MR. DELACROIX —The Big Lily!
BAILEY ALDRICH’S father, being rather young for the paternal rôle, liked to cultivate, vis-à-vis his offspring, the manner stern.
“Well, Bailey,” he said, looking up from his wineglass as his son entered the drawing-room, “and how did you get along at school today?”
“Oke. I was riding. Dad, when can I go out with the hunt?”
Mr. Aldrich frowned, with a glance sidewise at Mrs. Aldrich.
"We'll think about that when you’re a little older.”
The question had come to be, in the last year, something of a tradition in the Aldrich household. Bailey displayed no great emotion over the refusal —traditional, too. But he persisted, slumping down into a D>uis XVI chair which already bore many marks of his favoritism.
“I’m twelve. Jimmie Schwartz is only eleven and a half. And he’s been out twice with the Richfield. He got thrown four times last week.”
“That’s at least four times too many. What’s the matter with that Richfield outfit anyway? Young Schwartz ought to be satisfied, like yourself, with the children’s hunt.”
Bailey executed a scornful laugh, his most recent and pet accomplishment.
“A bunch of kids! They have the whole course laid out beforehand, so that there isn’t even one real jump. But Jimmie says the Richfield rides like—I mean, the dickens— and they don’t give a da -dam about wire or anything else. Why shouldn’t he be thrown four times? You were down three times yourself, dad, in the polo game last Saturday.
Mr. Aldrich flushed; whereupon Mrs. Aldrich promptly laughed.
“Bailey would appear to have scored, Hal.”
“Not at all. 1 happened to have a bad day. Anyway, Bailey, when I asked you how you got along at school I wasn’t thinking of your riding.”
“Oh,” Bailey said with more than a hint of disapproval, “you meant studies? Well, I got ninety-five in an arithmetic test. But we had a French test, too, and—that Mr. Delacroix gives me a pain.”
“I suppose a flunk mark preceded the pain,” Mrs. Aldrich suggested lightly.
Bailey looked at her out of his level and literal eyes.
“No,” he said. “It was the other way around. Nobody likes Mr. Delacroix, so how can he teach anything? Unless he does better, Mr. Peavey is going to lire him at the end of the term.”
“Really? But that’s a shame. Why does nobody like him? He seemed an unusually nice young chap when I met him last fall.”
Abruptly, another country was heard from—Bailey’s sister, Susan. She had, it appeared, been all this time deep in a book and a love seat at the fluend of the large room. Susan Aldrich was fifteen. She was well into that peculiarly trying stage of a young girl’s life which is characterized bylong legs, book-reading in comers, and occasional surprising acidities of speech.
“Honestly,” she said now, “boys Bailey’s age are the
dumbest things. All they think about is horses. They don't want to leam French They don’t even want to go to Paris. They’re little goofs!”
Bailey, who had realty a placid nature, smiled at this tirade. He caused one of his fingers to rotate rapidly for an instant near the side of his head, then returned calmly to his subject.
“Mr. Delacroix is a big lily.”
“Lily?” questioned Mr. Aldrich.
“Sissy to you, Hal,” Mrs. Aldrich said explanatorily. “A horticultural variation on the pansy. But why, Bailey?”
Bailey looked blank, as he could on occasion.
“What makes you think young Delacroix a lily?”
“Oh, I don’t know.” He brightened. “Mom, Jimmie Schwartz can draw like nobody's business. So yesterday he drew a big lily on the blackboard in Mr. Delacroix’s room. Mr. Delacroix came in and said in his goofy way: ‘A lily. A lily. That is for France!’ So he left it up there on the blackboard. It’s up there still.”
Bailey laughed at his own story with a wholeheartedness which brought tears to his eyes. Indeed, he was so carried
away by the humor of the thing that he proceeded incautiously to tell more—details far, far too spicy for tender parental ears.
“He’s so silly. He can’t keep order at all. In the classroom we act whatever way we want to act and he doesn’t do a thing. He just stands up there and smiles, and the most he ever does is what he calls ‘appealing to us as gentlemen.’ ”
“Lord help the poor boy!” cried Mrs. Aldrich.
Susan emerged from her book again to mutter:
“The little goofs!”
Mr. Aldrich, however, with paternity heavy upon him, had his brows knitted.
“Now see here, Bailey,” he began.
Mrs. Aldrich interrupted: “Let Bailey go on, please, Hal. I’d really like to know what has made young Delacroix lose out this way. When I met him at the beginning of the school year, he particularly impressed me as being not only very charming but very intelligent, too. And altogether male.” She turned to her son. “Come, Bailey, out with it. What makes you think he’s a lily?”
“Oh, lotsof things,” Bailey replied vaguely. He had no intention of being led into any further dangerous confidences.
“But what?” she insisted.
“Well—there’s—there’s Miss Martin.”
“Miss Martin? Oh, yes, I remember her. The school secretary, isn’t she? A very beautiful girl. But what has she to do with Mr. Delacroix being a lily?”
Bailey sensed an undercurrent of amusement in his mother’s voice: he attempted to be wary.
“Mr. Delacroix,” he answered, confining himself to the simple statement of fact, “is in love with her.”
Mrs. Aldrich burst out laughing.
“How very unmanly of him!”
“Well, it isn’t like a man, is it—I mean, a real man—to
He looked to his father for support, but saw with increased embarrassment that his father was smiling also.
“Anyhow Miss Martin herself thinks he’s a big lily,” he said quickly. "At least, she’s beginning to think so.”
Mrs. Aldrich ceased to laugh; she displayed several of the symptoms of what Bailey had already learned to recognize as “natural feminine curiosity.”
“How do you know that, Bailey?”
“Well — the other day Jimmie Schwartz was going into her office for something or other and Mr. Delacroix was there and Jimmie heard her say to Mr. Delacroix that she could hardly respect a man who couldn’t even get the respect of his students and—”
But Mr. Aldrich’s paternal feelings would no longer be denied. Bailey and his mother both had to listen to the lecture which followed.
ARRIVING at the Country Day School for Boys the next morning a few minutes before chapel, Bailey bade adieu to Tony, who \ filled in the Aldrich household
\ the two not obviously related
positions of assistant gardener and children’s chauffeur. Bailey ran up the schoolhouse steps, under an Englishstyle portico which had been carefully, indeed elaborately, ivy-clad, and bumped into Jimmie Schwartz, who was just coming out. Inasmuch as Jimmie was nearly always late for school, this early encounter surprised Bailey. Jimmie wore, furthermore, a shining and unusual expression.
“Hi, Aldrich,” Jimmie said.
“Hi, Schwartz,” Bailey replied; then, after a further inspection of Jimmie’s facial radiance, asked: “What you been doing?”
Jimmie Schwartz and Bailey Aldrich had each been president of the form twice. In such important matters as football, baseball, hockey, riding and marbles, they were about equally eminent. Perhaps, being rivals, they should have been enemies; perhaps, indeed, they would have been except for the fact that Bailey had been bom marvellously lacking in jealousy. He admired many things about Jimmie Schwartz and he did so wholeheartedly.
Yet they were about as different as two boys could be. Bailey was, on the whole, well conducted. He was quiet, modest, or at any rate modest-seeming.
Jimmie Schwartz was, in all ways, more spectacular. His family’s affluence was of extraordinarily recent date—a fact which perhaps explained the great amount of zip and go of one kind and another which he possessed. Though he was only eleven and a half, he was already in appearance weedy —long-legged, long-armed. He had curly black hair and restless black eyes.
Now, in answer to Bailey’s question, he put a finger to his lips mysteriously and grinned.
“Wait and see.”
“But what you been doing?”
Jimmie hesitated; the urge of the creator to reveal himself was obviously too strong for him to resist.
“Well, I’ll tell you.” He lowered his voice to a whisper. “I just did another picture on Mr. Delacroix’s blackboard. It’s hot.”
“Another lily?” asked Bailey.
“I said, hoi.”
“Wait and see.”
The bell for chapel rang at that moment and Jimmie and Bailey joined the others of their form in the fourth-row
benches of the assembly room. Morning chapel at the Country Day School was a vaguely religious, non-sectarian, imitation-English ceremony, lasting fifteen minutes. It was conducted by Mr. Peavey, the headmaster, and consisted of a prayer, the singing of a hymn, and announcements of athletic contests and so on which would take place later.
On the whole, discipline in the Country Day School wasn’t bad. It was, at least, better than might have been expected in such an institution. Mr. Delacroix’s case was exceptional. In all ways, Mr. Delacroix—twenty-four, Parisian and christened Etienne—was an exception among the masters. He wasn't blonde; he wasn’t Nordic; he wasn’t even athletic—or, if he was, he kept his abilities hidden. There was a rumor that he had once been seen astride a horse; but Bailey, for one, disbelieved the story. Mr. Delacroix did not play baseball, bien entendu; he did not play football, nor even hockey. Since every master in the school was expected to assist Mr. Smith, the athletic instructor, by coaching in some form or other of sport, Mr. Delacroix coached fencing. As a matter of fact, Mr. Delacroix was something of a master with the épée; but this could not be expected to endear him in the hearts of 150 Canadian boys of ages six to fifteen. By them, fencing was considered scarcely less effeminate than love.
During chapel, Bailey sat beside Jimmie Schwartz and asked him several times more under cover of the hymn for particulars of his latest blackboard masterpiece—but without eliciting any more definite response. Fortunately for his peace of mind, the fourth form’s French recitation immediately followed chapel. Bailey, with Jimmie close behind him, was the first to reach Mr. Delacroix’s classroom. His eyes went instantly to the blackboard—and stayed there, fascinated.
THERE COULD be no denying that, in an artistic sense, Jimmie Schwartz had outdone himself. The composition consisted of two figures, not realistic yet perfectly recognizable. The male one, on bended knee, was indubitably Mr. Delacroix; but, to make assurance doubly sure, it had been labelled with his name. The other figure, female, was similarly labelled, MISS MARTIN, and from her mouth issued a voluminous balloon within which were chalked the words, patently aimed at the kneeling figure: I HATE
“How you like?” Jimmie Schwartz asked, in a voice that shook with pride.
Bailey took a deep breath. I lore was undoubtedly daring ! Here was courage of the most reckless. And yet . . .
The rest of the class, assembled now, was, like himself, strangely silent. Mr. Delacroix, one of whose duties it was to play the piano for the singing in chapel, had not come in yet.
“How you like?” Jimmie persisted.
Still Bailey could not answer. Bailey was of those who speak what they feel; and as yet, definitely, he did not know what he felt.
Of course, he was conscious that Jimmie Schwartz had gone pretty far. All the class must have been conscious of that. This was something different from throwing spitballs, scuffling, making a disturbance in any of the accepted ways. It was even different, in kind as in degree, from the daybefore-yesterday’s sensation when Jimmie had executed the lily.
Miss Martin—Joan Martin —composed the school’s entire secretarial staff. She and Cook were the only females ordinarily privileged to set foot within the Country Day School. Cook was fat and more than forty. But Miss Martin wras, in the school’s language, hoi. She could not have been more than twenty-two. She had big brown eyes. She had bobbed brown hair. She had ankles and legs and things which boys between the ages of six and fifteen are perhaps not supposed to notice but do.
Probably every student in the school and a majority of the masters cherished a secret romantic admiration for Miss Martin; but only Mr. Delacroix openly and unashamedly courted her. He was often seen in her small office; he was seen talking with her in the hall or after luncheon in the little formal garden out in front of school. It was known that, some evenings, he took her to the movies. Most illogically, the fact that she had seemed—until recently, at least—not averse to his attentions, had aroused jealousy even in these love-scorning environs; it had been one more count against him.
“Here he comes,” Jimmie Schwartz whispered. “Oh, boy ! Oh, boy !”
The door opened and Mr. Delacroix entered. He did not look at the blackboard but went straight to his desk, after giving the class his usual morning smile, which had seemed of late a little strained.
“Bonjour, messieurs,” he said.
Everyone watched breathlessly as he settled his books on his desk. Perhaps he sensed something unusual in the atmosphere, for he paused and looked up. He looked all around the class with his black, quick, rather confusing eyes.
“You seem quiet this morning, messieurs. Exceptionally quiet. Yes? Enfin, it is good.” He smiled again that rather strained smile. “Perhaps if we hurry to take advantage of this so exceptional quiet—”
Continued on page 43
Mr. Delacroix—The Big Lily
Continued from page 17—Starts on page 16
He had picked up a piece of chalk as he spoke and turned toward the blackboard. But his voice broke abruptly off. He stood with his back to the class. Bailey found that his own breath was coming fast. In the classroom not even a chair creaked.
IT WAS interesting to watch Mr. Delacroix’s back as he looked at that drawing. Mr. Delacroix’s coat was so tailored that it came in slightly at the waist. Mr. Delacroix had hips, something which all the other masters in the school seemed to have been bom miraculously without. Of course, Mr. Delacroix had shoulders also; but they did not extend straight out at right angles from his neck. They curved, though not weakly, gracefully; and his neck rose gracefully. Perhaps Mr. Delacroix would have said of himself that he was not a peasant; but in the eyes of his students such grace was unmanly.
Something special, however, was happening to Mr. Delacroix’s back at this moment. Very definitely, it was growing rigid; and one of his hands, which hung down stiff at his side, twitched.
After a rather long interval, during which he stared at the drawing and the class stared at his back—the silence persisting all this while—he turned. His face was whiter than it ever had been before. His black eyes had little dots of fire in them. His mouth was drawn down.
“Who did this?” he asked.
There was absolute silence. Bailey was holding his breath.
“Who did this?” Mr. Delacroix asked again, in a voice which rang through the small room.
Mr. Delacroix began to tremble.
“I want to know who did this. I’m not going to punish him. I’m not going to tell anybody on him. I simply want to look at him.”
Under the circumstances, such a desire seemed, to say the least, strange. And his way of saying it was strange; with the stress of emotion, his slightly foreign accent had become more pronounced. Somebody snickered—Jimmie Schwartz. The tension was broken magically. In one second the whole class was laughing.
Bailey Aldrich laughed along with the rest of them; but the muscles of his mouth, he discovered, pained him, twitching down, instead of up. The sounds of mirth seemed to scrape his throat as they went out.
For one exquisite instant—the first such instant in his class’s experience of him— Mr. Delacroix looked as if he were going to blow up. He raised both hands in a violent gesture, the fingers extended, tense and rigid; and inside Bailey Aldrich something surged, hurting him—something vague, undefined but strong. He would have liked to yell at Jimmie Schwartz, “Get up! Tell him you did it!”
But Jimmie Schwartz did not get up. He continued to laugh. The whole class continued to laugh. And Mr. Delacroix stood there, with his hands upraised and such an expression on his face . . .
“I appeal to him as a gentleman. Does he hear? If he has even a trace of the gentleman about him, he will now stand up and look me in the eye and tell me that he has done what he has done . . . No? Will he not? Will—”
The ache in Bailey’s breast had become more than he could bear. He found himself standing up. He found words ready in his mouth.
“I did it,” he said.
There was a moment of utter amazement. Everyone, the class, Jimmie Schwartz, Mr. Delacroix, looked at him in a stupefaction which he more than shared.
Then Mr. Delacroix’s hands dropped slowly to his sides. His mouth came together tight.
‘You drew the picture on the blackboard?”
Bailey held himself a little straighten
For a full minute, while the class gaped, Mr. Delacroix and Bailey looked straight into each other’s eyes—and Bailey knew that Mr. Delacroix knew that he had lied. But all Mr. Delacroix said was:
“Very well, Monsieur Aldrich. Thank you for speaking. W’ith your permission, I shall now erase the picture from the blackboard.”
WHENEVER Bailey had anything to confide—which was rare enough—he always waited until he could find his mother alone. Arrived back from school that afternoon, he was so fortunate as to locate her in her dressing room. She was lying on a chaise longue, reading a magazine. Bailey sat down in a chair next the window. He said:
There followed such a pause that Mrs. Aldrich asked with some impatience:
“Well, what, Bailey? I’m right in the middle of a story.”
“It’s about Mr. Delacroix ...”
Rather obliquely but with sufficient detail, he proceeded to relate what had happened in Mr. Delacroix’s classroom that morning. When he came to the part about his standing up and claiming the authorship of Jimmie Schwartz’s chef d’oeuvre, Mrs. Aldrich’s eyes shone slightly but she said nothing. As he finished with his narration, however, and was silent, she prompted him :
“W’hy did I do it, mom? I didn’t even know myself why I did it. W’hy did I, mom?”
She laughed, but softly.
“I’m inclined to think your great-greatgreat-grandfather was involved in it, Bailey. Or maybe it was your great-grandfather or maybe even just your father.”
“Huh?” he said.
“I mean it’s the kind of thing you can’t very easily explain. But I wouldn’t worry about it. Î hope you’ll always all your life do things like that and then not be able to say why you did them.”
He shook his head glumly.
“Gosh, / don’t hope so! All the fellows think it was just goofy. Jimmie Schwartz said it was just the goofiest thing he ever heard.”
“And what of it?”
She was looking at him very searchingly. As he said nothing, she persisted :
“Bailey, I know you well enough to know that you don’t care what Jimmie Schwartz or anybody else says about you. So tell me now—what’s really bothering you?”
He lowered his eyes from her gaze and colored slightly.
“Well—it’s—it’s Mr. Delacroix.”
“Ah ! Did he say something to you?”
“No. It was just the way he looked, mom.”
“And how was that?”
“Well, he—he thinks I’m his friend now, mom. He thinks I’m on his side because of what I did. But I’m not, mom. I don’t even like him. He’s a big lily.”
It was a very subtle point certainly. It was a dilemma, the horns of which were spidery-fine—all the more amazing that such a simple forthright nature as Bailey’s should be caught between them.
“It puts you in a very embarrassing position, doesn’t it?”
“Huh? . . . Look, mom. Jimmie Schwartz said he was going to do another picture on Mr. Delacroix’s blackboard. He said it was going to be even bigger and better than the one today. Suppose he does, mom. Well, Mr. Delacroix will be kind of expecting me to do something about it, won’t he? I mean, what am I going to do, mom?”
She shook her head gravely and sighed.
“I don’t know, Bailey.” Then she burst
out: “It would all be so easy if only you were on Mr. Delacroix’s side.”
He made .a gesture of such consummate realism that she smiled, but she went on: “Yes, I know, Bailey. But I know, too, he’s the kind of man you ought to like—you and, yes, Jimmie Schwartz and all the rest. I know lie isn’t a lily, Bailey. But he is different, I grant you. And foreign. Oh, I do feel so sorry for him. When I think what he must be going through with Miss Martin, and it must be practically certain now that he’s going to lose her ... If only someone would just take him aside and drop him a few hints, explain to him that even gentlemen in this country wince if you call them gentlemen, explain to him that men have got to be either blah and basebally or tweedy and horsey. One or the other.”
SHE SPOKE this last, not without bitterness. She was a very charming woman, Bailey’s mother; she had many very fine qualities; but she was not the sportive type. She even disliked riding. She sometimes said that the minute she got anywhere near a horse, she could feel it looking at her with positive dislike; and the least she could do, she said, was to return the feeling. Bailey had found such anti-equine sentiments hard to forgive, especially in his own mother; but he had, like his father, managed.
Now, to her outburst, he maintained silence. He couldn’t see that any of this had much relation to his own problem. His mother seemed to realize that, too, after a minute, for she said:
“I’m not helping you much, Bailey, am I? I’m sorry.”
He nodded. They sat on, he at the window, she in lier chaise longue, both silent, both plunged in thought. At last, however, he stood up. There was a radio serial he listened to every evening around this time. He said:
“Well, I guess ...”
But she stopped him.
“Bailey, how have your French marks been lately?”
He looked at her, surprised.
“Your French marks have been getting worse all along, haven’t they?”
“Well, yes, I guess so.”
“That’s very serious, Bailey. You’re in danger of flunking, aren’t you?”
He began to smile.
“Gosh, mom, you sound just like dad.” But, to his amazement, she didn’t smile back.
“And why not? Do you suppose your father is the only one who worries about your work at school? You don’t know your mother, Bailey. Not at all. In fact, I’m so worried that I have half a mind to call up Mr. Delacroix and ask him to come over this evening and tell us the reason for your very bad scholarship.”
Bailey’s mouth had dropped open.
“Gosh, mom, don’t do that!”
But he was unable to state his reasons exactly.
“Well—well, gosh, after what happened this morning, I—I certainly wouldn’t want to see him.”
She stood up from the chaise longue.
“Is that all? Don't worry. You won’t see him. You’ll be in bed before he gets here. I’ll attend to that.”
And after waiting for any further objections—which were not forthcoming—she went into her bedroom, where the telephone was. Bailey, following on her heels, presently heard her introducing herself to Mr. Delacroix, heard her explaining in her own charming fashion a proper parental concern, and heard Mr. Delacroix agreeing to call that evening. There wasn’t any reason, Bailey recognized, why his mother should not do what she was doing. Yet he was somehow vaguely suspicious. It didn’t fit in with the way she usually behaved. However, his mother very often surprised him.
THE NEXT DAY being Saturday, Bailey and Susan went for their customary Saturday morning ride. It was one of • Bailey’s grievances that, though he was not
allowed to ride alone, it was considered all right for him to do so in the company of his sister. There was some merit to his stand. Susan Aldrich had not inherited lier mother’s positive dislike for horses; but neither had there descended to her any of her father’s natural competence with them.
The relationship between Bailey and Susan, as perhaps between all sisters and brothers at their age, was rather strange. When they were actually together and nobody else was around, they contrived to get a great deal of pleasure out of each other’s company. Yet, to hear them talk, especially to hear Susan talk, you would have thought that there was nothing in all the World they dreaded more.
The Saturday morning ride, accordingly, was a custom, always violently objected to and always secretly enjoyed. As usual on this morning, Tony drove them over at eight o’clock to the Country Club, where their mounts, one Firefly and one Bluebell, were stabled. They rode out along one of the bridle paths which encircled a near-by reservoir lake. Neither spoke to the other until they were well out of sight of the club and of all possible onlookers.
It was a delicious spring morning. Susan’s Bluebell, a very small but rather beautiful jet-black mare, seemed to be. feeling, in tune with the season, skittish. On the soft, turfy bridlepath she pranced and curvetted to such an extent that Bailey said :
“You hadn’t ought to hold her in like that. Come on. Let’s race.”
Bailey always wanted to race. But Susan never would.
“Oh, don’t be a fraidy-cät,” he said. “I only wish there were some jumps on this old path. I’ve got half a mind to put old Firefly over that wall there.”
“Yes, you have!” she retorted. “Firefly couldn’t jump over a flea, and if he did you wouldn’t be able to hang on.”
“Is that so?” he said.
There was enough truth in her statement —at least, about Firefly—to sting. Bitter fact ! Firefly was a mere pony. A big pony, but still a pony.
He rode along in silence for several minutes. His feelings were not really hurt. Even Susan at her most fifteenish never more than ruffled Bailey. It was that matter of Mr. Delacroix which was still bothering him—that matter which even his mother had been unable to disentangle for him.
He had had no chance this morning to ask her—Mrs. Aldrich was always a late riser— what had taken place at the parental interview with Mr. Delacroix the night before. But he felt no particular interest, anyway. What remained in his mind, to the exclusion of nearly everything else, was just the look which had passed between Mr. Delacroix and himself above the heads of the others in the classroom. The look and its implications, and its contradictions: and the doubly aggravating realization that he himself had been, through some strange quirk in his own nature, solely responsible.
It was all certainly puzzling. It was more puzzling than anything that had previously come into Bailey Aldrich’s experience.
“Well, anyway, I’m going to race,” he said suddenly to Susan, tired of his own thoughts.
He kicked his heels against Firefly’s wellupholstered sides; and the pony, feeling perhaps vaguely vernal like Bluebell, broke into a lumbering gallop. Bailey went jolting and heaving up the middle of the bridle path. But he had gone no more than a few paces, when he heard a sharp scream behind ; then the little black mare, with Susan leaning desperately forward in her saddle, went past Firefly like a shot out of a gun. Bailey, in emergencies, was level-headed, quickwitted, too. He had no sooner realized what was happening than he yelled :
“Fall off ! Slip off the side !”
But whether Susan heard him or not, he could not tell. He urged his pony to its utmost and yelled again:
“Fall off, you nut ! Fall off !”
The danger, very present in his mind, was that, a hundred yards farther on, the bridle path narrowed, passed for a distance of half a mile between two close stone walls.
Susan’s body was already swaying uncertainly in the saddle. If she would only slip off here, where there was soft ground on either side !
But, no. Her long legs were clasped tight against the little mare’s black sides. She was obviously going to hang on until she was thrown off. And if she was thrown against one of those walls at that speed—good night !
BAILEY FELT sweat come out on his forehead. He longed for Firefly to sprout wings—or, at any rate, longer muscular legs—but the pony was already breathing heavily and slowing to a trot. Bailey had his lungs filled, ready for one last desperate shout, when, from a little clearing under some trees ahead, emerged suddenly, as if in answer to his prayers, a horse and a man on it. The horse was a beautiful big gelding. The man—Bailey’s eyes opened wider than ever—was Mr. Delacroix! Mr. Delacroix, riding not like a huntsman perhaps nor yet like a polo-player, but beautifully, like a true horseman, like a bom and bred horseman.
The big gelding was beside the little mare in what seemed no more than an instant. Bailey saw Mr. Delacroix’s arm, that slender and graceful arm, shoot out. It encircled Susan’s thin waist, plucked her from the saddle. The gelding thundered to an obedient stop. The little mare continuedon, kicking up her heels.
Bailey let out his breath.
On the lumbering and stertorous Firefly, he had now come abreast of the little clearing from which the gelding had emerged. Under the trees he saw another horse and rider— Miss Martin. Evidently she had remained there, watching the rescue. Her eyes were almost as wide as Bailey’s.
“Gee, Miss Martin !” he said.
She looked at him—and Bailey thought that he had never seen her appear so beautiful; her cheeks flushed, her lips slightly parted. She took a deep breath but answered nothing. They rode together to where Mr. Delacroix and Susan were standing, beside the gelding, in the middle of the bridle path. Mr. Delacroix still had his arm around Susan’s waist, and she was looking —it seemed to Bailey—more pleased than anything.
Bailey got down off Firefly.
“You all right, Susan?” he asked dutifully. Susan gave him a vague nod of her head. He turned to Mr. Delacroix.
“Gee, Mr. Delacroix, that was swell!” Miss Martin, still mounted, said on a precisely similar note:
“Etienne, that was splendid !”
Mr. Delacroix looked, with a rather surprised expression, from Bailey to Miss Martin. What he saw on each face seemed, without diminishing his surprise, to cheer him immensely. Susan also looked from Bailey to the beauteous Miss Martin, but without displaying any enthusiasm, especially in the latter glance. Her eyes returning to Mr. Delacroix, however, she sighed.
“Wasn’t it just exactly like a movie?” she enquired of no one in particular. “Wasn’t it just exactly?”
T-TELLO, MOM; hello, dad,” Bailey said, A -*■ entering the drawing-room several weeks later. “Mom, guess what happened at school today?”
“I was out riding with Mr. Delacroix and Jimmie Schwartz and some other fellows. And I was riding up ahead with Mr. Delacroix and he turned to me and said,
‘Bailey, you have the most wonderful mother!’ ”
“Well, well,” said Mr. Aldrich, looking up from his wineglass. “Hear! Hear!”
“But what did he mean, mom?” Bailey asked.
Mrs. Aldrich had begun to laugh.
“Bailey, how ungallant of you.”
“But what did he mean?”
“Well—I wouldn't be surprised if it hadn’t something to do with the fact that Miss Martin and he got engaged last night.” “You mean he’s going to marry that woman!” Susan burst out from her loveseat.
Mrs. Aldrich nodded.
“But you must both keep it a secret until it’s announced.”
Mr. Aldrich suddenly addressed himself to his son, who was looking rather blank: “Bailey, what are you and young Schwartz and the rest going to think about Mr. Delacroix getting engaged?”
“Oh,” Bailey said tactfully, “I guess it’s all right, if they want to. Sure.”
Mrs. Aldrich asked:
“You’ve got all over your idea that he’s a lily, then?”
“Who? Mr. Delacroix? Gosh, yes!
Mr. Aldrich smiled broadly. It could hardly be said that he was being a father tonight. He looked at Mrs. Aldrich; then he demanded:
“Bailey, did it ever occur to you to wonder how Mr. Delacroix happened to be there that Saturday morning on the bridle path, just where you and Susan always ride? Did you ever stop to suspect the presence of a master mind—”
Mrs. Aldrich broke in:
“Master mind, my eye! When all I’d counted on was for Bailey to see Mr. Delacroix on a horse!” She turned to Susan. “You really must take my word for it, Susan. I hadn’t figured on Bluebell’s collaboration at all !”
Both Susan and Bailey looked extraordinarily uncomprehending; Mrs. Aldrich began to laugh.
“I suppose I might let you in on what all this is about, mightn’t I? You see, when I asked Mr. Delacroix over here that night before the runaway, I had a vague sort of plan in my head. There wasn’t any master mind business about it, but I couldn’t help knowing what was the surest way to appeal to a bunch of nuts like you, Bailey, and Jimmie Schwartz—yes, and you, too, Hal! Of course, the whole thing depended on whether Mr. Delacroix could really sit a horse or not. So I asked him, casually, if he rode, and what do you think he said?” She laughed. “He said, yes, but that he’d been rather steering clear of horses, ever since he’d spent most of one solid year in the saddle, while he was doing his military service—in the French cavalry.”
“That was when the master mind got to work,” Mr. Aldrich put in.
She protested again—and this time most seriously:
“Hal, when I heard about Susan’s runaway and about Mr. Delacroix’s rescuing her,
I never felt less like a master mind in my life. I never felt more humble, and just humbly grateful ...”
But Bailey was very little interested in stratagems which were past—or in those improvements upon stratagems which chance sometimes, most providentially, arranges— and all this talk of riding had worked upon his mind with an almost automatic effect, as when a penny is dropped into a slot. He waited until the first pause in the talk; then asked :
“Dad, when can I go out with the hunt?”
Canned Rose Bushes
ROSE BUSHES, grown in nurseries, are „ now canned to preserve their freshness until they reach market. The bushes are pruned to a height of fifteen inches and the branches dipped into melted paraffin. When this thin coating of wax has dried, the roots are wrapped in damp peat moss. The bushes
are then packed in cardboard cartons lined with moisture-proof tar at the root end. Bushes are planted by tearing away the upper part of the carton and inserting the lower end in the ground. The cardboard is softened by moisture and the roots break through.—Popular Science.