The Thirteenth Move

Alberta Bancroft in McClure’s Magazine September 1 1908

The Thirteenth Move

Alberta Bancroft in McClure’s Magazine September 1 1908

The Thirteenth Move

How a Millionaire Capitalist Adopted Patient and Peculiar Methods to Capture a Lonesome Lady, for Whom, he Frankly Confessed Before the Hastily Performed Nuptial Event, That he Did Not Entertain the Slightest Affection.

Alberta Bancroft in McClure’s Magazine

IKEY stood on the street corner and fingered her veil to keep passersby from seeing her lips tremble. She was sure that she was going to cry right there in the open and she was furious about it because she did not approve of weepy females.

“If you dare,” she whispered fiercely, “if you dare, I’ll — I'll — you shan’t have that nickel’s worth of peanut candy, or those currant buns, either.”

This threat proving effective she turned, head held high, and entered the bakery.

There was the usual Saturday afternoon crowd, jostling on the shoddy thoroughfare. To-day the jostling was intensified; for the car strike was on in full blast, feeling ran high, and demonstrations were being made against the company. Now and again a car passed slowly up or down the street, drays and express wagons blocking its progress wherever possible, scab conductor and motorman hooted at by San Francisco men and beplumed ladies for their pains.

Ikey looked at the mob in disgust. Then she hurried around the corner and away from *he scene of commotion.

“And to think that it has come to this, that I can’t ride up and down in those cars all day long—just to show ’em.” The beach was what she really wanted—one of those little sand hummocks with juicy plants sprawling over it, that protect one from the wind and yet reveal beyond ravishing glimpses of cliff and breaker and sapphire shining sea.

But the beach was not to be found in

the heart of town. And she was too tired to walk there—not having had any lunch and being very angry besides. And she would lose her “job”—her miserable, wretched, disgusting, good-for-nothing job (Ikey loved adjectives), if she rode. For any and all women connected with any and all union men had been forbidden to use the company’s cars. And business houses—who had anything to gain from it—had promised their employes instant dismissal for even one ride. And the firm that employed Ikey would lose three-fourths of its trade if the union boycotted it.

So the sand-dunes would have to wait. But there were some vacant lots, backed by a scraggle of rough, red rock, only half a dozen blocks away. If luck were with her, the loafers might be in temporary abeyance and the refugee tents not unduly prominent.

Luck was with her. And Ikev sat down on the lea of the little cliff, quite alone, spread out her buns—you got three for ten cents these catastrophe days—and faced the situation.

The landlady had raised the rent.

Ikey could have screamed with laughter over the situation—if only the matter were not so vital.

“This’ll make the thirteenth move for vou, Ikey, my love, since the eighteenth of April—and the thirteenth move is bound to be unlucky. But you’ll have to go, sure as Fate ; for you can’t stand another raise. The Wandering Jew gentleman takes the road again.”

She pursed her lips as she said it. She had invented the appelation for herself

after nine moves in three months. “I don’t know what his name really was,” she confessed—there was no one else to talk to, no one she cared for. so she talked, sub voice, to herself—“but it must have been Ikey. I’m sure it was Ikey—and that I look just like him. And deriving much comfort from this witticism, she went on her way.

“Ikey, the Wandering Jew, on the move again,” she repeated. “But where to move to, that is the question. It’s funny

'what a difference money makes—-her eyebrows went up—‘‘or rather, lack of it. I’ve never considered that until recently.”

Then her eyes fell on her shoes.

They had been very swagger little shoes in the beginning—Ikey had made rather a specialty of footgear—but they were her “escape” shoes ; and their looks told the tale of their wanderings. Also she had no others since.

She wriggled her toes.

“You'll be poking through before long, looking at the stars,” she told them severely. "Imagine your excitement.”

And her suit.

Ikey looked away so as not to see the perfect cut of it, the perfect fit of it, the utter shabbiness of it. It was her "escape” suit, too. She has slept on the hills in it to the tune of dynamiting and the fiare of the burning city. She would never have another like it—never, hor her job— «

Her job.

She leaned back suddenly and closed her eyes. Her job. The rage of this noon was coming back again ; rage, and with it a strange, new sensation—fear. She had never known fear before, not even during the earthquake davs. "Only at the dentist’s,” she told herself, giggling half hysterically behind closed lids.

And back of it all—back of the landlady’s unconcealed dislike and latest slap, back of the disintegration of a wardrobe that could not be replaced, and the question as to whether her "job” had not become an impossibility since to-day— and that iob simply could not become an impossibility : one had to live—back of all this was the dull hurt, smothered and always coming again, that Bixler McFay had not taken the trouble to look her up when his regiment came through on the way to Manila.

“You may as well face that, too, while you’re about it.” Ikey observed sarcastically. She opened her eyes with a snap and bit into the first bun.

“The regiment was only here three days,” a little voice inside of her whispered fearfully.

“Three days!” Ikey’s scorn was unbounded. “If he had cared, he could have found you in three hours—and he always said he cared. It’s a thing you’ve got to live with. It’s nothing so unusual. It happens every day. Why can’t you treat it like a poor relation?”

And her thoughts went back to Fort Leavenworth, and the gowns on gowns she had worn, all burned up at the St. Francis last spring, with the rest of her things, a week after she had reached the city ; and Cousin Mary, suave and elegant and impressive as her chaperon ; too

and herself, petted and made much of on all sides, and incidentally pointed out as. the richest girl on the field, and an orphan; and Bixler McFay, handsome, brilliant, devoted, always on hand, always protesting—

A whimsical, sarcastic little smile curved her lips for a moment. The earthquake had certainly made a difference. A vision of Cousin Mary arose—not the suave and elegant chaperon of a wealthy young relative, but a frightened, selfcentred, middle-aged woman, who had taken the earthquake as a personal affront put upon her by her young charge and insisted on being the first consideration in no matter what environment she found herself.

Then came another vision. She recalled her parting with Bixler McFay in the late winter, when she had left Leavenworth for the Coast, saying it wasn’t decent not to know anything about the place where all your income came from, and he had left Leavenworth to rejoin his regiment in Arizona. How his voice had trembled that morning as he bade her good-bye, declaring he should always consider himself engaged to her even if she did not consider herself engaged to him ; begging that she wear his class pin, or at least keep it for him if she would not wear it, because the thought of its being in her possession would comfort him in his loneliness.

It had comforted her in those first dreadful days after the fire to think that he was alive and on his way to her. It never entered her head but what he would come at once : when friends were looking for friends and enemies were succoring one another, how should he fail her?

And then—not one word. Not even an inquiry in the paper; when that was about all the papers were made up of for days after—column after column of addresses and inquiries, along with the death notices.

And afterwards—not one word—

II.

“I won’t pretend this is accidental, Miss Stanton.”

Ikey looked up startled, began to curl her feet up under her skirt, decided that it was not worth while—he was only

jne of the boarders—and offered buns and candy with indifferent promptness.

“There’s a gang of toughs coming down over the hill. Strikers, maybe. 1 thought they might startle you.”

He seated himself unceremoniously on a rock near by.

Ikey settled back with a little comfortable movement against her own rock and raised her eyebrows.

“The proper thing for me to do at this stage is to inquire in a haughty voice how you happened to know 1 was here.”

“I followed you.”

There was no hint of apology, and she looked at him more closely. She had sat opposite him at the unesthetic boarding-house dining-table for the past six weeks now. He ate enormously— but in cultured wise—never said anything, was something over six feet tall, wore ready-made, dust-colored clothes, and was utterly inconspicuous. “Like a big gray wall.” Just now it was the expression of his face, intangibly different—or had she never taken the trouble to notice him before?—that fixed her attention.

He was looking straight at her.

“I’ve been following you ever since you left your office,” he said after a deliberate pause ; and Ikey’s eyes grew large and frightened as she took in his meaning.

“Then you saw—”

“I did.” There was another pause. “It won’t happen again.” Elis tone was quite final. “Why do you lay yourself open to that sort of thing Don’t you know that the burnt district is no place for any woman at all these days—not even one block of it? Why don’t you ride?”

His voice was quite cross, and Ikey could have laughed aloud. This, to her, who had the burnt district on her nerves to such an extent that she dreamed of the brick-and-twisted-iron chaos by night—the miles of desolation, punctuated by crumbling chimneys and tottering walls—dreamed of it by night and turned sick at the sight of it by day. Did this stupid hulk of a person think she liked the burnt district—and to walk there?

After all, his attitude was less funny

than impertinent. She would be angry. It was better. She would respond icily and put him in his place.

At least, such was her intention. But she discovered to her amazement that she was trembling—her encounter ci the noon was responsible for that—and her teeth seemed inclined to hit against each other rapidly with a little clicking noise. So it seemed on the whole more expedient to blurt out her remarks without any attempt at frills or amplification.

“Why don’t you ride?”

Ikey gathered herself together.

“My dear Mr. Hammond, there is a street car strike on here in San Francisco. No union wagons run out this way-and T lose my position if T use the cars.”

He was welcome to that. She looked off into the distance while he assimilated it.

“I had not thought of that,” he said at last slowly. “In that case there is but one thing to do. You must stop that work at once.”

“And stand in the bread line? Now? Along with—those others?” A little

smile twisted her lips. “I should look handsome doing that.”

"But surely—”

His tone was beginning to be puzzled. So was his expression. Ikey ascertained this by allowing a glance 10 brush past him.

Suddenly he had changed his position. He was beside her on the ground, facing her, staring her out of countenance.

"We may as well get the clear of tins right now—"

"It isfiieedlessly clear to me, Mr. Hammond.”

"But not to me. In the first place—” "1 will not trouble you—”

“It is no trouble. In the first place, has that fellow followed you, spoken to you before?”

"Never—never like that.”

She wondered whether he had noticed her unsuccessful effort to rise and put an end to the interview.

“Do you know who he is?”

“He is the junior member of the firm 1 work for.”

“What! Well, I am glad I smashed him.” Then he added quickly, “This, of course, {Hits an end to your going there, at once. You've been at it too long anyway. It’s stopped being a joke, and as a pose—”

“ ‘Pose.’ ”

The intonation was subtle. A moment's bewilderment, and he burst out, “You’re not doing this because you —have to?”

“That—or something.”

“But—but—Good Lord, child! Where is your money?”

With pomp and ceremony—but languidly withal, for her head was beginning to ache, and she wanted desperately to cry—she laid her purse in his hand. But she did not look at him.

The big hand closed over the flat little thing impatiently.

“I am referring to your bank account.” “And by what right—”

“We’ll settle that later. The banks have opened up again—”

“That’s all I have.”

“But what has become—You’re not going to faint?”

“No.”

“Then what has become—”

Quite against her will she was beginning to find herself faintly amused. Of all pigheaded, impertinent people, this individual with whom she had hardly had more than five minutes’ conversation, except at meal times during the past six weeks, was certainly the worst.

"I really must know, Miss Stanton, what has become—”

“I gave it away.”

“You—gave it—away !” Italics could never do justice to his intonation. He was staring at her as though he considered her demented. “To whom?” came his indignant question.

After all, why not tell him? It was none of his business ; and he was desperately impertinent ; but she was desperately forlorn; and, though it could not better the situation to talk about it, it might better her feelings.

She slipped farther down against her rock ; and he bent forward, listening intently.

“I gave it to—a relative. She was living with me at the time of the fire. We had only just come up from Los Angeles—because I wanted to—I had some property here ; all mv income came from it ; and I felt I ought to know more about it—in case anything happened. And after the earthquake she acted as though I had led her up to the—jaws of death— and pushed her in—and later she was so afraid of typhoid—and everything. And so—at last, when the banks opened up again—I gave her all the money I had in the bank—and she went East right away—and I stayed here.”

“With nothing?”

“I had fifty dollars. I was doing relief work at the Presidio, waiting for the vaults to cool off—I had a lot of paper money in a box there—and for the insurance companies to pay—and for the man who looked after my affairs to get well ; he’d been hurt in the earthquake. But he didn’t get well ; he had a stroke, instead, and died. And his partner— they were lawyers—went away ; all their books and papers and everything had been burnt up, and he didn’t seem to think he could ever straighten things out ; and when the vaults were opened, the paper money I had in the box was

all dust—and the insurance companies haven’t paid.”

She shrugged her shoulders delicately over the situation, already disgusted with herself at having descended to disclosing her private affairs to a stranger.

Meanwhile, “So that’s it,” the stranger was saying. “I’ve wondered a lot.”

“ You needn’t have troubled.”

“No trouble,” he blandly assured her, “Houghton always was an ass”— (Houghton was the younger lawyer. How had he known? the girl wondered; —“lighting out for Goldfield when he ought to be here, straightening out his clients’ business. And so you went to work on some beggarly salary, instead of seeing about having your pro¡,eny put in shape again. Why didn’t you lease, or—”

“I couldn’t find out where it was,” she retorted, furious. “I’d only been here a week when the fire came; and not for years before that.”

-“and not put yourself in a position

where you get insulted by some little scrub who isn’t fit for you to walk on —Are vou going to faint?”

“No.”

“Then what’s the matter?” inquired the clod at her side.

“Nothing,” she fibbed promptly. How different this creature was from Bixler McFay! Bixler had never pried into her private affairs, or evinced an interest in her possessions, or insisted on answers she did not wish to give, or pursued topics she did not care for. Bixler had none of the bluntness, the pigheadedness, the brutality of this —but then, there was no comparing the two. Only, she had vowed not to think of Bixler any more. Fie was not worth it.

“Nothing’s the matter with me,” she said. “Only, when I got back to the boarding-house after—after downtown to-day, the landlady said I’d have to pay sixty a month or leave at once, and— and she hadn't saved any lunch for me, and—”

“And you’ve been eating—”

He looked at the candv-bag and the morsel of bun with horror.

“I thought they’d cheer me up,” Ikey

murmured meekly, “but they’ve made me feel—kind of queer.”

“ I hat settles it.” 1 he big hand came down forcefully upon his knee. “We’ll get the thickest steak you ever laid your eyes on in about two minutes. But first— we’ll get married.”

“What!”

III.

What happened after that Ikey could never clearly remember. Bits of ensuing conversation came back to her, memories of the sickening rage, the stupefying bewilderment that possessed her, and the exhaustion that followed. But order there was none. And she was sure she never got the whole of it.

At one stage in the proceedings she had observed in a haughty voice that she did not care to have his sympathy— or pity—take that form.

“Oh, it’s not that,” he assured her pleasantly; “but I’m tired of knocking around the world alone. I need an anchor. I think you —lie looked at her impersonally, but politely—“would make a good anchor.”

“You mean you want me to reform you !”

Fie smiled a careful smile.

“No-o. I don’t feel the need of reforming. There’s nothing the matter with me—”

“How lovely to have such a high opinion of oneself.”

“\es. Isn’t it? But as I was saying

At another stage she tried to take refuge behind the usual platitude: she did not love him.

He considered this—at ease bero;c her, his hands in his pockets.

“Well, when it COURS to that, I don’t love you, either”—Ikey gasped—“ but 1 don’t consider that that makes any difference.”

Another break.

Then, “What’ll you do, if you don’t?” he had asked her in a businesslike manner. “You’re just on the verge of a breakdown”— She knew it : and his tone of conviction did not add to her sense of security—“Another scene like to-day’s would upset you completelv. You say you have no friends or relatives here; and there’s no one you want to go to

away from here. And besides, I can look after you a great deal better than you can look after yourself.”

There must have been much arguing after that. There must have ; for she had not the slightest intention of being disposed of in this mediaeval fashion. But in the midst of some determined though shaky sentence of hers, lie had said quite kindly and finally that they need not discuss the matter any further—besides, she had to have a good stiff lunch right off —and had piloted her carefully, but with no overpowering air of devotion, out of the empty lots, around the corner, and into an automobile.

“It was all the fault of that wretched beefsteak,” mourned Ikey an hour or two later. “If I’d only had it before, it never would have happened—never. I shall always have a grudge against it. What am I to do now?”

The automobile had conveyed them smoothly, first, to a clergyman’s, of all people; next, to a restaurant; then, to the boarding-house, where her few belongings had found their way into a telescope basket ; and now it was conveying them through the bedraggled outskirts of the city into the country beyond.

A hatchet-faced chauffeur was manipulating things in front; while the unspeakable man in gray sat unemotionally beside her in the tonneau and looked the other way.

“What am I to do now?” The bewildered girl found no answer to the one question of her mind. “Why don’t you faint?” she asked herself severely. ’’Why don’t you faint? If you had an idea of helping me out of this pickle, you’d do it at once, and never come to at all, and then have brain fever. It’s the only decent solution. Instead of that, here you are, feeling—actually comfortable.”

She stared ahead of her with miserable eyes.

“It was all that miserable beefsteak. The thing must have been six inches thick. Beast; why couldn’t he have taken me to the restaurant first? Then I’d never have gone to the clergyman’s. And that license. Where did he get it? We never stopped for one—he just pulled it out of his pocket, as though it

had been a hankerchief. Ikey, you’re married, married—do you quite understand?—to a man who wears ready-made clothes and doesn’t love you and lives in an attic boarding-house bed-room. And what is he doing with this automobile? And what is his business? Oh, lie’s probably a chauffeur; and he’s borrowed his employer’s bubble; and this other chauffeur in front’s his best friend and ashamed of him on account of the beefsteak business. He’d better be. But what shall I say to him? What shall I say?—Oh—h”—heaven-sent inspiration —“I’ll say nothing at all. I will be— so indifferent.”

^ On and on and on went the machine. The girl closed her eyes upon the dusty, dun-colored landscape.

“Serves me right for turning over my bank account to Cousin Mary and—and

She had fallen asleep, propped up in her corner of the machine—worn out by this climax to the weeks that had gone before.

The man at her side turned and looked at her. His face no longer wore its placidly and conventionally polite expression.

IV.

“The thirteenth move. Didn’t I say it would be unlucky!”

Ikey had lied to the garden, letter in hand, to review the situation. The low clouds threatened rain. But what did that matter? The house stifled her with its large, low, mannish rooms and continued reminder of Arthur Hammond; and she had to think—think—think everything out from the very beginning.

That first evening—when she wakened in the dusk at his side in the automobile and stared bewildered at the dim outline of the low, rambling brown house tucked away among shrubbery under a load of vines—how quick he had been to reassure her, to explain that a friend of his, who had expected to come here with his bride, had had to go to Mexico instead and had asked him to occupy the bungalow until their return. A woman and a Chinaman went with the place; and she would have the run of a large garden. She could get rested there; and he could go to and from town every day.

And the days that followed—how careful he had been; how matter-of-fact and unemotional ; never touching her ; never making any sudden motion towards her; never referring to that short ten minutes at the clergyman’s; never going near the two rooms the respectable English housekeeper had conducted her to that first evening.

“Almost as though he were trying to tame a bird,” she had thought half whimsically, after the first days, when the feeling of weariness and fright had worn down and a great relief and great thankfulness had taken its place, that she should never see the boarding-house again with its sneering, insulting landladv. or the office where that man with the eager, shifty, cruel little eyes held rule.

And so she had set herself about it, resolutely, though bewildered, to be an anchor to this big, unemotional young man who had so suddenly come out of the background of her existence and was occupying all possible space immediately behind the footlights.

She did not at all know what an anchor did, or said, or how it acted. But the very perplexity for some reason or other sent her spirits skyhigh. And she pottered about the garden with him, and whizzed about the country in the automobile—it belonged to the same friend who wanted him to look after the place —and poked about the queer, rambling house, content to see no one else and talk to no one else and amazed at herself that this should be so.

Only once had he made any reference to their situation, when he suggested that it might be as well under the circumstances for her to call him Arthur.

“I shall never call you Arthur. Never,” she told him hotly. “I loathe the name. Always have. It sounds so deadly respectable.”

“You don’t care for respectability?” His tone was so affable.

Ikey considered. “It may have advantages, in some cases. But—”

“Then what am I to be called?”

She might have retorted that she should call him nothing at all : he never addressed her by any name. Instead, she answered, “Boobies.”

“Boobies?”

"Boobies,” she repeated firmly. And then came laughter. I key’s rages ha l

a way of breaking up in inconvenient bursts of hilarity these days.

But what difference did that make now? What difference did anything make?

“I don’t see,” Ikey said to herself desperately, “what makes me so stupid. I’m afflicted with chronic mental nearsightedness. Most distressing. This is really a tragedy I’m mixed up in—a tragedy And tragedy’s a thing I never cared for.”

She collapsed miserably on a bench and stared at the letter.

“It’s queer how tragedy and going to sea give you the same feeling.”

It was not pity—oh, no—that had made him want to marry her. And it was not love. And it was not because he needed an anchor. Not he. He was not that kind. It was simply because she was his opportunity. Yes; that was the word. And she had never suspected.

Not that afternoon in the vacant lot, when he had inquired so exhaustingly as to her bank account.

Not the next week, when he appeared from town in the middle of the afternoon, all unheralded and paler than ordinary, with papers to sign, and the exhilarating news that the insurance companies had paid up, and a new bankbook with her name and comforting fat figures in it.

How desperately glad she had been over that. For hot shame possessed her at her appearance—shabby clothes and hardly any of them, when his readymade dust-colored garments had immediately been replaced by the well-fitting blue serge that was her special weakness in masculine attire. .She had invested heavily in frills and slowly regained her self-respect.

And not when he had appeared with a list of her property—how had he come by that list?—stating that he had made arrangements to lease certain pieces and rebuild at once on the others, and asking her approval of the final arrangements.

She had not suspected him then, either, idiot that she was. She had been too busy being rested, being thankful, being hanpv in the big garden, tucked

away from the people who had failed her and the ghastly city and the memory of its great disaster.

She turned to the letter again. Bixler McEay had always written a good letter. 1 his time he quite surpassed himself.

Heart-broken, unreconciled; his hopes shipwrecked ; his faith destroyed. How could she have treated him so? She had been practically engaged to him; and she had left him a prey to every horrible emotion at a time when one word would have put his mind at rest. No clue as to her whereabouts by which he could trace her.

She passed that over with her little crooked sarcastic smile. She had telegraphed and written both—and the second letter had been registered. He had probably forgotten that little fact. But it was of little consequence now. The sting lay in what followed.

And then what did he learn? the letter inquired. That a man he supposed to be his friend, a fellow he had met daily in Arizona for a couple of months at a time, had systematically pumped him about her, had taken means of ascertaining her financial status, and, recognizing her as his opportunity (that was where the word came from) had rushed off to San Francisco, married her hand over fist, and launched himself as a capitalist —on her capital. And she had allowed it.

The girl dropped the pages in her lap. Her litle fist came down on top of them.

“It’s a despicable letter,” she told herself hotly. “And what he thinks to gain by it, I don t know. He just wants to make trouble.—And he has,” she breathed with a downward sigh.

The question was, what to do now. And pride stod at her elbow and pointed out the only course.

This Arthur Hammond, this big, quiet, self-contained, efficient, indifferent young man—whose opportunity she was—must never know that she knew, or, knowingcared.

That was the only solution. Pride forbade a scene—on this account; on hers; on Bixler McFay’s ; on everybody’s, when it came to that. No one should k now—a n vt h i n g.

“Aller a while I shall get quite old and pin-cushiony," she assured herself, “and pricks won’t prick; and nothing will matler. 1 must be quite affable, and cuite indifferent, and always polite—for women are only rude to men they care about.” Tier lips trembled. “It’s all happened before, hundreds of times to hundreds of women—and money is very interesting to men—and there’s no reason why this shouldn’t happen to you, Ikey, dear—and a hundred of years from now it won t make any difference anyway.

'But I’ll never tell him anything again—”

For latterly she had told him many things about herself—young lonesomenesses that nothing could dispel ! family hunger for brothers and sisters and all the ramifications of a home; and, half unconsciously, her utter content with the present. She turned hot at the thought of it all.

"But one thing I won’t stand.” She jumped up and made for the house. “He shan’t have my photograph on his dressing-table.”

She had seen it there one day on passing his open door, and had wondered, wide eyed, how he came by it—it was one she had had taken in the East—and had felt unaccountably shy at the thought of asking him about it.

She tore into the house, to get it, to destroy it, to tear it into tiny bits, and trample upon it—at once, without a moment to lose—when, rushing up the porch steps, she collided with the one person of all others she least expected to see.

V.

Late afternoon. The house was very still. Outside, the rain was falling, falling, and the shrubs bent under their burden of shining drops. Inside, the fire crackled and whispered and the girl lay in the big armchair and looked around the room.

The fireplace, the big, rich rugs ; the dark paneling; the fine, unemotional pictures—no wonder the whole place had reminded her of Arthur Hammond. She ought to have known. She ought to have known.

She heard his step in the hall. His door banged, once ; twice ; again. Then,

his voice asking Eliza some question, and the murmur of the housekeeper’s reply.

Then he came in.

She did not speak or move, and his, “Good-evening” was presently followed by the easv question : “What’s the matter?”

Then she turned on him.

“Is it true that this house belongs to you ?”

A pause. Then he answered slowly. “Yes.”

“And the grounds?”

“Yes.”

“And the automobile—is yours?” “Yes.”

He stood quietly watching her. She knew it, though she did not look at him. She took a deep breath.

“Those insurance companies have not paid,” she said in a stifled voice. “You told me they had. You—you gave me— Where did all that money come from I’ve been spending?”

“Well, I suppose originallv it was mine.”

“Then it’s true you are a millionaire?” “Ye-es. Just about, I guess.”

“And my property—all those buildings that burnt up were mortgaged and—and I couldn’t have rebuilt—and everybody knew it—except me. The money that’s putting them up again—”

“I arranged about that. But what difference does it make?”

“What did you do it for?”

“I thought you’d feel better to have an income again—and on acuunt of other people, too. It made me hot to have you treated as though vou were—just anybody at all—simply because your income happened to be short for a time. And—and I thought you’d rather have it that way than take it from me—at the first,” he ended lamely.

She jumped up and confronted him, white with rage.

“How dared --u do that: How dared

you? How do you suppose I feel, being in this position—to you?”

“I hope you don’t feel at all. And besides— But how did you find out about this?”

“Cousin Mary has been here,” the girl burst out, losing all idea of keeping any-

thing back. “She had all sorts of things to say ; how badly she’d been treated— how she was shipped off East, and I never wrote to her, nothing about my affairs, or that I was married, or anything. She couldn’t talk enough. She said everybody sympathized with her, because her prospects were ruined, because the companies I’d insured in wouldn’t pay and my land was mortgaged so I couldn’t rebuild. She knew that—and she’d never told me. And then she spoke a piece about my conduct in getting married and never telling her a word about it beforehand. She said she was mortified to death to have to learn about my marriage from strangers—strangers— just accidentally. But there wasn’t anything she didn’t know ; that you were a millionaire, but very eccentric and not given to going around like a rational being—in society; and that you had places around in different States and always made it a point not to know your neighbors, so you wouldn’t have them come dropping in interfering with you ; and that you were amusing yourself now with putting my affairs on their legs again ; and how lucky it was for me : and how strange it was, when I was making a brilliant marriage, not to make it. at least, in a dignified, even if not in a brilliant manner, with a church wedding and all. There wasn’t anything she didn’t know. I believe she used detectives to find out. And she ended un by saying that she had a lovely disposition and would forgive me—I could have killed her—I was her onlv first cousin’s ord’" child—and she was coming here to live.”

“The deuce she did !”

“But what did you do it for?” She turned on him furiously. “A hat did you do it for?”

“Yes—but where’s this Cousin Marv?”

“We had a scene—at least, part of one: we didn’t either of us sav half we wanteel to—and she’s left. She’ll probably decide in the end. though, that her disposition’s lovely enough to overlook it. and insist on making her home with her eccentric millionaire cousin-in-law— What did you do this for?”

He stood there, frowning in perplexity. Then with a sigh of relief, “SuoooHng

we sit down.” he said, as one who has a happy inspiration. “I don’t know as I can explain this to your satisfaction—exactly. But I’ll try. It seemed to me— Don’t you know, I thought— Hang it all, that King Cophetua business—was that the chap’s name?—never did appeal to me a little bit. I’m dead sure that Beggar Maid had it in for him from the start for his beastly condescending ways to her. And I was afraid you might think—you see, it seemed to me that'when your affairs were back in the position they ought to be, perhaps you’d feel better towards me.”

He looked at her with boyish entreaty in his eyes. It was as though she were suddenly in the room with a new person. The expression of his face left her breathless.

“Then you came to that boardinghouse deliberately to—”

“I did. Deliberately to let you get a bit used to me. It might have upset you to have a perfect stranger come up and marry you off-hand.”

“But—but”—she gasped.

She was flushed to the eyes. Suddenly he turned and switched on the electric lights. Then he turned back and looked at her—hard. The rose deepened.

“You said that day—that day—that dav, you know—”

“Well?”

“You said most distinctly that—you didn’t love me.”

He turned an exasperated face toward her.

“-if I’d come up with the confes-

sion that your eyes set me crazy and the impudent tilt of your little nose was very much on my nerves? Supposing I’d told you that you bowled me over the moment I saw you— It’s God’s truth. I saw you at the theatre in New York just before you left for Fort Leavenworth. I followed you there, but nothing that wasn’t brass buttons seemed to be having an inning: and I didn’t care to meet you at all, unless I could win out. So I left and went down to Arizona, where there was some land business I had to look after. Then McFav came down there and talked a good deal with hi> mouth; and I was sure it was all off and

was doubly glad I hadn’t met vou. Then came the news of the earthquake and the fire : and I kept waiting for the beggar to get leave and go to you—and he didn’t go. And then one night he—well, he was drunk, or he wouldn’t have done it—but he talked some more with his mouth; and so I knew what to expect Lom hint and—er, removed your photograph from his rooms—he hadn’t any business having it around for men to stare at, anyway ; and then I came here to find you; and—and that’s about all, I guess.”

He laughed an embarrassed laugh.

“I was pretty well done for before— it seems to me everybodv I met kept talking about you—but the boardinghouse business finished me completely. There were you—you’d lost more than all that trash put together, and had been badly treated, and all—but you held your head high and never peeped and made that dining-table a thing to look forward to bevond everything. No wonder the landlady hated you. I could have kneel ed down and kissed your little boots— not that you’d have cared about it especiallv.”

He laughed his boyish, embarrassed laugh again.

The girl turned away.

“I won’t be humble,” she whispered to herself tremulously. “I won’t. It’s a wretched policy for women, and the effects are dreadful on men.”

She trailed away towards the other end of the room.

“I’m not Ikey any more. I’m not the Wandering Jew. The thirteenth move is a glorious move, and I’ve come home —to a man in a million.”

Aloud she observed disdainfully, ‘The whole performance from beginning to end has been unspeakable—simply unspeakable ; and I insist—”

She had reached the bay window and pressed her little nose tight against the window-pane.

“I insist you’re no gentleman,” came her muffled shaky voice from behind the curtains, “or I wouldn’t have to be standing here quite by mvself, waiting for you to come over here and—and kiss me."