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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Debtor: A Novel - Chapter 21
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The Debtor: A Novel - Chapter 21 Post by :webspace1 Category :Long Stories Author :Mary E Wilkins Freeman Date :May 2012 Read :3217

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The Debtor: A Novel - Chapter 21

Chapter XXI

Anderson on Wednesday evening sat on the porch and saw the people stream by to the wedding. Mrs. Anderson, although it was a very pleasant and warm evening, did not come outside, but sat by the parlor window, well-screened by the folds of the old damask curtain. The wedding was at eight, and by quarter-past seven the people began to pass; by half-past seven the street was quite full of them. It seemed as if all Banbridge was gathering. A church wedding was quite an unusual festivity in the town, and, besides, there had always been so much curiosity with regard to the Carrolls that interest was doubled in this case. His mother called to him softly from the parlor. "There are a great many going, aren't they?" said she.

"Yes, mother," replied Anderson. He distinctly heard a soft sigh from the window, and his heart smote him a little. He realized dimly that a matter like this might seem important to a woman. Presently he heard a soft flop of draperies, and his mother stood large and white and mild behind him.

"They are nearly all gone who are going, I think?" said she, interrogatively.

Anderson looked at his watch, holding it towards the light of the moon, which was just coming above the horizon. The daylight had paled with suddenness like a lamp burning low from lack of oil. "Yes; they must be all gone now," said he. "It is eight o'clock."

He rose and placed a chair for his mother, and she settled into it.

"I thought I would not come out here while the people were passing," said she. "I have my _matinee on, and I am never quite sure that it is dress enough for the porch."

Anderson looked at the lacy, beribboned thing which his mother wore over her black silk skirt, and said it was very pretty.

"Yes, it is," said she, "but I am never sure that it is just the thing to be out of my own room in. I suppose the dresses to-night will be very pretty. Miss Carroll ought to make a lovely bride. She is a very pretty girl, and so is her sister. I dare say their dresses will be prettier than anything of the kind ever seen in Banbridge."

There was an indescribable wistfulness in Mrs. Anderson's voice. Large and rather majestic woman that she was, she spoke like a disappointed child, and her son looked at her with wonder.

"I don't understand how a woman can care so much about seeing pretty dresses," he said, not unkindly, but with a slight inflection of amused scorn.

"No," said his mother, "I don't suppose you can, dear. I don't suppose any man can." And it was as if she regarded him from feminine heights. At that moment the longing, never quite stilled in her breast, for a daughter, a child of her own kind, who would have understood her, who would have gone with her to this wedding, and been to the full as disappointed as she was to have missed it, was strong upon her. She was very fond of her son, but at the moment she saw him with alien eyes. "No, dear, I don't suppose you can understand," she repeated; "you are a man."

"If you had really cared so much, mother--if I had understood," he said, gently, "you might have gone. You could have gone with the Egglestons."

"There was no reason why we could not have gone by ourselves," said she, "and sat with the invited guests, where we could have seen everything nicely, since we had an invitation."

Anderson opened his mouth to tell his mother of the true source of the invitation; then he hesitated. He had a theory that it was foolish, in view of the large alloy of bitterness in the world, to destroy the slightest element of sweet by a word. It was quite evident that his mother, for some occult reason, took pleasure in the invitation. Why destroy it? So he repeated that she might have gone, had she cared so much; and feeling that he was showing a needless humility in his own scruples, he added that he would have gone with her. Then his mother declared that she did not, after all, really care, that it was a warm night and she would have been obliged to dress, and after fanning herself a little while, went in the house and to bed, leaving him marvelling at the ways of women. The problem as to whether his mother had really wished very much to go to the wedding and whether he had been selfish and foolish in opposing her wish or not, rather agitated him for some minutes. Then he gave it up, and relegated women to a place with the fourth dimension on the shelf of his understanding. The moon was now fairly aloft, sailing triumphant in a fleet of pale gold and rosy clouds. The night was very hot, the night insects were shrieking in their persistent dissonances all over the street. Shadows waved and trembled over the field of silver radiance cast by the moon. No one passed. He could not see a window-light in any of the houses. Everybody had gone to the wedding, and the place was like a deserted village. Anderson felt unutterably lonely. He felt outside of all the happy doors and windows of life. Discontent was not his failing, but all at once the evil spirit swept over him. He seemed to realize that instead of moving in the broad highway trod by humanity he was on his own little side-path to the tomb, and injury and anger seized him. He thought of the man who was being married so short a distance away, and envy in a general sense, with no reference even to Charlotte, swept over him. He had never been disturbed in very great measure with longing for the happiness that the other man was laying hold of, but even that fact served to augment his sense of injury and resentment. He felt that it was due to circumstances, in a very large degree to the inevitable decrees of his fate, that he had not had the longing, and not to any inherent lack of his own nature. He felt that he had had a double loss in both the hunger and the satisfaction of it, and now, after all, had come at last this absurd and hopeless affection which had lately possessed him. To-night the affection, instead of seeming to warm the heart of a nobly patient and reasonable man, seemed to sting it.

Suddenly out of the hot murk of the night came a little puff of cool wind, and borne on it a faint strain of music. Anderson listened. The music came again.

"It cannot be possible that the wedding is just about to begin," he thought, "not at this hour."

But that was quite possible with the Carrolls, who, with the exception of the head of the family, had never been on time in their lives. It was nearly nine o'clock, and the guests had been sitting in a subdued impatience amid the wilting flowers and greens in the church, and the minister had been trying to keep in a benedictory frame of mind in a stuffy little retiring-room, and now the wedding-party were just entering the church. A sudden impulse seized Anderson. He stole inside the house, and looked and listened in the hall. Everything was dark up-stairs, and silent. Mrs. Anderson always fell asleep like a baby immediately upon going to bed.

Anderson got his hat from the hall-tree, and went out, closing the door with its spring-lock very cautiously. Then he slipped around the house and listened. He could hear a soft, cooing murmur of voices from the back stoop. The servant, as usual, was keeping tryst there with her lover. He walked a little farther and came upon their consolidated shadow of love under the wild-cucumber vine which wreathed over the trellis-hood of the door. The girl gave a little shriek and a giggle, the man, partly pushed, partly of his own volition, started away from her and stood up with an incoherent growl of greeting.

"Good-evening," said Anderson. "Jane, I am going out, and my mother has gone up-stairs. If you will be kind enough to have a little attention in case she should ring." Anderson had fixed an electric bell in his mother's room, which communicated with the kitchen.

"Yes, sir," said the girl, with a sound between a gasp and a giggle.

"I have locked the front-door," said Anderson.

"Yes, sir," said the girl, again.

Anderson went around the house, and the sound of an embarrassed and happy laugh floated after him. He felt again the sense of injury and resentment, as if he were shut even out of places where he would not care to be, even out of the humblest joys of life, out of the kitchens as well as the palaces.

Anderson strolled down the deserted street and turned the corner on to Main Street. Then he strolled on until he reached the church. It was brilliantly lighted. Peering people stood in the entrance and the sidewalk before it was crowded. There was a line of carriages in waiting. But everything was still except for the unintermittent voices of the night, which continued like the tick of a clock measuring off eternity, undisturbed by anything around it. From the church itself a silence which could be sensed seemed to roll, eclipsing the diapason of an organ. Not a word of the minister's voice was audible at that distance. Instead was that tremendous silence and hush. Anderson wondered what that pretty, ignorant little girl in there was, to dare to tamper with this ancient force of the earth? Would it not crush her? If the man loved her would he not, after all, have simply tried to see to it that the fair little butterfly of a thing had always her flowers to hang over: the little sweets of existence, the hats and frocks and ribbons which she loved, and then have gone away and left her? A great pity for the bride came over him, and then a flood of yearning tenderness for the other girl, greater than he had ever known.

In his awe and wonder at what was going on all his own rebellion and unhappiness were gone. He felt only that yearning for, and terror for, that little, tender soul that he loved, exposed to all the terrible and ancient solemn might of existence, which the centuries had rolled up until her time came. He longed to shield her not only from sorrow, but from joy. He took off his hat and stood back in the shadow of a door on the opposite sidewalk. It seemed to him that the ceremony would never end. It was, in fact, unusually long, for the Banbridge minister had much to say for the edification of the bridal pair, and for his own aggrandizement. But at last the triumphant peal of the organ burst forth, and the church swarmed like a hive. People began to stir.

All the heads turned. The rustle of silk was quite audible from outside, also a gathering sibilance of whispers and rustling stir of curious humanity, exactly like the swarming impetus of a hive. Fans fluttered like butterflies over all this agitation of heaving shoulders and turning heads in the church. Outside, the people standing about the steps and on the sidewalk separated hurriedly and formed an aisle of gaping curiosity. A carriage streaming with white ribbons rolled up, the others fell into line. Anderson could see Samson Rawdy on the white-ribboned wedding-coach, sitting in majesty. He was paid well in advance; his wife, complacent and beaming in her new silk waist, was in the church. The contemplation of the new marriage had brought a wave of analogous happiness and fresh love for her over his soul. He was as happy with his own measure of happiness as any one there. Every happiness as well as every sorrow is a source of centrifugal attraction.

Anderson, watching, saw presently, the bridal party emerge from the church. To his fancy, which naturally looked for similes to his beloved pursuits of life, he saw the bride like a white moth of the night, her misty veil, pendant from her head to her feet, carrying out the pale, slanting evanescence of the moth's wings. She moved with a slight wavering motion suggestive of the flight of the vague winged thing which flits from darkness to darkness when it does not perish in the candle beams. This moth, to Anderson, was doing the latter, fluttering possibly to her death, in the light of that awful primaeval force of love upon which the continuance of creation hangs. Again, a great pity for her overwhelmed him, and a very fierceness of protection seized him at the sight of Charlotte following her sister in her bridesmaid's attire of filmy white over rose, with pink roses in her hair.

Anderson stood where he could see the faces of the bridal party quite plainly in the glare of the electric light. Charlotte, he saw, with emotion, had an awed, intensely sober expression on her charming face, but the bride's, set in the white mist of her thrown-back veil, was smiling lightly. He saw Arms bend over and whisper to her, and she laughed outright with girlish gayety. Anderson wondered what he said. Arms had smiled, yet his face was evidently moved. What he had said was simple enough: "Fighting Indians is nothing to getting married, honey."

Ina laughed, but her husband's lips quivered a little. She herself realized a curious self-possession greater than she had ever realized in her whole life. It is possible that the world is so old and so many women have married in it that a heredity of self-control supports them in the midst of an occasion which has quickened their pulses in anticipation during their whole lives. But the bridegroom was not so supported. He was manifestly agitated and nervous, especially during the reception which followed the ceremony. He stood with forced amiability responding to the stilted congratulations and gazing with wondering admiration at his bride, whose manner was the perfection of grace.

"Lord, old man!" he whispered once to Carroll, "this part of it is a farce for an old fellow like me, standing in a blooming bower, being patted on the head like a little poodle-dog."

Carroll laughed.

"She likes it, now," whispered Arms, with a fond, proud glance at Ina.

"Women all do," responded Carroll.

"Well, I'd stand here a week if she wanted to, bless her," Arms whispered back, and turned with a successful grimace to acknowledge Mrs. Van Dorn's carefully worded congratulations. As she turned away she met Carroll's eyes, and a burning blush overspread her face to her pompadour crest surmounting her large, middle-aged face. She suddenly recalled, with painful acuteness, the only other occasion on which she had been in the house; but Carroll's manner was perfect, there was in his eyes no recollection whatever.

Mrs. Carroll was lovely in pale-mauve crape embroidered with violets, a relic of past splendors, remodelled for the occasion in spite of doubts on her part, and her beautiful old amethysts. Anna had urged it.

"I shall wear my cream lace, which no one here has ever seen, and I think, Amy, you had better wear that embroidered mauve crape," she said.

"But, Anna," said Mrs. Carroll, "doesn't it seem as if Ina's mother ought not to wear an old gown at the dear child's wedding? I would as lief, as far as I am concerned, but is it doing the right thing?"

"Why not?" asked Anna, rather tartly. Lately her temper was growing a little uncertain. Sometimes she felt as if she had been beset all her life by swarms of gnats. "No one here has ever seen the dress," said she. "And what in the world could you have prettier, if you were to get a new one?"

"Oh, this Banbridge dressmaker is really making charming things," said Mrs. Carroll, rather eagerly. She had a childish fondness for new clothes. "She would make me a beautiful dress, so far as that goes, Anna, dear."

"She has all she can do with Ina's things."

"I reckon she could squeeze in one for me, Anna. Don't you think so?"

"Then there is the extra expense," said Anna.

"But she does not hesitate in the least to trust us," said Mrs. Carroll. "But maybe you are right, Anna. That embroidered mauve is lovely, and perfectly fresh, and it is very warm to fuss over another, and then my amethysts look charming with that."

Therefore, Mrs. Carroll wore the mauve and the amethysts, and was by many considered handsomer than either of her daughters. There had been some discussion about giving the amethysts to Ina for a wedding-gift, but finally a set of wonderful carved corals, which she had always loved and never been allowed to wear, were decided upon. Anna had given a pearl brooch, which had come down from her paternal grandmother, and Carroll had presented her with a large and evidently valuable pearl ring which had excited some wonder in the family.

"Why, Arthur, where did you get it?" his wife had cried, involuntarily; and he had laughed and refused to tell her.

Ina herself, while she received the ring with the greatest delight, was secretly a little troubled. "I am afraid poor papa ought not to have given me such a present as this," she said to Charlotte, when the two girls were in their room that night. As she spoke she was holding the pearl to the lamp-light and watching the beautiful pink lights. It was a tinted pearl.

"It is a little different, because you are going away, and papa will never buy you things again," said Charlotte. "I should not worry, dear." For the few days before her marriage, Charlotte had gotten a habit of treating her sister with the most painstaking consideration for her nerves and her feelings, as if she were an invalid. She was herself greatly troubled at the thought that her father had overtasked his resources to purchase such a valuable thing, but she would not for worlds have intimated such a thing to Ina.

"Well, I do worry," said Ina. "I cannot help it. It was too much for poor papa to do." She even shed a few tears over the pearl, and Charlotte kissed and coddled her a good deal for comfort.

"It is such a beauty, dear," she said. "Look at it and take comfort in it, darling."

"Yes, it is a beauty," sobbed Ina. "I never saw such a pearl except that one of poor papa's, the one he has in his scarf-pin that belonged to that friend of his who died, you know."

"Yes, dear," said Charlotte, "I know. It is another just such a beauty. Don't cry any more, honey. Think how happy you are to have it."

But Charlotte herself, after she had gone to bed in her own little room, had sobbed very softly lest her sister should hear her, until Ina was asleep. Her sister's remarks had brought a suspicion to her own mind. "Poor papa!" she kept whispering softly, to herself. "Poor papa!" It seemed to her that her heart was breaking with understanding of and pity for her father.

Charlotte's own gift to Ina had been some pieces of embroidery. She was the only one in the family who excelled in any kind of handicraft. "Ina will like this better than anything," she had told her aunt Anna, "and then it will not tax poor papa, either. It will cost nothing."

Her aunt had looked at her a minute, then suddenly thrown her arms around her and kissed her. "Charlotte, you little honey, you are the best of the lot!" she had said.

Charlotte herself, the night of the wedding, was looking rather pale and serious. Many observed that she was the least good-looking of the family. Several Banbridge young men essayed to make themselves agreeable to her, but she did not know it. She was very busy. Besides their one maid there were the waiters sent by the caterer, and Eddy was exceedingly troublesome. He was a nervous boy, and unless directly under his father's eye, almost beyond restraint when impressed, as he was then, with an exaggerated sense of his own importance. His activities took especially the form of indiscriminate and superfluous helping the guests to refreshments, until the waiters waxed fairly murderous, and one of them even appealed to Anna Carroll, intimating in Eddy's hearing that unless the young gentleman left matters to them the supply of salad would run short.

"Why didn't we have more, then?" inquired Eddy, quite audibly, to the delight of all within ear-shot. "I thought we were going to have plenty for everybody this time."

"Eddy dear," whispered Charlotte, taking his little arm, "come with me into the hall and help me put back some roses that have fallen out of the big vase. I am afraid I shall get some water on my gown if I touch them, and I noticed just now that some one had brushed against them and jostled some out."

"Charlotte, why didn't we have salad enough?" persisted Eddy, as he followed his sister, pulling back a little at her leading hand.

"Hush, dear; we have enough, only you had better leave it to the waiters, you know."

"Everybody has taken it that I have passed it to," said Eddy. "I have given that gentleman over there four plates heaped up."

"Oh, hush, Eddy dear!" whispered Charlotte, in an agony.

By this time they were in the hall, and Eddy, still full of grievances, was picking up the scattered roses. "I suppose there won't be enough salad for my friend and his mother when they come," said he, further.

"Who are your friend and his mother, darling?"

"Mr. Anderson and his mother," declared Eddy, promptly. "He is the best man in this town, and so is his mother."

"Mr. Anderson, dear?"

"Yes. You know who I mean. You ought to know. He always lets us have all we want out of his store. He and his mother are the nicest people in this town except us."

Charlotte looked at her little brother and her face flushed softly. "But, dear," she whispered, "they did not have any invitations to the reception."

"Yes, they did," declared Eddy, triumphantly.

"Why, who sent them?"

"I did," said Eddy.

Charlotte regarded her little brother with a curious expression. It was amused, and yet strangely puzzled, but more as if the puzzle were in her own mind than elsewhere. It was as if she were trying to remember something.

"Don't you think he is a nice man?" asked Eddy, looking sharply at her.

"Yes, dear, I think so. I don't know anything to the contrary."

"Don't you think he is handsome?"

Suddenly Charlotte saw Anderson's face in her thoughts for the first time very plainly. "Yes," she said, "of course. Let us go in the other room, Eddy, and see if Amy doesn't want anything." She led Eddy forcibly into the parlor.

"It is so late, I am afraid he won't come," the little boy said, disappointedly, when the clock on the mantel struck eleven just as they entered.

It was not long after that when the company began to disperse. The bride and groom were to take a midnight-train, and the bride and her sister stole away up-stairs for the changing of the bridal for the travelling costume.

Charlotte unfastened her sister's wedding-gown, and she was striving her best to keep the tears back. Ina, on the contrary, was gayer than usual.

"It is very odd," said she, as Charlotte hooked the collar of her gray travelling-gown, "how a girl looks forward to getting married, all her life, and thinks more of it than anything else, and how, after all, it is nothing at all. You can remember that I said so, Charlotte, when you come to get married. You needn't dread it as if it were some tremendous undertaking. It isn't, you know."

"You speak exactly as if you had died, and were telling me not to dread dying," said Charlotte. She laughed, and the laugh was almost a sob.

"What an idea!" cried Ina, laughing. "Of course I am very sad at leaving home and you all, you darling, but the getting married is not so much, after all. You will find that I am right."

"I shall never get married," said Charlotte.

"Nonsense, honey! 'Deed you will."

"No, I shall not. I shall stay with papa."

"Yes, you will. Say, honey, Robert"--Ina said Robert quite easily and prettily now--"Robert has a stunning cousin, young enough to be his son. His name is Floyd--Floyd Arms. Isn't that a dear name? And his father has just died, and he has the next place to ours."

"Don't be foolish, dear."

"Robert says he is a fine fellow."

"I know all about him. I have seen Floyd Arms," said Charlotte, rather contemptuously.

"Oh, so you have! He was home that last time you were in Acton, wasn't he? You spoke of him when you came home."

"Yes, the last term I was at school," said Charlotte. "Let me pin your veil, sweetheart."

"Don't you think he was handsome?"

"No, I don't, not so very," said Charlotte.

"Oh, Charlotte, where did you ever see a handsomer man, unless it was papa or Robert?"

"I have seen much handsomer men," declared Charlotte, firmly, as she carefully pinned her sister's veil.

"Well, I would like to know where? Not in this town?"

"Yes, in this town."


"Mr. Anderson."

"The grocer?"

"Yes," said Charlotte, defiantly. The veil was pinned, and Ina turned and looked at her, a rosy vision behind a film of gray lace. "You look lovely," said Charlotte, who had a soft pink in her cheeks.

"I think this hat is a beauty," said Ina. "Wasn't it lucky that New Sanderson milliner was so very good, and did not object to giving credit? Why, Mr. Anderson is the grocer! That is the man you mean, isn't it, honey?"

"Yes," replied Charlotte, still with defiance.

"Oh, well, that doesn't count," said Ina, turning for a last view of herself in the glass. "This dress fits beautifully."

"I don't see what that has to do with it," said Charlotte, as they left the room. She felt, even in the midst of parting, and without knowing why, a little indignation with her sister.

On the threshold, Ina paused suddenly and flung her arms around the other girl. "Oh, honey," she said, with a half-sob--"oh, honey, how can we talk of who is handsome and who isn't, whether he is the butcher, the baker, or the candlestick-maker, when, when--" The two clung together for a minute, then Charlotte put her sister gently away.

"You will muss your veil, dearest," said she, "and it is almost time to go, and Amy and papa will want the last of you."

That night, after the bridal pair had departed and everybody else had gone to bed, Anna Carroll and her brother had a little conference in the parlor amid the debris of the wedding splendor. The flowers and greens were drooping, the room and the whole house had that peculiar phase of squalidness which comes alone from the ragged ends of festivities; the floors were strewn with rice and rose leaves and crumbs from the feast; plates and cups and saucers or fragments stood about everywhere; the chairs and the tables were in confusion. Anna, who had been locking up the silver for the night, had come into the parlor, and found her brother standing in a curious, absent-minded fashion in the middle of the floor.

"Why, Arthur!" said she. "I thought you had gone to bed."

"I am going," said he, but he made no move.

Anna looked at him, and her expression was weary and a little bitter. "Well, it is over," said she.

Carroll nodded. "Yes," he said, with a half-suppressed sigh.

Anna glanced around the room. "This house is a sight for one maid to wrestle with," said she; and her brother, beyond a glance of the utmost indifference around the chaotic room, did not seem to notice her remark at all. However, that she did not resent. Indeed, she herself was so far from taking the matter to heart that she laughed a little as she continued to survey the ruins.

"Well, it went off well; it was a pretty wedding," said she, with a certain tone of pleasure.

Carroll turned to her quite eagerly. "You think Ina was pleased?" he said. "It was all as she wished it to be?"

"What could a girl have wished more?" cried Anna. "Everything was charming, just as it should be. All I think about is--"

"What?" asked her brother.

"We have danced," said Anna. "What I want to know is, is the piper to be paid, or shall we have to dance to another tune by way of reprisal."

"The piper is paid," replied Carroll, shortly. He turned to go, but his sister stepped in front of him.

"How?" she said.

Carroll looked down at her.

"Yes, you are quite right, Arthur," said she. "I am afraid. You are, or may reasonably be, rather a desperate man. You have never taken quite kindly to straits. If the piper is paid, I want to know how, for my own peace of mind. By the piper I mean the creditors for all this"--she glanced around the room--"the wedding flowers and feast and carriages."

"I earned enough honestly," replied Carroll. He had a strangely straightforward, almost boyish way of meeting her sharp gaze.


"You had better not press the matter, Anna."

"I do. I am afraid." She responded to his look with a certain bitter, sarcastic insistence. "I have reason to be," said she. "You know I have, Arthur Carroll. We are all on the edge of a precipice, but I, for one, do not intend to let you drag me over, and I do not intend that Amy and the children shall go, either, if I can help it. I want to know where you got the money to pay for the wedding expenses, and I want to know where you got that pearl ring you gave Ina. It never cost a cent under three hundred dollars."

Carroll, looking at her, smiled a little sadly.

"It was then," said she, "Hart Lee's pearl that he left you when he died--your scarf-pin."

Carroll smiled. Anna's face changed a little.

"I noticed that you had not worn it lately," said she.

"Sooner or later it would have been the child's. It might as well be sooner," said Carroll, with a slightly annoyed air.

"Eddy should have had it," Anna said, with a jealous air.

"That child?"

"When he was older, of course."

"That is a long way ahead," said Carroll. He moved to go, but again Anna stood before him.

"Arthur," said she, solemnly, "I am living with you and doing all I am able. I am giving my strength for you and yours. You know that as well as I do. You know upon whom the brunt here falls. I do not complain. The one who has the best strength should bear the burden, and I have the strength, such as it is. None of us Carrolls need brag of strength, God knows. But I want to know how you came by that money. Yes, I suspect, and I am not ashamed. I have a right to suspect. How did you get that money?"

"I sang and danced for it in a music-hall, blackened up as a negro," said Arthur Carroll.

"Then that was you, Arthur!" gasped Anna.

"Yes. It was the one thing I could do to get that money honestly and pay the bills, and I did it. I would not let Arms pay."

"I should think not," cried Anna. "We have not fallen quite so low as that yet. But you--"

"Yes, I," said Carroll. "Now let us go to bed, Anna."

Anna stood aside, but as her brother turned to pass her she suddenly put up her arms, and as he stooped she kissed him. He felt her cheek wet against his. "Good-night, Arthur," she said, and all the bitterness was gone from her voice.

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The Debtor: A Novel - Chapter 22 The Debtor: A Novel - Chapter 22

The Debtor: A Novel - Chapter 22
Chapter XXIIIt was a week to a day after the wedding, and Anderson had been to the office for the morning mail, and was just returning to the store when a watching face at a window of Madame Griggs's dress-making establishment opposite suddenly disappeared, and when Anderson was mounting the steps of the store piazza he heard a panting breath and rattle of starched petticoats, and turned to see the dress-maker."Good-morning," she gasped."Good-morning, Mrs. Griggs," returned Anderson."Can I see you jest a minute on business? I have been watching for you to come back from the office. I want to buy

The Debtor: A Novel - Chapter 20 The Debtor: A Novel - Chapter 20

The Debtor: A Novel - Chapter 20
Chapter XXCarroll had arrived home very unexpectedly that Sunday morning. The family were at the breakfast-table. As a usual thing, Sunday-morning breakfast at the Carrolls' was a desultory and uncertain ceremony, but when Major Arms was there it was promptly on the table at eight o'clock. He had not yet, in the relaxation of civilian life, gotten over the regular habits acquired in the army."It isn't hard you'll find the old man on you, sweetheart," he told Ina, "but there's one thing he's got to have, and that is his breakfast, and a good old Southern one, with plenty to eat,