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technical composition was almost flawless. Suddeth had trained his salon to a firsthand knowledge of iambics and trochees until they were all but as quick as he to detect technical flaws, which was his first rule of criticism. Technical flawlessness was the first great law, and "Egeria" met it. The little salon that had begun by honoring Mrs. Hale ended with the shoulder-raising of Suddeth. It was often thus.
"MOTHER!" said Velma the next morning, coming unheralded into the music. room where Mrs. Suddeth sat, running through a new score of sorts. "I want to talk to you, very frankly."
Mrs. Suddeth looked up with a little smile. It was the new generation, assured of itself, addressing the elder on debatable ground, with the unanswerable argument all but uttered. Her thought was in her words as she answered her young daugh
"Well, the solution, my dear!"
But Velma did not find it so easy to begin, and fussed through stacks of music. quite as if she were searching for a definite title instead of a definite word. Finally her convictions conquered her uncertainty, and she blurted out her question:
"I want to know-if you know—and if you know, how can you seem not to- that Father-I know that Mrs. Hale is perfectly charming and good and all that-"
She came to a piteous halt. Her mother ran lightly through the rest of the melody, then let her hands drop idly in her lap. There was a little silence before she spoke.
"My dear," she said at last, "you must not do your father any real injustice. I understand him-thoroughly. He needs the spur of a new face, a new mind, an adoring swinger of the chalice, every so often. This taking of fancies is no new thing-you happen merely to have come on one of them at its full. Try to think no more of it, except as inconsequent."
"But Mother," Velma protested indignantly, "that poem last night-'Egeria!' -it was-I was ashamed-it was so plain -it was written for nobody but for the woman who wrote the 'Letters.' I think it's a queer crowd that has grown up out here in these years-and I 'm not a prude either! I know a great many things-but I am angry!"
Mrs. Suddeth rose to her feet, and slipped her arm about her daughter with one of her rare caressings. "My dear little daughter! We shall have our summer here as we have planned it. Then, in the fall, Paris, for the two of us, you and me! In that year abroad a good many things may be solved for all of us that have been waiting to be solved until you might have your share in them. Let it all go, nowwait."
"But people looked last night!" the girl insisted angrily. "They looked, I tell you. And I won't have them looking at you, pitying you; perhaps scorning you—"
"I think that no one either pities or scorns me," returned Mrs. Suddeth with a sudden cool calm. "Let it all go, now, Velma. We shall talk it over at a better time, I promise you."
She kissed her daughter again, and turned back to the piano. Velma stood uncertainly for a moment; then she turned disappointedly and left the room.
She was crossing the wide hall when a maid, a new one, intercepted her with a card. Velma had already seen the shadow in the doorway, and when she read the engraved name, "Mr. Henry Whitmore, The Sunrise Publishing Company," she gave the caller one fluttering glance and then went forward eagerly.
"Mr. Whitmore? I am so glad to see you. I am Miss Suddeth-last night my father read a part of your letter to himhere when he presented the author of the 'Letters' to us all. Oh, it was charming to be allowed to know at last who wrote them. You came to see my father?"
"Not your father, Miss Suddeth." Mr. Whitmore smiled. "I sent my card to your mother."
"You know the author of the 'Let
she persisted eagerly. "Do you
ters,' " know her?"
"I have never seen her."
"Then," cried Velma, with the enthusiasm of twenty for great moments, "I want to be the one to introduce you-oh, Mother, here is Mr. Whitmore! You'll wait for a bit, until I telephone-"
She looked excitedly at Whitmore, as he went quickly toward the door of the music room where Mrs. Suddeth stood waiting, and then, stopped midway in her quick little rush for the telephone at sight of the little tableau, stared crassly. Whit
more was holding her mother's hands with an ardent reverence.
nate honesty, crude and raw, conquered her desire to be dangerous and subtle, and
"At last!" he said. "But when is the she added fairly, “Mr. Whitmore, of the world to know?"
Mrs. Suddeth raised her hand in involuntary warning to him, and looked over his shoulder at Velma. For a few seconds the eyes of mother and daughter were locked; then the girl's eyes wavered, and she swayed a little as her world rocked beneath her feet. Then she turned away and went out to the veranda, and, with a whirling brain, sank into a chair.
Where was the mistake! Did Mr. Whitmore think he knew, and was he mistaken? or was her father mistaken? or had her mother known all along and held her peace? Details of the night before flashed through her mind with the swiftness of a dream, and above every incident rang her mother's words, so cordial then, so significant now: "You have done what few women have had the courage to do!" Was it possible her mother the author of the "Letters"! Mrs. Hale an unscrupulous adventuress! And her father the befooled! Velma said it plainly, and as she uttered the words, again with the swiftness of a dream, certain seemingly unexplainable things in their home life straightened out with astounding clarity. seemed to know without further words just what the problems were that had been waiting for their solution until she could share in the solving of them. "Egeria!" Her young lips curled with intolerant scorn.
She sat there for a long time, the murmur of voices drifting out to her every now and then from the room where Whitmore and her mother were still talking earnestly. Then, suddenly, looking up, she saw her father and Mrs. Hale coming up the walk together. Mrs. Hale, as usual, was in blue, that matched her eyes, and made blacker her black hair and brows and lashes, and redder her clear red cheeks and lips. Velma watched them with level eyes as they approached.
"Where is your mother, my dear?" Suddeth cried. "Mrs. Hale and I are arranging a little dinner for to-night, and I want her to call up the guests—a little aftermath of last night." He smiled at his friend, who smiled back almost tenderly.
"She is in the music room," the girl told him, and then, just as he and Mrs. Hale were crossing the threshold her in
Sunrise Company, is there with her."
Mrs. Hale stopped short in the doorway, with a sudden clutching of her skirts, and a face that, on the instant, save for two bright red spots, went absolutely pallid. Suddeth, his eyes gleaming, brought his hands together with a soft clap.
"And I have kept him waiting," he said. "How odd that he did not telegraph me he would be here. And you here at this moment! My dear Whitmore—my dear fellow-"
His voice came back to them as the girl and the woman stared at each other. Mrs. Hale's face did not regain its color, but after one futile betraying step toward the walk, her figure regained its poise, and her shoulders straightened to meet the moment. Already the invasion was upon them, for Suddeth with beautiful informality was dragging his guest through the hall, and after them, her lips set and her eyes gleaming, came his wife.
"My dear fellow!" he was saying. "So fortuitous! So good of you to let my wife amuse you until my return! Here is the surprise-I know you have never met Mrs. Hale! The wonderful creator of the 'Letters.' The 'Egeria' of the poems, who-"
Even Suddeth stopped here, minus his period. Mrs. Hale was standing, tall and ready for the spring, her eyes narrowed, her lips drawn away from her white teeth until she looked common, and a reversion to the uncultured, uncontrolled primitive type. Whitmore, after a glance at Mrs. Suddeth, bowed formally to the lady, and, stepping back, without offering his hand, glanced at Mrs. Suddeth again. She shook her head, and his lips, already parted, closed firmly.
"What is it?" asked Suddeth. "My dear fellow, you don't understand—”
"Is n't it plain, Father," Velma asked clearly, "that Mr. Whitmore does n't recognize Mrs. Hale?"
"My own stupidity!" amended Suddeth promptly. "Florence Woolson was the name under which the letters were submitted that name will serve, my dear man, to jog your memory!"
But Mr. Whitmore's hands rested on the head of his stick, and he surveyed his gloves discreetly.
Suddeth turned again in bewilderment to his friend, who stood, erect, with her head flung back. Velma after one swift glance at her mother, refused to meet her eyes again and turned instead, directly upon Mrs. Hale:
"You told me, last night, how you came to write them-where they were written -all their inspiration! You told me everything about them that I longed to know! You dared to desecrate them-so! But I shall know the truth of them from my mother-she knows how they were written-how she came to write them."
Suddeth looked at her with anger in his eyes, but his voice was composed. "Are you mad, Velma?" he asked in a low voice. "Apologize, instantly, to my friend."
Whitmore stepped forward. "If Mrs. Suddeth will permit me," he said gently, "I happen to be the only member of our firm who knows the identity of the author -my lips are still sealed by a most solemn vow of secrecy-but if the authorship of the 'Letters' has been laid at this lady's door, I must affirm to my absolute knowledge that those who assert it are mistaken in their contention. The author of the 'Letters' is not this lady. Please make no mistake about it. She is not the author."
For a moment the five stood at bay. Mrs. Hale was still insolently poised; Velma, unapologetic, gazed steadily at the first woman she had ever called a foe. Suddeth's eyes were the only ones that wandered, and they fled from his wife's face to Mrs. Hale's and back again. looked at last at Velma. "Your mother?" he muttered. "Are you sure?"
"I know," the girl said proudly.
At that instant Mrs. Suddeth turned to Whitmore. "The issue has been forced," she said. "You may make the announceinent of identity whenever you wish."
"You!" gasped her husband. Then he turned upon Mrs. Hale.
"You have made me absurd," he said furiously, "and my salon ridiculous!"
Mrs. Hale threw back her head, and shot a level gaze at him from her blue
eyes. "You were that, and it was that, before," she said. She turned to Whitmore. "Is it true she really wrote them?" "It is true," said Whitmore simply. She shrugged her shoulders, and her hand tightened upon her parasol handle. "It was a chance to make life interesting in
this dead town for a bit. I had to stay out here in exile-establishing residence, even as the gossips said. The idea came suddenly, that afternoon he lectured on identity-I 've always wanted that sort of fame and the adulation that goes with it, and this town seemed far enough from New York to make it safe. A fool idea, was n't it? And I was really sitting next to you," turning swiftly on Mrs. Suddeth, "that afternoon! Next to the woman who really wrote the thing. Next to his unknown Egeria!"
She went down one step, but turned back to look at Suddeth, and leaned back against a pillar, shaking with laughter. "Oh, you egoist!" she cried. "You have been seeking for understanding all your life-you 've had it there-she knows you to the dregs of you. And so do I! If you were worth it we could have some illuminating confidences. Good luck to the poems, Veddie. Don't think you can persuade these people to save you-if they don't announce by to-morrow, I will. For I'm out of town to-night."
They watched her go down the walk. Whitmore withdrew with Velma from the immediate vicinity of husband and wife. Suddeth raised his eyes at last, and met, irresistibly, his wife's. The look in hers was not a comforting one nor an inviting one, and he seemed to change his mind from a congratulatory to an accusative
"I am stunned by this duplicity," he uttered, after a long pause. "It isastounding-to find so dangerous a secret in one's home, unknown."
"If you will come to me after luncheon, Vedder," Mrs. Suddeth replied, "we 'll have a little talk, you and Velma and I."
THE most important literary revelation of the year was sent broadcast through the land that night, and the next day Suddeth's salon died a death comparable only to that engendered by laughing-gas. But the principals were out of reach, for they had all left town, and Mrs. Hale soon lost herself to the world of Athens in a new matrimonial nomenclature. Suddeth sought to establish himself in New York. Velma and her mother went abroad, and it was from Paris that her publishers received Mrs. Suddeth's second volume. It was widely praised, by none more ardently
than by Suddeth in the several critical columns to which he had access. Mrs. Suddeth received these duly, with their distinctive, mouth-filling phrases, from her clipping bureau. She also received them in envelops addressed to her by Suddeth's hand—the extent of personal communication to date. Velma's devotion to her mother is unusual, and Mrs. Suddeth's
salon in Paris is a center. So far Suddeth has not offered to follow them abroad. It may be added that both Suddeth and The Sunrise Publishing Company have on file a canceled contract. "Egeria" was never published, and Athens's bibliophiles still lack the saving humorous touch to their utterly respectable collections of first editions.
THE BELOVED-THE BEAUTIFUL BY EDITH M. THOMAS
The Beloved-the Beautiful!
She dwells-but ah, none knoweth where she dwells, 'T is nowhere, for her home is everywhere,
A waving tent far up the cloudy air,
A sleeping-room in hyacinthine bells,
A crypt where noon-day stars glance back from deepest wells!
The Beloved-the Beautiful!
I have not seen her shape, her goddess face,
Yet I the fond caressing cincture knew
That round her viewless form a wild vine threwIn parting boughs could guess her windowed place, By widening water-rings her silver steps could trace.
The Beloved-the Beautiful!
Her voice is low-is shrill-is far-is near;
'T is as the dreaming bird's in moon-loved nest, As Dawn's faint laughters circling east and west Around the world and dying up the sphere,
Or as the Wind's that knows where sleeps the vanished Year.
The Beloved--the Beautiful!
Her years? They are beyond my skill to count!
That her sweet years by æons must be told:
Yet are as waters re-arising in a fount.
The Beloved-the Beautiful!
The Beloved-—the Beautiful!
Herself entire she is unfain to show,
But in withdrawing most would she be seen;
Having but kissed the garments that around her flow.