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out. She dreaded everything about it- Mrs. Blaisdell waved her hand feebly the gasp of mortal agony, the tearing,

in answer.

She did not speak. It seemed searing pain, the choking as the breath to take too much effort to project her left, the faintness lapsing to ultimate un- voice through the little space between consciousness. True, under the pretext them. of wanting cooler sleeping-quarters, Tom It would have been hard to say whether had moved into the little bedroom oppo- it was a day in late spring or early sumsite hers; he insisted on keeping her door mer, for it had all the freshness of the and his door open. But she knew how one and all the lusciousness of the other. impenetrable was Tom's sound sleep. The sky was a June blue, not a May blue, Would he hear her? In all her vigorous and the clouds that crowded it were of a young womanhood, in all her vigorous midsummer thickness and whiteness. The middle age, in all her vigorous old age, air had in it a little-w

was it moisture, she had never known a terror like this. honey-green, or mere light dusty-gold?

It was ponderable, like an actual Whatever it was, it served to give the weight. It stayed with her day and night. atmosphere body; it seemed actually to She had stopped reading the papers; for take color from the things in it. The the world, in the grip of conflict, titanic, Baker apple-orchard on the opposite side bloody, riddled with cruelty, and satu- of the way was an enormous, cushiony rated with hate, was filled with death and plane of blossom; about it the air held talk about death. And yet because the a rose-colored glow. The lilac-hedges habit of sparing her young unnecessary that separated the Blaisdell place from the pain still persisted, she could not speak of rest of the world were spiky with bloom; this horror to her children. It was the about them the air turned to gauzes final gift of her mother's self-sacrifice. faintly purple. The perfume of the apThey must never know that she had suf- ple-blossoms and the lilacs came to Mrs. fered. She must go alone. She must Blaisdell on little breezes that were face the going alone. The moment of warmer than the air itself. Warm earth death! The moment of death!

smells came to her from the smoking, Nobody looking at her would have turned-over flower-beds. All kinds of guessed this struggle. Her sickness had sounds crowded the odors in the air. made her white, her sleeplessness had From back of the house came the hoarse turned her wan; but the impression she caw of a crow. From one side, the Malgave, as always, was of a sweet-faced old lons's new-born calf gave vent to pessilady whose features, a little long and mistic impressions of a new world in long pointed, had never lost their good lines, blarts of remonstrance. Through the and whose silvery hair, parted and waved lilac-hedge she could hear little Peggy over the temples, still showed a youthful May's stuttery chatter.

May's stuttery chatter. Opposite, she abundance. She wore a black skirt and could see Virginia Small's slim, virginal a short dressing-sack of challis, cream- figure making its way from dresser to colored, with a little lilac figure, and closet and back again in one of the big pinned with a big cameo-pin. Over her front chambers of the Small house. head and about her shoulders lay a light, Through two thicknesses of curtain, Mrs. fleecy, white-worsted shawl. From under Blaisdell could translate all her motions; her skirt protruded her unworn shoes, she was doing her hair different ways, square-toed and fat-heeled. On her right trying on belts, brooches, rings, shoes, and hand, old, crinkle-skinned, and freckled, hats. Now that she was "going with" her thin, tight wedding-ring puffed the Ed Howes, it took Virginia precisely two flesh in mounds.

hours to dress. And next door Ed, who "The dahlias are up, Mother," Tom was obviously waiting for her, had becalled cheerily.

gun, all dressed as he was, to tinker with “And the four-o'clocks,” Ada added. his automobile, Mrs. Blaisdell tried to

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canvassers

fix her thoughts on each of these things in He would walk up and down before a turn; but despite her best effort, the hor- house for a long while, not even looking ror seeped back, the weight grew heavier. at it directly, but peering sidewise. SomeThe moment of death! The moment of times he would not go in at all; he would death!

pass on to the next house. When he did “There the

again, enter, he never went to the front door; Mother,” Ada called. "I guess they'll he would sidle slowly round to the back, get to us to-day."

peering up at the windows, reappearing, For three days a group of six young still sidling, on the other side. Somepeople had been canvassing Wraymouth times when he had made half the circuit for signatures to a petition for equal suf- of the place, he would retreat, as though frage. Mrs. Blaisdell had watched them his courage had suddenly left him. at work all yesterday afternoon. At mo- To-day they were out again in force. ments they had actually made her forget. Over there was the one Mrs. Blaisdell

Situated in a rumpled stretch of land described to herself as the “tall, redthat ran from the street to the sound, the headed girl," who advanced proudly on a Blaisdell place faced an inclined plane, house as though it were a citadel that she cut by many streets, that ran up to Wray- could take single-handed. Here was the mouth Heights. That tilted plane bared "roly-poly, dark one," who gathered a a big expanse of neighborhood to her in- whole household about her on the piazza spection; for the lines of trees could not and made them laugh. Yonder was the obscure the streets, nor the shrubbery and "thin school-teacher one,” who was quick orchards the gardens. Mrs. Blaisdell, who and efficient at her work. Beyond was had watched most of these houses grow, the "big, strong-looking boy," who was knew just the spaces that offered opportu- unmistakably in love with the "roly-poly, nities for inspection. Through these green dark one,” talking with "the-one-whoalleys she followed the work of the suf- wore-a-gray-shirt,” who was so unmistakfrage canvassers.

ably jealous of him. And, yes, there was There were six of them, three young the sixth canvasser staring up at the old girls, three young men.

One reason why, Edgemore house. He stopped at the gate, despite her mental turmoil, Mrs. Blais- as beautiful as a bit of carved ivory, and dell had been able to concentrate on their peered through its interstices. Suddenly movements was that they were all comely he pushed the gate open and made a hesiand all gay.

Not all gay, indeed. The tating step up the path; but then inexplicsixth canvasser was very serious, and he ably he turned back, his head bowed in might not, like the rest, have been comely; dejection. Once outside on the sidewalk, for Mrs. Blaisdell had not yet caught a he stopped abruptly, as though girding his glimpse of his face. It was apparent that courage to another effort. Then with a he took his work very hard. The others soft dash he entered again, Aitted silently walked straight up to the house that hap- through the garden to the back. It would pened to be the point of attack with all do him little good, Mrs. Blaisdell rethe dazzling buoyancy and all the superb flected, to ask Mattie and Laura Edgeeffrontery of youth. Up the walk,- Mrs. more to sign the petition. How those woBlaisdell could almost hear their quick men had changed! They had been so footsteps, --on to the piazza,-she could gay and open-hearted once! When Mrs. almost hear their high, shrill ring, -and Blaisdell's children were young, they used then a long parley. Sometimes they to go to children's parties on the Edgewould emerge gleeful with success, at more place. As plainly as though it were other times a little defiant with failure. yesterday, she could see Edgar's dark litBut the sixth canvasser was not like that tle head fitting between the high stalks at all. In the first place, he was a mere of fire-colored phlox and wine-colored boy; also, it was quite obvious he was shy. hollyhocks.

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Edgar! Must she leave Edgar behind, hoped that he would come home cured of or would she find him there? Oh, she all desire to go again. But he had left, must not think of that; she must not! when he was still a slender lad, on a secMrs. Blaisdell meant to sign the peti- ond trip.

ond trip. His ship, the Eliza Shoreby, tion. She had always believed in what stopped at Liverpool. Edgar went ashore she still called "woman suffrage.” When at nine o'clock one morning; he had never she was a girl, she had heard Susan B. en seen or heard from since. EveryAnthony speak. She had never had to body else had given him up for dead years hear anybody else.

ago, but Mrs. Blaisdell had never lost Tom came strolling over to her chair, faith that he would come back to her. stood beside her, smoking. Mrs. Blaisdell Whenever the gate clicked unexpectedly, noticed how graceful his hand was, lightly whenever a strange man of middle-aged fingering the little pipe, which seemed to aspect appeared on the walk, Mrs. Blaiscling close to the bold, graceful curve of dell's heart always gave a thick flutter. his chin. She had always taken pride in "You know, Tom," she said, a faint Tom's beautiful hands because she consid- tone of reproach in her voice; "I have ered that her own were ugly. She was never given up expecting Edgar. I never glad, too, that he had inherited his father's will." fine, strong, muscular figure. Tom was "It would be a wonderful thing if he handsome, regular-featured, aristocratic- did come back," Tom said. “Of course I looking.

was such a little shaver at the time that "The place is looking fine this year, it did n't make much impression on me.' Mother," Tom said.

"You do remember him, though,” Mrs. Yes,” Mrs. Blaisdell said ; "so much Blaisdell pleaded. rain has been good for everything. This “Oh, sure!” Tom said in an offhand is a beautiful day. I think we 're going way. He went on to talk about his and to have settled weather now.”

Ada's plans for the place. They were “I hope so," Tom said. “I think prob- going to throw out a piazza at the back ably I 'll be home more this summer than of the dining-room, screen it in so that I 've ever been since I went on the road. they could eat out of doors; they would Instead of taking two weeks' vacation in cover it with rambler roses. They were October, I 'm going to take a day here going to get rid of the little flower-beds and there. There are some things I 'd on the lawn. They were going to put like to do myself on this place this sum-. wide Alower-beds in front of the lilacmer.”

hedges, and stand phlox and hollyhocks “That 'll be fine, Tom,” Mrs. Blaisdell up against them; Tom had always loved said.

that combination. He remembered it from “And with the girls coming on,” Tom a boy, when he played in the Edgemore went on, “of course I want to be home as place. They were going to place wide much as possible. Is n't it great they 're borders of sweet alyssum about those beds. both to be here? If only George could Mrs. Blaisdell listened carefully, apget back, we could have a complete family proved gently; but inside she was torn reunion.'

and bleeding again. It hurt her unspeak"Except Edgar," his mother interpo- ably that Tom did not remember Edgar lated. “Don't forget Edgar, Tom. I as clearly as she did. She examined with never do."

a passionate fondness that picture that Edgar was Mrs. Blaisdell's second son. hung, virilely limned, vividly colored, in He came between George and Molly. her mind's gallery. It was curious that, Over thirty years before, when he was of them all, Edgar had been the throwseventeen, Edgar had gone to sea. His back in the family. She would have exfirst voyage had been a hort one, but pected it sooner huge, powerful George filled with storms.

Mrs. Blaisdell had or tall, muscular Tom. But perhaps

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George's activities as a teacher in the that are unhappy. Why, to a mother that Philippines was one modern satisfaction moment of birth—" of the ancient seafaring impulse in the A sharp pang tore her. The moment blood, and Tom's as a traveling salesman of birth! The moment of death! another. Although he was strong, Edgar "How many are there of those suffragewas pale and frail-looking. He was also canvassers ?" Tom changed the subject soft-haired and soft-eyed.

abruptly. "I make out five, three girls "mother's boy."

and two men.” “Lord! this is a beautiful day!” Tom "No, six," Mrs. Blaisdell corrected exclaimed. "I 'm glad I 'm going to be him. “Three young men, too. There 's home so much. I 'll have this place in one you probably have n't noticed. He tiptop shape for Molly and Ruth."

does n't seem to be very successful.” He was making many references to "I don't know what their system is," his being at home, and many excuses for Tom commented, “but it seems to be kind it; but, "Yes, it is a lovely day," was all of hit or miss. They all seem to hang toMrs. Blaisdell said.

gether about the same neighborhood inThe sky was putting on, though it was stead of dividing the town up. Perhaps, mid-morning, its noon blue. The hot- though, they all take a hand at any house looking, white clouds- it was as though where there's difficulty. They say they there were a little sun shining behind each 're volunteers, college girls and boys. I of them-thinned and silvered, frayed at suppose you 're going to sign their petithe edges, and melted into the dazzling tion, Mother?" atmosphere. Birds flew in and out of the "Oh, yes,” Mrs. Blaisdell answered; Baker orchard, and constantly a pink-pet- “I always have.” aled shower sifted noiselessly to the green. “I will,” Tom promised, “and Ada, The crow continued to caw, the calf to

too.” blart; robins came and went, burning a

"That 'll be nice,” Mrs. Blaisdell apcrimson hole through the air. Still Peggy proved. May kept up her lispy chatter, and still "Well, I guess I 'll go over and help Virginia Small fussed about her room, Ada tie up those vines.” Tom strolled trying on things. An automobile glided over to his wife's side. They stood bewith a nervous softness to the Baker gate, fore the clematis-trellis and talked. stopped noiselessly.

Mrs. Blaisdell knew that they were "Dr. Morris!" Mrs. Blaisdell and talking about her, and she thought she Tom said simultaneously.

also knew what they were saying; but “I forgot to tell you,” Tom explained, she did not care. She had a sudden heart“Annie told Rose this morning that Mrs. sick yearning for George, who could not Baker was n't feeling well.

Morris came

possibly get home from the Philippines in once in the night. Ada went over to ask time. And she wondered with a sudden if there was anything she could do. The sharp sense of terror if Molly or Ruth nurse said she 'd raise the curtain a little would be too late. But again she told when the baby was born.”

herself she must not think these thoughts. "I'll watch for it," Mrs. Blaisdell Resolutely she looked over to the Baker promised. "Oh, I hope it won't be bad house. A little new baby, how wonthis time!"

derful it was! Nobody but a mother “Now, don't let it excite or worry you, could possibly know. Dr. Morris had Mother!" Tom said, a nervous furrow not come out; he was going to stay this playing in his forehead.

time. About the house appeared signs of “No, Tom, I won't,” Mrs. Blaisdell activity; windows opened, doors shut. A said. "Besides, when you get to my time maid who had been sweeping off the back of life, you realize that births are happy porch disappeared abruptly, as though in things. It 's only marriages and funerals answer to a sudden call.

Mrs. Blaisdell's eyes strayed again over Blaisdell's chair, threw herself against the surrounding neighborhood. The “tall, Mrs. Blaisdell's knees, and dropped her red-headed girl" had gathered a group basket into Mrs. Blaisdell's lap. In the about her in front of the fire-house; Mrs. basket were three new-born kittens. Blaisdell could see the firemen tilted back Peggy was exactly Mrs. Blaisdell's idea in their chairs, grinning as they craned to of what a little girl should be, much as get her talk.

The "one who wore a gray Molly had looked, although not half so shirt” had gone into the garage.

Mrs. pretty: floss-fine golden hair worn in long Blaisdell could just make out the dusky- curls, sky-blue eyes starred by long lashes ; white spots in the gloom that were faces pretty, tiny features; slender, dimpled clustered about him. The sixth canvasser body. had emerged from the Edgemore place. "What beautiful kittens!” Mrs. BlaisHe had undoubtedly again been unsuc- dell said. She reached into the basket cessful, for he drooped with dejection. with her trembling hands and smoothed He passed the Sawyer place, the Seaman the little creatures, which were peeping place, the Mittinger place, three hand- like young birds. “Their eyes are n't some modern mansions, with scarcely a open yet, are they? See what funny little look. Next came the fine old Murray tails they 've got. When did Fuzzy bring place, built at the same time as the Blais- them to you?" dell house and almost its twin, except that "Mother finded them in the closet. the former was painted yellow and white, Fuzzy b'inged them in the night. Mother and the latter slate-gray and green. Also, said I could b’ing them to you. They Mrs. Blaisdell often reflected proudly, can't stay long." Peggy shook her head her house had kept its big airy lookout, violently. “No, Fuzzy kies if I take relic of those seafaring days when the wo- them. Fuzzy dud n't like her kitties to men of Wraymouth watched the return- go. I b’inged you some tortors.” “Toring whalers from the house-tops. As the tors” was Peggy's patois for flowers. sixth canvasser caught sight of the Mur- The "tortors” were some gone-to-seed ray place, he stopped-stopped short as dandelions, very short-stemmed, and much though something electric had caught the worse for the close clutching of a him. The dejection seemed to pour out moist little hand. Peggy handed them to of him; obviously new hope flowed in. Mrs. Blaisdell. “Kitties go 'way now, That new hope raised his head and cocked Peggy said decisively. She seized the his shoulders. He studied the house again basket and scampered back through the with his strange, furtive, peering glance, hedge. as though he was trying to remember Mrs. Blaisdell was sorry that Peggy something. He approached it once or had gone. Between her and the little girl twice with his hesitant, sidling step. Then had sprung up one of those sympathetic suddenly he slipped, eel-quick and shad- understandings possible only between old ow-soft, through the entrance. The gate age and infancy. Peggy came to see her swung to, concealed him temporarily.

every day. It was true that she thought "Mrs. Blaisdell! Mrs. Blaisdell!" little of that overheard conversation when

It was a child's voice that called, and a Peggy was with her. The moment of child's slender body, wriggling through a death! crevice in the lilac-hedge, followed the Are you keeping the shawl tight about call. "I b'inged you somesing."

you, Mother?” Ada called. She left “Good morning, Peggy,” Mrs. Blais- Tom's side and came strolling over to dell answered. “Now, what are you

Mrs. Blaisdell's chair. Ada was not a ‘b’inging' me?" "B’inging," as Mrs. pretty woman, but she would have been Blaisdell very well knew, was Peggy much prettier if she had not had to wear patois for “bringing.”

glasses. She had a wholesome matronly Peggy did not answer. She ran to Mrs. figure, with a round, firm bust and strong

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