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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesLife And Gabriella: The Story Of A Woman's Courage - Book 2. The Age Of Knowledge - Chapter 6. Discoveries
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Life And Gabriella: The Story Of A Woman's Courage - Book 2. The Age Of Knowledge - Chapter 6. Discoveries Post by :mondd Category :Long Stories Author :Ellen Glasgow Date :May 2012 Read :880

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Life And Gabriella: The Story Of A Woman's Courage - Book 2. The Age Of Knowledge - Chapter 6. Discoveries


"Who is Alice?" she wondered on her way home, "and for whom was she waiting?" A shopgirl perhaps, and he was, probably--not a clerk in a shop--he looked more like a mechanic--but hardly a gentleman. Not, at any rate, what her mother or Jane would call a gentleman--not the kind of gentleman that George was, or Charley Gracey, for instance. He was doubtless devoid of those noble traditions by and through which, her mother had always told her, a gentleman was made out of a man--the traditions which had created Arthur and Cousin Jimmy as surely as they had created George and Charley. "I wonder what tradition really amounts to?" she thought, while she stood on the rear platform of a Harlem train, grasping the handle of the door as the car swung round a curve. "All my life, I have been getting farther away from it--a woman has to, I suppose, when she works--and if I get away from it myself how can I honestly hold to it for men, who, according to mother, can't be gentlemen without it?" Then reverting to her first question, she resumed musingly: "Who _is Alice? It would be rather amusing to be Alice for one evening, and to find out what it means to be loved by a man like that, even if he isn't a gentleman. He was, I think, the cleanest creature I ever saw, and it wasn't just the cleanness of soap and water--it went deeper than that. It was the cleanness of the winds and the sea--as if his eyes had been washed by the sea. I wonder who Alice is? A common little shopgirl probably from Sixth Avenue, with padded hair and painted lips, and smelling of cheap powder. That's just the kind of girl to fascinate a big, strong, simple creature like that Yes, of course, Alice is cheap and tawdry and vulgar, with no substance to her mind." She tried to think of Arthur, but her mental image of him had become as thin and unsubstantial as a shadow.

When she reached the apartment, Fanny rushed into her arms, and inquired breathlessly if she had taken the house?

"We went down again to look at it, mother, and we like it even better than ever. It will be so lovely to live next door to Carlie. We can tango every evening, and Carlie knows a lot of boys who come in to dance because the floor is so good."

Her cheeks flushed while she talked, and, for the moment, she lost entirely her resemblance to Jane, who was never animated, though she made a perpetual murmurous sound. Unlike Jane, Fanny was vivacious, pert, and, for her years, extraordinarily sophisticated. Already she dressed with extreme smartness; already she was thinking of men as of possible lovers; and already she was beginning, in her mother's phrase, "to manage her life." Her trite little face, in its mist of golden hair, which she took hours to arrange, still reminded one of the insipid angel on a Christmas card; but in spite of the engaging innocence of her look, she was prodigiously experienced in the beguiling arts of her sex. Almost from the cradle she had had "a way" with men; and her "way" was as far superior in finesse to the simple coquetry of Cousin Pussy as the worldliness of Broadway was superior to the worldliness of Hill Street. From her yellow hair, which she wore very low over her forehead and ears, to her silk stockings of the gray called "London smoke," which showed coquettishly below her "hobble" skirt, and above the flashing silver buckles on her little pointed shoes of; patent leather, Fanny was as uncompromisingly modern in her appearance as she was in her tastes or her philosophy. Her mind, which was small and trite like her face, was of a curiously speculative bent, though its speculations were directed mainly toward the by-paths of knowledge which Gabriella, in her busy life, had had neither the time nor the inclination to explore. For Fanny was frankly interested in vice with the cool and dispassionate interest of the inquiring spectator. She was perfectly aware of the social evil; and unknown to Gabriella she had investigated, through the ample medium of the theatre and fiction, every dramatic phase of the traffic in white slaves. Her coolness never deserted her, for she was as temperamental as a fish, and, for all the sunny white and gold of her surface, she had the shallow restlessness of a meadow brook. At twelve years of age she had devoted herself to music and had planned an operatic career; at fourteen, she had turned to literature, and was writing a novel; and a year later, encouraged by her practical mother, she had plunged into the movement for woman suffrage, and had marched, in a white dress and carrying a purple banner, through an admiring crowd in Fifth Avenue. To-day, after a variable period, when she had dabbled in kindergarten, wood engraving, the tango, and settlement work, she was studying for the stage, and had fallen in love with a matinée idol. Gabriella, who had welcomed the wood engraving and the kindergartening and had been sympathetically, though impersonally, aware of the suffrage movement, just as she had been aware many years before of the Spanish War, was deeply disturbed by her daughter's recent effervescence of emotion.

"I suppose she'll get over it. She gets over everything," she had said to Miss Polly, drawing painful comfort from the shallowness and insincerity of Fanny's nature, "but something dreadful might happen while she is in one of her moods."

"Not with Fanny," Miss Polly had replied reassuringly. "Fanny knows more already than you and I put together, and she's got about as much red blood as a lemon. She ain't the sort that things happen to, so don't you begin to worry about her. She's got mighty little sense, that's the gospel truth, but the little she's got has been sharpened down to a p'int."

"I can't help feeling that she hasn't been well brought up. I did what I could, but she needed more time and care than I could give her. It wasn't, of course, as if I'd chosen to neglect her. I have been obliged to work or she would have starved."

"Oh, well, I wouldn't bother about that. It's like wishing chickens back in the shell after they're hatched--there ain't a particle of use in it. If you ask me what I think--then, I'd say that Fanny would be just exactly what she is if you'd raised her down yonder in Virginia. Her father's in her as well as you, and it seems to me that she grows more like him every day that she lives. Now, Archibald is your child, anybody can tell that at a glance. It's queer, ain't it how the boys almost always seem to take after the mother?"

"But Charley has a splendid daughter. Think of his Margaret."

"Of course, there ain't any rule that works out every time; but you know, I'll always take up for Mr. Charley if it's with the last breath I draw. It ain't always the woman that gets the worst of marriage, though to hear some people talk you'd think it was nothin' but turkey and plum puddin' for men. But it ain't, I don't care who says so, and if anybody but a saint could have married Jane without takin' to drink, I'd like to have seen him try it, that's all."

That was three weeks ago, and to-night, while Fanny rattled on about the house in West Twenty-third Street, her mother watched her with a tolerant affection in which there was neither admiration nor pride. She was not deluded about Fanny's character, though the maternal mote in her eye obscured her critical vision of her appearance. But, notwithstanding the fact that she thought Fanny beautiful, she was clearly aware that the girl had never been, since she left the cradle, anything but a source of anxiety; and for the last week or two Gabriella had been more than usually worried about her infatuation for the matinée idol. In spite of Miss Polly's assurances that Fanny was too calculating for rash adventures, Gabriella had spent several sleepless nights over the remote possibility of an entanglement, and her anxiety was heightened by the fact that the child told her nothing. They were so different that there was little real sympathy between them, and confidences from daughter to mother must spring, she knew, from fulness of sympathy. "I wonder if she ever realizes how hard I have worked for her?" she thought. "How completely I've given up my life?" And there rose in her thoughts the wish that her children could have stayed children forever. "As long as they were little, they filled my life, but as soon as they get big enough for other things, they break away from me--even Archibald will change when he goes away to school, next year, and I shall never have him again as he is now." At the very time, she knew, when she needed them most--when middle-age was approaching--her children were failing her not only as companions, but as a supreme and vital reason for living. If they could have stayed babies, she felt that she should have been satisfied to go on forever with nothing else in her life; but in a little while they would grow up and begin to lead their own intense personal lives, while she, having outlived her usefulness, would be left with only her work, with only dressmaking and millinery for a life interest. "Something is wrong with me," she thought sternly; "the visit to the judge must have upset me. I don't usually have such wretched thoughts in the evening."

"Did you bring me your school report, darling?" she asked.

Yes, Fanny had brought it, and she drew it forth reluctantly from the pages of a novel. It was impossible to make her study. She was as incapable of application as a butterfly. "I thought you were going to do better this month, Fanny," said Gabriella reproachfully.

"Oh, mother dear, I want to leave school. I hate it! Please let me begin to study for the stage. You know you always said the study of Shakespeare was improving."

They were in the midst of the argument when Archibald came in, and he showed little sympathy with Fanny's dramatic ambition.

"The stage? Nonsense! What you want is to get safely married," he remarked scornfully, and Gabriella agreed with him. There was no doubt in her mind that for some women, and Fanny promised to be one of these, marriage was the only safeguard. Then she looked at Archibald, strong, sturdy, self-reliant, and clever; and she realized, with a pang, that some day he also would marry--that she must lose him as well as Fanny.

"I've had a letter from Pelham Forest, dear," she said--Pelham Forest was a school in Virginia--"and I am making up my mind to let you go there next autumn."

"And then to the University of Virginia where Grandfather went?"

"Yes, and then to the University of Virginia."

Though she tried to speak lightly, the thought of the coming separation brought a pang to her heart.

"Well, I'd rather work," said Archibald stoutly. "I don't want to go away to school. I'd a long sight rather start in with a railroad or a steamship company and make my way up."

"But, darling, I couldn't bear that. You must have an education. It's what I've worked for from the beginning, and when you've finished at the university, I want to send you abroad to study. If only Fanny would go to college, too, I'd be so happy."

"Don't you waste any money on Fanny's education," retorted Archibald, "because it isn't worth it. What we ought to do is to get to work and let you take a rest. The first money I make, I'm going to spend on giving you pretty clothes and a rest."

"I don't want to rest, dear," replied Gabriella, with a laugh. "I'm not an old lady yet, you silly boy." How ridiculous it was that he always spoke of her work as if it were a hardship--a burden from which she must be released at the first opportunity. That was so like Cousin Jimmy, a survival, she supposed, from the tradition of the South. Unlike Fanny, whose horizon was bounded by her personal inclinations, Archibald seemed never to think of himself, never to put either his comfort or his career before his love for his mother. To attempt to shape Fanny's character was like working in tissue paper, but there was stout substance in Archibald. Gabriella had tried hard--she told herself over and over again that she had tried as hard as she could--with both of her children; and with one of them at least she felt that she had succeeded. There was, she knew, the making of a splendid man in her son; and his very ugliness, which had been so noticeable when he was a child, was developing now into attractiveness. For it was the ugliness of strength, not of weakness, and there was no trace in his nature of the self-indulgence which had ruined his father.

"But I don't want to go to college, mother dear," protested Fanny, who always addressed Gabriella as "dear" when she was about to become intractable; "I want to go on the stage."

"You are not to see another play, except when I take you, for a whole year. Remember what I tell you, Fanny!" replied Gabriella sternly. Not Mrs. Carr herself, not Cousin Becky Bollingbroke, of sanctified memory, could have regarded an actress's career with greater horror than did the advanced and independent Gabriella. Any career, indeed, appeared to her to be out of the question for Fanny (a girl who couldn't even get on a street car without being spoken to), and of all careers the one the stage afforded was certainly the last she would have selected for her daughter.

"I'll remember," responded Fanny coolly, and Gabriella knew in her heart that the girl would disobey her at the first opportunity. It was impossible to chaperon her every minute, and Fanny, unchaperoned, was, in the realistic phrase of her brother, "looking for trouble."

"I'll send her to boarding-school next year," Gabriella determined; and she reflected gloomily that with Fanny and, Archibald both away, she might as well be a bachelor woman.

"Well, children, you're both going away next winter," she said positively. "I can't look after you, Fanny, and make your living at the same time, so I shall send you to boarding-school. What do you say to Miss Bradfordine's?"

"That's up on the Hudson, mother. I don't want to go out of New York." Fanny was genuinely alarmed at last.

"The farther away from New York the better, my daughter."

"What will you do here all alone with Miss Polly?

"Oh, we'll do very well," answered Gabriella with cheerful promptness; "you need not worry about me."

"If I'm good this summer, will you change your mind, mother?"

"Try being good, and see." Though Gabriella spoke sweetly, it was with the obstinate sweetness of Mrs. Carr. One thing she had resolved firmly in the last quarter of an hour: Fanny should go away to boarding-school next September.

"Ain't you goin' to walk in the suffrage parade this year, Fanny?" inquired Miss Polly, who always thought it necessary to interrupt an argument between Gabriella and her daughter.

"I haven't anything to wear," replied Fanny pettishly. Her brief interest in "votes for women" had evaporated with the entrance of the matinée idol into her life.

"There's a lovely white gown just in from Paris I'll get for you," said Gabriella pleasantly. She was tired, for she had had a trying day; but long ago, when her children were babies, she had determined that she would never permit herself to speak sharply to them. In Fanny's most exasperating humours, Gabriella tried to remember her own youthful mistakes, tried to be lenient to George's faults which she recognized in the girl's character.

"As if anybody needed to be dressed up to march!" exclaimed Archibald scornfully, and he added: "She's always acting, isn't she, mother?"

"Hush, dear, you mustn't tease your sister," Gabriella admonished the boy, though her voice when she spoke to him was attuned to a deeper and softer note.

"If you make me go to boarding-school next year, I don't care whether you take the rooms in Twenty-third Street or not," said Fanny sullenly, for, in spite of her fickle temperament, there was a remarkable tenacity in her thwarted inclinations.

"Very well. I'll look at the house and decide to-morrow." As the servant came in to lay the table, Gabriella dismissed the subject of Fanny's school, and opened the book--it chanced to be a volume of Browning--which she was reading aloud to the children.

"I am really worried about Fanny," she said to Miss Folly at midnight, while she lingered in the living-room before going to bed. "I honestly don't know what to make of her, and I feel, somehow, that she is one of my failures."

"Well, you can't expect everything to go the way you want it. Did you see the judge?"

"Yes, I saw him, but it was no use." Her visit to Judge Crowborough appeared to her perturbed mind as a piece of headstrong and extravagant folly, and she dismissed it from her thoughts as she had dismissed heavier burdens in the past. "Men simply won't treat Women in business as they treat men, and I don't see unless human nature changes, how it is to be helped. But what about the house in Twenty-third Street? Do you think I ought to look at it?"

"It was the most homelike place we saw, by a long way. There ain't many places in New York where you can have a flower-bed in the front yard."

"Do you think Fanny will be happy there? A year before this stage mania seized her, you know, she was wild to move to Park Avenue."

"Well, you know I've got a suspicion," Miss Folly dropped her voice to a whisper. "Of course it ain't nothin' but a suspicion, for she never opens her mouth about it to me, but I've got a right smart suspicion that that young actor she is so crazy about lives somewhere down there in that neighbourhood, and she thinks she could watch him go by in the street. I don't believe, you know, that she's ever so much as spoken to him in her life."

"It's impossible!" exclaimed Gabriella, for this revelation of Miss Polly's discernment was astonishing to her; "but if that's the case," she added gravely, "I oughtn't to think of moving into the house."

"Oh, well, I don't know that he's anywhere very near, and Fanny's goin' to be at boarding-school for a year or two and away with Jane at the White Sulphur in the summers. She won't be there much anyhow, will she?"

"Not much, but how I shall miss her--and, of course, if I miss her, I'll miss Archibald even more, because he gives me no anxiety. It's odd," she finished abruptly, "but I've been depressed all day. I suppose my birthday has something to do with it."

"You ain't often like that, Gabriella. I never saw anybody keep in better spirits than you do."

"I'm happy, but the spring makes me restless. I feel as if I'd missed something I ought to have had."

"All of us feel that way at times, I reckon, but it don't last, and we settle down comfortably after a while to doin' without what we haven't got. And you've been mighty successful, honey. You've succeeded in everything you undertook except marriage."

"Yes, except my marriage."

"Well, I reckon things happen and you can't do 'em over again," observed the little seamstress, with the natural fatalism of the "poor white" of the South.

As she undressed and got into bed, Gabriella told herself cheerfully that there was, indeed, no need to worry over things that you couldn't change after they happened. From the open window a shaft of light fell on her mirror, and while she watched it, she tried to convince her rebellious imagination that she was perfectly satisfied, that life had given her all that she had ever desired. "I have more than most women anyhow," she insisted, weakening a little. "I've accomplished what I undertook, and by the time I'm fifty, if things go well, I may become a rich woman. I'll be able to give Fanny everything that she wants, and if she hasn't married, we can go abroad every summer, and Archibald can join us in Switzerland or the Tyrol. About Archibald, at least, I can feel perfectly easy. He is the kind of boy to succeed. He is strong, he hasn't a weakness, and I am sure there isn't a brighter boy in the world." Around the shaft of light in the mirror a stream of sparks, like tiny comets, began to form and quiver back and forth as if they were flying. "It's a pity the judge can't help me, but it wouldn't do. I'd never forget what happened to-day, and you can never tell when trouble like that is coming. I'll either make Madame give me half the profits for managing the business or I'll go to Blakeley & Grymn at a salary of ten thousand a year. She won't let me go, of course, because she knows I'd take two thirds of her customers with the. Then I'll invest all I can save in the business until finally I am able to buy it entirely--" An elevated train passed the corner, and while the rumble died slowly in the distance, she found herself thinking of Arthur. "How different my life might have been if I had only stayed true to him. That's the happiest lot that could fall to a woman, to be loved by a man as faithful and tender as Arthur." For a few minutes she lay, without thought, watching the lights quiver and dance in the mirror, and listening to the faint rumble of the elevated train far up the street. Then, just as she was falling asleep, a question flashed out of the flickering lights into her mind, and she started awake again. "I wonder who Alice is?" she said aloud to the night.

Several weeks, later, at the end of a busy day, Gabriella stood in front of the house in London Terrace, watching her furniture as it passed across the pavement and up the flagged walk into the hail. The yard was neglected and overgrown with dandelions and wire-grass; but an old rose-bush by the steps was in full bloom, and already Miss Polly was surveying the tangled weeds with the eye of a destroyer.

"I declare I'm just hungerin' for flowers," she said wistfully, following the dining-room table as far as the foot of the steps where Gabriella stood. "The very first thing in the morning before I get breakfast, I'm goin' to sow some mignonette and nasturtium seeds in that border along the wall, and fix some window boxes with clove pinks and sweet alyssum in 'em like your ma used to have in summer. I reckon that's why I was so set on this place from the first. It looks more like Richmond in old times than it does like New York."

Beyond the grass and weeds, over which Gabriella was gazing, the street was so quiet for the moment that it might have been one of those forgotten squares in Richmond (she had never called them blocks) where needy gentlewomen still practised "light housekeeping" in the social twilight of the last century. Now and then a tired man or woman slouched by from work; once a newsboy stopped at the gate to shout the name of his paper in belligerent accents; and a few wagons or a clanging car passed rapidly in the direction of Broadway. From the corner of Ninth Avenue the elevated road, which seemed to her at times the only permanent thing in her surroundings, still roared and rumbled its disturbing undercurrent in her life.

"I think we shall be quite comfortable here," she said, watching the last piece of furniture pass through the door. "Where are the children?" The air had the rich softness of summer, and the roving fragrance from the old garden rose-bush by the steps awakened a strange homesickness in her heart--that mysterious homesickness which the spring gives us for places we have never seen.

"The children are upstairs fixing their rooms," replied Miss. Polly, stooping to pluck up a weed by the roots. "I reckon I'd better go and tell Minnie to begin gettin' dinner, hadn't I?"

"Yes, I'll come in presently. I hate to leave the air and the roses."

"I wish we had the whole house, Gabriella."

"It would be ever so much nicer, because I'm afraid the man on the first floor is dreadfully common. I don't like the look of that golden-oak hatrack in the hail."

"Well, men never did have much taste. Think of the things your Cousin Jimmy would admire if Miss Pussy didn't tell him not to. Do you recollect that paper in your parlour at home? Now Mr. Jimmy thought that paper downright handsome. I've heard him say so."

"It was dreadful, but, do you know, I designed a gown last winter in peacock blue like that paper, and it was a tremendous success. Poor mother, I wish she could have seen it--peacock blue with an embossed border."

"You may laugh about it now, but I don't believe your mother minded it much. People in old times didn't let things get on their nerves the way they do to-day."

She went indoors to attend to the dinner table; and as Gabriella turned back to the steps, she heard the gate slam and a man's voice exclaim heartily: "I'll see you about it to-morrow." Then a figure came rapidly up the walk--a large, free figure, with a buoyant swing, which awoke a trivial and fleeting association in her memory. Without noticing her, the man stooped for an instant beside the rose-bush, plucked a bud, and held it to his nostrils as he turned to the steps. His voice, singing a snatch of ragtime which she recognized without recalling the name of it, rang out, gay and powerful, as he approached her.

"I've seen him somewhere. Who can he be?" she thought, and then swiftly, as in a blaze of light, she remembered the May afternoon in West Twenty-third Street, and "Alice," whom she had wondered about and forgotten. She had again a vivid impression of bigness, of freshness, and of gray eyes that, reminded her vaguely of the colour of a storm on the sea.

"Good evening!" he remarked with impersonal friendliness as he passed her; and from the quality of his voice she inferred, as she had done on that May afternoon, that he was without culture, probably without education.

He went inside; the door of his front room opened and shut, and after a minute or two the snatch of ragtime floated merrily through his window. If there was anything on earth she disliked, she reflected impatiently, it was a comic song.

"He isn't a gentleman. I was right, he is common," she thought disdainfully, as she went indoors and ascended the stairs. "And he may make it very disagreeable for us if he insists on bringing common people into the houses" There was a vague impression in her mind that the males of the lower classes were invariably noisy.

"I saw the man on the first floor as I came up," she remarked to Miss Folly. "I hope he isn't going to be an annoyance."

"Mrs. Squires says he's never in evenings. He gets all his meals out except breakfast, and she fixes that for him. She told me he was hardly ever here unless he was eatin' or sleepin', so I don't reckon he'll bother us?"

"Well, I'm glad of that, because he isn't the kind of person I'd like the children to see anything of. You can tell that he is quite common."

"What does he look like? Is he rough?"

"Oh, no, he is good looking enough--a fine animal. I suppose he's handsome in a way, and he was dressed very carefully, but, of course, he isn't a gentleman." For the second time this stranger had made her feel that she had missed something in life, and she felt almost that she hated him.

"Oh, well, I don't reckon it will hurt us to pass him in the hall," replied Miss Polly soothingly, "as long as he don't bring in any diseases."

The next day they settled comfortably in the upper rooms and, as far as sound or movement went, the floor below might have been tenanted by the dead. When she went out Gabriella passed the dreadful hatrack of golden-oak in the lower hail; and after a day or two she noticed that it held a collection of soft felt hats, two overcoats of good cut and material, and an assortment of gold-headed walking-sticks, which appeared never to be used. Though she tried to ignore the presence of the hatrack, there was an aggressive masculinity about it which revived in her the almost forgotten feeling of having "a man in the house." The mere existence of a man--of an unknown man--on the first floor, altered the character not only of the lower hail, but of the entire house; it was, she felt instinctively, a different place from a house occupied by women alone. She had seen so little of men in the last ten years that she had almost forgotten their distinguishing characteristics, and the scent of tobacco stealing through the closed door of the front room downstairs came as a fresh surprise when she passed Out in the morning. "I suppose I'm getting old maidish," she thought. "That comes of leading a one-sided life. Yes, I am getting into a groove." And she determined that she would go out more in the evenings and try to take an interest in the theatre and the new dances. But even while she was in the act of resolving, she realized that when her hard day's work was over, and she came home at six o'clock, she was too tired; too utterly worn out, for anything except dinner and bed. There was still the cheerful hour with the children (that she had kept up in the busiest seasons); but when the question of going out was discussed at dinner, she usually ended by sending the children to a lecture or a harmless play with Miss Polly. "When you work as hard as I do, there isn't much else for you in life," she concluded regretfully, and there swept over her, as on that May afternoon, a sense of failure, of dissatisfaction, of disappointment. Youth was slipping, slipping, and she had missed something.

At such moments she thought sadly of her life, of its possibilities and its significance. It ought in the nature of things, she felt, to mean so much more than it had meant; it ought to have been so much more vital, so much more satisfying and complete. As it was, she could remember of it only scattered ends, frayed places, useless beginnings, and broken promises. With how many beliefs had she started, and now not one of them remained with her--well, hardly one of them! The dropping of illusion after illusion--that was what the years had brought to her as they passed; for she saw that she had always been growing farther and farther away from tradition, from accepted opinions, from the dogmas and the ideals of the ages. The experience and the wisdom of others had failed her at the very beginning.

At the end of the week, when she and Miss Polly were watering seeds in the yard one afternoon at sunset, the man from the first floor came leisurely up the walk, and removing a big black cigar from his mouth, wished them "good evening" as he passed.

"Good evening," responded Gabriella coolly. She had resolved that there should be no interchange of unnecessary civilities between the first floor and the upper storeys. "One can never tell how far men of that class will presume," she thought sternly.

"Don't you think he's good lookin', honey?" inquired Miss Polly in a whisper when O'Hara had entered the house with his latchkey and closed the door after him.

"Is he? I didn't look at him."

"You wouldn't think he'd ever had a day's sickness in his life. I reckon he's as big as your Cousin Micajah Berkeley was. You don't recollect, him, do you?"

"He died before I was born. Are those wisps of gray green, in the border, pinks, Miss Polly?"

"Clove pinks like your ma used to raise. It ain't the right time to set 'em out, but I sent all the way down to Richmond for 'em. I'm goin' to get a microphylla rose, too, in the fall. Do you reckon it would grow up North, Gabriella?"

"Well, we might try, anyhow. Where are the children?"

"Fanny's over at Carlie's, an' Archibald said he was goin' to the gymnasium befo' dinner. He's just crazy about gettin' as strong as the man on the first floor. He was punching a ball this mornin', and Archibald saw him. I never knew the boy to take such a sudden fancy."

"When did he speak to him?" asked Gabriella, and her tone had a touch of asperity so unusual that Miss Polly exclaimed in astonishment: "For goodness sake, Gabriella, what has come over you? Do you feel any sort of palpitations? Shall I run after the harts-horn?"

"No, I'm not ill, but I don't like Archibald to pick up acquaintances I know nothing about."

"I reckon if you're goin' to sample all Archibald's acquaintances, you'll have a job on your hands. You ain't gone an' taken a dislike to Mr. O'Hara for nothin', have you?"

"Oh, no, but I have to be careful about the children. Suppose he should begin speaking to Fanny?" She had been vividly aware of the man as he passed, and the sensation had provoked her. "If it wasn't for Alice, I shouldn't have given him another thought," she told herself savagely. "Imagine me at my age blushing because a strange man spoke to me in the street!"

"You needn't worry about his admirin' Fanny," replied Miss Polly, in her matter-of-fact manner, while she lifted the green watering-pot. "He was on the steps when she set out for school this mornin', an' he didn't notice her any more than he did me. Fanny ain't the sort he takes notice of, I could see that in a minute."

"Then he must be blind." There was a resentful sound in Gabriella's voice. "It embarrasses me when I get on a street car with her because the men stare so."

"Well, he didn't stare. But it's a mighty good thing that all men haven't got the same kind of eyes, ain't it? What I could never make out was why men ever marry women who haven't got curly hair, an' yet they do it every day--they go right straight out an' do it with their wits about 'em."

The front door opened suddenly, and the man came out again, and, descended the walk with the springy step Gabriella had noticed at their first meeting. Notwithstanding his size, he moved with the lightness and agility of a boy, and without looking at him she could see, as she bent over the flower-bed, that he had the look of exuberant vitality which accompanies perfect physical condition. Without meaning to, without knowing why she did it, she glanced up quickly and met his eyes.

"So you are making a garden?" he remarked, and stopped beside the freshly turned flower-bed. Against the gray twilight the red of his hair was like a dark flame, and the vivid colour appeared to intensify the sanguine glow in his face, the steady gaze of his eyes, and the cheerful heartiness of his voice.

"He is cyclonic," she said to herself. "Yes, that is the word--he is cyclonic--but he isn't a gentleman."

"It's a pity to let the yard run to waste," she responded, with an imperiousness which took Miss Polly's breath away, though it left the irrepressible O'Hara still buoyantly gay and kind.

"Now it takes a woman to think of that," he observed with an off-hand geniality which she felt was directed less toward herself than toward an impersonal universe. "I like to look at that old rose-bush when it is in bloom, but the idea"--(he pronounced it idee)--"of planting anything would never have occurred to me."

Gabriella's lips closed firmly, while she sprinkled the earth with an air of patient finality which made Miss Polly think of Mrs. Carr on one of her neuralgic days.

"What's that stringy looking grass over there?" pursued the man, undismayed by her manner.

"Clove pinks." Nothing, she told herself indignantly, could persuade her to encourage the acquaintance of a man who mispronounced his words so outrageously.

"And here?" He pointed to the flower-bed she was watering.

"Mignonette and nasturtium seeds."

"When will they come up?"

"Very soon if they're watered."

"And they'll bloom about July, I guess?"

"They ought to bloom all summer. In the autumn, if we have room, we're going to plant some dahlias, and a row of hollyhocks against the house. By next summer the yard will look much better."

"By George!" he exclaimed abruptly, and after a minute or two: "Do you know, I can remember the first time I ever saw a flower--or the first time I took notice of one, anyway. It was red--a red geranium. There was a whole cart of 'em, and that's why I noticed 'em, I expect. But a red geranium is a Jim-dandy flower, ain't it?"

To this outburst Gabriella made no reply. Her will had hardened with the determination not to be drawn into conversation, and while he waited with his eager gray eyes--so like the alert, wistful eyes of a great dog--on her profile, she began carelessly plucking up spears of grass from the flower-bed.

For a minute he waited expectantly; then, as she did not look up, he remarked, "So long!" in a voice of serene friendliness, and went on to the gate. He had actually said "So long" to her, Gabriella, and he had said it with a manner of established intimacy!

"Well, what do you think of that?" she demanded scornfully of Miss Polly when he had disappeared up the street.

"I reckon he don't know any better, honey. You don't learn much about manners in a mine, I 'spose, and when he ain't down in a mine, Mrs. Squires says he's building railroads across deserts. She says he ain't ever had anything, education or money, that he didn't pick up for himself, and you oughtn't to judge him as you do some others you've known. Anyway, she says he's made a big pile of money."

"I believe you're taking up for him, Miss Polly. Has he bewitched you?"

"I don't like to see you hard, Gabriella. You're almost always so tolerant. It ain't like you to sit in judgment."

"I am not sitting in judgment, but I don't see why I'm obliged to be friendly with a strange man who says 'idee.' It would be bad for the children."

"Mrs. Squires has known him for thirty years--he's forty-five now--and she says it's a miracle the way he's come up. He was born in a cellar."

"I dare say he has a great deal of force, but you must admit that blood tells, Miss Polly."

"I never said it didn't, Gabriella--only that there's much more credit to a man that comes up without it."

"Oh, I'll admire him all you please," retorted Gabriella, "if you'll promise to keep him away from the children."

Though she spoke sharply, the sharpness was directed not to Miss Polly, but to herself--to her own incomprehensible childishness. The man interested her; already she had thought of him daily since she first came to the house; already she had begun to wonder about him, and she realized that she should wonder still more because of what Miss Polly had told her. When he had approached her in the yard, she had been vaguely disturbed, vaguely thrilled by the strangeness and the mystery surrounding him; she had been subtly aware of his nearness before she heard his step, and turning, found his eyes fixed upon her. Her own weakness in not controlling her curiosity, in recurring, in spite of her determined resolve to that first meeting, in allowing a coarse, rough stranger--yes, a coarse, rough, uneducated stranger, she insisted desperately--to hold her attention for a minute--the incredible weakness of these things goaded her into a feeling of positive anger. For ten years there had been no men in her life, and now at thirty-seven, when she was almost middle-aged, she was beginning to feel curious about the history of the first good-looking man she encountered--about a mere robust, boisterous embodiment of masculinity. "What difference can it make to me who Alice is?" she demanded indignantly. "What possible difference?" She forced herself to think tenderly of Arthur; but during the last few months the image of Arthur had receded an immeasurable distance from her life. His remoteness and his unreality distressed her; but try as she would, she could not recall him from the gauzy fabric of dreams to the tangible substance of flesh.

"It isn't that I care for myself," she said to Miss Polly abruptly, as if she were defending herself against an unspoken accusation. "I am a working woman, and a working woman can't afford to be snobbish--certainly a dressmaker can't--but I must look after my children. That is an imperative duty. I must see that they form friendships in their own class."

But life, as she had already discovered, has a sardonic manner of its own in such crises. That night she planned carefully, lying awake in the darkness, the subterfuges and excuses by which she would keep Archibald away from O'Hara, and the very next afternoon when she came home from work she found confusion in the street, a fire engine at the corner, and, on the steps of her home, the boy clinging rapturously to the hand of the man.

"You ought to have been here, mother," cried Archibald in tones of ecstatic excitement. "We had a fire down the street in that apartment house--and before the firemen came Mr. O'Hara went in and got out a woman and some children who had been overcome by smoke. He had to lower them from a fire-escape, and he got every one of them out before the engine could get here. I saw it all. I was on the corner and saw it all.

"I hope Mr. O'Hara wasn't hurt," remarked Gabriella, but her voice was not enthusiastic.

"To hear the kid run on," responded O'Hara, overpowered by embarrassment, "you'd think I'd really done something, wouldn't you? Well, it wasn't anything. It was as easy as--as eating. Now, I was caught down in a mine once in Arizona--"

"Tell me about it. Mother, ask him to tell you about it," entreated Archibald. The boy was obviously consumed with curiosity and delight. Gabriella had never seen him so enthusiastic, so swept away by emotion. Already, she suspected, he had fallen a victim to the passion of hero worship, and O'Hara--the man who spoke of "idees"--was his hero! "I shall have to be careful," she thought. "I shall have to be very careful or Archibald will come under his influence."

"Well, I guess I must be going along," remarked O'Hara, a little nervously, for he was evidently confused by her imperious manner. "A fellow is expecting me to dinner over at the club."

"But I want to hear about the mine. Mother, make him tell us about the mine!" cried Archibald insistently.

"I'll tell you another time, sonny. We'll get together some day when your mother don't want you, and we'll start off on a regular bat. How would you like that?"

"When?" demanded the boy eagerly. His fear of losing O'Hara showed in the fervour with which he spoke, in the frantic grasp with which he still clung to his hand. It occurred to Gabriella suddenly that she ought to have thrown Archibald more in the companionship of men, that she had kept him too much with women, that 'she had smothered him in her love. This was the result of her selfish devotion--that he should turn from her to the first male creature that came into his life!

Her heart was sore, but she said merely: "That is very kind of you, Mr. O'Hara, but I'm afraid I mustn't let my boy go off on a regular bat without me."

"Oh, yes, I may, mother. Say I may," interrupted Archibald with rebellious determination.

"Well, we'll see about it when the time comes." She turned her head, meeting O'Hara's gaze, and for an instant they looked unflinchingly into each other's eyes. In her look there was surprise, indignation, and a suspicion of fear--why should he, a stranger, come between her and her son?--and in his steady gaze there was surprise, also, but it was mingled, not with indignation and fear, but with careless and tolerant amusement. She knew from his smile that he was perfectly indifferent to her resentment, that he was even momentarily entertained by it, and the knowledge enraged her. The glance he gave her was as impersonal as the glance he gave Miss Polly or the rose-bush or the street with its casual stream of pedestrians. It was the glance of a man who had lived deeply, and to whom living meant action and achievement rather than criticism or philosophy. He would not judge her, she understood, simply because his mind was not in the habit of judging. His interest in her was merely a part of his intense, zestful interest in life. She shared with Miss Polly and Archibald, and any chance object that attracted his attention for an instant, the redundant vitality of his inquiring spirit. "No wonder he has worked his way up with all that energy," she reflected. "No wonder he has made money." His face, with its clear ruddiness, was the face of a man who has breathed strong winds and tasted the sharp tang of sage and pine; and she noticed again that his deep gray eyes had the unwavering look of eyes that have watched wide horizons of sea or desert. There was no suggestion of the city about him, though his clothes were well cut, and she was quick to observe, followed the latest styles of Fifth Avenue. "Yes, he is good looking," she admitted reluctantly. "There is no question about that, and he has personality, too--of a kind." His hat was in his hand--a soft hat of greenish-gray felt--and her eye rested for a moment on his uncovered head with its thick waves of red hair, a little disordered as if a high wind had roughened them. "If he only had breeding or education, he might be really worth while," she added, almost approvingly.

When he spoke again O'Hara ignored Gabriella, and turned his alert questioning glance on the little seamstress. Fanny had sauntered up the walk to join the group--Fanny in all the glory of her yellow curls, and her "debutante slouch "--and he bowed gravely to her without the faintest change of expression. If he admired Fanny's beauty and pitied Miss Polly's plainness, there was no hint of it in the indifferent look he turned from the girl to the old woman.

"The next time you're planting things," he said earnestly, "I wish you'd set out a red geranium. I saw a cart of 'em go by in the street this morning and I had half a mind to buy a pot or two for the yard. If I get some, will you put 'em out?"

"Why, of course, I will. I'll be real glad to," responded Miss Polly, agreeably flattered by his request. "Is there any special place you want me to plant them?"

"Anywhere I can see 'em from the window. I'd like to look at 'em while I eat my breakfast. And while we are about it, wouldn't it be just as well to set out a whole bed of 'em?" he asked with a munificent gesture which included in one comprehensive sweep the weeds, the walk, the elm tree, the blossoming rose-bush, and the freshly turned flower-borders. The large free movement of his arm expressed a splendid scorn of small things, of little makeshifts, of subterfuges and evasions.

"Don't you think it would cut up the yard too much to make another bed?" asked Gabriella, inspired by the whimsical demon of opposition. It was true that she had no particular fondness for red geraniums; but if Miss Polly had expressed, on her own account, a desire to plant the street with them, she would never have thought of objecting.

"Well, the yard ain't much to brag of anyhow," replied Miss Polly with that careful penetration which never sees below the surface of things. "To tell the truth I've always had a sort of leanin' toward geraniums myself--especially rose geraniums. I don't know why on earth," she concluded with animated wonder, "I never thought of putting rose geraniums in that window box along with the sweet alyssum. They would have been the very things and they don't take so much watering."

"That's a bargain, then," said O'Hara, with his ringing laugh which made Gabriella smile in spite of herself. Then, after shaking hands with each one of the group, he went down the walk and passed with his vigorous stride in the direction of Broadway.

When the gate had closed, and his large figure had vanished in the distance, Gabriella said sternly: "Archibald, you must not lose your head over strangers. We know nothing on earth about Mr. O'Hara except that he lives in this house."

"Oh, but, mother, he was splendid at the fire! You ought to have seen him holding a girl by one arm out of the window. He was as brave as a fireman, everybody said so, didn't they, Miss Polly?"

"Men of that sort always have courage," observed Gabriella contemptuously, and despised herself for the remark. What was the matter with her this afternoon? Why did this man arouse in her the instinct of combativeness, the fever of opposition? Was it all because she suspected him of a vulgar intrigue with a shopgirl? And why had she decided so positively that Alice was vulgar? Certainly, she, a dressmaker, should be the last to condemn shopgirls as vulgar.

"I declare, I can't begin to make you out, Gabriella," said Miss Polly uneasily. "I never heard you talk about folks bein' common before. It don't sound like you."

"Well, he is common, you know," protested Gabriella, with a strange, almost tearful violence. "Why did he have to shake hands with us all--with each one of us, even Fanny, when he went away? We'd hardly spoken to him."

"I don't know what's come over you," observed the seamstress gloomily. "I reckon I'm common, too, so I don't notice it. But I must say I like the way he spoke about geraniums. He showed a real nice feelin'."

The words were hardly out of her mouth before Gabriella had caught her in her arms. "I know I'm horrid, dear Miss Polly," she said penitently, "but I don't like Mr. O'Hara."

"Then I shouldn't see any more of him than I was obliged to, honey, and there ain't a bit of use in Archibald's goin' with him if you don't want him to."

"I don't like to forbid him. Of course, I know nothing against the man--it is only a feeling."

"Well, feelin's are mighty queer things sometimes," remarked Miss Polly, scoring a triumph which left the indignant Gabriella at her mercy; "and when I come to think of it; I don't recollect that yours have always been such good judges of folks."

The geraniums arrived in a small cart the next morning, but O'Hara did not appear, and for several weeks, though Gabriella glanced suspiciously at the hatrack each morning when she passed through the hail, there was no sign of life in his rooms. Then one afternoon he reappeared as suddenly as he had vanished, and she found Archibald with him in the yard when she came home at six o'clock. That the boy would be her difficulty, she knew by instinct, for he had been seized by one of those unaccountable romantic fancies to which the young of the race are disposed. Though the sentiment was certainly far less dangerous than Fanny's passion for the, matinée idol, since it revealed itself principally as a robust and wholly masculine ambition to follow in the footsteps of adventure, Gabriella fought it almost as fiercely as she had fought Fanny's incipient love affair.

"He is making Archibald rough," she said to Miss Polly, after a fortnight of unavailing opposition to the new influence in Archibald's life. "Until we came here," she added despondently, "Archibald loved me better than anything in the world, and now he seems to think of nothing but this man."

"It looks to me as if it was mighty good for the child, honey. You can't keep a boy tied to your apron-strings all the time. Archibald needs a father the same as other boys, and if he hasn't got one, he's either goin' to break loose or he's goin' to become a mollycoddle. You don't want to make a mollycoddle of him, do you?"

"Of course not," answered Gabriella honestly, for, in spite of her strange fits of unreasonableness, she was still sensible enough in theory. "I've tried hard to keep him manly--not to spoil him, you know that as well as I do. And it isn't that I object to his making friends. I'd give anything in the world if he could know Arthur. If it had been Arthur," she went on gently, "I should have been glad to have him come first. I shouldn't have cared a bit if he had loved Arthur better than me."

"You oughtn't to talk like that, Gabriella, for you know just as well as can be that Archibald don't love anybody better than he loves you. As far as I can make out though, Mr. O'Hara sets him a real good example. I don't see that he's doin' the child a particle of harm, and I don't believe you see it either. To be sure you don't think much of football, but it's a long ways better than loafin' round with nothin' to do, and this boy scout business that Archibald talks so much about sounds all right to me. Now, he never would have thought a thing about that except for Mr. O'Hara."

"Yes, that's all right. I approve of that, but I can't help hating to see a stranger get so strong an influence over my son. It isn't fair of him."

"Then why don't you tell him to stop it. I believe he'd be sensible about it, and if I was you, I'd have it every bit out with him."

"If it doesn't stop, I'll find some way of showing him that I object to the friendship. But, after all, it may be only a fancy of Archibald's. Anyhow, I'll wait a while before I take any step."

At the beginning of August Gabriella sent the children to the country with Miss Polly, and sailed, on a fast boat, for a brief visit to the great dress designers of Paris. Ever since Madame's age and infirmities had forced her to relinquish this annual trip, Gabriella had taken her place, and all through the year she looked forward to it as to the last of her youthful adventures. On her last visit, Billy and Patty had been in Switzerland; but this summer they met her at Cherbourg; and she spent several brilliant days with them before they flitted off again, and left her to the doubtful consideration of dressmakers and milliners. Patty, who appeared to grow younger and lovelier with each passing year, came to her room the evening before they parted, and asked her in a whisper if she had heard of George or Florrie in the ten years since their elopement?

"Not a word--not a single word, darling. I haven't heard his name mentioned since I got my divorce."

"You didn't know, then, that Florrie left him six months after they ran away?"

"No, I didn't know. Does he ever write to you?"

"Not to me, but mother hears from him every now and then when he wants money badly. Of course she doesn't have much to send him, but she gives him every penny she can spare. A year ago she had a letter from some doctor in New Jersey telling her that he was treating George for the drink habit, and that he needed to be kept somewhere for treatment for several months. We sent her the money she needed, Billy and I, but in her next letter she said that George had escaped from the hospital and that she hadn't heard of him since. That must have been about six months ago."

"It's dreadful for his mother," observed Gabriella, with vague compassion, for she felt as if Patty were speaking of a stranger whose face she was incapable of visualizing in her memory. In the last ten years she had not only forgotten George, but she had forgotten as completely the Gabriella who had once loved him. Though it was still possible for her to revoke the hollow images of the past, she could not restore to these images even the remotest semblance of reality and passion. It was as if some nerve--the sentimental nerve--had atrophied. She could remember George as she remembered the house in Fifty-seventh Street or her wedding-gown which Miss Polly had made; she could say to herself, "I loved him when I married him," or, "It was in such a year that he left me"; but the empty phrases awoke no responsive echoes in her heart; and it would have been impossible to imagine a woman less crushed or permanently saddened by the wreck of her happiness. "I suppose it's hard work that keeps me from thinking about the past," she reflected while she watched Patty's beautiful face framed by the pale gold of her hair. "I suppose it's work that has driven everything else out of my thoughts."

"Have you any idea what became of Florrie?" she asked, moved by a passing curiosity.

"She left George for a very rich man she met in London. I believe he had a wife already, but things like that never stood in Florrie's way."

"It's queer, isn't it, because she really has a kind heart."

"Yes, she is kind-hearted when you don't get in her way, but she was born without any morality just as some people are born without any sense of smell or hearing. I know several women over here who are like that--American women, too--and, do you know, they are all surprisingly successful. Nobody seems to suspect their infirmity, least of all the men who become their victims."

"I sometimes think," observed Gabriella cynically, "that men like women to be without feeling. It saves them so much trouble."

The next day Patty fluttered off like a brilliant butterfly, and Gabriella began to suffer acute homesickness for the house in Twenty-third Street and her children. Not once during her stay in Paris did the thought of O'Hara enter her mind; and so completely had she ceased to worry about his friendship for Archibald that it was almost a shock to her when, after landing one September afternoon, she drove up to the gate and found the man and the boy standing together beside a flourishing border of red geraniums, which appeared almost to cover the yard.

"Oh, look, Ben, there's mother!" cried Archibald; and turning quickly, the two came to meet her.

"My darling, I thought you were still in the country," said Gabriella, kissing her son.

"We've been here almost a week.. The place closed, so we decided to come back to town. It's much nicer here," replied Archibald eagerly. He looked sunburned and vigorous, and it seemed to Gabriella that he had grown prodigiously in six weeks.

"Why, you look so much taller, Archibald!" she exclaimed, laughing with happiness, "or, perhaps, I've been thinking of you as a little boy." Then, while her manner grew formal, she held out her hand to O'Hara. "How do you do, Mr. O'Hara?"

He was standing bareheaded in the faint sunshine, and while her eyes rested on his dark red hair, still moist and burnished from brushing, his tanned and glowing face, and on the tiny flecks of black in the clear gray of his eyes, she was startled by a sensation of strangeness and unreality as if she were looking into his face for the first time.

"Oh, we're well. I've been playing with Archibald. Did you have a good crossing?"

"It was smooth enough, but I got so impatient. I wanted to be with the children."

"Well, I went once, and I was jolly glad to get back again. There was nothing to do over there but loaf and lie around."

There would be nothing else for him, of course, she reflected; and she wondered vaguely if he had ever entered a picture gallery? What would Europe offer to a person possessing neither culture nor a passion for clothes?

The driver had placed her bags inside the gate; and O'Hara took charge of them as if it were the most natural thing in the world to carry for a fellow tenant. Upstairs in the sitting-room he put his burden down, unfastened the straps, and commented upon the leather of a bag she had bought in Paris.

"I'd like to have a grip like that myself. Is there anything else I can help about?"

"No, thank you." She was embracing Fanny, and she did not glance at him as she responded: "You are very kind, but my trunks are arranged for."

At this he went without a word, and Gabriella began a joyous account of her trip to the children.

"Year after next, if you work hard with your French, you may both go with me. Then you'll be big enough to look after each other while I am with the dressmakers."

"Oh, tell me about the dressmakers, mother. What did you bring me?" urged Fanny, prettily excited by the thought of her gifts. "I need dreadfully some dancing frocks. Carlie has a lovely one her mother has just bought for her."

"I have all your autumn dresses, darling; everything you can possibly need at Miss Bradfordine's."

Fanny's eager face grew suddenly fretful. "Am I really to go away to school, mother?"

"Really, precious, both you and Archibald. Think of your poor lonely mother." Breaking off with a start she glanced inquiringly about the room, and turned a hurt look on Miss Polly. "Why, where is Archibald? I thought he was in the room."

"I reckon he must have gone down after Mr. O'Hara. They had just got back from a ball game, and I 'spose they felt like talking about it. He'll be up again in a minute, because Mr. O'Hara goes out at six o'clock."

"But I've just come home." Her lip trembled. "I should think Archibald would rather be with me."

"Oh, he won't stay, and you'll have him all the evening. Archibald is just crazy about gettin' you back."

Taking off her hat, a jaunty twist of black velvet from Paris, Gabriella went into her bedroom and changed to a gown of clear blue crape, which she took out of the new bag. When she came out again, with her arms filled with Fanny's gifts, there was a flush in her usually pale face, and her eyes were bright with determination.

"I put these in my bag, Fanny, so you wouldn't have to wait for the trunks. Try on this little white silk."

"Oh, mother, you look so sweet in that blue gown!"

"I got it for almost nothing, dear, but the colour is lovely." Turning restlessly away, she walked to the window and stood looking over Miss Polly's window box down on the brilliant border of red geraniums.

"Has Archibald come upstairs yet, Miss Polly?"

"Not yet, but he'll be up directly. Don't you worry."

For an instant Gabriella hesitated; then crossing the room with a resolute step, she turned, with her hand on the knob, and looked back at the startled face of the little seamstress, who was fastening Fanny's white gown.

"Well, I'm going after him," she said sternly; "I am going straight downstairs to find him."

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Life And Gabriella: The Story Of A Woman's Courage - Book 2. The Age Of Knowledge - Chapter 10. The Dream And The Reality Life And Gabriella: The Story Of A Woman's Courage - Book 2. The Age Of Knowledge - Chapter 10. The Dream And The Reality

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BOOK II. THE AGE OF KNOWLEDGE CHAPTER X. THE DREAM AND THE REALITYAt the upper station a little group stood awaiting her, and as the train pulled slowly to the platform, Gabriella distinguished her mother's pallid face framed in the hanging crape of her veil; Jane, thin, anxious, anæmic, with her look of pinched sweetness; Chancy, florid, portly, and virtuously middle-aged, and their eldest daughter Margaret, a blooming, beautiful girl. Alighting, Gabriella was embraced by Mrs. Carr, who shed a few gentle tears on her shoulders. "Gabriella, my child, I thought you would never come back to us," she lamented; "and

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BOOK II. THE AGE OF KNOWLEDGE CHAPTER V. SUCCESS"I declare you're real pretty to-night, honey," remarked Miss Polly from the floor she knelt pinning up the hem of a black serge skirt she was making for Gabriella. "Some days you're downright plain, and then you flame out just like a lamp. Nobody would ever think to look at you that you'd be thirty-seven years old to-morrow." For it was the evening before Gabriella's birthday, and she was at the end of her thirty-sixth year. "I feel young," she answered brightly, "and I feel happy. The children are well, and I've