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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Tin Soldier - BOOK ONE _ ON THE SHELF - Chapter XIV. SHINING SOULS
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The Tin Soldier - BOOK ONE _ ON THE SHELF - Chapter XIV. SHINING SOULS Post by :rolanddeckermd Category :Long Stories Author :Temple Bailey Date :April 2012 Read :2255

Click below to download : The Tin Soldier - BOOK ONE _ ON THE SHELF - Chapter XIV. SHINING SOULS (Format : PDF)



The next morning Jean was ill. Derry, having the news conveyed to him over the telephone, rushed in to demand tragically of Dr. McKenzie, "Was it my fault?"

"It was the fault of too much excitement. Seventh heaven with you for hours, and then my news on top of it."

"What news?"

The Doctor explained. "It is going to tear me to pieces if she takes it like this. She was half-delirious all night, and begged and begged--"

"She doesn't want you to go?"

The Doctor ran his fingers through his hair. "Well, we've been a lot to each other. But she's such a little sport--and patriotic--nobody more so. She won't feel this way when she's herself again."

Derry stood drearily at the window looking out. "You think then she won't be able to see me for several days? I had planned such a lot of things."

The Doctor dropped a hand on the boy's shoulder. "Life has a way of spoiling our plans, hasn't it? I had hoped for old age with Jean's mother."

That was something for youth to think of--of life spoiling things--of lonely old age!

"I wish," Derry said, after a pause, "that you'd let me marry her before you go."

"No, no," sharply, "she's too young, Drake. And you haven't known each other long enough."

"Things move rapidly in these days, sir."

The Doctor agreed. "It is one of the significant developments. We had become material. And now fire and flame. But all the more reason why I should keep my head. Jean will be safe here with Emily. And you may go any day."

"I wish I might think so. I'd be there now if I weren't bound."

"It won't hurt either of you to wait until I come back," was the Doctor's ultimatum, and Derry, longing for sympathy, left him presently and made his way to the Toy Shop.

"If we were to wait ten years do you think I'd love her any more than I do now?" he demanded of Emily. "I should think he'd understand."

"Men never do understand," said Emily--"fathers. They think their own romance was unique, or they forget that there was ever any romance."

"If you could put in a word for us," ventured Derry.

"I am not sure that it would do any good; Bruce is a Turk."

A customer came, and Derry lingered disconsolately while Emily served her. More customers, among them a tall spare man with an upstanding bush of gray hair. He had a potted plant in his arms, wrapped in tissue paper. He set it on the counter and went away.

When Miss Emily discovered the plant, she asked Derry, "Who put it there?"

Derry described the man. "You were busy. He didn't stop."

The plant was a cyclamen, blood-red and beautiful.

Miss Emily managed to remark casually that she had loaned his father an elephant, perhaps he had felt that he ought to make some return--but he needn't--.

"_An elephant_?"

"Not a real one. But the last of my plush beauties."

She set the cyclamen on a shelf, and wrapped up the parcel of toys which Derry had bought the day before, "I may as well take them to Margaret Morgan's kiddies," he told her. "I want to tell her about Jean."

After Derry had gone, Miss Emily stood looking at the cyclamen on the shelf. It was a lovely thing, with a dozen blooms. She wished that her benefactor had stayed to let her thank him. She was not sure that she even knew where to send a note.

She hunted him up in the telephone book, and found him--Ulrich Stoelle. His hot-houses were on the old Military Road. She remembered now to have seen them, and to have remarked the house, which was peaked up in several gables, and had quaint brightly-colored iron figures set about the garden--with pointed caps like the graybeards in Rip van Winkle, or the dwarf in Rumpelstiltzkin.

When Derry's car slid up to Margaret's door, he saw the two children at an upper window. They waved to him as he rang the bell. He waited several moments and no one came to open the door. He turned the knob and, finding it unlatched, let himself in.

As he went through the hall he was aware of a strange stillness. Not a maid was in sight. Passing Margaret's room on the second floor he heard voices.

The children were alone in the nursery. He was flooded with sunlight. Margaret-Mary's pink wash frock, Teddy's white linen--yellow jonquils in a blue bow--snowy lambs gambolling on a green frieze--Bo-peeps, flying ribbons--it was a cheering and charming picture.

"How gay you are," said Derry.

"We are not gay in our hearts," Teddy told him.

"Why not?"

"Mother's crying--we heard her, and then Nurse went down and left us, and we looked out of the window and you came."

Derry's heart seemed to stop beating. "Crying?"

Even as he spoke, Margaret stood on the threshold. There were no tears, but it was worse than tears.

He started towards her, but with a gesture she stopped him.

"I am so glad you are--here," she said.

"My dear--what is it?"

She put her hand up to her head. "Teddy, dearest," she asked, "can you take care of Margaret-Mary until Cousin Derry comes back? I want to talk to him."

Teddy's grave eyes surveyed her. "You've been cryin'," he said, "I told Cousin Derry--"

"Yes. I have had--bad news. But--I am not going to cry--any more. And you'll take care of sister?"

"I tell you, old chap," said Derry resourcefully, "you and Margaret-Mary can open my parcel, and when I come back we'll all play together."

Outside with Margaret, with the door shut on the children, he put his arm about her. "Is it Win--is he--hurt?"

"He is--oh, Derry, Derry, he is dead!"

Even then she did not cry. "The children mustn't know. Not till I get a grip on myself. They mustn't think of it as--sad. They must think of it as--glorious--that he went--that way--."

Held close in his arms, she shook with sobs, silent, hard. He carried her down to her room. The maids were gathered there--Nurse utterly useless in her grief. It came to Derry, as he bent over Margaret, that he had always thought of Nurse as a heartless automaton, playing Chorus to Teddy, yet here she was, a weeping woman with the rest of them.

He sent all of the servants away, except Nurse, and then Margaret told him, "He was in one of the French towns which the Germans had vacated, and he happened to pick up a toy--that some little child might have dropped---and there was an explosive hidden in it--and that child's toy killed him, Derry, killed him--"

"My God, Margaret--"

"They had put it there that it might kill a--child!"

"Derry, the children mustn't know how it happened. They mustn't think of him as--hurt. They know that something is the matter. Can you tell them, Derry? So that they will think of him as fine and splendid, and going up to Heaven because God loves brave men--?"

It was a hard task that she had set him, and when at last he left her, he went slowly up the stairs.

The children had strung the Midnight Camels across the room, the purple, patient creatures that Jean had made.

"The round rug is an oasis," Teddy explained, "and the jonquil is a palm--and we are going to save the dates and figs from our lunch."

"I want my lunch," Margaret-Mary complained.

Derry looked at his watch. It was after twelve. The servants were all demoralized. "See here," he said, "you sit still for a moment, and I'll go down for your tray."

He brought it up himself, presently, bread and milk and fruit.

They sat on the oasis and ate, with the patient purple camels grouped in the shade of the jonquil palm.

Then Derry asked, "Shall I tell you the story of How the Purple Camels Came to Paradise?"

"Yes," they said, and he gathered little Margaret-Mary into his arms, and Teddy lay flat on the floor and looked up at him, while Derry made his difficult way towards the thing he had to tell.

"You see, the purple camels belonged to the Three Wise Men, the ones who journeyed, after the Star--do you remember? And found the little baby who was the Christ? And because the purple camels had followed the Star, the good Lord said to them, 'Some day you shall journey towards Paradise, and there you shall see the shining souls that dwell in happiness.'"

"Do their souls really shine?" Teddy asked.



"Because of the light in Paradise--the warm, sweet light, clearer than the sunshine, Teddy, brighter than the moon and the stars--."

The children sighed rapturously. "Go on," Teddy urged.

"So the patient camels began their wonderful pilgrimage--they crossed the desert and rounded a curve of the sea, and at last they came to Paradise, and the gate was shut and they knelt in front of it, and they heard singing, and the sound of silver trumpets, and at last the gate swung back, and they saw--what do you think they saw?"

"The shining souls," said Teddy, solemnly.

"Yes, the shining souls in all that lovely light--there were the souls of happy little children, and of good women, but best of all," his voice wavered a little, "best of all, there were the souls of--brave men."

"My father is a brave man."

_Was_, oh, little Teddy!

"And the purple camels said to the angels who guarded the gate, 'We have come because we saw the little Christ in the manger.'

"And the angel said, 'It is those who see Him who enter Paradise,' So the patient purple camels went in and the gates were shut behind them, and there they will live in the warm, sweet light throughout the deathless ages."

"What are de-yethless ages, Cousin Derry?"

"Forever and ever."

"Is that all?"

"It is all about the camels--but not all about the shining souls."

"Tell us the rest."

He knew that he was bungling it, but at last he brought them to the thought of their father in Paradise, because the dear Lord loved to have him there.

"But if he's there, he can't be here," said the practical Teddy.


"I want him here. Doesn't Mother want him here?"


"Is she glad to have him go to Paradise?"

"Not exactly--glad."

"Was that why she was crying?"

"Yes. Of course she will miss him, but it is a wonderful thing just the same, Teddy, when you think of it--when you think of how your own father went over to France because he was sorry for all the poor little children who had been hurt, and for all the people who had suffered and suffered until it seemed as if they must not suffer any more--and he wanted to help them, and--and--"

But here he stumbled and stopped. "I tell you, Teddy," he said, as man to man, "it is going to hurt awfully, not to see him. But you've got to be careful not to be too sorry--because there's your Mother to think of."

"Is she crying now?"

"Yes. Down there on her bed. Could you be very brave if you went down, and told her not to be sorry?"

"Brave, like my Daddy?"


Margaret-Mary was too young to understand--she was easily comforted. Derry sang a little song and her eyes drooped.

But downstairs the little son who was brave like his father, sat on the edge of the bed, and held his mother's hand. "He's in Paradise with the purple camels, Mother, and he's a shining soul--."

It was a week before Jean went with Derry to see Margaret. It had been a week of strange happenings, of being made love to by Derry and of getting Daddy ready to go away. She had reached heights and depths, alternately. She had been feverishly radiant when with her lover. She had resolved that she would not spoil the wonder of these days by letting him know her state of mind.

The nights were the worst. None of them were as bad as the first night, but her dreams were of battles and bloodshed, and she waked in the mornings with great heaviness of spirit.

What Derry had told her of Margaret's loss seemed but a confirmation of her fears. It was thus that men went away and never returned--. Oh, how Hilda would have triumphed if she could have looked into Jean's heart with its tremors and terrors!

She came, thus, into the room, where Margaret sat with her children.

"I want you two women to meet," Derry said, as he presented Jean, "because you are my dearest--"

"He has told me so much about you,"--Margaret put her arm about Jean and kissed her--"and he has used all the adjectives--yet none of them was adequate."

Jean spoke tensely. "It doesn't seem right for us to bring our happiness here."

"Why not? This has always been the place of happiness?" She caught her breath, then went on quickly, "You mustn't think that I am heartless. But if the women who have lost should let themselves despair, it would react on the living. The wailing of women means the weakness of men. I believe that so firmly that I am afraid to--cry."

"You are braver than I--" slowly.

"No. You'd feel the same way, dear child, about Derry."

"No. I should not. I shouldn't feel that way at all. I should die--if I lost Derry--"

Light leaped in her lover's eyes. But he shook his head. "She'd bear it like other brave women. She doesn't know herself, Margaret."

"None of us do. Do you suppose that the wives and mothers of France ever dreamed that it would be their fortitude which would hold the enemy back?"

"Do you think it did, really?" Jean asked her.

"I know it. It has been a barrier as tangible as a wall of rock."

"You put an awful responsibility upon the women."

"Why not? They are the mothers of men."

They sat down after that; and Jean listened frozenly while Margaret and Derry talked. The children in front of the fire were looking at the pictures in a book which Derry had brought.

Teddy, stretched at length on the rug in his favorite attitude, was reading to Margaret-Mary. His mop of bright hair, his flushed cheeks, his active gestures spoke of life quick in his young body--.

And his father was--dead--!

Oh, oh, Mothers of men--!

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BOOK ONE ON THE SHELF - CHAPTER XV. HILDA BREAKS THE RULESIt was Dr. McKenzie who told Hilda of Jean's engagement to Derry Drake."I thought it best for them not to say anything to the General until he is better. So you may consider it confidential, Hilda.""Of course."She had come to his office to help him with his books. The nurse who somewhat inadequately supplied her place was having an afternoon off. The Doctor had been glad to see her, and had told her so. "I am afraid things are in an awful muddle.""Not so bad that they can't be


BOOK ONE ON THE SHELF - CHAPTER XIII. ARE MEN MADE ONLY FOR THIS?In the afternoon the lovers made a triumphant pilgrimage to the place where they had first met. All the toys in the little shop stared at them--the clowns and the dancers in pink and yellow and the bisque babies and the glassy-eyed dogs and cats.The white elephant was again in the window. "He seemed so lonely," Emily explained, "and with Christmas coming I couldn't feel comfortable to think of him away from it all."Jean showed Derry her midnight camels. "I am going to do peacocks next," she