OH, MISS CUPIDITY!
The dictionary tells us that the word cupidity is derived from the Latin ‘cupio'—long for. And Joan, of this story, was living proof of the fact that the noun was founded on the right root. For how she did long! And how little her longing got her in the long run!
PINK and white faces pressed against the pane; there was a shrill outcry of voices; feet scampered tightly over the polished floors; girls squeezed and pushed and jostled one another good naturedly, striving to get an unobscured view of the street below, where a small blue roadster was drawn up at the curb. A girl was stepping from it while the man in the car was trying to detain her. Their voices and laughter came blurred and indistinct through the thick glass.
"Didn’t I tell you? Didn’t I tell you?” screamed a pretty blonde, dancing up and down, her hands on the Bhoulders of the girls on either side of her.
“Let me look. Oh, do let me look!”
“There. She’s coming in,” someone shrieked as the sound of a motor starting rose muffled to their ears. "For Heaven’s sake, don’t let her see we’ve been looking!” There was a scurry of slender silken legs away from the window; a whirl of brief skirts; perfume was shaken on the air as though a breeze had rustled a cluster of blossoms. By the time Doris Jamieson walked into the room, the wide window seat was empty.
“My dear,” screamed the pretty blonde vivaciously, pecking at Doris’ cool rosy cheek, “we never dreamed you were coming. It’s so late.”
“I had no idea of the time,” Doris explained, a breathless catch in her voice. “You see,” she went on, looking around her at the happy group, “I was starting, when Denny arrived with his car and offered to drive me over. He insisted upon driving through the park first.”
“Denny? Denny Hay?” shouted several voices in simulated surprise.
“You’ve never been out with Denny Hay. Well, if some people don’t have all the luck.”
“He’s a pet,” cried the pretty blonde; “I’d marry him to-morrow if he’d ask me.”
“Who wouldn’t?” shouted a chorus of voices.
“He took you home from the dance the other night.” “Oh, that was only because I live on the next street from where he stays,” explained Doris, shyly, stripping off her gloves, deeply embarrassed at being the centre of the vociferous circle.
Gay high laughter ricocheted through the room.
“I live on the next street, in the other direction. I notice he didn’t take me home.”
Soft color bloomed in Doris’ face. She wasn’t accustomed to being the centre of so much interest. She wished something else would draw their attention away from her.
“When’s Joan coming home?” a voice inquired; “she’ll be green with envy.”
“What do you bet she’ll try and cut Doris out the very first thing. Don’t you let her, Doris. Hang on to him for all you’re worth.”
“No, don’t let her.”
“But—but,” stammered Doris, more and more confused every moment by the sensation she had created, “he doesn’t really like me. You’re imagining it.”
There was a shout of laughter; shrill clamorous voices. “Doris, you’ll be the death of us.”
“You’d die rather than admit a man liked you.”
“Of course he’s in love with you.”
"Aren’t we all ready to scratch your eyes out?”
"VTO ONE was so surprised as Doris herself that Denny ^ Hay had shown such a preference for her ever since he had come to the town as a junior accountant in the firm of Meikle & Meikle. He was of the type she never could have imagined as liking herself. Her lot had mostly been the left-overs; men whom Joan couldn’t be bothered with; men no one else wanted. But Denny Hay was not of that dull order. Tall, slim, dark, with flashing white teeth and an air of extreme self-possession, he appeared to her a glamorous individual.
It was difficult for her to believe he liked her and she kept manufacturing reasons to herself as to why he had telephoned, why he had taken her home from the dance, why he invited her so frequently to go motoring? She told herself repeatedly it was only because he couldn’t get anyone else at the moment, knowing all the time that any one in her own group would shamelessly break any other]engagement to go with him.
There were moments when she floated on a rosy cloud over the heads of everyone, while the moon was forever shining, the trees for ever blossoming. The world was a very ecstatic place; life an enchantment.
Hugging her secret tight in her arms at night, she would blink happily into the darkness, holding off sleep, that thief of delicious thought.
But the night after the tea, she lay awake thinking of something someone had said that afternoon. “Don’t let Joan cut you out.” Joan was supposed to be halfengaged to Bert Coulson, but Doris knew that when she met Denny, Bert would appear to her very inadequate indeed.
Inevitably Joan hankered after other people’s possessions. The mere fact that they belonged to someone else set an enhanced value upon them. It made her feel that here was something she had perhaps overlooked. Doris had always given up everything to Joan. When they were small Joan was supposed to be delicate, and it was an understood ruling in the household that rather than Joan should fling herself into a passionate fit of screaming, Doris should abandon to Joan whatever it was she wanted. And that was the way it had gone on. Mrs. Jamieson, a pretty fluffy woman who worshipped the child who took after herself, still used the old excuse that Joan was delicate, but Doris knew it now as an excuse only. Once or twice Sam Jamieson had interfered when an argument had taken place in front of him, but usually he didn’t hear much about what went on.
TOAN had come home. Never, Doris thought with a little pang which she quickly suppressed, had Joan appeared lovelier, elated as she was from her visit. Her hair ran in ripples of light all over her head, her round eyes, with their expression of startled innocence, shone with high spirits, and her absurd little mouth, which was forever pouted for a kiss, was soft and red as a flower.
She hadn’t been at home more than a few hours before she knew everything about Doris and Denny Hay. All evening her friends were calling her up to welcome her back and, incidentally, to impart the news.
“What do you think of Doris capturing the most attractive man in town while you were away?” they screamed to her over the telephone. “We’re all wild with jealousy.”
She came into Doris’ room while Doris was undressing and sat down on the edge of the bed, swathed in a blue silk dressing gown the color of her eyes.
“Tell me about this Denny Hay!” she demanded. “Is he as fascinating as they all make out.”
“I don’t know,” Doris responded, warm color painting her cheeks; “you mightn’t like him.”
“Are you in love with him?” Joan inquired coolly, noticing the color.
“Of course not,” Doris exclaimed. “How could I be? I’ve only known him for three weeks.”
“It doesn’t take you long to fall in love.” Joan’s manner was sophisticated when she talked about love; it seemed to say there wasn’t very much she didn’t know aboutit. “I’m quite anxious to meet him. But probably I’ll find him as dull as ditch-water.”
“He’s coming in to-morrow night,” Doris remarked, hoping Joan would find him as dull as she expected, but fearing that she wouldn’t. She hated Joan’s attitude of desiring to look him over, to see whether he were worth her while. “I suppose Bert will be in, too. He’s missed you horribly.”
“Oh, Bert,” Joan exclaimed pettishly; “I get tired of
Bert always hanging around. He doesn’t give me a moment’s peace. Who gave you the gold slippers?” she inquired, her voice sharpening; “they look awful with that dress.”
“Aunt Alice sent them to me.”
“What a pig she is not to send me some. They match my gold tulle. Suppose we change. You can have these,” and she stuck out two little feet before her.
Doris looked down at the gold slippers. They were so pretty. She hesitated. She didn’t want to change at all. But if she refused, she supposed Joan would be in a bad humor for some time, and she didn’t want that, either, just now.
“All right,” she said, slipping her feet out of the gold slippers; “you can have them. Only don’t let Aunt Alice know.”
“I won’t,” Joan replied readily.
After Joan had left the room, and she had turned out the lamp beside her bed, she lay quiet for a long time, looking into the darkness. And a horrid little fear crept out of the shadows and stood all night long beside her bed.
IT WAS immediately apparent to Doris, the following evening, that Joan found Denny Hay attractive. From the instant they were introduced, Doris could see the effort Joan was making to be even more than usually sparkling and gay. Bert Coulson and Doris became mere spectators, while Joan pirouetted and whirled about, screaming with delighted laughter every time Denny made a remark, her little hands, like white moths, fluttering about him and never quite alighting, and all the time behaving as though he and she had some delicious secret between them which they had no intention of sharing with anyone else.
She was calling him Denny a moment after she had been introduced, her little red mouth pouting to pronounce his name, as though it were an endearment she was uttering. And Doris looked on, with a hopeless expression in her soft brown eyes, her hands like ice, her cheeks like fire. She made an effort to keep up a conversation with Bert, but he was in an unresponsive mood and answered her only in monosyllables.
At length, when Doris felt her face aching with the strain of forced smiling, Denny left Joan putting a record on the gramaphone and crossed the room.
“Come on outside. There’s a fine moon. This room is as hot as anything.”
Doris got up and led the way outside, and then immediately was sorry she had appeared so willing to obey his request, which had been almost in the nature of a command. She looked at him inquiringly, as he sat down beside her on a wicker chaise longue, wondering whether he intended to talk about Joan. And then his arm went around her and before she realized it his mouth met hers. At the touch of his lips all thought fell away from her. Ecstasy! The night was filled with stars. Th*
dark sang around her, and she was part of that delicious melody. Her lips clung to his with a fervor that lifted her out of herself. It was bliss such as she had never known.
“Denny. Denny. Where are you?”
Doris*drew back quickly, hot, confused, embarrassment pouring through her, seeing Joan standing in the open doorway not five feet away. She came tumbling back to earth, severely shaken by the fall. It was as though Joan had called “dearest, dearest, where are you,” she thought even in the midst of her confusion.
A cutting little laugh floated toward them. Then Joan had turned back into the room and they could hear the loud twanging of the ukelele, then a shriek of laughter. Joan was in all likelihood relating with much relish what she had seen.
Doris moved towards the door, wretched and miserable. She already was sorry she had been so responsive to Denny. It was all spoilt now; it even appeared almost nasty.
“Don’t go in,” Denny protested weakly. “Why are you going in?”
She hesitated, turning to look at him, an appeal in her eyes. He had lost some of his cheerful sang froid. He looked ill at ease. She wished he would say something to chase away what she was feeling, before they went back into the lighted room.
“Well, perhaps we’d better be going in,” was all he said. “Your sister must be having a dull time with Coulson. He’s a mutton-head all right.”
“Don’t say that. Bert’s a dear. You’ll think so when you know him. And they’re almost engaged.”
Denny’s black brows lifted.
“You don’t say so. They don’t behave that way. I thought your sister was bored to death with him.”
“Bert isn’t your kind, of course. But Dad thinks an awful lot of him. He’s clever and getting on so well.”
“Sorry. I didn’t know he was going to be one of the family or I wouldn’t have spoken. I fancied Joan wanted to play around with me to get away from him.”
“Oh, no,” Doris cried quickly, “that isn’t it at all! It’s only that . . .,” she stopped in consternation. She
mustn’t tell Denny the reason Joan wanted to play around with him was because Joan fancied Denny belonged to her.
“Oh, nothing. Come along in.”
Doris knew, from the way in which Joan looked at her, that she was deeply offended. Joan took no trouble to hide it. And during the week that followed whenever Joan spoke to Doris her voice had a sharp little edge.
TT WAS toward the end of the week that Mrs. Jamieson
eyed her husband across the breakfast table with a look of exasperation. Doris had been to a dance the night before and was still sleeping. Joan had refused to go to the dance, but Mrs. Jamieson considerately had sent her breakfast up to her room all the same.
“Joan isn’t well,” Mrs. Jamieson insisted. “She never would have refused to go last night if she had been feeling herself.”
“Nonsense,” grunted Sam Jamieson, tearing open a letter, “she’s all right. Girls get whims at times.”
“Not Joan. She isn’t like that. She’s always in the best of spirits when she’s feeling well.”
“You mean when she’s getting her own way,” Sam Jamieson "suggested, with a tolerant smile. “Perhaps something has got in her path. What do you suggest doing about it? I know you have something on your mind.”
“Why,” Mrs. Jamieson grew slightly pink; it brought out the resemblance between herself and Joan; her hair was but a few shades darker, her eyes had the same expression of startled innocence; “I don’t suggest doing anything. I don’t know what to do. I had it in my mind to take Doris for that trip to Florida I promised her some time ago, but now I don’t know whether to go or not. I don’t like to leave Joan.”
“Of course you must go,” Sam Jamieson said with decision, seeing his favorite daughter being done out of a pleasure. “Joan’s all right. You fuss too much over her. It will do her good to be alone here with me for a time. I’ll see about your accommodation to-day.”
But Sam Jamieson would have been surprised had he
seen Doris’ face when the trip was suggested to her. She looked at her mother with a startled expression.
“I don’t think I care much about going,” she said slowly. “Why don’t you take Joan?”
“She’s just been on a trip,” Mrs. Jamieson said firmly. “It’s your turn. Your father would never hear of such a thing. He always wants everything to be fair. He never wants one of you to have more than the other.”
“How long shall we stay?”
“That depends on how we like it. We’ll be three weeka anyway. It wouldn’t be worth while going for a shorter time.”
The soft color faded out of Doris’ cheeks. So much could happen in three weeks!
And for three weeks, life to Doris was a blur of hot yellow sands, blazing blue water, huge parasols like striped toadstools, silly looking palm trees, glaring white hotels, and a bathing-suited population all screaming and shrieking and shouting above the thunder of the surf. She hated every moment. Each day the great hot sun stood perfectly motionless above her head, while the moon was nothing but a glittering ornament fastened to the night sky. Time didn’t move forward at all, and with all her strength she was trying to push the days along, to make time pass so that she could go home. But it was like exerting all her force to press against air.
Mrs. Jamieson did not find her a cheerful companion. Doris laid for hours, a parasol tilted over her head, reading on the sands, but it was always the same book and she never got beyond the first chapter. She went in for a swim dutifully each morning and in the afternoons did whatever Mrs. Jamieson suggested, with a little air of indifference, as though she were just doing it to be obliging.
Short scrawled letters came frequently from Joan, who appeared to have regained her good spirits. Once or twice she mentioned Denny Hay and Doris would be perhaps a little quieter for the remainder of that day.
“Suppose we go home,” she suggested to Mrs. Jamieson at the end of three weeks. That day a letter from Joan had arrived.
Continued on page 50
out in complete detail, and baldly the plan matured as follows:
Canada would place three thousand carefully selected farmer families from the British Isles—that is, those who lived, or had had actual farming experience at home— upon farms in Canada; not virgin soil, but arable land which once was worked but which had been abandoned for one of a number of reasqhs unconnected with nonfertility. On each farm would 6esuitable buildings, barns, residences, and so on. These people used to mixed farming would go upon a similar place here. Fruit growers would go to the fruit belts of Nova Scotia, Ontario and British Columbia. Market gardeners would have their chance in a locality where their experience could be capitalized. Those who wished to try out the prairies could do so. The two governments would assist by arranging for reduced passage fares, advancing money for the purchase of stock and supplies where necessary, and assisting in every way possible the permanent settlement of the land allocated to this laudable purpose. No one would be accepted under the scheme whose past record did not indicate a fair chance of success in the New World and if a period of probation was successful the settler would be assisted to buy.
Accordingly, in late March, 1925, the first thirty-eight families arrived in Halifax, and a special C.N.R. train of seventeen coaches sped them on their way. The Loten family was one of these pioneers under the new scheme. The first settlers were here. The pudding was cooked. Now, sixteen months after, it is possible to tell how it tastes.
Let us continue the fortunes of the Lötens, who, in addition to being typical of the group which they accompanied, were handicapped by the fact that Loten, senior, who was forty eight years of age, was not a farmer. He had had very little farm experience of any kind, but he could milk. His wife, however, was born on a farm and understood pigs and poultry. That fact enabled them to pass the inspection required before leaving England. He had been a sanitary engineer and building contractor for thirty years in a thickly populated district, carrying on the business established by his father sixty years ago.
“We did not decide upon this new life hastily,” he replied to a question. “We learned everything we could about Canada before we started, and while the prairie looked a bit more naked than we had expected, we determined to make it bloom. We came to this country to give our three sons an opportunity to make a career for themselves, on the land, which they love far better than any prospect of entering business, and I feel confident that before long they will be capable of managing farms of their own. They have wasted no time since we arrived.”
They had not.
Twenty-six days after the family arrived in Saskatchewan the two older boys, aged twenty and sixteen were driving fourhorse teams for neighboring farmers. Then the eldest, with no practical experience, started work on a farm at twenty-five dollars a month. Soon, he was driving six horses to a gang plow and doing eleven miles a day.
Then he mastered a seed-drill, and his wages were increased to thirty dollars, then forty.
At harvest time in 1925, he got another increase, and was stooking for three dollars a day.
The younger boy, in proportion, has done equally well.
Loten, although lacking experience.
which for a time prevented him from getting employment, was not idle. He had that priceless asset, the will to win success by hard work. Before the second month was out he had planted thirty-two trees about the dwelling and farm buildings, and planned to add more as opportunity offered. Then he jacked up the house, put a wall under it, dug a basement and tore down an old house to build an addition to his dwelling. He did not know farming, but he was putting to good use what he did know—that is, building and improving homes. And by August, Loten had shown real ability to farm. He put up twenty-five loads of hay, and intended having cows to milk during the summer. That, one must concede, is a fair start.
This family has not got rich quick. It is not going to. But it does not require a great amount of mental effort to imagine the place the Lötens will hold in their particular community, in say, ten years from now. After sixteen months in Canada Loten has this to say:
“The Canadian farmer does not let his heart run away with his head, and he sometimes looks askance at a ‘green Englishman,’ particularly if he shows an inclination to know it all. But the spirit in which he receives an earnest man and a worker is most generous, as we have discovered, and it seems his sincere wish that the new comer shall really settle and make a home. That sort of feeling makes men stick.”
Loten and his family are not exceptions. They are a type. Thomas Bryden and family of Oswestry, England, came with the same party. Bryden was forty-five, writh three children, and they settled in Ontario. He had had little experience as a farmer, but had operated a farm of five acres in the old country, and understood stock, and his wife, a good housekeeper, was able to handle stock and poultry. But these people took the excellent precaution to send the eldest son, Thomas, on to Canada the preceding June. Tom did well. He repaid £19 passage money from his wages on a Canadian farm and sent the family £3 to help defray their expenses while crossing. Then, when they arrived, he joined them, and his Canadian farming experience was a big asset.
In spite of Bryden, senior’s, limited experience in farm ing, he soon was able to get employment with a neighboring farmer, and in addition did odd jobs at painting, with which he was familiar. Tom also got a job at twenty dollars a month, and by exchanging work with their neighbors, the Brydens managed that first year to get in a field of corn and some buckwheat. They also planted a good garden and raised potatoes and vegetables for the winter. Edith, aged sixteen, secured a position with a neighbor at seventeen-fifty a month, and so contributed her bit toward the Bryden
saga. In the fall of their first year, this energetic family rented an adjoining fifty acres, and this year of grace finds them, not struggling along on a five-acre farm in the old land, but cultivating one hundred Canadian acres, provided, through their own efforts, with equipment and stock.
A Gardener from ‘Brummagem’
CPECIALIZED knowledge connected with any branch ^ of agriculture readily may be capitalized in Canada, as H. W. Phillips, of Moseley, near Birmingham, discovered. Phillips brought out his wife, three small children and his sister-in-law, coming with the Lötens and the Brydens. He was a successful market gardener at home, had engaged in fruit growing in British Honduras, Central America, and had accompanied expeditions of the Royal Horticultural Society into tropical forests in search of rare blooms at various times. This ample experience was rounded out by four years at the front, but after the war he felt that Canada held greater opportunities for a man who, in his time, had supplied Joe Chamberlain with his famous daily orchid.
The Phillips’ were established on a twenty-acre fruit and vegetable farm in Ontario. With his own money, and some assistance from the Land Settlement Branch, the necessary equipment for working the land was acquired, and a cow and poultry were bought. Mrs. Phillips, by the way, was conversant with pig and poultry raising, which helped considerably. It did not take the neighboring farmers long to discover that Phillips was an expert in pruning fruit trees and landscape gardening, and soon he had as much work of this nature as he could handle in addition to the care of his own place. Phillips found his niche, and is not only benefiting himself and his family, but is exercising considerable influence in beautifying the community in which he has made his home.
The provisions of this Empire Settlement Scheme are elastic in so far as farmer-settler families are concerned.
They do not stipulate that the settler must remain definitely in one place, without regard to its suitability or the desire of the individual farmer. This, Lester Smalley discovered, when he came from Ley Hill Farm in Derbyshire, to Swan River, Manitoba. He was allocated an exceptionally good farm, but Smalley, while appreciating its grain-growing possibilities, wished a dairy proposition, and as he had spent two years on a Canadian farm in the past, he knew what he was about. His request was granted and he was moved to a place near Kenville, Manitoba, in the centre of a first-class mixed farming district, with abundance of pasture and water.
Almost immediately he found work for three
Continued on page 57
Oh, Miss Cupidity!
Continued from page 9
“Aren’t you enjoying yourself?” Mrs. Jamieson inquired sharply.
“Oh, yes, of course I am in a way. But we’ve been here forever.”
“It’s only three weeks to-day,” Mrs. Jamieson said crisply. “I thought we’d stay out the month. You’re very curious, Doris. It was only six weeks ago that you were pining to come on this trip. I don’t understand you at all.”
Doris’ mouth curved into a tiny smile. She wondered if her mother didn’t understand her perfectly. She and her mother had always been much like polite acquaintances, only had they been acquaintances merely, Doris felt sure they both would have arranged it so that they would never meet.
They remained one more week and then it was Mrs. Jamieson who, with a sigh of relief, suggested that they should leave.
DORIS knew the first moment she saw Joan. She recognized with a sick clutch at her heart that air of triumph which Joan habitually wore when she had accomplished her own ends. Much like the cat who had swallowed the canary, Doris used to think to herself.
“You don’t need to tell me,” she said in a steady voice as Joan danced up the stairs and into her room, bubbling over with what she had to tell, “I know. You’re engaged to Denny.”
The end of the sentence was not quite as steady as the beginning.
“However did you know?” Joan cried, flinging herself all rosy and smiling upon Doris and hugging her ecstatically; “however did you guess? I haven’t told a soul. I wanted you to be the first to know. Isn’t it altogether heavenly? You’ve no idea how adorable he is.”
Doris stood cool and unresponsive under Joan’s effusive caress. Then she moved over to the dressing table and carefully took off her hat, patting her hair back into its sleek waves as though that was all that concerned her at the moment. Suddenly, to her own intense surprise, a queer laugh broke from her. It was exactly as though someone else had laughed, she thought, looking back at her image in the glass. She couldn’t stop, and vaguely she knew that she must go on laughing, for as soon as that silly laughter stopped the tears would come.
“Whatever are you laughing about?” Joan inquired in surprise, as Doris dropped limply down on the chair before the dressing table. “I don’t see anything funny.”
“Don’t you?” Doris asked weakly, forcing the laughter now, for a black wave was driving up through it which she knew meant tears. And not for anything would she give way before Joan.
“I suppose—•” Joan began dubiously, looking at Doris who was sitting with one hand to her side, as though she were agonizing with helpless mirth. “I suppose you are laughing because you imagine that Denny is a flirt. But he says he hasn’t done any more flirting than anyone else. Of course, some girls, he says, are very easy marks for that kind of thing.”
All through dinner that night, Doris laughed and related incidents of the trip, until it appeared as if she had enjoyed every moment of the time she had been away. Her cheeks glowed, and her eyes were so bright that anyone looking closely enough might have seen they were shining through tears. But no one did look closely enough. Everyone, even Sam Jamieson, was deceived, and that was what she wanted.
“The trip has done Doris a world of good,” Sam Jamieson remarked later in the evening, as he sat with a newspaper on his knee, watching his wife unpacking, laying folds of tissue paper, which gave distracting peeps of ribbons and laces, on the bed. “I’ve never seen her so gay. And Joan is very well satisfied with her engagement. I don’t know that I care much about it. It strikes me he’s rather a lightweight.”
“Sam, you are funny. I’ve never seen a boy I like half as well. He has perfect manners and he’s so good looking. Thank goodness it isn’t going to be Bert Coulson. That always worried me. He wasn’t half good enough for Joan.”
Sam Jamieson grunted. It was useless telling his wife that Coulson was worth ten of Denny Hay. As though good looks were of any importance in picking a hus-
band. Women had such fantastic ideas; they were always so much more concerned about the wrapping of a parcel than what the parcel contained. However, since Joan was satisfied it wasn’t any use expressing his opinion. There was nothing against Denny Hay; he simply wasn’t of much account one way or the other.
“I’m so thankful Doris is taking it so well,” Mrs. Jamieson said, with a sigh of satisfaction, as she bent over the trunk. Doris’s reception of the news had dispelled any qualm she had felt. It made it so satisfactory in every way.
Sam Jamieson regarded his wife in surprise.
“What do you mean? Why shouldTshe care? You don’t imagine Doris is petty enough to object to her sister being engaged first?”
“Oh, it isn’t that,” Mrs. Jamieson admitted grudgingly, standing up with a pile of muslins and laces in her arms, vainly wishing that she hadn’t spoken. She hadn’t realized what a blind old thing Sam was. Of course he probably had never noticed Denny Hay’s devotion to Doris before they left for Florida.
“Well, what is it then?”
“Nothing, really. Only, at first, I think Denny Hay was rather taken with Doris.”
Sam Jamieson’s small grey eyes sharpened, as his glance rested upon his wife’s pretty vacuous face. He put up one hand and gently stroked his moustache in a fashion he had when he was thinking.
“And you wanted him for Joan,” he said slowly; “so you engineered this trip to Florida to get Doris out of the way. Is that it?”
Mrs. Jamieson dropped the muslin and laces on a chair and laid a hand affectionately on Sam Jamieson’s thick shoulder.
“My dear. Aren’t you silly? Do you think I would do such a thing?”
Sam Jamieson disregarded the pressure of the hand and rose to his feet, a look of concern on his large face as he paced up and down the spacious rose shaded room.
“I’m too dull,” he said shortly; “too dull altogether. I’m what the present generation classify as dumb. But a clever woman is too much for any man, I imagine. And you’re clever, my dear, in your fashion, and, like Joan, you usually get what you want. You wanted this Denny Hay for Joan and you’ve got him. And you didn’t care very much how Doris was going to feel. Always Doris has had to give up to Joan. But this time it’s a bit thick. However,” and he shrugged his shoulders and turned back to glance at his wife, his hand on the door knob. “I’m not sorry it has happened this way this time. But if I ever hear of such a thing happening again ...”
Mrs. Jamieson gave vent to a sigh of relief as the door shut behind him. Men were a distinct trial at times, she thought, as she resumed her unpacking.
DORIS was not left to mope by herself for Bert Coulson could not seem to break the habit of coming to the house as he had always done. Only now he asked for Doris instead of Joan.
“I hope you don’t mind my hanging around like this,” he said to her, with an apology in his voice, one evening, finding her reading beside the fire downstairs. Joan was out with Denny and the rest of the family were sitting upstairs.
“Of course I don’t mind. I was feeling as blue as anything. I’m so glad you do come in often. You’re the only person I can talk to. I wouldn’t have anyone else know how much I still care for Denny. But I know you’re feeling the same as I am.”
Bert sat down in an armchair. A glimmer of something which Doris could not analyze passed over his square face. If he were only an inch or so taller, Doris was thinking, he would be quite good looking. She couldn’t see why Joan had always treated him with such contempt.
“Do you know?” he began, turning to look directly at Doris curled up in one corner of the Chesterfield, her feet tucked underneath her. “Eve been wondering lately—” he paused and continued to look at her searchingly.
“If we’re not fooling ourselves. You think you’re in love with Denny. I think I'm in love with Joan. Well, are we? That’s what I want to know.”
“What a funny thing to say. I know I’m in love with’Denny. And you’ve been in love with Joan for ages. I don’t see how you can wonder very much.”
“I’m not so sure you’re in love with Denny. And I’m not at all sure I’m in love with Joan. It’s been coming over me lately that we’ve been sticking obstinately to this idea without really consulting our own minds. And my mind is beginning to tell me that I’m falling out of love pretty rapidly.”
Brown eyes opened in pained surprise.
“You must be very fickle,” Doris remarked, plucking at the cord on one of the purple cushions. “I’m rather disappointed in you. I know my mind could never tell me anything like that about Denny. I’ll love him all my life.”
“Couldn’t it?” His tone was one of frank inquiry. “I don’t believe you’ve ever asked yourself. You’ve taken it for granted that you’re in love with him because you were at one time. Or you thought you were. I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if you found out one of these days that you were in love with someone else.”
“I’d like to know who?” Doris’ tone was filled with indignation.
“It might be me.”
Astonishment, then laughter chased one another across her face.
“Don’t be so silly,” she gasped, “you’re joking.”
“No, I don’t think I’m joking at all,” he said, looking away from her. She saw, then, that his face was actually serious, and her own began to burn, she didn’t know why. “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if in a month from now we were engaged.”
“Well, I would be. Enormously surprised,” she said with energy.
But when it actually happened, Doris was less surprised than any one else. Joan was astounded, and not altogether pleased.
“Imagine,” she cried, “imagine marrying poor old Bert!’
To Doris, it was as though all the time, hidden away underneath the surface emotions, she had loved Bert without knowing it. Denny had been a flash on the surface that for the moment had deceived her; but what she felt for Bert was something immeasurably deeper.
“Funny, isn’t it, Dad,” Doris said, thoughtfully, “how there’s something inside of us that knows more than we know. And we can go so long without knov.ing we know.”
He patted her smooth little hand.
“We call it our subconsciousness for lack of a better name, kitten. It takes care of us sometimes if we let it. The trouble is that most of the time we let it get all smothered up and our conscious minds do all the guiding. And then we go wrong very often. But what I wanted to say was that I’m thankful you’re marrying such a decent square-headed chap. I don’t know of anyone I’d rather have for a son-in-law.”
She gave his hand a happy squeeze.
“Dear old Dad,” she said, planting a kiss squarely on his cheek, “I’m so happy it makes me afraid inside.”
He peered at her over the tops of his glasses.
“You don’t need to be afraid, kitten,” he said, with an odd twist to his mouth under the grey moustache. “I’m not as blind as I was.”
IT HAD all the absurdity of something out of a fairy tale, that shortly after everyone had grown used to the fact of Doris’ engagement, a wealthy uncle of Bert’s should die, leaving him his heir. The question of money had never entered Doris’ head. But now it was glaringly apparent that, while Joan was marrying an accountant with a very small income, Doris was going to be immensely wealthy.
“To think that Bert Coulson had all that money coming to him,” Mrs. Jamieson remarked for the tenth time. “Why didn’t he speak of it? I never heard him mention that uncle.”
A bright spark showed in Sam Jamieson’s eyes. It grew and grew until the spark was a twinkle.
“Doris is getting the money and Joan is getting the good looks,” he said cheerfully. “Not that I don’t think Coulson is a nice looking chap.”
His tone]|made Mrs. Jamieson color with irritation. She knew what he was thinking, and it caused her excessive annoyance.
“Joan could have had Bert if she had
wanted him,” she retorted crossly. “He was crazy about her.”
“I hope she isn’t going to regret it,” Sam Jamieson’s round face shone with good humor. “It’s funny when you think of it, darned funny,” he went on, the blitheness in his tone becoming more and more maddening to Mrs. Jamieson, “that if Doris hadn’t gone on that trip to Florida the situation might have been reversed. Things usually work out for the best in the long run. It’s a good old world. Life sees to it that most of us get what we deserve. Doris will make better use of the money than Joan would have done. She has more sense.”
Mrs. Jamieson was too angry to reply. Sometimes she wondered how it was that more husbands weren’t found murdered in their beds. It was like a man to make these remarks when she was feeling upset about the whole affair. Joan was so discontented, ever since she had heard the news of Bert’s sudden wealth, that she didn’t know what to do. And Bert’s generosity to Doris made it still harder for Joan.
Poor Joan! At breakfast that morning, when the maid had brought in a large purple box of violets for Doris, Joan had flung herself away from the table and rushed headlong upstairs to her room. There Mrs. Jamieson had found her, thrown across the bed, sobbing into a pillow. The child would make herself ill if she went on like this. Between Joan’s misery and Sam’s good humor she was nearly distracted. It was perfectly heartless cf Sam. She felt these days that she had more than anyone could bear. And all because she had been amiable enough to take Doris to Florida to give her a good time. It didn’t pay to do things for anyone.
Doris herself was quite unconscious of what was going on around her. She was so blindly in love, so immeasurably happy and Bert didn’t leave her much time for thinking these days. He was continually calling her up to tell her of some lovely Dlan, while his presents showered in upon her, leaving her breathless. So it was with a shock of dismay that she gazed at Joan, one afternoon, as that young lady flung herself down in a chair in Doris’ room and gave expression to all the bitterness seething in her.
“I think it’s beastly. Simply too beastly,” she cried. “It’s bad enough to know I’m going to be a pauper, without your flinging in my face all the time how rich you’re going to be.”
Doris was amazed. “But I never thought of doing such a thing,” she protested, closing with a snap the little velvet case*which had just arrived for her from the jeweller’s; “I don’t know what you mean. How am I flinging it in your face?”
“These everlasting presents. You don’t suppose it’s pleasant for me to have to sit and watch you open them, do you?”
“But you don’t have to sit and watch me,” Doris said in a cool little voice. “I didn’t even ask you to come into my room.”
She felt mean having all these presents, but Joan’s manner was too irritating for words.
“And you don’t suppose it’s nice for me to listen to everyone talking about the wonderful house you’re going to have. What do you suppose that silly fool of a Miss Herron said to-day? ‘And I suppose you’ll get a nice little apartment, just around the corner from your sister’s house. That will be so nice for you!’” Joan’s mimicry was perfect, and for an instant Doris could not suppress a smile. But she concealed it immediately. Joan was in no mood for smiles. •
“Then last night at dinner Bert was boasting all the time about the kind of car he was going to have. As Denny said,” she raced on, her tone growing shriller, “you’d think nothing was good enough for Bert these days. I felt ashamed of you both.”
Doris’s head went up. “I think you’re very ridiculous,” she said. “Bert was only asking Dad’s opinion. I’m surprised that Denny would make such a remark. Bert’s the last person in the world to boast.”
“What does he think it’s like for me to see you getting all these presents every day? He knows all Denny can give me is a pound of candy.”
“I don’t suppose Bert ever imagined you’d feel like this—if he thought about it at all.”
Her mind ran back over the last few weeks, while she recalled some of Bert’s gifts and what had happened wheD they
had arrived. There had been the lovely Spanish shawl with its dripping fringes. When it came, Joan had snatched it out of Doris’ hands and, draping it around her, had warned up and down before the mirror, trailing its fringes all over the floor, exclaiming how becoming it was to 1 her. Then, she had thrown it off and left i it in an untidy heap. There had been the , jade earrings. Joan had cried that she i simply must have a pair exactly like them,
I remarking how unbecoming they were to 1 Doris.
“You look a perfect sight in earrings,” she had cried.
There had been the carved amber slave-bracelet. Joan had screamed with laughter when Doris found it wouldn’t slip more than half way up her arm.
; “Let me try it on,” she had cried, slipping it up her own very slender arm.
1 “There,” triumphantly; “it just fits me ”
I The crystal perfume bottles, of course, i nad contained Joan’s favorite perfume.
! She had spilled half of one of the bottles I dabbing herself with it. Then there had I been the great hoop of diamonds.^. Joan I had laughed inordinately at the idea of I Doris wearing such a ring on her square I shaped little hands. Joan’s hands were small and tapering.
Of course it was hard on Joan to see all these things, craving them so intensely, while Denny could only give her an occasional box of candy. But Doris knew she wouldn’t have cared if that had been all Bert could give her.
‘T might ask Bert if I could give you the , jade earrings,” she said thoughtfully. “I don’t think he’d mind if I asked him.”
Joan’s laugh jangled discordantly. “You don t cuppose for a moment I’d take your beastly old earrings. I’m not a pauper —
“I never thougnt of you as being a I pauper,” Doris exclaimed, becoming I angrier every moment.
1 “Denny had no business asking me to i marry him when he had so little,” Joan ! cried hysterically. “I told him so last night.”
Doris stared aghast “You told him that? Oh, Joan!”
“Yes, and I told him I could marry Bert to-morrow if I wanted to,” Joan went on, her voice high and piercing, bright round spots of color on either cheek. “Everyone knows Bert was in love with me. You know it as well as anything, j He’s marrying you out of pique because I he can’t get me.”
“Joan, I wouldn’t say such things if I were you. Y ou’re worked up and excited just now but you’ll be awfully sorry later for having said them. And it’s not fair to Denny.”
Joan bounded to her feet. “I think you’re absolutely beastly,” she screamed, and then with a loud sob fled from the room. Doris stood for a moment, not knowing what to do, as hysterical sobbing issued from Joan’s closed door. It was no use following Joan into her room. She would be best by herself until this weeping fit was over.
She sat down and picked up the blue velvet case again and laid the smooth texture against her hot cheek. Joan wanted Bert, now, because he belonged to her. A trembling went through her as though she were shaking with excessive cold. Joan always got what she wanted It never failed. Joan had got Denny because she wanted him. Now she wanted Bert. She would get him, too. Always Joan got what she wanted. That sentence beat through her head like some ominous refrain. Somehow it would be arranged.
Nothing had any vajue in Joan’s eyes unless someone else valued it. Even if Bert were poor, Joan would still want him now she knew Doris wanted him. The money had only brought the crisis about more quickly. Whatever she had, Joan would always want; Joan would always get. Only if her heart were empty, her hands empty, would she be safe from Joan’s desires.
THE following evening, when Bert Coulson came to see Doris, the maid showed him into a small library at the end ot the hall. The room was half in darkness, only lit by some red coals in the grate. It appeared to be empty. As he stood on the threshold, he heard what sounded like low sobbing. He was about to withdraw, when he heard his name called.
“Bert. Don’t go away, Bert. It’s me. Joan.”
He still stood puzzled for an instant and then a head lifted over the back of
the sofa. “Don’t go away,” came brokenly in Joan’s most meltin'g tones.
“What’s the trouble?” Bert questioned. He came into the room and stood looking down at her while she appeared to be making an effort to control herself.
“I’m sorry you found me like this,” she said in a very small voice, “don’t tell anyone. Promise me you won’t. Oh, promise!” “Of course I won’t, if you ask me not to,” Bert said bewildered. “Is there anything I can do?”
“No one can do anything,” she said drearily, sitting up now and fixing her eyes on the glowing coals.
Bert made a restless movement towards the door and her eyes immediately turned toward him with a glance of reproach.
“Of course you don’t want to stay. Don’t let me keep you. I’m not a very cheerful companion,” and then the handkerchief went up again and her shoulders shook with sobs.
Bert sat down beside her. “Look here, Joan. What’s the matter? You can tell me surely.”
She shook her head. “You’re the last person I could tell. The very last person.” “Is it something about Denny?”
She appeared to hesitate. Then she nodded her head slowly. “I’ve had to break it all off.”
“You’ve broken your engagement?” cried Bert in surprise, “but why? In heaven’s name, why?”
Her eyes lifted appealingly. “Because,” she began almost in a whisper, laying a hand softiy on his arm. “Oh, Bert, how am I ever going to tell you? I’m afraid Doris still loves Denny.”
“Loves Denny,” he ejaculated. His abrupt movement shook off her hand.
‘ I m afraid so. And knowing it, of course, I couldn’t go on with it. I had to give him up to her.”
Bert sat wrapped in a strange silence. “I know she is only marrying you out of pique because she couldn’t get Denny,” Joan went on, encouraged by Bert’s silence. “I couldn’t allow her to do that, could I, Bert?” Her little red mouth pouted over the words, her blue eyes regarded him wistfully. Still Bert made no response.
“And I’m afraid I made a mistake, too,” she breathed softly as a flower. “It was all mistakes/’ she said with a pitiful attempt to be brave and smile. “I’m afraid I never loved Denny. All the time it was someone else.”
Bert’s face was in shadow. She couldn’t make out his expression.
“Who do you think you loved all the time?”* His tone appeared interested.
“Why . why . . . you should know. I didn’t dream I had been able to h e it so well. I thought everyone had guessed. That was what made me so dreadfully ashamed. I couldn’t hide it.” Bert got up. A soft breath of a sigh from Joan floated through the room. A clock ticked unconcernedly on the shelf.
“I suppose I’d be pretty dumb if I didn’t know what you are driving at,” he said; “but the whole thing is the most ridiculous farce I’ve ever heard. Doris does;.'i love Denny. You never thought of wanting me until Doris wanted me. You wouldn’t have wanted Denny if you hadn’t imagined Doris cared for him. That’s you, Joan, every time. But you’re not going to get what you want this time.” Joan drew herself up rigidly, her eye» like blue crystals.
“Someday, Joan,” Bert went on, his voice more kindly, “someday you’ll meet someone you really love, not just because they belong to someone else.”
There was the sound of feet on the stairs which drew Bert toward the door.. There he paused, his hand on the knob, glancing back at Joan.
On her face was an expression a* though delicious words floated through her brain. “Someday,” she seemed to be whispering to herself. “Someday.” Her face lifted, the red lips pouted as though she were putting them up to be kissed.
An odd smile flickered in Bert’s eyes. Doris was in the hall and she whitened as she saw the direction from which he was coming.
“I know,” she said, in a hopeless little voice; “you don’t need to tell me. Joan wants you?”
He chose to ignore Joan.
“Don’t you think,” he said quite seriously, “that the front hall is a very poor place for kissing ?”