« AnkstesnisTęsti »
judgment, and if I do not know the constitutions “How can you ask? I am your friend; you of my own children, I should like to know who must know. And St. Clair ? Of all his crazes, does or can. Alice is not at all well.
She does this is the queerest. To love a man who does not know I send for you, but do come soon. Of
everything you don't expect, and nothing that course, it is a drawback to have a single man,
do but then you are a relative, and no longer young.
-alas! it is hard on men, expect
and on [I was just thirty-seven.] Come soon, etc.
a woman harder. But I suppose the fancy for
Miss Leigh is over, or has it gone to wreck ? I dropped the note as I stood; picked it How has it ended” up; read it again, and went at once to Mrs. Vin- “How cool you are,” she replied;“and how cent's, although it was as late as ur P. M. Mrs. easy to call it a fancy, and what has come of it. Vincent had just left her husband. After You may know as well as I.” we had exchanged warm greetings, I said, “No, no; but I must not invite you to vio“Won't you ask Mrs. Vincent to come down- late a professional confidence.” stairs ? And, Fred, let me see her alone a mo- “Indeed, it is useless." ment; I want a little advice."
“ Oh, then you
do know ?” “Really,” he said, “ I ought to charge for “I did not say so. And is all this because these consultations. St. Clair was at it last you came here to tell me something, and now week. Mrs. Vincent makes a good average for repent a little ?." all easy-tongued women by secretiveness quite “Good gracious! what a woman! How is exasperating."
Fred ?" “ After the consultation," I said, “I will “ Oh, very well. And if you wish to put off consider the fee."
what you have to say, I shall go to bed at “ It ought to be large. What do you get for once. I am —” being rung up at midnight ? "
No; it may as well be now as at any
time.” “When you are through perhaps you will “Ah, that is better.” ask Mrs. Vincent if she has gone to bed.”
“ Read that." “She has not,” cried Mrs. Vincent, enter- “Ah, Mrs. Leigh wants your advice about ing. “I heard your voice, and really, I only Alice. I am so glad. I advised her to send came down to say how glad and thankful I am. this very morning. You know I cannot have You look tired, but then—it was a fine thing to you myself, but I want every one else to have do. I was proud of you. I could not do it; you, and now I shall be easy, quite easy, about my friend could, and oh, I liked — liked it Alice. It is only that she is looking pale." well, and so did Fred. He has bored me to “ But I do not mean to go. You know I am death about you, and now you are back, and only willing to go in consultation. I do not - and I thank God."
want practice. 1—” She had my two hands while she spoke, and “ But this! Oh, this is different.” was a little tearful as she ended, being nothing “Very. And you who got me into this scrape if not enthusiastic as concerned her friends. must get me out of it. I do not know how
“ I cannot weep,” said Fred, “ but you are you will do it, but you must manage it, bevery welcome.”
cause I do not intend to go." “ You men are horrid. I shall leave you." “ You cannot mean that ?"
No; it is Fred who will go, and you will “Yes. Tell Mrs. Leigh that I chanced in, stay."
and that I do not take cases outside of my “ A consultation, Anne. You will find me in house. Anything you like.” the library."
“ But it is not true; and after all, it is I who “And now,” said Mrs. Vincent,“this is alto- ask you to go, and imagine my making an exgether too delightful. What can I do for you? It cuse so ludicrous as that to a woman of the is so pleasant to know that I can give you any- world like Mrs. Leigh. I am quite willing to thing. But tell me about Charleston. No, not do anything sane for you ; but this! What is now; another time. What is it that I can do?” your real reason? You do have a reason for
Now that I was into this grave consultation, inost actions." I began to distrust the doctor and myself. I “Oh, I don't like that hard old woman. reflected that I had not enough considered the Surely one may choose one's patients.” matter; that, in short, I was a fool. As a re- “ Assuredly. But write and say so. Why sult, I put off the fatal moment.
come to me?" “ Presently we will talk," I said ; “ but first “ Then I shall fall ill. I simply will not go.” tell me all about everybody - all my friends.
" “I am sorry; I am more than that- and af“ Mr. Clayborne has been as fidgety as a fish ter I took so much trouble. I am — well, just on a bank. I think he loves you best of any a little hurt." one on earth — better even than Clayborne. “ But I would not annoy you for the world." What is your trick of capturing people ?" “Well, that is a strong phrase. Why do you?"
“I cannot be Miss Leigh's physician.” ters on the table. There was one from the citiAh, it is Alice then?
zens of Charleston ; warm thanks for a great Yes; it is Miss Leigh. Cannot you under- service - Alice Leigh would like that. Beneath stand?"
it was a letter from Paris in St. Clair's well“I? No. What do
known and careless hand. I read it as I stood: “ Mean! Cannot you see that I love Alice Leigh ?"
DEAR OWEN : Sorry to have missed you. I am “ What a fool I am! Oh, you dear, delight- group for Cleveland. I want you to pay the ar
busy here with my new studio and the statue ful man! The thing I have dreamed about.
rears due for rent in my old den in Blank street, And now I see it all. All. And how long has and have what is worth keeping stowed someit been ? And does she know ? "
where. My remembrances to the Leighs. I left " I think — I am sure not. And one favor Miss Leigh’s rilievo in the front room. Keep it. I must ask. It is that neither by word nor sign I am not sure that the eyes are quite correct. do you betray me.”
The upper lids drop straight, or rather in a gentle “And I must not help you ?”
curve, from the brows; it gives a look of great “ No."
purity to the upper part of the face; the peculiar
ity is quite rare, but is to be seen in Luini's frescos. “ And as to Mrs. Leigh, you are quite too In fact, the type is medieval. The slight forward tired to see patients. You are not well. You droop of the neck is pretty, but not classically wished to leave it to me to explain, rather than perfect as to form. Also, the head of my charming to have to say abruptly in a note that you can- model is rather large for the shoulders, which are not come. And that was so nice of you. But a trifle out of proportion to the weight of the head. you will dine here with Alice to-morrow ? "
Write me soon and often. I shall not answer, “ Indeed, I will not."
but I shall intend to do so. Love to the Vincents “ But I must tell Fred ? ”
and to the historic giant. From your friend,
VICTOR. “ No.”
“ Then good night. I hate you, and I am For a moment I stood in thought with the so glad."
letter in my hand. Then I read it again with When I went to see Mrs. Vincent it was only care. Had St. Clair deliberately sacrificed himwith a sense of my own difficulties, and a de- self to me? Was his devotion to Alice Leigh sire to find a way out, but with no clear idea only the expression of his adoration of an unof how it was to be done. The note had of a usual type of human beauty? I had before sudden set me face to face with a grave fact in seen brief attacks of this passionate idolatry. my life. I cared deeply for a woman, and had Had he become satisfied that marriage was a never meant to do so again. At first this self- contract he could not honestly enter upon ? knowledge humiliated me, and seemed disloyal That would have been unlike the man. I was to an ideal I had loved and lost. I am sure exceedingly perplexed. that most deep affection is of gradual growth. I am as sure that the discovery of it as something victorious over memory, prejudices, resolutions is often sudden and surprising. It was The next day I called on Clayborne, but so to me. I recoiled from the practical issue found him absent, and toward noon wrote to of becoming this woman's physician, and in the Mrs. Vincent that I hoped to find her alone recoil, and in the swift self-examination which that evening. followed, I knew that I loved her.
The enigma of last night was noclearer in the I walked away but half pleased with myself. morning. A hasty note bade me feel sure that It was plain that I had not dealt fairly as to she would be at home about ten, and of course my friend, or perhaps with him, and yet I had she would take care that we should not be inmeant to do so. I had had, as the Indians say, terrupted. After that, and until I could talk to two hearts about it, or, as we say, had been half- Mrs. Vincent, I resolutely put my problem in hearted. I laughed as I thought that half a a corner, and tried to forget it. But despite my heart had been an organ incompetent to carry control it turned every now and then like a on the nutrition either of love or friendship. bad child and made faces at me, so that I had
At last I reached my home, and sat down an uneasy and very restless day. with a counseling cigar to think it all over. I found Mrs. Vincent alone, and quickly saw Emotion had clouded my mind. Now it be- that this gracious actress was on for a large came more or less clear to me. St. Clair had rôle, but just what was not clear to me. The seen through me as I had not seen through room had a rather unusual look. The easymyself. My cigar went out. I relighted it. It chairs were not in their places. A crimson mass was rank to the taste. I threw it away. It was of velvet heavy with Eastern phantasies of like some other things in life.
color hung in stately folds over the far end of As I rose to go to bed I turned over the let- the grand piano. I knew it well as one of St.
Clair's wildest and most extravagant purchases, “I can recall no other," he said. “And in the fruitful text of sad sermons by the friend French it is the same, and in Arabic. I must whom the naughty poet called the Rev. Dr. look it up.” Clayborne. St. Clair had sent it to Mrs. Vin- “Mrs. Leigh told me to-day that you had cent the night he left — a royal gift. I glanced been to see her,” said Mrs. Vincent. from it with a full heart to the roses which were “Yes; we are old acquaintances. You know everywhere in bowls and tall vases, each, as I I was Leigh's executor. That girl must have a well knew, sedulously arranged as the woman's pretty fortune. There has been a long minorperfect sense of harmony in color dictated. She ity. Why did not you marry her to St. Clair ?” herself was dressed with unusual splendor, a “I did my best,” returned Mrs. Vincent, style not after her ordinary habit, which rather gaily. “And there is the mama. Now what inclined to a certain extravagance as to stuffs, could be more fitting for you?” and to great simplicity in outline and forms. “I! What! Me!" cried Clayborne. Also, she wore two or three jewels, and these “You might let me mention it to the widow." especially flashed a warning to me as to there “ Heavens!” he exclaimed, “ I believe you being some surprise in store.
are capable of that, or — or of anything. Let As I entered, the house rang with the trium- us go and look at the dictionaries, Vincent. phant notes of a love-song of Schumann. Mrs. Leigh! Ye gods of sorrow!
“Ah, this is good of you,” she cried, rising. Well, think it over,” cried Mrs. Vincent, “And now that we shall have a nice talk, I am delighted, as the historian rose. so happy. Did you hear how my piano was I leave you to your patient, Mrs. Vincent,” rejoicing with me?"
said the husband. “Is the case a bad one?'' That was so like her, and I said as much. " Prognosis favorable," returned the wife, “Yes,” she went on, as I looked about me; laughing and striking a few gay notes on the we are en fête to-night. And you look so piano. Diagnosis certain. Am I professiongrave, Owen.” Once in a great while she used ally correct, Dr. North ?” my first name, being, despite our extreme and “ I never interfere with other folks's cases," long intimacy, little apt to be familiar in cer- I said, and we were alone again.
“And now," she said, “ what is it? And do “Yes,” I said; “I am as you say, because look happier. Fred says I am crazy to-day, I am troubled.”
and you would not let me tell him. But what As I spoke, Vincent entered. “Ah, North,” is wrong? Surely —" he cried,“ how welcome you are !” and cast a “Oh, everything is wrong," I said. “I have glance of faint amusement over the room and been a fool, and I have helped to break up his wife's costume. “I have been away since St. Clair's life, and I must talk about it to some morning, or I should have called. I met Clay- one." borne on the steps.”'
“Of course. And perhaps I can help you. The historian carried a book and a stiff bou- Only women know women.”
a quet, which he deposited on the table. “Here," “ It is not the woman, it is the man, that he said, “ are the essays, pretty obvious stuff, troubles me. To have won a possible happiand some flowers."
ness at the cost of a friend, I-1-" Mrs. Vincent thanked him profusely. “So “ But perhaps the happiness is not possible," good of you,” she said. “What lovely garde- she answered. nias!” And presently she set one in her belt, “ That were no better. I should be doubly saying, “ A thousand thanks.”
punished. Do you think he loved her ?" " Why not one?” laughed Vincent. “Why “I do not know. St. Clair is seemingly so is that noun only plural? It ought to have a transparent, and then of a sudden you become definite value - one thank. Then one could aware that they are only surface reflections that grade one's gratitude. Why not thirty-seven, reach you. There are curious depths in that or half a thank on occasions?”
man's nature. Presently, as Fred says, one is “Quite true, quite true,” said Clayborne. off soundings. I understand you, I think, and “ The nouns which are only plural must be rare. I am sorry for you. And now what is it ? " Hum_" and he fell into a reverie.
“Read this letter," I said. “ How absurd you are, Fred,” remarked his As she read I saw a faint smile of pleased wife.
surprise gather upon her face. She re-read it. “Well, the surroundings account for that. Then slowly she folded it up, gave it back to Do you entertain Haroun al Raschid to-night, me, and took a perfect white rosebud from the Anne?"
jar near by, and put it on the table beside me. "I entertain myself," she replied, and I de- I took it up mechanically. tected a little ocular telegraphy meant for Vin- " It is sweet," she said, “ and pure, and there cent alone. Then Clayborne looked up. is no canker at the core. The rose is my dear
Alice, and you may take her if you can, and smile a little, Alice. I found him too stupid without a pang."
for belief. I turn him over to you. Half an I was accustomed to these little dramas, but hour have I spent in trying to make him unthis was too much for me.
derstand just the simplest thing conceivable. “Whai do you mean?” I said.
You may be more fortunate, or — well, more " And you read that letter ?”
clever." And she was gone. I could have “I did."
pinched her. ** Well," she said, “I never was more fully “ And the problem, Dr. North ? " said Miss persuaded as to the depth of folly, of incapa- Leigh. city, one may find in a man.”
" It was purely personal.” “You are enigmatical.”
66 And troublesome? Mrs. Vincent has left “Am I indeed ? May I show that letter to me heir to the talk." Alice?"
I interrupted : * What! You must indeed think me a fool.” Yes, very.”
“I shall not answer you according to your “I am sorry, and you look so tired. I can folly. And people say you are a student of char- understand that one might suffer long in mind acter and see through women! It is past be- and body after what you have been through. lief; but trust a woman's insight for once. Ah, Seriously, I do not suppose Anne Vincent certainly I am at home. Show Miss Leigh up. would have spoken so lightly about anything Here comes the answer to my enigma. that I might not talk of. You once said that
“O Mrs. Vincent! This is one of your we were friends. Perhaps you do not know by little--"
this time that I take life gravely, even its friend“ Hush! Is n't this joyous ?” And she struck ships. Can I help you as a friend ?” the keys again until the glad notes of the love- "No," I said, grimly. song rang through my brain.”
“ Then pardon me. I did not mean to be “My dear Alice, how good of you to come!” indiscreet, or--orshecried, “You must have left your dinner-party “ You are not. You are only and always early. Why, it is only ten. Dr. North has just kind. But Mrs. Vincent is sometimes carried chanced in, and now we shall have a quiet talk. away by her moods.” You have not seen Dr. North since he came “And you think we should always be responback. My room is en fête to welcome him.” sible for our moods? I wish I were. It is so
“When you give me a chance I shall tell pleasant to coddle them, and I do try not to.” him how glad all his friends are to see him Then her eyes fell on the crimson and gold emsafe back again.” Her words were quite for- broidery. “ Have you heard from St. Clair ? mally spoken.
He is very apropos of moods, is n't he ?” “ It was worth the price, such as it was,” I “Yes; I had a letter to-day. He is in Paris.”
a said, “to come home and find one has been “I wish I had his sense of irresponsibility," thought about." Her formality affected me, and she returned. “It must be so nice to have a I struck automatically the same note in reply. heart and no conscience. You must miss him,
“And now tell us about it,” said Mrs. or you will, I am sure. Every one must." Vincent. “You were detained by Dr. Roy's Yes, I shall. I am fond of him." illness?"
“ Anne says he will return in the autumn." “ Yes; I had to be nurse and physician.” “ I do not know." · Well, I want to hear it all — everything;
think he knows ? " but pardon me a moment, and talk of some- “Who can say ?” thing else. I must answer Susan Primrose and “I have been wanting so much to see you to two invitations for Fred.”
talk again of my plans. Do you not think—" Upon which she retired to a desk in the cor- “I don't think," I said. I prefer not to ner, and we fell into talk. At last I said, “I discuss the matter. Ask some one else. I am did not keep my engagement. To-day month, useless." I said when we parted, and now it is — ” “How short you are with me. Don't you "Nearly two," she replied.
know friends are for use ?" “Oh, quite two," ejaculated our lady mana- “ I suppose so. Mine fail me at times.” ger from the corner, rising with notes in her Now, do you mean?” hand. “Excuse me, I so want to hear that I “ Yes." cannot write; I have made two horrid blun- “Well, I must turn you over to Anne Vinders, and I must ask Fred if he will dine with cent. I don't wonder she considers you diffithe Carltons. I shall be back in ten minutes," cult." and she was gone. Then I began to understand “ You are certainly the last person to whom the drama, and was instantly on guard. At the I should go.” The situation was fast getting door she turned back. “Do make that man out of my control.
“ That is the worst of friendships between All this was said with unusual rapidity of men and women. Mama says they are impos- speech, and she rose as she spoke. sible. There are so many limitations. I wish “One moment," I said. some one would write a book about friend- “ Not one,” she said with a nervous laugh, ships. There are so many about — about other taking up the bud I had left on the table and things."
plucking it to pieces leaf by leaf. “Oh, not a “ Your mama is quite right," I said. minute," she repeated. “ Please to ring." “ Friends should be kept in their right places, “ Alice Leigh,” I said, and, speaking, caught and that is not always easy. They take liber- her wrist, and felt as I did so the slight start ties. They suppose I were to ask you an of troubled maidenhood, "let the poor rose impertinent question ?"
alone. Try to think it is my
you are busy “ I don't like the word — the adjective.” with. What will you do with it - with me?' "Well, un-pertinent."
As I spoke, she regarded me a moment with “ That is better. I should try to answer it.” large eyes, and then sat down as if suddenly But she glanced uneasily at the door.
weak, her fan falling on the floor. Some strong “ Do you care for Mr. St. Clair ? "
emotion was troubling the pure lines of her face. 6 Care?"
What was it? Pity or love? Then, looking “ No. Love him ?”
down, she said, as if to herself, “And is this “ That is a question you have no right to the end ?” ask.”
“ Of what?” I said faintly. “I am his friend.”
“Of me, of my life, of it. Why did you speak? .“ Then his friend is unwise, and permit me Am I wrong? Am I right? Why were you so
? to say —”
cruel as to speak — to speak now? You might Stop," I said. “Do not hurt me more than have seen; you might have known. I have duyou must. What I ask profoundly concerns my ties before me; I have a life. I-I am not fit life, my-”
for — for anything else. I mean to be. Oh, I “I would rather you said no more. I beg wish I were not a woman. Then, then I should of you to say no more."
know how to do what is best, what is right.” “ I cannot pause here. I must speak. If you And upon this, to my bewilderment, she burst love him, I have been false to him. I have mis- into tears and sobbed like a child. understood. I have trodden roughly on sacred “Alice,” I said, “ I love you." ground. What I thought it right to say to him “I know, I know," she cried. “And the I said without seeing where I stood.”
worst of it is 1-1-0 Owen North, be very “But now,” she said, “ I must understand good to me. I meant to have done so much.” all this. I confess I do not. You ask me if I “ Are you sorry?” love Mr. St. Clair, your friend.”
“Yes. No; a thousand times no." " That was what I said.”
Oh, here is Anne Vincent.” “ And it was more, so much more, than you My dear child,” said at matron, “your ought to have said. But now I will answer you. fan is in a dozen bits.” I do not think many women would — I will. “ And so is everything else, Anne VincentI do not. You have gone to the limit of friend- everything. Let me go.” ship, and perhaps beyond. And now please to And she ran out of the room, and left me ask Mrs. Vincent to come; I must go away. I to tell the end of this story to my friend and had only a few minutes."
S. Weir Mitchell.
“WHEN ON THE MARGE OF EVENING."
And winds of dreamy odor are loosened from afar ;
On dim laburnum-blossoms and morning's dying star;
Whose great and given splendor the world may share and see,
The late and early twilight alone and sweet for me!
Louise Imogen Guincy.