.-S UM M E R
"THE REEF," "THE HOUSE OF MIRTH," ETC.
* .... ... .
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
COPYRIGHT, 1917, BY
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
COPYRIGHT, 1917, BY THE MCCLURE PUBLICATION. INC.
a. a .
A GIRL came out of.lawyer Royall's house,
at the end of the one street of North Dor-
mer, and stood on the doorstep.
It was the beginning of a June afternoon. The
springlike transparent sky shed a rain of silver sun-
shine on the roofs of the village, and on the pastures
and larchwoods surrounding it. A little wind
moved among the round white clouds on the shoul-
ders of the hills, driving their shadows across the
fields and down the grassy road that takes the name
of street when it passes through North Dormer.
The place lies high and in the open, and lacks the
lavish shade of the more protected New England
villages. The clump of weeping-willows about the
duck pond, and the Norway spruces in front of the
Hatchard gate, cast almost the only roadside
shadow between lawyer Royall's house and th
point where, at the other end of the village, the road
rises above the church and skirts the black hemlock
wall enclosing the cemetery.
The little June wind, frisking down the street,
shook the doleful fringes of the Hatchard spruces,
caught the straw hat of a young man just passing
under them, and spun it clean across the road into
SAs he ran to fish it out the girl on lawyer
Royall's doorstep noticed that he was a stranger,
that he wore city clothes, and that he was laughing
with all his teeth, as the young and careless laugh
\ at such mishaps.
Her heart contracted a little, and the shrinking
that sometimes came over her when she saw people
with holiday faces made her draw back into the
house and pretend to look for the key that she knew
she had already put into her pocket. A narrow
greenish mirror with a gilt eagle over it hung on
the passage wall, and she looked critically at her
reflection, wished for the thousandth time that she
had blue eyes like Annabel Balch, the girl who
sometimes came from Springfield to spend a week
with old Miss Hatchard, straightened the sunburnt
hat over her small swarthy face, and turned out
again into the sunshine.
"How I hate everything!" she murmured.
The young man had passed through the Hatchard
gate, and she had the street to herself. North
Dormer is at all times an empty place, and at three
o'clock on a June afternoon its few able-bodied men
are off in the fields or woods, and the women in-
doors, engaged in languid household drudgery.
The girl walked along, swinging her key on a fin-
ger, and looking about her with the heightened at-
tention produced by the presence of a stranger in a
familiar place. What, she wondered, did North
Dormer look like to people from other parts of the
world? She herself had lived there since the age
of five, and had long supposed it to be a place of
some importance. But about a year before, Mr.
Miles, the new Episcopal clergyman at Hepburn, who
drove over every other Sunday-when the roads
were not ploughed up by hauling-to hold a service
in the North Dormer church, had proposed, in a
fit of missionary zeal, to take the young people down
to Nettleton to near an illustrated lecture on the
Holy Land; and the dozen girls and boys who rep-
resented the future of North Dormer had been piled
into a farm-waggon, driven over the hills to Hep-
burn, put into a way-train and carried to Nettleton.
In the course of that incredible day Charity Royall
had, for the first and only time, experienced railway-
travel, looked into shops with plate-glass fronts,
tasted cocoanut pie, sat in a theatre, and listened to
a gentleman saying unintelligible things before pic-
tures that she would have enjoyed looking at if his
explanations had not prevented her from under-
standing them. This initiation had shown her that
North Dormer was a small place, and developed in
her a thirst for information that her position as cus-
todian of the village library had previously failed
to excite. For a month or two she dipped fever-
ishly and disconnectedly into the dusty volumes of
the Hatchard Memorial Library; then the impres-
sion of Nettleton began to fade, and she found it
easier to take North Dormer as the norm of the uni-
verse than to go on reading.
The sight of the stranger once more revived
memories of Nettleton, and North Dormer shrank
to its real size. As she looked up and down it, from
lawyer Royall's faded red house at one end to the
white church at the other, she pitilessly took its
measure. There it lay, a weather-beaten sunburnt
village of the hills, abandoned of men, left apart by
railway, trolley, telegraph, and all the forces that
link life to life in modem communities. It had no
shops, no theatres, no lectures, no "business block";
only a church that was opened every other Sunday
if the state of the roads permitted, and a library for
which no new books had been bought for twenty
years, and where the old ones mouldered undis-
turbed on the damp shelves. Yet Charity Royall
had always been told that she ought to consider it
a privilege that her lot had been cast in North Dor-
mer. She knew that, compared to the place she had
come from, North Dormer represented all the bless-
ings of the most refined civilization. Everyone in
the village had told her so ever since she had been
brought there as a child. Even old Miss Hatchard
had said to her, on a terrible occasion in her life:
"My child, you must never cease to remember that
it was Mr. Royall who brought you down from the
She had been "brought down from the Moun-
tain"; from the scarred cliff that lifted its sullen
wall above the lesser slopes of Eagle Range, mak-
ing a perpetual background of gloom to the lonely
valley. The Mountain was a good fifteen miles
away, but it rose so abruptly from the lower hills
that it seemed almost to cast its shadow over North
- ,~ 11
Dormer. And it was like a great magnet drawing
\the clouds and scattering them in storm across the
valley. If ever, in the purest summer sky, there
trailed a thread of vapour over North Dormer, it
S drifted to the Mountain as a ship drifts to a whirl-
S pool, and was caught among the rocks, torn up and
multiplied, to sweep back over the village in rain
Charity was not very clear about the Mountain;
but she knew it was a bad place, and a shame to
have come from, and that, whatever befell her in
North Dormer, she ought, as Miss Hatchard had
once reminded her, to remember that she had been
brought down from there, and hold her tongue and
be thankful. She looked up at the Mountain, think-
ing of these things, and tried as usual to be thank-
ful. But the sight of the young man turning in at
Miss Hatchard's gate had brought back the vision
of the glittering streets of Nettleton, and she felt
ashamed of her old sun-hat, and sick of North Dor-
mer, and jealously aware of Annabel Balch of
Springfield, opening her blue eyes somewhere far
off on glories greater than the glories of Nettleton.
"How I hate everything!" she said again.
Half way down the street she stopped at a weak-
hinged gate. Passing through it, she walked down
a brick path to a queer little brick temple with white
wooden columns supporting a pediment on which
was inscribed in tarnished gold letters: "The Hon-
orius Hatchard Memorial Library, 1832."
Honorius Hatchard had been old Miss Hatch-
ard's great-uncle; though she would undoubtedly
have reversed the phrase, and put forward, as her
only claim to distinction, the fact that she was his
great-niece. For Honorius Hatchard, in the early
years of the nineteenth century, had enjoyed a mod-
est celebrity. As the marble tablet in the interior
of the library informed its infrequent visitors, he
had possessed marked literary gifts, written a series
of papers called "The Recluse of Eagle Range,"
enjoyed the acquaintance of Washington Irving
and Fitz-Greene Halleck, and been cut off in his
flower by a fever contracted in Italy. Such had
been the sole link between North Dormer and lit- '
erature, a link piously commemorated by the erec-
tion of the monument where Charity Royall, every
Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, sat at her desk
under a freckled steel engraving of the deceased
author, and wondered if he felt any deader in his
grave than she did in his library.
i- I 1
Entering her prison-house with a listless step she
took off her hat, hung it on a plaster bust of Mi-
nerva, opened the shutters, leaned out to see if
there were any eggs in the swallow's nest above one
of the windows, and finally, seating herself behind
the desk, drew out a roll of cotton lace and a steel
crochet hook. She was not an expert workwoman,
and it had taken her many weeks to make the half-
yard of narrow lace which she kept wound about
the buckram back of a disintegrated copy of "The
Lamplighter." But there was no other way of get-
ting any lace to trim her summer blouse, and since
Ally Hawes, the poorest girl in the village, had
shown herself in church with enviable transparen-
cies about the shoulders, Charity's hook had trav-
elled faster. She unrolled the lace, dug the hook
into a loop, and bent to the task with furrowed
Suddenly the door opened, and before she had
raised her eyes she knew that the young man she
had seen going in at the Hatchard gate had en-
tered the library.
. Without taking any notice of her he began to
move slowly about the long vault-like room, his
hands behind his back, his short-sighted eyes teer-
ing up and down the rows of rusty bindings. At
length he reached the desk and stood before her.
"Have you a card-catalogue?" he asked in a
pleasant abrupt voice; and the oddness of the ques-
tion caused her to drop her work.
"Why, you know- He broke off, and she be-
came conscious that he was looking at her for the
first time, having apparently, on his entrance, in-
cluded her in his general short-sighted survey as
part of the furniture of the library.
The fact that, it discovering her, he lost the
thread of his remark, did not escape her attention,
and she looked down and smiled. He smiled also.
"No, I don't suppose you do know," he corrected
himself. "In fact, it would be almost a pity-"
She thought she detected a slight condescension
in his tone, and asked sharply: "Why?"
"Because it's so much pleasanter, in a small li-
brary like this, to poke about by one's self-with
the help of the librarian."
He added the last phrase so respectfully that she
was mollified, and rejoined with a sigh:: "I'm
afraid I can't help you much."
"Why?" he questioned in his turn; and she re-
plied that there weren't many books anyhow, and
that she'd hardly read any of them. "The worms
are getting at them," she added gloomily.
"Are they? That's a pity, for I see there are
some good ones." He seemed to have lost interest
in their conversation, and strolled away again, ap-
parently forgetting her. His indifference nettled
her, and she picked up her work, resolved not to
offer him the least assistance. Apparently he did
not need it, for he spent a long time with his back
to her, lifting down, one after another, the tall cob-
webby volumes from a distant shelf.
"Oh, I say!" he exclaimed; and looking up she
saw that he i.d drawn out his handkerchief and
was carefully wiping the edges of the book in his
hand. The action struck her as an unwarranted
criticism on her care of the books, and she said ir-
ritably: "It's not my fault if they're dirty."
He turned around and looked at her with reviv-
ing interest. "Ah-then you're not the librarian?"
"Of course I am; but I can't dust all these books.
Besides, nobody ever looks at them, now Miss
Hatchard's too lame to come round."
"No, I suppose not." He laid down the book he
had been wiping, and stood considering her in si-
lence. She wondered if Miss Hatchard had sent
him round to pry into the way the library was
looked after, and the suspicion increased her resent-
ment. "I saw you going into her house just now,
didn't I?" she asked, with the New England avoid-
ance of the proper name. She was determined to
find out why he was poking about among her books.
"Miss Hatchard's house? Yes--she's my cousin
and I'm staying there," the young man answered;
adding, as if to disarm a visible distrust: "My
name is Harney-Lucius Harney. She may have
spoken of me."
"No, she hasn't," said Charity, wishing she could
have said: "Yes, she has." r
"Oh, well--" said Miss Hatchard's cousin with
a laugh; and after another pause, during which it
occurred to Charity that her answer had not been
encouraging, he remarked: "You don't seem
strong on architecture."
Her bewilderment was complete: the more she
wished to appear to understand him the more un-
intelligible his remarks became. He reminded her
of the gentleman who had "explained" the pictures
at Nettleton, and the weight of her ignorance set-
tled down on her again like a pall.
"I mean, I can't see that you have any books
on the old houses about here. I suppose, for that
matter, this part of the country hasn't been much
explored. They all go on doing Plymouth and Salem.
So stupid. My cousin's house, now, is remarkable.
This place must have had a past-it must have been
more of a place once." He stopped short, with the
blush of a shy man who overhears himself, and fears
he has been voluble. "I'm an architect, you see, and
I'm hunting up old houses in these parts."
She stared. "Old houses? Everything's old in
North Dormer, isn't it? The folks are, anyhow."
He laughed, and wandered away again.
"Haven't you any kind of a history of the place?
I think there was one written about 1840: a book
or pamphlet about its first settlement," he presently
said from the farther end of the room.
She pressed her crochet hook against her lip
and pondered. There was such a work, she knew:
"North Dormer and the Early Townships of Eagle
County." She had a special grudge against it be-
cause it was a limp weakly book that was always
either falling off the shelf or slipping back and dis-
appearing if one squeezed it in between sustaining
volumes. She remembered, the last time she had
picked it up, wondering how anyone could have
taken the trouble to write a book about North Dor-
mer and its neighbours: Dormer, Hamblin, Creston
and Creston River. She knew them all, mere lost
clusters of houses in the folds of the desolate ridges:
Dormer, where North Dormer went for its ap-
ples; Creston River, where there used to be a paper-
mill, and its grey walls stood decaying by the
stream; and Hamblin, where the first snow always
fell. Such were their titles to fame.
She got up and began to move about vaguely be-
fore the shelves. But she had no idea where she
had last put the book, and something told her that
it was going to play her its usual trick and remain
invisible. It was not one of her lucky days.
"I guess it's somewhere," she said, to prove her
zeal; but she spoke without conviction, and felt
that her words conveyed none.
"Oh, well--" he said again. She knew he was
going, and wished more than ever to find the book.
"It will be for next time," he added; and picking
up the volume he had laid on the desk he handed
it to her. "By the way, a little air and sun would
do this good; it's rather valuable."
He gave her a nod and smile, and passed out.
THE hours of the Hatchard Memorial libra-
rian were from three to five; and Charity
Royall's sense of duty usually kept her at her desk
until nearly half-past four.
But she had never perceived that any practical
advantage thereby accrued either to North Dormer
or to herself; and she had no scruple in decreeing,
when it suited her, that the library should close an
hour earlier. A few minutes after Mr. Harney's
departure she formed this decision,. put away her
lace, fastened the shutters, and turned the key in
the door of the temple of knowledge.
The street upon which she emerged was still
empty: and after glancing up and down it she be-
gan to walk toward her house. But instead of en-
tering she passed on, turned into a field-path and
mounted to a pasture on the hillside. She let down
the bars of the gate, followed a trail along the
crumbling wall of the pasture, and walked on till
she reached a knoll where a clump of larches shook
out their fresh tassels to the wind. There she lay
down on the slope, tossed off her hat and hid her
face in the grass.
She was blind and insensible to many things, and
dimly knew it; but to all that was light and air,
perfume and colour, every drop of blood in her
responded. She loved the roughness of the dry
mountain grass under her palms, the smell of the
thyme into which she crushed her face, the finger-
ing of the wind in her hair and through her cot-
ton blouse, and the creak of the larches as they
swayed to it.
She often climbed up the hill and lay there alone
for the mere pleasure of feeling the wind and of
rubbing her cheeks in the grass. Generally at such
times she did not think of anything, but lay im-
mersed in an inarticulate well-being. Today the
sense of well-being was intensified by her joy at
escaping from the library. She liked well enough
to have a friend drop in and talk to her when she
was on duty, but she hated to be bothered about
books. How could she remember where they were,
when they were so seldom asked for? Orma Fry
occasionally took out a novel, and her brother Ben
was fond of what he called "jography," and of
books relating to trade and bookkeeping; but no
one else asked for anything except, at intervals,
"Uncle Tom's Cabin," or "Opening of a Chestnut
Burr," or Longfellow. She had these under her
hand, and could have found them in the dark; but
unexpected demands came so rarely that they exas-
pe ated her like an injustice. .
S_^- She had liked the young man's looks, and his
short-sighted eyes, and his odd way of speaking,
that was abrupt yet soft, just as his hands were sun-
burnt and sinewy, yet with smooth nails like a
woman's. His hair was sunburnt-looking too, or
rather the colour of bracken after frost; his eyes
grey, with the appealing look of the shortsighted,
his smile shy yet confident, as if he knew lots of
things she had never dreamed of, and yet wouldn't
"r the world have had her feel his superiority. But
she did feel it, and liked the feeling; for it was new
to her. Poor and ignorant as she was, and knew
herself to be-humblest of the humble even in
North Dormer, where to come from the Mountain
was the worst disgrace-yet in her narrow world
she had always ruled. It was partly, of course,
owing to the fact that lawyer Royall was "the
biggest man in North Dormer"; so much too big
for it, in fact, that outsiders, who didn't know, al-
ways wondered how it held him. In spite of every-
thing-and in spite even of Miss Hatchard-law-
yer Royall ruled in North Dormer; and Charity
ruled in lawyer Royall's house. She had never
put it to herself in those terms; but she knew her
power, knew what it was made of, and hated it.
Confusedly, the young man in the library had made
her feel for the first time what might be the sweet
ness of dependence.
She sat up, brushed the bits of grass from her
hair, and looked down on the house where she held
sway. It stood just below her, cheerless and un-
tended, its faded red front divided from the road
by a "yard" with a path bordered by gooseberry
bushes, a stone well overgrown with traveller's joy,
and a sickly Crimson Rambler tied to a fan-shaped
support, which Mr. Royall had once brought up
from Hepburn to please her. Behind the house a
bit of uneven ground with clothes-lines strung
across it stretched up to a dry wall, and beyond the
wall a patch of corn and a few rows of potatoes
strayed vaguely into the adjoining wilderness of
rock and fern.
Charity could not recall her first sight of the
house. She had been told that she was ill of a fever
when she was brought down from the Mountain;
and she could only remember waking one day in
a cot at the foot of Mrs. Royall's bed, and open-
ing her eyes on the cold neatness of the room that
was afterward to be hers.
Mrs. Royall died seven or eight years later; and
by that time Charity had taken the measure of most
things about her. She knew that Mrs. Royall was
sad and timid and weak; she knew that lawyer
Royall was harsh and violent, and still weaker. She
knew that she had been christened Charity (in the
white church at the other end of the village) to
commemorate Mr. Royall's disinterestedness in
"bringing her down," and to keep alive in her a be-
coming sense of her dependence; she knew that Mr.
Royall was her guardian, but that he had not legally
adopted her, though everybody spoke of her as
Charity Royall; and she knew why he had come
back to live at North Dormer, instead of practising
at Nettleton, where he had begun his legal career.
After Mrs. Royall's death there was some talk
of sending her to a boarding-school. Miss Hatch-
ard suggested it, and had a long conference with
Mr. Royall, who, in pursuance of her plan, departed
one day for Starkfield to visit the institution she
recommended. He came back the next night with
a black face; worse, Charity observed, than she had
ever seen him; and by that time she had had some
When she asked him how soon she was to start
he answered shortly, "You ain't going," and shut
himself up in the room he called his office; and
the next day the lady who kept the school at Stark-
field wrote that "under the circumstances" she was
afraid she could not make room just then for an-
Charity was disappointed; but she understood.
It wasn't the temptations of Starkfield that had
been Mr. Royall's undoing; it, was:thlo.thoug&ht of
losing her. He was adre4at ll'ry tlorietVihe'.i an;.
she had made that 't~t.bcause she was so "I6ti.. .
some" herself. :'"and she, .face.o .fate. in.that ..:
sad house, had's'ounded the depIth -f jtiao l; and ".*
though she felt no particular affection for him,
and not the slightest gratitude, she pitied him be-
cause she was conscious that he was superior to
the people about him, and that she was the only
being between him and solitude. Therefore, when
Miss Hatchard sent for her a day or two later, to
talk of a school at Nettleton, and to say that this
time a friend of hers would "make the necessary
arrangements," Charity cut her short with the an-
nouncement that she had decided not to leave North
Miss Hatchard reasoned with her kindly, but to
no purpose; she simply repeated: "I guess Mr.
Royall's too lonesome."
Miss Hatchard blinked perplexedly behind her
eye-glasses. Her long frail face was full of puzzled
wrinkles, and she leant forward, resting her hands
on the arms of her mahogany armchair, with the
evident desire to say something that ought to be
"The. feeling. does. you credit, my dear."
.. She:~ ldo d aboitt.:le' alge walls of her sitting-
*'.': rZoi seeking counsel oTfr.fAst.al daguerreotypes
*.*. and .didaetio samplers; but theyl.sitd to make ut-
*,!'-" terante .are:diffi alt...:i *"..
"The fact is, it's not only-not only because of
the advantages. There are other reasons. You're
too young to understand- "
"Oh, no, I ain't," said Charity harshly ; and Miss
Hatchard blushed to the roots of her blonde cap.
But she 'must have felt a vague relief at having
her explanation cut short, for she concluded, again
invoking the daguerreotypes: "Of course- I shall
always do what I can for you; and in case in
case you know you can always come to
Lawyer Royall was waiting for Charity in the
porch when she returned from this visit. He had
shaved, and brushed his black coat, and looked a
magnificent monument of a man; at such moments
she really admired him.
"Well," he said, "is it settled?"
"Yes, it's settled. I ain't going."
"Not to the Nettleton school?"
He cleared his throat and asked sternly: "Why?"
"I'd rather not," she said, swinging past him on
her way to her room. It was the following week
that he brought her up the Crimson Rambler and
its fan from Hepburn. He had never given her
The next outstanding incident of her life had
happened two years later, when she was seventeen.
Lawyer Royall, who hated to go to Nettleton, had
been called there in connection with a case. He
still exercised his profession, though litigation lan-
guished in North Dormer and its outlying hamlets;
and for once he had had an opportunity that he
could not afford to refuse. He spent three days in
Nettleton, won his case, and came back in high
good-humour. It was a rare mood with him, and
manifested itself on this occasion by his talking
impressively at the supper-table of the "rousing
welcome" his old friends had given him. He wound
up confidentially: "I was a damn fool ever to leave
Nettleton. It was Mrs. Royall that made me do it."
Charity immediately perceived that something bit-
ter had happened to him, and that he was trying to
talk down the recollection. She went up to bed
early, leaving him seated in moody thought, his
elbows propped on the worn oilcloth of the supper
table. On the way up she had extracted from his
overcoat pocket the key of the cupboard where the
bottle of whiskey was kept.
She was awakened by a rattling at her door and
jumped out of bed. She heard Mr. Royall's voice,
low and peremptory, and opened the door, fearing
an accident. No other thought had occurred to
her; but when she saw him in the doorway, a ray
from the autumn moon falling on his discomposed
face, she understood.
For a moment they looked at each other in si-
lence; then, as he put his foot across the thresh-
old, she stretched out her arm and stopped him.
"You go right back from here," she said, in a
shrill voice that startled her; "you ain't going to
have that key tonight."
"Charity, let me in. I don't want the key. I'm
a lonesome man," he began, in the deep voice that
sometimes moved her.
Her heart gave a startled plunge, but she con-
tinued to hold him back contemptuously. "Well,
I guess you made a mistake, then. This ain't your
wife's room any longer."
She was not frightened, she simply felt a deep
disgust; and perhaps he divined it or read it in her
face, for after staring at her a moment he drew
back and turned slowly away from the door. With
her ear to her keyhole she heard him feel his way
down the dark stairs, and toward the kitchen; and
she listened for the crash of the cupboard panel,
but instead she heard him, after an interval, unlock
the door of the house, and his heavy steps came
to her through the silence as he walked down the
path. She crept to the window and saw his bent
figure striding up the road in the moonlight. Then
a belated sense of fear came to her with the con-
sciousness of victory, and she slipped into bed, cold
to the bone.
A day or two later poor Eudora Skeff, who for
twenty years had been the custodian of the Hatch-
ard library, died suddenly of pneumonia; and the
day after the funeral Charity went to see Miss
Hatchard, and asked to be appointed librarian. The
request seemed to surprise Miss Hatchard: she evi-
dently questioned the new candidate's qualifications.
"Why, I don't know, my dear. Aren't you
rather too young?" she hesitated.
"I want to earn some money," Charity merely an-
"Doesn't Mr. Royall give you all you require?
No one is rich in North Dormer."
"I want to earn money enough to get away."
"To get away?" Miss Hatchard's puzzled wrin-
kles deepened, and there was a distressful pause.
"You want to leave Mr. Royall?"
"Yes: or I want another woman in the house with
me," said Charity resolutely.
Miss Hatchard clasped her nervous hands about
the arms of her chair. Her eyes invoked the faded
countenances on the wall, and after a faint cough
of indecision she brought out: "The the
housework's too hard for you, I suppose ?"
Charity's heart grew cold. She understood that
Miss Hatchard had no help to give her and that she
would have to fight her way out of her difficulty
alonoA deeper sense of isolation overcame her;
she felt incalculably old. 'She's got to be talked
to like a baby," she thought, with a feeling of com-
passion for Miss Hatchard's long immaturity. "Yes,
that's it," she said aloud. "The housework's too
hard for me: I've been coughing a good deal this
She noted the immediate effect of this suggestion.
Miss Hatchard paled at the memory of poor Eudo-
ra's taking-off, and promised to do what she could.
But of course there were people she must consult:
the clergyman, the selectmen of North Dormer, and
a distant Hatchard relative at Springfield. "If
you'd only gone to school she sighed. She fol-
lowed Charity to the door, and there, in the se-
curity of the threshold, said with a glance of eva-
sive appeal: "I know Mr. Royall is trying
at times; but his wife bore with him; and you must
always remember, Charitthat it was Mr. Royall
who brought you down from the Mountain."
Charity went home and opened the door of Mr.
Royall's "office." He was sitting there by the stove
reading Daniel Webster's speeches. They had met
at meals during the five days that had elapsed since
he had come to her door, and she had walked at his
side at Eudora's funeral; but they had not spoken
a word to each other.
He glanced up in surprise as she entered, and she
noticed that he was unshaved, and that he looked
unusually old; but as she had always thought of
him as an old man the change in his appearance did
not move her. She told him she had been to see
Miss Hatchard, and with what object. She saw that
he was astonished; but he made no comment.
"I told her the housework was too hard for me,
and I wanted to earn the money to pay for a hired
girl. But I ain't going to pay for her: you've got
to. I want to have some money of my own."
Mr. Royall's bushy black eyebrows were drawn
together in a frown, and he sat drumming with ink-
stained nails on the edge of his desk.
"What do you want to earn money for?" he
"So's to get away when I want to."
"Why do you want to get away?"
Her contempt flashed out. "Do you suppose
anybody'd stay at North Dormer if they could help
it? You wouldn't, folks say!"
With lowered head he asked: "Where'd you go
"Anywhere where I can earn my living. I'll try
here first, and if I can't do it here I'll go somewhere
else. I'll go up the Mountain if I have to." She
paused on this threat, and saw that it had taken
effect. "I want you should get Miss Hatchard and
the selectmen to take me at the library: and I want
a woman here in the house with me," she repeated.
Mr. Royall had grown exceedingly pale. When
she ended he stood up ponderously, leaning against
the desk; and for a second or two they looked at
"See here," he said at length as though utter-
ance were difficult, "there's something I've been
wanting to say to you; I'd ought to have said it be-
fore. I want you to marry me."
The girl still stared at him without moving. "I
want you to marry me," he repeated, clearing his
throat. "The minister'll be up here next .Sunday
and we can fix it up then. Or I'll drive you down
to Hepburn to the Justice, and get it done there.
I'll do whatever you say." His eyes fell under the
merciless stare she continued to fix on him, and he
shifted his weight uneasily from one foot to the
other. As he stood there before her, unwieldy,
shabby, disordered, the purple veins distorting the
hands he pressed against the desk, and his long ora-
tor's jaw trembling with the effort of his avowal,
he seemed like a hideous parody of the fatherly old
man she had always known.
"Marry you? Me?" she burst out with a scorn-
ful laugh. "Was that what you came to ask me
the other night? What's come over you, I wonder?
How long is it since you've looked at yourself in
the glass?" She straightened herself, insolently
conscious of her youth and strength. "I suppose
you think it would be cheaper to marry me than
to keep a hired girl. Everybody knows you're the
closest man in Eagle County; but I guess you're
not going to get your mending done for you that
Mr. Royall did not move while she spoke. His
face was ash-coloured and his black eyebrows quiv-
ered as though the blaze of her scorn had blinded
him. When she ceased he held up his hand.
"That'll do-that'll about do," he said. He turned
to the door and took his hat from the hat-peg. On
the threshold he paused. "People ain't been fair
to me-from the first they ain't been fair to me,"
he said. Then he went out.
A few days later North Dormer learned with
surprise that Charity had been appointed librarian
of the Hatchard Memorial at a salary of eight dol-
lars a month, and that old Verena Marsh, from the
Creston Almshouse, was coming to live at lawyer
Royall's and do the cooking.
IT was not in the room known at the red house
as Mr. Royall's "office" that he received his
infrequent clients. Professional dignity and mas-
culine independence made it necessary that he
should have a real office, under a different roof;
and his standing as the only lawyer of North Dor-
mer required that the roof should be the same as
that which sheltered the Town Hall and the post-
It was his habit to walk to this office twice a day,
morning and afternoon. It was on the ground floor
of the building, with a separate entrance, and a
weathered name-plate on the door. Before going
in he stepped in to the post-office for his mail-
usually an empty ceremony-said a word or two to
the town-clerk, who sat across the passage in idle
state, and then went over to the store on the oppo-
site corner, where Carrick Fry, the storekeeper, al-
ways kept a chair for him, and where he was sure
to find one or two selectmen leaning on the long
counter, in an atmosphere of rope, leather, tar and
coffee-beans. Mr. Royall, though monosyllabic at
home, was not averse, in certain moods, to impart-
ing his views to his fellow-townsmen; perhaps, also,
he was unwilling that his rare clients should sur-
prise him sitting, clerkless and unoccupied, in his
dusty office. At any rate, his hours there were not
much longer or more regular than Charity's at the
library; the rest of the time he spent either at the
store or in driving about the country on business
connected with the insurance companies that he rep-
resented, or in sitting at home reading Bancroft's
History of the United States and the speeches of
Since the day when Charity had told him that
she wished to succeed to Eudora Skeff's post their
relations had undefinably but definitely changed.
Lawyer Royall had kept his word. He had ob-
tained the place for her at the cost of considerable
manceuvering, as she guessed from the number of
rival candidates, and from the acerbity with which
two of them, Orma Fry and the eldest Targatt
girl, treated her for nearly a year afterward. And
he had engaged Verena Marsh to come up from
Creston and do the cooking. Verena was a poor
old widow, doddering and shiftless: Charity sus-
pected that she came for her keep. Mr. Royall was
too close a man to give a dollar a day to a smart
girl when he could get a deaf pauper for nothing.
But at any rate, Verena was there, in the attic
just over Charity, and the fact that she was deaf
did not greatly trouble the young girl.
Charity knew that what had happened on that
hateful night would not happen again. She un-
derstood that, profoundly as she had despised Mr.
Royall ever since, he despised himself still more
profoundly. If she had asked for a woman in
the house it was far less for her own defense than
for his humiliation. She needed no one to defend
her: his humbled pride was her surest protection.
He had never spoken a word of excuse or extenua-
tion; the incident was as if it had never been. Yet
its consequences were latent in every word that
he and she exchanged, in every glance they in-
stinctively turned from each other. Nothing now
would ever shake her rule in the red house.
On the night of her meeting with Miss Hatch-
ard's cousin Charity lay in bed, her bare arms
clasped under her rough head, and continued to
think of him. She supposed that he meant to spend
some time in North Dormer. He had said he was
looking up the old houses in the neighbourhood;
and though she was not very clear as to his pur-
pose, or as to why anyone should look for old
houses, when they lay in wait for one on every
roadside, she understood that he needed the help
of books, and resolved to hunt up the next day the
volume she had failed to find, and any others that
seemed related to the subject.
Never had her ignorance of life and literature
so weighed on her as in reliving the short scene of
her discomfiture. "It's no use trying to be anything
in this place," she muttered to her pillow; and she
shrivelled at the vision of vague metropolises, shin-
ing super-Nettletons, where girls in better clothes
than Belle Balch's talked fluently of architecture to
young men with hands like Lucius Harney's. Then
she remembered his sudden pause when he had
come close to the desk and had his first look at
her. The sight had made him forget what he was
going to say; she recalled the change in his face,
and jumping up she ran over the bare boards to
her washstand, found the matches, lit a candle, and
lifted it to the square of looking-glass on the white-
washed wall. Her small face, usually so darkly
pale, glowed like a rose in the faint orb of light,
and under her rumpled hair her eyes seemed deeper
and larger than by day. Perhaps after all it was
a mistake to wish they were blue. A clumsy band
and button fastened her unbleached night-gown
about the throat. She undid it, freed her thin
shoulders, and saw herself a bride in low-necked
satin, walking down an aisle with Lucius Harney.
He would kiss her as they left the church. .
She put down the candle and covered her face with
her hands as if to imprison the kiss. At that mo-
ment she heard Mr. Royall's step as he came up
the stairs to bed, and a fierce revulsion of feeling
swept over her. Until then she had merely de-
spised him; now deep hatred of him filled her heart.
He became to her a horrible old man. .
The next day, when Mr. Royall came back to
dinner, they faced each other in silence as usual.
Verena's presence at the table was an excuse for
their not talking, though her deafness would have
permitted the freest interchange of confidences. But
when the meal was over, and Mr. Royall rose from
the table, he looked back at Charity, who had
stayed to help the old woman clear away the dishes.
"I want to speak to you a minute," he said; and
she followed him across the passage, wondering.
He seated himself in his black horse-hair arm-
chair, and she leaned against the window, indif-
ferently. She was impatient to be gone to the
library, to hunt for the book on North Dormer.
"See here," he said, "why ain't you at the library
the days you're supposed to be there?"
The question, breaking in on her mood of bliss-
ful abstraction, deprived her of speech, and she
stared at him for a moment without answering.
"Who says I ain't?"
"There's been some complaints made, it appears.
Miss Hatchard sent for me this morning----"
Charity's smouldering resentment broke into a
blaze. "I know! Orma Fry, and that toad of a
Targatt girl-and Ben Fry, like as not. He's go-
ing round with her. The low-down sneaks-I al-
ways knew they'd try to have me out! As if any-
body ever came to the library, anyhow!"
"Somebody did yesterday, and you weren't
"Yesterday?" she laughed at her happy recollec-
tion. "At what time wasn't I there yesterday, I'd
like to know?"
"Round about four o'clock."
Charity was silent. She had been so steeped in
the dreamy remembrance of young Harney's visit
that she had forgotten having deserted her post as
soon as he had left the library.
"Who came at four o'clock?"
"Miss Hatchard did."
"Miss Hatchard? Why, she ain't ever been near
the place since she's been lame. She couldn't get
up the steps if she tried."
"She can be helped up, I guess. She was yes-
terday, anyhow, by the young fellow that's stay-
ing with her. He found you there, I understand,
earlier in the afternoon; and he went back and
told Miss Hatchard the books were in bad shape
and needed attending to. She got excited, and had
herself wheeled straight round; and when she got
there the place was locked. So she sent for me,
and told me about that, and about the other com-
plaints. She claims you've neglected things, and
that she's going to get a trained librarian."
Charity had not moved while he spoke. She
stood with her head thrown back against the win-
dow-frame, her arms hanging against her sides, and
her hands so tightly clenched that she felt, with-
out knowing what hurt her, the sharp edge of her
nails against her palms.
Of all Mr. Royall had said she had retained only
the phrase: "He told Miss Hatchard the books
were in bad shape." What did she care for the
other charges against her? Malice or truth, she
despised them as she despised her detractors. But
that the stranger to whom she had felt herself
so mysteriously drawn should have betrayed herl
That at the very moment when she had fled up the
hillside to think of him more deliciously he should
have been hastening home to denounce her short-
comings! She remembered how, in the darkness
of her room, she had covered her face to press his
imagined kiss closer; and her heart raged against
him for the liberty he had not taken.
"Well, I'll go," she said suddenly. "I'll go right
"Go where?" She heard the startled note in Mr.
"Why, out of their old library: straight out, and
never set foot in it again. They needn't think I'm
going to wait round and let them say they've dis-
"Charity-Charity Royall, you listen- he be-
gan, getting heavily out of his chair; but she waved
him aside, and walked out of the room.
Upstairs she took the library key from the place
where she always hid it under her pincushion-who
said she wasn't careful?-put on her hat, and swept
down again and out into the street. If Mr. Royall
heard her go he made no motion to detain her:
his sudden rages probably made him understand
the uselessness of reasoning with hers.
She reached the brick temple, unlocked the door
and entered into the glacial twilight. "I'm glad
I'll never have to sit in this old vault again when
other folks are out in the sun!" she said aloud
as the familiar chill took her. She looked with
abhorrence at the long dingy rows of books, the
sheep-nosed Minerva on her black pedestal, and
the mild-faced young man in a high stock whose
effigy pined above her desk. She meant to take
out of the drawer her roll of lace and the library
register, and go straight to Miss Hatchard to an-
nounce her resignation. But suddenly a great deso-
lation overcame her, and she sat down and laid
her face against the desk. Her heart was ravaged
by life's cruelest discovery: the first creature who
had come toward her out of the wilderness had
brought her anguish instead of joy. She did not
cry; tears came hard to her, and the storms of her
heart spent themselves inwardly. But as she sat
there in her dumb woe she felt her life to be too
desolate, too ugly and intolerable.
"What have I ever done to it, that it should
hurt me so?" she groaned, and pressed her fists
against her lids, which were beginning to swell with
"I won't-I won't go there looking like a hor-
ror!" she muttered, springing up and pushing back
her hair as if it stifled her. She opened the drawer,
dragged out the register, and turned toward the
door. As she did so it opened, and the young
man from Miss Hatchard's came in whistling.
HE stopped and lifted his hat with a shy smile.
"I beg your pardon," he said. "I thought
there was no one here."
Charity stood before him, barring his way. "You
can't come in. The library ain't open to the pub-
"I know it's not; but my cousin gave me her
"Miss Hatchard's got no right to give her key
to other folks, any more'n I have. I'm the librarian
and I know the by-laws. This is my library."
The young man looked profoundly surprised.
"Why, I know it is; I'm so sorry if you mind
"I suppose you came to see what more you could
say to set her against me? But you needn't trou-
ble: it's my library today, but it won't be this time
tomorrow. I'm on the way now to take her back
the key and the register."
Young Harney's face grew grave, but without
betraying the consciousness of guilt she had looked
"I don't understand," he said. "There must be
some mistake. Why should I say things against
you to Miss Hatchard-or to anyone?"
The apparent evasiveness of the reply caused
Charity's indignation to overflow. "I don't know
why you should. I could understand Orma Fry's
doing it, because she's always wanted to get me out
of here ever since the first day. I can't see why,
when she's got her own home, and her father to
work for her; nor Ida Targatt, neither, when she
got a legacy from her step-brother on'y last year.
But anyway we all live in the same place, and when
it's a place like North Dormer it's enough to make
people hate each other just to have to walk down
the same street every day. But you don't live here,
and you don't know anything about any of us, so
what did you have to meddle for? Do you suppose
the other girls'd have kept the books any better'n I
did? Why, Orma Fry don't hardly know a book
from a flat-iron! And what if I don't always sit
round here doing nothing till it strikes five up at the
church? Who cares if the library's open or shut?
Do you suppose anybody ever comes here for books?
What they'd like to come for is to meet the fel-
lows they're going with-if I'd let 'em. But I
wouldn't let Bill Sollas from over the hill hang
round here waiting for the youngest Targatt girl,
because I know him that's all even if
I don't know about books all I ought to. "
She stopped with a choking in her throat. Trem-
ors of rage were running through her, and she
steadied herself against the edge of the desk lest
he should see her weakness.
What he saw seemed to affect him deeply, for
he grew red under his sunburn, and stammered out:
"But, Miss Royall, I assure you I assure
His distress inflamed her anger, and she regained
her voice to fling back: "If I was you I'd have the
nerve to stick to what I said!"
The taunt seemed to restore his presence of mind.
"I hope I should if I knew; but I don't. Appar-
ently something disagreeable has happened, for
which you think I'm to blame. But I don't know
what it is, because I've been up on Eagle Ridge
ever since the early morning."
"I don't know where you've been this morning,
but I know you were here in this library yesterday;
and it was you that went home and told your cousin
the books were in bad shape,'and brought her round
to see how I'd neglected them."
Young Harney looked sincerely concerned. "Was
that what you were told? I don't wonder you're
angry. The books are in bad shape, and as some
are interesting it's a pity. I told Miss Hatchard
they were suffering from dampness and lack of
air; and I brought her here to show her how easily
the place could be ventilated. I also told her you
ought to have some one to help you do the dust-
ing and airing. If you were given a wrong ver-
sion of what I said I'm sorry; but I'm so fond
of old books that I'd rather see them made into
a bonfire than left to moulder away like these."
Charity felt her sobs rising and tried to stifle
them in words. "I don't care what you say you
told her. All I know is she thinks it's all my
fault, and I'm going to lose my job, and I wanted
it more'n anyone in the village, because I haven't
got anybody belonging to me, the way other folks
have. All I wanted was to put aside money enough
to get away from here sometime. D'you suppose
if it hadn't been for that I'd have kept on sitting
day after day in this old vault?"
Of this appeal her hearer took up only the last
question. "It is an old vault; but need it be?
That's the point. And it's my putting the ques-
tion to my cousin that seems to have been the
cause of the trouble." His glance explored the
melancholy penumbra of the long narrow room,
resting on the blotched walls, the discoloured rows
of books, and the stern rosewood desk surmounted
by the portrait of the young Honorius. "Of course
it's a bad job to do anything with a building jammed'
against a hill like this ridiculous mausoleum: you
couldn't get a good draught through it without
blowing a hole in the mountain. But it can be
ventilated after a fashion, and the sun can be let
in: I'll show you how if you like. ." The archi-
tect's passion for improvement had already made
him lose sight of her grievance, and he lifted his
stick instructively toward the cornice. But her
silence seemed to tell him that she took no in-
terest in the ventilation of the library, and turning
back to her abruptly he held out both hands. "Look
here-you don't mean what you said? You don't
really think I'd do anything to hurt you?"
A new note in his voice disarmed her: no one
had ever spoken to her in that tone.
"Oh, what did you do it for then?" she wailed.
He had her hands in his, and she was feeling the
smooth touch that she had imagined the day be-
fore on the hillside.
He pressed her hands lightly and let them go.
"Why, to make things pleasanter for you here; and
better for the books. I'm sorry if my cousin
twisted around what I said. She's excitable, and
she lives on trifles: I ought to have remembered
that. Don't punish me by letting her think you
take her seriously."
It was wonderful to hear him speak of Miss
Hatchard as if she were a querulous baby: in spite
of his shyness he had the air of power that the ex-
perience of cities probably gave. It was the fact
of having lived in Nettleton that made lawyer
Royall, in spite of his infirmities, the strongest man
in North Dormer; and Charity was sure that this
young man had lived in bigger places than Nettle-
She felt that if she kept up her denunciatory tone
he would secretly class her with Miss Hatchard;
and the thought made her suddenly simple.
"It don't matter to Miss Hatchard how I take
her. Mr. Royall says she's going to get a trained
librarian; and I'd sooner resign than have the vil-
lage say she sent me.away."
"Naturally you would. But I'm sure she doesn't
mean to send you away. At any rate, won't you
give me the chance to find out first and let you
know? It will be time enough to resign if I'm
Her pride flamed into her cheeks at the suggestion
of his intervening. "I don't want anybody should
coax her to keep me if I don't suit."
He coloured too. "I give you my word I won't
do that. Only wait till tomorrow, will you ?" He
looked straight into her eyes with his shy grey
glance. "You can trust me, you know-you really
All the old frozen woes seemed to melt in her,
and she murmured awkwardly, looking away from
him: "Oh, I'll wait."
THERE had never been such a June in Eagle
County. Usually it was a month of moods,
with abrupt alternations of belated frost and mid-
summer heat; this year, day followed day in a
sequence of temperate beauty. Every morning
a breeze blew steadily from the hills. Toward
noon it built up great canopies of white cloud that
threw a cool shadow over fields and woods; then
before sunset the clouds dissolved again, and the
western light rained its unobstructed brightness
on the valley.
On such an afternoon Charity Royall lay on a
ridge above a sunlit hollow, her face pressed to the /j / i
earth and the warm currents of the grass running
through her. Directly in her line of vision a black-
berry branch laid its frail white flowers and blue-
green leaves against the sky. Just beyond, a tuft
of sweet-fern uncurled between the beaded shoots
of the grass, and a small yellow butterfly vibrated
over them like a fleck of sunshine. This was all
she saw; but she felt, above her and about her,
the strong growth of the beeches clothing the ridge,
the rounding of pale green cones on countless
spruce-branches, the push of myriads of sweet-fern
fronds in the cracks of the stony slope below the
wood, and the crowding shoots of meadowsweet
and yellow flags in the pasture beyond. All this
bubbling of sap and slipping of sheaths and burst-
ing of calyxes was carried to her on mingled cur-
rents of fragrance. Every leaf and bud and blade
seemed to contribute its exhalation to the pervad-
ing sweetness in which the pungency of pine-sap
prevailed over the spice of thyme and the subtle
perfume of fern, and all were merged in a moist
earth-smell that was like the breath of some huge
Charity had lain there a long time, passive and
sun-warmed as the slope on which she lay, when
there came between her eyes and the dancing but-
terfly the sight of a man's foot in a large worn
boot covered with red mud.
"Oh, don't!" she exclaimed, raising herself on
her elbow and stretching out a warning hand.
"Don't what?" a hoarse voice asked above her
"Don't stamp on those bramble flowers, you dolt!"
she retorted, springing to her knees. The foot
paused and then descended clumsily on the frail
branch, and raising her eyes she saw above her the
bewildered face of a slouching man with a thin
sunburnt beard, and white arms showing through
his ragged shirt.
"Don't you ever see anything, Liff Hyatt?" she
assailed him, as he stood before her with the look
of a man who has stirred up a wasp's nest.
He grinned. "I seen you! That's what I come
"Down from where?" she questioned, stooping
to gather up the petals his foot had scattered.
He jerked his thumb toward the heights. "Been
cutting down trees for Dan Targatt."
Charity sank back on her heels and looked at
him musingly. She was not in the least afraid of
poor Liff Hyatt, though he "came from the Moun-
tain," and some of the girls ran when they saw
him. Among the more reasonable he passed for
a harmless creature, a sort of link between the
mountain and civilized folk, who occasionally came
down and did a little wood-cutting for a farmer
when hands were short. Besides, she knew the
Mountain people would never hurt her: Liff him-
self had told her so once when she was a little
girl, and had met him one day at the edge of
lawyer Royall's pasture. "They won't any of 'em
touch you up there, f'ever you was to come
up. But I don't s'pose you will," he had added
philosophically, looking at her new shoes, and
at the red ribbon that Mrs. Royall had tied in her
Charity had, in truth, never felt any desire to
visit her birthplace. She did not care to have
it known that she was of the Mountain, and was
shy of being seen in talk with Liff Hyatt. But
today she was not sorry to have him appear. A
great many things had happened to her since the
day when young Lucius Harney had entered the
doors of the Hatchard Memorial, but none, perhaps,
..--so unforeseen as the fact of her suddenly finding
it a convenience to be on good terms with Liff
Hyatt. She continued to look up curiously at his
freckled weather-beaten face, with feverish hol-
lows below the cheekbones and the pale yellow eyes
of a harmless animal. "I wonder if he's re-
lated to me?" she thought, with a shiver of dis-
"Is there any folks living in the brown house
by the swamp, up under Porcupine?" she presently
asked in an indifferent tone.
Liff Hyatt, for a while, considered her with sur-
prise; then he scratched his head and shifted his
weight from one tattered sole to the other.
"There's always the same folks in the brown
house," he said with his vague grin.
"They're from up your way, ain't they?"
"Their name's the same as mine," he rejoined
Charity still held him with resolute eyes. "See
here, I want to go there some day and take a
gentleman with me that's boarding with us. He's
up in these parts drawing pictures."
She did not offer to explain this statement. It
was too far beyond Liff Hyatt's limitations for
the attempt to be worth making. "He wants to
see the brown house, and go all over it," she pur-
Liff was still running his fingers perplexedly
through his shock of straw-colored hair. "Is it a
fellow from the city?" he asked.
"Yes. He draws pictures of things. He's down
there now drawing the Bonner house." She
pointed to a chimney just visible over the dip of
the pasture below the wood.
"The Bonner house?" Liff echoed incredulously.
"Yes. You won't understand-and it don't mat-
ter. All I say is: he's going to the Hyatts' in a
day or two."
Liff looked more and more perplexed. "Bash is
ugly sometimes in the afternoons."
"I know. But I guess he won't trouble me."
She threw her head back, her eyes full on Hyatt's.
"I'm coming too: you tell him."
"They won't none of them trouble you, the
Hyatts won't. What d'you want a take a stranger
with you, though?"
"I've told you, haven't I? You've got to tell
He looked away at the blue mountains on the
horizon; then his gaze dropped to the chimney-top
below the pasture.
"He's down there now?"
He shifted his weight again, crossed his arms,
and continued to survey the distant landscape.
"Well, so long," he said at last, inconclusively; and
turning away he shambled up the hillside. From
the ledge above her, he paused to call down: "I
wouldn't go there a Sunday"; then he clambered
on till the trees closed in on him. Presently, from
high overhead, Charity heard the ring of his axe.
She lay on the warm ridge, thinking of many
things that the woodsman's appearance had stirred
up in her. She knew nothing of her early life, and
had never felt any curiosity about it: only a sul-
len reluctance to explore the corner of her memory
where certain blurred images lingered. But all
that had happened to her within the last few weeks
had stirred her to the sleeping depths. She had
become absorbingly interesting to herself, and every-
thing that had to do with her past was illuminated
by this sudden curiosity.
She hated more than ever the fact of coming
from the Mountain; but it was no longer indif-
ferent to her. Everything that in any way af-
fected her was alive and vivid: even the hateful
things had grown interesting because they were
a part of herself.
"I wonder if Liff Hyatt knows who my mother
was?" she mused; and it filled her with a tremor
of surprise to think that some woman who was
once young and slight, with quick motions of the
blood like hers, had carried her in her breast, and
watched her sleeping. She had always thought of
her mother as so long dead as to be no more than
a nameless pinch of earth; but now it occurred to
her that the once-young woman might be alive,
and wrinkled and elf-locked like the woman she
had sometimes seen in the door of the brown house
that Lucius Harney wanted to draw.
The thought brought him back to the central
point in her mind, and she strayed away from the
conjectures roused by Liff Hyatt's presence. Spec-
ulations concerning the past could not hold her
long when the present was so rich, the future so
rosy, and when Lucius Harney, a stone's throw
away, was bending over his sketch-book, frowning,
calculating, measuring, and then throwing his head
back with the sudden smile that had shed its bright-
ness over everything.
She scrambled to her feet, but as she did so she
saw him coming up the pasture and dropped down
on the grass to wait. When he was drawing and
measuring one of "his houses," as she called them,
she often strayed away by herself into the woods
or up the hillside. It was partly from shyness that
she did so: from a sense of inadequacy that came
to her most painfully when her companion, ab-
sorbed in his job, forgot her ignorance and her
inability to follow his least allusion, and plunged
into a monologue on art and life. To avoid the
awkwardness of listening with a blank face, and
also to escape the surprised stare of the inhabitants
of the houses before which he would abruptly pull
up their horse and open his sketch-book, she slipped
away to some spot from which, without being seen,
she could watch him at work, or at least look down
on the house he was drawing. She had not been
displeased, at first, to have it known to North Dor-
mer and the neighborhood that she was driving
Miss Hatchard's cousin about the country in the
buggy he had hired of lawyer Royall. She had al-
ways kept to herself, contemptuously aloof from
village love-making, without exactly knowing
whether her fierce pride was due to the sense of
her tainted origin, or whether she was reserving
herself for a more brilliant fate. Sometimes she
envied the other girls their sentimental preoccupa-
tions, their long hours of inarticulate philandering
with one of the few youths who still lingered in
the village; but when she pictured herself curling
her hair or putting a new ribbon on her hat for
Ben Fry or one of the Sollas boys the fever dropped
and she relapsed into indifference.
Now she knew the meaning of her disdains and
reluctance. She had learned what she was worth
when Lucius Harney, looking at her for the first
time, had lost the thread of his speech, and leaned
reddening on the edge of her desk. But another
kind of shyness had been born in her: a terror of
exposing to vulgar perils the sacred treasure of her
happiness. She was not sorry to have the neigh-
bors suspect her of "going with" a young man from
the city; but she did not want it known to all the
countryside how many hours of the long June
days she spent with him. What she most feared
was that the inevitable comments should reach Mr.
Royall. Charity was instinctively aware that few
things concerning her escaped the eyes of the silent
man under whose roof she lived; and in spite of
the latitude which North Dormer accorded to court-
ing couples she had always felt that, on the day
when she showed too open a preference, Mr. Royall
might, as she phrased it, make her "pay for it."
How, she did not know; and her fear was the
greater because it was efinable. If she had been
accepting the attentions of one of the village youths
she would have been less apprehensive: Mr. Royall
could not prevent her marrying when she chose to.
But everybody knew that "going with a city fellow"
was a different and less straightforward affair: al-
most every village could show a victim of the peril-
ous venture. And her dread of Mr. Royall's in-
tervention gave a sharpened joy to the hours she
spent with young Harney, and made her, at the
same time, shy of being too generally seen with him.
As he approached she rose to her knees, stretch-
ing her arms above her head with the indolent ges-
ture that was her way of expressing a profound
"I'm going to take you to that house up under
Porcupine," she announced.
"What house? Oh, yes; that ramshackle place
near the swamp, with the gipsy-looking people hang-
ing about. It's curious that a house with traces
of real architecture should have been built in such
a place. But the people were a sulky-looking lot-
do you suppose they'll let us in?"
"They'll do whatever I tell them," she said with
He threw himself down beside her. "Will they ?"
he rejoined with a smile. "Well, I should like
to see what's left inside the house. And I should
like to have a talk with the people. Who was it
who was telling me the other day that they had
come down from the Mountain?"
Charity shot a sideward look at him. It was
the first time he had spoken of the Mountain ex-
cept as a feature of the landscape. What else did
he know about it, and about her relation to it?
Her heart began to beat with the fierce impulse
of resistance which she instinctively opposed to
every imagined slight.
"The Mountain? I ain't afraid of the Moun-
Her tone of defiance seemed to escape him. He
lay breast-down on the grass, breaking off sprigs
of thyme and pressing them against his lips. Far
off, above the folds of the nearer hills, the Moun-
tain thrust itself up menacingly against a yellow
"I must go up there some day: I want to see
it," he continued.
Her heart-beats slackened and she turned again
to examine his profile. It was innocent of all un-
"What'd you want to go up the Mountain for?"
"Why, it must be rather a curious place. There's
a queer colony up there, you know: sort of out-
laws, a little independent kingdom. Of course
you've heard them spoken of; but I'm told they
have nothing to do with the people in the valleys
--rather look down on them, in fact. I suppose
they're rough customers; but they must have a
good deal of character."
She did not quite know what he meant by hav-
ing a good deal of character; but his tone was ex-
pressive of admiration, and deepened her dawning
curiosity. It struck her now as strange that she
knew so little about the Mountain. She had never
asked, and no one had ever offered to enlighten
her. North Dormer took the Mountain for granted,
and implied its disparagement by an intonation
rather than by explicit criticism.
"It's queer, you know," he continued, "that, just
over there, on top of that hill, there should be a
handful of people who don't give a damn for any-
The words thrilled her. They seemed the clue
to her own revolts and defiances, and she longed
to have him tell her more.
"I don't know much about them. Have they al-
ways been there?"
"Nobody seems to know exactly how long. Down
at Creston they told me that the first colonists are
supposed to have been men who worked on the
railway that was built forty or fifty years ago
between Springfield and Nettleton. Some of them
took to drink, or got into trouble with the police,
and went off-disappeared into the woods. A year
or two later there was a report that they were
living up on the Mountain. Then I suppose others
joined them-and children were born. Now they
say there are over a hundred people up there. They
seem to be quite outside the jurisdiction of the val-
leys. No school, no church-and no sheriff ever
.goes up to see what they're about. But don't people
ever talk of them at North Dormer?"
"I don't know. They say they're bad."
He laughed. "Do they? We'll go and see, shall
She flushed at the suggestion, and turned her
face to his. "You never heard, I suppose-I come
from there. They brought me down when I was
"You?" He raised himself on his elbow, look-
ing at her with sudden interest. "You're from the
Mountain? How curious! I suppose that's why
you're so different. .. ."
Her happy blood bathed her to the forehead. He
was praising her-and praising her because she came
from the Mountain!
"Am I different?" she triumphed, with af-
"Oh, awfully!" He picked up her hand and
laid a kiss on the sunburnt knuckles.
"Come," he said, "let's be off." He stood up and
shook the grass from his loose grey clothes. "What
a good day! Where are you going to take me to-
THAT evening after supper Charity sat alone
in the kitchen and listened to Mr. Royall
and young Harney talking in the porch.
She had remained indoors after the table had
been cleared and old Verena had hobbled up to bed.
The kitchen window was open, and Charity seated
herself near it, her idle hands on her knee. The
evening was cool and still. Beyond the black hills
an amber west passed into pale green, and then
to a deep blue in which a great star hung. The soft
hoot of a little owl came through the dusk, and be-
tween its calls the men's voices rose and fell.
Mr. Royall's was full of a sonorous satisfaction.
It was a long time since he had had anyone of
Lucius Harney's quality to talk to: Charity divined
that the young man symbolized all his ruined and
unforgotten past. When Miss Hatchard had been
called to Springfield by the illness of a widowed
sister, and young Harney, by that time seriously
embarked on his task of drawing and measuring all
the old houses between Nettleton and the New
Hampshire border, had suggested the possibility of
boarding at the red house in his cousin's absence,
Charity had trembled lest Mr. Royall should re-
fuse. There had been no question of lodging the
young man: there was no room for him. But it
appeared that he could still live at Miss Hatchard's
if Mr. Royall vould let him take his meals at the
red house; and after a day's deliberation Mr. Royall
Charity suspected him of being glad of the chance
to make a little money. He had the reputation of
being an avaricious man; but she was beginning to
think he was probably poorer than people knew.
His practice had become little more than a vague
legend, revived only at lengthening intervals by a
summons to Hepburn or Nettleton; and he appeared
to depend for his living mainly on the scant produce
of his farm, and on the commissions received from
the few insurance agencies that he represented in
the neighbourhood. At any rate, he had been prompt
in accepting Harney's offer to hire the buggy at a
dollar and a half a day; and his satisfaction with
the bargain had manifested itself, unexpectedly
enough, at the end of the first week, by his tossing
a ten-dollar bill into Charity's lap as she sat one
day retrimming her old hat.
"Here-go get yourself a Sunday bonnet that'll
make all the other girls mad," he said, looking at
her with a sheepish twinkle in his deep-set eyes;
and she immediately guessed that the unwonted
present-the only gift of money she had ever re-
ceived from him-represented Harney's first pay-
But the young man's coming had brought Mr.
Royall other than pecuniary benefit. It gave him,
for the first time in years, a man's companionship.
Charity had only a dim understanding of her guard-
ian's needs; but she knew he felt himself above
the people among whom he lived, and she saw that
Lucius Harney thought him so. She was surprised
to find how well he seemed to talk now that he
had a listener who understood him; and she was
equally struck by young Harney's friendly defer-
Their conversation was mostly about politics, and
beyond her range; but tonight it had a peculiar
interest for her, for they had begun to speak of
the Mountain. She drew back a little, lest they
should see she was in hearing.
"The Mountain? The Mountain?" she heard
Mr. Royall say. "Why, the Mountain's a blot-
that's what it is, sir, a blot. That scum up there
ought to have been run in long ago-and would
have, if the people down here hadn't been clean
scared of them. The Mountain belongs to this
township, and it's North Dormer's fault if there's
a gang of thieves and outlaws living over there, in
sight of us, defying the laws of their country.
Why, there ain't a sheriff or a tax-collector or a
coroner'd durst go up there. When they hear
of trouble on the Mountain the selectmen look
the other way, and pass an appropriation to beautify
the town pump. The only man that ever goes up
is the minister, and he goes because they send down
and get him whenever there's any of them dies.
They think a lot of Christian burial on the Moun-
tain-but I never heard of their having the min-
ister up to marry them. And they never trouble
the Justice of the Peace either. They just herd
together like the heathen."
He went on, explaining in somewhat technical
language how the little colony of squatters had
contrived to keep the law at bay, and Charity, with
burning eagerness, awaited young Harney's com-
ment; but the young man seemed more concerned
to hear Mr. Royall's views than to express his
"I suppose you've never been up there yourself ?"
he presently asked.
"Yes, I have," said Mr. Royall with a contemp-
tuous laugh. "The wiseacres down here told me
I'd be done for before I got back; but nobody lifted
a finger to hurt me. And I'd just had one of their
gang sent up for seven years too."
"You went up after that?"
"Yes, sir: right after it. The fellow came down
to Nettleton 'and ran amuck, the way they some-
times do. After they've done a wood-cutting job
they come down and- blow the money in; and this
man ended up with manslaughter. I got him con-
victed, though they were scared of the Mountain
even at Nettleton; and then a queer thing happened.
The fellow sent for me to go and see him in gaol.
I went, and this is what he says: 'The fool that
defended me is a chicken-livered son of a
and all the rest of it,' he says. 'I've got a job to
be done for me up on the Mountain, and you're
the only man I seen in court that looks as if he'd
do it.' He told me he had a child up there-or
thought he had-a little girl; and he wanted her
brought down and reared like a Christian. I was
sorry for the fellow, so I went up and got the
child." He paused, and Charity listened with a
throbbing heart. "That's the only time I ever went
up the Mountain," he concluded.
There was a moment's silence; then Harney
spoke. "And the child-had she no mother?"
"Oh, yes: there was a mother. But she was
glad enough to have her go. She'd have given
her to anybody. They ain't half human up there.
I guess the mother's dead by now, with the life
she was leading. Anyhow, I've never heard of her
from that day to this."
"My God, how ghastly," Harney murmured; and
Charity, choking with humiliation, sprang to her
feet and ran upstairs. She knew at last: knew that
she was the child of a drunken convict and of a
mother who wasn't "half human," and was glad
to have her go; and she had heard this history of
her origin related to the one being in whose eyes
she longed to appear superior to the people about
her! She had noticed that Mr. Royall had not
named her, had even avoided any allusion that
might identify her with the child he had brought
down from the Mountain; and she knew it was
out of regard for her that he had kept silent. But
of what use was his discretion, since only that
afternoon, misled by Harney's interest in the out-
law colony, she had boasted to him of coming from
the Mountain? Now every word that had been
spoken showed her how such an origin must widen
the distance between them.
During his ten days' sojourn at North Dormer
Lucius Harney had not spoken a word of love to
her. He had intervened in her behalf with his
cousin, and had convinced Miss Hatchard of her
merits as a librarian; but that was a simple act of
justice, since it was by his own fault that those
merits had been questioned. He had asked her
to drive him about the country when he hired law-
yer Royall's buggy to go on his sketching expedi-
tions; but that too was natural enough, since he
was unfamiliar with the region. Lastly, when his
cousin was called to Springfield, he had begged Mr.
Royall to receive him as a boarder; but where else
in North Dormer could he have boarded? Not
with Carrick Fry, whose wife was paralysed, and
whose large family crowded his table to over-flow-
ing; not with the Targatts, who lived a mile up
the road, nor with poor old Mrs. Hawes, who, since
her eldest daughter had deserted her, barely had
the strength to cook her own meals while Ally
picked up her living as a seamstress. Mr. Royall's
was the only house where the young man could
have been offered a decent hospitality. There had
been nothing, therefore, in the outward course of
events to raise in Charity's breast the hopes with
which it trembled. But beneath the visible incidents
resulting from Lucius Harney's arrival there ran
an undercurrent as mysterious and potent as the
influence that makes the forest break into leaf be-
for the ice is off the pools.
The business on which Harney had come was au-
thentic; Charity had seen the letter from a New
York publisher commissioning him to make a study
of the eighteenth century houses in the less familiar
districts of New England. But incomprehensible as
the whole affair was to her, and hard as she found
it to understand why he paused enchanted before
certain neglected and paintless houses, while others,
refurbished and "improved" by the local builder,
did not arrest a glance, she could not but suspect
that Eagle County was less rich in architecture than
he averred, and that the duration of his stay (which
he had fixed at a month) was not unconnected with
the look in his eyes when he had first paused be-
fore her in the library. Everything that had fol-
lowed seemed to have grown out of that look: his
way of speaking to her, his quickness in catching
her meaning, his evident eagerness to prolong their
excursions and to seize on every chance of being
The signs of his liking were manifest enough;
but it was hard to guess how much they meant, be-
cause his manner was so different from anything
North Dormer had ever shown her. He was at
once simpler and more deferential than any one
she had known; and sometimes it was just when
he was simplest that she most felt the distance be-
tween them. Education and opportunity had di-
vided them by a width that no effort of hers could
bridge, and even when his youth and his admira-
tion brought him nearest, some chance word, some
unconscious allusion, seemed to thrust her back
across the gulf.
Never had it yawned so wide as when she fled
up to her room carrying with her the echo of Mr.
Royall's tale. Her first confused thought was the
prayer that she might never see young Harney
again. It was too bitter to picture him as the de-
tached impartial listener to such a story. "I wish
he'd go away: I wish he'd go tomorrow, and never
come back she moaned to her pillow; and far into
the night she lay there, in the disordered dress she
had forgotten to take off, her whole soul a tossing
misery on which her hopes and dreams spun about
like drowning straws.
Of all this tumult only a vague heart-soreness
was left when she opened her eyes the next morn-
ing. Her first thought was of the weather, for
Harney had asked her to take him to the brown
house under Porcupine, and then around by Ham-
blin; and as the trip was a long one they were to
start at nine. The sun rose without a cloud, and
earlier than usual she was in the kitchen, making
cheese sandwiches, decanting buttermilk into a bot-
tle, wrapping up slices of apple pie, and accusing
Verena of having given away a basket she needed,
which had always hung on a hook in the passage.
When she came out into the porch, in her pink
calico, which had run a little in the washing, but
was still bright enough to set off her dark tints,
she had such a triumphant sense of being a part of
the sunlight and the morning that the last trace of
her misery vanished. What did it matter where
she 'came from, or whose child she was, when love
was dancing in her veins, and down the road she
saw young Harney coming toward her?
Mr. Royall was in the porch too. He had said
nothing at breakfast, but when she came out in
her pink dress, the basket in her hand, he looked
at her with surprise. "Where you going to?" he
"Why-Mr. Harney's starting earlier than usual
today," she answered.
"Mr. Harney, Mr. Harney? Ain't Mr. Harney
learned how to drive a horse yet?"
She made no answer, and he sat tilted back in
his chair, drumming on the rail of the porch. It
was the first time he had ever spoken of the young
man in that tone, and Charity felt a faint chill of
apprehension. After a moment he stood up and
walked away toward the bit of ground behind the
house, where the hired man was hoeing.
The air was cool and clear, with the autumnal
sparkle that a north wind brings to the hills in
early summer, and the night had been so still that
the dew hung on everything, not as a lingering
moisture, but in separate beads that glittered like
diamonds on the ferns and grasses. It was a long
drive to the foot of Porcupine: first across the val-
ley, with blue hills bounding the open slopes; then
down into the beach-woods, following the course
of the Creston, a brown brook leaping over velvet
ledges; then out again onto the farm-lands about
Creston Lake, and gradually up the ridges of the
Eagle Range. At last they reached the yoke of
the hills, and before them opened another valley,
green and wild, and beyond it more blue heights
eddying away to the sky like the waves of a re-
Harney tied the horse to a tree-stump, and they
unpacked their basket under an aged walnut with
a riven trunk out of which bumblebees darted.
The sun had grown hot, and behind them was the
noonday murmur of the forest. Summer insects
danced on the air, and a flock of white butterflies
fanned the mobile tips of the crimson fireweed. In
the valley below not a house was visible; it seemed
as if Charity Royall and young Harney were the
only living beings in the great hollow of earth and
Charity's spirits lagged and disquieting thoughts
stole back on her. Young Harney had grown silent,
and as he lay beside her, his arms under his head, his
eyes on the network of leaves above him, she won-
dered if he were musing on what Mr. Royall had
told him, and if it had really debased her in his
-thoughts. She wished he had not asked her to take
him that day to the brown house; she did not want
him to see the people she came from while the
story of her birth was fresh in his mind. More
than once she had been on the point of suggesting
that they should follow the ridge and drive straight
to Hamblin, where there was a little deserted house
he wanted to see; but shyness and pride held her
back. "He'd better know what kind of folks I
belong to," she said to herself, with a somewhat
forced defiance; for in reality it was shame that
kept her silent.
Suddenly she lifted her hand and pointed to the
sky. "There's a storm coming up."
He followed her glance and smiled. "Is it that
scrap of cloud among the pines that frightens
"It's over the Mountain; and a cloud over the
Mountain always means trouble."
"Oh, I don't believe half the bad things you all
say of the Mountain! But anyhow, we'll get down
to the brown house before the rain comes."
He was not far wrong, for only a few isolated
drops had fallen when they turned into the road
under the shaggy flank of Porcupine, and came
upon the brown house. It stood alone beside a
swamp bordered with alder thickets and tall bul-
rushes. Not another dwelling was in sight, and it
was hard to guess what motive could have actuated
the early settler who had made his home in so un-
friendly a spot.
Charity had picked up enough of her companion's
erudition to understand what had attracted him to
the house. She noticed the fan-shaped tracery of
the broken light above the door, the flutings of
the paintless pilasters at the corners, and the round
window set in the gable; and she knew that, for
reasons that still escaped her, these were things
to be admired and recorded. Still, they had seen
other houses far more "typical" (the word was
Harney's); and as he threw the reins on the horse's
neck he said with a slight shiver of repugnance:
"We won't stay long."
Against the restless alders turning their white lin-
ing to the storm the house looked singularly deso-
late. The paint was almost gone from the clap-
boards, the window-panes were broken and patched
with rags, and the garden was a poisonous tangle
of nettles, burdocks and tall swamp-weeds over
which big blue-bottles hummed.
At the sound of wheels a child with a tow-head
and pale eyes like Liff Hyatt's peered over the fence
and then slipped away behind an out-house. Har-
ney jumped down and helped Charity out; and as
he did so the rain broke on them. It came slant-
wise, on a furious gale, laying shrubs and young
trees flat, tearing off their leaves like an autumn
storm, turning the road into a river, and making
hissing pools of every hollow. Thunder rolled in-
cessantly through the roar of the rain, and a strange
glitter of light ran along the ground under the
"Lucky we're here after all," Harney laughed.
He fastened the horse under a half-roofless shed,
and wrapping Charity in his coat ran with her to
the house. The boy had not reappeared, and as
there was no response to their knocks Harney turned
the door-handle and they went in.
There were three people in the kitchen to which
the door admitted them. An old woman with a
handkerchief over her head was sitting by the win-
dow. She held a sickly-looking kitten on her knees,
and whenever it jumped down and tried to limp
away she stooped and lifted it back without any
change of her aged, unnoticing face. Another
woman, the unkempt creature that Charity had once
noticed in driving by, stood leaning against the win-
dow-frame and stared at them; and near the stove
an unshaved man in a tattered shirt sat on a barrel
The place was bare and miserable and the air
heavy with the smell of dirt and stale tobacco.
Charity's heart sank. Old derided tales of the
Mountain people came back to her, and the woman's
stare was so disconcerting, and the face of the sleep-
ing man so sodden and bestial, that her disgust was
tinged with a vague dread. She was not afraid
for herself; she knew the Hyatts would not be likely
to trouble her; but she was not sure how they would
treat a "city fellow."
Lucius Harney would certainly have laughed at
her fears. He glanced about the room, uttered a
general "How are you?" to which no one responded,
and then asked the younger woman if they might
take shelter till the storm was over.
She turned her eyes away from him and looked
"You're the girl from Royall's, ain't you?"
The colour rose in Charity's face. "I'm Charity
Royall," she said, as if asserting her right to the
name in the very place where it might have been
most open to question.
The woman did not seem to notice. "You kin
stay," she merely said; then she turned away and
stooped over a dish in which she was stirring some-
Harney and Charity sat down on a bench made
of a board resting on two starch boxes. They faced
a door hanging on a broken hinge, and through
the crack they saw the eyes of the tow-headed boy
and of a pale little girl with a scar across her
cheek. Charity smiled, and signed to the children
to come in; but as soon as they saw they were dis-
covered they slipped away on bare feet. It occurred
to her that they were afraid of rousing the sleeping
man; and probably the woman shared their fear,
for she moved about as noiselessly and avoided go-
ing near the stove.
The rain continued to beat against the house, and
in one or two places it sent a stream through the
patched panes and ran into pools on the floor.
Every now and then the kitten mewed and struggled
down, and the old woman stooped and caught it,
holding it tight in her bony hands; and once or twice
the man on the barrel half woke, changed his posi-
tion and dozed again, his head falling forward on
his hairy breast. As the minutes passed, and the
rain still streamed against the windows, a loathing
of the place and the people came over Charity. The
sight of the weak-minded old woman, of the cowed 7/ .
children, and the ragged man sleeping off his liquor,
made the setting of her own life seem a vision of
peace and plenty. She thought of the kitchen at
Mr. Royall's, with its scrubbed floor and dresser
full of china, and the peculiar smell of yeast and
coffee and soft-soap that she had always hated, but
that now seemed the very symbol of household or-
der. She saw Mr. Royall's room, with the high-
backed horsehair chair, the faded rag carpet, the
row of books on a shelf, the engraving of "The
Surrender of Burgoyne" over the stove, and the
mat with a brown and white spaniel on a moss-
green border. And then her mind travelled to
Miss Hatchard's house, where all was freshness,
purity and fragrance, and compared to which the
red house had always seemed so poor and plain.
"This is where I belong-this is where I belong,"
she kept repeating to herself; but the words had
o meaning for her. Every instinct and habit made
her a stranger among these poor swamp-people liv-
ing like vermin in their lair. With all her soul
se wished she had not yielded to Harney's curi-
osity, and brought him there.
The rain had drenched her, and she began to
shiver under the thin folds of her dress. The
younger woman must have noticed it, for she went
out of the room and came back with a broken tea-
cup which she offered to Charity. It was half full
of whiskey, and Charity shook her head; but Har-
ney took the cup and put his lips to it. When he
had set it down Charity saw him feel in his pocket
and draw out a dollar; he hesitated a moment, and
then put it back, and she guessed that he did not
wish her to see him offering money to people she
had spoken of as being her kin.
The sleeping man stirred, lifted his head and
opened his eyes. They rested vacantly for a mo-
ment on Charity and Harney, and then closed again,
and his head drooped; but a look of anxiety came
into the woman's face. She glanced out of the
window and then came up to Harney. "I guess'
you better go along now," she said. The young
man understood and got to his feet. "Thank you,"
he said, holding out his hand. She seemed not to
notice the gesture, and turned away as they opened
The rain was still coming down, but they hardly
noticed it: the pure air was like balm in their faces.
The clouds were rising and breaking, and between
their edges the light streamed down from reinote
blue hollows. Harney untied the horse, and they
drove off through the diminishing rain, which was
already beaded with sunlight.
For a while Charity was silent, and her com-
panion did not speak. She looked timidly at his
profile: it was graver than usual, as though he too
were oppressed by what they had seen. Then she
broke out abruptly: "Those people back there are
the kind of folks I come from. They may be my
relations, for all I know." She did not want him to
think that she regretted having told him her story.
"Poor creatures," he rejoined. "I wonder why
they came down to that fever-hole."
She laughed ironically. "To better themselves!
It's worse up on the Mountain. Bash Hyatt mar-
ried the daughter of the .farmer that used to own
the brown house. That was him by the stove, I
Harney seemed to find nothing to say and she
went on: "I saw you take out a dollar to give
to that poor woman. Why did you put it back ?"
He reddened, and leaned forward to flick a
swamp-fly from the horse's neck. "I wasn't
"Was it because you knew they were my folks,
and thought I'd be ashamed to see you give them
He turned to her with eyes full of reproach.
"Oh, Charity- It was the first time he had
ever called her by her name. Her misery welled
"I ain't-I ain't ashamed. They're my people,
and I ain't ashamed of them," she sobbed.
"My dear ." he murmured, putting his arm
about her; and she leaned against him and wept out
It was too late to go around to Hamblin, and
all the stars were out in a clear sky when they
reached the North Dormer valley and drove up to
the red house.
SINCE her reinstatement in Miss Hatchard's
favour Charity had not dared to curtail by
a moment her hours of attendance at the library.
She even made a point of arriving before the
time, and showed a laudable indignation when the
youngest Targatt girl, who had been engaged to
help in the cleaning and rearranging of the books,
came trailing in late and neglected her task to peer
through the window at the Sollas boy. Neverthe-
less, "library days" seemed more than ever irksome
to Charity after her vivid hours of liberty; and she
would have found it hard to set a good example
to her subordinate if Lucius Harney had not been
commissioned, before Miss Hatchard's departure,
to examine with the local carpenter the best means
of ventilating the "Memorial."
He was careful to prosecute this inquiry on the
days when the library was open to the public; and
Charity was therefore sure of spending part of the
afternoon in his company. The Targatt girl's pres-
ence, and the risk of being interrupted by some
passer-by suddenly smitten with a thirst for letters,
restricted their intercourse to the exchange of com-
monplaces; but there was a fascination to Charity
in the contrast between these public civilities and
their secret intimacy.
The day after their drive to the brown house
was "library day," and she sat at her desk work-
ing at the revised catalogue, while the Targatt girl,
one eye on the window, chanted out the titles of
a pile of books. Charity's thoughts were far away,
in the dismal house by the swamp, and under the
twilight sky during the long drive home, when
Lucius Harney had consoled her with endearing
words. That day, for the first time since he had
been boarding with them, he had failed to appear
as usual at the midday meal. No message had come
to explain his absence, and Mr. Royall, who was
more than usually taciturn, had betrayed no sur-
prise, and made no comment. In itself this in-
difference was not particularly significant, for Mr.
Royall, in common with most of his fellow-citizens,
had a way of accepting events passively, as if he
had long since come to the conclusion that no one
who lived in North Dormer could hope to modify
_ _C.__ _____~1___ ________ _
them. But to Charity, in the reaction from her
mood of passionate exaltation, there was something
disquieting in his silence. It was almost as if
Lucius Harney had never had a part in their lives:
Mr. Royall's imperturbable indifference seemed to
relegate him to the domain of unreality.
As she sat at work, she tried to shake off her
disappointment at Harney's non-appearing. Some
trifling incident had probably kept him from join-
ing them at midday; but she was sure he must be
eager to see her again, and that he would not want
to wait till they met at supper, between Mr. Royall
and Verena. She was wondering what his first
words would be, and trying to devise a way of get-
ting rid of the Targatt girl before he came, when
she heard steps outside, and he walked up the path
with Mr. Miles.
The clergyman from Hepburn seldom came to
North Dormer except when he drove over to of-
ficiate at the old white church which, by an un-
usual chance, happened to belong to the Episcopal
communion. He was a brisk affable man, eager
to make the most of the fact that a little nucleus of
"church-people" had survived in the sectarian wil-
derness, and resolved to undermine the influence of
, I -
the ginger-bread-coloured Baptist chapel at the other
end of the village; but he was kept busy by parochial
work at Hepburn, where there were paper-mills
and saloons, and it was not often that he could
spare time for North Dormer.
Charity, who went to the white church (like all
the best people in North Dormer), admired Mr.
Miles, and had even, during the memorable trip
to Nettleton, imagined herself married to a man
who had such a straight nose and such a beautiful
way of speaking, and who lived in a brown-stone
rectory covered with Virginia creeper. It had been
a shock to discover that the privilege was already
enjoyed by a lady with crimped hair and a large
baby; but the arrival of Lucius Harney had long
since banished Mr. Miles from Charity's dreams,
and as he walked up the path at Harney's side she
saw him as he really was: a fat middle-aged man
with a baldness showing under his clerical hat,
and spectacles on his Grecian nose. She wondered
what had called him to North Dormer on a week-
day, and felt a little hurt that Harney should have
brought him to the library.
It presently appeared that his presence there was
due to Miss Hatchard. He had been spending a
few days at Springfield, to fill a friend's pulpit,
and had been consulted by Miss Hatchard as to
young Harney's plan for ventilating the "Me-
morial." To lay hands on the Hatchard ark was
a grave matter, and Miss Hatchard, always full of
scruples about her scruples (it was Harney's
phrase), wished to have Mr. Miles's opinion before
"I couldn't," Mr. Miles explained, "quite make
out from your cousin what changes you wanted to
make, and as the other trustees did not understand
either I thought I had better drive over and take
a look-though I'm sure," he added, turning his
friendly spectacles on the young man, "that no one
could be more competent-but of course this spot
has its peculiar sanctity!"
"I hope a little fresh air won't desecrate it," Har-
ney laughingly rejoined; and they walked to the
other end of the library while he set forth his idea
to the Rector.
Mr. Miles had greeted the two girls with his usual 1
friendliness, but Charity saw that he was occupied
with other things, and she presently became aware,
by the scraps of conversation drifting over to her,
that he was still under the charm of his visit to
Springfield, which appeared to have been full of
"Ah, the Coopersons yes, you know them,
of course," she heard. "That's a fine old house!
And Ned Cooperson has collected some really re-
markable impressionist pictures. ." The names
he cited were unknown to Charity. "Yes; yes; the
Schaefer quartette played at Lyric Hall on Satur-
day evening; and on Monday I had the privilege
of hearing them again at the Towers. Beautifully
done Bach and Beethoven a lawn-party
first I saw Miss Balch several times, by the
way looking extremely handsome. ."
Charity dropped her pencil and forgot to listen
to the Targatt girl's sing-song. Why had Mr.
Miles suddenly brought up Annabel Balch's name?
"Oh, really?" she heard Harney rejoin; and,
raising his stick, he pursued: "You see, my plan is
to move these shelves away, and open a round win-
dow in this wall, on the axis of the one under the
"I suppose she'll be coming up here later to stay
with Miss Hatchard?" Mr. Miles went on, follow-
ing on his train of thought; then, spinning about
and tilting his head back: "Yes, yes, I see-I un-
derstand: that will give a draught without materi-
ally altering the look of things. I can see no ob-
The discussion went on for some minutes, and
gradually the two men moved back toward the
desk. Mr. Miles stopped again and looked thought-
fully at Charity. "Aren't you a little pale, my
dear? Not overworking? Mr. Harney tells me
you and Mamie are giving the library a thorough
overhauling." He was always careful to remember
his parishioners' Christian names, and at the right
moment he bent his benignant spectacles on the
Then he turned to Charity. "Don't take things
hard, my dear; don't take things hard. Come down
and see Mrs. Miles and me some day at Hepburn,"
he said, pressing her hand and waving a farewell
to Mamie Targatt. He went out of the library,
and Harney followed him.
Charity thought she detected a look of constraint
in Harney's eyes. She fancied he did not want
to be alone with her; and with a sudden pang she
wondered if he repented the tender things he had
said to her the night before. His words had been
more fraternal than lover-like; but she had lost their
exact sense in the caressing warmth of his voice.
He had made her feel that the fact of her being
a waif from the Mountain was only another reason
for holding her close and soothing her with con-
solatory murmurs; and when the drive was over,
and she got out of the buggy, tired, cold, and ach-
ing with emotion, she stepped as if the ground were
a sunlit wave and she the spray on its crest.
Why, then, had his manner suddenly changed,
and why did he leave the library with Mr. Miles?
Her restless imagination fastened on the name of
Annabel Balch: from the moment it had been men-
tioned she fancied that Harney's expression had
altered. Annabel Balch at a garden-party at Spring-
field, looking "extremely handsome" perhaps
Mr. Miles had seen her there at the very moment
when Charity and Harney were sitting in the
Hyatts' hovel, between a drunkard and a half-witted
old woman! Charity did not know exactly what a
garden-party was, but her glimpse of the flower-
edged lawns of Nettleton helped her to visualize
the scene, and envious recollections of the "old
things" which Miss Balch avowedly "wore out"
when she came to North Dormer made it only too
easy to picture her in her splendour. Charity un-
derstood what associations the name must have
called up, and felt the uselessness of struggling
against the unseen influences in Harney's life.
When she came down from her room for supper
he was not there; and while she waited in the porch
she recalled the tone in which Mr. Royall had com-
mented the day before on their early start. Mr.
Royall sat at her side, his chair tilted back, his
broad black boots with side-elastics resting against
the lower bar of the railings. His rumpled grey
hair stood up above his forehead like the crest of
an angry bird, and the leather-brown of his veined
cheeks was blotched with red. Charity knew that
those red spots were the signs of a coming ex-
Suddenly he said: "Where's supper? Has Ve-
rena Marsh slipped up again on her soda-biscuits?"
Charity threw a startled glance at him. "I pre-
sume she's waiting for Mr. Harney."
"Mr. Harney, is she? She'd better dish up, then.
He ain't coming." He stood up, walked to the
door, and called out, in the pitch necessary to pene-
trate the old woman's tympanum: "Get along with
the supper, Verena."
Charity was trembling with apprehension. Some-
thing had happened-she was sure of it now-and
Mr. Royall knew what it was. But not for the
world would she have gratified him by showing her
anxiety. She took her usual place, and he seated
himself opposite, and poured out a strong cup of
tea before passing her the tea-pot. Verena brought
some scrambled eggs, and he piled his plate with
them. "Ain't you going to take any?" he asked.
Charity roused herself and began to eat.
The tone with which Mr. Royall had said "He's
not coming" seemed to her full of an ominous satis-
faction. She saw that he had suddenly begun to
hate Lucius Harney, and guessed herself to be the
cause of this change of feeling. But she had no
means of finding out whether some act of hostility
on his part had made the young man stay away,
or whether he simply wished to avoid seeing her
again after their drive back from the brown house.
She ate her supper with a studied show of indif-
ference, but she knew that Mr. Royall was watch-
ing her and that her agitation did not escape him.
After supper she went up to her room. She
heard Mr. Royall cross the passage, and presently
the sounds below her window showed that he had
returned to the porch. She seated herself on her
bed and began to struggle against the desire to go
down and ask him what had happened. "I'd rather
die than do it," she muttered to herself. With a
word he could have relieved her uncertainty: but
never would she gratify him by saying it.
She rose and leaned out of the window. The twi-
light had deepened into night, and she watched the
frail curve of the young moon dropping to the edge
of the hills. Through the darkness she saw one
or two figures moving down the road; but the eve-
ning was too cold for loitering, and presently the
strollers disappeared. Lamps were beginning to
show here and there in the windows. A bar of
light brought out the whiteness of a clump of lilies
in the Hawes's yard: and farther down the street
Carrick Fry's Rochester lamp cast its bold illumi-
nation on the rustic flower-tub in the middle of his
For a long time she continued to lean in the
window. But 4 fever of unrest consumed her, and
finally she went downstairs, took her hat from its
hook, and swung out of the house. Mr. Royall sat
in the porch, Verena beside him, her old hands
crossed on her patched skirt. As Charity went
down the steps Mr. Royall called after her: "Where
you going?", She could easily have answered: "To
Orma's," or "Down to the Targatts' "; and either
answer might have blen true, for she had no pur-
pose. But she swept on in silence, determined not
to recognize his right to question her.
At the gate she paused and looked up and down
the road. The darkness drew her, and she thought
of climbing the hill and plunging into the depths of
the larch-wood above the pasture. Then she glanced
irresolutely along the street, and as she did so a
gleam appeared through the spruces at Miss Hatch-
ard's gate. Lucius Harney was there, then-he
had not gone down to Hepburn with Mr. Miles,
as she had at first imagined. But where had he
taken his evening meal, and what had caused him
to stay away from Mr. Royall's? The light was
positive proof of his presence, for Miss Hatchard's
servants were away on a holiday, and her farmer's
wife came only in the mornings, to make the young
man's bed and prepare his coffee. Beside that lamp
he was doubtless sitting at this moment. To know
the truth Charity had only to walk half the length
of the village, and knock at the lighted window. She
hesitated a minute or two longer, and then turned
toward Miss Hatchard's.
She walked quickly, straining her eyes to detect
anyone who might be coming along the street; and
before reaching the Frys' she crossed over to avoid
the light from their window. Whenever she was
unhappy she felt herself at bay against a pitiless
world, and a kind of animal secretiveness possessed
her. But the street was empty, and she passed un-
noticed through the gate and up the path to the
house. Its white front glimmered indistinctly
through the trees, showing only one oblong of light
on the lower floor. She had supposed that the
lamp was in Miss Hatchard's sitting-room; but she
now saw that it shone through a window at the
farther corner of the house. She did not know the
room to which this window belonged, and she
paused under the trees, checked by a sense of
strangeness. Then she moved on, treading softly
on the short grass, and keeping so close to the house
that whoever was in the roont, ,qveljf rn.osed by.
her approach, would not.be'~ '-foj*- sed hei : .'' .*
The window opened-ot a'narrow verandah with "":*.
a trellised arch. Sitl:aned close "fi:tre.lis.ad" .* ..
parting the sprays' f clematis th'0 6V'efdc it idcked
into a corer of the room. She saw the foot of
a mahogany bed, an engraving on the wall, a wash-
stand on which a towel had been tossed, and one
end of the green-covered table which held the lamp.
Half of the lamp-shade projected into her field of
vision, and just under it two smooth sunburnt
hands, one holding a pencil and the other a ruler,
were moving to and fro over a drawing-board.
Her heart jumped and then stood still. He was
there, a few feet away; and while her soul was
tossing on seas of woe he had been quietly sitting
at his drawing-board. The sight of those two
hands, moving with their usual skill and precision,
woke her out of her dream. Her eyes were opened
to the disproportion between what she had felt and
the cause of her agitation; and she was turning
away from the window when one hand abruptly
pushed aside the drawing-board and the other flung
down the pencil.
Charity had often noticed Harney's loving care
p pf hihS fraijrpg~; ?rI4 the neatness and method with
.wlich'le carried d~ :cncluded each task. The
impatient sweeping aslde'.*. the drawing-board
eertid.*p :YiJ anew madd;*'..The gesture sug-
gested' sut'd'den'lis'r6uragement,*- distaste for his
work and she wondered if he too were agitated by
secret perplexities. Her impulse of flight was