« AnteriorContinuar »
She had her own hesitations concerning forlornly. “I wish - Margaret” She could Philip. Alone with her judgment of eighteen, not bear the piteousness in her own voice, and she put this and that together and asked her- a fresh burst followed the effort to speak. self what such things meant, and Philip read “Yes, yes; I quite understand,” said Dunsthe doubt in her transparent face. He yearned muir, soothingly. “We are all out of kilter to make himself understood. He knew and half since Margaret went. She has spoiled us, despised his graceless advantage, first as he was, every one. But I have been proud to see and strong in the indispensable offer of that how you buckle to the housekeeping. Why, comradeship for which her bright nature was Margaret herself would never believe it. But starving. He knew that she was the child of maybe you 're not mindful enough of your solitude, which makes sensitive and weakens own strength ? " the nerve, and darkens the chamber of the im- Dolly shook her head, and nestled closer agination, through which pictures are printed in response to these paternal blandishments. on the soul.
“Forgive my sulking," she apologized. “All Yet he was not brave or generous enough to I asked was, Do you not like Mr. Norrisson wait and to trust to win her in an open field. better since you 've known him better ? " Who was he that he should measure himself “I have always liked Philip Norrisson in with the world—ringing with men, with the a way.” confusing shibboleth of art and culture, with “ I mean the father. Is he the same man, the pride of modern life, as Dolly could barely or is he changed - or are we changed ?" conceive it, and with those most subtle tempta- Dunsmuir put the girl gently off his knee, tions which beset a girl of spirit through her and wheeled about in his screw-chair facing his longing to excel? Therefore Philip made the desk. “Come, come!” he said. “Get these most of such chances as his contract left him shelves in order before you forget where the free of, and few men could venture to blame boxes belong." him; and if Dolly did not understand, it was “Can you not spare me a few minutes ? her bashfulness and inexperience that defeated We scarcely ever talk by ourselves any more. his efforts to make her.
I hear a word here and a word there, and Dolly was hearing gossip in these days. It every word is a fling at the name of Norristouched the fabric of her dreams, and made son.” She stood up and braved the blush that the appearances which were supposed to be mounted to her face as she spoke. “Once it the facts of her life more puzzling than ever. was Margaret, now it is Jenny, and even
“You like Mr. Norrisson better than you Adeline must have her say, and they are did; not so ?"
people only lately in the country. What is it It was Friday morning, and Dolly was dust- that 's so well known, and why do we have ing in the office, under her father's jealous su- to condone it?"
" pervision, lest she carry her ministrations too far. “ If you are not above picking up tales in
“Not so ?'" he mimicked; and Dolly, re- the kitchen,” Dunsmuir interrupted. membering that the phrase was one of Philip's, “Do you call Margaret 'the kitchen'?” turned a vexed red.
“ Margaret cannot speak a word without “Well, well, keep your blushes! All our prejudice, nor ever could since I have known speech is but imitation. What was the ques- her.” tion ?"
“ Has it been prejudice with you, then, “ It does n't matter."
father? Since I can remember,- until very “It matters that you pout like that at a lately,—you have made no secret of your disword. Come, repeat me the question!” He dain of Mr. Price Norrisson and all his works. caught her hand as she passed his chair and It is a prejudice your women were brought drew her down into his lap. She cast her up on. Has there been some mistake?” arms about his neck, and burst into tears. “ The mistake is that you should perplex Dunsmuir expostulated in awkward man-fash- yourself with the matter at all. You cannot ion, and cried, “ Come, come!” and tried to know the whole; and without the whole you raise her head and to make her speak. She cannot understand a part. It is a history imdived into her skirt for a handkerchief, and, possible for one side to tell with fairness to finding the pocket empty, begged in an ab- the other." ject whisper for her father's. He gave her “ There are still two sides, then? I had his ample silk one, and she settled her face supposed from present appearances that you into its folds for a good cry. Already she felt were both on the one side.” better; but Dunsmuir was thinking severely. “ Come, get alang wi' ye! Ye deave me
“ Are you keeping something from ine, wi' your clatter,” Dunsmuir evaded. But his Dolly ?”
playfulness sat grievously on him, and it jarred “No; I have nothing to keep," said Dolly, upon his child.
“ You may joke and put me off, but it 's a If I could have had a partner as sagacious and thing that cries for explanation."
plucky as Norrisson, with a better sense of faith “ I am not a man who explains. Go ask and a larger grasp of the scheme, we had not Philip Norrisson to expound his father to you. waited so long, perhaps. Yet it has not been I should be blithe of the young man's inter- long. Land-builders must be content to work pretation."
as nature works. But he had never a concep“I as you simply, What has he done? tion of the thing in hand; he does not lov What have you –or had you actually the making of a country: he wants the price against him? And why do poor people speak of his dicker, and so away to the next one. of him in the same breath with their injuries, The present combination, if you insist on knowas if he were a public swindler ?"
ing, was forced upon me. It 's a union like “Is that how the talk goes? Why, bless me, that between the Scots and the English — neiI supposed he was the man on horseback, the ther was happy in it nor very proud of it; yet biggest frog in the puddle. So the people both lived, as we shall, to reap its benefits and have memories, after all? It must be the sore- to forget its humiliations." heads, then; the ones who got left.
“ It is an ill-omened comparison. Our culiar disgrace in this country is to 'get left,' ditch-union, I hope, is not a sale,” said Dolly, you 'll observe; to grumble is next to it; the deeply moved. * And does the sun shine, two go together, like cowardice and lying.” now, on you both ? Do you remember how
“ Are we soreheads, then? Is that why we you said you would never forgive him till he have grumbled ?"
stood out of your sunlight?" “ You have a shrewd Scots tongue, young “A poor, silly speech. You would credit woman,” said Dunsmuir, with a bitter chuckle. me more by forgetting it. Men make such “ It is well seen we have had catechists in the speeches to their women, who are indulgent family."
to a phrase. The sun is for him that can make “This may amuse you,” Dolly answered, and hay while it shines. That is what Norrisson her lip trembled. “It reminds me that once did, in fine, when he built his ditch." you would not have put me off so, when I “Are you now the apologist, papa, or the had far less reason for asking to be satisfied.” historian ?”
Dunsmuir considered her flushed, excited “ Are you ever going to get over that illface, and answered soberly: “ Dolly, the bred habit of retort? It is intolerable in a trouble between Price Norrisson and your fa- woman. You and Alan have argle-bargled ther was never a personal quarrel, understand; till you know no other way of speaking. I it was a difference in our methods of work- have answered your first question. Now what ing. He is a promoter, one who peddles else have you heard, between kitchen and schemes in the money-markets ; he neither parlor? What are the people's injuries ? ” builds out of his head nor pays out of his “ I should like to know the whole story of pocket; he is the man who talks. And I am Norrisson's ditch.” the man who builds, wisely or fondly as the “Would you,
indeed ? and do you think case may be. It is well known we engineers your father is the man to tell it? Would you have a great conceit of our own ideas. But take for gospel Norrisson's story of my ditch?” my plan was no more to Norrisson than any “ I will make allowance; but I would have other man's; its merit to him was its price. it from you. I ask you not to spare whatever He was jealous of the time spent pothering to you is the truth.” with a slow project, while he might have been “ Poor Norrisson! If he only knew that the reaping commissions from several. So he girls are after his record. I don't quite perceive patched up a scheme of his own, which he pri- the grounds of my daughter's interest.” vately substituted. To do him justice, he of- “ I should think you might. He has stood fered me half; but I could not look at it, from for the enemy of my house these years and the nature of it, which was rotten, and he years; now he stands for the friend. I am all was tired of what he called my overniceness; turned about, and I 'm tired of being put off and that was the break between us. I dare say with phrases." I may have been invidious; I was angry. And Dunsmuir laughed at her sharpness, but he might have been more open with me. He still with that bitter levity which took away might have waited to be off with one deal be- her confidence in his answers. Dolly saw he fore he was on with another. He might after- was talking speciously, but could imagine no ward have been either for me or against me, reason for his want of frankness. and not have kept a vengeful interest in my "Well, then," he began, "Norrisson built a scheme, which he used to strangle whenever ditch seventy miles long in something less than it showed signs of life. Still, that is .busi- a hundred days. He boomed up the lands, and ness,' according to the business man's code. the settlers rushed in; and as most of them were
have been. It might well be doubted if at “ Not precisely; only from the house." Philip's age he had thought greatly of father's “I don't believe it. There must be some rights himself .
mistake. It 's the silliest thing I ever heard," Philip went about his preparations for leav- cried Dolly, indignantly. ing with the haste Dunsmuir's hint demanded. “Silly if you like, but quite true. Your But he proposed to retreat with his baggage in father's language is plain.” good order, not to have his things hurled after Here Philip grappled with a trunk, hurling him. He swept a place on the office table, his weight upon the handle; the bulk gave which he heaped with small effects from draw- way more quickly than he had expected, he ers and pigeonholes. Then he shot out across lurched forward, rose too suddenly, and his the hill bareheaded to the tent where the ju- bump of self-esteem smote the rafter overhead nior assistants worked, returning with an arm- with a blinding crash. He dropped sidewise ful of drawing-tools and rolls of paper. on the trunk, and clutched his head, setting his
“I suppose I may take these— copies of my teeth upon the brutal pang. As if that were drawings for the head-works?” He indicated, not enough, Dolly, sickening at the sound of the without looking at his chief, a roll of photo- blow, began to “poor” him and pity him with graphic blue-prints.
all her might. “Take anything you want."
“Oh, how it hurts!" she moaned, as if the Half an hour later Dolly heard him in the head had been her own. She dropped on her attic chamber, dragging trunks about furiously; knees before him, and begged to see the place. he was making a lane for his own, which were He shuddered, feeling her cool hands take soft stowed far back under the eaves, bitterly hold of his throbbing wrists, and the natural recalling meanwhile how he and Dolly had man in him demanded that he snatch her indiscussed their location three months before. stantly and kiss away the anguish of his double They had been civil to each other in those hurt. Why not be the traitor he had been days, and Dolly had insisted that he should take called? But the barbarian was not on deck the high part, as he was tall, and he had refused this time; he subsided, with a groan, which because he went less often to his trunks than Dolly thought was for the aching head. she to the family chests. No talk could have When Philip looked up, frowning and blushbeen smaller, but it was a thing to remembering with pain, and his clouded eyes met hers now when all the little homely intimacies were brimming with purest mother-pity, he blessed at an end. Already the spent days and bygone God that he had not wounded her innocent evenings began to glow and shine like memory trust, or blotted the memory—all that was left pictures in the retrospect. Under the eaves the him— of their perfect days together in the temperature was near to that of the stoke-hole cañon. of a steamer. Dolly opened the door, letting in He gave thanks again, that afternoon, when a breath of freshness and a vision of herself, Dunsmuir made overtures of peace on magon a bright background, in a thin blue muslinnanimous terms, including a withdrawal of all frock.
uncertain charges. “Leave it open, will you, please? I want the About four o'clock the up-cañon wind, forelight," Philip panted.
runner of a dust-storm, began to blow. The “What are you looking for? It 's frightful women ran about, shutting doors and windows, in here ; can't you wait till evening?" and Dunsmuir was driven in from the porch.
“I shall not be here this evening.” Dead leaves, chips, bits of paper, whatever was “ Going to town again ?”
detachable, drove past the house, whirled in “I 'm going to leave.”
the murky onset of the storm. Dolly appeared to be closely considering a Dunsmuir heard the hammock slapping the veil of dust-laden cobweb that wavered from piazza-posts; the willow rockers slammed to the nearest beam.
and fro; one went over with a crash, and the “To leave the cañon? Dear me! Jenny must front door banged wide, filling the room with sweep this place," she parenthesized.
dust. Every day for six weeks Dunsmuir had Philip gave her no answer. Down came a meant to fix that latch; he cursed it now, and trunk on top of another trunk with an offen- went outside to pick up chairs and pile them sive slam.
to leeward, locking the door after him in the “I did n't understand you. Are you going teeth of the storm. Half his letters and papers on some other part of the work ?"
were on the floor, and where he stepped to pick “ I have left the work."
them up he left prints of his feet in the dust. “I suppose it's none of my business why?" Philip came down-stairs, pale from his hurt,
“ It is; and I don't mind telling you. I've with bloodshot eyes. He was dressed for the been fired.”
road, and carried a canvas covert-coat on his “Not from the work ?”
arm. A transit-book he had forgotten showed
in the inside pocket; he drew it out and tossed serve for a lassie! When the work is done, it on the desk.
when the dam is in, why, then, if I am content “I'll send you those vouchers to-morrow," with the way you have borne yourself, we 'll he said to Dunsmuir. Then he asked which speak of this again. This is no time for marof the men should drive him to town. rying or giving in marriage."
“Sit down." Dunsmuir looked at him hard. “I am willing enough to wait,” said Philip, “ You can't start till this is over.” He went out “if the terms of waiting are not made imposand gave an order in the kitchen, which was sible.” followed soon by Jenny with beer and biscuits. Dunsmuir smiled. “You may look at her
Philip would take neither, and Dunsmuir in reason, so far as is needful to keep out of finished the beer himself, feeding the biscuits her way. No, no, lad; ye shall be friends. to Jenny's boy, who had tagged his mother into Make each other's acquaintance, but keep the room, and declined to be peacefully evicted. to the windward of promises and—and such Every few mouthfuls the child paused in his toys. I have some notion of a man myself. copious eating, and pointed to the chimney, I'm not taking you on trust altogether and saying: "Hark! Win'!”
I 'm not so ruthless, nor so careless of my « Right you are, mannie. Wind that would household as you 've had the insolence to take the hair off your head if you were out in insinuate. Now, shall we take a fresh grip of it. Now the little beggar's choking! Save us! the work? It would be a waste of good manwhere 's that woman?” Dunsmuir picked up material for you and me to quarrel.” the child by his garments, coughing and splut- They looked each other in the eyes hard tering, and handed him out of the door like a and long. Then Philip went to the mantelpuppy.
shelf and filled him a pipe, and they smoked " Have a pipe?" he suggested affably, when together in silence, while the wind fell, and peace was restored, with the sound of the wind scattering gleams from the low sun showed asserting itself.
lines and surfaces of dust like fine ashes that “Thanks, I don't care to smoke," said Philip. toned the colors of the room.
“What 's your quarrel with the work, man? “But am I not to have leave to explain ?" I never said you could not do your work.” asked Philip, frowning over the match with
“ I never said you did. If you had, it would which he was lighting his second pipe. “Not not have been true,” Philip answered roughly. a word before the shutting down ? Consider, “ Then why do you quit it?"
I have told her “ Should you care to work under a man that “You have told her enough, I have little had called you a traitor and the son of a doubt. I 'll do the explaining myself.” traitor ?”
“ But she will think —" “Tush! you would have it. You brought it “Let her think, and let her fash herself with on yourself. Ye knew I was hit between wind thinking. Philip, I mean this in fair kindness and water, and the less said about that the bet- to you both. If the lassie cannot bear with a ter. But you need not have come purring after touch of doubt beforehand, do you think you 'll my daughter."
be able to satisfy her hereafter ? Let her think, “ The time was ill chosen, I acknowledge; and let her misdoubt and upbraid you in her but the fact remains," said Philip.
thoughts. It 's what you well deserve, if I “ Let it remain, then. There's no occasion know what young men are. A little thinking to meddle with it. You did not come here to beforehand will do you both no harm. make love to my daughter."
“I had not done so not more than I could help — when you opened on me. But you have relieved me of my scruples. I intend to give The false position on the work began to my mind to it now."
make itself felt. Dunsmuir settled into a cyni“ You said that before. Now suppose we cal tone, which he held from this forth: that the talk sense. It's ill changing horses when new plan was well enough; that the dam would you 're crossing a stream. I don't deny that stand; that he had been over-conservative, I'd rather have you than another on this job, but was not hidebound or wedded to a method. now we've started in. There 's little time to He rather implied that Philip was. There was waste, and I might be a month wiring back a ghastly amity between the chief and the manand forth for a man to fill your place. Stay ager, which Philip blushed to behold. where you are, and behave yourself cannily, The work went on, but the light of a fine enand when the right time shall come, maybe thusiasm was gone. The changed atmosphere we can talk of it and keep our hair on. I pervaded the house. Dolly guessed that her would see first if you are a man of your word father and Philip disagreed about the work, as well as your work. What 's six months to and that Philip had been sullen in yielding.
short of cash, Norrisson's company forms an- policy so much broader, which has been proved other company-two names, but one pocket. by the sad, wasteful experience of centuries. The loan and mortgage company advanced But it is written that young nations and young money to the settlers on their lands, and the lives shall never profit by the mistakes of the water company sold them water. But the ditch old; every life and every country must learn was got together in such a hurry-scurry that its own lessons. But for an Old World lookerit took
year two to settle down to regular on, who has seen it all thrashed out before, it is work; the water was here and there and every- a dowie business.” where but where it was wanted. The first crops “Then you think Mr. Norrisson means to went under, and the first crop of settlers went be honest, by his way of thinking ?" along with them. There was a terrible tumble “I think he means to be a rich man." in real estate; claims were jumped; there were “Have you ever seen the beautiful Mrs. foreclosures, contests, and scandals, and the Norrisson ?” deuce to pay generally. And when the pie “ No; she has never shown up in this part was smashed, Norrisson and his crowd gath- of the country. I hear she is disaffected toered and picked out the plums. After that ward her husband and her native land, but it was well seen they could afford to patch up she accepts her living from both; a lady with the leaks in their ditches. There was never a a small fist that can hold a heap of money. wilder water-system on the face of this earth, And there, you see, is where it befits to be yet somehow they have scrambled through. charitable to the husband who has that hand I understand the farmers are making money to fill. Small blame to him if—" now. I supposed the past was forgotten, except “Oh, I've heard enough!" the girl broke they used it as an election cry. What I have in with a passionate gesture." And where do chiefly against Norrisson is not personal to the you suppose the son comes from? His honesty man. We are fearfully and wonderfully made; is comparative too, I suppose ? " honesty is comparative, and the best of us can- “ He is a canny chiel,” Dunsmuir answered not boast. It is the man's methods of business coldly. I object to. He has antagonized the farmers He watched Philip jealously in these days at the outset; he cinched them, there's not a of his probation; took note of his prudent doubt; and we are now to reap the fruits of the silence on a situation both had agreed was imstone-age policy. It means a fight, and a great . possible — to any but a venal chief attainable waste of the energies and the money of a new through the loaves and fishes. Assuredly the community. And when our big ditch is lined young man had powers of self-control. Dunswith ranches, and the farmers poll more votes muir watched him come and go, faithful to the than the company, they 'll have to be bought, work, yet uncommitted; eyed him as Saul eyed or they 'll swing the elections and use their David, and loved him not, yet could find in power as he has used his. It is all very corrupt- him no cause of offense. ing, and a weariness to think on, when there's a (To be concluded in the next number.)
Mary Hallock Foote.
(DROWNED AUGUST 23, 1891.)
What mellow music in his voice!
What strength to make the eye rejoice!
O brow dethroned! O muffled bell
Of speech! O net too loosely wove!
O sunken freight of hope and love!
Robert Underwood Johnson.