Two Women and a Man
EVERYday women never fire the imagination; they are bounded by their environment, domesticity, weakness, or worse —their strongminde dness.
No romantic glamor ever throws its elusive halo round them; their thoughts and actions are as obvious as their choice of hats is a foregone conclusion. They know what style suits them, and they never experiment with any other. Habit and system are slogans to which they are slaves ; ugliness, punctuality and method are their virtues, and they housekeep in the morning, call and tea in the afternoon and fret their husbands with trivialities in the evening, until a merciful Atropos snips her shears.
Mrs. MacTavish was not one of these. Although her life was somewhat bounded by circumstance—and in the present instance, this means poverty—she managed to live a highly varied and, to the ordinary woman of the town, immoral existence. She treated Mrs. Grundy with a familiarity born of contempt. She was intensely prone to experiment with different styles of hats ! She had no method and no one ever knew where to find her— her maid either was ignorant, or refused to tell—meretricious conduct whichever way you looked at it ! She was a detached member of the community, and people did not know enough about her, except that she took fencing lessons in the morning when she should have been housekeeping, and rambles in the afternoon, when she should have been drinking tea. She was further indiscreet enough to live alone rather than suffer the ungenerous criticism of a round of visiting relatives; and, worse than all the foregoing, then multiplied by two, she had no intimate woman friend. Most men were her friends—at least as long as they could keep their heads as jailers.
Can I incriminate her further?
She looked across the table at her visa-vis and smiled slightly.
“You are thinking how childish and silly I am!” exclaimed the other woman. “I hoped that you—of all people— wouldn’t!”
“Not a bit! I was thinking how amusing it was, how futile, I might say, for you to have brought me away in quest of adventure. I am such a common-place sort of person.”
By which it will be seen that another vice can be added to Mrs. MacTavish’s black list—that of not always telling the truth. She had been quoted as saying that a person who called a spade a spade should be condemned to use that offensive implement in a weedy garden for the rest of his days, and it was certainly one of her whimsies not to call things by their proper names.
“If I could only be commonplace like you, then,” sighed Kate Gordon with such genuine admiration that Mrs. MacTavish blushed. “It is I who am commonplace and the tragedy of it is, that I know it and can’t overcome it. I envy the women at home who are ignorant of their own triteness—to put it kindly. Even my name is plain, unvarnished, obvious, solid—Kate! Doesn’t it sound just like me, a woman who can cook, sew, even wash and iron ; who is practical, shrewd at making a bargain, who can’t read Arnold Bennett without being bored and Maeterlinck without wondering what it is all about; who looks best in tailor-mades and rather heavy, substantial hats and whose appearance in evening dress is either crushing or suggestive of a man who has put frills and baby ribbon to the tail of his morning coat. I can’t wear an evening gown as though it were a part of me!”
Mrs. MacTavish kept silence as the waiter took away their soup and placed
a dish of whitefish between
“Look at me now,” continued Miss Gordon, “this gown cost an even three hundred — made at O’Mar a’s. I told them not to spare trouble or expense, that I wanted to look well.” She laughed rather unpleasantly. “I can’t blame the gown — or the bill, but — where did you get yours?”
“It was given to me,” answered the other, simply. “I couldn’t aff ord clothes like this. I have a friend — a girl living in Paris — w h o sends me lots of things, knowing how tiresomely helpless and incompetent I am. You see, I can’t sew,, although I often think I must learn instead of accepting things from my friends.”
“Oh no ! Don’t learn ! It must be such an exquisite pleasure to be able to give you things—things that you wear and make a part of yourself.” Kate clumsily made one of those speeches which the person who understands treasures up in memory as being something almost priceless. Then she hurried on:
“I am crazily in love with you, Mrs. MacTavish! There’s a spade for you! I am as much in love with you as a man could be; and this trip with you means so much to me that I am sort of breathless with the realization of it. I told you that I wanted to get away from home, from the deadly respectable people of whom I am one, and from their moth-eaten husbands who, nightly, take me home from bridge parties. I said I wanted to have an adventure—which was true. But most of all, I wanted to get you away to myself where I could look at you as long as I liked, where I could listen to you without being interrupted, watch the hundreds of adorable little tricks which are a part of you, see how you do your hair, put on y jur clothes, get up, sit down, come in, .id go out—in a word, to know you intimately if such a thing is possible. I want to hear what you think, how you face life, what problems you have—”
Mrs. MacTavish looked a moment into the tense face opposite, then broke into a rippling laugh. It was not the sort which hurts, but had, rather, the effect of giving a taut line more play.
“I am so utterly simple, my dear,” she said gently, “that I don’t ever think about real things at all. I just go on—reading foolish novels all about love and chivalry, and seeing foolish plays all about women who finally meet the right man or vice versa, and eating pounds of chocolates, spoiling my maid and feeding mangy animals or children—I have no plan of life. So you see”—she blushed vividly again— “your idol has clay feet.”
The elder woman did not answer that but went on as though no interruption had occurred.
“I want you to know me! Somehow I can’t control the desire to tell you things about myself, intimate, trivial, boring things. Perhaps, if you can understand sortie of my problems, you can help me.”
“I shall certainly try.”
A hotel cafe is a strange place for such confidences as Kate Gordon poured into her guest’s ear that night. How much the waiter heard she did not know or care; the only thing that mattered was the holding of Mrs. MacTavish’s attention while she told of her sordid childhood, the struggle against poverty, the gradual small successes which brought ease and a larger outlook to the family; of her sisters’ beauty and marriage with commonplace men, of her brothers, now commercially successful and equally ordinary. She did not hesitate to speak of her social ambitions and the bludgeonings she had received even after money, quite a great deal of money, had come to her.
“But,” she ended, “what good does it do me? I did not commence to live until I was old and ugly. I had no real education, no polish, no manner. I am and'always will be, just plain old Kate! Of course I haven’t to wash and cook and sew as my mother did, but sometimes I think I would like to—if only there was someone to do it for ! I am thirty-six and mean nothing to a living being. When I visit my sisters, which is seldom and for very short periods, they never consider me or my possible amusement. They use me as an excuse to pay off tiresome obligations ; they ask antiquated old bores to meet me and behave toward me as though I had but a few years more to live, and should turn my thoughts to heaven and not to earthly things. I never meet a man.”
She paused, conscious that, for the moment, her companion’s gaze had drifted away, but in the pause Mrs. MacTavish said: “I am listening; go on.”
“My sisters-in-law are even worse! I want to belong to some one, to feel that my comings and goings matter! I want to give up this deadly round of evening parties where husbands of my friends cluster in the hall and say: ‘We’ll see her home to-night; we live nearest.’”
“Oh,” she cried with tears in her eyes and her voice, “you—exquisite, magnetic, desirable little person that you are—you can’t know the agony of humiliation I suffer feeling that I am only half a woman, that no man’s pulse beats one iota faster from the clasp of my hand, that no man’s eyes follow me with interest or curiosity as I leave a room! You can’t know how I am starving!”
Mrs. MacTavish looked toward a far table and back at Kate Gordon, flushed
and bright-eyed. She was not plain; she had a firm unwrinkling skin which looked well in strong daylight, her features were not bad at all, but she was common-place, she looked almost underbred one might say, and all the money in the world could not change that.
“Say something,” begged the other. “Say, honestly, what you were thinking.”
“Of your money,” replied Mrs. MacTavish, without hesitation.
“That I might marry, because—someone—er—would need money? Yes? I thought so! But can’t you understand I never meet any men, unmarried ones. I have long since been forgotten when mixed parties are given. I am only invited to married women’s things, or hen horrors! I tell you, Mrs. MacTavish, that I would marry a man—a gentleman—and support him without hesitation, if he would only treat me decently before the suspicious and prying eyes of my friends. I have no pride left, absolutely none. I could even bear the humiliation of knowing that a man did not love me, if he would not place me in an equivocal position before the world, by making it too apparent in which direction his affections did lie. Of course I want to be loved—I am that kind of a woman, but even more than that, I do believe in my inmost heart, I want someone I have a right to love!”
Mrs. MacTavish looked again across the room, frowned a little, then smiled her wonderful smile and bowed. Kate, following her glance saw a man rise and make his way eagerly toward them.
“How are you?” greeted Mrs. MacTavish, as she put her hand in his. “I have been watching you for some time uncertain whether or not it was you.”
“There was no such uncertainty in my mind,” he returned looking straight into her eyes. He had not even glanced at Kate Gordon.
“Miss Gordon, let me introduce Mr. Wood,” said Mrs. MacTavish. “We are two runaways, seeking adventure,” she explained to him, laughing.
“Then you need seek no further, ladies," the man’s manner was smilingly impudent as he drew a chair to the table and accepted Kate’s invitation to join them at coffee. “Here I am.”
“Oh, you are only an episode, my dear Mr. Wood,” replied the other. “I said an adventure, which opens out vastly larger possibilities.”
“You underrate my capabilities, madam ! Only, either as an episode or an adventure, I wish you would stop calling me Wood. My name,” he turned to Kate, “is Crompton—Willis Crompton—unpoetic and stolid I must admit, but from long usage it has somewhat endeared itself to me and I look upon an usurper with disfavor.”
“But why does Mrs. MacTavish call you Wood?” asked Kate.
“Mrs. MacTavish, as you must know, is a creature of whims and impulses. Whether she saw in me a resemblance to some dolt named Wood or whether I reminded her of a blockhead, I have for the moment forgotten. Indeed, I doubt even if you asked her suddenly, that she would be able to give you my name correctly. But do try, as an especial favor,” he begged, “to remember Crompton, won’t you?”
The woman laughed.
“Very well. We will bury Wood and rear Crompton in his stead.”
“Did you say you were visiting Miss Gordon?”
Kate, glad of an opportunity to call his attention to herself explained their presence in the city. “I simply dragged her away from the deadly hole in which we live and we are to have an orgy of theatres, dressmakers and so on. But, speaking of the theatre, won’t you come with us, to-night? I have a box at the Academy.”
Crompton accepted, just as a page came through the cafe calling Mrs. MacTavish.
“Ah, how could you?” exclaimed Kate. “You promised not to let any one know you were here—for a few days at least.” “It is probably Madame Christine to make an appointment,” she smiled reassuringly. “Hadn’t you better order a taxi? I shan’t be long and it is nearly time we started.”
The man nodded. His eyes greedily followed the exquisite little figure, carelessly trailing black and gold draperies across the dull red carpet; he noted with absolute satisfaction all through his being how splendidly the tawny patrician head was held, how straight, yet supple was the back in this age of slouching, roundshouldered women. He breathed deeply of the elusive perfume which clung about him as she passed, and he forgot that the woman at the table demanded at least a perfunctory attention.
“She is exquisite, isn’t she?” asked Kate as their eyes met. “I adore her so foolishly.”
Crompton sat down again, signified that he asked permission* to smoke and lighted a cigarette.
“Have you known her long?”
“That depends upon what you mean by knowing her. I don’t consider that I know her at all, although we have been calling upon one another ever since she and her husband moved to our town, seven ♦years ago. She has no intimate friends; in spite of her gentleness and apparent liking for one, there is something about her past which one cannot penetrate. She is to me, the embodiment of romance and mystery. I wish I could see into her, don’t you?”
“More than you would believe! And where is MacTavish these days?”
“Why, didn’t you know? He was killed in a railway accident five years ago. Haven’t you seen her since then?”
“No. Poor little girl!”
“Sh-h-h ! Here she comes.”
The play was a dull affair, but Kate and Crompton enjoyed it. They sat side by side back of Mrs. MacTavish who ignored them. Kate whispered incessantly to the friend of her friend already prepared to fall madly in love with this tangible realization of her ideal, and Crompton watched the other woman secure in the knowledge that now he could do so without being rudely curious. To him every speaking feminine detail was a delight—the careless coil of tawny hair just above the curve of her neck, the little curl which crept rebelliously from the restraining pin of her barette (and it would have pleased him none the less to know that Mrs. MacTavish scrupulously
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pulled it from its confines every time she did her hair!) the flicker of her fringed eyes and the tiny dimple hiding in the corner of her mouth; he watched until a dull ache tortured him and his breath became uneven.
She nodded an answer to his questions without turning her head. Then when he talked on, she turned and looked him steadily in the eye. “Don’t keep chattering to me during the performance,” she scolded. “It is awfully bad form.”
He understood the unspoken command and turned dutifully back to his hostess, not without asking, however, with highhanded impudence: “Do you always observe the conventions?”
She laughed and shook her head.
“So you like him?” asked Mrs. MacTavish as she prepared to bid her hostess good night.
“I think he is absolutely perfect” gushed the other with childish impulsiveness.
“Tut, tut, my child ! Not so fast! Our brave Wood—or rather I should say, Crompton—is no gilded saint; he is as far from perfect as the imagination will carry you. Attractive, I grant, but poor and ambitionless.”
“How can you say that?”
“Why, look at him! He is poor because he ordered a frugal dinner—not the sort one would take if one had eaten well a few hours earlier, rather the sort which is nourishing but inexpensive. And his clothes were old. His linen was cheap but immaculate, as they say in books, and yet he does nothing to remedy these little inconsequentialities, as you must have gathered from his own conversation.” “You mean he has no sort of employment?”
“Well, I don’t care! He is the most adorable man I ever met, and you were simply dear to introduce him to me.” “No trouble at all! Glad you find him amusing. And as our cousins say, nous Verrons ce que nous verrons!” She aughed, pushed Kate into her own room ind locked the door.
At six o’clock the following evening vhen Kate was beginning to dress for linner with Crompton, Mrs. MaeTavish ay inert in bed. She coughed several
“I am in for a case of influenza,” she rheezed. “Couldn’t stir from here.” The ight of the other’s face brought a hoarse ttle laugh.
“Oh, you are to put on that coral crepe nd go, yourself, my dear! It would ardly be fair to disappoint poor Wood t the eleventh hour.”
“But I can’t go and leave you,” proofed Kate, almost thinking for the molent that she meant it.
“Oh, horrors! Are you one of those aman blights who sit around with a mltice in one hand and thermometer in íe other? Who listen with an ear on the itient’s chest for each sneeze and who sist upon keeping a sick person commy? If you are, you should be arrested.
You should be punished by law! The idea of any one sitting about and watching my heart beat, so to speak, would drive me into hopeless delirium!”
“Do you think I should go alone?” asked Kate, feebly.
Mrs. MacTavish sat up long enough to look about for a missile to hurl.
“Did you not come here for adventure?” she croakingly demanded. “To get away from crushing respectability? Do you not like Wood and see that he is a gentleman? Are you not six and thirty by your own admission?—and that would from an ordinary woman mean about three and forty: And are you not able to call a
policeman if you need one?”
The grateful creature threw herself on her knees beside the bed and cried a few hysterical tears.
“Oh, please don’t think me a perfect cow,” she wailed. “I want to go—so much—I am ashamed to tell you! But, I know he will be bored with just me. What shall I talk about?”
Words of impatience which had risen to Mrs. MacTavish’s lips died there as she looked into Kate’s intense face. She thought a moment.
“Talk to him about yourself,” she advised. “Not about what you long for and haven’t, but about what you do. Don’t hesitate to let him know about your money and—well, your capabilities. Don’t hide your glimmer under a cloud. Tell him all the funny things you told me, such as the case of the husbands clustering in the hall and drawing lots to see who will take you home. Keep your wits about you and be amusing. Watch what he eats and see that he is served twice to the things he likes. Pour his coffee yourself and remember that he takes two lumps and no cream. Whatever you do, DON’T talk about me—I loathe having my ears burn, and I want to go to sleep.”
As the door closed upon Kate and a too obvious odor of hyacinth dispersed, Mrs. MacTavish got up and began to dress. She made an excellent dinner in the hotel and spent the evening with a novel and box of chocolates for company.
Kate came into her room the next morning, her ample proportions encased in an expensive pea-green négligée. Mrs. MacTavish still wheezed.
“So the evening was a success?” she asked.
“Absolutely, as far as I was concerned. But I know he missed you, and it was absolutely useless, trying not to talk about you ; everything we said was incomplete unless we mentioned you.”
“Well, for instance—we were speaking of Christian names. I told him mine and he said that Katherine had always been a favorite of his ; that his sister who died was called Katherine. Did you know her?”
“No. Go on!”
“Of course I told him I was not even Katherine, but just plain Kate to which he answered that there was something infinitely comfortable and reliable about Kate; that it would be an easy name to come back to. Queer idea, isn’t it?”
“Then I said your name suited you, and he agreed with me.”
“He agreed, with you?”
“Certainly, Why do you ask like that?” “Because—er, well, as a matter of fact,
I was not aware that he knew—or remembered my Christian name.”
“Oh, I may have told him,” returned the other, lightly. “I forget. Anyway, that is the way you came into that part of the conversation, and he said he couldn’t imagine you with any other name but Cherry. ‘Cherry,’ he said. ‘Cherry!’ Honestly, he repeated it half a dozen times in the oddest way! I am sure he is in love with you.”
Mrs. MacTavish raised her hands to heaven.
“Shades of Olympians,” she groaned, “for sentimental drivel and impossible, romantic situations, commend me to an unmarried woman over thirty!”
“We had a lovely time, after that. Mr. Crompton suggested that as long as we were adventuring, we go the whole thing and get tremendously friendly. He and I commenced using our Christian names last night and—we called you—by yours, too. I hope you don’t mind.”
' The widow poised a piece of toast in 1 mid-air, speechless.
“A pair of senile idiots, you two,” she commented, finally. “Hopelessly daft! I don’t care a hang what you call me, but don’t call every man who looks at me, in love with me!”
She kept to her bed for three days, gargling assiduously while Kate was within earshot from a bottle marked peroxide, but which actually contained perfectly clear water; she wheezed, whispered and croaked her words until assured that her companion was safe in Crompton’s hands, then she would dress, take long tramps, poke about the shops or amuse herself in one of the thousand ways of persons who are amply sufficient unto themselves. She listened with apparent levity and carelessness to Kate’s minutely detailed conversations with Crompton, but in reality she paid particular attention suggesting topics for her to discuss, advising where to strengthen and where to obliterate impressions which she must have allowed Crompton to form. Beside trying to educate her in the dangerous art of fascination, she almost persuaded Kate to believe that Crompton wanted her, alone.
And during all this she was receiving notes from him every day; pleading notes, impudent notes, theatening notes, accusing notes, the sort a man would write in the full knowledge of his own impotence— and longing.
Two days later Kate returned from tea, unusually quiet. Cherry MacTavish looked at her shrewdly but said nothing. Just before dinner she blurted:
“Do you know Mrs. MacTavish—and by the way, isn’t it funny that after all, I find that easier than Cherry?—do you know—I believe—now please don’t think me a mawkish fool—I believe he likes
Cherry sat very still and waited. “There has been quite a change in his manner these last two days—I don’t imagine it, it’s there. He is more thoughtful, not of me, exactly, he could not be that, the angel! but he is considering something. You know what I mean!” “Well so far, so good, then. And do you think that if this considering has to
do with you, you have made up your mind?”
For an answer Kate Gordon hid her face in her hands, overcome by emotion— emotion which for very lack of expression had become so atrophied that it lay like a pain throughout her body.
“We were talking about marriage this afternoon,” she said presently, “and I asked him why he had never married. You probably know all about that; then he asked me why I had not, and I told him.' He asked me why you had not— again, you know. Don’t be offended, please, if I ask you that same question. Why haven’t you?”
A look quite new to the ordinary acquaintance of Mrs. MacTavish crossed her face as she answered cynically.
“Most men, older men, you know, marry because they want ease, nursing, pampering, because they are tired of drifting and want a home. Most women, young women marry to satisfy a very feminine curiosity, to gain position or to snap up some one that some one else wants. Older women marry for convenience, generally. Now I have had my curiosity satisfied, I do not care a rap about nursing, am an abominable housekeeper, and don’t want to. acquire wealth. Furthermore, I find men a nuisance about a house. Now go and tell your Willis that!”
But Kate was not listening.
“Do you think I would make a mistake in marrying him—provided I have a chance?” she asked, falteringly.
“Gracious saints! Don’t put the responsibility of choosing your husband upon my shoulders ! It all depends upon how much you are willing to sacrifice, for the world being made for men, demands the greatest sacrifices from women, my dear. I am not going to offer you any advice upon the subject, only this much I must say, if you marry and find you have made a mistake, be a sport—never snivel ! Call your mistakes ‘experiences’ even though an onion by any other name would smell as strong.”
“I don’t understand you,” complained Kate.
“Never mind,” laughed the other. “Now run away and dress, and don’t wake me when you come in.”
For still another two days Cherry made flimsy excuses to avoid the pair. If Kate saw through them she was too happily selfish to care, and if Crompton suffered for them there was no sympathetic ear into which he could moan. He knew well enough that he went each day to meet Kate hoping to find another there ; and he knew that he was playing a cad’s game with her—for the sake of some one else. He wrote her this note:
In spite of my earnest pleading you have seen fit to ignore me, and I know that you are not ill. You could at least have sent me a word, a sign. There can be but one reason for your actions and I am neither fool enough nor blind enough to miss it—you rightly estimate your value in my eyes ! Deny that you are afraid to meet me and let me tell it to you! Deny that you are withholding the genuine article in the hope of making me take something “just as good!” I glory in that knowledge,
Cherry MacTavish, I glory in it!
You are cleverly forcing this other course upon me, but do you call it a kindness? Be merciful and at least talk to me about it all. I promise to be good ; I promise to do any thing possible to help you but I will see you !
Her eyes sought out one sentence in the note—“you rightly estimate your value in my eyes”—and a sudden thrill passed over her. She caught her breath sharply, thrust aside the image of the man and at the sight of her own flushed face, tore the note into a score of bits.
For an answer she sent him, later a sheet of her note paper, by Kate. He stared at the perfectly blank page a moment, puzzled ; then looking closely at the motto beneath the crest, he understood. The words were MAN DO IT !
The next evening she announced her convalescence complete and her decision to come down for dinner. In honor of the occasion a man named Dickinson was added to the party. It took him but a moment to grasp the situation as Mrs. MacTavish explained it—entirely by suggestion. He treated Crompton with an easy tolerance which said as plainly as words :
“Well, you are a bally old ass, my man, to prefer any one in the world to Cherry, but it is not my funeral, you know!”
And Crompton being perfectly aware of this, chafed under it. Kate on the contrary was supremely happy at being thrust into his portion. She did not mind at all, being left out of a very personal conversation between her guest and Dickinson, who talked for the most part in an undertone. But when Crompton tried to do the same thing with Mrs. MacTavish, she sat languidly back in her chair, made not the slightest effort to listen and then remarked petulantly:
“Don’t mutter, my dear Wood! I can’t hear you!”
During the entire evening she never relaxed toward him, and if she saw the agony which from time to time crept into his eyes, no one was the wiser.
Finally, after supper he took a stand. “I want to have a few words with you— alone, if I may,” he said to Mrs. MacTavish, quite distinctly. “Can’t we go into the Turkish Room a moment?”
“Of course,” she returned lightly. “We will all go, and while you are pouring dark confessions into my ear, Kate can talk to Dickie in a far corner. I will make them promise not to listen.”
That was the best he could do.
He drew a chair around facing hers and with his back to the others. She masked her feelings whatever they were, behind a pair of smiling lips. But her eyes were bright and frightened. He saw that and was glad.
“I want to know,” he began without preamble, “why you, of all people, chose me, of all people, for this beastly horrid part?”
“I had the interest of both of you at heart. And any way,” she hedged lamely, “I did not foresee at the moment that it would go as far as—this.”
“Still,” he argued his eyes drinking greedily every detail of her, “still, if it had not been I, it would have been some one else, wouldn’t it? Now my plea is to
let that some one else have a go, and thereby free me.”
“Oh, how can you?” she cried. “I am not that scheming and vulgar! I never had any such idea when we left home; I hardly knew her until that night when she told me what real hunger was. I have known so many men—have had so many people in my life, I never dreamed how barren and drab hers was—Then I saw— you !”
“You saw me!” His tone was passionate and bitter. “And without a qualm you lured me into a sort of trap, you threw me into the breach, you took away the prize which would have made the game worth while, never stopping to think what my hunger was.”
She looked away from him and entrenched herself behind woman’s strongest fortification—wit.
“I saw how frugal your dinner was!”
He did not laugh.
“You were not obliged to go on with it,” she added ungenerously.
“I am not obliged to go on with it now,” he flung at her savagely.
“Oh ! You wouldn’t throw her over—?” she was off her guard and frightened.
Now he laughed. “What is it to you?”
“It is a great deal to her; I believe it would kill her. And indeed it is more to you than you will confess.”
“I am accustomed to being without money,” he said, rather coarsely “and by God, Cherry, there is something I want far more than wealth.”
He stifled a groan by putting his hands over his face, and then when he could not see, a change passed over hers, a look of tenderness and longing took the place of the mask she had worn.
“Poor boy,” she whispered. “Forgive me—I could not have known how it was going to end. Indeed, indeed, I am miserably sorry.” And as he raised his head she added:
“Poverty is grim; I have all I want of it. You must feel like that, too. Yet she with all her money is poorer than either
“Cherry,” he interrupted, “surely there is happiness even in poverty. I could slave for you.”
She smiled a little ironically, and went on with what she was going to say.
“I believe that in the end material comforts make for a certain sort of peace— as we grow older it is increasingly hard to ‘do without.’ So dear boy, remember that and do not think of me with bitter-
“That is your last word then?”
He drew his breath sharply between his teeth, leaned over to her and deliberately took her hands in his. Unprepared for this, for the throbbing, passionate clasp which told her so much more than words, the room swam dizzily round and she closed her eyes. Then with a conscious effort she gained something of her calmness and rose.
“I am going now. . . I will send her to you. . . . Good night!”
He did not rise and did not answer.
A little later when Kate came into the room, her flushed face told the story.
“Oh, Cherry, darling,” she cried, “I can’t thank you in words! You must understand! What have you not done for
me! He does not love me now—” she choked slightly—” he told me so; he said that there was some one else—but I am going to marry him just the same, and oh ! I never, never will be a bit jealous !”
She talked on childishly, incoherently until Mrs. MacTavish interrupted, shaking her gently.
“Listen, girl, listen!” she said, “I want you to put aside this delirious mood for a moment and think what I am saying.”
“Well, what is it? Is it about him?”
“Of course! Do you realize that you are promising to marry a man who is a stranger to you—”
“Nonsense! He is not a stranger. I have known him forever ! I consider him amply recommended.”
“Leaving me and my recommendation entirely out of the question, that is, looking upon Willis Crompton as a total stranger until that night in the cafe, would you still be willing to take him on his face value?”
“Certainly,” was the prompt answer. “But why are you asking me all the foolish questions a nervous mother might ask her seventeen-year-old daughter? I thought you were going to tell me something about him—and the woman he loves —And oh, Cherry, darling, don’t hate me, but I can’t help knowing that it is you !”
She sank to the floor and clasped Mrs. MacTavish about the knees looking up at her exactly as a great dog might have
And exactly as she would have repulsed the pawing of a large and affectionate animal, Cherry MacTavish shook her off.
“Bosh, my dear girl,” she said, rising. “I never set eyes on the man until two weeks ago to-night!”
Building Moved Over Water
An unusual piece of house-moving was recently accomplished at Cleveland, Ohio, when a three-and-a-half-storey building, occupied by a yacht club, was blocked up on barges and towed eight miles over Lake Erie to a new site on an island in Rocky River. The structure is 52 by 78 feet in size, and placed an aggregate weight on the three scows which were employed of approximately 310 tons. The largest of the barges, 40 ft. wide and 120 ft. in length, was lashed in the middle and supported 80 per cent, of the load. When the scows had been prepared to receive the building a timber runway was built between them and the structure. A steel cable was then stretched across a cove, some 700 feet wide, in front of the club, to a capstan. With the assistance of block and tackle, this was turned by a single horse, pulling the building up a 10 per cent, grade onto the scows. In six hours the house rested on the blocks and everything was ready for the tugs, while only about two hours’ time was consumed in towing it to its new location in the mouth of the river.