THE HOMEMADE MAN

Compared to the lives of the sisters Day, a convict in solitary confinement was a triumph of self-expression. But, when Miss Mittee caught tonsilitis and Miss Hettie adopted tonsilitis, hospital doors proved to be the portals of adventure.

RICHARD CONNELL July 1 1926

THE HOMEMADE MAN

Compared to the lives of the sisters Day, a convict in solitary confinement was a triumph of self-expression. But, when Miss Mittee caught tonsilitis and Miss Hettie adopted tonsilitis, hospital doors proved to be the portals of adventure.

RICHARD CONNELL July 1 1926

THE HOMEMADE MAN

Compared to the lives of the sisters Day, a convict in solitary confinement was a triumph of self-expression. But, when Miss Mittee caught tonsilitis and Miss Hettie adopted tonsilitis, hospital doors proved to be the portals of adventure.

RICHARD CONNELL

NEIGHBORS called it “The Mouse House.” It was a little old-fashioned house of yellow brick, and, on its patch of lawn, it looked rather like a square cheese on a green plate. Its name came, however, from its inhabitants, rather than from the house itself. There was something mouse-like about the way Miss Hettie Day, and her sister, Miss Mittie, whisked about in their grey dresses.

Their mother had chronically enjoyed poor health, due, it seemed, to ingrown respectability. She died

when Miss Hettie was thirty-six and her sister a year younger, leaving them the Mouse House, a mouse’s income, and a record of daughterly devotion that began when the two girls left boarding school and extended, without a break, for twenty years. Twenty years— and they could remember doing nothing but fill hot water bottles! Most of the things they had done for her had been things they had not done, such as not speaking loudly, or singing, for fear of waking mother; or not wearing red dresses for fear of shocking mother; or not going out in the evening, or having young men to call, for fear of worrying mother. And now mother was dead. Among her last earthly utterances were: “Thank God, my daughters are well bred. Mittie, fill this hot water bottle.”

Habit lives. True the Misses Day did not fill hot water bottles any more, but they did whisper and walk on their tiptoes, they did wear sober grey dresses, and they went to bed at nine o’clock. When men passed down the country lane near the Mouse House, the Misses Day, working in their flower garden, averted their eyes and became very interested in the stock gillies, ragged sailors, clove pinks and fox-gloves, or earnestly picked bugs off the rose bushes.

It was the night of Miss Mittie’s thirty-fifth birthday and Miss Hettie had provided an especially good dinner, with little French peas and blancmange, and a chocolate birthday cake with “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SISTER” written on it in pink sugar, and, for a gift, a book called “How to Get Rid of Garden Pests,” a volume Miss Mittie had long coveted.

“Why, Mittie,” Miss Hettie exclaimed, “you’re not eating your cake.”

“It isn’t because it isn’t perfectly, marvelous cake, dear,” replied the younger Miss Day.

“And your voice is husky. Have you caught cold, Mittie?”

“My throat,” she said, “feels as if I’d swallowed an unskinned pineapple.”

“I’m going to send for Dr. Harriet,” declared Miss Hettie.

The family physician took one quick professional glance at Miss Mittie’s throat, and said, “Tonsilitis.” Then added, “You’ll have to go down to St. Andrew’s Hospital, and have those tonsils out.”

Miss Hettie, who had been standing near, spoke in her timid voice: “Doctor Harriet,” she said, “can’t I go, too?” “What for?” the doctor asked. “Your tonsils are all right.”

“Yes, I know they are,” said Miss Hettie. “But it won’t do any harm to have them out, will it?”

Dr. Harriet looked quizzically at the small, serious face, to which large horn-rimmed glasses imparted a suggestion of hoot owl. “What an odd idea, Miss Hettie,” said the doctor. “Why should you wish an operation if you don’t need one?”

A flush came to Miss Hettie’s cheek. “You see,” she explained, “I want to stay near Mittie.”

“Well, you can do that without being operated on,” said the doctor. Miss Hettie’s flush deepened—

“Oh, have you another reason?” Dr. Harriet asked. “Well, yes,” faltered Miss Hettie. “You see, Doctor Harriet, I’ve—well, I’ve had so few experiences—”

Dr. Harriet laughed.

“I think I understand,” she said. “I’ll have the ambulance come for both of you.”

AT THE hospital there was a third bed in the room -AV occupied by the Day sisters, and to this room two days after Miss Mittie, and Miss Hettie, had been successfully shorn of their tonsils, a third patient was brought. She was a pretty young woman, and, while her cheeks were pale, her eyes were very bright.

“Mine’s Mrs. Burgess,” said the other patient. After some little time, Miss Hettie, with the diffidence natural in one addressing a stranger without introduction said, “May we introduce ourselves? My name is Miss Hettie Day, and this is my sister, Miss Mittie.”

“I hope your illness isn’t serious,” said Miss Hettie, politely.

The woman in the other bed laughed. “I’m afraid it’s incurable,” she said.

The sisters made little noises of sympathy. At last Miss Hettie ventured to ask, “Is there anything we can do for you?”

The young woman laughed again. “I doubt it, thanks,” she said.

Again Miss Hettie ventured a question, “And do you want to tell us what it is?”

“Sure,” said Mrs. Burgess. “It’s a boy.”

The sisters blushed and gazed at each other in some alarm. “Oh, it’s not catching,” laughed Mrs. Burgess.

Presently a nurse brought a small blob of new pink baby on a pillow.

“His name,” explained Mrs. Burgess, “is Tommie. Are you hungry, Tommie?”

Tommie was.

When the nurse came to take Tommie back to the baby room, Mrs. Burgess, smiling toward the sisters, said, “Would you like to hold him a minute?”

Miss Mittie looked at Miss Hettie, and Miss Hettie looked at Miss Mittie. “If you’re quite sure it wouldn’t hurt him,” said Miss Hettie.

“You see,” said Miss Mittie, “we’re not—used to babies.”

The nurse laid Tommie in Miss Hettie’s arms. She held him stiffly, awkwardly, as if she momentarily expected his arms to come off. Tommie opened one sleepy eye and said, “Woogie,” or words to that effect.

“He spoke to me,” cried Miss Hettie. “Oh, Mittie, he spoke to me!”

“Let me hold him now,” begged Miss Mittie.

The nurse placed the baby in Miss Mittie’s arms. Miss

Mittie did not stir; she hardly breathed.

“Feel his head,” called Mrs. Burgess. “No, not with your hand; with your lips.”

Very gently Miss Mittie brushed the down on Tommie’s head with her lips. Then the nurse carried him away,

That evening, while Mrs. Burgess was sleeping, Miss Mittie spoke in a whisper to her sister. “Hettie.” “Yes, Mittie?”

“I felt his head,” whispered Miss Mittie. “It was soft, the softest thing I ever felt.”

“He spoke to me,” said Miss Hettie. “Did you not hear him speak to me?”

'T'HEY were back in the Mouse House. Miss Mittie knew that something new and strange was in the air when Miss Hettie came down to dinner that night wearing a string of orange beads. They were new, and bright, and the older Miss Day wore them openly, and, almost, shamelessly.

“Do you like them?” asked Miss Hettie, trying to seem casual.

“They are pretty,” admitted Miss Mittie, “and they go well with your dress.”

“I bought you some beads, too,” announced Miss Hettie. “Yellow ones. Here they are.” “Mother always said jewellery was a sign of vulgarity,” said Miss Mittie, holding the yellow beads against her dress.

“We won’t wear them outside the house,” promised Miss Hettie. “Try them on, dear.” Miss Mittie slipped the beads over her head. She sighed.

“You don’t think,” asked Miss Hettie, anxiously, “that it’s wrong for us to wear beads, so long as we wear them only inside the house, do you?”

“I wasn’t thinking about the beads,” said Miss Mittie.

“What were you thinking about?”

Miss Mittie sighed again.

“About Tommie’s head,” she said.

Miss Hettie fingered her beads. Then spoke with the air of one making a decision.

“Mittie,” she said, “we must get a baby.” “Oh, Hettie!”

“I mean one to take care of.”

“Adopt one?”

“Perhaps. But at first I think it would be wise to take one to board.”

“A trial baby?”

“Well, yes. One about three years old, I think,” said Miss Hettie.

So it came about that the Mouse House had a third inhabitant. Her name was Lucy Grayson, she had yellow curls, and she could say the alphabet as far as “D.”

A FTER consulting fifteen of the twenty books, after ■¿A cajolery, and some secret tears, the Misses Day had finally put Lucy to bed, and to sleep, and, somewhat worn out, they were sitting, knitting, downstairs.

“She’s a dear,” said Miss Hettie.

“She’s just like her father,” said Miss Mittie.

“Do you mean Mr. Grayson’s a dear, too?” smiled Miss Hettie.

Miss Mittie dropped a stitch. “He seems to be a very nice, cultivated man,” she replied. “I meant, Lucy has his rather shy eyes, and his surprised looking eye-brows, and the same sort of ear lobes, and even the same gait.” “You appear to have examined Mr. Grayson pretty thoroughly,” remarked Miss Hettie.

“I think,” returned Miss Mittie, “that we ought to know everything we can about the father of our child.” “Why, Mittie!”

Miss Mittie became suddenly absorbed in her knitting. Miss Hettie spoke.

“The Graysons are an old Philadelphia family, I understand.”

“Yes,” said Miss Mittie, quickly. “I looked them up. Lucy’s father, Mr. Lee Grayson, is an admiralty lawyer. He often goes to South America on business. His wife died three years ago. He is in partnership with his older brother, Roger Grayson. Mr. Lee Grayson is just thirty-nine, and is a member of the following clubs—” Miss Hettie laughed, and broke in, “Mittie, confess.” “What?”

“You like Mr. Lee Grayson.”

Miss Mittie knitted a bit before she answered, “Stuff and nonsense.”

The grandfather’s clock ticked away minutes before either spoke. Then Miss Hettie said: “Do you know what?”

“No? What?”

“I think Mr. Lee Grayson likes you.”

Miss Mittie laid down her knitting. “Oh, do you? I mean, you do? Don’t talk nonsense, Hettie. He likes us, I suppose, or he wouldn’t have entrusted his daughter to our care. But I’ll wager he won’t be able to tell us apart when he comes here Monday.”

“You’ll lose,” predicted Miss Hettie.

“Why do you think so?”

“Because,” replied Miss Hettie, “I noticed that Mr. Lee Grayson addressed all his remarks to you, called you ‘Miss Mittie,’ and, when you were talking to Lucy, I watched his eyes, and they were on you, all the time.” “Oh, Hettie, were they really?”

“Wait till Monday,” said Miss Hettie. “You’ll see.” Monday came and Miss Mittie saw. The first thing Mr. Grayson did when the door was opened, was to extend his hand to her, and say, warmly, but bashfully: “Good morning, Miss Mittie. How well you look to-day.”

The second thing he did was to produce a bunch of roses. “You said you liked roses,” he remarked.

The very next morning Miss Mittie Day surprised her sister, and indeed, herself, by going into Philadelphia and buying a new dress. Also, she bought a string of jade beads, and permitted a hairdresser to do strange things to her brown hair. WThen she returned to the tiny living room of the Mouse House, she stood before her sister, and hung her head.

“Do you mind?” she asked timidly of Miss Nettie. “Mind?” exclaimed Miss Hettie. “Why, my dear, if you hadn’t done this, I’d have made you. When is he coming?” “He? Who?”

Miss Hettie laughed.

“Well, I don’t mean the milkman,” she said. “Mr. Lee Grayson, of course.”

Miss Mittie counted her new jade beads. “I hope you won’t mind,” she said, “but I did ask him for tea tomorrow.”

Miss Hettie kissed Miss Mittie.

“Aren’t you feeling well, dear?” asked Miss Hettie over the breakfast tea.

“Oh, I suppose so,” said Miss Mittie, listlessly.

Miss Hettie laid down a piece of buttered toast. “Mittie Day, what’s wrong? Is it Mr. Grayson?” Miss Mittie nodded.

“What has he said to you?” demanded Miss Hettie. “That’s just the trouble,” answered Miss Mittie. “He hasn’t said anything.”

“But you’ve known him only six weeks. Give him time. A man, especially a nice, refined man like Mr. Grayson, has to be given time.”

“You seem to know a lot about men.”

“Only theoretically,” said Miss Hettie. “I’ve read novels. Come now, dear, cheer up and drink some hot tea. He’ll be coming here next Wednesday and then we’ll see.”

“No,” said Miss Mittie, “I’m afraid we won’t see. He isn’t coming Wednesday.”

“Not coming?” Miss Hettie was concerned. “Oh, Mittie, you have quarrelled?”

“No,” replied Miss Mittie miserably. “We’re still friends—and that’s all.”

“But why isn’t he coming Wednesday?”

“Because,” answered Miss Mittie, “on Monday he sails for South America. We’ve said good-bye. Last night —when he left—we—we shook hands. We shook hands twice. He came back all the way from the front gate to shake hands with me a second time. He seemed uneasy, strange, as if he wanted to say something. But he’s so shy. He didn’t say anything. He asked me if I was interested in South America, and when I said, ‘Yes, very much,’ all he said was ‘So am I.’ Then he went. But I feel if I could see him just once again—”

“There, there, dear. If you cry into your tea you can’t drink it. You are going to see Mr. Lee Grayson again.” “He sails Monday,” said Miss Mittie, dolorously. “To-day is Saturday,” said her sister. “I’ll telephone him to come here to-night. I’ll tell a lie. I’ll say Lucy is ill.” Miss Mittie shook her head. “No,” she said, “it would be wrong to do that.”

“But you want to see him again, don’t you?”

Miss Mittie nodded. “I can’t help feeling,” she said, “that if we should see each other once more, everything would be all right.”

“I feel so, too,” said Miss Hettie. “Why, Mittie, don’t you remember? To-night he’ll be at that big charity ball in Philadelphia. He said he had to go; he’s on the committee. Didn’t he ask you to go with him?”

Miss Mittie moaned a little. ‘ He did, a week ago,” she said, tearfully, “but I said I never went to balls. He seemed pleased. But I did want to go.”

Miss Hettie set down the tea pot, sharply, resolutely. “You shall go,” she announced. “You must go.”

“But I can’t,” said Miss Mittie, struggling with a sob, “Why can’t you?”

“One simply can’t go to a ball alone. And who will take me?”

Miss Hettie bit her lip. “You’re right,” she said. “You must have an escort.”

“A man,” said Miss Mittie.

“Any man,” said Miss Hettie. “Once he takes you there, he need not stay with you. Yes, you must have a man We might hire somebody.”

“Whom?”

“Give me time to think. Don’t worry, and stop crying. You can't go with red eyes. Just leave the man to me. Meantime, you must get busy.”

“Doing what?”

“Learning to dance!”

“Must I?”

“That’s what people usually do at balls.”

“But who’ll teach me?”

“There’s a young woman in the village who gives dancing lessons. I’ll telephone her to come here at once. And, Mittie—”

“What?”

“You must get yourself an evening dress.”

Miss Hettie was pacing up and down the room with the furrowed brow of a general planning a battle. “Get a taxi right away,” she directed. “Drive into Philadelphia. Get yourself a becoming evening dress, and not a high necked one, either. Then drive back as fast as you can. The dancing teacher will be here by that time.”

Miss Mittie, bewildered, excited, began to put on her hat and to hunt for her white shopping gloves. “What kind of dress shall I get?” she asked.

“A red one,” Miss Hettie called after her. “A bright red one. All men like red.”

THAT afternoon strange sounds issued from the usually quiet living room of the Mouse House.

“One, two, three, reverse! One, two, three! Don’t be so stiff, Miss Day. Loosen up a bit! That’s better. One, two, three, reverse! A little more abandon, Miss Day! Better not wear corsets; you can’t possibly dance in these. One, two, three, reverse! Don’t keep so far away from your partner. There, that’s better. One, two, three, reverse! You’re doing splendidly, Miss Day. One, two, three—■”

At five o’clock the dancing teacher left, and both Day sisters were in a state bordering on exhaustion.

“The evening gown is stunning,” said Miss Hettie.

“But my escort? What about him?” queried Miss Mittie.

Miss Hettie’s face was troubled.

“It’s all right, Mittie,” said Miss Hettie. “I had an idea. Your man is on the way here.”

“Who is he?”

“I don’t know yet. I’ll have to pick him out.”

“Pick him out? What do you mean, Hettie?”

“Well, you see,” said Miss Hettie, calmly, “I telephoned to a Philadelphia telegraph office and told them to send me out ten large messenger boys. Surely, out of that number—”

There was a robust ring at the front door bell.

“There they are now,” cried Miss Hettie, and skipped to the door. Miss Mittie heard her saying,

“Come this way, boys. Single file, please.”

Into the little living room marched the ten bearers of telegrams. Miss Mittie let out a little cry of dismay when she saw them, and sank down on a horse-hair sofa.

Every known variety of boy was represented in the ten who stood in a line across the room, puzzled but prepared for anything. There were dirty little boys and dirty big boys; there were boys all elbows and ears, and freckled boys without their full quota of teeth; there was one stringly, spectacled boy with crossed eyes, and chewing gum; there was a short, chunky middle aged boy with bowed legs and a wild, enormous moustache that made him resemble an exploded mattress; there was a round, plump boy with pop eyes and boils, and an elderly boy six feet tall, six inches wide and not too well ventilated.

Of this last one Miss Hettie, in desperation, asked, “How old are you?” “Sixty-six,” he tittered.

“Send them all away,” said Miss Mittie, faintly.

Miss Hettie shooed the ten prospective escorts into the evening. Miss Mittie was still weeping softly, hopelessly, when her sister returned to the living room.

Miss Hettie sat down in a colonial chair and pulled her auburn hair, a sign she was concentrating. Suddenly she jumped up.

“I’ve got your man,” she said.

“Who is it?” asked Miss Mittie.

“Me!”

“Oh, Hettie, what do you mean?”

“I’ll be your man,” cried Miss Hettie. “But how can you?”

“I’ll wear father’s evening suit. It will be much too big but no matter.”

“Hettie, you mustn’t. What would people say? And there’s your hair—”

“I’ll cut it off.”

“Oh, Hettie, your beautiful, long hair!” “It must go,” said Miss Hettie. Her small face was white, but determined.

“Hettie, dear,” protested Miss Mittie, “I’m terribly grateful, but I can’t have you do this. You don’t understand what it would mean. Nice people wouldn’t believe a nice woman could do a thing like that. Think what it would mean to you.” “I’m thinking what it would mean to you,” returned Miss Hettie.

“No, you mustn’t,” cried Miss Mittie. “I’ve been selfish enough. I ought to have let Mr. Grayson get interested in you. You’re the older; you deserved the first chance. But I didn’t. No, I can’t let you ruin your life on my account.”

Miss Hettie looked a long time at her sister, huddled there in the chair in her bright new red dress. Then Miss Hettie walked over and seized the shears. Before Miss Mittie could stop her, the work of destruction had begun. In ten seconds most of Miss Hettie’s auburn hair lay on the floor. Miss Hettie stood staring at herself in the mirror.

“Why, Hettie,” exclaimed her sister “You look at least ten years younger.” Miss Hettie removed her horn-rimmed spectacles.

“That makes you look younger still,” her sister cried.

“That makes me twenty-three,” said Miss _ Hettie, trying to smile. “Oh, Mittie, am I doing a wicked deed?”

“Yes—

“Too late to turn back now,” said Miss Hettie. “Help me put on father’s evening suit.”

For an hour, or mere, the sisters struggled with the problem of putting the slender figure of Miss Hettie into the ample evening suit of the late Mr. Day. But at last the evening shirt was subdued, the suspenders anchored, and the tie conquered, and Miss Hettie stepped forth with what she believed to be a masculine stride.

“Do you think anyone could tell?” asked Miss Hettie, anxiety written on her fa'ce in capital letters.

“No,” said Miss Mittie. “You’re perfect. But, oh Hettie, this is a terrible thing to do. It isn’t at all—at all ladylike.”

Miss Hettie tossed her clipped head.

“I’m not a lady to-night,” she said. “All the rest of my life I expect to be a maiden lady and pick bugs off rose bushes, but to-night I’m Mr. Stephen Adams, of Boston.”

THE heart of Mr. Stephen Adams, of Boston, under the stiff bosom of the evening shirt, was fluttering like a caught wren, as Miss Hettie entered the ballroom with her sister on her arm. Mr. Lee Grayson caught sight of them almost immediately. He looked sharply at Miss Hettie and her heart sank. But as he gripped her hand and said, “How do you do, Mr. Adams,” her heart rose again, for the look she saw in his eyes was not a look of suspicion, but of another emotion. She left him with Miss Mittie, and found a seat in a secluded corner. As Miss Mittie, smiling, danced past with Mr. Grayson, Mr. Stephen Adams, of Boston, could see that Miss Mittie was dancing valiantly and that Mr. Grayson was gazing at her with a stern, possessive look. In her corner Miss Hettie murmured, “He’s jealous! I’ve made him jealous. It’s all right now—all right—-for Mittie.”

“I beg your pardon?” a voice near her said. “Did you speak to me?”

Miss Hettie looked up and saw a man whose resemblance to Lee Grayson made her start. He was a slightly older, slightly bigger version of the man who was dancing with Miss Mittie.

Miss Hettie mustered up the masculine voice she had practised coming to the ball in the taxi. It was a species of growl. “I was thinking out loud,” bruined Miss Hettie.

“Sorry I interrupted you,” said the stranger with a smile. “I thought I knew you. Your face is familiar. May I ask your name?”

“Mr. Adams,” growled Miss Hettie, hoping he would not see that she was trembling, “Mr. Stephen Adams, of Boston.”

“Relative of Miss Day?” asked the stranger.

“Errr-yes. Distant cousin.”

“Thought you might be, ’’the stranger remarked. “You look a lot like her.” “You know Miss Day?” said Miss Hettie, in her huskiest growl.

“Yes,” said the stranger. “I have an idea she is going to be my sister-in-law.” “Your—what?”

“Sister-in-law. I can tell by old Lee’s face. You see Lee Grayson is my brother. I’m Roger Grayson.”

“Oh,” gulped Miss Hettie. “I see.” “Let’s go out into the lounge,” suggested Mr. Roger Grayson. “We can smoke a cigar. We ought to get acquainted, since we’ll be distantly related rather soon.”

With knees of jelly, Miss Hettie followed him to the lounge. A horrible thought beset her. He would offer her a cigar. He did. She watched him closely. He bit off the end, and she did likewise. It tasted nasty in her mouth. It was worse going down. She puffed in imitation of Mr. Roger Grayson. Her head began to swim; her lungs felt as if she had swallowed a porcupine. His voice began to sound far away. “Miss Day has a sister, hasn’t she?” Miss Hettie heard him ask.

“I believe so,” she answered, her masculine growl decidedly wan.

“You believe so?” asked Mr. Grayson. “Surely you know her sister, Hettie.”

Miss Hettie’s lungs felt full of needles, and her head was spinning like a dancing mouse. Giddily, she answered, “Hettie? Oh, yes, yes. Good old Hettie.”

“What is she like?” asked Mr. Grayson. Then he added, “You see, I’ve heard Lee talk a lot about her. He’s very fond of her. Says Hettie is such a good sport.” “A what? Oh, did he?” She was speaking with an effort.

“Yes, indeed,” replied Mr. Roger Grayson. “Lee has sung the praises of Hettie so much I’d like to know her. What is she like, anyhow?”

“Well,” said Miss Hettie, marvelling that she could speak at all, “Hettie is one of those quiet little old maids, a regular mouse-woman, who is nice enough in her way, but far too much a lady to have a good time.”

“Fond of children?”

“Yes; loves them.”

“Ummmmmm,” Mr. Grayson puffed on his cigar.

“I think,” said Miss Hettie, “I’ll have to get some fresh air. I feel faint. Good night, Mr. Grayson.”

“Wait a bit,” he said. “Are you going home?”

“I think so.”

“Then let me drive you there in my car. You’re staying out in the country with Miss Day, I suppose.”

“Yes,” said Miss Hettie, dropping her cigar. Then, “I suppose I can’t leave Mittie here.”

Mr. Roger Grayson laughed. She liked his deep laugh. “Oh, yes, you can,” he said. “I guess Lee will take good care of her, and bring her home.”

“I’d better tell her, though,” said Miss Hettie, negotiating the ballroom uncertainly. She found Miss Mittie sitting in a corner. She did not need to ask her sister what had happened. Miss Mittie’s flushed and happy face was answer enough. “Lee’s gone to get me an ice,” she said. “How are you?” asked Miss Mittie. “In heaven,” said Miss Mittie. “Oh, Hettie, darling. I’ll write you every day from South America.”

“I think,” said Miss Hettie, “I can go home, now.”

THE fresh air made Miss Hettie’s head feel clearer. It made her almost forget the cigar. But she could not forget as Roger Grayson’s big roadster sped along, that she was a ruined woman.

“What’s your profession, Mr. Adams?” she heard her companion ask.

“Errrrr—lawyer.”

“What firm?”

“Adams, Adams, Adams, Adams,” said Miss Hettie, “and Adams.”

“That’s funny,” remarked Mr. Grayson. “I’m a lawyer, too, you know, and I thought I knew all the Boston firms. I know Adams and Adams, and Adams, Adams, and Adams, and Adams, Adams, Adams and Adams, but I never heard of Adams, Adams, Adams, Adams, and Adams.”

“The firm was just organized,” said Miss Hettie, “Yesterday.”

A complete disregard of all her early upbringing was upon her. She was ruined. What did a lie or two matter? She glanced at the frank, good-natured face of the man beside her. She prayed he would never find out about her. But what matter if he did, or didn’t. She had cut herself off, by her act, from decent society. From now on there was nothing for her to do but pick bugs off rose bushes.

She was a little surprised when he escorted her through the moonlight to the front door of the Mouse House. Her surprise grew as he took off his hat.

“Thanks for the ride,” she'said, trying to recapture her male growl. “Goodnight, Grayson.”

She stuck out her hand. He took it, but he did not let it go. Then he said a peculiar thing: “I d like to kiss you.” Then he did so, there and then. “Hettie,” he said, “you’re a dead game sport.”

Miss Hettie began to weep softly. “Then you knew I was—what I am,” she sobbed.

Roger Grayson smiled. “The minute I set eyes on you,” he said.

“Oh, you must think I’m a wicked, abandoned woman,” wailed Miss Hettie.

“I said,” repeated Roger Grayson, “that I think you are a dead game sport. I love you for that, Hettie Day. Say, look here. I’ve an idea. Why don’t you and I surprise Lee and Mittie by turning up on their ship. You’d love South America, Hettie, dear.”

She did.