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But Miss Sara bided her time, and when, on the homeward journey, they had the car quite to themselves, with no would-be passengers signaling to him from windows or waiting anywhere along the quiet, sleepy street ahead of them, she opened fire with one of their favorite bits:
In the afternoon they came unto a land In which it seemed always afternoon.
She declaimed it very loudly, so as to be heard above the internal noises which seemed a necessity of Juggernaut's progress, but Mr. Allerby failed to make the usual quotation in response:
O rest ye, brother mariners, we will not wander more.
She tried again on a more personal note, her old voice quavering with reassuring friendliness:
"You-you seem to be feeling the heat to-day, Mr. Allerby. But surely
It came very shortly to the ears of Miss fara Truman
you must have felt greater heat than this in South Africa?"
"Ah, one was younger then," he said, making an effort to pull himself together because of the friendliness of that voice. "To tell the truth, Miss Sara, I am about to leave this pleasant land of afternoon; and I am sorry."
She was startled. She was also sorry. "About to leave Winfield? Where
are you going?"
"I do not know," he replied drearily.
He answered with a faint smile:
They've discovered him!" she thought; but aloud she said: "To escape the duties of hospitality? That sounds almost-rude, Mr. Allerby."
"Fortunately, one has the privilege of being rude to a brother," he muttered.
"Oh, I disagree with you, I disagree with you, absolutely." The old lady sat forward earnestly on the edge of her seat. "My father used to say that anybody could be nice to strangers; that the surest test of good breeding was the courtesy which prevailed in the family circle- Unless, of course, one's brother had forfeited respect?" she finished tentatively.
"Old Nick forfeit respect? Good Lord, no! But look here, Miss Sara,"he turned half toward her, "how 'd you like to entertain a brother you had n't seen for thirty years in-in a room over a mews, where you did your own cooking and washing, yes, and ironing, too? Eh?"
"No brother would think the less of you for poverty," she said gently. "He would only be sorry."
"Exactly. And he need n't be, thank you! He jolly well need n't be. I 'm not the one to let 'em down. Besides, it is n't Nick I mind so much; it's-she."
"Aha!" thought Miss Sara, triumphantly. She had found what she was looking for; and it was no hidden crime, no disgrace, no ugliness of any sort. There are certain things any woman can understand, and one of them is the tone of voice in which he spoke that pronoun. This way romance had passed, and in the atmosphere of romance, Miss Sara, despite her seventy years of spinsterhood, or perhaps because of them, was thoroughly at home.
"I imagine," she said, "that you are one of these remittance-men I 've read about."
"Something of the sort," he murmured, "only without the remittance. My people fancy-otherwise. The fact
is, I 've lied to my people, Miss Sara, lied to them most abominably."
"Of course you have," she said cheerfully, patting the seat beside her. "Come here, my dear boy, and tell me all about it." And at the look in her motherly old eyes, Harold Allerby's fifty years of struggle and loss and lonely failure disappeared, leaving him for the moment the boy she called him.
He looked about. Nothing was astir in all the drowsy neighborhood except the Prewitt pony, in fat possession of the tracks a block or two ahead. It seemed as good a time as any for a trolley-ca to take its rest. So he abandoned the wheel, and went in to Miss Sara, and told her all about it.
When he had finished, her face was alight with the joy of conflict.
"You wait till I get hold of that Jimmy Grant!" To Miss Sara the gray-haired doctor and his friends were merely youths who had exchanged their balls and tops for amusements less innocuous. "I'll make them pay for the scandals they start at their precious club! As to this Lord and Lady Allerby," the titles rolled trippingly from her tongue, although Miss Sara was the least of snobs,-"don't you worry about entertaining them. Winfield will do that for you."
"Just a baronet' will be quite as much as Winfield can stand," prophesied Miss Sara; and she was right.
"He 's not a peer; just a baronet," boy." corrected the conductor.
THE erect, soldierly little gentleman who got off the train from Louisville some weeks later, accompanied by a graceful, veiled lady with the sort of figure which may still be called willowy, looked about him in some surprise.
"Quite a civilized sort of place, my love," he murmured reassuringly to the lady, and a moment later shook hands with our Mr. Allerby, difficult to recognize in smart gray flannels, as undemonstratively as if they had parted yesterday.
"Lookin' very fit, Hal," he said. "Thanks. So 're you, old man," our Mr. Allerby was heard to reply. "Lost an arm, I see. Congratulations."
"Yes, I was lucky not to have it the right, eh? Quite a lot of people about,
And she smiled
"I fancy," explained Mr. Allerby, flushing, "that it 's in honor of you, old
"Ah, very decent of the townspeople; very," commented Sir Nicholas, also flushing, and looking straight before him. But the lady at his side lifted her veil, and spoke in a musical, clear, carrying voice straight to the interested crowd.
"How perfectly sweet of you! Thanks awfully."
And she smiled. The Coffin Club later compared notes about that smile. Each felt, as had many a better man before him, that it was directed exclusively toward him.
"What a ducky car you 've got, Hal," continued the carrying voice, as Mr. Allerby led them toward Tim Cassidy's handsomest limousine, the one he rented to only the most exclusive funerals. "And what a quaint custom to introduce the chauffeur! So democratic! Is it always done in the States? And do you call your servants 'help,' as a
smart-looking woman I met in Chicago did?"
"He is n't a chauffeur; he 's the owner," murmured Mr. Allerby, squirming.
"Oh, you job the car when you want it. A good idea for us, Nick," she said to her husband, brightly. "It would
save a pot of money. Everybody's so frightfully poor at home now, Hal dear!" She sighed. "It's a relief to find you all so comfy here in the States."
"Sybil was always strong on comfort, you remember, Hal," remarked Sir Nicholas, smiling.
"Oh, but I can rough it, too; you'll see,' she protested. "I know about bachelor establishments."
If Mr. Allerby had a momentary picture of his own bachelor establishment above above Meehan's livery-stable, with a gas-range in one corner, beside the wash-stand, and a clothes-line stretched conveniently across the room, he promptly banished it, with other ghosts. It was not to such a place, thanks to Miss Sara Truman, that his guests were bound. But as they passed Juggernaut, somnolent upon a switch, he averted a conscious and rather guilty
Not so Lady Sybil, who was an expe
rienced tourist and determined to be interested in everything.
"Fancy, Nick, a tram-car out in these wilds! Are n't the Americans wonderful? But it does n't appear to be a very active tram-car, does it?"
"Takin' its vacation this week," explained Mr. Cassidy, from the front seat.
"How quaint!" murmured Lady Sybil, whether of Juggernaut or of the talkative chauffeur it would be difficult to say.
"Quaint" was a word she found frequent use for, especially when Mr. Cassidy drew up with a flourish in front of a wide, white brick cottage set well back from the street, among elms; on the pillared portico Dr. Grant's 'Mandy was to be seen, rather flustered, hastening to remove Dr. Grant's forgotten sign from beside the front door. The doctor kept a cot, fortunately, in his consulting-room down-town.
"Come in; come right in, folks, and rest yo' hats," urged 'Mandy, ingratiatingly, concealing the sign behind her.
Lady Sybil gazed at this fat brown. person in some dismay.
"A native woman, Nick, and apparently in charge! Do you do you suppose it's all right?" she whispered.
"Certainly," reassured her husband, audibly. "Old Hal 's no squawman. Besides, that sort of thing happens farther West, I fancy."
The interior of the house reassured her still further a long, pleasant room, filled with books and etchings and other Lares and Penates, in which Dr. Grant took a pardonable pride.
"Really, you do yourself awfully well, Hal," commented Lady Sybil in distinct relief. "This room might have been at home. That portrait, for instance, and the old spinet, quite charming. You seem to have accumulated rather nice moss for such a rolling stone."
Mr. Allerby, who had accumulated nothing except years and friends, shrugged a deprecating shoulder. And when the native woman came in, bearing a native drink in frosted silver cups, which Lady Sybil pronounced quite as invigorating as tea, her satisfaction was complete.
"So glad you 've a woman to maid me," she said graciously. "I left Jenkins
at home, she hates so to rough it. Send slight stiffness toward her guests melted
, her up in half an hour, will you, Hal? into a warm benevolence. I'll be ready for my bath."
This the tact of Lady Sybil aug"Huh?" inquired 'Mandy, in a deep mented into something like intimacy. contralto.
“Do you know,” she had remarked as Mr. Allerby took her aside and they left the table, "you look in all that : explained rather nervously, Dr. Grant's lace and jet”—Miss Sara was wearing : 'Mandy being a personage with whom the Truman jets—“like a dear aunt of
it was not well to take liberties. But my own, father's sister?”
Now, to be reminiscent of the sister "Oh, well, ef it's on'y hookin' up and of an earl can but be flattering to the such-like, reck'n I could mek out to stanchest American heart; the old lady oblige her. But I ain't goin' to wash responded in kind: no grown-up pusson, not for nobody! “And you look, my dear, like the sort I is a modest woman, I is, ef some ain't.” of woman a man could never forget—if
he tried.” WINFIELD, at least, will never forget the Which led, naturally, to confidences. festivities with which it made hectic the Seated upon the parlor sofa, with the three days of the baronet's visit. He others safely listening to Sir Nicholas's spoke on the first night at the opera- expurgated edition of the war, Miss house, thereby displacing Charlie Chap- Sara learned much that she had not lin himself in screen version). And learned from Mr. Allerby. though his words were brief and to the "But I don't quite understand," she point, he was secretly felt to be outdone in eloquence by the introduction of Judge Cary, and even by the impromptu epilogue of Mr. Cassidy, who was moved by the Arbuthnot smile, and other things, to pay an Irishman's tribute to the women of England. Indeed, during the evening every eye in the house remained eagerly fastened upon the women of England as personified in Lady Sybil, shameless and quite astonishingly lovely in a little black tulle and the Allerby diamonds.
“And she fifty, if a day!" was the feminine verdict.
They had dined first with Miss Sara Truman, an event which brought out of storage not only the Truman silver and the Truman lace, but which went to the length of Tipsy Parson Sauce on .the ice-cream, than which Winfield
Which led , naturally hospitality can no further spread itself.
to confidences Miss Sara was by principle and practice a strict total abstainer, but every one knows that Tipsy Parson is not a whispered at last, a cautious eye on the beverage, but a condiment. Until des- gentleman in question, quite as distinsert arrived, the hostess had been a guished-looking as his brother in the little nervous, despite her lofty assur- surprising elegance of evening clothes. ances to their married niece that a lady “How did Mr. Allerby get the money could be no more than a lady, no matter he made over to his older brother? I what people called her; but under the thought in England estates were enbeneficent influence of the sauce her tailed."
“So they are, when there are any. The effect of the Tipsy Parson Sauce With the Allerbys there are n't, you see. was wearing off, but Miss Sara forgave Only there was a rich aunt of sorts, something to the quiver of that lip. married into soap, or something; and "You must be very glad,” she said, naturally, at the time Nick and I laying her hand upon the other's. eloped, we thought she'd die pretty
was the stanch reply, “even soon and leave us a bit. Instead, she if they don't-but of course they will! left it all to Hal. Rather a sell on us, What troubled us most about Hal," was n't it?”
she went on evenly, “was the fear that "I wonder why she did that," said possibly things were n't going quite well Miss Sara.
with him, that he was 'bluffing' us, as “Oh, because she was vexed with Nick you say in the States. It seemed so odd for marrying anything so useless as me, that he never wanted to come home even I think. And because she was angry to see the boys off. He's always been with me for having jilted Hal.”
so good to the boys. Then I was afraid, "Oh, you did jilt Mr. Allerby?" asked too, that he might have got himself into the other, gravely.
trouble of sorts, bad ways—you know Lady Sybil hung her fair head like a what bachelors are. So Nick and I were child that is being scolded.
awfully glad of the opportunity to look “I'm afraid I did, rather. You see, him up. That 's why I came.” we'd grown up together, and they both "And if he had been 'bluffing' you?" wanted me so badly, and I simply inquired the prosecuting counsel. could n't decide which I'd have. You “Then we should have taken him know how that is?” Miss Sara, who home, of course. Whatever we have is had never been “wanted badly" by his, you know," said Lady Sybil. “But any one in her life, nodded a compre- I ought to have known he'd never let hending head. “If one could only have us down in any way. He's so proud. married them both! But since one And as for the rest, while he 's not could n't, and Nick went off to India, really rich-should you say?" I thought it would better be Hal. “Not exactly rich,” murmured Miss Then when Nick came back, I-I saw it
Sara. really could n't be. Hal was too sweet. "Not for America, certainly; but quite about it. He said, in marrying Nick, it comfortable. I can't tell you what a really was like marrying them both. relief that is to us. Simple, of course, But,” she added, with a ruefu little that odd little cottage, with only the sigh, “at first things went rather badly. one native woman to look after him. Father could n't do anything for us, and But Hal never cared for luxury, like the Nick was in such an expensive regiment, rest of us. And he seems to have fallen and I 'm afraid I 'm rather expensive
among friends." myself. It looked as if Nick would have “Yes," said Miss Sara; "that at least to resign from the service and go into is true.” And the look she sent across trade, or something. The soap aunt to the “lucky” man who had chosen to died just in time.
buy happiness for those he loved was a “Of course one hated to take Hal's tribute he ought not to have missed. money, but he insisted that it ought to The entertainment of the distinguished go with the title, and that there had visitors progressed without a hitch even always been an Allerby in the service until the final moment. The Allerbys, and always must be, and that in any personally conducted, gazed appreciacase he'd settle the property on our tively at scenery, at thoroughbred first son. Then, too, he kept writing horses, at oil-wells in action; they were back that everything he touched turned introduced to a barbecue, following a to gold, he's always so lucky. So for fox-hunt, conducted, to their shocked the sake of the children—"
astonishment, on foot, among the under“There are children?”
brush of the river-bank. "If we flush "I 've two boys fighting in France," a fox, shall I be expected to take a said the English woman, quietly, and her shot at it?" demanded Sir Nicholas, lip quivered.
unhappily, of his brother.