me across the moat, and into the house. He is above my head now, walking, walking, walking.
O Hal! What have I done ? What shall I do ? How shall I ever lay those awful ghosts ? What have I done, what have I done? Oh, my dear, what’s the use of writing it over and over, but I’m so frightened, I had to tell you. What ever shall I do ?

July 9, 190-
DEAR HAL : -<BR/> I have a great deal to write you, now that it is all over, and over so quickly, thank God! i
Yesterday, after my postscript, I heard him go out again; he went past my door, uncertainly, and then he turned and went half-way up the stairs again, and then back, a second time past my door, with hurrying, unsteady steps. I thought he was going out to walk in the moat, the way he often does, and I leaned out of the window to see him come round the corner of the house; but he did n’t come, and he did n’t come. And suddenly a panic seized me, and I rushed out of my room, and down the stairs, and out of doors, and I think I ran across the bridge, and down the slope at two bounds, — and I was just in time. He had got the millstone up on edge and put his head through the hole. And in another second it would have gone rolling into the brook, taking him with it, — drowning him, to say nothing of breaking his neck. I caught the rim of the millstone, and held it steady, and he looked back, and up at me out of the corners of his eyes, stretching his neck and lifting his chin. It was like a turtle. And we looked at each other a long time, not saying a word. Then, without moving his head or his eyes he said, —
“ They call me.”
And I thought he meant the children, and I said, and my voice was all in broken pieces, —
“ The living children call you to deliver them, — yes. The dead ones God has set free. Take your head out! You will get a stiff neck.”
And always without moving, and always looking up at me sidewise out of the corners of his eyes, he said, —
“ It were better for me that a millstone were hanged about my neck and that I were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
And then I suppose the fright and the reaction upset me, and I got very angry; I don’t think I ever was so angry.
“ How dare you think of what is better for you! ” I shouted at him. “ You’ve wrecked enough lives with thinking of what is better for you. How dare you! If you have n’t any bowels for other people’s children, think of your own. Take your head out of this millstone at once! ”
His eyes widened and his mouth opened, and he panted, staring up at me wildly; but he did n’t move and he did n’t speak. And I began to be a little frightened again, but still angry.
“ The living children need you; don’t you know they do ? ” I cried. “ So much, so much you can do for them, and you coward, you want to die.”
And he said quietly, “ They are standing behind you, — the Three.”
It gave me a horrid quake at my heart, but I did n’t even turn my head, — I just gripped the rim of the millstone tighter. “ I know better,” I said, “ they are not there at all.”
Then there was another silence, while we looked at each other. And I wondered if there really were anything behind me. And, after the longest while, he said, “They are my Fellowship. They call me.”
And then I knew he meant the ghosts, not the children.
“ You don’t see them at all, you don’t hear them at all,” I said firmly. “ They are not there! There’s nothing the matter with you but remorse, and that’s a good healthy symptom. Be thankful that it has overtaken you before you died instead of afterwards. Be thankful! For now you can make amends; and they could n’t.”
“ Remorse,” he said thoughtfully.
“ Yes, remorse,” I repeated. “ And you are alive, and can go home and do differently. Oh, you can do so much for the little children; you can sacrifice your money and your business to them, if you like.”
“ Remorse,” he said again.
“ Take your head out! ” I suggested.
“ Do they not call me ? ” he questioned.
“No, no, no! ” I repeated.
And now he moved his eyes away from me, and turned his head so that it hung through the hole, face downward.
“ They could n’t,” he mused, and in quite an ordinary tone of voice. It was the most startling of all. He sounded like himself, and he had n’t for weeks. He was on his hands and knees, you know, and I stood beside him with one hand steadying the millstone. “ But I can,” he continued. And then he screwed his head round again, and looked up at me, but with such a different look.
“ Well, Edith, how can I ? ” he asked.
I almost let go the millstone.
“ You could push the Education bills,” I cried, “ in all the Southern States; you could refuse to take children in your mills.”
“ But — ” he began.
“ Don’t interrupt me,” I said. “ I know just what you are going to say: ‘ It will ruin your business, and the other mill-owners will keep right on,’ and all that. But what difference does it make if you do ruin your business ? And besides, when we Socialists take hold of things, it’s not going to be your business anyway.”
And, Hal, he laughed, —all of a sudden, — a perfectly natural laugh; and he said, “ Well, you do beat the Dutch.”
But we had a perfectly dreadful time getting his head out of the millstone. Whether his ears were wider, or his chin was longer than when they went in, I don’t know; but you would have thought so. He skinned his chin frightfully, so that the blood ran all over the front of his shirt. And he nicked little pieces out of his ears. Jessie thinks he did it shaving. We have n’t told her. And he kept twisting and turning and saying, “ Damn it! I beg your pardon, Edith. Damn it, what a fool I am! I beg your pardon, Edith. Damn it! ”
But we got it out at last.
The doctor came at night, and he and Mr. Clayton had a talk in the library, and he knows about the burned cotton mill, and that if it had n’t been for me, Mr. Clayton would have been drowned; but he evidently does n’t know about the ghosts and other details, for he said to me afterwards, —
“ But tell me, was there anything else ? or was it entirely the shock of your discovering him in the act, that righted him ? ”
And I said, “ The rest was homœopathy.”
He laughed; he thinks I’m a great joker. You know, he belongs to the regular school.

We are coming home in a mouth!
Just one little more month, and then — I shan’t have to read week-old numbers of The Peacemaker. He is restless to get home and the doctor thinks it best. We are going to Belgium first to see some coöperative enterprises. We sail from Antwerp.
He had his first night’s sleep in weeks last night, and he is literally a changed being to-day. We had a little talk, — I ’ll tell you some time. He is a good man, Hal, — a dear man; it’s only that the competitive system does cloud the imagination, you know. He said embarrassing things about what I did yesterday by the brook, — and how he could never repay me, or words to that effect, — very embarrassing. And he asked if there was n’t something he could do now. He said, quite wistfully, “ You know, Edith, I haven’t anything but money. But is n’t there something you would like, that money can buy ? ”
“I’d rather have you subscribe to The Peacemaker than anything else,” I said.
And he burst out laughing, and exclaimed, “ I’ll take ten subscriptions; how will that do ? But I’m not a Socialist, you know.”
And I laughed back: “ Indeed you’re not! You don’t have to tell me that! But when it comes to reform, ours is the only way out. Some day you’ll say so.”
So we’re coming home, soon, soon, dearest boy! Address your next, care Brown, Shipley, — we are packing at once.
And one thing I promise you: Little Edith does n’t meddle any more with ghosts.