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Title:      Miss Bishop (1933)
Author:     Bess Streeter Aldrich
eBook No.:  0500431.txt
Edition:    1
Language:   English
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Date first posted:          May 2005
Date most recently updated: May 2005

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Title:      Miss Bishop (1933)
Author:     Bess Streeter Aldrich


In 1846 the prairie town of Oak River existed only in a settler's
dream.  In 1856 the dream became an incorporated reality.  Ten
years later a rambling village with a long muddy Main Street and a
thousand souls welcomed back its Civil War boys.  And by 1876 it
was sprawling over a large area with the cocksure air of a new
midwestern town fully expecting to become a huge metropolis.  If
all the high hopes of those pioneer town councilors had been
fulfilled, the midwest to-day would be one grand interlocking of
city streets.  As it is, hundreds of little towns grew to their
full size of two or five or ten thousand, paused in their growth,
and admitted that none of them by taking Chamber-of-Commerce
thought could add one cubit to its stature.

So Oak River, attaining the full strength of its corporeal self
some years ago, has now settled down into a town of ten thousand,
quite like a big boy who realizes that the days of his physical
growth are over, and proceeds to look a bit to the development of
his mind and his manners.

The chief source of the big boy's pride is the school,--Midwestern
College.  It stands at the edge of town in a lovely rolling campus,
sweet-smelling in the springtime from its newly cropped blue-grass
and white clover, colorful in the autumn from the scarlet and
russet and gold of its massive trees,--a dozen or more pompous
buildings arranged in stately formation, a campanile lifting its
clock faces high to the four winds, a huge stadium proudly gloating
over its place in the athletic sun.  Concrete driveways and
sidewalks curve through the green of elms and maples, and young
people walk or drive over them continually,--a part of that great
concourse of Youth forever crossing the campuses of the world.

Until last summer, an ancient brick building known as Old Central
Hall stood in the very middle of the group of fine modern
structures, like a frowzy old woman, wrinkled and gray, surrounded
by well-groomed matrons.  A few mild-spoken people referred to the
building as quaint, the frank ones called it ugly--but whenever
there was talk of removing it, a host of sentimental alumni arose
en masse and exclaimed:  "What!  Tear down Old Central?"  And as
the college board consisted one hundred per cent of alumni, Old
Central continued to sit complacently on, year after year, in the
center of the quadrangle, almost humanly impudent in attitude
toward the rest of the buildings.

To several thousand people it was so familiar, so much a vital part
of their lives, that when, last spring, a regretful board guiltily
sounded the death knell, many more alumni than usual arrived on the
campus at Commencement time, quite like children called home to see
a mother on her deathbed.

Those who had not seen her for several years found her worn and
cracked and disgracefully shabby, with her belfry half removed and
extra pillars placed in the dismantled auditorium for safety's
sake.  But, even so, there were two or three present who recalled
that like any other aged soul who has outlived her usefulness, she
had once been as strong and bright and gay as a bride.  That had
been in 1876, when Oak River itself was still young.

On the sixth of September of that year, so important to the thirty-
two young people entering the new hall for the first time, the
building rose like a squatty lighthouse on a freshwater lake, for
it stood in the center of forty acres of coarse prairie grass bent
to the earth with the moisture of a three-day drenching rain.

It was still raining dismally at eight o'clock on that Wednesday
morning--a low monotonous drizzle that turned the new campus into a
sea--a Red Sea, for that matter, as the brick dust around the newly
erected building made of the soggy ground a rust-colored mud.
Wheelbarrows leaned tipsily against the new walls.  Mortar boxes
held miniature chalky pools.  The approach to the big doors,
unpainted as yet, was up an incline with wooden cleats nailed on
it, upon which the girls in their flowing ruffled skirts tottered
so perilously that their long thin hoops quivered up and down in
rhythmic sympathy.

Inside, a few potential students stood about in the hall, which was
almost too dark for any one of them to get an enlightening look at
his neighbor.  The newly plastered walls were scarcely dry, so that
the atmosphere here was seemingly as moist as that without.

Chris Jensen, a young Dane, just starting out on his janitor
duties, stood solemnly at the doorway with a broom, and after the
entrance of each young neophyte, brushed out puddles of muddy water
with the air of having swept a part of the River of Sorrows out of
the infernal regions.

The first comers all watched him soberly.  No one said anything.
Everyone was cold, the huge coils of pipes around the rooms having
as yet no intimate relation to any heating plant.  All was as merry
as a burial service.

Then a young girl opened the door and blew in on a gust of rain-
filled wind.  An expansive smile from a wide cheerful mouth greeted
the assembled mourners as she gave one sweeping glance toward them

Chris Jensen, with broom poised for her entrance, grinned
cheerfully back, his pale eyes lighting with responsive mirth.

"Velcome to school," he said in Danish accent and lowered the
threatening weapon.  It was the first word he had uttered during
the whole moist morning.

With the girl's coming some new element entered the room, as though
a bright pigment had suddenly been used on a sepia picture.

She was not pretty.  One could scarcely say what it was that set
her apart from the others,--humor, vitality, capability, or some
unknown characteristic which combined them all.  It was as though
she said:  "Well, here I am.  Let's begin."

Removing shining rubbers and a dripping brown cape with a plaid
hood at the back, she placed them in the hallway that gave forth a
strong rubbery odor, and came up to the other students.

She had on a long plaid dress, brown and red, over narrow hoops,
with ruffles curving from the bottom of her skirt up to the back of
her waist, and a tight-fitting basque brave with rows of brass
buttons marching, soldier-like, four abreast, across the front.
Her hair was piled high in the intricate coiffure of the day and
drawn back into curls.

She gave one look at the funereal expressions of the assembled
embryonic collegians.  One girl, highly overdressed in a green
velveteen suit, was shedding copious tears into the expensive lace
of a large handkerchief.

"What are we waiting for?" the newcomer said with some asperity.
"Let's go on in."

Like sheep, the whole group, under the new bell-wether's
leadership, tagged meekly after her into the assembly room--a room
so huge that the wildest optimism of the most progressive of Oak
River's citizenry could scarcely conceive a day when it would be
filled with youth.

A young instructor sat at a desk just inside the door, two others
were consulting by a window.  Everything about the young man at the
desk was thin.  He had a thin body, a high thin forehead, a long
thin nose, a thin mustache of recent raising straggling over a thin-
lipped mouth.  A blank book, very large and very white, was open in
front of him over which he held a pen poised for action.

He appeared so timid in the face of the situation that when he
managed to emit, "Will some one please start the enrollment?" the
girl looked about her inquiringly and then marched sturdily up to
the sacrificial altar as it were.

"Your name?"

He looked so embarrassed that the merry eyes of the girl half
closed in crinkling humor and she stifled silent laughter.

"Ella Bishop," she said demurely.

He wrote it with great flourishes, his hand making many dizzy
elliptical journeys before it settled down to an elaborate "E" with
a curving tail as long as some prehistoric baboon's.

When he had finished the lengthy and intricate procedure, he paused
and asked shyly:

"Your age?"


As this was executed in the less spectacular figures, it did not
consume quite so much time.


"Oak River, now . . ."  And in further explanation, "We just moved
in from the farm--my mother and I--and settled here."

"I see.  On what street, please?"

"Adams Street--half way between Tenth and Eleventh."

He looked up as though at a startling piece of news.  "Why . . .
why . . . that's right across the street from ME."  And flushed to
his thin forehead.

The green velveteen girl, who had been weeping continuously,
suddenly tittered, a bit hysterically.

By this time the timid one had been joined by another instructor,
evidently for monetary reasons, so that immediately there was a
flutter of pockets and bags,--one big-boned German boy extracting
gold coin with difficulty from the lining of his homemade coat,
while a freckled girl of apparent Scotch lineage turned abruptly to
the wall and deftly removed a roll of bills from some unknown
source in the region of her left lung.

When the last name had been entered by Professor Samuel Peters'
agile pen with much shading of downward strokes and many extra
corkscrew appendages, the president called the students to order in
the church-pew seats of the huge assembly room, in which immensity
the little company seemed lost.

The faculty consisted of four instructors besides President
Corcoran.  They were Professor Loren Wick, mathematics, brown-
whiskered and paunchy, with a vague suggestion of his last lunch
somewhere on his vest,--Professor Byron Carter, grammar and
literature, small and nervous, with gray goatee, eyeglasses and a
black cord,--Miss Emmaline Patton, geography and history, a solid
appearing woman, both as to physique and mentality,--as though an
opinion once formed became a necessary amendment to the laws of the
Medes and the Persians,--and the thin, embarrassed Samuel Peters,
he of the coquettish pen, who was to teach spelling and the
intricacies of the Spencerian method of writing.

These now with President Corcoran, who was to teach a mysterious
subject called Mental and Moral Philosophy, filed up on the rostrum
and sat down in a solemn row.  Evidently the transmission of
knowledge was to be a melancholy procedure.  The girl, Ella Bishop,
felt her heart pounding tumultuously with the formality of the
occasion.  The green velveteen girl mopped seeping moisture

A new reed organ with many carved cupids and gingerbread brackets
stood at one side of the rostrum.  President Corcoran, a short
plump man whose kindly face was two-thirds hidden behind a duck-
blind of beard, indicating the musical instrument, asked if any one
could play, whereupon the green velveteen girl, having foreseen the
possibility of this very prominence (and hence the velveteen) dried
her eyes and volunteered with some alacrity.

Shortly, the assembled students were singing "Shall We Gather at
the River?" and any one glancing out of the high Gothic windows
with prairie adaptations, where the rain splashed and ran dismally
down, could have answered honestly, "No doubt we shall."

There was prayer, in which the president informed the Lord of the
current events of the morning, including the exact number of
matriculations, and then, suddenly, abandoning statistics, asked
fervently for divine love and light and guidance in the lives of
these young people, which latter part of the petition seemed
somehow to reach immediately the place for which it was intended.

When he had finished, there was an announcement or two, a reading
of many and stringent rules with penalties attached thereto for
nonconformity, and another song of such dry characteristics as
might counteract the moisture of the first one:

                    ". . . In deserts wild
     Thou spreadest a table for thy child."

Then classes--and Midwestern College was fairly launched.


The girl, Ella Bishop, entered whole-heartedly into this first
convocation of the new college,--as indeed she would have entered
into anything, an auction sale or an Irish wake.  Morning classes
for her followed one another in rather sketchy fashion.  With a
surreptitious flourish of many cold chicken legs, lunch at noon was
consummated in a room politely termed the physical science
laboratory, but whose apparatus consisted largely of a wobbly
tellurian, a lung-tester, and a homemade air-pump which gave forth
human-like sounds of torture.  One group sat in the recitation
seats, one on the edge of a long table, and a few girls under
Ella's efficient management gathered in a friendly arrangement of
chairs in a far corner.  The instinct to run to cliques settles
itself in the breast of every female child at birth.

Afternoon saw Ella in Miss Patton's class reciting a little vaguely
concerning the inhabitants of South America, and in Professor
Peters' class watching with fascinated wonder as he executed a
marvelous blackboard sketch of a fish never known to any sea, with
the modest assurance that they too could be in time as proficient
as he--although once it did briefly occur to Ella to question
what specific importance could be attached to the resultant

The close of day saw her at home in the modest wing-and-ell house
"on Adams between Tenth and Eleventh," where her widowed mother was
attempting to settle the furnishings.

She removed her wet things and slipped into another dress which
strangely enough was made of the same plaid goods as the one she
had worn to school.  A mystified onlooker could not have known that
Ella's father, before his death, had taken over two bolts of cloth
from a merchant at Maynard in payment for a horse--and that for
several years now Ella's wardrobe had consisted entirely of red-and-
brown plaid trimmed with blue serge, or blue serge trimmed with red-
and-brown plaid.

"Shall I wear the pork and beans to-day, Mother, or the beans and
pork?" she sometimes asked facetiously.

At which joking her mother's expression would become hurt and she
would answer:  "Oh, Ella . . . you shouldn't make fun . . .
Father . . . the cloth . . . like that. . . ."

Mrs. Bishop seldom finished her sentences.  She was so uncertain
about everything, so possessed by a sense of helplessness since her
husband's death, that at sixteen Ella had assumed management of the
household and become the dictator of all plans.

Just now she accomplished more in the first half-hour of her brisk
labor in the unsettled home than the mother had done in the whole
day.  She whisked things into place with marvelous dexterity,
chattering all the time of the greatest event of her life,--her
first day at the new college.

She could give the names of practically all the other thirty-one
students.  The big-boned German boy was George Schroeder.  He had
been a farmhand and could scarcely speak English.  The small
weazened-face boy who was so sharp at mathematics that Professor
Wick had spoken about it was Albert Fonda, a Bohemian boy.  He had
told Professor Wick he wanted to study astronomy, and that nice
Professor Wick had said he and Albert would have a class if there
was no one in it but they two.  The Scotch girl was Janet
McLaughlin and she had made them all laugh by saying that she
thought the day would come when cooking and sewing would be taught
in schools.  Imagine THAT,--things you could learn at home.  The
girl in the velveteen dress was Irene Van Ness, the banker's
daughter, and she had cried because she didn't want to go to this
school, but her father was one of the founders of it and had made
her go.  Irene was half-way engaged to Chester Peters, brother of
the penmanship teacher, who went east to school,--the brother, she
meant, not The Fish,--though how any one could be HALF-WAY engaged
was more than she could understand.

Indeed, half-way measures were so unknown to Ella Bishop, that
carried away by her own entertainment she was now imitating the
instructors, describing her fellow students, impersonating Irene
playing the organ so vividly that her mother laughed quite heartily
before suddenly remembering there had been a bereavement in the
family the past year.

The wing-and-ell house into which the two were moving sat behind a
brown picket-fence not far back from the street.  Two doors at
right angles on the small porch opened into a dining-room and a
parlor; the porch itself was covered with a rank growth of trumpet-
vine.  Inside, there were sale carpets tacked firmly over fresh oat
straw, the one in the parlor was dark brown liberally sprinkled
with the octagon-shaped figures to be found in any complete
geometry, the one in the dining-room of red with specks of yellow
on it looking like so many little pieces of egg yolk dropped from
the table.  The parlor contained an organ, a set of horsehair
furniture of a perilous slipperiness, a whatnot, and in the exact
center of the room a walnut table upon which Ella had arranged a
red plush album, a stereoscope with its basket of views, and a
plaster cast of the boy who is never quite able to locate the thorn
in his foot.  A plain house but striving to be in the mode of the

As Ella went now to the parlor door to shake out the crocheted
tidies that belonged on the backs of the horsehair pieces, she
glimpsed a young man walking slowly past the house in the rain and
gazing intently at it.  At the noise of the opening door he turned
his head away suddenly and started walking faster down the street.
"There he goes," she told her mother, "the young man whose pen is
mightier than his swordfish."  And laughed cheerfully at her own

She watched from the shadow of the doorway and saw him cross the
street, turn into the large yard with the two cast-iron deer, and
go up the steps of the big red-brick house with the cupola on one

"That's Judge Peters' house," Mrs. Bishop said, "the woman next
door . . . was telling . . .  The other son . . .  She said . . .
medicine or law . . . or something. . . ."  Poor Mrs. Bishop,
slipping through life, always half-informed, never sure of any

"Yes, that's what I told you, Mother.  Don't you remember?  That
fits in with what Irene Van Ness said--that she is half-way engaged
to Chester Peters who is away at school and is coming home in a few
years to go in his father's law office.  This writing teacher's
name is Sam, and Irene Van Ness says you never saw two brothers so

Ella's first day at school had been one containing many and varied
bits of information.  Keen, alert, the young girl was interested in
every human with whom she came in contact.

On Thursday the rain had ceased, so that the short walk to school
was a thing of delight.  The college building sat so far back in
the prairie pasture that at least half of Ella's journey was
through the grass of the potential campus.  It lay to the west of
Oak River, near a winding prairie road running its muddy length at
the south of the pasture and beyond.  Oak Creek was to the north, a
wandering gypsy of a stream, that after many vagaries of
meandering, joined the river.

All of the keen senses of the girl were alive to the loveliness of
the day and the joy of living.  To her sight came the wide spaces
of the prairie whose billowy expanse was broken only by clumps of
trees which indicated the farmhouse of some early settler, and by
the far horizon where the sky met the prairie like a blue-china
bowl turned over a jade-colored plate.  To her ears came the drone
of Oak River's sawmill, the distant whirring of a prairie grouse,
and the soft sad wail of mourning doves.  To her nose the pungent
odor of prairie grass and prairie loam after their drenching rain,
and from the direction of the creek-bed the faint fragrance of
matured wild crab-apples and hawthorn.

Plodding along through the flush grass she could see many of the
new associates ahead of her wending their way up to this new
Delphian oracle--this Greek temple with lightning-rods--the big-
boned George Schroeder and the weazened little Albert Fonda and the
Scotch Janet McLaughlin.  A two-seated open carriage with prancing
bays and jangling harness and swaying fly-nets came across the
uneven ground and drew up beside her.  An old colored man in a high
silk hat was driving; Irene Van Ness was in the back seat.

"Come, get in," Irene called pleasantly.  And Ella picked up her
long ruffled plaid skirt and clutching it with her books, climbed
up on the high seat beside her.  Irene had on a blue silk dress
with white pearl buttons and a flowing cape to match.

As the carriage bounced over the ground they passed a cow grazing
near the building and when it snatched a greedy mouthful of the
damp luscious prairie grass, Ella said:  "That's Professor Wick's
cow--and see how much like him she looks."

It set Irene to laughing--the cow gazing placidly at them over a
great mouthful of grass, for all the world like Professor Wick
looking calmly over his bushy whiskers.

Men were building the new wooden steps today, but placed the board
with the cleats over the open framework for the two girls.  Chris
Jensen stood at the top and caught each one by the hand as she went
teetering and giggling up the incline.

The day was something of a repetition of the first, without any of
its depressing effects.  Professor Wick conducted a class in
experiments in which the human-voiced air-pump was the leading
character, Professor Carter made an heroic attempt to initiate the
novices into the mysteries of Chaucer, Miss Patton, coolly
rearranging the year's outline to suit herself, moved deliberately
out of South America into the British Isles, and young Sam Peters
added a flourish of fins to his aquatic vertebrate.  And the
evening and the morning were the second day.


Ella Bishop, healthy, country-bred, alive to every fresh sensation,
enjoyed her studies in the new college immensely, but to say that
they were the least of her pleasures, is to admit that it was not
that she loved her classes less, but that she loved her classmates
more.  Peculiarly a lover of human contacts, she brought to every
day's work an exuberance of spirits, a zest for living, a natural
friendliness toward every one in the little school, from President
Corcoran to Chris Jensen.

Toward the new neighbors she felt also the same healthy curiosity
and friendly spirit.  On Friday morning of that first week Sam
Peters caught up with her as she was leaving home and carried her
books up the long straggling street and across the coarse prairie
grass to school.  For his shyness she had only sympathy, and when
he confided to her that he was not particularly pleased with
teaching but that his father had wanted him to try it, her heart
quite ached for the unhappy appearing fellow.

On Saturday for the first time she saw Judge Peters leave the big
brick house with the cupola on one corner like a stiff hat over one

And to see Judge Peters leave the house and start down to his law
office was almost like seeing an ocean liner leave dock.  Swinging
a cane without change of beat, he walked with a long slow gait as
rhythmic as four-four time in music.  He was tall, pompous, solemn.
Black side-whiskers formed the frame for his face, a wide black
cord connected his glasses with some strategic spot on his coat,
black gloves added their share to the ensemble, a bit of red
geranium in his buttonhole completed the work of art.

By October, when the Indian summer days had come, the judge and his
wife, in the neighborly fashion of an early day, came one evening
to call.

Mrs. Bishop had been making apple butter a little messily and
inefficiently in the back yard all day.  She had stirred the
concoction in the iron kettle hanging by a chain over the fire,
using a big wooden paddle, until, as she said, she was too tired to
think.  Having burned the last batch, she had left it in the kettle
until Ella could come home to clean up the disagreeable mixture.

So when Judge and Mrs. Peters arrived, she was completely upset at
the unexpected coming of so much grandeur.  She fluttered about,
removing her apron, pushing chairs a few inches from their original
positions, picking at imaginary threads on the floor.  Even at
sixteen Ella was far more poised than her frail mother, undaunted
by the pompous entrance of the Judge with his meek little wife in
tow.  Mrs. Peters wore a Paisley shawl and a black velvet bonnet
with pansies outlining the rim and satin ties under her patient
looking face.

"We came to pay our respects to the newcomers in our fair city,"
the Judge announced with pompous formality.

The little wife nodded meek assent--and Ella saw then how like his
mother was the shy penmanship teacher.

The entire call was made in the manner for which the judge set the
pace.  So clothed was he in formal phrases, it seemed to Ella that
he said everything the hardest and longest way.  To remark that the
weather was mild was really all he meant when he said that there
had been a noticeable lack of inclemency in the activity of the

Once he turned to Ella with exclusive attention:  "You have no
doubt made the acquaintance, at least in the capacity of student to
instructor, of my elder son, Samuel?"

"Yes," Ella said, "oh yes, sir."  Mercy, she thought, he is making
me feel frightened, too.  No wonder his little wife is cowed.

"You have no doubt heard ere this that I have a younger son, also."
And before Ella had a chance to reply, he went on proudly:  "A
younger son, Chester, studying law at Winside--a bright scholarly
lad--I may even go so far as to say brilliant.  He will make of the
law a thing of truth and beauty and justice."

"That's certainly nice, sir."  One was not required to say much in
his presence.  He needed only an audience for his own bombastic

"Chester and Sam are very different," he stated with no apparent
loathness in comparing the two openly.  Ella was sure she saw the
little wife flush and draw back as though struck.  "Chester has
none of Sam's backwardness and timidity,--has much that Sam lacks."

And she felt an embarrassment for the mother she could scarcely
control when he added:

"Sam is his mother,--Chester very like me.  I am very proud of
Chester.  He will make a great lawyer,--yes, indeed,--a brilliant

Ella was to remember that proudly reiterated statement years hence.

"I am very happy to hope, also, that Chester will some day bestow
his hand and heart upon the daughter of my banker friend, thus
uniting the old families of Peters and Van Ness."

So that was it, thought Ella--perhaps Irene's "half-way" engagement
to Chester was merely an understanding between the families.

"I wouldn't like that," she thought.  "When I'm engaged I want the
man to love me for MYSELF, and not for any other reason."  Then she
looked around the simple little parlor with the sale carpet and the
cheap curtains, the horsehair furniture and the home-crocheted
tidies and laughed to herself, "I guess he'll like me for just
myself, all right."

After the call the man's egotism so lingered in her mind and the
bald comparison of the two sons made such an impression upon her,
that in the weeks to come she found herself forming a dislike of
the younger Chester even before she had seen him,--feeling a
relative compassion for the shy young instructor so earnestly
teaching the swinging arm movements of his Spencerian writing.

A half dozen times that October he walked home from the college
with her, so timidly, so self-effacingly, that in spite of laughing
silently at his unattractive shyness, she felt a renewal of
sympathy for him.

Her mother asked her about it:  "This Sam Peters, Ella . . . do
you . . . how do you . . . ?  You see, he seems . . ."

"My word, Mother," she could always translate her mother's halting
thoughts, "you don't think I especially LIKE him, do you, just
because of walking along the same way home?"

Her mother's eyes filled.  "I don't suppose . . . I won't be
staying with you . . . long, Ella.  I'd like . . . if you could get
settled . . ."

Ella ran to the frail little woman and clasped sturdy arms around
her.  "You're going to stay with me a long time, Mother.  And I
don't have to get settled yet for years and years."

Mrs. Bishop wiped her filling eyes with the corner of her apron.
"Just so . . . you won't . . . an old maid . . . I wouldn't
like . . ."

Ella threw back her head and laughed her hearty laughter.  "Don't
you worry.  I won't be an old maid."  Suddenly her voice dropped to
a husky sweetness.  "I have too many dreams for that, Mother.  I
think sometimes it is as though I am weaving at a loom with a
spindle of hopes and dreams.  And no matter, Mother, how lovely the
pattern--no matter how many gorgeous colors I use,--always the
center of it is . . . YOU know, . . . just a little house in a
garden and red firelight and . . . the man I love . . . and
children . . . and happiness.  For me, Mother, that's the end of
all dreaming."


All that fall life in the young college was a never-ending journey
of adventure for Ella Bishop.  Full of vigor, her keen mind
grasping for every advantage of her new surroundings, each morning
with eager anticipation she donned either the blue-trimmed-with-
plaid or the plaid-trimmed-with-blue and ventured forth upon the
search for her own particular Holy Grail.  But school life to this
girl from the country was not only an avenue of approach to
knowledge, but to that larger experience,--contacts with her fellow
humans.  She never lost interest in the most insignificant of her
classmates,--held open house for them all in the chambers of her
heart.  "There isn't one of them but has some likable qualities,"
she told her mother.

"You're like your father, Ella," Mrs. Bishop would say with moist
eyes.  "I declare--he seemed . . . his friends . . . he knew every
one . . . and then, to think . . ."

"Friends!"  Ella always disregarded her mother's depressed
attitude.  "Do you know, Mother, I'd rather have FRIENDS than any
amount of money."

Her mother managed a wan smile.  "I guess . . . your wish,
Ella . . . you'll get it . . . with Father gone . . . leastways,
there'll never . . . there's no money now . . ."

So with an exuberance of spirits Ella went happily to school each
morning through the lovely Indian summer of the midwest's October,
with a few wild flowers still colorful in the prairie grass,--
through the chilling rains of November when the mud-puddles on the
way held white rims of ice,--and through the heavy December snows
which sent the young Danish janitor out with a horse to break a
path that the girls with their flowing skirts might get through the

At Christmas time Chester Peters came home, and Ella admitted with
something akin to regret the superiority of the younger brother's
charm.  There were several social events of the community to which
she was invited,--a masquerade party in the town hall, a more
select one on New Year's Eve at Irene Van Ness's big home on Main
Street, and a bob-sled ride to the town of Maynard, including an
oyster supper while there.  Chester Peters was Irene Van Ness's
escort, although Ella told herself with reluctance that Chester did
not appear to be a very ardent lover inasmuch as he paid far more
attention to a holiday guest from away than to Irene.  It was true
that Irene was not pretty,--she was sallow and scrawny, and
attempted to cover these discrepancies with a continual change of
fine clothes.  Poor Irene, with all her nice things she never
appeared very attractive.  No wonder she was merely "half-engaged"
to Chester.

Ella went to the party at Irene's with Samuel Peters.  And while he
did not attract her in the least, in all honesty bored her, with
her usual effervescent spirits she managed to have a grand time in
spite of his rather depressing presence.

The big snows of winter melted, huge chunks slipping off the
college roof so that every dash up the wide new wooden steps was a
gamble with the back of one's neck the object in peril.  Spring
came on, a gorgeous creature, with the prairie campus turning to
lush green as though a lovely new dress had been made for her, with
wild roses trimming the green of the gown, with wild hawthorn buds
for her hair, wild crab-apple blossoms to perfume her, and prairie
larks to sing for her.  Chris Jensen set out young elms and maples
in two curving lines toward the door of the building, a huge half-
ellipse of little switches a few yards apart, around each of which
he placed a small barrel for protection.  George Schroeder and
Albert Fonda worked with him after school hours in order to help
pay their tuition.  When the three had finished, the tiny trees
looked almost ludicrous, mere twigs hidden by a half-hundred pickle-
kegs on the broad expanse of the prairie campus.

Spring turned to summer with the meadow-lark's voice stilled in the
torrid heat and the prairie grass curing for the hay barn.  All
vacation Chris Jensen hauled water to the tiny trees, so that
President Corcoran said to him:  "Chris, when future generations
sit under the great branches of towering elms and maples, they
ought to think of you."

"Vell, py golly," Chris beamed with the praise, "I'll be den as old
as Met'uselah, an' ve'll all be pickin' dill pickles off de trees."

The summer ended and school began.

While life for Ella the first year had been largely one of
adjustment to the new conditions and getting acquainted, the second
year proved to be one of greater growth with several constructive
plans taking shape.  For no sooner had a young men's debating
society been formed, than Ella was champing at the bit.  In her
belief, no masculine student could tread paths over which his
feminine colleagues might not go, and so largely through Ella's
efforts in which she found her Man Friday in one Mary Crombie, the
Minerva Society came into being.

They met once a week in the small room on the third floor into
which President Corcoran allowed them to move,--and it was not
noticeably surprising to any one that Ella was made the first

With Ella, six others composed the personnel of the charter
membership--Irene Van Ness and Janet McLaughlin, the Scotch girl,
homely and lovable, and Mary Crombie, frank and efficient--one Mina
Gordon, little and lithe and gypsy-like, Emily Teasdale, the
college beauty, and Evelyn Hobbs, soft-spoken and shyly humorous.

For several months the seven charter members composed the society
in its entirety, but with the growth of self-assurance in speaking,
in perpetrating their essays and original poems upon each other,
came a desire for new worlds to conquer, and the exclusive bars
were let down to admit six more Daughters of Wisdom.

Lusty debates were indulged in, which settled so far as they were
able, the burning questions of Equal Suffrage, national party
accomplishments, and the brighter effulgence of Rome or Athens.

On Friday afternoons when the secret business meetings were over
and the doors opened to the proletariat, the small room on third
which was the rendezvous for Minerva's handmaidens became the mecca
for those outside the pale.  Other girls arrived to listen to the
pearls that dropped from the lips of the chosen few.  Sometimes a
group of the young men came also and caused much confusion as to
the bringing in of extra chairs, and the fluttering of feminine
pulses,--feminine pulses being as they were of a far more fluttery
type in the late seventies than those of recent years.

Ella Bishop was in her element at these meetings.  Whether she had
the management of the entire program or the mere duty of slipping
one-half of the black calico curtain across the rather shaky rod to
meet its other half, she performed her task with deep fervor.
Whether in the chair as president, handling with dictatorial power
the noisy wooden potato-masher she had brought from home to serve
as a gavel, or sitting humbly in the cold outside the door as
sentinel, like some little Rhoda at the gate, she put all her
energy into the duty.  Her rival in managerial capacity was Mary
Crombie whose high-powered energies took the form of a deep
belligerency toward anything masculine.  That woman would one day
vote,--that woman would sometime hold office,--would compete with
man,--this was her battle cry.  The girls agreed with her in most
instances, but the Friday afternoon on which she declared with
widely sweeping arm gestures that some day a woman would sit in the
cabinet at Washington, they all burst out into high girlish
laughter at the absurdity.

A library was formed that year, and while it consisted in its
entirety of Pilgrim's Progress, the plays of one William
Shakespeare, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Swiss Family Robinson, Plutarch's
Lives, Fox's Book of Martyrs, and the highly romantic and therefore
thoroughly dog-eared Barriers Burned Away--it was indeed the
nucleus of what eventually became a library of many thousand

The students were for the most part serious, studious, almost over-
zealous.  President Corcoran threw himself heart and soul into the
building of a great college.  If at times he became discouraged, if
the worn-out apparatus of the laboratories, the half-furnished
classrooms, or the small number of students worried him, he did not
show it, but placed the whole of his energies with those few
students and the people who had so enthusiastically founded the

In that second year there descended upon the authorities the
terrible knowledge that young men and young women of the college
were paying romantic attention to each other.  When the worthy
board found out this crime of the ages, they straightway made a
ruling which was printed and passed out to all forty-six students.
The ruling set forth:  "While it is expected that the ladies and
gentlemen of this institution shall treat each other with the
polite and courteous civilities, there is a condition which
transcends the proprieties of refined society.  Anything like
SELECTION is strictly forbidden.  Private walks and rides at any
time are now allowed.  Students of the two sexes by special
permission of the president can meet privately, for the transaction
of business and for that purpose only."

Be it said to President Corcoran's credit, that he labored
faithfully with the board for several hours, attempting to explain
that world-old human philosophy, that the apple which is strictly
forbidden, becomes straightway the one fruit every Adam and Eve
desires.  But the committee on rules and regulations was adamant,
and for two years the ruling stood on the college books, until that
most potent of all weapons, ridicule, caused it to become obsolete.

At the end of the second year Sam Peters was dropped from the list
of instructors.  In spite of his marvelous dexterity with a pen,
Sam and his exotic-looking fish and the elaborately constructed
hand with its protruding index finger which he could draw so
skillfully were not considered of enough importance as aids in
mounting the ladder of success to warrant their continuance.

Judge Peters and President Corcoran thereafter avoided each other
assiduously, due, it was rumored, to Judge Peters having turned the
full weight of his extensive vocabulary upon the president, using
in addition to the words found in his dictionary, a choice
selection of those that were not.

Poor Sam's life under the withering criticism of his father was far
less comfortable than before.  He went to work soon in a grocery
store where he kept the books with his fine Spencerian penmanship,
somewhat embellished with intricate figures of hands whose long
protruding index fingers pointed to the various commodities, but as
he had to wait on trade in addition to the bookkeeping, and as
trade in the seventies and eighties bought much salted mackerel and
kippered herring, he rather lost his desire to do the fish.

At the first increase in his bookkeeping wages, he dressed in his
best, crossed the street, and with almost as much formality as his
father might have employed, asked Ella to do him the honor to marry

"Oh, no, Sam, I couldn't.  I couldn't THINK of it."

"There's somebody else you like?"  Sam's pale blue eyes blinked at
the hurt.

"Yes," said Ella, and added hastily:  "Oh, no,--I don't mean that,
Sam.  I wasn't even thinking of what I was saying when I said
'Yes.'  I meant, I hope there will be some one some day that I can
care for.  I have an ideal in my mind.  I can almost see him."  She
grew so enthusiastic that even Sam, as obtuse as he was, realized
there was no hope for him.  "I can see how tall he is . . . and
broad-shouldered . . . and even though I can never see his face--in
my fancy, you know--some way I just feel that I'll know him right
away when I first see him."

"Then . . . he doesn't . . ."  Sam swallowed with difficulty.  "He
doesn't look like me?"

"Oh, no."  And at the sight of the flush on his thin drawn face she
held out her hand to him.  "I'm SO sorry.  You know . . . how it
is.  If you can't,--you just can't."

"I suppose not."

"But I'll be your friend, Sam . . . for all my life."

"I'm afraid friendship . . . doesn't mean very much, Ella."

"Oh, yes, it does, Sam--truly it does.  Friendship is a wonderful
thing--a perfectly wonderful thing.  Let's make a promise.  No
matter what girl you marry,--and no matter what man I marry,--let's
promise to be friends all our lives.  Will you?"

Sam lifted his thin hurt face.  "If you say so, Ella."

"I do say so."  She spoke happily as though the whole question were
settled with satisfaction to them both.  "It's a promise.  We'll
always be friends.  When I'm an old lady and you're an old man--
isn't that funny to think about, Sam?--we'll BE FRIENDS."  It
sounded as though she were bestowing an honor upon him,--that a
young priestess was anointing him.

It was a persuasive way she had with people, even at eighteen--the
art of getting them to see a thing from her viewpoint, to believe
it was their own decision.

So Sam went away, stepping almost jauntily--taking Ella's promise
of undying friendship.  Poor Sam Peters, carrying away a friendship--
who had come for love.


By Ella's third year a teachers' course and a music course were
launched--and she straightway began studying didactics.  To clerk
in a store, do housework, or teach school were the only three
avenues open for any girl, and her mind's selection was immediate.
To teach--well, at least until her Lochinvar came riding by, she
admitted to that innermost recess of her heart where dwelt her real
self.  To have a home of her own--children--nothing could ever take
the place of that.  But she could not look at the lovely picture
hanging there so sacredly in her heart and place therein any young
man she knew now.  The only one who had ever offered himself was
Sam Peters--and Sam was unthinkable.

The college boys were all good young chaps.  She admired their
energy and their sincerity, but to her fastidious mind there was no
one outstanding among them--George Schroeder with his big head of
rough hair, his foreign accent and his constant praise of anything
Germanic--little Albert Fonda with his obsession for the study of
the moon and the stars--or any of the others.

So the last two years were spent in a frame of mind as fancy-free
as were the first two.  Those last ones saw the faculty enlarged by
the additional courses--Professor Cunningham for the didactics--
Miss Susie McAlister for the music--the former friendly and
humorous--the latter so devoted to the goddess Euterpe that she
lived in a world apart, breathed the atmosphere of the upper

Newcomers entered the young college, knowledge was disseminated,
minds expanded, the Minerva Society waxed strong in numbers and
oratory, the prairie grass was cut, the elms and maples looked
superciliously down on their pickle-kegs from a height of five
feet.  Growth was in the air.

One might ride in state now to the very door of Central Hall in a
public vehicle termed "the hack,"--but always with the precautionary
measure of placing a newspaper or one's shawl on the seat so the red
of the plush cushions would not identify itself too intimately with
one's clothes.

The spring of 1880 came on and the first class was to graduate.
Ella sent applications to the Oak River board, to Maynard, to Maple
City, to every place she thought there might be a chance for a
teaching position.

Janet McLaughlin was elected at Maynard, Mary Crombie at Maple
City.  Mina Gordon and Evelyn Hobbs and Emily Teasdale were all to
be married.  Irene Van Ness was to stay at home in anticipation of
Chester Peters' sudden desire to become wholly and completely
engaged.  And still Ella had not secured a position.

The time for final examinations was in the offing.  For harried
days and sleepless nights, Ella and the eleven others comprising
the first graduating class crammed for the fray.  No dates for
execution could have contained any greater element of dread than
the June third, fourth and fifth marked with warning crosses in
twelve almanacs.  Ella grew wan-eyed, lost appetite and weight, and
always among her worries was the realization that she had not yet
been hired for fall work.  Her one great wish had been to get a
school near enough so that she could live at home with her always-
frail mother.  Sometimes in the night she awoke in a cold
perspiration with the appalling thought that it looked as though
she might not get any school at all.  She would lie awake with
tense nerves and think:  "But I must . . . I HAVE to get a
school. . . .  Mother has put me through the college . . . she
hasn't enough to live on. . . ."  All of which was not highly
conducive to a healthy physical condition or calm mentality for the
figurative Ides of March on which the examinations were to be held.

And then,--the miracle happened.  President Corcoran called her to
his office and asked her how she would like to teach English
Grammar in the college.  The school was growing,--they were
rearranging classes--

Ella thought she could not believe what she was hearing.  She was
dreaming,--would waken in her bedroom and laugh at the wild fancy.
But no, President Corcoran was saying:  "I have watched you for
four years, Miss Ella.  You have done good work in grammar.  You
have a keen mind, an open heart, an enviable disposition, and that
something which seems to me the very soul of the teaching
profession--a keen interest in your fellow man."

No one knighted by a king's touch ever felt so honored.

There was the formality of the written application, the waiting of
a few days for the decision already made in board meeting,--and
Ella Bishop was to stay on at her youthful Alma Mater and teach.
To earn a salary, even though modest, support her mother, live at
home,--the whole world took on brilliant roseate lights.

"What have I ever DONE to have so much good luck?" she said over
and over to her mother.

"You're like your father, Ella.  He . . . there was something . . .
he was always . . ."  Mrs. Bishop groped, moist-eyed, for the
explanation.  "You go into things . . . just the way. . . ."

The examinations ended with no fatalities.  Commencement was a
reality, and under the bright glow of the knowledge of the new
position, a thing of happiness and joy.  Happiness and joy to Ella
Bishop is meant, for to the towns-people, friends and relatives of
the twelve graduates the merry-making had its difficult moments.
On Sunday, President Corcoran gave a tedious, if earnest,
Baccalaureate address,--on Monday, class-day exercises were held.
On Tuesday, four of the twelve members of the class delivered
orations, each of forty-five minutes' duration,--on Wednesday, four
more held the rostrum for another three hours,--on Thursday, the
last group spoke for three more hours to a wilted, perspiring, dog-
tired audience of the faithful.  George Schroeder, not yet over his
German accent, gave a glowing tribute to his beloved Goethe.
Albert Fonda spoke on "The Course of the Stars."  Mary Crombie
presented the case of Woman's Rights so forcibly that she half
ripped out a sleeve of her navy blue silk dress.  Ella gave all she
had ever known or would ever know about "Our American Authors."
Irene Van Ness, whose father had written her oration, presented a
profound dissertation on "The Financial System of Our Country."
"Across the Alps Lies Italy," "Heaven Is Not Reached by a Single
Bound" and "Black the Heel of Your Boot" were conspicuous by their

The long-drawn-out exercises were in the auditorium.  The girls
wore trailing silk dresses with camel-like humps in the rear over
wire bustles.  Long gold watch chains entwined their necks, coming
to rest somewhere in the region of their padded bosoms.  The
windows were open to the stifling summer air, the June-bugs, and
the sound of stamping horses tied to hitch-racks.  The odor that
penetrated to the farthermost corner of the huge room was a
combination of June roses and livery barn.  Palm leaf fans whacked
vigorously against buttons and lodge emblems.  There were
instrumental and vocal numbers,--solos, duets, trios, quartets, and
choruses.  There were invocations and benedictions, presentations
and acceptances.  Never did it take so long to go through the birth
pangs of graduation.

Twelve tables in the hallway, representing each graduate, were
laden with bouquets of home-grown flowers, gold watches, pearl-
handled opera glasses, plush albums, and many duplicates of
cushioned and padded "Poems of Keats,"--or "Burns" or "Shelley."

Chris Jensen, resplendent in a new suit of purplish hue which gave
his red face the appearance of being about to suffer apoplexy,
guarded the treasures.

The sixth evening the Alumni banquet was held in the auditorium
cleared of a portion of its pews, but luckily for the long-
suffering public, the attendance was limited to graduates and
faculty and faculty wives.  The whole procedure had consumed as
many days as the fundamentalists' conception of the genesis of the
world.  Small wonder that the entire community rested the seventh
day and called it holy.

At this first Alumni banquet less than two dozen sat down to the
tables.  President Corcoran referred in his talk to the possible
day when two hundred graduates would sup together.  It did not seem
possible to contemplate.

Ella felt that it was one of the happiest events in her life.
Examinations passed, the nightmare moments of her oration behind
her--nothing now but the friendly intercourse with those closest to
her in school, and the warm glow of the knowledge that she had won
the cream of the teaching positions.  Life was all before her.  She
was young,--gloriously young,--only twenty.  She could do with her
life as she wished.

Happy Ella,--not to know yet for a little while that life is to do
as it wishes to you.


Ella could scarcely wait to begin her work.  Sometimes in the
summer she would go over to school, tramping through the campus
grass to where Chris was mowing, and get the key to the building.

"May I take the key to Central hall?" she would ask when he had put
down his scythe and come swinging across the newly-cut grass to
meet her.

"Say . . . vy you alvays call her CENDRAL Hall," Chris asked once,
"ven dey ain't but von anyvay?"

"Don't you see, Chris?  Look around.  Here, stand over here,--can't
you see a lot more buildings there,--one over here and one there,--
a calisthenics building there,--and a huge library,--and a science
building,--and maybe a teachers' training one?"

But even though Chris, open-mouthed, looked and looked, he could
not see a calisthenics building, nor a huge library, nor a
teachers' training building,--nothing but a plain three-story one
with a few straggling ivy vines clinging desperately to the hot
bricks in the prairie sun.  Only those who have dreams in their
minds and courage in their hearts when they are young see such
mirage-like things on familiar horizons.

Her classroom was to be on the second floor at the front, with a
tiny inner room opening from it.  "My office," she said under her
breath many times a day to get the thrill which the words gave her.
The potential office was a little room in the tower over which the
bell hung.  To hear the resounding clang of that brass-throated
messenger directly over her was to feel its vibration in every
nerve of her being.  It was more than the mere ringing of a bell,--
it was a call to knowledge,--a summons to life itself.  Already
pigeons had begun to nest in the tower and when the bell rang, they
flew violently out like so many frightened loafers.  Sometimes they
tapped the swinging thing themselves in their turbulent activity.

There were windows on three sides of the little tower room.  From
them she could see the town to the east, four thousand people now--
that was what the college had done for Oak River--the rolling
campus to the south--well, anyway, the short prairie grass sloped
down an incline--and farm land to the west as far as the eye could
see, some of it cultivated, much of it still rough prairie land
with no sign of road or fence, and with horses and cattle, herded
in little bunches, grazing on its vast unbroken expanse.

Surprisingly, the September morning on which Chris rang the bell
for opening classes was almost a replica of the rainy one on which
Ella first entered four years before.  Remembering the dismal
reception to those half-frightened newcomers, she stationed herself
near the big doors and greeted every freshman as though he were an
honored guest arriving for a social event.  President Corcoran,
coming through the hall, smiled behind the ambush of his whiskers.
"Whatever that girl does, she DOES," he said to Professor
Cunningham in passing.

All fall, Ella Bishop taught grammar classes as though she had
invented adjectives and was personally responsible for subordinate
clauses.  Papers she carted home in sheaves.  Notebooks she perused
so thoroughly that not an insignificant "for him and I" or an
infinitesimal "has came" dared lift its head without fear of her
sturdy blue pencil.  Still so young, she made no effort to
disengage herself from student activities.  She was adviser for the
now-flourishing Minerva Society.  She helped start a tiny college
paper called the Weekly Clarion.  She was secretary of the modest
little Faculty Family Club.  "She's just about an ideal connection
between faculty and students," President Corcoran told his wife.
"Young enough to get the students' viewpoints, with a nice older
dignity when necessary."

Sometimes a little daring crowd of students would plan to slip away
in a hayrack or a bob-sled to Maynard to dance, and hearing it,
Ella would try to think of some new entertainment to counteract the

Altogether life was full for her and very, very interesting,
swinging along at a lively tempo for the times.  The town was
growing.  Mr. Van Ness built a three-story bank building, renting
out the upper floors to the Masons and the Odd Fellows and the
Knights of Pythias.  Every day Judge Peters walked pompously down
Adams and Main Streets in four-four time, his gold-headed cane
swinging out the rhythm.  Sam slipped quietly down to the grocery
store at daylight.  Chester wrote home glowing accounts of his own
activities over which Irene hung with tremulous hopes.  Mrs. Bishop
attempted to keep house, but the results were so confused and messy
that Ella put her young shoulder to the wheel and did much of it
over when she came at night.

The graduating class,--Class of 1880, the members always reminded
their friends, as though there had been a dozen others,--had
started a round-robin letter.  Ella and Irene Van Ness were the
only ones living in Oak River, so the package made trips to ten
other localities before its return to the city of its birth.  Mina
Gordon and Emily Teasdale and Evelyn Hobbs all had new names now
and were almost maudlin in their wishes that every one else in the
class could be as happy as they.  Mary Crombie and Janet McLaughlin
were enjoying their teaching, the former having started a little
Woman's Suffrage organization which she hoped would expand and
sweep the country.  George Schroeder was teaching and anticipating
saving enough money to go to Heidelberg to school.  Albert Fonda's
report for the most part read like a treatise on astronomy,--Albert
having hitched his wagon to all the stars.

On a Friday night in November, Chris came into Ella's room with a
noisy depositing of mops, pail and brooms.  She sighed and prepared
to gather up her work to leave.  That Chris,--he seemed to haunt
her this week with his jangling paraphernalia.

He kept eyeing her furtively, she imagined, with a large show of
cleaning activity but not much progress.  Was it possible that the
big bungling fellow had something on his mind?

"Why does every one always pick on me to unload their troubles?"
she was saying to herself, half in exasperation, when he began:

"Miss Bis'op, I got news for you."  His fat face was red, his pale
blue eyes winking nervously.

"Yes, Chris?"

"I be gettin' marriet next veek."

"Well, Chris--congratulations.  I didn't know you had a girl here."

"Oh, s'e not nobody here.  S'e come by Ellis Island to-day.  Next
veek s'e get here to Oak Riffer--den ve get marriet.  I rent a
leetle house across from school over der by Smit's."

"Well, that's fine.  I'm sure she's a nice girl, too, Chris."

"Oh, s'e nice all right.  I not see her, now, come six year.  S'e
vait 'til I safe money and send for passage.  S'e healt'y and goot
vorker.  S'e he'p me safe money."

Dear, dear, thought Ella--how unromantic.

"What's her name, Chris?"

"Hannah Christine Maria Jensen."



"The same as yours?  Is she any relation to you now?"

"No-o."  He threw back his head and laughed long and mirthfully.
"Denmark, s'e full of Jensens."

Ella was interested, as indeed she always was in her fellow man.
She could not quite seem to keep a hand out of the affairs of every
one around her.

"Where will you be married?"

"I don' know.  By the Lutheran preacher's house, mebbe."

Suddenly, Ella had an inspiration,--one of those enthusiasms with
which she was eternally possessed.  "Chris, would you like to be
married at my mother's house?  Wouldn't you like to have your--your
Hannah Christine Maria come right to our house from the train . . .
and have the ceremony in my mother's parlor . . . and then a little
supper with us afterward?"

The blond giant's eyes shone,--his fat face grew redder with
emotion.  "Py golly, Miss Bis'op, I like it fine an' I t'ank you."

Now that she was launched on this new interest, she went into it,
as always, with heart and soul.  Several times she went to the
little cottage at Chris's plea for advice.  She took over a half-
dozen potted geraniums--sent eggs and bread and fried-cakes for the
first breakfast--would have taken the dresser scarf or curtains
from her own room if necessary.

When the girl arrived, she proved to be apple-cheeked and buxom--
her flesh hard and solid, her pale blue eyes and pale yellow hair
contrasting oddly with the flushed red of her face.  So in the
parlor of Ella's home, Miss Hannah Christine Maria Jensen became
Mrs. Hannah Christine Maria Jensen, after which the newlyweds and
the Lutheran minister and his wife sat down with Ella and her
mother to what the Oak River paper later termed "a bounteous

When they were leaving for the cottage, Chris said, "To my dyin'
day I'll nefer forget dis kindness."

He talked to the girl a moment in Danish and turned to Ella:  "S'e
say s'e tink s'e can mebbe come vork sometime to s'ow you her

It touched Ella.  It was always to touch her a little,--Chris and
Hannah Jensen's dog-like faithfulness to her all the years of her

It was not an astonishing piece of news to any one to hear in the
spring that Ella had been elected for another year at a five-dollar-
per-month increase in salary.

"I'm afraid . . . Ella, . . . you'll be an old maid," her mother
said plaintively, "that way . . . teaching . . . kind of . . . seems
like . . ."

"I can think of lots worse things, Mother," Ella laughed.
"Marrying a worthless man, for instance, and having to take in
washing or be a dressmaker.  I wonder if the day will ever come
when a married woman can do anything more than those two things?"

But Ella knew she would not be an old maid.  Something told her so--
some singing voice down in the innermost recesses of her heart.
As well as she liked her teaching,--to have a husband and home and
children,--these were better.  These were the things for which her
healthy young body and warm heart were intended.  She knew.


In that second year of Ella's teaching, Chester Peters, having
finished his school work, was at home and in the law office with
his father.  Judge Peters took occasion to tell any one who would
listen what a brilliant chap Chester was and how he would make of
the law a thing of truth and beauty.  He never said much about Sam,
eggs and flour and salt mackerel evidently not conforming to his
ideas of either beauty or truth.  Irene Van Ness had a new fur
coat, sealskin with mink trimming, a long row of dangling tails
around the shoulders and hips, and a mink cap to match.  People
thought surely Chester would marry her now that he was settling
down, and Irene fully shared the desire.

Ella felt sorry for her, could not conceive of a half-hearted
romance like that,--was soon to know more about one.

It was a cold Friday night in November.  It had snowed all day and
now the whiteness of the drifts lay over college and campus, town
and prairie.  There was a concert in the college auditorium given
by the new glee club,--the Euterpeans, they modestly called
themselves,--the proceeds to go to the library fund.  But at the
supper hour, Ella had given up going.  "To have a sore throat any
night is bad enough," she said irritably to her mother, "but to
have it on Friday night with a concert on is a disgrace.  This is
the first thing I've ever missed."

But she would not listen to her mother's timid statement about
giving up the concert too.  "The Peterses will come for you as they
expected, so you go just the same.  I'll help you get ready."

Mrs. Bishop was only in her forties, but to have been forty-six in
the eighties was to have been an old woman.  She wore a heavy black
wool dress, a thick black cape with jet-bead passementerie
trimming, a black velvet bonnet with a flat crpe bow on top and
wide crpe ties under her chin.

Judge and Mrs. Peters came for her, the high-stepping blacks
tossing their manes and jangling their sleigh-bells vigorously the
few moments they were forced to stand at the horse-block.

After they had gone, Ella took some medicine, gargled with salt and
water, rubbed goose-grease and turpentine on her throat and pinned
a wide piece of red flannel around that offended part of her

For a little while she read in her bedroom by the warmth of the
sheet-iron drum, then deciding childishly to make some maple candy,
she descended to the kitchen.  When she had carried the pan of
melted maple sugar back upstairs, she opened her bedroom window to
get a plate of snow upon which to drop spoonsful of the hot
concoction.  It was a favorite confection of the times--these
hardened balls of maple candy.  The cold wind blew in and the
carbon street lights flickered.  There was no snow within reaching
distance and so while Reason told her that she was doing a foolish
thing, Desire caused her to throw a crocheted shawl around her
shoulders and step out onto the roof.

As she turned to go in, the window slipped down with a noisy
crashing sound.  She was at the glass in a moment attempting to
raise it, but it would not budge.

At first she worked frantically at the sash, and then when she
realized the seriousness of the situation, with more dogged

The cold was penetrating and she drew the shawl tightly about her
and tied it in a knot in order to work with the stubborn window.
When it still would not yield, she thought of summoning some near
neighbor.  But there were no lights at either house.

She walked gingerly to the very edge of the slippery roof and
considered jumping.  "Yes, and break my ankles," she thought, "and
then faint away from the pain and be covered with snow when Mother
comes home.  She'd think I was the woodpile."  She grinned
nervously and shivered.

So this was the way they all felt, was it--Babes in the Woods--
Princes in the Tower--and she on the kitchen roof?

Something clammy lighted on her nose.  It was beginning to snow
again.  She let out a lusty and prolonged "Hoo-hoo-oo."  No answer
came from any source on the deserted street but a mocking echo.
She began to shiver again and a cough strangled in her throat.

She hurried back to the window and beat with her fists but the
glass would not yield.  If she had only left on her sturdy shoes
instead of wearing the soft woolen homemade slippers, she could
have sent one flying through the pane.

But even as she grew desperate with genuine fright she could hear
some one coming up the street, crunching along over the snow-packed
sidewalk.  As he passed under the carbon street-lamp she could see
that he carried a valise.

"Hoo-hoo," she called loudly, "will you please stop a moment?"

The man slowed immediately, and when she called again, he came
across the street and then through the snowdrifts of the yard,
stepping along with high striding walk.  "What is it?" he asked.
"What's wanted?"

Ella could not recognize him in the semidarkness, and decided that
he was a visiting stranger, but in her desperation would have
accosted President Arthur himself.

"I'm terribly sorry to bother you--and highly ashamed of my
predicament--but I'm trapped out here on the roof for doing such a
silly thing as stepping out here to get a pan of snow.  The window
slipped down behind me.  I've tried to break the glass--I thought
glass was supposed to be fragile--and I'm certainly not a weakling--
but I can't even crack it."

The young chap laughed and put down on the steps the valise he had
been holding all the time.  By the faint glimmer of the street-lamp
he looked big and substantial.

"Where can I get a ladder?"

"There's one in the barn, just inside the door on the wall to your

He strode off to the barn and Ella could see the flare of a match
against the darkness and hear Polly snort and rise to her feet.
When he returned, he was holding the ladder balanced across his
shoulder.  With no word he placed it in a snowdrift by the kitchen
wall and held it firmly.

"Come on," he called.  "But be careful."

When she was half-way down, one of the slimsy cloth slippers

"See here," he said suddenly, "you can't walk in this deep snow.
I'm going to carry you around to that porch."

"Oh, no--thank you.  I'll manage."  She felt shy, ashamed of her
loose, flapping wrapper now that she was part way down and near the
strange young man.  "Besides, I have goose-grease and turpentine on
my throat,--and it's smelly. . . ."

At that he threw back his head and laughed good-naturedly, and for
answer picked her off the ladder with no comment and rounded the
corner of the kitchen where he set her on her feet in the porch
between the cistern-pump and a washtub.  For that short distance,
she had not been able to see his face distinctly.  There had been
only time for a fleeting impression of his big cold overcoat and
his muscular strength,--and a certain queer sense of liking his
personality.  She wondered vaguely with swift questioning if it
were true--that one radiated personality like that--so that another
could tell--even about a stranger--and in the dark--

"Thank you so much for your trouble."

"It was a good thing I happened along or you might have had a sorry
time.  Even yet, you'd better go take a sweat," he advised

"And quinine and white pine and tar and molasses and onions and
sulphur."  Her voice cracked a little.  And they both laughed.

"Now that the rescue is accomplished, can you tell me hurriedly
where Judge Peters lives?"

Ella pointed out the big brick house where the iron deer stood on
frozen guard in the snowdrifts.

"I see.  Chet has been my roommate--and I'm here to go in the law
office with him and his father."

"Oh, how nice," Ella said almost before she realized.  Nice for
whom, Ella?  It gave her a warm friendly feeling toward the young

"Well," he held out his hand, "Delbert Thompson is the name of the
gallant fireman."

"Ella Bishop," she gave him her own cold one, responding cordially:
"I teach in the college here--Midwestern."

"You?"  He was incredulous.  "I thought you were a little girl--
with your hair in a thick braid down your back that way."

"No."  And she sang slightly:

          "The heavenward jog
          Of the pedagogue
          Is the only life for me."

They both laughed--it seemed very easy to laugh with the pleasant
young man--and then he was gone, crunching along the snow paths
with his valise.  And Ella went into the house quite distinctly
aglow with a peculiar new sensation.

When Mrs. Bishop came, Ella told her all about the funny
experience, and Mrs. Bishop was terribly upset,--the exposure to
the cold and the trusting of her girl to the clutches of an utter
stranger that way.  But try as she might in her little fluttered
and frightened way, she could not seem to arouse her daughter to
the enormity of the danger in which she had been.  Indeed, when
that daughter was dropping to sleep later, all swathed up in a fat
pork poultice after a mustard foot bath, she was thinking she
wished she could have seen the young man's face.  "I could see how
tall he was . . . and his broad shoulders," she thought, "but try
as I would, I couldn't quite see his face."  And then, suddenly,
the familiarity of the words were so startling that all drowsiness
left her.  For a long time she lay staring into the darkness of the
night, thinking of the rest of the prophecy she had made to Sam:
"But some way I feel sure, Sam, that I will know him right away
when I first see him."

When finally she was dropping off, she dreamed of weaving a
tapestry on the kitchen roof, but she was so cold that she must
weave in the center of the picture a great deal of red firelight--
and--a little cottage--and children--


There was now a freshly painted sign over the door of an office
next to the new Bank of Oak River which said "Peters, Peters and
Thompson."  And the strange and wholly informal meeting of Ella and
the firm's new young partner had taken upon itself a bright and
shining halo of romance.  And life had begun to hold new

Inherently honest, Ella grew cunning and sly with her own self that
month,--would not admit that she was dressing for the new young
lawyer,--that she was attending every gathering of college and town
in the hope of seeing his big broad shoulders and ready smile.  She
grew sensitive to his entrance into a room, knew through some
peculiar psychic information without turning her head that he had
arrived.  Gradually she grew to feel that he was looking for her,

So immediately mutual was this attraction that by the holiday time
he was her exclusive escort to all the social events of the
community.  In January people were teasing her.  Even her students
could bring the tell-tale color to her cheeks by an innocently
uttered innuendo.  Chester Peters seemed to have breathed a bit of
the highly charged atmosphere also, for he was more attentive to
Irene than he had ever been,--and Irene was glowing these days, her
sallow face lighted by the first real hope of the culmination of
her long liking for Chester.  Chester Peters and Irene Van Ness--
Delbert Thompson and Ella Bishop--it was a common sight to see the
four tramping laughingly in single-file through paths shoveled in
the deep snow or riding in Judge Peters' two-seated sleigh with the
jet-colored high-stepping horses that matched the Judge's black
side-whiskers.  Sam did not figure in the gayety--went quietly to
the grocery store where he kept the books in his flowing Spencerian
hand, and handled the eggs that the farmers' wives brought in for
trade.  There seemed no great change in Sam's courteous attitude
toward Ella,--except that his eyes now were not only wistful, but
tragic.  Sensing his shy longing for her, Ella sometimes felt a
hearty impatience toward him.  Why should the loveliest thing that
had ever come into her life have a shadow cast upon it by the moon-
calf attitude of Sam Peters?

By February, Ella was formally engaged to Delbert Thompson.  It was
one of those things she could scarcely believe true.  It seemed all
too sudden--too beautiful a thing to come to definite words so
soon.  Just a few months before and she had never seen him, save in
her own girlish dreams.  She had loved the courting, the imagining
the possibility of what might come, the holding to her heart the
delicate unfolding flower of romance.  And now this February
evening Delbert had her in his arms, was lavishing warm kisses on
her cool lips, and she was saying, "Delbert--it's too soon.  It has
all happened too quickly."

At that he was throwing back his head and laughing his boyish ready
laugh.  "It's not too soon, Ella--nothing's too soon.  We'll be
married right away this spring."

"Oh, not THIS spring, Delbert.  I should teach one more year . . .
to get ready . . . and save money . . . and maybe KNOW you better,"
she added, a bit shyly.

"You're a cool little piece, aren't you, Ella?"  He held her off
and asked anxiously for the dozenth time, "You do love me, don't

"Oh, yes, yes, Delbert.  I do love you . . . SO much.  But . . .
wait a little . . . I must be so sure . . . it's such a big
thing . . . to understand just what this love IS."

"It's THIS."  Delbert laughed and crushed her to him until she
nearly cried out in the strength of the embrace.

But Ella knew better--Ella Bishop knew her love was something more
than that--something more deeply beautiful,--something infinitely
more delicate.

So in a whirlwind of courtship it was settled.  Ella was to resign
and they were to be married in June as soon as school was out.

When Irene Van Ness heard it, she cried a little.  It did not seem
quite understandable to her,--she had gone with Chet Peters ever
since their High School days.  The whole town knew she was Chet's
girl,--no one else paid any attention to her.  But he had never
once mentioned marriage.  She bought goods for two whole new
outfits and took them to Mrs. Finch, the best dressmaker in town.

All spring Ella lived in the rarefied atmosphere of her romance.
But instead of detracting from her work, it merely accentuated her
fidelity to it.  Every class brought her nearer to the end of her
teaching and so she told herself she must give her best to that
teaching while she could.  This roseate happiness which was hers
bubbled over into thoughtfulness for others, a warm kindness toward
her students, an energy which sought to make the most of every
opportunity to be helpful.

"I am teaching under the assumption that every young person in my
classes has to learn from me ALL the English grammar he will EVER
know," she explained laughingly to Delbert.  "By pretending that
what I can't teach them now in the few remaining months they will
never know, I hustle and make the most of my time."

"You're a bundle of energy," Delbert would say proudly, "so
different from most of the girls with their kittenish ways and
their silly little talk."

"I thought men were supposed to like that kittenish kind," Ella
would suggest a bit jealously,--for the very feminine reason of
getting him to disagree.

"Oh, they may be all right to flirt around with,--but for a wife,
who wants a coquette?"

Delbert was to move into the Bishop home.  It was a feature of the
marriage which gave him some chagrin.

"It doesn't seem quite the thing to do, Ella.  It ought not be that
way," he would sometimes protest.

But Ella, practical as always, would laugh his humiliation away.
"We bought the house after Father died and it's all paid for.  I'm
an only child . . .  Mother has to live with us anyway--no matter
where we would go.  So what difference does it make?"

The last of March she spent her spring vacation doing the work of
two women, for her salary, not any too large, had by necessity to
stretch over many things.  So, up on a sturdy stepladder, she
papered the bedrooms with dainty flowered wallpaper.  She washed
and ironed the curtains, scrubbed and painted and cleaned.

"If it would only stay so until June."  She surveyed her handiwork
with the guilty acknowledgement that her mother was not much of a
housekeeper.  "I wish I could afford a hired girl just to stand
guard and keep it nice."

April came in, soft and gentle, with the martins coming and the
pussywillows over on the campus creek bursting into gray fuzziness--
with time flying on such golden wings that Ella must even begin to
think of her dresses now.  Dresses in the eighties being, as they
were, massive architectural works of pleats, flounces, panels,
panniers, bustles and trains, she intended to have but two--a white
silk one for the ceremony and a navy blue silk.  "But no plaid,"
she grimaced.

"Do you think I should be so extravagant as to have a white silk
one made, though, Mother?"  She always went through the routine of
asking her mother's advice although she knew the decision would
have to be her own.

But almost to her amazement, her mother said definitely:
"Yes . . . oh, yes.  I had . . . the pale blue one, you know.
Your father thought . . .  He said I was so pretty . . .  It's
just one time . . .  When you're old . . . you live it all over."

Each of these days was filled with happy tasks.  Students must be
helped tirelessly over the rough places, the house kept in order,
her mother assisted, some plain sewing done at home, all her plans
for the little June wedding perfected.  Sometimes Ella stopped a
moment to analyze herself.  "What is there about me that is so
different from other girls?" she would think.  "When I stop to
think about it, no one ever does anything for me.  I always see to
everything myself.  Wouldn't it be nice sometimes to have some one
else,--Mother, for instance,--take some responsibility?  Even
Delbert . . ."  She felt a momentary disloyalty at the unspoken
thought--"Oh, well," she laughed it off.  "I'm just one of those
people who get about and do things myself, I guess."

On the third of April, she started home at five o'clock.  The
campus grass, now in its sixth spring, was beginning to look almost
like a lawn, the old prairie coarseness of the first two or three
years having given place after continuous mowing and the sowing of
blue-grass and clover to a fairly pleasing green sloping sward.
The hard maples and the elms, planted in their curving horse-show
formation up toward the building, were actually beginning to seem
like real trees, although the barrel-staves around their bases for
protection from wild rabbits still detracted not a little from
their looks.

As she went down the long wooden sidewalk, she could see Chris in
the distance burning leaves.  Wild geese flew north, robins dipped
low in front of her, sap on the sunny side of a soft maple was
dripping clammily on the ground.  All the signs of springtime had
come,--HER springtime.  There was so much to do,--so many places to
go, Irene was having a party in a few days, she and Delbert were
driving to Maynard soon where he had business for the Judge,--he
had said it would be a regular honeymoon trip with Judge Peters'
team and shining new buggy.  She was going to look at material for
the white dress and compare it with the silk she could get here.
Life was so full,--so joyous.  How could there be unhappiness in
the world?

"There just ISN'T any," she said to herself with a gay little

But there was unhappiness in the world.  She found it out the
moment she entered the house, and saw her mother sitting idly, a
letter in her lap, tears on her cheeks.

"Mother, darling," she was at her side and down on her knees in a
moment, "what's wrong?"

"My only brother is gone, Ella."  And the tears overflowed again.
"My Eddie--my little brother.  One more sorrow for me, Ella."  Then
she added as casually as though it were not of great import, "And
his daughter,--his little Amy . . . she wants to come . . . here
with us, you know, Ella . . . and live awhile."

With a cold feeling that life had played her a trick at the very
time she wanted life to be most gracious to her, Ella picked up the

It was true.  Cousin Amy Saunders, eighteen now, wanted to come out
from Ohio and stay with her Aunt and Cousin Ella.

I've nowhere to go, and I don't know what to do.  Could you let me
come a little while, just until I can get over my sorrow for dear
Papa?  And, Auntie, I haven't a cent.  I don't want to be a trouble
to any one but . . .

Ella finished in a daze of mind, conscious that she was deeply
annoyed at that which seemed like an intrusion just now.  Silently
she put the little pink note back in its little pink envelope, and
almost without volition raised it to her nose.  A faint odor clung
to it.  For a moment she forgot the import of the message in the
whimsical desire to place that elusive fragrance, so strangely
familiar.  Something in the woods.  May-apples--that was it--
mandrakes--the cloying fragrance of the waxy-white blossoms of the


Mrs. Bishop kept wiping her eyes and sighing.  When Ella had stared
at the little pink and fragrant epistle for a long moment, her
mother asked helplessly:  "Oh, Ella, what . . . do you . . . what
shall we do?"

"Do?"  Ella was suddenly all briskness and decision.  "There's just
one thing TO do.  Send her some money and tell her to come on."

"Oh, Ella . . . with you going to get married.  You're such . . .
you're a good girl.  First, you have me . . . on your hands . . .
your newly married life . . . and now little Amy."

Ella's eyes wavered away from her mother's.  "I was just thinking,
Mother, now that it's turned out this way--Amy coming--maybe you
and she could live here together.  Delbert and I could get rooms--
down town, in the building above Judge Peters' office.  She'd look
after you, you know, and I would be so close to come if I were

That old childish look of fright came into her mother's moist eyes.
"To leave Mamma, Ella?  To leave me behind . . . when . . . I
might . . . at best I may have only a year or two more . . ."

It moved Ella as it always did.  Impatient she might feel, but one
sight of that little delicate figure shrinking into its shroud of
fear, and Ella was always on her knees, her strong young arms
around it.

"Don't think about it any more, Mother.  I'll manage you both

When she told Delbert about Amy's coming, he was not overly

"Not that I should be the one to object, Ella dear,--your own house--
and I just moving in.  I can't quite swallow my pride yet about
that.  Some day, don't you forget, I'm going to be the one to
furnish you with a new home.  It will have colored fan-shaped
lights over all the doors and windows,--and a black marble
fireplace and this new walnut grill-work between all the rooms."

It pleased Ella.  She loved that ambitious side of him,--those
plans he always made for their future.  It would be nice to have
some one upon whom to lean.  In all her twenty-two years she had
never known the time when she could shift responsibility,--do
anything but stand erect on her own two feet.

He caught her to him now, his flushed face against her own cool
one, his kisses hot on her lips.  "To think I'm to live with
you . . . in the same HOUSE . . . the same ROOM . . ."

"Delbert!"  She drew back, a little shy as always.  Never yet had
she felt entirely responsive to those warm impulsive caresses.
Just now he chided her for it.  "You're an iceberg, Ella.  You
don't love me."

"Oh, yes, yes, Delbert,--I DO!  HOW I love you.  You don't KNOW!
But . . . give me . . . time.  Let me. . . ."  She could not

How could she tell him that love was such a fine thing, so
exquisite, that she wanted to hold it in her heart awhile as one
gloats over a pearl--or glories in the beauty of a rose--before
wearing it?  Sometimes--she wondered vaguely--if Delbert could
quite understand that love was something infinitely more lovely,
something far more delicate than the mere physical.  Then in sheer
anger at her disloyalty she would put the thought from her.

There was just time to get the third bedroom upstairs ready for the
young cousin before her arrival.  Mrs. Bishop's room was on the
first floor, and there had never been any reason to furnish the
third one upstairs which had been used as a storeroom.

But now Ella went back to the cleaning with only a few nights after
school and one Saturday left in which to finish.  She put the hat-
boxes and her father's army equipment down in the cellar, papered
and painted and hung up fresh curtains, and took her own best
bedroom chair into the cousin's room.

As she worked, her interest in preparing for the guest overcame her
resentment at that which had seemed at first like intrusion.  "Poor
little thing," she thought,--"left an orphan,--my own little cousin
Amy . . . and I not willing to share a roof with her."

Irene's charade party was to be on Friday night, and it was just
possible that Amy would get to Oak River in time to attend it, Ella
thought, and decided it would be a nice way to initiate her into
local society.

It turned out that it happened just that way.  Amy was getting in
on the four o'clock train from the east on Friday.  Ella left
school early.  Delbert came and hitched up Polly and they were at
the station long before the steam whistle sounded down the road.
The train was a half-hour late--there had been cows on the track
and the trainmen had been compelled to get out and extricate one
from a trestle, the conductor said when he swung down from the
coach.  He appeared to show quite a solicitous attitude toward the
girl as she came down the car steps.  Evidently they had become
rather good friends on the ride out.

Amy was lovely, Ella admitted that to herself.  She was small-
boned, softly rounded, the delicate pink of her flesh the texture
of a baby's.  Her wide eyes, too, were child-like in their blue
candor.  She wore a little gray dolman trimmed with baby blue, and
a little stiff gray hat with blue cornflowers on it.  It gave her
the appearance of a soft little turtle dove, with a blue ruff.  And
she was fragrant with the scent of her letter--something that
reminded Ella vaguely of the cloying sweetness of waxy-white

Also she was a helpless sort of little thing, Ella could see.  She
was not sure of anything,--her baggage, her checks, her way about.
Delbert looked after everything for her and she thanked him so
prettily that he flushed with pleasure.

"She makes me think of a kitten," he told Ella afterward, "a fluffy
little kitten."

What was it Delbert had once said about kittens?  Oh, yes, she
remembered,--they were all right to flirt with--She put the thought
quickly from her mind.

After supper, Delbert came for the girls and the three walked
through the soft April night to the charade party at Irene Van
Ness's home.  The big house was bright from top to bottom,--hanging
lamps with glass pendants and side lamps in brackets on the walls
gave forth their limit of light.  The heavy walnut furniture, the
dark chenille portires, the thick-flowered Brussels carpet, and
the Nottingham lace curtains, all looked rich in the night lights.
Silver gleamed on the sideboard, and one caught whiffs of chicken
and oysters when the kitchen door swung back.  It was rumored that
Mr. Van Ness had even ordered Sam Peters to send to Florida for a
box of oranges.

Irene had on a new rich plum-colored satin--square cut in the
front, from which her neck rose scrawnily, her dull complexion
challenged by the purplish shade of the dress.

When Ella came downstairs with Amy, she was plainly aware of the
admiring whispers that went around.  Amy did look lovely--
"bewitching" Chester Peters said before every one, so that Irene
flushed a little.  She wore pink silk, her plump form squeezed into
the hour-glass shape which was the mode of the day, the low-cut
front revealing the milky whiteness of her flesh.  Her hair was a
high mass of yellow curls through which a black ribbon was drawn,
the one touch of mourning for her recent loss.  Her wide blue eyes
stared at the new-found friends with babyish candor.  She had the
merest suggestion of an impediment in her speech which certain of
the young bloods there seemed to find quite entrancing, as they
formed a little circle around her almost immediately.

At the end of the evening of charades and singing around the piano,
a few dancing games, and the consumption of much rich food, there
was no little rivalry over seeing Amy home.  Chet Peters high-
handedly won her promise, but when he was waiting at the foot of
the stairs for her, Delbert tried to put him off with a curt:  "No,
you don't.  I brought her and I'll see to her myself."  Chet,
however, won his point and carried Amy off into the warm spring

When they left, Ella could see that Irene was making an ineffectual
attempt to keep back the tears.

In the days that followed, the whole crowd knew that Chet Peters
was quite mad about Amy Saunders.  It worried Ella to the depths,
to a great measure spoiled the days which should have been so
happy.  Irene was her best friend and was now too hurt to come to
see her.  It all made an upsetting state of affairs.

"Oh, why did she have to come just now?" Ella sometimes said to her

But her mother was vague, uncertain what to say, could only look to
Ella for decisions on the subject.

And Amy?  Sometimes she went with him as coolly as any woman of the
world and sometimes she clung to Delbert and Ella as though she
were a child and afraid of Chet's ardent wooing.  Ella could not
read the girl clearly.  Was she too young and innocent to know her
own mind?  Did she honestly dislike Chester?  Or was she assuming a
virtue when she had it not?

"I like him," she said one day to them both, her blue eyes wide and
soft and child-like.  And added with engaging candor, "But I like
Delbert better."  And to Ella, with a half-sad little smile:
"YOU'RE the one I envy."

She said it so prettily that Delbert flushed with pleasure.

Ella scarcely knew what to say.  Among all the girls of her
acquaintance in her four school years,--among all the girls in the
classes of her two teaching years,--she had not known one quite
like Amy.  She was so sweet, so guileless,--and yet,--This time,
instead of vague Mrs. Bishop, it was Ella, herself, who could not
finish a sentence.


On the Saturday that Delbert was to drive to Maynard on business
and to which Ella had looked forward, Amy remarked with her usual
beguiling candor that it was such a lovely day she wished SHE could
go too.  There seemed nothing to do but to take her.  One could
scarcely conceive of leaving the young guest behind to sit in the
house on such a spring day.

So the trip that was to have been almost a wedding journey became a
rather different sort of thing.  Ella felt cross as they started,
chiding herself for having a beastly disposition, but on the long
drive with the Judge's horses keeping up a steady swing, the scent
of the spring day in the air, and Amy and Delbert gay and
talkative, her unquenchable spirits rose too, and she felt such a
magnanimity toward all mankind that her momentary disappointment
was forgotten.

When they were ready to make the return trip, Amy placed herself in
the middle of the seat.  "I'm the littl'st," she said with her
faint suggestion of a lisp.  "I want to sit between you so I won't
fall out."

Ella felt provoked at the absurd childishness, but Delbert laughed.

The horses were not so fresh as in the morning and the drive seemed
longer.  Amy quieted and fell asleep as they jogged along.

"She's like a baby instead of a young lady, isn't she?" he said to
Ella--and with his finger tips touched the creamy whiteness of the
curve under her chin.  At which Amy sighed and moved in her sleep
so that her head fell over against his shoulder.

At home Ella sprang as nimbly to the ground as her long skirts
would allow, but Amy, rousing from her nap and yawning, made such
hard work of it that Delbert helped her down carefully.  As she put
her foot on the carriage step, she slipped and would have fallen if
he had not caught her.  For a long moment she lay smiling in his
arms until he set her hurriedly on the horse-block.

The first of May, Ella bought the goods for her dresses--twenty
yards of lovely silk with nosegays of flowers strewn over its snow
whiteness and sixteen yards of wide stiff blue silk and four dozen
wooden buttons to be covered with the same material.  She opened
the packages on the bed in her room and could scarcely take her
eyes from the beauty of the white one, the little bouquets of pale
pink rosebuds and baby-blue forget-me-nots standing out in silken
relief against the shimmering background.

Amy came in to see them, and went into such ecstasies over the
white silk--her enjoyment of its loveliness so genuine--that Ella
told herself she would forever forget all the impatience with her
she had ever felt.  The girl was merely immature--her joy lay in
the material world almost entirely.  As for the future, she would
let that take care of itself for a time.  Amy would not want to
stay with them forever,--she would marry,--Chet, perhaps, as he was
apparently infatuated with her.  At any rate she was the type that
married young.  Never again would she let the actions of the girl
displease her--now that she was assured of their naturalness.

In the late afternoon Ella took the package of silk to the little
weather-beaten house where the dressmaker lived.

The woman was quite excited over the news that she could have the
honor of making them.  "I've heard of you, Miss Bishop, and saw
you, and my neighbor girl here next door has went to you, and she
says you're the best teacher she ever seen in her life.  She says
you make the students talk right.  Well, gracious, I says to her,
it's the Lord that gives you your talkin'--what can a mere teacher
do about it?  But I guess I got to admit maybe the Lord 'n you is
in cahoots."

But it did not take Ella long to realize that maltreating the
king's English had very little to do with the woman's natural knack
for dressmaking.  She brought out a lovely pale blue silk,--"for
Irene Van Ness,"--glowing with pride at the name of her customer.
"She has always went with that Chester Peters 'n while I wouldn't
want any girl of mine to tie up with him--I guess there's plenty
about him--there's them that must have their own ideas.  But they
say she's eatin' her heart out over jealousy of some girl here
visitin'.  The rich has their troubles the same as us dressmakers,
I guess."

Ella said she must get right at the planning for it was growing
late.  So the woman brought out her "Colored Plates of Ladies of
Fashion" and was immediately lost to the world of gossip.

In the days that followed, Ella made many trips to the little
weather-beaten house in the far end of town.  Having a dress made
in the eighties was having a monument built.

On a Wednesday afternoon in the last of May she felt almost too
tired to stand through the long ordeal of the fitting.  School all
day, doing her portion of the housework when home, then the
fitting,--and still the day was not over, for she and Amy were
going up the river with Delbert after supper.

"I wonder if the time will ever come that one can walk into a store
and buy a dress all made," she said to the woman down on her knees.

The dressmaker shifted two or three pins with the muscles of her
mouth.  "Good land, no.  The' ain't no two sets o' hips 'n busts 'n
shoulders in the world alike.  No--that's ONE thing ain't never
goin' to be invented by nobody.  'Til the end o' the world folks
has got to have dresses made for ev'ry separate one."

When Ella arrived home, Delbert was there, and also there was word
awaiting her to come to President Corcoran's office at seven-thirty
to a hastily called meeting of the faculty over some Commencement

"That settles going up the river," she said.

"Oh, no," Amy pouted, "I want to go."

Ella ignored it and turned to Delbert.  "You know, Delbert, I
wouldn't want any one to hold a single criticism against my work if
I could help it.  No one can say that I've not done my duty right
up to the last."

"Of course not, Ella.  It's right, too."

Amy's big china-blue eyes filled with tears.  "I'm so disappointed.
This beautiful evening--there's going to be a moon.  I've counted
all day on going.  You see, Ella, you and Delbert are out all day."
Her soft lips quivered, "But when I'm just here with Auntie, I look
forward to little things like this."

"Where's Chester?"  Ella was a little tart in tone.

Delbert answered that Chester was with his father who was having
two men in the office for business--farmers who had made the date
with him.  Then he added:  "I could take her, Ella--if she's so
disappointed.  We could walk over to school with you first and then
go back down to the river."

Ella thought of her own self at Amy's age--she was nearly nineteen--
remembered her self-reliance and self-discipline, and felt a
disgust for her cousin's childishness and an annoyance at Delbert's
succumbing to the soft little wiles of the girl.

She shrugged a lithe shoulder.  "Oh, of course--she ought to be
taken," she admitted dryly, and went for her own wraps.

Amy recovered her spirits then, chattered gayly all the way to
Central Hall, left Ella with, "You're not mad are you, Ella?"
Tired as she was, it took all of Ella's self-control to maintain
her poise.

"How long do you think you'll be in the meeting, Ella?" Delbert was
wanting to know.

"I haven't the least idea."  To save herself she could not help an
acidity creeping into her tones.

"I'll probably be waiting here in the hall for you."

"You needn't bother."

She went in to the office, thoroughly annoyed at her own annoyance.
"Sometimes I think I'm my own worst enemy," she said to herself.

The meeting lasted late, involving as it did a necessary change of
plans and their attendant preparations for Commencement.  During
the entire time Ella held herself to the line of duty, schooling
herself in the concentration of her part in it.

When she came out, she looked about.  But there was no one in the

She walked across the campus with Professor Cunningham and Miss
McAlister, scorning the idea that they accompany her on down Adams
Street to her home, went into the house where the lamp was still
burning for her and on up the enclosed stairway to her own room.
There she undressed, got into her long white cambric nightgown with
its embroidered yoke, and brushed her thick dark hair.  When she
was ready for bed, she took her lamp with its red flannel in the
kerosene bowl and tiptoed down the length of the hall to Amy's
room.  Cautiously pushing back the door and holding her hand in
front of the light in order not to disturb the sleeping girl, she
looked in.  Amy was not there.

A cold icy hand clutched Ella's heart and strangled her breathing.
The gray deep river--a leaky flat-bottomed boat--or an upset canoe--
or a fall from a rocky ledge--or--or--

She felt, rather than saw, her way back into her room, blew out the
light to have the sheltering darkness, sat stiffly on the edge of
the bed to stare into the enfolding blackness.

After a long time she heard the far sound of the outside door, the
closer creak of the stair one, and the softly padded tiptoeing of
the girl down the hall.

Ella lay back on her pillow.  But for an hour or more she continued
to stare into the engulfing darkness.


Morning and sunshine and the sweet May odors from the yard brought
to Ella clearer vision and a mind swept of all doubts.  Why should
humans--decent souls who despised the perfidious--ever be besieged
by disturbing and disloyal questions?  It was not worthy of her,--
was not trustful of the love which had been given her.  As she
dressed she made a little prayer to the God of Lovers,--and the
humble request was:  "Keep us both from unworthy thoughts."

She left the house cheerfully, before Amy had come down.  All day
long at school she was busy and contented.  In the late afternoon
at home she found Amy demure and gentle, slipping quietly about the
house doing a simple task or two.  Some May-apple blossoms drooped
limply over the side of a vase,--mute reminder of the river trip.

"That's one flower should stay in its natural woodsy habitat," Ella
said gayly.  "Never pull a mandrake."

She did not notice that Amy's wide blue eyes looked up, startled
and fearful.

Delbert did not come in the evening.  Sometimes he had extra work
and stayed at the office.  Neither was there any word from him, for
the telephone was but a new toy being tried out by a handful of
people in the east.

Chester drove up in the new buggy with the prancing blacks, but
when Amy saw him, she said hurriedly to Mrs. Bishop:  "Tell him I
have a headache"--and ran up the enclosed stairway.

Friday morning Ella went as usual to school, her active mind
placing all the day's tasks in neat pigeon-holes: classes, a test
on diagramming, see Professor Wick about Clarence Caldwell, meet
with Miss McAlister and Professor Cunningham on a committee, go to
Mrs. Finch's for a fitting, ask Irene about some music for the
Alumni--the third banquet, now, with thirty-three graduates
eligible to attend.

A busy morning--and then in the afternoon just before the one
o'clock class was called, Chris Jensen came to Ella's recitation
room, tiptoeing with noisy boots--squeak--squeak--all the way down
the length of it.  He grinned as he handed her a sealed note.

"Iss dis somet'ing you can use?"

"Thank you, Chris."

"Pleased to do t'ings for you, Miss Bis'op."

The note was in Delbert's handwriting so that Ella slipped into her
little office to open it alone.  Sometimes he sent her these little
messages by Chris,--about nothing at all.

She tore into the envelope with its Peters, Peters and Thompson in
one corner.

But THIS,--this was different.  Ella's heart pounded strangely at
the queer letter and the same icy hand of Wednesday evening
clutched at her throat.


Something has happened.  I must see you this evening,--and talk
with you.


What--oh what had happened?  Something that night.  Why must
Delbert talk with her?  About something of that night.  Why had he
sent a note at all?  He could come any time he wished.  It was
preparing her.  For what?  For something about that night.

Like the tom-toms of the jungle it beat its monotonous refrain:

The one o'clock bell rang directly over her head with loud
clamorous insistence, and the pigeons flew out in noisy response,
their wings brushing the windows.  The bell!  The bell meant
service to others.  Oh, no, not now,--not this afternoon when
something had happened.  The bell meant obligations.  No, no,--
nothing was important but that something had happened,--something
vital,--something more serious than classes,--something to do with
the things of the heart.  The bell meant duty.  Duty!  One's duty
had to be performed, no matter under what stress.  Go on in there
like a soldier.  But something has happened, I tell you.  Stop
whimpering.  GO!

Head up, Ella stepped into her classroom.

All afternoon she could hear the pigeons coo and their wings beat
against the bell.  And then to her tormented mind they were no
longer softly cooing pigeons but great black bats that, like her
thoughts, would not stay away.  They swirled about her head,
harassing and torturing her--the bats and the thoughts.  They flew
about her in all their ugliness, through the work of the three

"The definition, please, for a transitive verb."


"Name the principal parts . . ."


"What type of clause do we prefer there?"



Ella taught all her classes.  She walked down to Mrs. Finch's and
stood through a tedious and loquacious fitting.  She found her
mother not feeling well and put cold packs on her head.

When the bell rings, the Ella Bishops of the world answer the

But she could eat no supper.  She sat at the table and made futile
little stabs at her plate, nibbling a saleratus biscuit, so her
mother would not notice and worry.

Amy cast furtive glances at the two occasionally, her long thick
lashes sweeping her cheeks whenever she looked away.  Mrs. Bishop
made plaintive and tedious remarks about the dull pain in her head.
It was a tense meal.

"I'll wash the dishes," Amy volunteered with feigned lightness.

"No, I'll do them myself."  Ella wanted activity for her body to
deaden the constant questioning of her mind.

When she heard Delbert open the picket-gate and come up the board
walk, she slipped outside and met him under the rank growth of the
trumpet-vine at the edge of the porch.  He stood and stared at her
with no word.  By the rays from the dining-room lamp, she could see
that he was haggard, his lips drawn taut.

"What IS it?"  The thing was now frightening her beyond endurance.

"Let's walk, Ella.  I have to tell you something.  Let's get
away . . . from the house."  He threw a nervous glance toward the
lamplight beyond the screen door against which a Junebug was
thumping noisily.

"No."  She heard her own voice as though coming from far off and
detected the terror in it.  "Tell it NOW.  Right HERE."  She felt
that she was choking, so that she put both hands across the beating
pulse of her throat.

"It's . . . about Amy."  His voice sounded desperate.

She knew it.  Something had been trying to tell her so for days.
And she had refused to listen.  Now in the flash of a split second
she knew that she had sensed the thing from the first.

"You love her."  She found herself saying it for him.  In her whole
life to come no one would ever accuse Ella Bishop of sidestepping
the truth.  Some sturdy element inherited from her pioneer father
gave her strength to shoulder the hard part of the interview.  Even
now, in the crisis of the tense moment, she had a swift
understanding of herself, a sudden fleeting premonition that she
was always to do that for other people--assume their burdens.

"I . . . I . . . am afraid so."  He was breathing hard,--was
suffering.  "Come over here . . . where we can talk . . ."  He put
his hand on hers to draw her to a bench in the yard.  Ella pulled
it back as from a striking reptile.

"Let me explain, Ella."  His voice sounded as though he had been
running.  "When I went up the river with her, I SWEAR to you . . ."

"NO . . . that's enough."

She turned away.

He called her desperately:  "Ella . . . come back."

But she had gone, in one swift flash, back into the house--the
screen door clicking sharply behind her.  Up the stairs with
running feet--up to the darkness of her room--up to face despair--
up to the black midnight of--

But in front of her own bedroom door Amy met her, barring the way
to that dark haven.

"Oh, Ella, whatever will you say to me?"  She tried to put her hand
on Ella's arm, but pulled it back at the sight of the older girl's
wild face.

Suddenly she began to cry, little, superficial, cowardly tears.
"Ella . . . I'm sorry.  I never meant to."


Ella stared, white-faced, at the soft pink features contorted into
a baby-like expression of fear until Amy cowered before her.

"What are you going to do about it?" the young girl looked out
between trembling fingers.

DO!  DO!

"Ella, you aren't . . . you don't think you can still marry him, do
you?"  Genuine fright was in the soft voice.

Ella glared at the human who could conceive the thought.  The young
girl misinterpreted the long icy silence,--all the unanswered
questions,--for suddenly she took her hands from her face and said
dryly, with a little jaunty twitch of her shoulder.  "Well, you
can't.  He CAN'T marry you now.  I'll have you know that."

It was with fascinated horror that Ella gazed now at the girl.
What?  What?  Oh, what?

She wet her moist lips, tried to make the words come.  Her knees
were water.

"You mean . . . ?"

"Well . . . he has to marry me . . . now."

"You . . . you little . . . ANIMAL," Ella said.  And crumpled to
the floor.


All night and a day Ella lay on the bed in her darkened room
without removing her dress.  All night and a day she crushed her
face into the pillow and prayed to die.  "Don't let me live.
Please don't let me live," was her constant petition.

Her mother tiptoed to the door at intervals,--plead plaintively
with her daughter to see her.  But there is no sharing Gethesemane
with another.  When one crosses the brook of Cedron into the
Garden, one goes alone.

Toward evening there was a different voice at the door,--Amy's
childish one.  "I'm going, Ella."  And in a moment:  "Ella, . . .
let me see you a minute before I go, won't you?"  And when there
was no answer, "Ella, don't be mad.  Please don't be mad."

Ella wrapped the pillow about her head and moaned into its feathery

At dusk she heard a buggy drive up.  Her ears sharpened by distress
conveyed the fact to her that there was more movement in the house
than there had been all day.  A door slammed twice, there was a
sound of a man's low voice--Delbert's--the dragging of a trunk or
box, a high childish call of "Good-by, Auntie."  And the world had
come to an end for Ella Bishop.

Toward morning, she pulled the clothes from her exhausted body and
got into her gown.  For the first time, then, she felt that she
wanted her mother.  Like a little girl, bruised and hurt, she crept
down the stairs, felt her way through the darkness of the rooms,
into her mother's bedroom, and crawled into bed with her.

"Mamma--comfort me."  It was the cry of a wounded thing.

But her mother's heart was pounding so furiously from the shock,
and she said her head was splitting so terribly, that in a few
minutes Ella got up and dressed again and gave her medicine and
wrung out cold compresses for her.  So after all, it was Ella who
did the comforting.

Sunday passed with tragic nerve-racking slowness.  Once she threw
out some dead mandrake blossoms and scrubbed the vase vigorously,
as though she would cleanse it from all past association with the
cloying odor of the waxy flower.  Like a haunted thing then her
mind would again travel in sickly imaginings up the river where an
empty boat was nosed into the wet sand, drag itself up the bank and
creep into the nearby woods where the May-apples grew in shady
cloistered places--She would moan aloud in the agony of her mental
illness and dark despair.

On Monday morning she dragged herself to her classroom.  Duty--
obligations--service.  These await every one who comes out of the

"Oh, Miss Bishop, have you been sick?" a freshman girl asked.

"Just a Sunday headache," she answered with studied composure.

All day she taught with painstaking thoroughness.  Not all the
world's heroines are listed in the archives.

"Another use of the participle should be kept in mind."


"Analyze it orally, giving attention to the function of the


Not a student could have detected any letdown in the detailed
instruction.  Ella Bishop's heartbreak was her own.

She stayed until five, assisting a pretty young girl with an
outline for an essay.  The student was only four years younger than
the teacher, but to Ella, noting the girl's spontaneous smile,
there seemed all the difference between blooming youth and tragic
old age.

When the work was finished, she put on her hat and walked down
through the June sunshine, redolent with the odors of Commencement,
across town to Mrs. Finch's weather-beaten house.

The little dressmaker greeted her with:  "Well, well, here comes
the bride."  And before Ella could respond she added:  "The blue
one is all finished to the last stitch, but THE one has to have
another fitting, so I'm glad you've come."

Ella held herself together with studied effort.  There would be a
great deal of this to meet now, and she must face it with
composure.  "You won't need to finish it, Mrs. Finch.  I'm not
going to use it."

"Oh--you'll wear the blue instead?  But I WOULDN'T, Miss
Bishop . . ."

"You don't understand.  I'm not getting married at all."

"Oh, Miss BISHOP.  You don't . . . ?"  But something formidable in
Ella's face made her stop abruptly.

"Sometimes one just changes one's mind," Ella said quietly.

Mrs. Finch was embarrassed.  She hardly knew how to proceed.
"You'll take the blue one with you then?"

"Yes," said Ella.

"And how . . . about . . . ?"

"The white?  I'll take it too."

"Just the unfinished way . . . with the bottom not hemmed . . . and
the sleeves not sewed in?"


She brought it out of an inner room--a shimmering mass of white
with little bouquets of pale pink rosebuds and blue forget-me-nots
in silken relief against the snowy background--a lovely white
monument for the grave of a dead hope, with flowers for

With much fumbling of paper and dropping of string the little
dressmaker did up the two dresses, the blue one and the white one
and the long mousquetaire sleeves of the white which had not been
sewed in.

When Ella took the money out of her purse, the woman said
sympathetically:  "Just for the blue, Miss Bishop.  I wouldn't like
to . . . take anything for the other . . . unfinished that way
and . . . not to be used just now."

"Thank you--but I pay my obligations," Ella said firmly.  And left
with the finished blue dress and the unfinished white one which was
not to be used just then--or ever.


After supper Sam came across the street, stepping gingerly around
through the young hollyhocks to the back door.  When Ella met him
at the entrance to the little porch, he stood in embarrassment, his
thin throat with its prominent Adam's apple working convulsively.

"I know all about it, Ella."

"Please--Sam--don't talk of it."

"I won't, Ella--now or ever.  But I have to tell you one or two
things,--it's necessary.  I thought if I came right now and got it
over, I wouldn't have to bother you any more.  Delbert severed his
connections with father . . . and left town.  You won't . . . won't
have to be seeing him.  And Chet's gone away."

"Gone . . . where?"

"St. Louis.  Father owns a little property there.  Chet went to
transact some business in connection with it.  He just didn't want
to stay here longer.  He was"--Sam looked up in embarrassment--
"quite madly in love with Amy."

"Yes.  And Irene?"

"He doesn't care anything for her."

"No--he doesn't.  Poor Irene."

For a little while they stood at the back stoop, saying nothing--
both in frozen misery.

Sam broke the stony silence then with:  "I'd give anything in the
world, Ella, to have you happy again."

"I know, Sam.  And I'm grateful to you."

"That's one thing I came to say.  If ever . . . if you need me,
I'll always be there . . . right across the street."

"Thank you, Sam."

"You may seem pretty strong and self-reliant, Ella, but maybe there
are times you'd need to . . . sort of lean on some one . . ."

It broke Ella.  She, who had held her head high all day, suddenly
burst into wild tears.  Great wrenching sobs shook her,--and when
she was spent with the rocking torture of them, Sam, with untold
misery in his eyes, was saying:  "That's good for you, Ella--a kind
of outlet.  God knows, I wish it was the last tear you'd ever have
to shed in your life."

So Chester Peters had left town for awhile in the despondency of a
weak and hopeless infatuation for Amy.  The trail of wreckage left
behind her coming was quite complete.

On Tuesday, Ella asked to see President Corcoran after school alone
in his office.  With no preliminaries she asked if her position had
been filled, and when told that it had not been as yet, without
evasive excuses she inquired whether or not she could retain it.

President Corcoran's bright black eyes looked at her quizzically
through the steel-bowed glasses above the Spanish moss of his

"But your other plans, Miss Ella?  I ask only with kindest

"I understand, President Corcoran.  I've changed my mind.  Am
not . . . getting married . . ."  If her voice faltered, it was
only for a moment.  "Probably I never shall."

"I see."

The president sat quietly looking out on the raw new campus with
the barrel-staves around the bases of the young elms and maples.

"You are a fine young woman, Miss Ella," he said in a moment.  "You
would make the young man a splendid wife.  If there is any
uncertainty . . . yet . . . in your mind?"  It was half question,
half fatherly advice.

Ella, holding her lips together in a quivering line, shook her

"I see."

He waited another moment, thoughtfully, then reached to a pigeon-
hole of his desk and withdrew a handful of letters,--apparently a
dozen or fifteen,--and dropped them into the cavernous wastebasket
at his side.

"Applications," he remarked casually, and held out his hand.  "It
will be all right with the board, I know."

Ella took the hand which pressed her own in paternal sympathy, but
she could not trust herself to speak.

In a moment he asked:  "You will devote your fine young energies to
the students of this school?"

Something suddenly ran through her body and heart and mind with the
thought--some feeling of emotion, which was too deep for analysis.

"It's a wonderful work," the steady voice went on.  "It's something
like carrying a torch to light the paths for all the boys and girls
with whom you come in contact.  In dollars and cents it does not
pay much--perhaps it never will.  For myself--I know I might be
able to make more money another way.  I have just this spring had
that very question to settle.  My brother-in-law has wanted me to
go into a new manufacturing business with him for which the
financial prospects seem extremely good.  I have had my struggle
with myself and made my decision.  I shall teach,--even when the
school grows and I need no longer conduct any classes, the contacts
will be the same."

When Ella did not speak he went on.  "There is no way in the world,
Miss Ella, to hold to one's youth.  Time passes so quickly.  Today
I'm forty.  To-morrow I shall be sixty,--day after to-morrow,
eighty.  The only way I know to hold on to those fleeting years is
to bind myself to youth.  If in these swiftly moving years I can
pass on a little of that living flame from the torch I carry . . .
if I can help light the long steep paths for young people . . . the
service I have rendered will be its own reward."

It touched Ella deeply.  For days she had prayed for strength to
take up her life--asked that something come into her mind and heart
to help in blotting out the bitter thing she had experienced.  This
was it.  Quite unexpectedly President Corcoran was helping make it
possible to think of something else, to turn from the anguish that
held her prisoner day and night.

She, whose life had been clean, seemed to have touched in the last
few days the unclean.  Some smothering vapor of impurity had blown
upon her with heavy sickening May-apple odor, and she wanted to get
away from its noxious breath.

This was cleansing.  This was purifying.  TO PASS ON THE LIVING
FLAME.  That would be her life work.  It would take the place of--
of this other thing that had besmirched her.  She would dedicate
her life to it,--throw herself into the work zealously as one might
go to a mission field.

Standing there in the plain, half-furnished executive office of the
six-year-old struggling college,--with the sincere words of its
earnest president still in her ears, Ella Bishop took a vow.

"I will, too," she said solemnly to her inner self.  "I, too, will
carry on the living flame.  I dedicate my life to it--to the
students of THIS college.  I will stay young with them, help them,
serve them.  My whole life is theirs.  The fleeting years!  The
torch!  The living flame!"

For the first time in agonizing days a faint semblance of calmness
enveloped her being--almost a feeling of exaltation uplifted her
soul.  It was as though, stripped of all earthly longings, she
stood before an altar--as though, turning aside from desires of the
flesh, she took the veil.


But one may not stay on the heights for any length of time.  It is
not given to humans to breathe the rarefied atmosphere of Olympus
continuously.  So while Ella Bishop never forgot those moments of
priestess-like exaltation, she was to experience them only
occasionally, recapture their dignity and glory only at rare
intervals in her life.

For the most part, the summer was one continuous battle against her
constantly rising emotions,--one long period of bitter days and
wide-eyed nights.  Strangely enough, her greatest comfort was
digging in the garden.  She who had never cared for the raising of
flowers as her mother did, whose love for books had been her hobby,
now cared little for the printed word.  Books?  They were cold--
only the ground was warm.  Stories?  They were lifeless--only the
good earth had vitality.  Fiction characters?  They were puppets,--
only the sturdy blossoms were real.  Poems?  They were pallid,--
only the green grass in the wind knew the rhythm of song.

All that summer she spent every hour which could be spared from the
house, working among the flowers.  With spade and trowel, seeds and
slips, she dug and planted, reset and watered.  Prone on the ground
with the warm brown earth running through her fingers, she came
nearer to respite from the constant aching of her bruised self than
at any other time.

"There is something elemental about us all," she thought,
"something soothing about contacting our own dust with the life-
giving dust of the earth."

Strangely enough, she never spoke of her tragedy to her mother, and
her mother, less strong-minded than Ella, took the cue from her
daughter's silence and never mentioned it either.  But stranger
still was the fact that the one person to whom she could speak of
it in its bald entirety was Sam Peters.

And then on a warm July morning when Ella was weeding poppies, Sam
came across the street.  As soon as she saw his pale drawn face and
the convulsive working of his thin mouth and chin, she knew he came
with trouble.

"Why, Sam, what is it?"  She got up from the red-blossomed bed and
met him at the edge of the garden.

"It's Chet.  He's . . . drowned."

"Drowned?"  The dull word sounded like a hollow bell tolled in the

"Yes.  He . . . He was on a Mississippi river-boat.  The telegram
says he just . . . disappeared from the boat.  Father's going . . .
to St. Louis . . . to find out.  I'm to stay with Mother.  My God,
Ella . . ."  The thin little man sank down on the garden seat.
"Why couldn't it have been me?"

"Don't say that, Sam."

"But it ought to have . . . what do I amount to?  But Chet . . .
Chet's brilliant.  And Father. . . ."  His thin body shook with
boyish sobs.

Here was grief again--grief, too, that went back to Amy's coming.
For if Chet had not been infatuated with Amy, he would not have
gone away--would not have been on a river-boat.  Suddenly, with
surprising clarity, Ella questioned in her own mind whether the
death had been accidental.

It was only a few weeks later--after Judge Peters had returned from
his investigation, crushed and bowed, with all the pompous
jauntiness out of his walk, that Irene went east to visit
relatives.  The day before she left, Ella made herself go over to
see her, dreading the interview as one dreads any disagreeable

But Irene was much calmer than Ella had expected to find her.
"I've gone over everything in my mind a thousand times," she said,
her thin face wistful.  "And I guess there's something about the
whole thing that we can't any of us see--something that just had to
be for the good of us all--something we may never know--fate maybe--
or destiny."

Ella was thankful beyond words when September came,--and work.  It
is life's most potent medicine for grief.  She threw herself into
it with mental and physical abandon.  And when her heart did not
follow, she chided it for sitting on the sidelines and watching her
mind and body labor.  "Lazy!" she figuratively called to it.
"Numbskull!"  She used some of her ready sarcasm on it.  "You think
you're crushed and ruined for life, don't you?  Well, you're not.
Even yet a real man may come riding by.  Then you'll be the thing
for which you were intended--the heart of a wife and mother."

To ease her pain she tried to picture again some man she might one
day love, attempted to conjure up an attractive new face and
features.  But all she could see was Delbert smiling down at her
with fresh young lips, as he looked before--She would throw herself
across her bed and moan aloud in the depths of her unconquered

All winter she held herself with ferocious tenacity to her work.
She managed freshman social events, was head of the college young
people's inter-church society, was on the Minerva board advisory
group, and chairman of the refreshment committee for the Faculty
Family Circle.

"I know a lovely new way to serve potatoes to the Circle members,"
Professor Cunningham's very domestic wife would say.  "First, you
mash them . . ."

"The faculty members?" Ella would say lanquidly.

"Oh, you go on, Ella Bishop," laughingly, "and then you put them on
the plate with an ice-cream mold and there they stand up just as
cunning, like little pyramids with a clove at the top."

"A clove?  Why a clove?  Why not a clothespin or a prune?"  Ella's
apparently unquenchable spirits would rise.  "I've always wondered
if there could be a clove on top of any of the pyramids."

Every one would laugh.

"Thank goodness, I'll always be like that," she would say to
herself.  And then, as though she had just made a discovery, "I
believe on the outside I'll always be gay and lively."


The winter was long, cold, snowy.  January was one succession of
stormy weeks after another with snow heaped over the campus and
piled high on the roof of Central Hall.  Chris Jensen, shoveling
the wooden sidewalk all day, his strong arms throwing out the white
drifts, would turn around only to see those paths refilled by the

February was no better.  The tips of the young trees on the campus
looked thin and black against the opaque sky, with the wind
whipping the brittle branches into a rattling fury.

On the third of the month, school was dismissed for a few days on
account of a coal shortage.  Ella dreaded the enforced intermission,
knowing that the very inactivity of it would depress her.

On the afternoon of the first day of the recess a strange man drove
up in a bob-sled and hitched his team to the post by the horse-
block.  Ella, watching him from the window, had a queer feeling
that the stranger's coming was portentous.  She could not have told
why, but she suddenly felt herself grow nervously expectant.  He
came on up the walk between the drifts, swinging his arms together
to bring warmth to them.  His long drooping mustache was frozen
white, an icy horseshoe above the muffler he wore.

Always afterward Ella wondered what peculiar phenomenon it was
whereby she sensed that he came bearing strange tidings.

Her heart pounding queerly, she opened the door.

"Be you Miss Ella Bishop?"


"If I could come in . . . I got a letter here . . ."

"Oh yes, yes, come in."

Something made her walk over to the kitchen door and protectingly
close it upon her mother making mince pies to be frozen for the
month's use.

A letter!  Letters were strange things.  They brought happiness and
comfort and companionship, but,--she caught her breath,--sometimes
they brought black grief.

The man was having difficulty in producing it, what with two woolen
jackets and an overcoat to search.

When he had produced and given it to her, Ella's fingers trembled
at the tearing.  It was from Delbert Thompson--a pale, sprawling
letter of stark appeal.

Ella, I am sick--on my last bed.  If you have a heart in you--and
oh, Ella, I know you have--come back with the man who brings this.
It's the last thing I'll ever ask you . . . for the time is short.
Hurry.  Please.

Wild thoughts sprang to Ella's mind,--mad thoughts that leaped and
chased each other through her hot brain.  No.  She was through with
him,--done forever with him and his little--

IF YOU HAVE A HEART IN YOU.  That was good, that was!  Who but
Delbert Thompson knew whether or not she had one?

The man, standing with his arms around the sheet-iron wood-burner,
shuffled and stepped about restlessly, soft chunks of snow melting
from his high boots.

"Pretty bad, I guess," he volunteered.  "Can't last long.  Wife
poorly, too."

"Where are they living?" Ella heard herself asking in a voice that
seemed to come from the far end of the room, like a ventriloquist's.

"Maynard.  Next door to me.  I run a livery stable.  But I come for
nothin'.  I said I ain't one to charge a dyin' man for an errand I
can do."

Ella stood, tense and white, and stared at the man with his thawing
horseshoe mustache and his big boots that smelled of his calling.

"I'll be ready in a few minutes," she said.

Her mother was upset.  "Oh, Ella . . . a man who . . . who . . ."
She had meant to say "jilted you," but something in Ella's stern
face kept her from it.  She darted about here and there excitedly,
her small dainty hands still white from the flour board.

All the time Ella was throwing a few things together, she was
saying to herself, "I'm like this.  I'll always be like this.
People can beat me and lash me, and I'll turn around and lick their
hands if they need me.  Weak!  Emotionally weak as water."

She bundled up in two coats and woolen tights, leggins and four-
buckled overshoes, put on earlaps and tied a woolen fascinator
around her hat.  Her mother had warmed the soapstone in the oven
and wrapped it in a flannel shawl.  A fifteen-mile winter ride in
an open sleigh on a prairie road in the eighties was a thing with
which to reckon.

The ride seemed interminable.  Sometimes the two went miles without
conversation, for when they opened their mouths to speak, the cold
damp air rushed in to fill their lungs, which seemed to collapse
like bellows.

On the last part of the trip the cold penetrated the buffalo robes
so that Ella's tumbling thoughts even ceased their eternal
questioning, her emotions were calm,--the benumbed physical holding
complete sway over the turbulent mental.

It was nearly dark when the man drove up to a square house on the
outskirts of the town.  Ella could see a woman pulling down and
lighting a hanging-lamp, a child pressing its face against a

"Here we be," he commented, and added, "Thank the Lord.  My woman
said to bring you into our house first to thaw out.  She's been
over a lot to the Thompsons'.  Guess she's home now, though."

Ella went in, her limbs so stiff with cold that she staggered as
she walked.  She removed her wraps and sat down by a red-hot sheet-
iron wood stove, but the sudden change from the intense cold to the
closeness of the room made her feel a little giddy.

The woman flew about noisily, dishing up the supper, chattering,
clucking her sympathy:  "Poor little thing . . . tsk . . .
tsk . . . ," stopping to whisper something to Ella that the child
might not hear.

Ella ate a little, without tasting what she consumed.  Her body
craved sustenance, but under the nervous strain of the ordeal,
rebelled at food.

The woman was curious, distressingly loquacious:

"Let's see . . . you're Mis' Thompson's cousin?"


"Let's see now . . . how long have they been married?"

"I think it was sometime in April or May."

"Tsk . . . tsk . . . the very first thing," whispering a comment.

And when Ella was disappointingly silent:  "Did you know Mr.
Thompson, too?"


After supper she went over, stepping high through the snowdrifts in
her four-buckled overshoes.  At the porch of the little shoe-box of
a cottage she paused:  "Stay with me," she said to some unseen
source of strength.

There was a single light in the main room.  On hearing the door
open Amy came from the dim bedroom.  At the sight of Ella she began
to cry, weak tears that distorted her pretty, swollen face and
shook her misshapen body.

"She's here," she whispered back to the gloom of the bedroom, and
apparently with no rancor at Ella's meeting alone with the sick
man, crossed over to the far side of the living-room and sat down

Ella went alone into the chamber of death.

Yes, he was dying.  She could see that.  This was Delbert dying,
she told herself coolly.  She would not let herself feel emotion;
made of her heart and mind cold and callous things.  For a moment
she stood by the side of the bed with no word.  The dying man only
looked at her, searching her face for the answer to some question--
perhaps the queer question of why everything came to be as it was.

"Ella!"  He touched her hand feebly with a clammy finger.

She drew the member back, shocked at her repulsion to the contact.

"It was all wrong, Ella.  Nothing was right . . . but it's too late
now . . . God, I've suffered."  It was agony for him to talk.
"There's no time to waste in going over it."

And when she made no comment, he went on:

"I wanted you to come . . . I had to . . . to look you in the eyes
once, Ella . . . your clear, clean eyes . . . and say it was all
wrong . . . and tell you . . . I love you . . ."  He paused for a
renewal of strength, and then went on:  "Tell me, Ella . . . will
you take her home with you a little while?  Just 'til afterward?
She's no place to turn.  Promise me, Ella.  I can't go like this--
thinking she's nowhere to go.  Poor child!  Poor little . . .

Ella stiffened.  "You're asking a hard thing."  Her voice, breaking
its silence for the first time, sounded as harsh and rasping as a
buzz-saw in the still room.

"Yes, I know.  It seems terrible . . . but more terrible not to.
You can . . . ask strange things . . . when you're dying.  Please,
Ella . . . just through her hard time.  After that, I can't see
ahead.  Something--God knows what--will solve it . . . maybe.  But
this very month . . . it's so near.  Home to your place--with you
and your mother.  Just this one thing, Ella.  My responsibility to
her . . . to the end.  It'll make the going less hard . . ."

Ella broke.  Like a dammed-up stream from which the bulwark was
washed away, all her emotions came surging suddenly.  Standing
there at the side of the bed she pressed her fingers into the flesh
of her face,--into her eye-sockets,--to keep from the wild hysteria
of sobbing.  Like the rushing of the water through breaking ice on
Oak River in the spring of the year, her grief now came surging
through her bitterness.  For the first time her suffering was for
all three,--for Amy crying out her spineless, superficial sorrow--
for Delbert going down alone into the strange darkness--for
herself, the scorned one, whose agony had been greatest of all.

"Promise, Ella."

"Oh, why is life such a drear stark thing, Delbert?  Life was meant
to be joyous and lovely."

"You will always have joy and loveliness in you, Ella."

"It should have something besides loneliness and despair."

"You will have neither one, Ella."

"I've suffered so . . ."

"So have I . . . God, how I've . . . suffered."

"How can I go on?"

"Promise you'll . . . look after her . . . through it."

"But what about me?  Is my life to be nothing but duty and
obligations and service to others?"

"You are so strong . . . and clean.  Hold my hand . . . things
are . . . are slipping . . . quick,--promise, Ella."

"I promise."


Ella stayed through everything--death, and the many little tasks to
do for the dead.  Amy had no decision, wanted only to escape the
distasteful experience.  She wept, and wondered if people thought
she looked terrible,--moaned out her sorrow, and was disappointed
that her long black veil was not lace-edged.

On the fourth day, the livery-stable owner took them home,--
protesting against pay with:  "I'm just a neighbor in this case."

The sun was out for the first time since the last heavy snows.
Everywhere the drifts were hard, high, and sparkling, but the cold
had abated a little.

Arriving at the house, Amy could scarcely move from bodily
weariness.  It took the combined efforts of the driver and Ella to
assist her from the low seat of the sleigh.  In the warm sitting-
room, she stood with her back to the door a moment waiting to see
what her aunt's greeting would be.

Ella's mother was upset.  She scarcely knew what to do with the
peculiar situation.  The natural warmth of her hospitable nature
fought with the cruel circumstances so that she looked to Ella for
her cue.

Ella was matter-of-fact.  Mrs. Bishop decided that if her daughter
was not her natural humorous self, at least she was not
uncompromisingly stern.  So she immediately became equally matter-
of-fact, but without austerity.  She shook hands with Amy, but she
did not kiss her.  She told her she was sorry for her that she had
lost her husband, but she said no more about it.

Amy began to cry--weak childish tears, her soft little lips
puckered into tremulous sorrow.  Ella stalked out of the room and
made preparations for supper.

Two days later the enforced vacation was over, and she went back to
pick up the loose ends of her work.  Sam Peters came over to tell
her that if she ever needed him--in the night for errands or
anything--he'd be right there across the street.  Irene Van Ness
came for two reasons--to tell her she was engaged to a Robert Hunt
in Ohio, and that she thought Ella was the noblest-souled girl that
ever walked on the top of the green earth.  And about the first,
Ella was sincerely happy.  But about the other, she said acridly:
"Oh, no, I'm not.  I have a special brand of selfishness, all my
own.  When I give up and do something for some one, the more
sacrifice it takes on my part, the more of an exalted feeling of
happiness it gives me.  I like the abnormal thrill of the self-
righteousness.  And if you call that nobility of soul, I'll bet the
Lord is grinning about it."

"Oh, Ella, you do say the queerest things," Irene had to laugh.

Amy was taken sick on the twenty-fourth of February.  There was a
wild wind in the night which blew out the street lamps, and Ella,
hurrying down the street for Chris' wife, was buffeted about by it.
After she had aroused Hannah, she went on to the doctor's, and even
though he took her home among the warm buffalo robes of his cutter,
she shook with the cold and nervousness.

The wind howled its coyote-like fury around the house.  The street
lamps went unlighted so that to look out was to look onto the
blackness of nothing.  Mrs. Bishop could not stand the nervous
strain and locked herself in her room.  Hannah waited on the doctor
and Ella waited on Hannah.

The wind wailed like the crying of a child, and the night wore on.
Then a child wailed like the crying of the wind, and the night was

When the first gray light came into the sullen eastern sky, Hannah
carried the baby into the kitchen.  It was a girl--plump, healthy,

Without a wink of sleep, Ella set out a breakfast for the doctor
and was preparing to leave for school.  But he said there was no
time to eat and he asked her not to go.

As the day wore on, Amy, coming out from a semi-coma, did not
appear to be greatly interested in the dark-haired mite Hannah
showed her.  She slept, roused to tell the doctor she must look a
fright, slept, grew weaker, fluttered white lids over glazing china-
blue eyes,--died.

For the second time that month, Ella looked at Death as he came for
his prey.  And for the second time, it was she who had to make all
the necessary arrangements, so trivial to the gaunt-eyed specter,
so necessary to civilized humans.

The day they buried her was foggy, moist, raw.  The pines in the
cemetery dripped clammily on the people standing around the pile of
yellow clay.  The new bronze Civil War soldier on the cenotaph held
pools of water in his cap and knapsack.  An early bluebird, the
color of the dead girl's eyes, fluttered outstretched pointed wings
in the hollow bathtub of the bronze cap.  Irene Van Ness came over
and slipped her arm through Ella's.  The minister intoned the
service for the dead in a drawling, nasal voice, and then:  ". . .
we give back to the God who gave her--this lovely young woman--to
join her earthly lover in Paradise."

Sam Peters stood a few feet back of Ella, his thin face drawn with

When Ella and her mother arrived home from the cemetery, Hannah,
walking about with the baby in her arms, said in her broken English
she would have to get back now to her own little boy.

The doctor came in to talk with Ella and her mother about the child
and give directions for its food.  A neighbor handed in a loaf of
fresh bread at the back door.

When they had all gone, Ella took the baby in her arms and sat down
in a rocking-chair by the western window of the sitting-room where
the cold February sun had broken through the fog and was slanting
feebly across the floor.

Mother and daughter sat silently for a time and then Mrs. Bishop
ventured:  "What are we going . . . what to do . . . what about the
little thing?"

Ella rocked the soft warm mite pressed to her sturdy body.  Under
the blanket it stirred and made peeping noises like a chicken.

Oh, why was life so hard, so complicated?  Nothing was as it should


"Keep it," she said finally.

"Oh, Ella, the child of a man you had expected to marry?"  Some
unusual temerity gave Mrs. Bishop the courage to complete her
thought in words, swiftly, and with no vagueness.

Ella's lips were pressed together in an aching line.  The baby
stirred and stretched.

"Maybe I'm starting something new," Ella said grimly, "something
biologically new.  A youngster with three parents."


Life does not appear to arrange itself into definite periods at the
time one is living those years.  It is only when a woman looks back
upon it from the hilltop of maturity that she is able to say, "That
was the period of my darkest sorrow," or, "Those were the years of
my uncertainty."

And though she could not perceive it just then, this was the time
that definitely ended Ella Bishop's girlhood and became the period
of her vicarious motherhood.

There had been no relatives of Amy but Mrs. Bishop and Ella.
Delbert Thompson's sister wrote that if there was any possibility
of another than herself taking the child for awhile, it must be
done.  Her own three children were still babies and she could not
add the newcomer to the group for a year or two at least.

So because there was no other place for it, the baby was to stay
for a time.  And life became very full for Ella Bishop,--this
double life, which was both that of teacher and of mother.  And if
one thinks as the years went on, she neglected one for the other he
does not know the infinite capacity for work and love and
understanding in the body and heart and mind of an Ella Bishop.

As for help in caring for the child, the answer came from the
Jensens.  A sister of Hannah Jensen came from the old country to
join them and Ella wanted to know at once about the girl working
for her, so Hannah brought her over as soon as she arrived.  She
wanted to explain something about her sister--tried so hard to make
Ella understand, had almost given up to wait for Chris to come and
tell it, when Ella suddenly began to comprehend.

"Oh, I see, Hannah.  You mean she lost her lover."

"Ya-ya."  Hannah glowed at the result of her effort.  "S'e
luffer . . . s'e los'. . . ."  And added with nave honesty and
sadness:  "S'e baby . . . s'e los', too."

The girl sat stoically, not understanding.  Ella looked at her--
healthy, buxom, clean, honest looking.  Dear, dear, what a queer
thing life was.  She hesitated, remembered the child upstairs in
her crib.  Life was teaching Ella Bishop many things.

"Yes, I'll take her, Hannah, for awhile, until we see how we get

So Stena Jensen brought over to Ella's home the various bundles
that had come with her in the steerage, expecting to stay a short
time--and stayed fifty-one years.  Ella gave her the room that had
been Amy's, and there Stena unpacked her other two dresses and
countless white aprons of deep hardanger work, put her own spread
with its wide crocheted trimming on the bed, set up mementos of
numerous Jensens left behind in the old country and a pale tintype
of a young man, under which she kept for a half-century a pink
tissue-paper rosebud, changing it for a fresh one at house-cleaning
time from year to year.  Sometimes Ella, hearing the girl singing a
guttural-sounding Danish song in the kitchen, would stop at the
bedroom door and look in at the neatly arranged keepsakes--and gaze
for a moment at the photo of the phlegmatic "luffer" with the
little artificial rosebud underneath it, placed there no doubt for
s'e baby s'e los', too.

Amy's child thrived and grew strong.  She was a good little thing
after the first part of a year, sleeping usually the whole night
through.  Ella seemed to have a natural flair for knowing what to
do for her.  But Stena also assumed much of the care of her and so
relieved Mrs. Bishop of any responsibility about the house that
Ella sometimes wondered which required the more waiting upon--her
mother or the baby.

"Stena spoils you, Mother," Ella would sometimes say jokingly.  At
which her mother's eyes would fill, and she would say, "Ella . . .
you're not . . . Mamma's sorrow . . . you don't begrudge . . . ?"

Ella would put tender arms around her frail little mother and laugh
away her hurt.  But she would also say to Stena:  "Don't do
everything for her, Stena.  Just purposely leave her a few tasks.
It's better for every one to have something to do."

For months the baby had no name,--then quite suddenly Ella began
calling her Hope.  For no reason at all, it satisfied something in
her--young Ella Bishop, who was not to know the full fruition of
any hope.

She had so much to oversee now, her days were so filled with tasks,
that she had little time to brood over her troubles.  No student
ever came to Ella's door to find her too busy to give him
attention.  If necessary, she stayed at school until shadows fell
across the floor of the classroom in Central Hall.  If some one
needed her, she arrived at her desk soon after the morning dusk had
cleared from the sky.  She assisted them all,--boys and girls
alike.  She helped them about participles and finances, adverbial
phrases and clothes, split infinitives and bodily ailments, clauses
and morals.

Sometimes she scolded about it just to relieve her mind.  Ella's
tongue could be sharp.  She was no soft sentimental teacher.  "That
Cowan girl," she would say, "thinks conjunctions grow on bushes
along Oak River.  And she doesn't know a preposition from a
thousand-legged worm.  I vow I'll never waste another moment with
her."  But the next morning she would be at her desk an hour
earlier than usual to help that Cowan girl.

For a year and a half, then, Ella and Stena looked after little
Hope, bathing her, feeding her, exclaiming over her first tooth and
watching over her first steps--and one could not have told which
was more interested in her development.  If they disagreed about
her at all it was because Stena thought Ella kept her up too late
in the evening--and Ella had to use all her tact to keep Stena from
overloading the little dresses with crocheted lace and hardanger

"Start making lace trimming for her wedding trousseau, Stena," Ella
would laugh, "instead of putting so much on her now."

It was the evening of Hope's second birthday, when two of Stena's
home-made candles had burned brightly on a huge frosted cake, that
the letter came from Delbert's sister.  She wrote that she had help
now--the youngest child was four, and she thought they could
relieve Ella for a time from the care of brother Delbert's child.

As she read, Ella was frightened at the way her heart contracted
and her whole body grew cold.  If she harbored any idea that her
own care of the baby up to this time had been from a sense of duty
alone, that letter expelled the last vestige of it.  No one could
take Hope from her,--no one.  If she were served with a law summons
even,--she would fight it.  Hope was hers.  Hope was her baby.  She
grew almost hysterical in her imaginings--she who was usually so
strong and placid,--caught Hope up to her, buried her face in the
fat baby neck, drank in the clean sweet-smelling odor of the little
body, kissed the palms of the pink hands.

Hope laughed and kicked her little kid shoes together in exuberance
that Aunt Ella was so excited over some unknown cause.

Ella wrote the woman a half-dozen letters before she was satisfied
with the one she mailed--that the child was well, and as long as
she had such good help in a capable Danish girl, she would be glad
to absolve the relative from any responsibility for the child.  But
she could not relax from worry until the answer arrived which
plainly signified the woman's relief.

Now she could give her time whole-heartedly to her students, and
then hurry down through the campus and past the intervening blocks
to the modest home on Adams Street knowing that Hope, her little
nose flattened against the pane, would be waiting for "Aunt Ella."

In that summer of 1885 Ella made some changes in the home,--had a
new downstairs' bedroom built for her mother and a wide porch
across the front and one side of the house after the style of the
day.  It necessitated digging up the big roots of the trumpet-vine
which she always associated with Delbert.

Chris, bringing a spade to do this for her after his working hours
at the college, shook a shaggy head over the destruction of the
nice shade at the old porch.

"You may have it, Chris, if you can get it reset."

"Py chingo, I take him qvick.  But you sure you not voolish to pull
him up?"

"No, I don't want it.  I just don't care about having it around the

So it was with other mementos--Ella carefully removed anything that
reminded her of Delbert, as though she would throw open the rooms
of her heart to the sunshine and clean that battered and shaken
house of all remembrance.  She worked faithfully at the task, took
out this and that article, hung out all the tender moments to air,
shook vigorously all the loved plan, burned every vestige of
sentiment.  But what did it avail?  For every day Hope looked at
her with Delbert's eyes and laughed roguishly up at her with
Delbert's lips.  Even the trumpet-vine, having dropped its seeds,
sprang up anew the following spring.  You could not destroy that
which had so vitally lived.  So she gave up the futile task of
forgetting and moved all the memories back into the house of her

Because of these, and because Hope grew to look more and more like
her father, it came in time to seem to Ella that Hope was her own,
and had been born of her love for Delbert before any tragedy
entered in.  She came to feel that she had given birth to Hope in a
travail of physical agony, just as she had borne grief in a travail
of mental agony.  As time went by, and a measure of surcease came,
there grew in the inner court of her heart a little garden of
fragrance from which the rank growth of noxious weeds had been
miraculously removed.  With the child's hand in hers and the
child's sweet face upturned to her, by some gracious gift of heaven
she was able to walk unmolested in that garden of memories.  She
confided in no one, could not have put it into words if she had so
desired,--but in time she came to know vaguely that to the
groveling cry of her prayers had come from Somewhere through the
child--a comforting benediction.


And now changes came to the young college.  For a year or so,
Central Hall had taken on a crowded condition.  Instructors had
been changing rooms at the end of certain periods, in order that
some of the growing classes might have places large enough to hold
recitations.  It had been a common sight to see one of the
dignitaries gathering together his paraphernalia in pompous haste
and removing himself with reluctance from the room he chose to look
upon as his own.  Professor Carter with his arms figuratively full
of English authors, or Professor Wick clutching a wheel and axle,
marching a little grumpily down the hall had been every-day

But now all this was changed.  A new building had gone up on the
campus--a three-story brick with stately white pillars across the

Administration Hall it was called, and it made Central Hall look a
little pale and colorless, although the older building still
retained the dignity of possessing the bell which tapped out the

The Minerva Society had rivals--three of them--Greek and Roman
goddesses having been named their patron saints, with a fine
disregard on the part of their girl followers for the rumored
behavior of those early guardians.  Two literary societies for the
young men also made Saturday night at the college one long period
of forensic frenzy.

In 1888, President Corcoran left for another state and President
Watts came.  Ella dreaded the change.  She had gone to school four
years while the former was president and taught with him eight
more.  Twelve years!  And he had been a good friend to her.  For a
few weeks that fall it seemed as though there had been a death on
the campus.

President Watts at first acquaintance appeared rather hard and
cold.  He was an extremely tall man, dark-visaged, as bearded as
the men of Biblical times, his hair unruly and his clothes loose
fitting.  He was only thirty-six and looked much older.  Partly
because of his height, he gave the impression of being loose
jointed--his arms swung awkwardly, his legs seemed more insecurely
connected with his body than other men's legs.  Ella grew in time
to know his step down the hall outside her door--the quick
shuffling gait of those long limbs.  President Watts did not teach
a class as President Corcoran had done.  The school was large
enough so that the executive must give his entire time to
administrative work.

It was not long before his strong personality began to penetrate
every classroom, sweep the campus with ever-growing vitality.
Student enrollment began to increase.  New courses were planned.
And already there were blueprints on exhibition for a third
building.  Something about the man was dynamic.  Apparently every
one responded to the vigor of the new administrative head.

The older professors, who had been connected with the school for
all twelve years, might not have shown any outward manifestations
of agility.  Professor Wick trudged up the board walk of the campus
as heavily as ever, the vague suggestion of his last lunch
somewhere on his vest.  Professor Carter never forsook the
dignified calm of his New England upbringing.  But even so, they
felt a new impetus to work,--the injection of something forceful
into the school, and responded loyally.  Even Chris Jensen swung
his scythe or fed the furnaces with a little more nimbleness.

Classes were rearranged.  The hour of convocation was changed.
Long-winded senior orations at the chapel hour were dropped, thus
rather summarily dispensing with Professor Wick's daily nap.  Out
of the shuffling of old customs and the side-stepping of an old
routine came plans for a larger and more comprehensive educational

As much as Ella had thought of President Corcoran, she could see
now where his vision for progress had not been so keen as that of
President Watts.  The former had been an instructor--the latter had
the viewpoint of the teacher but also the ability of an executive.
The combination was irresistible.

By 1890, music in the college became something besides the
spontaneous combustion of youthful voices.  The word athletics was
rolling glibly off masculine tongues.  New teachers were added.  A
librarian came to sort and list the now-growing collection of
books, deftly separating the Emerson Essays from the seed
catalogues, the popular new Locksley Hall from the bundle of Dr.
Miles' Almanacs.

A Professor O'Neil, representing Messrs. Csar, Ovid and Livy,
taught for a single year, as his radical views on the origin of the
human race, which he so often found occasion to wedge in between
the Aquitanians and the Belg, proved his undoing and he was
summarily dismissed.

Little Albert Fonda, of Ella's class, fresh from post-graduate work
abroad, came now as instructor in astronomy, his dark eyes filled
with the recent vision of heavenly bodies,--his dark face alight
when he spoke intimately of the sun and the moon and the stars.

Nor was Professor Fonda the only member of Ella's class added to
the teaching force.  In another year came big George Schroeder,
back from Heidelberg, for German classes.

Ella met him on the campus just before the first faculty meeting of
the new year.  They stopped to greet each other under the big elms
and maples from which the barrel-staves had long been removed, and
in which the purple grackles, having matriculated in their own
Midwestern, now gathered to give their harsh college yell of

Although the two had been classmates, Ella called him "Professor
Schroeder" when she met him.  And he responded with "Miss Bishop."
It seemed the better way.

They talked there under the elms of the big new college this was to
be.  George Schroeder was enthusiastic, filled with a great desire
to teach these Midwestern young men and women all he could of the
artistic and intellectual life of the universities of the old
world.  His big voice boomed, his big hands gesticulated, his big
shoulders shrugged expressively, as he attempted to convey to Ella
all that he hoped to do for the school that had started him toward
the goal of his ambitions.  Although he spoke perfect English, his
voice carried the accent of a fatherland as unmistakable to place
as was the throaty "tchack-tchack" of the purple grackles above his

Standing there under the elms and maples, he unfolded his plans to
Ella, his old classmate,--a desire to make his department at
Midwestern in time second to none, to gather about him an excellent
corps of instructors, to set a high standard of scholarship, to
give courses on Goethe and Schiller that every student of Germanic
languages would want to take.

He swung into a fiery German quotation, but Ella laughed and
stopped him:  "No, no," she admonished, "I can sense the fire and
drama of it, but you'll have to give it in my mother tongue if you
want me to understand it fully."

"Ach," he gave a shrug of the massive shoulders.  "It loses some of
its beauty,--my Goethe's Faust.  I distort the meaning of course
when I use it here.  And I should not do that.  It is disloyal to
the master.  But I apply it to my new work,--to the buoyancy I feel
in the new field.

     "A fiery chariot, borne on buoyant pinions,
     Sweeps near me now!  I soon shall ready be
     To pierce the ether's high, unknown dominions,
     To reach new spheres of pure activity."

His dark eyes glowed.  "I see some day here on the fertile prairie
a new Heidelberg, a new University of Leipzig.  Can you not see it,
too?"  His great arm swung out in the direction of the two brick
buildings, and Ella, under the influence of his forceful
personality, said:  "Yes, . . . oh, yes . . . I see it, too."

When she left him, she had contracted his enthusiasm.  She, too,
saw a great school on the fertile prairie.  "If in these swiftly
moving years I can pass on a little of that living flame from the
torch I carry . . . if I can help light the long steep path for
boys and girls . . ."

She walked swiftly to the faculty meeting in a glow of eagerness
for the year's work that seemed almost of divine inspiration.  She
felt a great uplift of the spirit,--a warmth of heart toward all
the newcomers.  This year she would teach as the Great Teacher
taught, with fervor and humility.


Quite as though her own world were divided also into two
hemispheres, Ella's interests these years were in two distinct
parts--school and home.  As to the former, it was becoming more
apparent that the childish days of Midwestern were over, that the
school had been but a glorified academy under President Corcoran.
Some of the new teachers these days had degrees from eastern
schools which Ella imagined they wore like halos.  And now came a
man named Wittingly--Dr. Wittingly because of a Ph.D.--to be
professor of Pedagogy (which was a stylish new title for Professor
Cunningham's old classes in Didactics) and whose flag Professor
Cunningham was rather forced to kiss.

It grew popular to obtain a leave of absence and go east for a
year.  And to say that a teacher had just come from Columbia
University was to say that he had just held communion with the gods
on Olympus.  Ella knew she ought to work for another degree
sometime if she were to compete with people from the east.

"But after all," she said to President Watts, "a noun is one of the
few things that won't change in a century, and a verb, as full of
action as it pretends to be, is still a rather stable thing."

President Watts laughed.  He had grown to like this frank and
energetic Miss Bishop.  "But," he added seriously, "I really think
you ought to plan to go."

Ella did not see how she could manage.  Her salary had to cover all
the household expenses.  Her mother, little Hope, Stena, the house,
all these depended upon her alone.  And then to leave for so long,--
she had so many responsibilities here.

Hope was growing like a little milkweed.  First there had been
messy bits of colored papers or crooked little drawings to show
Aunt Ella every night, later a wavering seam made with a huge
darning-needle, then as time went on, genuine school work, a real
number lesson, the word "Hope" written laboriously with plump
fingers assisted by the sympathetic wiggling of a pink tongue
protruding from pursed lips.  For Hope was in school over in the
Washington Building of Oak River--the town grown now to over five

Houses had sprung up around the campus--professors' homes, boarding
houses, even a book store and a lunch room.  The old narrow board
walk had given way to wide black cinder paths and the curving
campus drives were hard packed, too, with cinders.  A cow on the
campus now would have been too embarrassed to remain.

Besides Didactics giving way to Pedagogy, Mental Philosophy was now
flaunting itself as Psychology, Moral Philosophy had become Ethics,
and proof was substantiated that the odors of gases in the old
Natural Philosophy classroom by the new name of Physics would smell
as sweet.

There were more new teachers, a Professor Crooks now was a popular
addition to the history department.  He talked a great deal about a
new freedom of thought and of action, and, though rather
permanently married, put his theories into practice by pointed
attention to a dashing new Miss Zimmerman of the piano department.

Each year Ella thought the time had come for her break to go east.
To study a year at Columbia became almost a necessity toward
furthering her teaching career.  With President Watts's advice
approaching the utterance of a command, she grew more and more
sensitive about the delay.  But her mother's health was delicate--
and she herself was like a mother to Hope.  How could she go and
leave the child now in these formative years?  Under Stena's
watchful care, Hope would be clean and well-fed, but also she would
be ready to qualify as a citizen of Denmark when the year would be

It was 1893 when she went, with Hope ten and Mrs. Bishop at fifty-
seven, an old lady, as indeed she had been for a dozen years.  Her
plan was to stop at the World's Fair in Chicago--which worried her
mother almost into an illness, so fearful was she of disaster to
her daughter.

"For goodness' sakes, Mother," Ella was moved to one of her
infrequent moments of exasperation, "of what are you afraid?  I'm
thirty-three years old and ought to be capable of looking after

But Mrs. Bishop's anxiety would not allow her to relax until the
unknown perils of the Fair and the long journey were over and word
had come back that her daughter was safely housed.

The year was a wonderful experience for Ella--with a new viewpoint,
a freedom from home responsibilities, a realization that at thirty-
three she was still young and full of buoyant spirits in spite of
those early tragic events.  The whole thing, passed as it had into
the shadows of memory, became on that year of freedom a bad dream
which was all but forgotten.  Only the scar remained--only a
sensitive hurt--that made her feel she was not like other young
women to whom life gives love and romance.

On her way home she stopped in Ohio to visit Mrs. Robert Hunt--
Irene Van Ness.  She found Irene happily married, the mother of
three little girls, and ready to admit in a moment of confidence a
merry disgust of her former mooning over Chet Peters and his
indifference to her.  They talked of them all freely--the tragic
deaths of Delbert and Chester--of Sam's devotion to his parents,--
of all the classmates of thirteen years before.  Ella went home
happily, as though Irene by talking freely of those old days had
helped her to bury them.  Life was still all before her,--a thing
of warmth and light, of friends and family, of work that was

She found her mother looking more frail, with a multitude of minor
complaints about Stena--she seldom brought the tea in hot enough
and she changed the sheets too often,--and Stena looking more
buxom, with a multitude of minor complaints about Mrs. Bishop--she
didn't get out in the yard enough for her own good and she wasn't
careful of her eating.

It was at the sight of Hope that her heart warmed.  Hope had
celebrated her eleventh birthday, and had shot up almost another
half-head it seemed.  She was in the sixth grade and her essay on
"Why I Would Not Use Narcotics" had won the first place in the
contest.  She had a new dress that Stena had made her with tucks
and crocheted trimming set in the yoke and even in the skirt--and a
bead ring that Harry Jensen had given her--

Ella's heart contracted.  A bead ring from Chris's son!  Boys!  It
was time she was home.  But Hope's sweet face looked honest--her
clear gray eyes gazed frankly into Ella's.  Ella pulled her close
in a swift embrace.  "Aunt Ella is home now to stay.  We'll have
good times.  I've lots of plans for you--for one thing, what do you
think of this--to start music lessons?"

Hope was to have organ lessons--a piano as soon as Ella could
manage--more books of her own--was to go to Midwestern--Everything
from now on for Hope.  No more dreams for Ella herself.  All the
air castles for Hope--HOPE, WHICH IS ETERNAL.


In the spring of 1897 pussy-willows over on Oak Creek had scarcely
given place to leaves, until two bombs of gossip burst on the
campus with such devastating force that students, meeting, could
not decide which piece of news to start discussing first.  Usually
they gave priority of choice to the Crooks-Zimmerman scandal.

Professor Crooks had carried his freedom-of-thought, freedom-of-
soul theory one step too far with the dashing and musical Miss
Zimmerman--and now on a Monday morning in April the two were so
conspicuous by their absence from their respective classrooms that
the ensuing vacuum called for much conversation on the cinder paths
under the elms.  Wild stories flew about among the students,
ranging from the detailed remarks which President Watts allegedly
had made to the two in a certain music room, to the detailed
actions of Mrs. Crooks upon the facial features of the smug Miss
Zimmerman.  No one knowing for a certainty just what had happened,
there was ample room for the imagination to have full play--and
imagination given full play on a campus makes a complete and
devastating recreation of it.

Scarcely less exciting to collegians and townspeople alike was the
news percolating from the girls' side of the gymnasium that a new
game called basket ball had arrived at Midwestern and what was
practically unbelievable, that it was to be played outdoors.

For weeks the daring souls who were to launch the new sport sewed
on the costumes in which they were to appear, and when the news
leaked out that the lower extremity of those costumes were to be
BLOOMERS, many and sundry were the meetings held behind closed
doors by faculty, board, gymnasium instructors, parents, and
students, in which the moral and ethical versus the convenient
aspects of the garment were discussed.

And for those same weeks practice was conducted in the gymnasium
where no prying masculine eye might see.  And when the afternoon
arrived on which the first outdoor game was to be held, dozens of
horses and carriages were hitched at the long rows of posts outside
the campus, countless bicycles leaned against the walls of Central
and Administration Buildings and more pedestrians wended their way
to the ball-grounds than during the previous Commencement.

The girls came out of the gymnasium at the scheduled hour walking
sedately enough, eighteen of them, nine for each side, their long
hair tied back in horse-tail formation.  Their costumes proved to
be of sober black flannel augmented by red and blue sashes tied at
the side--and the most flagrant critic among the anti-bloomer
onlookers could scarcely have found fault with those maligned
nether garments, for each pair looked like nothing so much as a
skirt, contained six yards of fifty-four-inch flannel, was built
solidly below the knees, and when raised at the side would form a
high fan-shaped mass of dry-goods to the shoulder with still no
sign of parting between the limbs.  That potential embarrassment
disposed of by the citizenry, there still remained the shock of the
partial sight of thirty-six legs, even though a mere one-third of
each was exposed,--and when the audience left for home at dusk,
after witnessing a long but gently feminine tussle for a ball, they
were still as divided in their opinions as the bloomers, whether or
not the innovation was right.  But the advanced thinkers won, as
always, and feminine athletic history was made that day.

Two more new buildings went up that year, Corcoran Hall and
Teachers' Training, big brick structures with imposing entrances,
and they made Central Hall look like Cinderella in the presence of
the haughty sisters.  The authorities were planning for the future,--
the two new buildings forming the outer corners of a prospective
huge quadrangle.

Transportation had gone forward a step.  One rode in a jangling
street car to the campus entrance now, and the old hack sat among
the weeds of an alley in wheelless ignominy, while the little girls
of the neighborhood, playing travel, soaked up red stain from the
plush seats.

By fall a model training school had opened in one of the buildings
with a Miss Sallie Withrow in charge.  Miss Withrow was eastern,
modern, and as revolutionary in methods as an original colonist.
Whereas in Oak River schools, under the eagle eyes of staid
midwestern teachers, children were dutifully obeying commands,
marching in what approached goose-step formation, reciting when
called upon, and raising hands for permission to breathe, Miss
Sallie Withrow was allowing children freedom of speech, freedom of
action, freedom of study.  The bans were off,--and freedom-from-her-
mountain-height swooped down upon the children of the model
training school.

Ella used to look in upon them sometimes.  And fairly often she and
Miss Sallie Withrow clashed a little about methods.

"To teach them to look after themselves . . ." Miss Withrow was
always explaining.

"Yes, I have a neighbor who does that," Ella would say.  "She's
just never at home and they always have to look after themselves.
So why wouldn't that be the very best instruction of all--not even
to be in here?"

They became good friends, but they argued constantly.

"You're just an old-fashioned schoolma'am--the kind that taught
Paul Revere," Miss Withrow would say in exasperation.

"But why should children be expected to get through life without
discipline--good old discipline outside of self?"

"You don't catch the point at all.  They really obey me but they
don't realize they're doing it."

"But why shouldn't they realize it?  They can't go through life
with their civic laws colored over like Easter eggs."

Good-natured banter, but half seriously, shuttled back and forth.

Hope was in High School, dark glossy braids wound round her head, a
sweet girl, tractable and appreciative of all that Ella did for
her.  Sometimes in her imaginings Ella removed the young girl from
her life, tried to think how it would have been all these years
without her upon which to lavish affection, realized that Hope had
given her in return much of the joy of these years.  "You will
always have joy," a dying man had said.

And now another bomb burst, this time of far more serious import
than mere campus gossip.

Peace, which had seemed so unimportant in Oak River because it was
ever present, now became a thing of vital importance because it had
suddenly flown.  Far away the Maine had been sunk in Havana's
harbor and the wash of the waves caused by its sinking had rippled
to a half-hundred homes in Oak River.

The company of guards was leaving for camp--and Harry Jensen,
Chris's and Hannah's son, was to go.

Hope went all to pieces emotionally.  Ella was amazed, and not
quite sure what she should say to her--such a little young thing to
be so upset about an older young man.

The two went down to the Armory to see the company leave.

It was a lovely April day in that year of 1898.  The grass was
beginning to come out, the elms along the streets were showing
signs of bursting buds.

Hope was sad, almost hysterical.  Ella felt out of patience with
her.  Just a child!  What could she know of the depths of despair?
"But I must stay by her," she thought.  "She's unduly emotional
about it but I must help her all I can."

All was excitement when they arrived.  The sidewalks in front of
the Armory were jammed with friends and relatives.  The Civil War
cannon in the park across the street was booming.  The G.A.R. band
and drum corps stood outside ready to accompany the boys on their
way to the train.  Ella and Hope could scarcely get near enough to
see.  Then the crowds were pushed back, the band began to play and
the boys were coming,--fifty of them.  Ella caught a glimpse of
Chris and Hannah Jensen and their two little girls in the crowd.
The poor Jensens--with their boy going to--they knew not what.

Near the station the boys were halted and presented with a flag
from the Oak River Literary Society.  The crowd was so dense that
the young captain could scarcely get back to his company after
going inside the station for transportation.  Children and women
were crying.  Hope was sobbing wildly at the thought of a young
boy.  Ella herself wanted to cry aloud--but for ALL BOYS.

They tried to get closer, but it was not a possible thing.
Fathers, mothers, sisters, sweethearts, composed a highly charged
emotional mass.  The train came in.  By some miracle all the fifty
were pushed on board.  The train left,--and the boys had gone
bravely off to the Spanish-American War.

Ella and Hope walked back home slowly.  "He is the nicest young man
I shall ever know," Hope said in a tragic voice.  But Ella's
thoughts were with poor Chris and Hannah and the two young sisters.
She glanced at Hope's swollen eyes and soft puckered lips.  It was
the only time Hope ever reminded her of Amy--when she cried.  It
was distressingly distasteful to Ella.


Commencement again--eighteen of them now for Ella as a teacher.
Summer again--thirty-eight of them now in Ella's life.

Soon after school was out Sam's mother died--slipping away with as
little fuss as possible, humbly sorry that she was causing the
Judge and Sam any extra trouble.  The Judge seemed dazed, surprised
that she could have done anything so radical without dictation from
him.  Sometimes that summer he tried to get back into his pompous
stride, but his cane had lost its jaunty swing and there was no one
to raise red geraniums for his buttonhole.  His mother's death
meant such deep grief for Sam that Ella tried to show her unspoken
sympathy in every way she could.

And by September there was grief for Chris and Hannah, too, for
word came that Harry Jensen had died in camp "in the line of duty."
When Stena came back from her sister's, Ella hurried to the little
white house across from the campus.

The two were sitting quietly, their usually busy hands idle.  Ella
wanted to say something helpful, do something for them in the agony
of her sympathy.  They appreciated it, they told her with drawn
patient faces, but there was nothing to do.  The two girls were up
in their room and would see no one.  The house was clean--in its
cleanliness the little white house was always ready for death.
Chris said he would sit with Mamma awhile and then he must get back
to the sweeping.  Their grief was their own.  Hannah, staring into
the nothingness of space, asked in her broken English what was the
use of bringing a child into the world--for this?  And no one could

Ella left, her sympathetic heart torn with sorrow for the Jensens
and for all who suffer.

At home she found Hope sobbing wildly in her bedroom.  "Say it
isn't true, Aunt Ella.  Say it isn't true."  She was inconsolable.

It took all of Ella's patience and tact to handle her.  Coming from
the parents with their deep grief to this superficial sorrow of the
young girl, she wanted to shake her, to tell her that she did not
know what grief was.  "But it's all in the mind," Ella would tell
herself.  "If one THINKS he is grief-stricken, why, then he IS."

Harry Jensen was buried with military honors.  The mayor, public
officials, veterans of the Civil War, hundreds of citizens in all
walks of life participated in paying last honors to the humble
janitor's son.  Flowers from President Watts and from other members
of the faculty, from Banker Van Ness and Judge Peters--a procession
of horses and carriages over a mile long--the college glee club
singing "He Giveth His Beloved Sleep"--taps over the grave and an
echo of taps from the far end of the cemetery.  And Chris and
Hannah Jensen had paid with their life's blood for a war that need
not have been.

It was in the fall of that year also that Professor John Stevens
came to Midwestern from the east as an instructor in English
literature.  He was slender and well set up, with a fine sensitive
face.  Probably forty, with a touch of gray at his temples, he was
the first of the faculty members to be clean shaven.  It was almost
as though a new type of man had appeared among them, for he
possessed more of the appearance of a well-dressed business man
than any of the other masculine instructors had theretofore
presented.  He had a boyish, springy walk, a quick energetic air
which set him apart from some of the other rather easy-going
dignitaries of the faculty.

He had not been at Midwestern two months until there was a
noticeable influence emanating from his well-groomed person to some
of the other members.  Professor Cunningham startled his classes
one day by emerging from behind his fountain-like mustache which to
their surprise had hidden a well-shaped mouth.  President Watts had
his own wild hirsute adornment trimmed down to a mild bun-like
appendage on his chin.  Professor Carter appeared in a new well-
tailored gray suit.  Professor Wittingly followed in a dark blue
one and a tie that made a genuine effort to blend with the rest of
his outfit.  Only fat Professor Wick remained impervious to the new
influence and presented the same rumpled front with its faint
suggestion of his last lunch somewhere on its vast expanse.

Ella found herself admiring the new instructor, his immaculate
appearance and his quiet air of deference toward his coworkers.  He
and his wife took a house on the same block as the Bishop home, so
Ella and her mother went over to call soon.

To her disappointment, she found Mrs. Stevens to be an odd little
creature, sallow and unattractive, with an almost furtive
expression, and so inferior intellectually to her husband that one
wondered how she had ever attracted him.  Harsh-voiced, querulous,
a semi-invalid according to her own diagnosis, she apparently
demanded everything and gave nothing.  She complained of the change
out to the midwest which evidently she held in contempt, and gave
the impression that she would make no great effort to fit in with
her new associates.  Ella went home with the depressed feeling that
life had played a shabby trick on that nice Professor Stevens.

The couple came over several times that fall.  While Ella and John
Stevens talked of books, plays, or school affairs, Mrs. Stevens and
Ella's mother discussed medicines, doctors, and a choice assortment
of bodily ailments.

It did not take long for Ella and John Stevens to find that they
possessed a half-dozen interests in common--James Matthew Barrie
with his whimsical writings, Hamlin Garland's new works, and a
strikingly original writer by the name of Elbert Hubbard.  When
Mrs. Stevens, listening in for a moment, remarked that most of what
her husband discussed was Greek to her, Ella felt an unbearable
embarrassment for him and admired the tact with which he half-
smilingly met the statement.

Life took on an added interest now.  The days that Professor
Stevens walked with her to school were days that started out
happily.  They talked and found that their ideas on a hundred
subjects were interesting to each other.  They were silent and
found that their silences were pregnant with unspoken thoughts.

He took to dropping into Ella's classroom every day with something
humorous to tell her, or pathetic, or instructive.  "I thought
you'd enjoy this . . ." or "I thought of you right away when I ran
across this . . ." would be his greeting.

He formed a little group for reading the new books aloud,--he and
his wife, Professor and Mrs. Schroeder, Doctor and Mrs. Wittingly,
the Fondas, and Ella.

And when the others found what a splendid reader he was, they gave
the unanimous decision that John Stevens should do all the reading.
Garland, Kipling, Barrie, the Little Journeys--he read them aloud
in his expressive way to this small and sympathetic group of

Ella's admiration for him grew with every contact.  It came to be
that she was conscious of his entry into a room even as she had
been of Delbert in those long-gone days.  A door opening behind her
and she knew in some psychic way that John Stevens had entered.
Always frank with herself, she tried to analyze this new emotion
which was filling all her days--knew to an honest certainty that it
was the same feeling she had once had for Delbert, augmented now by
a maturity of heart, but held in check by a maturity of mind.

Sometimes in the privacy of her own room, with all subterfuge
stripped away, she admitted to herself that it was almost as though
she loved him.  But that was ridiculous,--one of those things that
just did not happen to people of her type.  However, school herself
as she might, the appearance of that tall figure with its springy
step coming up the curving walk under the elms was the signal for a
sudden acute interest in life.  That the regard was mutual was so
apparent as to be without question.  Straight to her he continued
to come with every new article that interested him, knowing that it
would interest her, too,--with every new plan for his departure,
knowing that her approval or condemnation was worth considering.

"It's just friendship," Ella told herself repeatedly, "--a platonic
friendship."  But she said it so often to her alter ego that she
grew conscious of her own attempt at deception.

It was true that one listening to their daily conversations could
have found not the slightest cause for comment, but Ella Bishop
knew in all honesty that something physically attractive held them
together.  "Is this the way people drift into affairs?" she asked
herself more than once.  Sometimes she thought of Professor Crooks
and Miss Zimmerman, dismissed under a cloud of gossip, and
shuddered at the memory.  But this, this was different.  Her liking
for John Stevens was so sincere, so thoroughly decent.  "Oh, that's
what they all say," she broke off wearily, and put him out of her
mind, only to find that she was thinking of him again at the
earliest opportunity.

Just after the holidays, Sam Peters came across the street one
evening to see her.  He was nervous, disturbed, experienced a
difficult time in getting started on something he wished to tell

"It's a little hard to speak about.  You've never . . . you've
never known me to be gossipy, have you, Ella?"

Suddenly she was frightened.  Gossip, how she hated it!  Her heart
contracted for a moment with the horrible sensation that her very
thoughts had broken loose from the cage of her mind and become
known.  How foolish--no one knew her innermost feelings.  Most
certainly she had not worn her admiration on her sleeve.

"It's about . . . Professor and Mrs. Stevens."

She felt the blood mounting to her forehead, stooped to pick up a
book to hide the tell-tale fear in her eyes.

"She . . . she takes things from stores," Sam brought it out with
painful reluctance.  "Kleptomaniac, Ella.  Isn't it awful?"

Oh--poor John Stevens!  All the sympathy she had half felt for him
before this was now doubled.

"Oh, Sam.  How terrible!"

"Yes . . . poor Professor Stevens,--I'm sorry for him.  Came to
Williams and Witwars this afternoon to pay for something she had
taken,--told them there was nothing to do but charge anything to
him she might pick up.  Only he put it a nicer way, said anything
his wife might buy and forget to pay for, just charge to him.  Went
out of the store with his head high, but looking as though he had
been hit."

To her secret admiration there was now added this new sympathy.

The reading group was to meet on the first Monday night in March at
Ella's home.  The day proved to be stormy.  The wind blew from the
north.  The big trees on the campus strained against the force of
it but gave up and bent with mad mutterings to the south.  It was
as though unseen monsters flew by, one behind the other--a long
unending procession of madmen.  They blew the snow from the roofs
of the college buildings, threw down branches, tossed the tops of
drifts into the air.  They growled and groaned and hissed as they
passed by,--all invisible, save their long white hair streaming out
behind them.

No one came to the reading circle but John Stevens from a few doors
away.  When the time was quite past to look for any of the others,
the two alone settled down for the reading.  Ella asked her mother
and Hope to come in, but the former said her head ached and she
would rather not, and Hope had to study.

John Stevens had brought The Little Minister.

"Long ago . . . a minister of Thrums was to be married, but
something happened and he remained a bachelor"--the low throaty
voice of John Stevens made the words a melody.  "Then when he was
old, he passed in our square the lady who was to have been his
wife, and her hair was white but she too was still unmarried.  The
meeting had only one witness, a weaver, and he said solemnly
afterwards, 'They didna speak, but they just gave one another a
look, and I saw the love-light in their een.'  No more is
remembered of these two, no being now living ever saw them, but the
poetry that was in the soul of a battered weaver makes them human
to us forever."

The fire burned red in the big coal stove.  The mad wind outside
whirled down from the north.  A deep peace enveloped the two.

"The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one
story and writes another."

Oh, this is what life should be, Ella was thinking.  THIS is the
way it should be ANY evening,--any time.  He and I . . . he and
I . . . !  Mad thoughts,--as mad as the unseen monsters passing by
outside,--Tam-o'-shanters of the night,--both.

For a long time the voice went on in rhythmic cadence.  "'I am glad
of that,' said the gypsy.  'Mr. Dishart, I do believe you like me
all the time.  Can a man like a woman against his will?'"

John Stevens closed the book with a snap.  "It's much later than I
thought," he said almost brusquely.  He left hurriedly,--so
hurriedly that Ella knew he too was harboring wild thoughts that
passed by like those demons of the storm.

Upstairs in the haven of her room she sat down on the edge of the
bed, trembling.

"Now let us look this thing in the face," she said to her reason
and to her emotional self,--as though they were two individuals.

"It looks to me as though the time had come to let your mind and
heart have it out, Ella Bishop.  Close the door on the outside
world.  Speak freely, both of you.  No one need ever know.  What
have YOU to say, poor thing?  Out with it!"  She pretended to speak
to her heart.

"I want this man for my own.  I'd rather be near him than any other
human I've ever known.  I think he feels the same way about me.  I
KNOW it.  I can FEEL HIS feelings.  I'm entitled to happiness.  A
girl took my lover away once.  Why can't I do the same thing?  He
has no real wife.  He's misunderstood, his life half ruined.  I
could give him everything,--love, companionship, happiness.  I've
only ONE life to live,--why can't it be completely happy?"

"Now, YOU!"  She was as impartial as a judge.  "What can you say to

"I can say enough."  Her clean honest mind took the chair.  "In the
first place, every one ISN'T entitled to happiness, not at the
expense of some one else.  Happiness gained that way ceases to BE
happiness.  Have you ever heard that two wrongs don't make a right?
And just why do you drag into this that weak young Amy?  You, with
your years and your education and your so-called poise and
judgment!  'Misunderstood!'  Where have you heard that feeble
little excuse before?"

"But I want him."

"Perhaps you'd like the moon, too."

"If I gave him the least bit of encouragement . . ."

"You WEAKLING!"  The judge turned on them both in fury.  "You carry
a torch, do you?  So you're a teacher, are you, carrying a torch to
light the way for boys and girls up the long rugged hill they all
must climb?  That's what you've pretended to be doing all these
years, is it?  Well, then . . . CARRY it, you COWARD!"  She threw
herself sobbing across the bed.  "You little FOOL . . . CARRY it!"


Ella was thankful when Commencement arrived.  John Stevens was to
leave for the east for the summer months and with his going, she
told herself with infinite sarcasm, she presumed she would regain
her sanity.

Over and over she said to herself:  "This thing has happened to
other people, and I've scorned their idiocy, and now it is
happening to me."  With deepest contempt she used scourging methods
on herself, enjoyed with ironic pleasures her own mental
flagellations.  By autumn time and school she was able to look at
the world through crystal-clear eyes, until the day before
matriculation when from her office window in the tower of Central
she happened to see John Stevens coming up the walk under the elms,
stepping along with that boyish springing walk.  And then she knew
the summer's battle had gone for naught.

She saw him stop to talk with big George Schroeder and in a fever
of haste, hurried down to greet him while he was there with the
German instructor.  The three talked of their respective summers
and of plans for the fall.  Ella told a humorous anecdote about her
vacation, walked down the long cinder path with Professor Schroeder
when he started away, and went home highly pleased with the Ella
Bishop who was her outer and civilized self.

This was Hope's senior High School year, and Ella made herself
simulate such a deep interest in the young girl's dreams that she
could have no time or thought for foolish dreams of her own.

In October, she was to go to Maple City, a two hours' ride by
train, to address a teachers' meeting.  She had no special
knowledge of what other members of the faculty had been asked to
speak, but assumed that there would be others, for it was a very
common custom for several to go each fall.

On the day of the meeting she rose early, dressed with care, and
was at the station in time for the eight o'clock train.  Miss
Sallie Withrow, the primary supervisor, was there,--"primed, I
suppose, to expound to all the waiting pedagogues your ideas on
complete freedom for the child," Ella joked her.

Just before the train came in, John Stevens arrived.  Ella felt
that old unwonted happiness surge over her at his presence.  As he
swung into the station now with his light firm tread, she was
thinking again how he was everything any woman could desire,--
intellect, manners, appearance,--everything.  Far from handsome as
to features, that art of dressing well, businesslike air, and
general manner set him in appearance far apart from the George
Schroeders and the Professor Cunninghams of the faculty.

To-day she felt so pleased that he was to go to the meeting that
she set a stern watch upon herself for fear she might put that
emotion into her expression.  If her feeling for him had progressed
beyond the pale of recall, it was at least unknown to any mortal,
she told herself, John Stevens included.  She was glad that she
looked nice, with feminine pride gloried a little in the fact that
her new fall outfit was so becoming.  She had a blue camel's-hair
dress the exact shade of her eyes, with long blue corduroy velvet
wrap and velvet toque made from the same material, a gray pointed
sea-gull wing on each side fitting over the puffs of her hair and
outlining the curve of her face.

If she kept her interest in this man thoroughly concealed, she was
not unaware that his face lighted noticeably at the sight of her.
Immediately he was merely the courteous fellow-worker of them both,
addressing himself rather pointedly to Miss Sallie Withrow.

The three sat together on the train, talking about many things
after the manner of those who have much in common.  It came out
that John Stevens' program was a morning talk and the evening
lecture, Miss Sallie Withrow's morning and afternoon talks, Ella's
the same.  The return trip would have to be made on the evening ten-
thirty train.

"But I'm staying over Sunday," Miss Withrow was saying, ". . . a
second cousin of my mother's whom I have never seen lives there,
and it's my best opportunity to make her a visit."

A silence settled upon the other two.  It might have been only a
natural one, and it might have been pregnant with thoughts

Maple City was several times larger than Oak River, a midwestern
city of factories and hotels, schools and churches.  Built on a
high bluff it overlooked the river making its lazy way to the sea.

The meetings were held in a rather fine new high-school building.
During her morning talk, Ella was all teacher, gave her best to
these people of her own chosen vocation, but constantly, and
without her volition, through all her professional speech ran a
minor pleasurable thought like the far-off sound of a silver bell
that she was to be thrown in the company of John Stevens for one
whole day by no act of her own.  No conscious effort on the part of
either had thrown them together.  Just fate.  Sometimes fate was
cruel, and sometimes she was very, very kind.

At the close of the afternoon session, she saw Miss Sallie Withrow
leave the high-school building with the cousin, stayed a few
minutes longer to answer questions, and went down the long stairway
to find John Stevens waiting for her in the hall.  The far-off
sound of the silver bell became suddenly the chimes of a cathedral.

"Shall we walk?" he said, as casually as though he had asked her to
meet him here.

"Yes," Ella said, as though she had told him that she would.

They followed a long wooden walk to the end of a street, then took
a path that led along the river road to the top of a bluff.  It was
then but the beginning of a park which was to be a beauty-spot in
later years.  Great trees which had clung to the river's bank for a
century crowded the hill.  Open spaces between the heavier growth
showed the burned-out embers of old Indian camp fires.  Wooden
seats had been placed along the edge of nature's parapet to which
an iron fence gave protection from the abrupt fall of the bluff.

Here they sat down and looked over the rich farming valley.
October's sunshine slanted through the huge oaks and maples,--
October's bright blue sky formed a dome over the scarlet and green
and gold of the valley,--and the river ran its lazy way to the sea.

"It's ideal, isn't it?"

"Oh, why can't it always be this lovely?"

They were ordinary words.  Any one might have said them,--any one
heard them.  But they were weighted with much more import.  It was
as though he said:  "Because you are here with me it is ideal," and
she, "Oh, why can't we always be together?"  But the words remained
unspoken, though the two talked of many intimate things.

He told her of his parents, his schooldays, his early engagement to
a neighbor girl before he had finished his course, and the struggle
to get his extra degrees after this boyish marriage.  Down in her
heart Ella was glad that at no time did he speak disparagingly of
the peculiar woman who must have been a cruel hindrance rather than
a helpmate.  Only once he said:  "When you are young, you go
through a forest blindly, seeing nothing very clearly.  At middle-
age you see both ways, forward and back.  I suppose Old Age,
looking backward, can see and understand it all."

In turn Ella simply and naturally told him of her girlhood.  When
she came to the part Amy had played in her life, he put his hand
over hers, and they sat so until the shadows lengthened.

Everything had been said, everything but the thing they could not

It did not seem wrong.  Anything so natural and no mutually lovely
could not contain evil, Ella was thinking.  If she gave any thought
now to her early love affair, it was merely to think of it as a
song that had been sung and forgotten.

Sitting there in the warmth of the October sunshine she had a
feeling that she would carry the memory of this day with her
always, for common sense told her it could never be repeated,--that
it would be the golden leaf of all the pages in the book.

When the dusk suggested itself they rose and retraced their steps
down the river road.  They had dinner in an obscure little caf
where no prying eyes might see them and misinterpret.  And then
Ella went over to the lecture hall with him, slipping into a rear
seat while he went to the front with the committee in charge.

Sitting there in the back seat, hearing the voice of the man with
whom she had spent a precious day and with whom she wished out of
the entire world she might spend all days, she gave herself wholly
to the emotion of his unspoken love for her, let it play about her
body as a swimmer revels in the waves.  To-morrow she would go back
to face the problem of what to do with his friendship which had
become something stronger than friendship.  Only this evening she
would hold it to her heart, would pretend that it was her own,
paying no attention to the sober fact that it was but a wistful

The lecture was over.  In three-quarters of an hour they would be
on a train bound for home.  He was speaking to a few people, then
hurrying through the crowd to her,--just as it ought always to be.
When they had gone out of a side door, and turned to go up the
street, there was a far distant flash of lightning and a
reverberating roll of thunder.  They spoke of the queerness of it
so late in the season, but the day had been hot and the storm not
unexpected.  Another far-away flash and its resultant crash of

And now, a few great thudding raindrops hit the sidewalk with noisy
clatter so that he drew Ella into a darkened stairway entrance for
momentary shelter.  Together they stood in the narrow archway while
the heavy drops became a pelting shower only a few feet away.
Suddenly John Stevens' arms went around Ella and he drew her close.

"Well . . . ?" he asked huskily.  "What shall we do with this thing
that confronts us?  Shall we . . . go home?"  His face was bending
close to hers.  "Or stay?"

OR STAY?  Ella caught her breath in a gasp of understanding.  The
lights of the dark city were all about them like jewels on an
enveloping mantle.  Strangers passed back and forth through the
summer shower.  A dozen hotels sent out their welcoming gleams from
a hundred windows.  Go home . . . OR STAY?  The lovely day had been
theirs.  And NOW?

A streak of lightning shot across the sky in sprawling fashion,
like the rivers of a map.

"Is it . . . is it I, alone, who must make the decision?"  Her
voice sounded as strange as though it were not her own.

"You are the woman."

YOU ARE THE WOMAN.  She had a wild confused notion that two worlds
suddenly stood still in their orbits waiting for that woman's
answer,--two worlds, into one of which she must step forever.
There could be no half-way measures.  She must live either in the
one or the other, for entering into one, she must forever turn her
back upon the other.  Go home!  OR STAY!  There were those who
broke marriage vows lightly, who shattered the moral code with
little compunction.  The arms of the man she loved were about her,
the face of the man she loved above her, waiting for her in the
world of love and desire.  In the other waited her mother, Hope,
friends, students. . . .

A great flash rent the skies with such blinding light--became for a
moment so like a living flame--that it looked to be a flaming torch
high above the city streets.  A FLAMING TORCH?  Why,--a flaming
torch was meant to light the paths of boys and girls along the
rugged way!

Suddenly she felt sane and strong.  Putting the unspoken feeling
into words had brought back all her sanity and her strength.  There
was only one answer.  There could never be another.

She put her hands on his shoulders, not in a gesture of love, but
rather in one of sadness and pity, that in a world of unhappiness
they must forever renounce this exquisite thing.

"Go home," she said.

He drew her close for one disturbing moment as though he could not
accept the verdict.  Then, "Of course," he said.  "You are right."

He slipped her arm into his and they went out of the sheltering
stairway onto the moist street and down to the station.

Old Judge Peters was there to take the train.  He greeted them
affably with long-winded ponderous explanations and the three sat
together and talked all the way home.

Sam was at the station with the carriage to meet his father and so
took them all up to the Adams Street neighborhood.

"Good night, Judge Peters," Ella said gayly.  "Thank you, Sam, and
good night."  And, as though it were not the end of everything,
"Good night, Professor Stevens."

"Good night, Miss Bishop."


School went on.  Classes met and recited.  Students passed and
flunked.  The blackbirds shrilled their "tchack-tchack" in the big
trees.  The reading circle members came together and listened to
John Stevens' attractive interpretations of the modern writers.
Ella had her fortieth birthday.  Everything was just as it had
been, everything but one.  Ella Bishop had found a certain peace of
soul in the situation.

If John Stevens had been free, she would have given up everything
for him.  John Stevens was not free.  Therefore, she could not
continue to think of him in any way but as a friend and co-worker.
Q.E.D.  To Ella Bishop's uncomplicated code of life the problem was
as simple as that.

"That's one thing about me," she said to the image in the mirror on
that anniversary of her fourth decade.  "I can always get the
better of my emotions in time.  I may fight windmills, but after
awhile I have them too scared even to turn in the wind."

She stared for a moment at the face in the glass, admitting with
accustomed candor that she did not look the years with her well-
kept skin, her dark hair, deep blue eyes with humorous crinkles at
their outer edges, red-lipped, generous mouth.  For some little
time she looked at the woman in the mirror who stared unabashedly
back.  "Forty," she said aloud to herself.  "Well," she shrugged
her shoulder and grinned to the apparition who grinned cheerfully
back, "abandon hope all ye who enter here."

It was noised about on the campus in the spring that Professor
Stevens was leaving.  Ella heard it first from Miss Hunter of the
training school.  For a moment the solidity of the trees and bushes
and the green sloping lawn seemed wavering in a liquid mist.  The
college without John Stevens dropping into her classroom, without
his springy boyish step down the corridors, without his voice at
the reading circle--!  All the weeks without John Stevens!  Beyond
the day of his going lay the bleakness of nothing,--all the to-
morrows would be gray.  Then she was herself,--calm, poised,
unshaken by the news.  It was better so.  No more watching herself
for any betrayal of her feelings.  Life would be easier and more

Just before Commencement he came into her office in the tower room
to say good-by.

She was bending over a low drawer of supplies when, startled, she
grew aware that some one was behind her.  She stood up hurriedly
and for a long moment they stood facing each other.  Then he put
out his hand.

"Everything to make you happy and successful," he was making an
attempt at gayety.

"Thank you.  And to you."

He held her hand a moment, looked at it as though not quite sure of
its identity, dropped it and walked out of the office.

The bell overhead tapped and the pigeons with a great whirl of
wings brushed past her window.

She was standing just as she had been, when suddenly he stepped
back in.  His face was drawn and he was biting nervously at his

"If it's ever . . . if it's possible for me to return . . . some
day . . ."

"Don't say it," Ella said a little breathlessly.  "Don't."

He stood for a moment.  Then,--"No," he said, "I won't.  Good-by."

He was gone.  And all the to-morrows had begun.

Luckily Commencement held double duty for Ella.  Hope was finishing
her High School course, and the importance of the occasion gave the
little home on Adams Street a festive air.  There was a fluffy
white dress with embroidery ruffles for her made by old Mrs. Finch
who was still holding her own with the other dressmakers of the
town.  It had taken tears and tact to get the sewing out of Stena's
hands,--tears on Hope's part and tact on Ella's, for Stena had
wanted to make yards of wide crocheted insertion for the gown,--and
as Ella said:  "Hope, she just doesn't realize that:

     Is pass."

Which had the effect of turning Hope's tears to laughter--Aunt Ella
was always so funny and understanding.

And so in the excitement of the High School graduating exercises
with their attendant festivities, Ella's inner emotional life was
set aside like an old worn-out shoe.

"Before I forget all these emotions, I ought to write a book," she
said ironically to that other self with whom she always held gay
converse.  "The Love Life of an Old Maid--and wouldn't it contain a
gay set of lovers--a man who had married another girl BEFORE he met
me, and a man who married another girl AFTER he met me?  And Sam,"
she added to herself, "don't forget poor old Sam."

And Ella had occasion not to forget Sam that summer.

It was on an evening in August that some one tapped on the screen
door and she went downstairs to find Sam standing there, his slim
bony face looking white and drawn.  He was breathing hard, partly
from hurrying and partly from agitation.

"Can you come over to our house, Ella?" he wanted to know.  His
voice sank to a whisper.  Evidently he was laboring under great
stress.  "I'm in trouble, and I've got to have somebody to talk to.
You're always so . . . so . . ."  He did not finish.

Hatless, Ella stepped out on the porch and closed the door behind
her.  "Is it your father, Sam?"

"No, Father's well.  He's gone to Maynard to look after his place
there and collect the rent.  He won't be home until to-morrow."

"What is it, then?"  She felt impatient with this mild Sam who
could keep her in suspense over a mere trifle.

"Wait until we get over home.  You'll come, won't you?"  She saw he
was trembling.

Ella crossed the street with him to the fussy old house.  As they
stepped up on the porch it occurred to her that in the two years
since his mother's death, she had not been beyond the doorway.  She
had talked to Sam and his father in the yard, taken neighborly
gifts of food across the way many times, but had not gone in.

It was neat inside.  She had a swift impression that everything was
just as it had always been,--the pink flowered vase on the table,
the black crocheted afghan on the couch, the plaster cast of "The
Milk Maid."  But there was a musty odor as of slack housekeeping.

Sam closed the wide hall door and put his hand heavily on Ella's
arm.  "I've a sick man here in Father's bedroom.  He's very low.
The doctor just left, but he's coming back."

He turned and beckoned, and Ella followed him through the old
sitting-room with the wide bay-window to the door of the downstairs
bedroom.  She could hear labored breathing even before Sam held
back a faded brown chenille portire and motioned to the humped
bulky form of some one under the patch-work quilt.

For only a moment he held it back, then dropped it nervously and
came back on tiptoe.  He raised miserable eyes to Ella.

"It's Chester," he said simply.

Ella, startled beyond coherent thought, could only stare.

"He wasn't drowned," Sam said quietly.  "He came back to-night."


Ella, standing there and staring at Sam, could find no word to say.

"It was about seven when he came," Sam said nervously.  "Father was
over to Wittingly's.  Some one came up the side door and tapped.  I
went to the door and this man . . ."  Sam was still having hard
work to believe the incredible.  "Chet stood there and laughed
kind of silly.  My first thought was that he had escaped from
somewhere. . . .  Then he said with that foolish laugh:  'I guess
you don't know me.  I know you though, Sam.  It's Chet.'

"It was horrible.  I was terribly frightened.  It was like a
nightmare.  I wanted to call somebody and couldn't speak.  I wanted
to go and get somebody and I couldn't move."

"Oh, Sam!"  Ella's heart went out to the thin little man standing
there, locking and unlocking nervous fingers.

"We both stood there, and then he said, 'I guess you thought I got
my everlasting by drowning.  Well, I didn't.  I was mad about . . .
Amy . . . and just slipped out to see the world a bit.'  Then he
stopped and that foolish grin left him and a sober look came over
his face, sane, but bitter and terrible, and he said, 'Well, I've
seen it, all right.'  My God, Ella!" Sam burst forth, "he HAS seen
it--the UNDER side."

For a few moments the muscles of Sam's thin throat worked
convulsively, and then he went on quietly:  "Chet stood still there
outside the door, and I not moving either.  Then he said, 'I meant
to come back in a little while . . . after I got over . . . about

Into Ella's numbed mind came a sudden rush of realization, a
fleeting thought of all the misery Amy's coming to town had left in
its wake.  But Sam was still repeating Chet's words:

"'I got passage for Hong Kong on a freighter, and then when I got
there . . .'  He mumbled something about a Chinese girl, and some
more that I didn't catch.  I hadn't said a word yet.  All I could
do was stare at him.  And then he asked:  'Are Father and
Mother . . . ?'

"Then he sort of put both hands out on the door jamb and crumpled
down.  It was terrible, getting him in.  He's huge, a big bloated
unhealthy size.  I pulled him into the sitting-room and tried to
get him up on the couch.  I could see he wasn't dead, just
unconscious.  I kept thinking how Father would come home in a few
minutes, over and over in my mind kept going the thought of
Father's pride in Chet.

"There wasn't any time left to hesitate.  And quick--like that--"
Sam gave his thin fingers a snap--"I decided to lie to Father.
Lies don't come easy, if you aren't used to them, Ella."  He said
it as navely as a child.  "But I knew I'd have to lie or else kill
Father.  And I owed it to Father.  He--Chet--looked pretty near
gone.  I ran to the telephone and called young Doc Lawrence . . .
these new telephones are wonderful, Ella. . . .  I thought being a
newcomer there was no risk of his recognizing Chet.  I figured
that I'd say it was just a . . . tramp.  If he came to and talked,
and Father HAD to know . . . I'd just pretend it was news to me
too.  But he hasn't been conscious.  He's talked some but it's
disconnected things--just rambling.  Sometimes he thinks he's
in Shanghai.  Oh, you wouldn't want to hear him, Ella.  But
sometimes . . ." Sam's voice broke, "sometimes he thinks he's
a kid . . . coasting down College Hill."

Ella wondered whether she had ever before felt such deep emotion,
known such moving pathos.  She wanted to do something for Sam, take
over the burden for him.  In that one poignant moment she had a
fleeting vision of herself living here as Sam had always wanted,
helping him.  But almost before its inception, she thrust it from

Sam fumbled for a minute with the old blue vase on the table and
then he spoke again:  "I couldn't think of getting him upstairs, so
I had to put him in Father's bedroom.  Young Doc Lawrence and I got
him in there finally.  Father came home," his low voice went on.
"He was annoyed by it,--scolded some for putting a tramp in his
bed.  Said I'd have him dead on my hands, and that if I'd had any
backbone I'd have called the authorities first thing.  I've always
been honest with Father and it took all my strength of will to
carry the lie through.  When he said he'd have gone to Maynard if
it hadn't been for the sick man here, I told him to go ahead, that
Doc Lawrence and I would look after him.  I felt relieved and
thankful.  When he wavered about going, I could hardly stand it.
But he went."

"Oh, Sam."  Ella's heart went out to the quiet little man.

"He won't live through the night, Doctor says.  It's like having
him die twice, you see, to have Father know.  I'm praying that he
won't regain consciousness.  To have him come to and tell!  Think
how it would kill Father's dream of him--all his old pride in him!"

When Ella could only nod in affirmation, he went on:  "When he
passes away I've got to carry the thing through.  He can't be
buried in our lot.  Mother would have wanted him by her, but then,
there's Father to think about?"  He put it as a question but his
decision was his own.  "No, I've thought it all out.  He's got
to stay just a stray bum that asked for his supper . . . name
unknown . . . until after Father passes away.  Then if I outlive
Father, I could have him moved--and tell folks."

Ella found her voice:  "You're doing a big thing, Sam,--a mighty
big thing.  Your father hasn't always . . ."  Then she stopped,
annoyed that she had said it.

Keen, sensitive, Sam looked up.  "Yes, I know.  He hasn't thought
I've amounted to anything--handling eggs and sugar and keeping
books.  Well, I guess I haven't.  You'll have to admit yourself,
Ella, that Chet would have been . . ."  The old familiar phrase
died away on his lips, and he changed it apologetically:  "If he'd
gone straight, Chet would have been a great man."

They stood for a few moments while the labored breathing rattled
hoarsely in the room beyond.

Dr. Lawrence came in quietly then.  Her heart filled with sympathy
for Sam, Ella offered to stay,--to go home and get Stena and come

"No," Sam said, "I don't want you to have to be here, Ella.  I want
to think of you over home, away from it."

"I'm not afraid of death, Sam.  I've been . . . I've seen death."

"Yes, I know.  But you go on.  Come over in the morning if you feel
you can."

Stena went over with Ella in the morning.  Death had been there and
gone.  The body had been taken down to the undertaker's when Judge
Peters arrived home from his trip.

Sam, pale but steady, met his father at the door.  Only his lips
trembled.  "Father . . . the man . . . the man is dead."

The old judge was pompous, fussy, a little sorry that he had
scolded about Sam bringing the sick man into the house.  "Well!
Well!  We all come to it.  The stream of humanity flows ever onward
to eternity.  Poor wayfarer!  Somebody thought a great deal of him

Ella's eyes met the hunted eyes of Sam and would have dropped their
tears if she had not used all her will power to stay them.

There were formalities to attend to, a law or two to be obeyed, and
later a simple burying.

Sam said he thought there ought to be something read at the grave
and a song, no matter--no matter who the man might be.  He went to
the members of one of the church choirs but the tenor was too busy
and the soprano had a cold, so there was no music.

Ella and Stena went out with Sam to the short service held on the
side of the fence where the sleepers have left no funds for the
upkeep of their narrow houses.  The tall dry grass rubbed brittle
stems together in the wind.  Grasshoppers thumped heavily on the
plain black box.  The minister prayed solemnly for the soul of the
dead.  But Ella prayed for the living.

By pressing his thin lips tightly together Sam got through the
ordeal bravely enough.  He held his thin body erect and looked
steadily over the nearby field of corn.  It was only when they were
leaving that he broke for a moment.

When he held the gate open for Ella, he whispered:  "My God, Ella,
we used to go fishing together down on Oak Creek . . . and we had a
menagerie rigged up in the old carriage house. . . ."

Ella held herself rigidly against all emotion until she arrived at
the dark haven of her room.  Then she threw herself across her bed
and cried because life was such a tragic thing.


And now Hope matriculated at Midwestern, the baby who only
yesterday had stood with flattened nose against the window waiting
for Aunt Ella's return.  How the years had slipped silently by.
Hope was a freshman and a Minerva sister and a student of primary
work in the big new training school.

Miss Sallie Withrow and freedom were gone now, but Miss Hester
Jones and bondage were there.  And Hope, taking training under the
critical, severe, and all-seeing eye of Miss Jones, lived in such a
changeable condition of atmospheric pressure, low for criticism and
high for commendation, that the little house on Adams Street became
the center of all cyclonic disturbances.  Ella sometimes thought
she had double duty--her own work and Hope's.  For Aunt Ella was
the port in all storms.  One never knew how Hope would arrive at
night,--up in the clouds or down in the depths.

"She said,"--to Hope there was only one SHE in the whole college--
Miss Jones--"she said I did very nicely with the games," Hope would
be all smiles.  Or, tearfully, "She said I taught the number-work
class as though I didn't understand it myself."

"Well, WHO WOULD?" Ella might be moved to sputter.  "The ratio
method.  Everything ratio--just as though you could go through life
settling all problems by comparing a little block with a big block.
I'm going to talk to Miss Jones myself."

But it was largely braggadocio, and Ella knew it.  For one did not
talk critically to Miss Jones.  Looking at her large, solid
physique, her firm mouth, and her cold gray eyes, one who had come
to express himself forcibly merely mentioned that it was a nice day
and fled, leaving some one else to render any unfavorable judgment
of her department.

And in truth, Ella had enough to oversee in her own department
without dipping into another.

For some time the school had been of such size that freshman
English was all she taught.  But to say that Miss Bishop taught
merely freshman English was to utter a half-truth.  In reality she
taught social science, business administration, morals, manners,
religion, literature.  Freshman English was but a cloak to hide her
interest in humanity, a smokescreen in front of her general
helpfulness.  Not that she was weak in her subject.  No one could
pass on to Sophomore English who did not meet the course's stiff
requirements.  To timorous and bold students alike she seemed to
stand at the end of a long corridor of time, a semester's length
away, like some avenging angel with up-thrust sword.

And she gave unstintingly of her time and energy.  No student ever
turned up the gravel path between the rows of evergreen hedge at
the little house on Adams Street without confidence that he would
see Miss Bishop if she were at home.

"They've seen me in so many and such varying degrees of dress, that
I don't know how they can respect me; I've had on cold cream and
kitchen dresses--loose house slippers and curl papers.  But when a
student comes to my house it usually means he has something
spontaneous on his mind that, withheld for a while, would gradually
curdle, and he would decide not to talk.  So I never keep them

Being human, she often scolded about her tasks outside the
schoolroom.  "If I were only paid in proportion to what I do," she
might sputter.  "Look at the people who walk away from their jobs
and have some time to themselves.  Do I?  Never.  Papers, plans,
picnics, parties.  I do everything around that school but help
Chris with the mowing and I'd not be surprised to have to take a
hand in that some day."

All of which scolding is hard to reconcile with the fact that when
the school grew to such size that one or two of the freshman
English classes were to be taken over by some one else, she began
to make excuses.

"Oh, I can still handle them all, I think.  By putting in two extra
sections of recitation seats the room will hold twelve more,

And when she was home, scolded furiously about herself.  "Now, why
did I do that senseless thing--deliberately assume more work than I
needed to have done?"

She knew the secret of it was a sort of motherly jealousy for all
freshmen.  She wanted none to pass her by.  "The minute they do
that, I shall begin to lose connection with a certain percentage of
them--never know them at all."

A queer mortal--Ella Bishop.

Each spring she took a special interest in freshmen students who
were not able to go on with their courses, those who had to stop in
order to earn money for another year.  She would not relinquish her
hold on them until she had exacted promises from them to return as
soon as they could.  She helped many of them get country schools,--
often driving her own horse miles to interview directors in their

Miss Hunter, of the training school, used to say:  "I don't see why
you do all that.  Isn't a written recommendation enough?  It seems
to me a bit undignified to go charging around the country in behalf
of a student."

"Undignified--your foot!" Ella would retort.  "The main thing is

There were more changes on the campus.  President Watt's far-seeing
eye and executive management had made possible many improvements.
From year to year the building progressed.  Central Hall was now
usually referred to as Old Central,--the ivy vines on its walls
were dense mats of green through which the windows peered as from
under shaggy eyebrows.  Chris was no longer head janitor.  There
was a supervisor of grounds and buildings, a young man fully
trained in architecture.  Chris was merely a general repair man,
stoker, grass cutter.  The supervisor was of Swedish descent, and
Chris in the jealousy of his coming confided in Ella that "a Swede
ain't not'in', anyway, but a Dane wid his brains knocked out."

The music department had made a reputation for itself, "teaching
every known instrument," Ella said, "but bagpipes and the Chinese
gong."  Sometimes she had to laugh to herself over the jealousies
of the voice teachers, particularly those fomenting between Miss
Boggs and Miss Honeycutt whose artistic temperaments were of such
extreme sensitiveness that a particularly pleasing press notice
concerning one usually sent the other to bed with a headache.

Professor George Schroeder's department had grown beyond his
dreams.  Every day he taught his beloved Goethe and Schiller with
all the fire of his own admiration.  And every day little Professor
Fonda brought to his students some new astronomical knowledge, as
though bringing them a bit of the light from his sun and his stars.
The faculty was no longer a big family.  There were no more faculty
picnics or parties.  The group was too large.  Like a snowball
grown too big it had disintegrated socially into small groups.

In 1904 Hope, finishing her intensive training under the all-seeing
eye of Miss Jones, modestly felt that she knew all there was to
know about primary training.

Sometimes she and Ella had little arguments about it.

"You'll get over some of those theories, Hope.  As President
Cleveland said, 'It's a condition and not a theory' that confronts
you, and all the training in the world won't make a good teacher of
you or any one else, just because you or that person had Miss
Jones's military sort of training, unless you're a born teacher and
can adapt yourself to any situation and still function wisely and

"But, Aunt Ella, I can step right into any school now and just
REPRODUCE Miss Jones's model classwork."

"I'm glad you think so and it will help you immensely to have a
high standard before you.  But don't forget that you may teach
where you will not have model training-school equipment."

"But Miss Jones says we should DEMAND the best of materials."

Ella smiled:  "You could demand it in some schools until the cows
come home and not get it,--and anyway there is much more to
teaching than the material aids that surround you."

"Just the same I do think it's BENEATH a graduate of Miss Jones's
course even to accept a position in a place where the aids are not
up to date."

To which Ella said crisply:  "Two of the greatest teachers in the
world, Hope, were not equipped with up-to-date material aids--
Socrates 'who brought down philosophy from the heavens to earth'--
and a Man who wrote with his finger in the sand."

She was as proud of Hope, though, as a mother peacock, and just as
at High School graduation, planned to get soft white mull and yards
of dainty embroidery for a dress.  And when the class play parts
were given out and Hope arrived home bearing the rle of "Rosalind,
daughter to the banished duke" for the June presentation of "As You
Like It," Ella made no attempt to conceal her delight and
straightway began to plan cheesecloth costumes in the Shakespearian

In the late spring, Hope was elected to a good primary position at
Maple City, and Ella suddenly realized that her pleasure over it
was tempered by the realization that the house without Hope would
be almost, in truth, a house without hope.

Commencement, with Hope graduating, took on more of a glamour than
any of the twenty-four others had assumed since her own.

Finding almost at the last minute that the auditorium which had
been undergoing a siege of redecoration was not to be finished in
time, a harassed committee made hasty arrangements for a Chautauqua
tent to be pitched on the campus.  And so there with the lush
campus grass under their feet and the June sun's rays filtering
through the rippling canvas, in a forest of Arden composed largely
of underbrush from the banks of Oak Creek, trod the duke and
Rosalind, Celia, and Orlando and the foolish Touchstone.  And when
Hope's low vibrant voice came gently, clearly, through the wide
spaces of the tent: "To you I give myself, for I am yours," Ella
had to wipe away a sentimental tear as surreptitiously as one
sitting on the front seat could accomplish.

In July, old Judge Peters died, suddenly, spectacularly, in front
of the court-house, his cane dropping from his numbing fingers and
his Panama hat rolling into the street.

Sam grieved for him.  "Not many had a fine father like mine," he
told every one.  The Sunday after the burial he went out to the
cemetery with flowers.  He put some on his father's and mother's
graves and then slipped through the barbed-wire and put some on
that other one.  For a long time he stood there pondering what to
do.  Responsibility sat heavily upon him.

"I couldn't bring myself to decide," he told Ella.  "Mother would
want Chet over close to her.  But Father--you know how proud he was
of Chet, and his pride seems still to live.  Seems as though it
would still hurt Father to have folks know."

"I'd let things be as they are, Sam," Ella advised.  "After all, it
doesn't make much difference where one sleeps, does it?"

The summer went away and Hope with it.  And the house on Adams
Street became a dreary place.

School opened, and more freshmen came--among them a son of Mina
Gordon and twin daughters of Emily Teasdale, Ella's old classmates
and Minerva sisters.  "And if that doesn't make me realize I've
passed youth somewhere down the line," she said, "I don't know what

But Ella was only forty-four--and looked ten years younger.
Professor Schroeder with the prerogative of an old classmate always
joked her about it.  Meeting her on the campus, if there were no
student ears about, he usually greeted her with some such approach
as:  "'Hail, blooming Youth.'  Always you are the same as when we
were students."

To-day with the September sun warm on the campus, and the recently
returned students breaking into a hundred fall activities, she saw
him and little Professor Fonda coming down the walk together,--the
Damon and Pythias of the college in the way of friendship,--David
and Goliath in the matter of physique.

Professor Schroeder greeted her with:  "'Hail, blooming Youth!'
Fonda, she is like the verse from Don Juan.

                                    'Her years
     Were ripe, they might make six and twenty springs,
     But there are forms which Time to touch forbears,
     And turns aside his scythe to vulgar things.'"

Ella laughed and pointed out that if she had passed but twenty-six
springs she must, perforce, have graduated at the tender age of
two.  "And by the way," she told them, "we should plan to celebrate
our twenty-fifth anniversary next Commencement."

"Twenty-fifth?  Ach--the time!--where does it go?  If Fonda here
would only stop his solar system awhile,--lock up his Milky Way and
take a vacation . . ."

President Watts, bareheaded, was coming down the steps of
Administration Hall, and toward them, his long loose-jointed legs
moving rapidly.  They turned expectantly to him as he came up.

"You remember Professor Stevens of several years ago?" he was

The campus swam in a mist before Ella's eyes and she knew a sudden
tenseness of nerves.

"I've just had word of his sudden death," he said.  "In one of the
new automobiles.  They're really very dangerous affairs."

Both of the men were murmuring their surprise and sorrow.  Only
Ella stood transfixed and unspeaking.

"And perhaps a touch of sadness to our own college is added to the
news," President Watts was saying, "by the fact that he was on his
way to take the train to come out here."


John Stevens was dead, killed in one of the new automobiles.
". . . On his way to take the train to come out here," President
Watts had said.

All the way home in the hot September sun, with the zinnias and
petunias still gay in the lingering summer weather, and with people
calling out friendly greetings to her, Ella's mind kept repeating
monotonously:  If it's possible for me to return some day . . .
Four years had gone by, and he had been returning.

She wanted to get home--to think out this bewildering thing--this
new phase of her life--in the haven of her room away from all
prying eyes--to remember him, to bring him before her in memory--
his kind eyes and strong mouth and the backward sweep of his
graying hair.  She wanted to forget the bitter news of his death,
to pretend for a brief quiet hour that the anticipated trip had
been completed, to live in fancy the culmination of that journey.
She wanted no one to see her, to talk to her, to mar this hour of
memory and the bitter-sweet knowledge of what might have been.

But a student was waiting on the steps for her, and when she had
finished with him, and had gone on into the house, Stena met her at
the doorway with the information that Mrs. Bishop had one of her
headaches and her heart was "acting up again."  So Ella took off
her hat and put on a big apron, gave her mother medicine and wrung
out cold compresses until supper time.  After supper there was a
committee of Minerva girls coming for advice about celebrating the
anniversary of the founding of the Society, so there was not even
time to hold wistful memorial services in the secret places of her

In the spring of that year of 1905, she tried to grow enthusiastic
about reunion plans, fell to remembering all those first Minerva
classmates whom, with the exception of Irene Van Ness, she had not
seen for so many years, secured their addresses, wrote voluminously
to each girl.

"Girls!" she laughed ironically about the word to Professor
Cunningham's wife.  "I guess women who have gone to school together
continue to speak of each other as 'girls' on through a doddering

She spent long moments thinking of them, calling the roll as it
were.  Irene Van Ness whom she had seen eleven years before, Mina
Gordon, little and lithe and gypsy-like, Mary Crombie, frank and
efficient, Janet McLaughlin, big-boned and homely and lovable--

Suddenly with something of a shock, it came to her that she was
thinking of them as they had been--not as the years would have made
them.  With mental reservations she went on with the list:  Emily
Teasdale would be coming, and if not the lovely dashing beauty of
the old days, at least spiritedly handsome in a mature way.  Evelyn
Hobbs--no, she suddenly remembered.  Evelyn would not be there for
she was dead.

It was a tender spot in her heart that this first old group held,--
something akin to an inner chamber in which incense burned before a
shrine of youthful friendship, and even as she received the answers
to her invitation, she experienced a vague fear of disillusion and
disappointment to see them as mature women.  For much water had
trickled under the little rustic bridge over Oak Creek since the
seven had parted tearfully and with protestations of undying

As Commencement drew near, she half regretted her urgent
invitations--perhaps the old friends would seem like so many
strangers in her home--half wished that she had kept the familiar
memories of "the girls."  How foolish, she told herself.  After
all, memory was but a pale moon which the bright sun of flesh-and-
blood contact would throw into shadows.

Stena worked hard to get all the rooms in shape for the guests.
The house looked nice.  Prettily framed prints on the wall and soft
rugs on polished floors showed Ella's improved taste.  Her mother's
first bedroom was now Ella's study, book-lined and containing her
writing-desk and two or three fancy baskets concealing the ever-
present English papers.  The old enclosed stair-way was now a wide
open one with walnut railing.  Some of the old furnishings of the
living-room had been relegated to the barn--the stereoscopic views
and the plaster boy who was still trying vainly in the dark of a
stall to locate the thorn in his foot.

There were endless tasks for Ella, the house, looking after her
mother whose frailty now at sixty-nine was marked, planning of the
meals while "the girls" would be there, the final examination
papers, assistance and advice to the present-day Minerva officers,
the reunion dinner.  "I wonder why I'm always adding something to
my already full days," she said once to her image in the glass.  "I
just naturally soak up extra work."

At four in the afternoon of the day before Commencement, she drove
to the station, holding her horse in steadily once or twice when
one of the new automobiles came by.  It was a typical Commencement
homecoming, June sunshine, students to meet arriving parents,
excitement when the train swung into view.  There was nothing quite
like it to quicken the blood if one were part of the scene, she

When the train had stopped and the passengers crowded down the
steps, she saw Irene immediately,--a strange fat woman in her wake.
Irene, an old looking girl when she was young, looked scarcely
older now than when Ella had last seen her.  "Why," Ella thought,
"they are not going to seem a bit different."  She was elated.  The
magic of the reunion was beginning.

She and Irene clutched each other with abandon.  "Irene," Ella was
quite honest, "you don't look any older than . . ."

But Irene was trying to draw Ella's attention to the strange woman--
some one to whom she was wanting to introduce her.  "And here's
Mina," she was saying gayly.  And the huge woman was bearing down
upon Ella, too.  Mina!  Mina Gordon, square of body, large
spectacles, her face a full moon, two or three chins!  Mina, who
should have been little and lithe and gypsy-like.  Oh, no!  The
magic was dissolving.

Irene had so many bags that they could scarcely get them in the
back of the buggy.  Evidently, clothes still played a large part in
her life.  The three drove up to Ella's home, Mina's share of the
buggy seat by no means confined to her rightful one-third interest.
There was much to be said.  Irene's oldest daughter was married
now--her name was Smith and she had a baby boy.  Irene was a
grandmother.  How queer!  But Irene laughed and shook her thin
sallow face, jangling her earrings merrily.  Mina had four boys and
two girls.  The family had been as poor as Job's turkey, she said,
but had always had the MOST fun.  Just this last year a bachelor
uncle's estate had suddenly descended on them like manna and they
scarcely knew how to act.  Sometimes she even wondered if they'd
lost a little of their family fun now that things were so easy.

Just before dinner, Janet McLaughlin surprisingly drove up in the
station bus, having come a day sooner than she expected.  Janet was
well-groomed, her ensemble the last word in modishness, her blue
suit tight to the knees with its stylish circular flare.  She wore
a modish blue hat, close fitting at the back of her head but
projecting far to the front with a long brim over the high
pompadour of her hair.  Janet was a teacher at a distant
university, and having taught English history so many years, as
Mina puffingly said, by this time she must have been on chummy
terms with Mary of the Scots and able to guess every surreptitious
thought of Queen Elizabeth's.

In the evening the four walked back to the station to meet Mary
Crombie and Emily Teasdale.  When the train disgorged the two, the
others saw that the years had merely accentuated Mary's early
characteristics.  Domineering in her girl-hood she had turned that
quality clubward since clubs had become popular, and in the last
few years had been local, county, district, and state Everything in
the organization of her choice.  A little thinner, a bit more wiry,
far more efficient looking, she came elbowing her way briskly
through the crowd just as they would have expected her to do.
Across her flat chest were gold-mounted glasses on a long chain
which she pulled out with a little zipping sound and adjusted in
order to look the others over.  Immediately Ella could visualize
her in the Chair and hear the crisp:  "The ayes have it."

Emily was trailing behind her, Emily Teasdale, the lovely spirited
belle of their college days.  But what had happened?  Something or
some one had taken all the starch out of Emily.  Her dress was
nondescript, her hat uninteresting, her face vacuous.  She was a
little wilted flower, a shadowy woman with no initiative left.  Her
conversation all the days they were together was one of alibis and
excuses.  Poor Emily, thought Ella many times, the embodiment of
broken ideals, vanished illusions.

So there they all were, all but Evelyn who could not come because
she was dead.  The years,--what had they done to the six?  Irene
who had been unhappy over a love affair was now loved and happy.
Ella, whose love affair had once been the envy of Irene, had not
known the fruition of her hopes.  Mary, who had once possessed a
great deal of money, had lost it all.  Mina, who never had a dollar
ahead in her life, had come into a large heritage.  Emily, who had
been as lovely as a painting, was a faded pansy of a woman.  Janet,
who had been a homely, raw-boned girl, had developed into a
striking woman of self-reliance and poise.  All this had a quarter
of a century done to a little group of schoolmates.

The four were quite unanimous in their decision that Ella and Janet
had changed the least of all.  The two seemed, the others said, to
be the ones who had kept their youth.  It was because teachers had
no cares, they assured each other.  For Ella and Janet they said
there had been no tragedies, no business responsibilities, no
hanging over sick beds in the hush of gray mornings, no dark
graves.  Teaching might be taxing, Mary admitted magnanimously, but
it wasn't as though Ella had known the responsibility of trying to
get votes for women, and Mina wheezily said that, after all, Janet
simply couldn't have been heartbroken over Mary Queen of Scots or
felt personally responsible for all of Queen Elizabeth's little

In the days that followed, the six, with Professors Schroeder and
Fonda of their class, attended every activity on a very active
campus,--a little group clinging together as though, from sheer
result of the connection, they themselves might contact youth.

Emily Teasdale grew almost weepily sentimental over that first
meeting with big Professor Schroeder whom she might have married;
and Janet McLaughlin spent a large portion of her waking time
thanking a kind Providence that she had not let the dashing drum-
major in the first old college band hypnotize her into marriage,
inasmuch as his career to date consisted largely in being head
janitor at the gymnasium.

There were old students of other classes back, too,--successful,
unknown, talented, ordinary, those who had accomplished much and
those who had not known the fulfillment of any desire.  At
Commencements, more than on any other occasions, Time, the toll-
keeper, says:  "Halt.  Who goes there?  What have you done with the

It was Ella, more than any of them, who bound the past to the
present.  Active, enthusiastic, apparently knowing all the
students, she seemed no less a part of the young generation than of
the old.  But at best the others were standing at the outskirts of
things looking on.  Youth not only must be served, but it demands
the center of the stage.

And so on the third afternoon they gave up attempting to enter into
the Commencement activities and settled down in the study of Ella's
home.  A lowering sky with an occasional dash of rain and a grate
fire added to the coziness of the mellow room where rows of books
looked down upon them.

Emily Teasdale and Mary Crombie had brought pieces of needlework,--
Emily making an occasional half-hearted attack upon hers, with Mary
sitting up stiffly and working as though life depended upon it.

Reminiscences being as they are, the conversation could scarcely
have been called enlightening or even interesting to the casual
listener.  It consisted largely of sentences beginning: "Do you
remember . . . ?"

Mary recalled the purloining of grapes from Professor Carter's
arbor, Emily a frustrated attempt to paint the brass band's mascot.
Mina dragged out of its hiding place a gossipy campus skeleton that
probably had not strayed from its closet to jangle its bones for
two decades.  With an uncanny aptitude for remembering all the
foolish and forgetting much of the sensible, Ella and Janet found
that they could repeat snatches of countless silly parodies they
had once penned for the Minerva society, not one of greater
literary value than:

     "We were seated in assembly,
     Not a soul had room to stir.
     'Twas our annual debate day
     And a storm was in the air.
     And as thus we sat there silent,
     Not a maiden there would smile.
     'We are lost' the leader whispered
     As she staggered down the aisle."

They all came back out of a carefree past,--fatuous episodes,
incautious escapades, scraps of verse,--little half-memories.  In
the semi-gloom of Ella's study one could almost smell the fragrant
pungent odor of rosemary, "for remembrance."

Their farewell dinner was a pleasant meal, with Stena treading
heavily in and out, anticipating their every want.  Mary and Emily
and Janet were going east on the evening train; Mina was taking one
to the north in the morning; Irene was staying in town for a week.
This, then, was the end of the reunion.

Very soon after dinner they went upstairs while Janet and Mary and
Emily packed, all a little sad at the parting.  Something had drawn
them together again in the three days.  The old friendships had
been revived, and in addition, there had emerged something more
tender, a mature appreciation of each other.  Moving in six
different orbits now, still the old attraction held them.  The
twenty-five years had thrown many barriers between them, distance,
husbands, homes, children, businesses, social events, a thousand
activities.  But now that they had renewed the old acquaintance, it
seemed as hard to part as on that long-gone time.  To be sure, they
were not shedding tears and pledging undying friendship, as then,
but were promising to get together more often.

And the gathering had done other definite things to them, too:
Emily had taken on a little stamina, expressing herself more
freely, even wearing her hat with a bit of aplomb, Irene's life had
sounded a merry new note.  Mary's pronounced tendency to domineer
all situations seemed a little less prominent, Janet's self-assured
pertness mellowed.  Even Mina, jealous of the others' relative
slimness, was leaving for home with the solemn declaration that
when next they saw her she would be of sylphidine proportions.  As
for Ella, she had resurrected the old feeling of friendship to such
an extent that she felt she would cheerfully cross a continent to
see them all.

Reunion!  It was a pleasant thing.


Most of the members of the faculty had been abroad at some time or
were planning to go.  Miss Hunter and Miss Jones of the training
school, Professor and Mrs. Cunningham were going in the summer of
1906.  "And I could go, too, if I would ever save my salary," Ella
complained of herself.  "I don't know what the trouble is.  I don't
seem to do anything worth while but it just goes."

But if she had taken a complete survey of her activities she would
have realized that keeping up a home, paying wages to Stena,
supporting a frail mother who often needed the services of a
physician, caring for Hope and sending her to school all those
years had made inroads on the teacher's modest salary.

The Cunningham group wanted her to join them, and Ella was tempted,
but another duty faced her and she had no mind for the trip while
the possibility of Hope teaching in the college confronted her.
For two years now to the joy of Ella's prideful heart Hope had been
very successful in her work at Maple City.  And with the position
for a primary critic teacher opening in the training school Ella
played every possible card that she could to get the place for
Hope.  Honest and frank as nature itself, for the first time in her
life she found herself playing up to people.  "That's what mothers
will do for their offspring," she thought.  "I see now how parents
will stoop to almost anything for their own."

She cultivated Miss Jones assiduously although they had not a great
deal in common.  She was especially solicitous to President Watts.
She went out of her way to talk to the board members.  "I'm ashamed
of myself," she admitted.  "But I do so want my girl home that I'm
not quite level-headed about it.  And it isn't as though she
couldn't do the work well.  My alibi is that I'm doing the school
as well as myself a favor."

Ella's deep desire was granted.  Hope was elected and took her
place, as modest as it was, on the faculty, catalogued as assistant
supervisor, in reality handmaiden to Miss Jones.

"Now this year," Ella thought, "I'll save every penny for the grand
tour.  The stage is all set.  Hope home here with Mother, Stena so
faithful.  Next spring I shall be with the pilgrims myself."  It
gave her a warm feeling of joyful anticipation.  She read travel
books by the dozen, by day figuratively crossed the Bridge of Sighs
and at night dreamed of wandering through the Louvre.

But she did not carry out those dreams.

For Fate, that old woman of the loom, stepped into the picture in
the spring and directed that the time had now arrived for Hope
herself to meet Romance.  And like many of the tricks the old woman
plays, the meeting took place in a most unlooked-for way and when
least expected.

To be specific it happened at ten minutes past two on an April
afternoon in Room Twenty-one of the primary training department.
To be sure it was also ten minutes past two in other departments of
the college; but in Room Twenty-one of the training school it
seemed most specifically ten minutes past two--that lazy,
languorous time of day.

The windows were open to the warm breeze.  An unsanitary-looking
fly buzzed in and out, daring the students to catch him.  Out on
the campus little new leaves were pushing their way hurriedly
through the brown buds of the maples.  Chris burned weeds by the
tennis court.

Nineteen girls, who were taking the primary course, lined the walls
of Room Twenty-one, notebooks in hand.  Some of them were majoring
in primary training and minoring in other subjects.  Some of them
were minoring in primary work and majoring in getting engaged.  But
on this Wednesday afternoon at ten minutes past two, there was no
way of dividing the gayly frivolous from the deadly earnest by
their appearance.  Due to the spring weather, all alike looked
sleepy, dull, uninterested.  A pudgy girl with thick glasses over
protruding eyes made objectless marks on her notebook.  A homely
blonde, whom no discriminating gentleman would have preferred, was
frankly nodding.

Across the room, near one of the open windows, sat Hope.

It would have taken twenty guesses to have picked out Hope as the
assistant supervisor, for having attained the mature age of twenty-
four, she still looked as sweet and young as a wood sprite.  Her
warm brown hair was combed back from her calm forehead and rolled
into neat buns just back of each ear after the fashion of the
moment.  She was dressed in leaf green which gave her the
appearance of being one with the elms and maples just outside the

If one could not have picked her out of the group from point of age
or appearance, neither could one have recognized her through any
manifestation of unusual interest in the work going on in the
center of the room, for she looked as uninterested and bored as any
of the students.

The children in the circle were playing games under the direction
of a short, olive-skinned student; and no one could have accused
the children, themselves, of being bored.  With that wide-eyed
interest in life in which the mere matter of weather has no part,
they were entering into the oft-repeated plays with as much ardor
as though participating in them for the first time.

At that particular moment a very immaculate little girl, whom one
knew at a glance to be a specimen of the perfect female child,
spoke:  "William is not standing correctly."  She said it
definitely, didactically and critically.

William immediately straightened his spindling, overall-clad legs,
and the perfect child looked about her for further opportunity of

"In years to come," said Hope--of course, to herself--"she will be
president of a woman's club or chairman of some reform league."

A health game was now well under way.  William, of the temporary
slouchy attitude and the permanent overall legs, took the center of
the circle.

"Will you have a dish of oatmeal and cream?" he asked, and pointed
to one of the expectant group.

"Yes, thank you," said the honored one.

"Will you have some fried potatoes?"  He pointed to another.

"No, thank you."

"Will you have a dish of stewed prunes?"

"Yes, please."

Any rank outsider could have sensed the point.  It was as apparent
as the pointer, himself, or the pointee.  There was on in
educational circles the first of the great reforms in eating--all
the edibles which did not point the way to health were scorned.
All the dainty morsels which were over-rich received the "thumbs
down" of these little Romans.  Their attitude was that if you ate
fried potatoes you would be relegated to some region of the lost.
If you ate oatmeal you would enter some Valhalla of bliss.

"Will you have a piece of pie?"  William's active if soiled index
finger veered to the perfect female child.

The p.f.c. shook her yellow curls and assumed a horror-stricken air
of dramatic proportions.

"Oh--no, thank you."  She threw into the answer a world of
repugnance.  And then, further realizing her own nobility of soul,
she turned to the student teacher:  "Miss Anderson . . . my mamma
had pie this noon . . . raspberry pie . . . a big piece sat right
by my plate . . . and I never touched it."

"Why, you little halfwit!" said Hope.  (Oh, certainly to herself.)
From which unuttered exclamation one may gather how very far afield
had gone her regard for her own teachings this warm afternoon.

Sitting there in the midst of her chosen life work, Hope was
admitting to herself a waning interest in it.  And simultaneously
with her digression she was mentally flaying herself with a
bludgeon of self-criticism.  As mystified as chagrined at the way
her attention was slipping, she realized that for some unknown
reason she felt at odds with her profession.  She had always been
wrapped up in it,--just like Aunt Ella.  She wondered what Aunt
Ella would say if she knew how this third year of her teaching was
beginning to pall.

Too often recently she had been picturing herself down a vista of
years in a future of training schools and lectures, dividing the
fried potatoes from the oatmeal, the pie from the prunes--and the
perspective was not so satisfying as she had once thought.  It was
something she felt would hurt Aunt Ella deeply to know, and the
thought made her disgusted with her own attitude.

In the midst of her self-chastisement, and near the close of the
children's health game, the door opened and the Head appeared.  Not
a head, but THE Head,--Miss Hester Jones.  If one wanted to be
facetious, one might say that there was a hat upon the Head, for
Miss Jones was hatted and gloved in the correct tailored way that
one would expect Miss Jones to be, and being large and imposing,
she carried about her person all the dignity and age which Hope,
the assistant, failed to possess.

Quite suddenly the atmosphere in Room Twenty-one changed.  It was
as though, upon opening the door, Miss Jones had inserted the cord
of an imaginary electrical charger into an invisible socket.  The
occupants of the room came to life.  The blonde leaned forward with
a deep and vital interest in the health game.  The fat girl with
the thick glasses began writing unimportant words vigorously in her
notebook.  The fly disappeared into an outer sun-flooded world, as
though there were no use trying to fool with a personality like
Miss Jones's.  Hope, the good lieutenant that she was, almost
saluted her superior.

The Head crossed to her now, said a few low words of explanation to
her, looked complacently at the keenly interested girls flanking
the walls, stopped to say good-by to the participants of the game
circle, and vanished into the sun-flooded world herself, although
not by way of the window.

The figurative electric cord having been withdrawn from the socket,
the occupants of the room slumped into their former state of
lethargy.  The homely blonde closed her eyes.  The fat girl tucked
her pencil into her blouse pocket.  Hope returned to her own
analytical sililoquy.

The circle game was changing now.  They were about to perpetrate
the classic known as "Chicken Little."

"Heavens!" said Hope (oh, most assuredly to herself).  "If I'm ever
in a large brick building with bars at the windows it will be from
an overdose of Chicken Little."

"The sky is falling," said Chicken Little, in the person of William
the conquered.  "I will run and tell Henny-Penny."  And the orgy of
gossiping was on.

In the midst of the wild rumors which seemed to obsess Chicken
Little there was a knock on the door of Twenty-one--a loud and
vigorous knock, almost immodestly so, for one usually approached
the model training school with something of timidity, silence, and

"I heard it with my ears.  I saw it with my eyes.  A piece of it
fell on my tail," declared the newsmonger in the circle.

The girls all straightened up, cheered with the pleasant
anticipation of having the monotony relieved, although it would
probably prove to be nothing more exciting than a student or a
parent.  Hope rose, crossed the room, and opened the door,
preparatory to slipping out.  But she did not slip.  It was not a
student.  One had grave doubts about its being a parent.  A very
tall, very well-groomed young man stood on the threshold.

"I beg your pardon," his voice boomed hollowly from the empty hall.

"You'd better," thought Hope critically.

"May I speak to you for a moment?"  His voice was still far from

"I will run and tell Turkey-Lurkey," threatened the tattle-tale in
the circle.

Hope had time to say acridly (yes, indeed to herself), "All
right . . . go on and tell," as she stepped out and closed the

The man looked at Hope, standing there, cool and aloof and
questioning.  "I'm sorry to bother you."  He had a most engaging
smile.  "My name is Jones--Richard Jones--of the firm of Blake,
Bartholomew, and Jones of Chicago.  And while I'm here between
trains, I'm trying to form a rather belated acquaintance with a
cousin of mine."

"Oh!"  Hope smiled then also.  And that made two engaging smiles
turned loose in the hall.  "You're Miss Jones's cousin."  She
became gracious and friendly.  "Miss Jones is the head of our
department.  But she's not here.  She has just gone . . . starting
over to the Maynard High School to give her lecture.  She's been
gone such a little while--she was here a few minutes ago--that I'm
sure you could catch her.  She takes the yellow street-car at the
northeast corner of the campus."

"Yes?"  Miss Hester Jones's cousin looked at the cleft in Hope's
chin, and repeated, with certain slight variations, "I see . . .
the northeast street-car at the corner of the yellow campus."

"You can take a short-cut," the owner of the chin declivity

"Yes?" said Mr. Jones vaguely, and added more definitely, "Oh,

"You go down these first steps and turn to the left.  Then you
follow the walk past the Administration Building . . .  Do you know
where the Administration Building is?"

"No," said Mr. Jones, almost in despair.  "Oh, no."

"It's the first building to the north.  Then you take the curved
walk and you will find the street-car at the end of it."

And while the consensus of opinion among the other members of the
firm was that Mr. Richard Jones was far from dull, he seemed to
have acquired a sudden impenetrable density.

In the intensity of her desire to do the gracious thing for the
head of the department, Hope further volunteered:  "I'll walk out
to the steps and point it out to you."  Which all goes to prove
that stupidity occasionally has its place in the scheme of things.

They went out on the training-school steps, where the elm leaves
budded and the bees droned and the April sunshine lay in little
golden pools.

"The campus is gorgeous, now, isn't it?" the man said affably.

"Lovely," the girl agreed.  "Now, there . . . around that
walk . . . over there."

"It's a perfect day, isn't it?"

"Quite perfect.  You've only a few minutes."

"Thank you so much.  I hope taking you away from your class like
this hasn't queered you in any way with your teacher."

"I," said Hope, a little coldly, "AM the teacher."

"You?  Do you mean to stand there and say. . . .  Well, can you
beat . . . ?"

"You'll have to hurry," said the teacher with finality.  "Good
day."  And she went into the building and closed the huge door

As she stepped back into Twenty-one, her head very high, nineteen
girls watched her keenly, thirty-eight adult eyes looked at her

"They ran into Foxy-Loxy's den and they never came out," accused
the gossiper of the circle.

Several girls grinned openly, not to say suspiciously.  The homely
blonde tittered and nudged the owl-eyed fat girl in her well-
cushioned ribs.

"Just for that," said Hope (oh, absolutely to herself), "you will
pay . . . and pay . . . and pay . . ."  Aloud, and quite
distinctly, she said:  "Observation class dismissed.  You will each
hand in on Thursday a well-written nine-hundred-word paper on The
Relation of Games to a Child's Health."  And knew, with an unholy
glee when something like a dull moan issued from the audience, that
she had nipped in the bud more than one canoe ride and stroll on
the campus.

At four o'clock, preparing to leave her office, she pushed back the
calendar on her desk, weighted down a bunch of lesson plans with a
plaster cast of The Laughing Child, straightened the sepia copy of
The Gleaners, and closed the desk.  When she turned around Richard
Jones of Blake, Bartholomew, and Jones stood in the doorway.

"I missed her," he grinned cheerfully.

"I'm so sorry," said Hope, and added (oh, exclusively to Hope),
"Oh, no, you're not so grieved."

"And now I'm stranded here until ten o'clock, and you're the only
one in town I know."


"Well," she suggested pleasantly, "the college library doesn't
close until nine."

He was thoughtful.  "And I never HAVE read Fox's Book of Martyrs or
Saints' Rest," he admitted.

At that, Hope laughed aloud.  And Dick Jones laughed too.  And the
plaster cast laughed hardest of all--diabolically--but behind their

All of which is the long and circuitous sequence of events which
led Hope to bring home to her Aunt Ella's a young man of whose
existence she had not been aware at nine minutes past two that
afternoon,--to bring him home solely from duty and out of courtesy
to Miss Jones, she explained so many times to Ella, that this
discriminating woman was forced to hide her tell-tale eyes from her
foster daughter.

Ella was like a mother hen with a chick who has suddenly shown some
new interest in life.  It was the first time Hope in her more
mature years had seemed to be thrown out of her calm poise at
masculinity.  And dragging him home as though responsible for him!
While she helped Stena add a dainty dish or two to the dinner, she
nursed her surprise and a certain sense of worry.

But during the dinner hour, Ella admitted grudgingly to herself
that he was thoroughly likable.  And it WAS something to know he
was Miss Jones' cousin.

When he was leaving, he told Hope that he would stop again on his
way back from his trip,--a promise that did not seem to antagonize
her, Ella thought.

On Thursday it seemed nothing short of dishonest not to speak about
him immediately to Miss Jones but he had asked her not to do so for
the reason that he wanted to surprise her by dropping in at the
college again in a few days.  On Monday of the following week,
whenever Hope heard a noisy approach in the hall, she grew slightly
chilly and showed a tendency toward flushing at the cheek bones.

But two days of the week went by, and he had not come back.

On Wednesday afternoon, as she went down the steps of the training
school and rounded the building to the north, she nearly collided
with him--the returning relative of the Head.

"Oh . . . !"  She was genuinely distressed.  "Didn't I tell you?
I THOUGHT I did.  Miss Jones goes over there EVERY Wednesday
afternoon," she explained earnestly.

"Does she?"  Mr. Richard Jones was apparently torn between the
intensity of his surprise and the depths of his mental pain.

"Every Wednesday," repeated Hope.

"I see . . . persistency . . . perseverance . . . stick-to-
itiveness.  It's in the blood."

To mitigate Mr. Jones's disappointment over the unintentional
misunderstanding, Hope took him home again.

"Well, Stena," Ella said, upon glancing out of a window, "here
comes our nice young man again.  It isn't going to be EVERY
Wednesday, is it?"


April flung one more lovely week over the campus.  On Wednesday
afternoon Hope stood before her desk calendar and absent-mindedly
drew two distinct circles around the two previous Wednesday dates.
Then, with sudden alarm, she rubbed them out so vigorously that
there were only smudgy holes left where the figures had been.  When
she looked up from the calendar, she saw Mr. Richard Jones standing
in the doorway.

"My cousin . . . ?"  He was beaming cheerfully.  "Is she here?"

"You know she isn't," said Hope coldly.

"But you told me she went Wednesdays."

"THIS is Wednesday."  There were icicles on the statement.  "You
know it is."

"Is it?"  He walked over to the calendar and ran an investigating
finger up the columns.  "Why, so it is," he admitted amiably, and
then asked curiously, "What made those two holes in your calendar?"

"Days that were wasted," said Hope evenly, "so wasted that I cut
them out."

Quite suddenly, Richard Jones was not flippant.  "They were not
wasted."  He was all seriousness.  "They were delightful . . . so
lovely that I came back to have one more of them before we have to
take my cousin with us."  And then, as quickly, he returned to his
former lightness.  "The year's at the spring . . . the horse at the
curb . . . my face is all clean . . . your hair is all curled . . .
God's in heaven . . . all's right with the world."

Hope had to laugh at that, and knew there was not a particle of use
in trying to trace the various processes by which her mental
equipment was assuring her that it was her duty to entertain him
once more for the sake of Miss Jones, in spite of his flagrant

So eliminating all analysis, and looking only at results, one might
have seen the two, fifteen minutes later, driving through a woodsy
road where the sun flecked the rubber-tire tracks through dancing
shadows.  The drive ended at the one college caf, the Mellow Moon--
the first of the many eating places which a generation later were
to be found on every corner.

It was while they were dining that they heard a shrilly triumphant,
"Miss Thompson . . . oh, Miss Thompson!"

"Somewhere a voice is calling," said Richard Jones, "tender and

The voice was the voice of the perfect female child, and with its
insistent decision and two forceful hands, she was dragging her
parents to the table nearest the beloved teacher.

Hope spoke to the obedient parents, made a pedagogical-sounding
remark to her adoring pupil, and then turned to discuss the
critical question of dessert with Richard Jones.

"I'd love a piece of pie," she said wistfully, "but I can't have

"Can't?  Why the 'can't'?"

"Because this energetic creature across from me"--she spoke very
low--"watching my every movement, is the personification of all my
work.  She is the symbol of my career.  I teach her to scorn fried
potatoes and laud oatmeal . . . to eschew pie and chew prunes.  I
know that's an awfully low type of humor, but I couldn't help it.
I ask you, then, could I sit here, under her eagle eye, and order
pie . . . and let her see all my theories come tumbling down?"

Richard Jones grinned his interest.

"But if I ever leave . . ." she threatened.

Mr. Jones sat forward.  "Yes?  When you leave?  You mean when you

"Every woman teacher who marries must leave the faculty," said Hope
definitely.  "There is a ruling to that effect.  But it does not
necessarily follow that, inversely, every one who leaves, has
married.  As I was saying . . ."  She was a little confused.  "Oh,
yes . . . if I ever leave, I shall do just that . . . recklessly,
before them all . . . the student teachers . . . your cousin, the
Head . . . the perfect female child . . . all of them.  I shall
order the richest pie I can get . . . and eat it in their presence.
It would be symbolic.  It would be a gesture of freedom.  It would
be signing an emancipation proclamation.  It would be snapping my
fingers in the faces of the gods."

The little student waitress came up for the order.

"Prunes," said Hope to her resignedly, "stewed prunes."

It was when Richard Jones was leaving Ella Bishop's home in the
evening that he quite brazenly came out with the declaration that
he wanted to dine with Hope again the following Wednesday.  And
Hope, with one fleeting assurance to herself that there was no more
comforting bit of philosophy than that one might as well be hung
for a sheep as a lamb, said she would expect him.

On Monday, May took the nice spring weather by the hand, and the
two fled precipitately, leaving behind them cold, rainy,
disagreeable weather.

And then on Tuesday, the Head came into Hope's office.  "This
terrible rain!" she began in her ponderous way.  "I'm glad I'm all
through with the Maynard lectures."

Hope's heart missed a beat.  So Miss Jones was through with her
Wednesday trips.  The perfect tte--ttes would cease.  So she
might as well speak of him now.

"A young man cousin of yours . . ." she had to busy herself among
her papers to hide the agitation of her face, "was here looking for

"My cousin?  Well . . . I haven't seen him since he was in his
teens.  How times does fly.  And to think he's going to be married,--
to a girl named Daphne Dunham.  Isn't that euphonious?"

Hope's heart crashed head-on against the stone wall of the news.
But her mind was saying stanchly:  "People have more than one
cousin.  No doubt she has a dozen."

But Miss Jones was going placidly on.  "He is the only cousin I
have, and I do hope he is getting a lovely girl.  He's a dear
boy . . . but something of a philanderer, they tell me.  Now that
he's to be married, though, I'm sure he'll settle down."

Hope's heart seemed scarcely able to move in the midst of its
wreckage.  All that it could think was that to-morrow was
Wednesday,--the day that Richard Jones was to come again.

Then her mind began to take charge of the situation.

"You've been taking your dinners at the Mellow Moon, haven't you,
Miss Jones?"

"Yes, excepting of course those evenings I've been at Maynard.

"Oh, I just wondered.  I'm dining there tomorrow night with a
guest.  I thought perhaps you'd join us."

Miss Jones thanked her, said not to wait if she was not there by
six-thirty.  And the day's work had begun.

All the rest of the day and Wednesday morning it rained.  And all
Wednesday Hope went doggedly about her work.

In the late afternoon, swathed in a brown raincoat, with her dark
hair tucked under a cap, she was splashing through the damp,
dripping campus toward home.

With the swishing sound of a water-soaked raincoat, some one was
coming rapidly behind her.  She stepped aside, but a masculine hand
closed over her own hand that held the umbrella.

"My cousin . . . ?"  He had the nerve to laugh at that--this modern
Claudius who could smile and smile and be the villain still.

"Your cousin . . ."  She forced herself to laugh too.  "Your cousin
has gone to the county commissioners to report your weakening

There was a blazing fire in the grate at Aunt Ella's when they
arrived.  Hope left the villain standing in front of it, looking
after her, when she mounted the stairs to dress.  She wished he
hadn't looked like that--clean-cut and attractive--standing there
so easily in front of the fire.

In her room she put on a brown dress, decided she looked ghastly,
and changed it for a crimson one.  When she came down, the two made
their way under the dripping elms, over the slippery walks to the
Mellow Moon.  Two students, the homely blonde and the fat girl with
glasses, smelling romance, left their seats in the far end of the
room and came to take places at the next table.

"Miss Thompson . . . oh, Miss Thompson," broke forth an adoring

"Ha!" said Richard Jones.  "There's the voice that breathed o'er

"Why don't they ever eat at home?" commented the object of the
adoration, irritably, as the perfect female child pulled her pliant
parents to the other adjoining table.

The vacant chair turned against their own table seemed to eye Hope
like a silent accuser.  Miss Jones had said not to wait if she had
not arrived at six-thirty.  So the two ordered, ate and conversed--
the last activity being somewhat handicapped by the close proximity
of many ears.  Hope was more nervous than she had ever been in her

And then she saw Miss Jones come in.

"Look, Mr. Jones," she said in a small voice that sounded flat and

"At the what?"

"Don't you see her?"

"Which 'her'?"

"Your cousin . . . over there by the door."

"Oh, is my cousin over there?  I thought you said she went every

"She did . . . but she's finished."

"Then so am I.  Listen, Hope Thompson.  There's something I want to
explain to you before she comes."

"Oh, don't try to explain."  She was looking at the heavy figure of
the Head, who had stopped to speak to Professor Cunningham.  "I
know all about it."

"I should have told you."  He was all seriousness.  "I've just let
things drift carelessly along . . . and happily . . . from week to
week.  But you won't let it make any difference with us, will you?"

Any difference!  Hope smiled.  She was thinking that Napoleon might
have asked it of Josephine when he divorced her.

When Richard Jones saw the tremulous smile that was meant to be
cheerful, he said quite savagely:  "I'm all kinds of a cad to let
you hear it from some one else.  Who told you?"

"Miss Jones . . . your cousin.  She said Miss Dunham was a lovely
girl."  Miss Jones was now talking to the football coach and his
wife, half-way down the room.  "And I congratulate you."

"What for?  Who's lovely?"

"Miss Daphne Dunham . . . your fiance."

"My what?"

"Fiance."  And then, quite didactically, she explained:  "The girl
you're engaged to."

"Good lord."  He was gazing in deep amazement toward the chatting
group.  "I'm not engaged to anybody . . . Daffy-down-dilly, or any
one else . . . not for a few minutes yet anyway.  I don't know
where you got that, but it's immaterial just now.  Listen, Hope,
listen closely."  He leaned nearer to her across the college caf
table.  "I'm not the Head's cousin . . . nor her uncle . . . nor
her grandfather.  I never saw her before and I don't care a
tinker's dam if I never see her again.  I never heard of her before
the day you first talked to me.  I'm terribly sorry to tell you
this here . . . and now.  Can you hear me?  These two human
phonographs over here are recording it all."

The blonde girl and the fat one with glasses scarcely moved a
spoon, so anxious were they to catch the conversation.

"You mean you haven't been her cousin?"

"Not any of the time . . . not even Wednesdays."  He grinned.

"But you said you were."

"Oh, no, I didn't.  You came out in the hall looking as sweet as a
peach and as cold as a peach ice.  I said:  'My name is Jones and
I'm looking up my cousin.'  And you said, 'Oh, you're Miss Jones's
cousin'; and thawed out and acted cordial.  My cousin is a little
freshman.  Her name is Bartholomew--Mary Bartholomew.  But when you
insisted that Miss Jones was my cousin . . . even though the woods
are full of Joneses . . . and looked at me like that . . ."

"Don't be talking about it.  She's coming this way."

"Yes . . . I'm going to talk about it.  I'm going to be talking
about it after she gets here, if you won't listen now.  Would you
have gone out to dinner with me if you had known I wasn't the
Head's cousin?"

"Most certainly not."

"Don't you see . . . I had to?  There was nothing else to do.  The
minute I saw you I knew you were the girl for me."

The girl-for-him gasped.

"I love you . . . and I want you to marry me and leave school.
You'd have to, you know.  You said there was a ruling."

Miss Jones came up.  There were introductions.

The little student waitress came up too.

"Go right on and order," said the Head in her supervising way,
"while I look over the dinner card."

"Prunes and cream, Miss Thompson?" asked the little waitress

Like needles to two magnets, Hope's eyes turned to the eyes of
Richard Jones.  The eyes of Richard Jones were twinkling . . . and
then the twinkling changed to something less mischievous.

"Or pie, Hope?"  He asked it gently--so gently that, instead of a
prosaic item on the menu, it sounded like the first few lines of an
old love poem.

Hope looked across the table china at the impostor.  Over at the
next table the homely blonde and the owl-eyed fat girl strained
their aural organs to catch every word.  Across the other aisle the
perfect female child bent worshiping eyes upon her adored teacher.

Then--quite deliberately Hope made the gesture.  Quite definitely
she signed the proclamation.  Quite distinctly she snapped her
fingers in the faces of the gods.  For even as she spoke to the
little waitress she was smiling across the china toward the junior
member of Blake, Bartholomew, and Jones.

"Pie . . ." she ordered recklessly, "the chocolate pie with the
whipped cream and marshmallow icing."  And, instead of a prosaic
item on the menu, it sounded like the rest of the lines of the old
love poem.


So Hope was to be married, and Ella knew the joy of witnessing
another's happiness.  Europe?  She had no thought for it now--the
Bridge of Sighs was but a plank across a stream, the Louvre might
have been filled with circus posters, for all she cared.

She began buying things for Hope,--cloth for sheets one day, bath
towels another.  Good sense told her that she was spending more
money than she should have done.  "No, you keep your own money,
Hope.  It will come in handy.  Don't forget this is probably the
last thing of the kind I shall ever do for you."

So they shopped together, and Ella knew she was having as much
excitement out of the expeditions as Hope.  "I'm not so generous,"
she told herself honestly.  "I'm really rather selfish, getting as
I do such joy out of buying the pretty things."

There was a blue serge suit to be made by the local tailor,--a long
skirt stiffened with buckram and a short stiff jacket with large
banjo-shaped sleeves.  There were fourteen yards of soft green
crpe de Chine to be purchased and ten yards of taffeta for the
underdress.  Then the wedding dress itself of soft white with
dozens of yards of narrow lace to be used on the skirt which was
ruffled to the waist.  All summer Ella forgot pedagogy in her
vicarious motherhood.  All summer she purchased and planned and
sewed.  Her mother tried to help, but she muddled the patterns,
sewed in the wrong sleeve, and Ella or Hope or Stena had to rip out
and do it all over.

And sometimes in the summer as Ella worked, she thought of the
dress upstairs in a chest,--the shimmering white dress with the
pink rosebuds and the blue forget-me-nots in silken relief,--which
had no hem, and into which the sleeves had never been sewed.  But
more often she thought only of Hope and the happiness that was

Dick came twice during the summer and Ella, living the romance of
the two young people, felt romantic too.

The wedding was in October--at the home.  Ella wanted a church
wedding with bridesmaids and the new pipe-organ playing and ushers
from Hope's college classmates, but in that particular thing Hope
seemed to be more sensible than Ella.  "Oh, Aunt Ella,--NO.  Think
of the expense and the fuss,--and the sort of--oh, I don't know,

Ella gave in.  "I suppose you're right.  But it's only once in a
lifetime."  In her heart she knew that she was wanting a wedding so
lovely that it would take the place of two,--Hope's own and the
wedding that had never been.

So it was planned to be small and in the home.  At that it turned
out that Ella could not draw the line for guests.  Over and over
she sat with a paper and pencil and tried to eliminate all her
friends to some semblance of a crowd of medium size.  Faculty
members, townspeople, janitors, students who had been in Hope's
classes--In despair she gave up, and Hope took the responsibility
of choosing a few of the ones closest to her.

"But, Hope--they're all my friends."

Old lady Bishop nodded over her quilt-block.  "Yes . . . Ella . . .
her friends . . . she was always friendly . . . like Pa . . . I
don't know . . ."  Her voice trailed off uncertainly.

So Richard Jones came for his bride and they were married on an
October day with the campus trees green and gold and scarlet, with
the haze of the Indian summer clinging to far horizons like the
ghostly white smoke of long-dead campfires.  Professor Wick, who
had been an ordained minister, performed the ceremony, his new suit
surprisingly immaculate and his bushy whiskers trimmed to an almost
immodest closeness.  President and Mrs. Watts were there, and
Professor and Mrs. Cunningham and the Schroeders and the Fondas and
the Wittinglys.  Miss Jones was there taking all the credit for the
match, and Miss Boggs, singing "Oh, Promise Me" with a bit of a
smirk for having been chosen over Miss Honeycutt, and Chris and
Hannah Jensen, a little stiff in their new clothes.  Stena in a
hardanger apron bossed the Minerva society sisters who served the
refreshments, and old Mrs. Bishop came outside her bedroom door for
the ceremony but vanished afterward like a little old frightened

And then the young people were gone in a merry shower of rice and
good wishes, and the guests had departed, and Ella and Stena and
old Mrs. Bishop were alone.  Life seemed suddenly to slump for
Ella, and to have no meaning.

All winter only the thought of her postponed trip abroad gave her
any renewal of keen interest.  With the expense of the wedding
over, she was saving every cent for the coming summer's outing.

Her one worry was her mother.  She seemed more frail and gentle,
and what worried Ella more than her apparent weakness, she
possessed a vague dreaminess, at times a fairly definite unconcern
over what went on about her.  So seldom now did she inquire for
college news, spoke more and more often of the past.  Once or twice
she seemed a little sly to Ella about her small activities of the
day.  All Ella could ever get from her in answer to the question of
how she felt, was that she was tired, and maybe her head hurt a

If Ella could have known the mental wanderings of the gentle old
soul, she would have been filled with an agonizing sympathy.  For
many afternoons when Ella was in school and Stena upstairs in her
room, old Mrs. Bishop stole into her bedroom, closed the door and
lived in a little world of her own.

With trembling old hands she would take from its wrappings in her
closet the light blue silk dress of her girlhood, slip it over her
head and pat it into place lovingly.  Then she would open her
lowest bureau drawer and bring forth a white lace scarf of dainty
weave.  This she would drape laboriously around her shoulders with
stiffened arms and fasten with a hair brooch.

To the onlooker the effect would have been ludicrous: the
incongruity of the thin old neck and wrinkled face rising above the
low-cut lustrous silk gown that that had been made to enfold a
winsome maiden.  But to old Mrs. Bishop the picture must have
seemed eminently satisfying.  She would gather the gleaming folds
in her little knotted blue-veined hands and walk about the room
with slow mincing steps.

Then she would sit by the window in her dainty old dress and try to
remember.  It gave her a feeling of stability, a connection with
life which she did not always seem to have.  She could not explain
to her daughter.  Ella would not know what she meant, for no one
could understand.  But sitting there alone in the soft old dress
she seemed to be able to leave her body.  For a little while she
would wait, and then the strange thing would happen.  She would
rise out of her physical self and join her young husband and the
friends of her youth.  All the magic of health she could feel,--all
the joy of living.  She could look back at herself sitting there so
old and tired in the chair and laugh at herself.  She could talk
with the one she loved, and move about in a world peopled with all
her friends of the early days.  It was a lovely experience.  She
waited each day for the time to come--that witching hour--grew to
long impatiently for it, was childishly cross when Saturday and
Sunday, with people about, kept her from her rendezvous.

Some uncanny sense of time gave her the cue to return to normalcy.
"It's time to come back," some unseen thing would tell her.  Then
she would return to meet her tired body, become merged with that
feeble old person who was herself.  She wanted no one to know about
it, was stealthily careful to move about quietly as she put the
loved things away.

Then she would emerge from her bedroom, fatigued in mind and body.

"Did you have a goot rest?" Stena would ask.

"Very nice," old lady Bishop would answer with averted eyes.

By spring, when her mother seemed no worse, Ella began making
definite arrangements for the trip which was to mean so much to
her.  Sometimes looking at the gentle little woman whose life was
so confined, her heart smote her.  "If it were not for you, Stena,
I wouldn't think of going," she would say.  "Are you sure she will
be all right?"

"S'e vill be no better an' no vorse dan if you are here.  I'll vash
her an' iron her an' cook her and s'e vill be no different.  You go
an' forget dat mamma."

The last of March the others who were to go had settled definitely
on the tour.  Professor and Mrs. Schroeder, Professor and Mrs.
Wittingly and Miss Hunter comprised the group.  It was a congenial
crowd and in the decision of joining them that Friday Ella felt a
thrill of pleasure permeate her whole being.  All afternoon her
thoughts had wings as active as those of the pigeons in the tower.

It was rather late when she left her classroom.  The March wind
blew her long skirts about her all the way home.  Fine particles of
dust seemed permeating her eyes and nose.  A snow fence across one
corner of the campus had stopped a low brown pile of loam and sand
and subsoil,--spring's dust blizzard with dirt for drifts.

When she went into the house Stena was setting the table.  The
dining-room looked cozy and inviting after the encounter with the
distasteful elements.

"Where's Mother?" she asked.

"S'e hasn't come out of her room," Stena said.  "Not since her

Ella felt a vague uncomfortableness even then; so much so that
without removing her things she went at once to her mother's room.

Over in the big chair by the window she sat,--dressed in the blue
silk dress she had saved from her bridal things.  She was laughing
softly and speaking to some one.  Ella looked about hastily.  Her
mother was talking to some one not there.

"Mother!"  Ella's heart contracted in a spasm of deep dread, fear
of some unknown terror, the thing she had vaguely suspected the
last few weeks.

But old lady Bishop only laughed vacantly into the shadows.  She
had forgotten how to come back.


This was a new trouble--a real one--one of those that swoop down
with dark smothering wings and engulf one in the blackness of
despair.  Ella had their own physician in, then a mental specialist
out from Chicago.  There was, of course, nothing to do but to care
for the frail little body left behind when the mind went on its
long journey into the land of shadows.

She was gentle, sweet, docile,--wanted only to move about her room
with its familiar objects.  Ella tried taking her out into the
other rooms with the thought that the change might brighten the
mental outlook.  But at the doorway of her bedroom, she clung with
her bird-like little hands to the casing, whimpered like a child,
and looking up at Ella, shook her head with a pitifully frightened,
"No, no."

When Ella, scarcely seeing for the tears, led her back to the haven
of her room, the old lady sat happily down in her chair by the
window and began rocking and humming a cracked and weird little air
that had no melody.

Ella gave up her trip.  To Stena's scolding she said, "No, I can't,
Stena--not now."

"But s'e doesn't care.  S'e wouldn't KNOW,--and I take shust the
same care as if you vas here."

"Yes, I know that, Stena.  That part would be perfectly all right.
I'd trust you every minute.  It's just that I have to be here, too.
She might . . . Stena, she MIGHT suddenly get all right.  What if I
wouldn't be here?  What if she got all right for just a little
while,--and then . . . wasn't again?  Don't you see,--I MUST be

"Vell, I suppose so.  But you plan and safe your money . . . and
den a big disappointment . . . it seem not right."

Ella turned away.  "I'm not a child.  I've had disappointments

Eventually she settled down to her work with renewed energy.  Her
mother's condition would never be changed, the doctors told her, so
there was no use to forego any of the many activities outside her
classroom work.  Her mother's little body was well cared for by the
faithful Stena who kept her clothed in immaculate aprons and white
lace caps for which she crocheted endless trimmings.  Other than
that the old lady was no care, had no desire but to sit and rock
and sort her colored quilt-blocks and hum her weird and cracked
little song that had no melody.

Ella was in her late forties now, but so gradually that she could
not have told how it came about, she found herself active socially
with girls many years younger.  Going to the same social functions,
belonging to the same organizations whose personnel from year to
year remained women of about the same age, she gradually slipped
back at intervals to younger groups.  No one ever gave her age a
thought.  Wit and humor and lively spirits are of no age,--and a
woman who holds them all with no conscious effort is ageless.  The
Minerva literary society, and an English club,--the P.E.O.
sisterhood, Altrusa and D.A.R. all were her fields of activity.

Hope came to visit one summer in 1909, sweet and matronly and
rather more modish than in her teaching days.  Two years later in
the early spring she came home again, and Ella had a new concern--
the coming of Hope's child.  Sam Peters came over one March evening
just at dusk to tell Ella if she ever needed help--in the night or
any time--not to hesitate to call him.

It was the last of March when Hope was taken sick.  There was a
wild wind in the night.  How queer, thought Ella, dressing
hurriedly.  A wild wind in the night!  It tore around the house
with malignant fury.  Wild winds and birth,--they seemed always to
go together.  With amazing clarity the night of Hope's birth came
back.  She even remembered the street lamps going out and the
blackness of the night, so that involuntarily she hurried over to
the window and looked out.  Electric lights at the intersections of
the streets swung crazily on their long wires but held their glow.
And now there was a telephone with which to summon aid--no need for
Hannah either, with the trained nurse ready to come at the call.

Like a soldier on duty, she summoned the nurse and the doctor,
comforted Hope, called Stena to make a fire in the kitchen range,
went into her mother's room to see that she was covered and
sleeping.  The old lady slept like a child, unaware that a new life
was coming, equally unaware that an old life was ebbing,--slept and
dreamed little queer dreams and smiled in her sleep.

Ella thought she could not stand the strain of the long night and
the day that followed.  With sympathetic nerve tension, she lived
the hours with Hope.  That other time it had not touched her
deeply.  Great bitterness had so mingled with whatever sympathy she
might have possessed that the one counteracted the other.  But this
was Hope,--like her own flesh and blood.

Dick arrived soon after the noon hour,--in a noisy new automobile,
with chain drive and carbon lights.

Ella did not go to her classes.  It was one of the few times in her
life in which she put anything ahead of her school work.  The nurse
moved quietly up and down stairs.  The doctor came, went away, came
again.  Stena went about her homely duties on exaggerated tiptoe
and with guttural whisperings.  Dick would not come down to eat.
Ella sat by the kitchen range, all her heart upstairs with her
foster daughter, and thought of many things.  Old Mrs. Bishop,
combed and immaculately clean in her white apron and lace cap,
rocked in her room and hummed a cracked and weird little song with
no meaning.

It was not until late afternoon that a high shrill wail came from
above.  It rang out so suddenly in the hushed atmosphere which had
just preceded it that it brought Ella from her chair to her feet.
"There!" shouted Stena, and sat down limply with her gingham apron
thrown over her head and burst into tears.

The baby was a girl, plump, healthy, well-formed.  Ella moved in a
daze as one thinking he is living over something that has happened
precisely the same way before.  All her thought was for Hope.
Crazily, she kept feeling a superstitious fear that the whole thing
would repeat itself,--that Hope would come out from a coma, flutter
the lids over her blue eyes,--die.  She stood transfixed with the
thought, could not move for the paralyzing fear.

"Is she . . . ?  How . . . ?"  She could not say the words for the
dryness of her throat.

"She's going to be all right."  The nurse was cheerful.  In the
clutches of her paroxysm of fear, Ella imagined too cheerful.

But Hope was to be all right.  Life to Ella swung back then to a
normal thing of gratitude, work and interest in her fellowman.

Dick left in a few days, to come again as soon as possible.  Ella
went back to school.  The house took on a routine which revolved
about the new-comer.  Once Ella took the little thing in its dainty
blankets in to her mother's room.

"See, Mother."  She held the blue and white covering back from the
round red face.

The old lady stopped rocking and bent forward to look inquiringly
at the wee mite.  "A little baby!"  She spoke so naturally that the
tears sprang to Ella's eyes.

Why, she seemed all right!  Oh, Mother, hold on to it,--hold on to
your understanding.

"Yes, Mother.  Isn't she cunning?"

"_I_ had a baby once," she said proudly.

Oh, yes, Mother, try to remember that I am your baby.

Then, less sure, she stared at Ella.  "Did I . . . didn't . . . I
have a baby . . . once?"

And while Ella, tear-dimmed, could only nod, she started rocking
and humming a cracked and weird little song that had no melody.

At the end of the month, Dick came for Hope, a pretty matronly
Hope, all anxiety for the welfare of the bundle she would let no
one else carry.  Gretchen, she called the baby.  "Gretchen Jones.
I like the quaintness of it," she explained.

"Well, Aunt Ella,--once more I have to thank you for seeing me
through."  She was saying good-by, now.  "Do you suppose I'll ever,
EVER be able to repay you for all your kindnesses to me all my

"Oh, that's all right, dearie."  Ella was too tender at the parting
to talk.

"I know,--when you're an old, old lady you can come and live with
us.  Can't she, Dick?"

"Sure, she can.  That WILL be a way to repay her.  Sure."

"You're nice children, and I thank you," said Ella Bishop.  But she
knew that not when she was an old lady, or ever, must she thrust
herself into the privacy of this little family.


For nine years, old Mrs. Bishop rocked in her room, sorted her
colored quilt-blocks and sang the cracked and weird little song
that had no melody.

There were those who said Ella's devotion was Quixotic, that a long
desired trip abroad would have harmed no one, the old lady least of
all, that Stena's attachment to the invalid was so strong as to be
marked, and under those circumstances Ella was free to go any
summer that she wished.  But she refused to go.  "She might get
sick . . . and there's just a possibility she could get all right
for a little while--she almost did, once--and want me.  If I were
on the other side of the ocean I couldn't get here."

But she continued her many activities in the community.  Mrs.
Bishop did not miss her, and more than ever Ella was the mainspring
of the machinery of a half-dozen organizations,--some professional,
others merely social.  The college itself was mother to a host of
organizations,--each department fostering its kind, while some of
general character were broader in scope.  Among the popular ones
was the Schillerverein sponsored by Professor Schroeder.  He who
entered its portals must forget the English language, express
himself only in German, no matter in what depths of unintelligible
jargon he might laughingly flounder.  German songs, German speech,
German refreshments,--the members of Schillerverein steeped
themselves in a Germanic atmosphere.

In these educational circles with which she was so closely
identified all these years, Ella had seen many new ideas and
methods come to light, some to stay definitely, some to disappear
like the dew of the morning.  She had seen the rise and fall of the
Pollard method and the Speer method and a dozen others.  Vocational
instruction now was emphasized everywhere.  For a time it looked as
though it was to be everything.  "They're swinging the pendulum too
far the other way," she scolded.  "To make a wobbly horse-radish
grater is now considered of far more importance than the king's

School and home--home and school--she moved energetically between
the two, never forgetting one for the other.

In those nine years Hope made three or four visits home, bringing
her little daughter,--a lovely dark-eyed child with creamy-satin
skin of almost Spanish-like beauty.  She came when the child was
two and four and six.  Life was pleasant for Hope with a devoted
husband, her beautiful child, and a good income.  And then life was
no longer pleasant.  The war hounds were unleashed, and their far-
off frightful barking heard in the tiniest village of every state.

This threatening clamor sounded even more harsh in its contrast to
the hitherto peaceful life of the college.  War clouds hanging
above the campus became of far more consequence than the fluffy
masses of haze floating across the blue which Professor Fonda had
always thought so important.

Attendance at Schillerverein fell off from forty to twenty,--to a
half dozen.  Few wanted to be associated with so Germanic a club.
On a certain Friday night, Professor Schroeder waited an hour for a
possible attendant, took the basket of kaffee-kuchen which Mrs.
Schroeder had sent, turned out the lights, and walked slowly down
through the campus,--like an old man.

Hope came home the next year, a frightened tearful Hope, with
little seven-year-old Gretchen who could not understand why it was
anything but grand for Daddy to have a uniform and high leather
puttees and to get a long ride on a big ship.

One after another the college boys left.  The draft was on.
Recitation rooms thinned out, took on a feminine appearance.  When
Professor James of the English department left, Ella took over his
classes.  She plunged into Red Cross work, collected food, clothing
and funds.  She taught conscientiously all day, remembering always
that Hope would be waiting to see her at the Red Cross headquarters
to tell her the latest news.  And so, Ella Bishop, with no husband
of her own to follow in tortured imaginings, must then be as torn
in her emotions as the others.

Professor Schroeder's classes fell away to almost a negligible
attendance.  There had grown up on the campus a vague spirit of
hostility toward him,--a tendency to refer to him as the Hun.  The
courses on Faust and Schiller were dropped.

Sometimes Ella ran into him on the campus, walking along under the
elms that reminded him of his linden trees.  Unless with Professor
Fonda, he walked a great deal by himself these days, his huge
shoulders drooping, his former long stride slackened to a slower
pace.  No longer did he greet her with his jovial "Hail, blooming
youth."  Always he stopped almost timidly to see whether he was to
be received warmly or with the cool nodding of an averted head.
His deep-set eyes looked hurt, tragic.

To Ella he presented a pitiful result of a foolish and unreasoning
hostility.  Sensing her sympathetic understanding he sometimes
sought her out as though he wanted to talk to one with less
animosity than the others.  Miss Bishop seemed always a mother
confessor to the people with whom she came in contact.  In her
presence they dispensed with all subterfuges, became themselves.

"How can I deny loving my fatherland?" he would break out.  "Cannot
they believe that I love my America more?"  And sometimes shaking
his leonine mane sadly:  "Music and literature--they have no
nationality.  Wagner . . . Goethe . . . Schiller . . . what have
they to do with it?"

Watching him go down the campus walk, Ella felt a sisterly
tenderness toward him, realized that a patriotism which knew no
reasoning at the moment was crucifying good old George Schroeder.

Dick came back from the wars wounded, and it seemed for a time
after his release, so long was it before he felt strong, that
instead of Ella making her home with the young people as they had
suggested, they would be living at the old house on Adams Street.

But the physical wound cleared, if not the memory of the
experience, and Dick and Hope and little Gretchen, nine now, were
back in their own home.

The Red Cross shop was closed.  Restrictions on food were lifted.
A memorial was built on the campus to the boys who never came back,--
a campanile with its clock faces looking toward the four winds of
the world and its chimes playing every hour.  Professor Schroeder's
department was consolidated with the department of Romance
Languages.  The war was over,--all but the hideous aftereffects
which could never be called "over" while the generation lived.

Life went on in the old home much as before.  Stena washed and
ironed and cooked and cleaned, put a fresh tissue-paper flower
under the picture of the pale young man every spring, and took care
of the little old lady who was like a fragile China doll.

Ella took the supper tray into her mother every evening and stayed
to see that she was happy and comfortable.  On an evening now in
May, with the tulip buds showing a gleam of color through green
slits, and the spirea bushes bursting into white foam, she took the
tray to her mother's bedroom, placing it on the walnut bureau until
she could arrange the little table for her.

Old Mrs. Bishop sat in her chair by the window, her head on a stand
in the crook of her arm like a child, sound asleep.  Ella pulled up
the tea-table and then bent to waken her, raising her head gently
so as not to startle her.

But old Mrs. Bishop would not waken.

Ella stared for a moment at the dainty face, waxen-white under its
snowy lace cap.

She was gone, smiling faintly, gone to seek her lost mind in the

Ella stooped and picked up the fragile little body in her own
strong arms and sat down in the old rocking chair for a few moments
before she called Stena.  And as she rocked, she wept wildly, deep
sobs shook her, and some of the tears were for all the sorrows that
she had been compelled to bear in her life, and some were for the
long years in which she had not known a real mother, but some of
them were merely for the loss of the cracked and weird little song
that had no melody.


After her mother's death, Ella thought she ought not to keep Stena.
But Stena was as frightened over being turned out as old Mrs.
Bishop had ever been.

"I'm sisty-two," she said, "and dat's too old to fin' a new place.
I safe my money--vy can't I keep my room and shust stay vidout

It touched Ella that Stena did not want to leave.  And sometimes
she had been so impatient about her.  But Ella Bishop always paid
her obligations, so they settled on a new scale of wages and Stena
stayed on.

The longed-for European trip could not be taken for awhile after
the war, and when conditions had cleared and groups of the faculty
were turning their faces toward the old world once more, Ella had
the one severe illness of her otherwise healthy life, which made
such inroads into her savings, that she put aside the dream as
unfeasible until she had caught up with her finances.

In coming back from her illness, she lived through that experience
which comes only to humans who have gone into the Valley a little
way and returned to the sunlight.  With the memory of the shadows
still fresh within her, the world took on new coloring, sweeter
sounds, more fragrant odors.  Never had she known tulips so
brilliant, robins' songs so lovely, lilacs so sweet-scented.  It
was as though the misty shadows which for a day or two hung about
her, in lifting, had cleansed eyes and ears and nostrils until they
functioned with renewed acuteness.

The school was a huge unwieldy thing now.  Ella sometimes laughed
to herself to think of those old days when the faculty was a big
family, holding reading circle meetings, or having a picnic
together, with a half-dozen baskets containing the refreshments.  A
faculty family picnic now, for sheer size would have looked like
the county fair, a faculty reading circle in its circumference
would have encircled the athletic field.  She missed the old
familiar camaraderie at times, clung a little to the Wattses and
the Wittinglys, the Fondas and the Schroeders.  New people came in
almost every year and occasionally an old familiar face dropped
out.  Professor Wick and Professor Carter died,--not long
afterward, Professor Cunningham.  Sometimes Ella thought of sandy-
haired Professor O'Neil dismissed for his monkey talk and his
daring statements about a new social order and wondered whether he
would now be considered even slightly radical.

Old Central was now carrying out its name in truth, for it was
almost in the exact center of the great sweep of buildings which
rose on all sides.  It looked worn and shriveled, and, covered with
heavy ivy vines as it was, gave the appearance of a shrunken old
woman peering out from under her green shawl.  Ella had moved from
her old classroom into Corcoran Hall.  It had given her a queer
feeling to leave the inner office in the tower room and the pigeons
with their eternal "coo coo," "although when you stop to think of
it," she had admitted, "these present ones are about forty
generations removed from their ancestors I first knew."

Surveying the school as one disinterested, she could see a hundred
changes.  "For better or for worse?" she asked herself.  "More
often better," she acknowledged, "sometimes not so good."

Before the turn of the century a new element had crept into the
college,--a national sorority.  Nine girls, by some secret process
of selection, having been given a charter, had become Kappa Kappa
Gammas, rented the old Banker Van Ness home and proceeded to
establish themselves as Midwestern's social lite.  Another had
followed and another,--and others.  Kites, keys, crescents,
anchors, arrows, all jewel-set, sparkled now above the hearts of
Midwestern's fair ladies,--and triangles, shields, scimitars,
serpents, and swords, all flashed now on the lapels of Midwestern's
brave men.  Dinner dresses and tuxedos, evening gowns and spike-
tails had followed in their wake until now there was not a corn-fed
lass who did not have a dress which was held on by a mere shoulder
strap,--not a corn-fed boy but knew, if he did not own a full-
dress, where one could be most cheaply rented.

"Poor old Minerva society," Ella would say, "once 'the four
hundred' of the campus!" and would add with a dry bit of sarcasm,
"Just to think that we were merely studious and fun-loving and
literary--no Minerva sweethearts or queens chosen for their shapely
legs or general kissableness!"

Dancing, instead of being the misdemeanor it once had been, was now
a part of the social fabric of the school.  Student pressure and
changing public opinion had removed the bar.  Where it had once
been a reproach to mention the pastime, now faculty members took
their turn as patrons and patronesses of the classes and
fraternities sponsoring it.  Where it had once been thought the
height of daring to slip away to Maynard and dance, now it was an
unheard-of procedure.  Once a sin, now a social virtue.  "O the
tempora of the times.  O the modes of the customs," Ella sometimes
flippantly juggled the words.

Miss Bishop was a favorite chaperon.  "The first hundred years I
enjoyed it," she confided to Sam Peters.  "But the same music,
flowers, young people, the second hundred it gets to be something
of a nuisance.  I've been the fifth one so many times . . . have
read the item so repeatedly:  '. . . chaperoned by Professor and
Mrs. Hess, Professor and Mrs. Alderslot and Miss Ella Bishop,' that
when prizes are given for the campus's best running fifth wheel,
I'll get it."

In truth, there was no faculty member so called upon for a thousand
things by the student body as Ella,--to chaperon, advise about
decorations and refreshments, making over dresses and having
tonsils removed--to aid in writing theses and wording applications
for jobs--a confidante for those financially embarrassed and to
lovelorn swains.

And now every year a student or two found shelter under her own
roof.  Every year she gave a little financial aid to some one of
them who otherwise could not have finished.

She had a sly way of finding out things she wanted to know.  "You
will hand in a five-hundred-word article on 'My Ambitions.'"  Or
"For Monday, a brief paper on 'Characteristics I Admire.'"  All
these she perused herself.  No hired reader of human type articles
for Miss Bishop.

Although particular about the mechanics, she admitted to herself
that she really cared more for the contents than the commas, gave
far more thought to the spirit than the spacing.  More than one
young chap revealing in an assignment his tendencies to a display
of temper quite surprisingly found himself in Miss Bishop's office
freely discussing self-control with her.  Many a young girl
admitting in an English paper envy of her better-dressed classmates
found herself later in that room laughing with Miss Bishop over the
story of the prolonged life of the old Scotch plaid dresses and
emerging with a clarified outlook on the subject of clothes.

President Watts was now seventy-seven, his long shambling legs
moving a little more slowly, but his active mind as keen as ever.
Ella wondered sometimes whether it would be possible for other
figures so picturesque to come after these: Wick, Carter,
Cunningham, Wittingly, Schroeder, Fonda,--the ones from the old
days.  It never occurred to her to add another picturesque figure:
Miss Bishop.

And then Professor Fonda died, as though having looked long upon
the heavens he had suddenly become one with the moon and the clouds
and the Milky Way.  After his death, Ella's heart went out to old
Professor Schroeder who seemed more lost than ever without his
comrade.  Once at Commencement time, now 1929, he stopped to talk
to her under the elms grown old along with these two.  When he
shook his big head sadly, it was as though a hoary old lion tossed
his mane.

"Fonda's gone on and my work has gone.  The labor of nearly a half-
century swept away," he said mournfully, but with no bitterness.
"Where are they all now--those students I taught and loved?

     "Sie horen nicht die folgenden Gesange,
     Die Seelen, denen ich die ersten sang?"

"You'll have to translate, Professor Schroeder, I never studied it,
you know."

"That's right,--you did not know my Goethe in the language in which
he is loveliest.  You have missed much.  It is:

     "They do not hear my later measures,
     The souls to whom the first I sang."

He stopped and looked out over the campus,--the wide rolling green
and the great buildings, the hoary old trees and the campanile
erected to the memory of the World War boys who had gone from his
Midwestern to meet in combat the boys from his Heidelberg.  Then he
said quietly as though she were not there:

     "I thrill and tremble, tear on tear swift follows;
     My stoic heart grows wild and soft,
     What I possess as things remote I see,
     What I have lost becomes the real to me."

He stood for a few moments, deep in thought, and then saluting her
in courtly old-world fashion, turned and walked slowly down the
green sloping campus.


It was that very afternoon when the letter about Gretchen came from
Hope.  Gretchen had just graduated from High School--eighteen now,
it simply couldn't be possible--and once more Hope was turning to
Aunt Ella in time of trouble.  "And to whom else could I go, Aunt
Ella, but my port in all storms?"

Dick was having trouble again, a result of the old wound,--she was
going to Hot Springs with him, and would it be at all possible for
Gretchen to come to Aunt Ella's and go to school?  They had always
planned to send her east but finances were just too low, with
Dick's hard luck about his health--

Already, even before finishing the long letter, Ella had mentally
refurnished the south bedroom in ivory and yellow to go with
Gretchen's Spanish-like beauty.  Already she felt younger, gayer,
to think of the lovely girl there in her home.  It would be like
having Hope all over again.

Life took on a new lease for Miss Bishop that summer.  And when
Hope wrote that her daughter would be there in time for the rushing
parties, and she wished Aunt Ella would see that every thing went
off as well as it could, Miss Bishop began mentally looking over
the sororities with appraising eye.

Driving to the station in her coup, she felt a genuine thrill of
excitement over the coming of the young girl.  It had been three
years since she had seen her and some periods of three years are
much more important than others--from fifteen to eighteen for

When Gretchen came down the steps of the Pullman, Ella drew in her
breath at sight of the sheer loveliness of the slim thing who wore
her clothes like a manikin.  Tall, olive-skinned, with geranium-
colored lips, Gretchen was the possessor of a cool little air of
detachment which might have passed for hauteur if she had not been
so friendly.

Dear, dear, Ella thought, picturing to herself in a swift mental
flight, her own entrance to school and that of Hope:--her own
sturdy body in its plaid ruffled dress and brass buttons, its heavy
square-toed shoes, laced up to the calves of her legs, the mop of
hair piled high on her head in its intricate crisscross braidings,--
Hope's shirt-waist and long pleated skirt, and ugly stiff sailor
hat.  "Clothes have improved, if nothing else," she admitted to

Gretchen settled comfortably in her pretty room and if Ella chanced
to be a bit disappointed over the nonchalance with which the girl
took in the new artistic furnishings, she put the thought aside.

Gretchen's attractive looks and her connection with Miss Bishop
proved to be a ticket of admission to almost any social
organization with which she cared to affiliate.  Ella did her best
to subdue an overwhelming pride in the striking appearance of her
charge and the admiration which followed in her wake.

"I love to look at a pretty girl, and not having been irresistibly
beautiful myself, I appreciate it all the more," she said to Sam
Peters, who protested immediately against the disparagement of

Gretchen was indeed lovely, "a perfect model for the girl on the
magazine cover," Ella thought to herself.  She introduced her to a
few young people, and no more labor on her part was necessary, for
the modern lovely girl quite capably looks after herself.

Gretchen became, then, one of the most rushed of the rushees, and
when the breakfasts, luncheons, teas, dinners, and evening parties
of that hectic week were over and the fraternity shouting and the
sorority tumult had died, she was returned to Ella's home on Adams
Street by a victorious group of Kappa Alpha Thetas in a sixteen-
cylinder car.  Ella was still up in her room and called to Gretchen
to come on in and tell her all about it, wondering idly as she did
so whether she would ever get too old to care about such things.

The girl came in, slim and lovely and poised.  Evidently all the
rushing had not moved her to abandon that cool little air of
detachment.  As she related the events of the evening, Ella was
thinking:  "I know the kind.  She's the type for whom people fall
over themselves.  She demands much without even realizing it.  And
she gets it.

     "This is the way of it the wide world over--
     One is beloved and one is the lover;
     One gives and the other receives.

Gretchen will be the beloved,--the one who receives.  As far
removed from Amy in method as can be,--but nevertheless a modern
sophisticated version of her."

Gretchen wore her Theta pledge pin.  It was apparently
characteristic of her that at no time had she let her emotions run
away with her mental processes.  She had thought it all out
carefully, she told Aunt Ella,--chosen wisely, she thought, and
well.  "I was not going to let any of them sweep me off my feet.
Perhaps I really had the best time at the Pi Phi house,--the girls
were awfully attractive,--and the Delta Gammas were thoroughbreds,
but some way I felt that Kappa Alpha Theta would land me in the end
where I want to go."

"And where do you want to go, Gretchen?"  Ella was amazed at the
freshman's viewpoint, was remembering her own green, country
enthusiasm when she entered the new school, Hope's nave, bashful
girlishness.  "Yet I don't know why I should be surprised," she
thought.  "This isn't the first modern-day freshman I've known."

"Oh, well," Gretchen laughed lightly, "maybe I can tell better
where I don't want to go, and that's into a schoolroom to teach."

No, she wouldn't.  The Gretchens do not usually choose the teaching

"I've thought this all out, that since Father had his illness, he
can't begin to do the things for me that he would have.  Mother is
sweet and anxious for me, but worried over Father and rather
helpless.  So it's up to me to make the most of my opportunities
and push my way along,--meet the right people, make the friends who
will be of most advantage. . . ."

Ella found herself blinking a little as at a flashing light.
"Friends . . . of most advantage," from the mouths of babes.  She
had never thought of friends that way,--almost laughed aloud to
think of some of her oldest friends,--old Sam Peters, Chris and
Hannah and Stena.  Dear, dear,--friends of most advantage!

So Gretchen, slim and lovely and cool, went her freshman way, more
worldly wise than Ella.


As time went on Ella realized how nice it was to have Gretchen
there.  It brought the sorority young people to the house,--made
life flow on about her in a gay bright stream.  Even though she was
tired and went to her room, it was not unpleasant to hear the rise
and fall of the merry chatter below.  Yes, it kept her young in
soul and mind,--was a magic cord that bound her still to youth.
And she herself had never quite relinquished that youth, never
quite outgrown being one of the crowd, was not above swinging into
the rhythm of the life of Gretchen's friends.  As the time she
found the three kinds of fudge sitting about her kitchen cooling on
platters, and left the hastily scribbled note in Vachel Lindsay
style propped up against a kettle:

     Do you remember ages ago
     The time
     The kitchen
     Was filled
     With cocoa?
     There was brown fudge on a purple platter
     And pink fudge and white fudge
     And pale tan fudge on a whitish platter.
     Years on years I but half remember
     Man is a glutton for sweets they say
     Through May and June and then dead December.
     Who shall end my dream's confusion?
     Life is a pink and brown and white illusion.
     I remember, I remember
     There were sugar and chocolate and nuts and eggs
     There were kettles down from all the pegs
     Bending one to another
     From north and south
     They infinitely echo in the red caves of my mouth.

This half-way meeting of flippant youth kept her, too, a part of
that youth, made the fleeting years find her not dimmed in eye,
dulled in mentality nor cold in heart.  Only the body turned
traitor, only from the physical was toll demanded by the years.

Her hair was snow-white now, and she kept it beautifully groomed.
Her carriage always erect, her head always held high, one saw
little by which to count her years.  It was only in the privacy of
her room that she admitted to fatigue.  She grew more and more
fastidious about her person, her skin, her nails, her clothes.
"You can get away with careless grooming when you are young, but
not at my age," she would think.  She wore a great deal of navy
blue and white, navy blue school dresses offset by immaculate white
collars and cuffs,--frilled ones that melted into the white of her
hair and softened her aging face and hands.  For evening she chose
white, a lace with which her hair vied for snow whiteness.  And she
was not above deepening the pink of her cheeks.  She looked modern,
smart, aristocratic, she who had been but a plain girl, with only
nice eyes and a cheerful smile for her assets.

During the winter, she realized that as well as she thought she had
understood her freshman girls before Gretchen came, she was having
a better opportunity now to see them at close range through the
girl.  Not that they could all be classified like so much animal
life under observation in the laboratories, but the viewpoint of
many, naturally was the viewpoint of Gretchen.

And to study her and the changes that had taken place in all young
femininity, Ella sometimes called up pictures of herself and of
Mina Gordon, Emily Teasdale, Janet McLaughlin, and of the others
who had constituted the feminine population of the college in that
long-gone day.  Individuals would always differ as long as the
world lasted, but just wherein lay the general difference?  She
thought of Evelyn Hobbs gently fainting away one evening when a
strange man opened the door of her room at the boarding house.  She
could visualize Gretchen's hauteur under like circumstance and her
possible:  "Just what's on your mind?  Whatever it is, kindly step
out and take it with you."  She remembered the silly titterings and
heart palpitations with which the Minerva girls always greeted the
masculine contingent at those long-gone Friday afternoon programs,
the customary vehement denials from a girl of that day that she so
much as liked a young man until her wedding invitations practically
were issued.  Physical courage, honesty, figuratively looking life
straight in the eye,--these attributes were the modern girl's.

And just as she had decided entirely for that modern girl, Gretchen
might breeze in and so casually observe that Papa Rigdon (all
professors were papas to her) "must hold the theory, Aunt Ella,
that every unmarried woman like you should mingle socially a great
deal with men to receive a missing stimulus," Ella would grow pink
behind the ears and vote mentally for the old femininity which
surrounded itself at least with a semblance of reticence.

The end of Gretchen's freshman year was the fiftieth anniversary of
Ella's old class.  But no one made any move to celebrate it.
Professor Schroeder's health had broken--he was at home behind
closed blinds, waiting for--he knew not what--perhaps "to pierce
the ether's high, unknown dominion--to reach new spheres of pure
activity."  Janet McLaughlin and Emily Teasdale were dead.
Professor Fonda was sleeping out in Forest Hill, above him a simple
stone with the carving:

     We have loved the stars too deeply
     To be fearful of the night.

"We'll just let the fiftieth reunion go," Ella thought a bit
morbidly for her usual gay self, "and plan to have a reunion . . .
Sometime . . . Somewhere."

Gretchen went home, but only for the summer.  The plan now was for
her to take all four years at Midwestern.  Ella would not accept
anything for the girl's board.  Hope and Dick were having his
illness to combat and she insisted that she could help them to the
extent of keeping their daughter.

Gretchen's sophomore year saw her back at the old home on Adams
Street, cool and unperturbed over a rush of dates, and intensely
interested in dramatics.  Tolstoy and Shaw and Oscar Wilde were her
daily diet and she openly discussed delicate points of attack which
made even Ella, used to modern youth, feel a bit embarrassed.  It
made her smile, too, to think of "dramatics" at Midwestern in her
own student days, a scene from "Merchant of Venice" in Minerva Hall
with the old calico curtain pulled aside by two perspiring supers
signaling frantically to each other, and a plump Portia in a wild
costume composed of President Corcoran's wife's black silk dolman
and Irene Van Ness's little brother's velvet pants.  Now a play was
the last word in attention to detail, a perfection of scenery,
props, and costumes.

It was toward the last of her sophomore year that Gretchen was cast
as Lady Teazle, and, as always, on this Saturday morning she was
living her part at home, discussing details of hairdress, costume
and jewelry of the times.

Ella was vaguely aware that the prospective Lady Teazle had been
rummaging about upstairs half the morning but it was not until she
heard her give a squeal of delight and call, "Oh, Aunt Ella, I look
like a million dollars," that it came to her just what the girl had
been doing.

When Ella came to the foot of the stairs she looked up to see
Gretchen, slim, graceful, her brown eyes glowing, starting slowly
downward dressed in Ella's wedding dress.

The new-old thing with its bunches of flowers on the white of the
silk, turned now to a deep ivory, looked surprisingly not old-
fashioned on the girl.  Queer as it was with its panniers and its
countless yards of pleating, it had merely the appearance of a
lovely quaint party dress.  Her prettily molded arms were bare, and
in her hand she held the long sleeves.

Ella watched her slow descent, fascinated, as one looks at a
natural phenomenon over which he has no control, a transfixion of
gaze at the oncoming of a storm.  Her mind seemed numb, unable to
function.  She wanted to call out, to warn her, to tell her to go
back out of her sight so that she would not have to witness the
painfully embarrassing scene of seeing her aunt in distress.  She
wanted to cry for the desecration.  And then she wanted to laugh
for the deference.  For the girl was saying:  "Where did the
DARLING thing come from?" and, "Oh, COULD I wear it?  I'll be the
perfect Lady Teazle."

One graceful hand slipping along on the bannister, she made the
slow descent.

"Am I not PERFECT?  Isn't it the answer to a maiden's prayer?  May
I wear it?  What does the sweet old auntie say?"

Pictures tumbled about crazily in Ella's head, the bald-headed man
who sold her the material wishing her much joy, the standing for
hours while Mrs. Finch pinned the uncut goods about her,--the first
overwhelming sight of herself in the dressmaker's glass.  Emotions
came surging over her that she had thought long dead,--the crushing
sensations of wild despair, of hurt pride, of righteous anger.  For
a brief moment she felt them all with poignant reality.  How queer
life was.  Only yesterday she had been trying on the lovely thing
at the dressmaker's.  And to-day, with snow-white hair and slowing
step, she was watching another young girl, looking like a
Gainsborough, come down the stairs in the shimmering gown.

"You're stunned speechless at my gorgeousness, aren't you?"

Delbert was long dead.  Amy was long dead.  And yet here was the
dress.  Things lasted longer than people.  She, too, would die and
the dress would still lie in the trunk, all the bouquets of flowers
crumbling to dust,--all the little pink rosebuds and the blue
forget-me-nots falling into nothing.

"What's the answer, sweet pumpkin?"

"Why, yes--you may wear it."

Gretchen held out the sleeves,--long and narrow, gathered in
mousquetaire fashion into their seams.

"Look--how funny!  They were never sewed in,--and the hem is only
basted.  It almost looks as though it had never been finished."

Old Miss Bishop stood looking at the lovely freshness of Delbert
Thompson's granddaughter in the old-ivory silk with the bouquets of
raised flowers.

"No," she said simply, "it was never finished."


Ella's trip abroad became one of those mirage-like visions that
appear on the horizon but vanish as one draws near.  "I do hate to
think of going in a wheeled-chair," she said to Stena, "but if I
wait much longer, it will lie between that and being carried on a

Stena scolded.  "You do too many t'ings for odders.  One t'ing one
year for somebody . . . one t'ing anodder.  Now look--dis year!
Dis house wasn't goot enough for G'etchen."  Stena could never get
her tongue around that combination of "gr."

"Oh, yes, it was, Stena.  It was just natural for her to want to
live at the sorority house a year.  I would, too, if I were young.
And next summer for sure I take my trip.  Miss Hunter is going
again and Professor and Mrs. Alderslot, and believe me, so am I."

Stena grumbled.  "I vait 'til I see you on de boat."

For Gretchen was at the Theta house in her junior year.  She had
lived happily at Ella's for two years but after coming back in the
fall of her third year, she had gone straight to the point.  She
wished she could stay at the sorority house the rest of the college
course.  She knew it was quite impossible, that it would be more
expensive, realized there was no use crying for the moon, but did
not believe in beating around either bushes or truth, and that was

Ella had thought the matter over for a few days, had come to the
conclusion that there was argument on Gretchen's side, and decided
Ella-like, to see that the girl had her chance.  "I'm supplying the
extra money," she wrote to Hope, "so I believe you will agree that
it can be done.  You know there is something about living in the
midst of things on the campus that beats staying with an old Aunt
Ella over on Adams Street."

Gretchen was too honest to protest.  "I think you're a luscious old
peach.  I suppose I ought to be noble and say I couldn't think of
accepting the offer, but I'm crazy to do it, and will take you at
your word that you really want me to."

So Gretchen moved out, but came dutifully back at intervals to
report.  Ella enjoyed her cool appraisal of the girls, their dates,
the house mother, wondered as always at the methodical way in which
she went about cultivating people who would be most helpful to her.
Stanch in her loyalty to modern youth, she would not admit that
they were deteriorating in any sense.  "They're brighter,--maybe
not quite so stodgily thorough as they used to be,--but keener.
When I look back on the first students here of which I was one,
standing bashfully around, waiting to be pushed into something, I'm
ashamed of all of us.  My modern students,--they do 'go places and
do things' as they say."

Gretchen had accepted many and sundry dates from the moment she
arrived on the campus, but they had always been fraternity boys,
and so in the winter of this junior year when she appeared at
Ella's with a tall red-haired young man from away whom she
introduced as Mr. Jack Burdick, Ella was moved to later inquiry.

He was living in Chicago now--was a salesman--she had known him
when she was in high school--he came from a wonderful family--he
was in town on business and just dropped in to call.

"He looks older than to have been in high school with you," Ella

"Oh, he wasn't in school WITH me.  That wasn't what I said.  I knew
him when _I_ was in high school."

Something struck Ella, as peculiar intuitions will do,--a fleeting
thought of a bit of evasiveness on Gretchen's part, so that when
old Stena came in later to say she had just seen Gretchen with her
red-head again in a "svell car," Ella was vaguely troubled.

And when Gretchen failed to speak of the visit, although mentioning
less important trivialities, all of Ella's accumulation of
knowledge of young people told her that something was not quite
right.  She wanted to inquire from Hope, but Hope was at the
Springs again with Dick and she would not trouble her.  "Besides,
she's my girl temporarily and it's my problem.  I'll see it through

Ella, herself, saw them two weeks later, slipping through a winding
drive of the campus in the big roadster, and when later Gretchen
failed to mention him, she felt that she must act.  She pondered a
long time on the procedure.  With Hope it would have been so
different,--Hope was like her own, brought up in her way, with her
own ideals.  There was something of Amy in Gretchen,--she must be
looked after,--but how to go about it with this lovely, slim young
girl who was modern, cool, detached.  There seemed no element of
childishness about her.

She approached it with lightness as though it were of no

"I saw you with your Mr. Burdick, Gretchen, but you passed up your
decrepit old aunt with hauteur."  That was the best way, you could
not preach at these young moderns.

"Oh--so!  Spying, Aunt Ella?"  She laughed, certainly not

"A-huh!  Hiding behind trees on the campus just to see you pass

There was a long pause, as though she pondered.  And then the girl
said:  "I'm afraid I've got it bad, Aunt Ella, the old malady,

"Why, Gretchen, really?"


"Of course, it was to be expected,--but you're young . . . and just
your junior year this way.  You've no . . . plans, yet, have you?"

The girl gave a short dry laugh and shrugged a lithe shoulder.
"Scarcely, not as long as . . . well, I would say 'as long as Jack
has one perfectly good wife,' but she's neither good nor perfect."
Coolly and a bit defiantly she looked unflinchingly at the older

Ella thought she must take hold of something to steady herself.
Oh, why was life so hard?  Life was meant to be happy without deep
problems to solve.  This past year had seemed singularly free of
complexities and here was one of the utmost seriousness staring her
in the face.

"Oh, Gretchen--no."  It was a wail of distress, so deeply did she
feel it.

"Yes, Aunt Ella--yes!"  It was a cry of challenge to an older
generation.  Then suddenly Gretchen broke, cried a little wildly.
All her coolness was gone, her poise shaken.  The little tale she
related was so old, that Ella, herself, could have told it instead
of listening patiently, sympathetically to every broken word.  Jack
had been in town first on business,--that part was true,--he had
called because he had known her,--they had driven around, he had
come again and again,--now it was the real thing.  His wife didn't
understand him, she didn't care for him, was a card shark, gone all
the time, but he was afraid he'd have difficulty in divorcing her,
his business being wrapped up with his father-in-law's.

Such a sordid little tale from the lips of the lovely young thing!
Ella's heart bled for her, for Hope who would be distressed, for
Dick whose pride Gretchen was, for all young things who have to
face life as it is.

The problem took all of her thought.  She did not know just what to
do.  A hundred girls she had talked out of foolish ventures, a
thousand times she had assisted with advice or material aid.  This
was different.  Gretchen was so close to her, so nearly her own
flesh and blood, so coolly independent, so modern.  Oh, why had
this come up just now?  Life had been uneventful the past few
months, which meant entirely peaceful.  She wasn't so young as she
once was,--why should she have such problems confront her at her

It was two weeks later upon coming home from acting as chaperon at
the Sigma Nu spring party that she found Gretchen and Jack Burdick
alone in her home, Stena's hour for retiring coinciding exactly
with the time the parties usually began.

She talked pleasantly with them for a time, handling young people
wisely these days including as it did the condition of mind in
which one approached them.

When the young man was helping Gretchen slip on her short fur
jacket to leave, Ella said carelessly:  "Why don't you stay here
tonight, Gretchen?  Won't you be too late for the house?"

"Yes, I think I will be; it's not hard to get OUT of," she grinned
cheerfully at Jack Burdick, "but not so easy to break into.  I may,
Aunt Ella, I may come back, but I may not."

Ella had a sudden uprising of wrath toward the girl.  Augmented no
doubt by her physical weariness, a great anger seized her that this
slim young thing could have the audacity to defy the conventions,
could be standing coolly there with a young married man of her
acquaintance, saying, "I may do this," or "I may not."  She wanted
to shake her, to spank her, to put her in her place with sudden
vehement force.  For a moment she had a violent antipathy toward
all modern young people with their cool way of appraising every one
and everything.  She had a wild foolish brainstorm of wanting to do
something about it, of forcibly bringing back the old days when
young people were ruled with an iron hand by parents, by teachers,
by society.  Standing there in her spring party dress, sleepy,
weary in body and soul, old Miss Bishop staged a mental revolution
that, could it have been let loose upon an unsuspecting world of
young people, would have found them all locked behind heavy doors,
subsisting on bread and milk until they might come to their senses.

Then the king of reason as suddenly called a halt on the stick-and-
stone throwers of her mind, all the violent revolutionists dropped
their missiles, and she was herself,--a modern teacher, handling
modern young people wisely and well.

"I think I MUST know, though, whether or not you are coming,
Gretchen," she said soberly.

The girl dropped her eyes from the serious ones of the woman.
"I'll be back in less than a half-hour."

Ella paced the room.  Something must be done.  To-night.  This
could not go on.  She was responsible for this impossible
situation.  When the girl came upstairs Ella called her at once
into the bed-room and went directly to the point.

"Gretchen, I think you'll agree with me that this can't go on.
It's dangerous, not only dangerous to you both but a cause of
anxiety to your father and mother and to me.  It will end in your
sorority pin being taken from you.  It will interfere with your
work, put a cloud on your reputation, and NEVER, as long as you
live, bring you one moment of genuine happiness."

"Happiness?" the girl broke out.  "That's what I'm looking for!
That's what Jack Burdick is looking for!  That's what we ALL want,
isn't it?  If Jack Burdick can give me my happiness . . . if I
can give Jack Burdick some happiness . . . having none in his
home . . ."

"Happiness," Ella said grimly, "gained at the expense of some one
else ceases to be happiness.  I know that if I know no other

"Just HOW do you know, Aunt Ella?"

HOW?  What was the girl saying?  Was she thinking her Aunt Ella did
not know these things?

"Forgive me, Aunt Ella, if I hurt you."  The cool velvety voice
went on.  "I don't mean to, in any way, you understand that.  But
I'm frank, you know, and so won't attempt to camouflage my meaning.
Tell me, Aunt Ella, honestly how can YOU know anything about it--
how CAN you,--an old maid school teacher tucked away with your
books here at Midwestern--how have YOU ever been able to understand

Ella Bishop looked at the lovely slim girl standing there at the
doorway in the arrogance of her youth.

A dozen answers rose to her lips, a thousand thoughts flew to her
brain.  They beat with throbbing rhythm against the chambers of her
mind as the pigeons beat their wings against the windows of the
tower in Old Central.

She felt angry, insulted, robbed of some gift.  Why, she would tell
this disdainful girl--this modern young woman who thought the
present generation had a monopoly on all the emotions--she would
tell her that she, too, had been red-blooded, warm, vital,--that
all her emotions had known life.  That she, too, had known love and
desire, and been violently swayed by them both.  Love and desire,
they had both been her own.  But love had gone its lonely way.  And
desire. . . .

Suddenly all her anger left her and she felt very old.

. . . and desire shall fade, and man goeth to his long home.

With all the self-control at her command, she stilled her trembling
lips, and laughed, a little ruefully, but it passed for laughter.

"Oh, I don't know about that, Gretchen," she said with studied
calmness.  "Life to an unmarried school teacher hasn't necessarily
been ALL participles and subordinate clauses and term papers."


It was time now to make preparations for the trip if she intended
going.  Ella wondered why she kept thinking of that insidious "if
she intended going."  Of course she was going.  But having Gretchen
so constantly on her mind, she seemed to have lost interest in
making plans.  Sometimes she thought she would tell Gretchen about
her love for John Stevens,--it might have an effect on this
apparent infatuation of hers for the young married man.  But to
what effect?  Modern young girls were not Elsie Dinsmores upon whom
the telling of a story with a moral would have the slightest

In fact she could visualize her merriment, in fancy hear her
flippant remarks:  "What, you, too, Bruty!  Why you sly old vamp,
whoever would have thought it of you,"--and more of that sort, with
specific references to Cleopatra or Helen of Troy or more probably
Greta Garbo.

No, her pitiful little secret was not to be the mark of Gretchen's
gay shafts.

Something more must be done, something to get her away--something
to take the place of this youthful infatuation--

And so Ella faced the truth of that subtle suggestion which her
heart had been trying to tell her mind.  If Gretchen could go
abroad with the other five sorority sisters who were going,--spend
that wonderful summer in London and Paris and Rome--

"Oh, no," her mind was protesting.  "I couldn't do that much for
her,--not THAT.  I've always wanted to go.  Time after time I've
given it up.  I owe it to myself.  My life doesn't have to be one
of entire self-denial.  I've given up things all my life."

She seemed to plead with some one not to consent to her doing this
absurd thing.  But just as surely as she had satisfied herself that
it was all Quixotic, all a foolish sense of altruism, just as
surely would she find herself insisting that she must do it.

"She's not even my own flesh and blood," she would protest to this
argumentative conscience of hers.

"She's your Hope's little girl, and she's in danger."

"But I can't go about saving people from their own foolish sins.
If she would slip into a silly love for this man here and now, she
would do a similar thing any time and anywhere."

"It's a crucial age.  She's young.  If you can get her through this
time . . ."

"No, I'm going to give myself this trip.  I've planned it for
years.  It's a reward of merit for . . . for everything."

"You're old,--with your work all behind you.  You would merely
sight-see and soak up some information.  She's young,--and has all
her life . . . perhaps a career before her."

"But _I_ came through such an affair . . . by myself."  Back she
would go in the dual character she was playing.  _I_ couldn't run
away.  No one helped me . . . or sent me abroad.  _I_ had to fight
the thing out here."

"Maybe you were stronger in character . . . in fact, you certainly
WERE.  Isn't that why you should help--now--some one younger and
less strong?"

After dinner she phoned for Gretchen.  She felt an overwhelming
joy, was consumed by that exhilarating sensation she always
experienced when about to give happiness to another.

"I'm really not unselfish at all," she told herself when she put
down the receiver.  "I like to do things like this so well that I
enjoy giving myself the thrill of it.  In reality it's one type of

Gretchen came, her graceful figure with its gliding walk crossing
the lawn to the side porch where Ella sat in the fresh spring

"Did you want something special, Aunt Ella?"


"I rather gathered so."

"How would you like to go with your sorority sisters on the
European trip, Gretchen, with Madame Volk and her music students?"

"How would I like to crash the pearly gates and purloin Gabriel's
horn?  But what IS this--an examination in fiction plotting?"

"Something on that order.  I'm rather thinking, Gretchen, that you
can go."

"Using what for money?"

"American dollars."



The color slipped away from the girl's face.  "Aunt Ella, you . . .
you don't mean that."

"Yes, I do, Gretchen."

"For me to go with you?"

"No . . . I'm not going."

"Oh . . . I see.  I thought there was a catch somewhere."  She
stood up, her slim figure graceful against the new green of the
rose vine.  "And you not go."  Her throaty voice was the embodiment
of sarcasm.

"But if I choose to send you in my place?"

The girl laughed shortly and shook her lovely head:  "I see through
you like cellophane.  In fact, Aunt Ella, I shall now tell you the
entire workings of your mind.  You're worried about me and Jack
Burdick.  You think if you'd get me away . . . abroad . . . it
would wear off . . . 'it' meaning love to me--infatuation to you.
To that end, you're willing to give up your trip.  You're an old
smoothy,--in fact you're probably the noblest soul that ever trod
over campus dandelions,--but I just couldn't let you be THAT
noble . . . not to-day, Miss Bishop."

There were always forces to be met in Gretchen which had never been
Hope's.  Hope had been entirely feminine, pliant and lovable,--
easily molded.  Gretchen's mind was that of a frank boy's, going
directly to a point.

It pleased Ella that the girl showed so little tendency to be
grasping; she had accepted much in the past without demonstration,
but evidently she felt this was carrying it too far, and with no
further controversy expected to close the subject.

But in the days that followed, Ella, with much argument and
explanation had her way, and Gretchen left with the girls after
Commencement week.  Stena was in such a state of disgust that she
would scarcely talk to her mistress whom she characterized as "too
voolish to be vidout a guar-DEEN."

"After all, Stena," Ella said, "it's awfully nice to know you can
sit on your porch all summer . . . no summer school . . . no
tramping around Europe . . . just relax and rest."

And when long interesting letters came from Gretchen with the tang
of the salt sea in them and the breath of Scotland moors, Ella
insisted that the girl was seeing more with her young eyes than she
herself could have done,--which elicited only a portentous snort
from Stena.

When Gretchen came back from the trip for her senior year, she
kissed Ella warmly.  "Never as long as I live can I forget what you
did for me.  What can I ever do for you in return?"  She stood,
slim and lovely and glowing, some inner light lending warmth to her
usual aloofness.

"It's payment enough to see you so happy, Gretchen.  It is much
better than having gone."

"Would it recompense you, just partly, say the first down payment
if I told you your little scheme that I saw through all the time
worked to perfection--that I'm cured . . . and not a little
disgusted at the Gretchen of last spring?"

"It finishes the payment."  Ella, too, glowed with happiness.
"Account settled in full."

"But don't be hasty and give too much credit to the mere
separation, Aunt Ella.  I could have gone over foolishly thinking I
loved him, and have come back foolishly dittoing.  But it's because
of a new man--the grandest old thing you ever knew.  First I met
him going over . . . then he was in Paris with . . ."

"Oh, Gretchen," Ella was laughing.  "Out of the frying pan
into . . ."

"But WHAT a fire!  His name is Smith, . . . not so hot maybe to
think of that Jones-Smith headline when the announcement comes
out, . . . but wait until you see him, . . . Ronald Smith.  And is
he good looking?  He's tall and broad and 'andsome and well-to-do
and NOT MARRIED."  She gave an exaggerated little squeal of rapture
and kissed Ella again.

Old Ella Bishop was very happy.  So much so that she hated to say
the thing that was on her mind, that owing to the cut in salaries
which every one was having to take she thought perhaps Gretchen
would have to give up living at the Theta house and come home.

"Oh, THAT!"  The girl waved it aside as a mere triviality.  "I
intended to.  Since I've lived there I've stalked my prey,--so it's
home again, home again for me.  And I suppose it would never occur
to you, you clever old virgin . . . well, anyway you're a
virgin . . . that I'd rather have my grand Ronald . . . Mr. Smith
to you . . . come to see me here this year in the privacy of this
little living-room than in the middle of the arena at the K.A.T.

Ella was almost ready to turn out her light that night when
Gretchen came to the bedroom door in her gaudy pajamas.  Looking up
from her book, she was struck anew with the charm of the girl's

"Aunt Ella, I almost forgot to tell you something awfully odd.
After we got back home, in one of his letters Ronnie said he had
found out that his grandmother was an old schoolmate of yours."

"She was?  I wonder who?"

"Her maiden name was Van Ness, Irene Van Ness."

"Irene . . . was . . . your . . . Ronald's grandmother?"  It
sounded forced from her, like a thing unbelievable.

"Oke.  She went to school here when you did, he says."

A whirl of thoughts went about in Ella Bishop's head with dizzying
effect after Gretchen had gone.  "Ronald Smith is Irene's
grandson."  She said it over to herself with bewildered patience.

When Amy Saunders came to town and left grief and trouble in her
wake--when she married Delbert who should have married Ella
herself,--Gretchen, here, was to be born of that line later.  When
Chester Peters went away because of a mad infatuation for Amy,
Irene who loved him, married another--this Ronald Smith was to be
born of that line later.  Was it possible, then, that all the
suffering and humiliation of that early day HAD to be, in order
that Gretchen and Ronald might have this very beautiful love for
each other?  Oh, no, that was a foolish thing.  One could scarcely
put it that way.  Fate never went to that degree.  And yet--it
would not quite leave old Ella--the thought that out of all that
misery and suffering of a long-gone day, two generations later had
grown a lovely romance,--like the white lilies that cover stagnant
pools in the tropics.


And then very suddenly old President Watts died--one Friday night,
with all his engagements marked on his desk calendar for the
following week.

The blow came with unforeseen force to the old faculty members who
had worked with him for years upon years.

"It's one of the most peculiar relationships in the world," Ella
thought, "that relation of the superintendent of a public school to
his teachers, or the president of a college to the women faculty
members.  He is like a husband or father in every sense but the
family life.  I knew President Watts almost as well as his wife
knew him,--every mood, everything that irritated him, everything
that gave him happiness, his ideas on practically anything one
could mention.  I could read his mind, detect his reactions to
various incidents.  I went to him for sympathy and advice and
criticism.  I could console him and scold him and encourage him.

"I think there are no finer friendships in the world than these,
utterly devoid of sentiment, but completely abounding in
understanding.  I could feel not much worse at his loss if he HAD
been my husband."

She dreaded thoroughly the advent of a new president, watched the
papers, questioned any one who might have information.  Two or
three local men were suggested, heads of departments, but when the
news was announced, he proved to be from a college in another
state,--Melvin Bevans Crowder.

When he came, it was noticeable that he was extremely young,
efficient, progressive.  Tactful, too, for that matter, as he made
no changes to speak of that first year.  But with capability and
diplomacy he was molding the school to suit his plans, instituting
innovations and gradual changes.

When Ella drew her salary now with its twenty per cent cut, she
looked a little ruefully at the check with its diminished figures.
"Reduced pay," she said, "in some jobs would call for reduced
effort on the part of the jobber.  But I don't know how any teacher
can have the heart to take it out on her students when they are so
entirely without blame for conditions.  The next generation has the
big task of pulling the country back to normal times,--so I suppose
the least we teachers can do is to inspire our young people to as
high ideals as we can.  In other words, I guess the teacher is the
last one to let outside conditions affect her work."

Ronald Smith, the magnificent, came from Ohio several times during
the year to see Gretchen.  It gave Ella a warm sense of pleasure to
witness their happiness.  "All my life I've been looking on at
these things instead of participating in them and I can't see but
that it gives me about as much joy," old Miss Bishop said.

Ella Bishop had lived past many inauguration days in her three
score and ten years, but never one before that had for its
immediate and personal effect the closing of her bank and leaving
her with no pocket money.  She made light of it along with most
other patriotic citizens until the day for the bank's opening came,
when Sam Peters came over to see her.  Sam was showing his age more
than ever this spring,--looked the old man he really was, with his
thin parchment-like face and slim trembling body.

He had heard bad news and as usual had come across the street to
tell it to Ella himself--to try to protect her against the storms,
as he wished he might always have protected her.

He sat down now in her pretty living-room, his cane between his
bony hands.

"Did you have money in the Bank of Oak River, Ella?"

"Why, yes, Sam.  Almost all I had.  Why?"

"I hate to tell you, Ella, but they say uptown it's to open only on
a restricted basis, virtually liquidated."

Cold hands were clutching at Ella's heart and throat.  Money--she
had not given enough thought to it in years gone by.  Now, what was
Sam saying?

"How do you mean, Sam?"

"You'll be asked to sign what is called a waiver,--give up a
certain per cent of your deposit,--fifteen, twenty, thirty,
whatever seems necessary.  Then they will open up and you will be
allowed to draw probably one per cent per month of the rest."

"One per cent, Sam?  Twelve per cent a year only."


"But, Sam, that would take . . . years to get it?"

"Yes."  He twisted his cane nervously between mummy-like fingers.

"But, Sam,--I'm not as young as I used to be."  It was the first
time she had allowed herself to admit old age to any one.  "I
thought . . . I hadn't expected to work much longer."

"It's hard luck, Ella.  I'm more sorry than I can tell you."

She got up and walked around the room, straightening a pillow,
touching book-ends.  "I suppose I haven't thought enough
about . . . old age, Sam.  It always seemed so far away,--and
the present so full of important duties."

"You're not old, Ella.  Except for your white hair you don't look a
day older than . . . almost when you started to teach."  Love is
not blind--it merely sees that which another can not.

She stopped in front of the little old man.  "Do you know, Sam,
I'll tell you what I had told no one, not a soul.  I had expected
next year to be my last.  Just this spring I made up my mind that
I'd teach only one more year.  But now,--one per cent per month . . .
for years."  She sat down a little heavily like a tired old
woman.  "That will squelch THAT plan right now."  Then,--"I know
what I'll do, Sam."  She was suddenly alert, the old Ella.  "I'll
teach three or four years more and give a thought to nothing BUT
money.  I'll just reverse my attitude.  It will come first.
Gretchen is graduating.  I'll cut out entertaining students from
this day on, every bit of help to any one, and think only of
myself.  You just HAVE to be selfish in this world sometimes, don't
you, Sam?"

She talked on rapidly, enthusiastically, while little old Sam
Peters sat and twirled his cane.

"Three years more, Sam, instead of one.  That's my deadline.  I'll
save every cent but the smallest sum for actual living.  Then I
won't have to worry.  I've been too easy, I know,--too ready to
think there was no end to salaries.  I can think of a dozen things
I've done that I shouldn't.  But you'll see from now on, Sam.  I've
had my lesson."

Old Sam Peters stood up.  He looked out of the window at the pale
March sunshine on the dirty snow of the hedge.

"As a . . . what you might call, last resort, Ella . . . there's
always my . . . house and name . . . and anything I have."

A mist sprang to her eyes and she put out her hand.  "You're so
good to me, Sam.  I wish . . . I wish it COULD have been."

Old Sam Peters pressed her hand.  "That's all right, Ella.  You
couldn't help it."

"And we've been good friends, Sam."

"Yes . . . we've been good friends."

He went a little shakily down the steps, through the hedge, and
across the street to the yard with the rusty old deer.


In spite of the short distance to the college Ella drove it every
day this spring.  With jealous care, Chris Jensen always fought for
her rights.  No one could run over Miss Bishop while Chris was
around if the correction lay within his power.  As when, in parking
the car as near the entrance to Corcoran Hall as was possible, she
happened to mention to him that she usually found the car of a
student or of another instructor in her chosen place, old Chris
immediately set out to right the great injustice to his favorite.
Getting no satisfaction from the superintendent of grounds or the
new President Crowder that any special privileges could be shown,
Chris stubbornly painted a small sign:  "Miss Bishop.  Do not park
here."  And slyly planted the sign half under a bridal-wreath bush
near Corcoran Hall.  When called to his attention by an irate
assistant, the superintendent of grounds passed it off with:  "Oh,
let the old codger leave it there if he gets any satisfaction out
of it."

"The only annoying feature about it," Ella said to Gretchen with
the humorous twinkle of her old eyes, "is that I ran into it and
split the 'e' off, so it now reads 'Miss Bishop.  Do not park

It was only two weeks later that Ella received the note.  Chris
brought it to her, clumping along in his heavy work shoes up the
walk between the hedges.  When she saw him coming it occurred to
her that she had not noticed how he had aged the last year.  One
grew used to another through the years, and seeing him that way
every day, she had not been able to notice the change.  Why, he was
old, Chris was,--an old man, his broad shoulders stooped, his arms
swinging limply at his sides, his massive head drooping forward so
that his iron gray hair hung over his forehead.  His step, too, was
slow and not quite steady.

She went at once to the door to meet him.  "Are you hanging me a
May-basekt, Chris?"  She spoke lightly, gayly, as she often did.
It was one thing that had endeared her to those who did manual
labor about the campus.  "That Miss Bishop,--she's nice to
everybody, ain't she?" one workman might say to another.

"Not like that Miss Rogers who acts as though she was smellin'
something," might be the answer.

But to-night old Chris would not joke.  He delivered the note with
dignity and left with no word, clumping along down the walk with
shuffling gait and loose swinging arms.

Still standing outside the door as Chris had left her, Ella read
the note.

It was from President Crowder--brief, gracious, explanatory.  There
were to be several changes in the faculty and he thought it much
better that she know about the change in her own department before
the board met.  Delicately veiled, with the kindest of motives, it
suggested that she might prefer to get in her resignation prior to
the board's action.

Stunned, she could only stand and peer through her eyeglasses at
the words of the surprising message.  Not quite able to absorb the
enormity of the thing that had just descended upon her, her mind
darted away from the paper in her hand to the thought that it was
Chris who always brought her bad messages.  "He's like Eris whom
the Greek gods used to send with messages of discord," she thought
whimsically.  "Just change the 'C' to 'E' . . . his name ought to
be Eris Jensen . . . instead of Chris."

Then her mind came back to the full import of the note,--and she
groped for a porch chair.

For a long time she sat there on the porch in the deepening
twilight,--the letter in her lap.  Anger toward President Crowder
shook her body so that it trembled uncontrollably.  In a moment the
anger gave way to wounded feeling.  A deep sense of hurt pride
enveloped her whole being.  She had been ASKED to leave,--subtly,
delicately,--but what mattered the method?  In another year or so
she had intended going of her own volition.  It made no difference
now what she had intended,--she had been TOLD to leave.

And then the hurt quite suddenly gave way to fear,--a cold and
unreasoning fright.  She had not made enough provision for the
future.  In the years that were gone there had always seemed so
many who needed her help.  Life had sped along so quickly.
Yesterday she had been young with all the years of her life
unlived.  To-day she was old with not much to show for those years
of service to the college and community.  Service was such a vague
immaterial thing,--you could not handle it nor show it to your
friends nor exchange it in the market place.

Because this was true she had gone her blithe way, putting from her
the thoughts of old age.  And suddenly here it was.  Would it be a
still harsher thing, dependent old age?  That pitiful little one
per cent which would be meted out to her!  Would the small savings
be ample to cover all?

By a system of arithmetic as old as the science itself she worked
her problems.  Her small income made the dividend,--the possible
number of years she might live became the rather pathetic divisor,--
the quotient resulted in a pitiably small sum which must
henceforth cover all expenses.  The meagerness of it frightened
her.  Old age seemed to have developed horns and cloven hoofs, to
have taken on a demon-like leer.  For the first time she felt
genuine panic,--for the first time seemed thinking of herself.
Hitherto she had brushed away all her troubles with humor and sane
philosophy,--but all her bravery could not hide the Thing that
confronted her to-night.  The tissues of her courage seemed as
weakened as the tissues of her body.

"On a pinch, I could go to the old people's home," she said to her
frightened self.  At the thought a cold hand seemed clutching her
heart.  She had visited that home once.  It had been pleasant and
comfortable, almost luxurious because of various bequests.  But the
old ladies who had been there sitting on the big porch aimlessly
watching the world go by, alien souls, women from whom the glow of
living had died,--old ladies with knitting and palsied heads and
loose artificial teeth.  Quite hastily she put her hand to her
mouth and smiled at the inadvertent gesture.  At least if she found
it necessary to go there eventually she would see plenty of things
to amuse her.  Pathetic roles were not meant for her.

Over and over in the deepening dusk she worked on the problem of
what to do with the remainder of her life.  That potential trip
abroad was a huge joke now.  Why had she not saved more for
herself?  Why had she seemed always to have others on her hands?

If worse came to worst she could take a pay roomer or two, do
private tutoring.  Again and again she tried with courage to work
out her problem, so much harder than algebra.

"Let X equal the unknown quantity," she said to herself.

But there was no answer, not in the back of the book or anywhere.
Not until God closed the book would old Ella Bishop find what X


On Monday morning she drove over to school, turning in at the north
gate just in time to see Chris wave an assistant librarian's car
away from his chosen spot for herself.

"Little upstart," he was muttering, "hasn't been here but eight or
ten years.  Thinks she can pick out her . . ."

"Chris . . ." Ella said suddenly when she was out of the car.  Why
not tell Chris first of all,--wasn't he the only one left with her
from the old days?  "Chris, I'm through teaching.  I'm resigning to-

"Vell . . . dat's funny, Miss Bis'op.  You and me bot'.  I'm
quittin', too.  Only I ain't got to resign like you on paper.  Just
tell old Long-legs I'm t'ru,--and dat's all dere be to it,--just

Then he straightened and for the fraction of a moment old Ella
Bishop's bright blue eyes caught the watery blue ones of the old
janitor.  For the fraction of a moment they saw eye to eye and
heart to heart.  Suddenly, with no words, each knew about the
other.  Each knew the other had been let out.

"Aw, I ain't carin', Miss Bis'op," the old man broke the
embarrassment of silence.  "Don't you care, neider."

"No, I'm not either."  She spoke lightly.  "Not at all."

"Neider am I," old Chris repeated stoutly.  "Not a bit.  Not a

If Miss Bishop secretly entertained thoughts to the effect that
both the gentleman and the lady did protest too much, she kept them
to herself.

Suddenly he burst out:  "Maybe I AM old, but I don't feel so.  I'm
strong," he spoke belligerently as though Miss Bishop had indicated
otherwise.  "Strong as an ox.  See dat."  He rolled back a blue
denim sleeve and displayed flabby old muscles.  "Anyways," he added
a little ruefully at the sight, "it don't take no great shakes of
strengt' to clap erasers 'n dust 'n chase de trainin'-school kids
out o' Old Central."

He turned his head away.  Miss Bishop understood.  English
department or janitor work.  What difference did it make?

It was the next night that she picked up the Daily Clarion and
walked over to her favorite chair under a bridge lamp.  It was a
lovely evening.  She could hear all the May-time sounds of the
college town,--cars slipping by, the chimes from the campanile
ringing out the hour with rhythmic announcement, a group of
fraternity boys shouting unmelodiously:  "The Girl in The Little
Green Hat."  She could smell all the May-time odors that so
associated themselves with preparation for Commencement, fresh
paint next door, lawns after the late spring rains, honeysuckles
outside the window.

For a moment she held the paper idly, remembering her own part in
starting the crude little sheet a half-century before.  Then she
recalled that this was the issue which would announce the changes.
It startled her to see it in black and white:  Miss Bishop Resigns.
She felt a justifiable pleasure in the paragraph referring to her
long career, a genuine gratitude toward President Crowder for
handling the situation so adroitly.  He had saved her pride if
nothing else.

She read on down:  ". . . Among other changes for this year, the
student body will say good-by to Old Central.  Those who return
next fall will find it listed among the missing.  Razing of the old
building will begin the morning after the Alumni banquet which will
be held this year for sentiment's sake in the old auditorium."

It moved her unaccountably.  She and Old Central--both would be
listed among the missing.  And old Chris--she must not forget him.
He, too, had been associated with Old Central since its beginning.

And if Ella Bishop sat idly for a long time with the paper in her
lap, let no one enter into the hushed inner chamber of her

After a time she arose and took a light wrap from the hall closet,
calling to Stena that she was going out for a walk by herself.
Once outside, she turned up the street toward the Jensens' little
house across from the campus.  When she tapped at the door, there
was a muffled tread in the hall and old Chris himself came, shading
his weak eyes with his hand.

"Good evening, Chris."

"Vell . . . Miss Bis'op."  He took a sooty old pipe out of his
mouth and gave an apologetic glance at his blue and white socks
quite free from inhibiting shoes.  That was the way Miss Bishop had
affected him for several decades.

"Chris, they tell me Old Central is to come down at last."  To her
surprise, she had to make an effort to keep her voice steady.  She
had not realized that it was meaning so much to her.

"Yes, dey do say so."  At the risk of a conflagration old Chris was
pocketing his pipe.  "Come on in, Miss Bis'op."

"No, no thanks.  You still have a key I suppose, Chris?"

Old Chris nodded.  "Yes, ma'am," he added.

"I wonder if you will let me take it.  It's so nice to-night, I'd
just like to go over the old building for the last time in a sort
of 'We who are about to die, salute you' attitude."

Old Chris had never heard of the Morituri Salutamus but he
recognized fully the emotion in Miss Bishop's voice.

"You will laugh at me for being so sentimental," she said

"No, I von't," old Chris shook his heavy gray head.  "I von't laugh
at you.  It's got me a-feelin' blue, too.  I know every crack in de
plaster 'n every knot in de woodwork."

He shuffled back into the dark interior of the cottage and brought
back the key,--a huge affair, like a key to some ancient castle.

"Good night, Chris, and thank you.  If you see some one prowling
around old Central, don't shoot or send for the campus policeman."

Ella Bishop walked up through the campus under the elms.  The moon
was full and there was the heavy scent of syringas in the air,
snatches of music came from Fraternity Row, and laughter from the
steps of Alice Wayland Hall.  It had the smell and feel of all the
long-gone Commencements.

In front of Old Central she paused and looked at it with appraising
eye.  In the moonlight all discrepancies in the old building were
hidden.  One could not see the cracks in the brick under the ivy
nor the settling window-frames nor the slight sagging of the steps.
It looked sturdy, unyielding.  It seemed holding up its head
proudly.  Like Miss Bishop.

She turned the huge key and pushed the iron latch which had clicked
to three generations.  Softly she stepped into the shadows of the
hall.  It was stuffy and chalk-scented,--but friendly, as though it
welcomed her home.  She had a swift feeling that the old building
wanted her to know it held no grudge about her leaving, and smiled
at the foolishness of the thought.

She crossed the hall and mounted the stairs, her hand slipping
along the bannister which was as smooth as old ivory from the
polishing of countless human palms.

Straight to her old classroom she passed, a large room with its
rows of recitation seats, half in the moonlight, half in the
shadow.  She was not just sure what it was used for now, but had a
faint impression of manual training projects on a bench by the

Toward the front of the room where the instructor's desk stood,
Ella Bishop walked softly as people do in the presence of the dead.
A composite picture of all the classes she had ever taught seemed
before her.  Personalities looked at her from every recitation seat
but she did not realize that in point of time they were sometimes
fifty years apart.

There was Frank Farnsworth, indolent, mischievous, even stupid in
English courses because he did not care for them, wanting only
instruction in business administration.  Why did she remember him?
There was Anna Freybruger.  She was a missionary, some one had told
her.  Over there sat Clarence Davis, a congressman now.  Here
laughing Esther Reese, a happy wife and mother.  She summonded them
back out of the shadows, not mature nor successful, but young
freshmen, needing her guidance.

Slowly she circled the room, recalling a dozen events of the olden
days.  Queer how easily they came back to-night.

Then she turned toward the tower room, opened the door and stepped
in.  Once it had been her Gethsemane.  On a day she had come in
here full of happiness and the joy of living.  When she went out,
some of her had died.  The part that had lived she had dedicated to
young people, warming her cold heart at the fire of their youth.
Putting into her work all the love and interest she would have
given to a husband, home, and children.  Here she had said good-by
to John Stevens, her love and admiration for him unbesmirched.

She crossed the little room, opened one of the windows and sat down
by it.  The May breeze, sweet with the smell of Commencements, came
in and touched the soft tendrils of her white hair.

Memory went back on the road of the years.  She tried to sum up the
results of the journey.  Nothing,--but age and near poverty.
Foolishly, she had thought the teaching itself would compensate her
for all her devotion to the task.  A deep bitterness assailed her.
It was not right nor just, to give all and receive nothing.  She
had been a fool to think that if you gave your heart the service
rendered would be its own reward.

Across the boulevard the sorority houses were lighted to the last
window.  Cars were at the curbing.  Young people came and went.
How unnecessary she was now to this newer college life.  Once she
had seemed indispensable.  Slow tears came, the more painful
because hitherto she had met life gallantly with high hopes, deep
courage, boundless faith.

Ella Bishop raised her face to the May sky as though to hold
intimate conversation with some one.  How foolish she had been to
think that by binding herself to youth she could retain her own
light spirits.  That early dedication of hers to the lives of her
students was all Quixotic.  That old idea of carrying a torch ahead
to show them the way to unrevealed truths had been all wasted
effort.  Every waking thought she had given to them, watched her
every act and decision that she might be a worthy example.

There were instructors who heard recitations and then left their
responsibilities hanging like raincoats in their lockers.  She had
not been able to do that.  She had given the best that was in her,
not only that her students' minds would further unfold, but
whenever they needed assistance for those other sides of their
lives, the physical and the moral.  A suggestion of eye-strain in a
student and she had not rested until the matter was rectified.  A
knowledge of recurring headaches and she had not known peace until
the source was traced.  And then that other thing which she had
noticed among the newcomers, that elusive thing which was neither
all physical nor all mental nor all moral, that subtle thing which
crept into the lives of youth.  How she had pondered over it,
questioned and advised.  Many a mother, less motherly than herself,
had not known the danger, or having known, had lifted no hand to
guide.  All this she had done for her students,--and what was her
reward?  Old age and poverty.  And perhaps, later,--loneliness.
For youth not only must be served, but after that it forgets.
Tears came again.  And some were for lost youth and some were for
advancing age, but some were for a faith that was shattered.

There was nothing now to look forward to--but death.  Death!  How
little thought she had ever given to it!  So full of living,--her
hands so filled with duties,--she had existed only from day to day,
doing the hour's tasks as well as she could.

She pictured herself lying dead--out in Forest Hill by her mother--
under the leaves--

Suddenly a pigeon flew against the bell overhead and it tapped, so
that in a great whirl of beating wings all the pigeons flew from
the bell tower, their bodies almost brushing the windows.
Startled, she jumped up and looked furtively behind her.  She had
that queer suffocating feeling that one has when he is conscious of
a frightened sensation.  Usually placid, she realized her heart was
pounding wildly.  All at once the familiar old building was cold
and forbidding.  It was as though there were soft foot-falls,
phantom whisperings.  The ghosts of all her yesterdays seemed
haunting the place.  Was her brain addled?  Had she played too long
with her memories?  Was she slipping mentally like her mother?  All
her poise was gone.  She wanted to fly as from a tomb.

It seemed almost a physical impossibility for her to return through
that shadow-laden classroom.

She gathered herself together and crossed the office to the
classroom door.  Eerie rustlings, low murmurs, faint mocking
laughter played tricks with her imagination.  The bell tapped
faintly.  The pigeons swirled past the window again.

In a perspiration of nervousness, she crossed the moonlighted floor
of her old classroom, passed through the upper hall, down the long
stairway with its bannister polished by a thousand hands, and
hurried out into the clear air of the night.

She crossed the campus and went home, tired in every portion of her
body, every bone aching, every nerve tingling with fatigue.  At
home she went straight to her room with an intense longing to get
quickly into the cool depths of her bed.  She took off each garment
wearily, stopping once or twice to cast longing eyes toward the
haven of her couch with a half-formed decision to drop onto it as
she was.  With extra effort at control she finished the task and
slipped into the welcome comfort of that familiar port of rest.

Getting under the quilts was like crawling under leaves, she
thought vaguely.  Either one meant rest.  Rest for a tired teacher.
What difference did it make--quilts or leaves?  There was peace
under either.  To let your tired mind and body sink into the
blessed comfort of them,--quilts or leaves,--to let them cling
softly and gently to you, easing the ache and the long, long

What difference did it make?  Leaves . . . or quilts . . . ?
Quilts . . . or leaves . . . ?


"You know, Gretchen, I think I'm not going to the Alumni banquet
this year."  Ella Bishop was sitting in front of her dressing-table
and speaking over her shoulder to the girl in the hall.  She had
tried to make her voice casual, matter-of-fact, but she had a
feeling that it quivered and cracked "like the old woman I suppose
I might as well admit I am," she thought.

"Not going?  Why?"  Gretchen, attractive as always in a white sport
outfit, came to the door.

"Oh, I just thought I wouldn't this year--leaving as I am. . . ."
She said it so lightly that she was highly pleased with herself.
"And as long as Old Central is to come down--you know it just
wouldn't be good taste to consume food in your own mausoleum."

"Oh, Aunt Ella, what a terrible thought."

"And anyway I've been to a thousand.  My word, Gretchen, some time
I'm going to sit down and figure the hours I've spent at them, and
the words I've heard going to waste in the ponderous speeches that
have been made.  Now, for instance . . . let's see . . . I began
going in 1880 . . . this year would make fifty-three times . . .
no, fifty-two . . . I escaped one, anyway, the year I was east.
Fifty-two Commencements . . . say three hours each allowed for
sitting at the tables,--one hundred and fifty-six hours . . .
that's . . . wait a minute . . . over nineteen working days of
eight hours each."  She was enjoying her bit of irony.

     "The hours I've spent at them, dear heart,
     Are but so many words to me,
     I count them over, every one apart,
     Their ora-tor-ee!  Their ora-tor-ee!"

She laughed at her own light humor,--had complete control of
herself now.  "For nineteen full working days have I listened to
flowery rhapsodies or ponderous advice.  As for the energy
expended, it has been immeasurable."

"Oh, but you MUST go."  Gretchen was earnest in her vehemence.
"The very fact that you ARE leaving, Aunt Ella, is the biggest
reason for being there."

"I suppose you're right.  Who am I to shirk?" she answered in the
same light vein she had been employing.  "Twenty full days would
end the whole thing with a flourish, make it an even number, and
one can always go into a sort of coma and think of other things if
the oratory proves too powerful an anesthetic.  And, anyway, I'll
have perfect peace and freedom for they haven't asked me to talk
this year."

It was rather an important Commencement, what with its being Ella's
last while a faculty member, and Gretchen graduating.  Hope and
Dick came in time for the festivities.  Dick never quite rugged
since the war and so never quite the success he might have been,
Hope heavy and sweet-faced, and both wrapped up in pride for their
lovely daughter.  And Ronald Smith came, driving through with his
grandmother, old Mrs. Irene Van Ness Hunt, wrinkled and sallow, and
looking so much older than Ella that one could not imagine they had
been girls together.  But she had a whole rumble seat full of bags
containing gay lace dresses and high-heeled pumps, and every time
she shook her sprightly old head, a different pair of long earrings
jangled against her magenta-colored cheeks.

Ella housed them all but Ronald who stayed at the Phi Psi chapter

The night of the banquet they were all going together over to Old
Central, which, lighted from top to bottom, was making merry on the
eve of its own private Waterloo.

Every one was ready quite on time but Gretchen who seemed slower
than usual with her dressing.  Ella was groomed and ready long
before the young girl, a full half-hour before Ronald came to join
the group.  Always punctual, she could not tolerate the careless
way in which the young people seemed to regard time.

"At least, let's be there when the fruit cocktail is eaten," she
called up the stairs, and added more for her own pleasure than the
waiting group:  "I can visualize the whole thing from that well-
known cocktail to lights out.  I could even stay at home and hear
in my head every word that will be spoken."

Old Miss Bishop looked nice.  She had on her white lace dress and
black velvet evening wrap.  Her snow white hair was beautifully
groomed and even the inevitable black velvet band at her throat
which she wore this last year served not only its pitiful little
duty of covering those tell-tale shrunken neck tissues but of
accentuating the loveliness of her hair and the pose of her head.

There were so many cars parked around the campus when they arrived
that Ella said:  "An unusually large attendance, it looks . . .
that will be on account of sentiment for Old Central.  We really
shouldn't have been late."

She hastened the pace of the group a little, but Ronald and
Gretchen, strolling exasperatingly up the curving walk and around
the Administration Building toward Old Central, called to them not
to be in such a hurry.  Ella was thinking sentimentally that the
lights of the old building looked familiar and friendly sending out
their message for all to come to the festivities with no thought
that to-morrow night and other nights they would not beckon.

One of the big busses that had replaced the old jangling street car
disgorged a few people who slipped in ahead of the little group of
six.  Otherwise, the campus was deserted.

"We're the VERY last," Ella complained.  As though Ronald and
Gretchen had not used skillful maneuvering to see that this was so.

Old Chris stood in the lobby, almost unrecognizable in his best
suit and large shining shoes.  His massive gray head was held a bit
stiffly above his low loose collar, and his wide bony shoulders
drooped heavily under the weight of their years.

As these last comers entered he pulled on the rope dangling through
his big gnarled hand.  High above them in the old belfry the bell
rang, and with a great whirl of wings the pigeons flew out.

"Pretty nigh de last time," he said to Ella as she passed.  "Don't
it sort o' get you?"

She nodded wordlessly.

Just inside the door of the old auditorium they paused.  Something
was unusual, Ella was thinking.  Not for years had there been such
an enormous turn-out.  She caught a fleeting vision of rows upon
rows of tables, a multitude of people seated at them, flowers,
class banners, white-coated waiters, overflow tables in adjoining

The bell might have been a signal, for the orchestra broke into
"Pomp and Circumstance."  Something was happening.  The diners were
rising as one man.  All faces were turned toward the group at the
door.  President Crowder and the chairman of the board were coming
toward them.  They were offering Ella their arms, one on her left,
one on her right.  Ronald was slipping off her velvet wrap.
Gretchen was whispering:  "All for you, sweet pumpkin."

Applause broke, wild and unrestrained.  In a daze Ella took the
arms of the two men and together they walked the full length of the
huge room.

Together the president and the board member opened a double gateway
of ferns and escorted her to a chair at the head of the long sweep
of tables.  The chair was rose covered, and when they pulled it out
and seated her in the sweet-smelling bower, Miss Bishop looked like
a white rose herself.  The president and the board chairman seated
themselves at each side and the great audience sat down.  There was
an orchid corsage at Ella's plate,--and quite trivially it came to
her that she had never worn an orchid in her life.

It was all very hard to comprehend.  Her mind felt numb, callous,
incapable of concentrated thought.  A drowning person must feel so.
"It isn't true," she kept thinking.  "I'm moving about only in
dreams.  This thing hasn't happened for me.  I'm an old woman, worn
out, poverty stricken, shelved, with nothing to show for my life."

Conversation broke on all sides with a humming noise of pleasure.
All of the people closest were leaning toward her speaking to her.
But she seemed without emotion, as though the years had wrung her
out, hard and dry, like an old dishcloth.  She spoke and smiled
mechanically and made futile stabs at her fruit cocktail.  What had
she said once about a fruit cocktail--something sarcastic?  It must
have been years ago.

In that same numb and callous way, she finished the courses with
the others, not quite understanding, never quite comprehending the
thing that was happening.

The dining over, the toasts began.  They were all for Miss Bishop
"who has given a lifetime of service to the upbuilding of this
school," or "who perhaps more than any other faculty member of the
half century has had a deep and lasting influence upon all

Presently she seemed to come out of her stupor.  In a great sweep
of understanding, this thing that was happening suddenly did seem
true.  She was being honored.  This was for her.  All her old
students appeared to have returned.  Never had there been such a
huge reunion,--not in the whole history of the college.  They had
come back to honor Old Central--and her.

They toasted her, told jokes on her, teased her, praised her.  A
United States senator admitted that if it hadn't been for Miss
Bishop he might still be saying "have saw."  A prominent minister
said that next to his parents, Miss Bishop had influenced his life
more than any other human.  A millionaire merchant, who had arrived
in his own plane, told the audience that when mothers were lauded,
not to forget one of the very best of them all, Miss Bishop, MOTHER
OF STUDENTS.  A mechanical engineer said he had done a little
figuring and found that if Miss Bishop's influence for good upon
her hundreds of students could be computed and turned into--

There were cries of "Technocracy" and good-natured banter.

It was the new president who said that in the brief time he had
been here he had come to realize that Miss Bishop was one of the
chief representatives of the real spirit of the school, courageous,
progressive, high-minded, HUMAN.

The last of the speakers was the chairman of the board who said it
had been one of the happiest tasks of his life to journey two
hundred miles in order to present his old instructor, Miss Bishop,
with the highest degree that had ever been given by the college,--a
D.M.H.S.,--Doctor of Mind, Heart and Soul.

Through it all Ella Bishop sat quietly, poised, head up, facing the
great throng whose eyes were all upon her.  And the wine of new
life flowed through her veins.

Sitting there while the speeches went on, sweeping around her, like
waves about some little island of her own, her mind was a swiftly
changing kaleidoscope of thoughts.  They darted hither and yon,
those thoughts, like white-hot bits of steel flying from the anvil
of her mind, struck by the hand of God.  She seemed endowed
suddenly with some great power hitherto unknown to her, a prophetic
vision to see life as a whole.  Little pieces of her life swept
together, small incidents tumbled into shape, so that a completed
pattern visioned itself before her in one compact unit.  The whole
mosaic of her life spread out in front of her.  For a few moments
it hung before her mind as a tapestry might have been displayed
before her mortal eyes.

Once in her youth she had started to weave a tapestry at the loom
of life with a spindle of hope and dreams,--and the center of the
fabric was to have been a little house in a garden and red
firelight and the man she loved and children.  But the threads had
been broken and the spindle lost, and she had woven another.  And
now for these brief minutes everything was understandable.  Every
decision she had made was thread of the loom, every incident in her
life was a silver or scarlet or jet-black cord woven into the warp
and woof of the fabric.  And surprisingly the black threads were
necessary to throw into relief the figures of the weaving.

For a few moments she had a complete vision of things as they are.
An occult power was her own for that brief time.  Some unknown
force seemed saying:  "Here is the work of your life.  Take one
swift look.  It is not given to many to see the completed whole.
This is what you have woven from the threads God gave you."

Ella Bishop dropped the lids over her eyes for a moment in abject
humility before the loveliness of the scarlet and blue and gold of
the weaving.

Never before had such understanding been given her; vaguely she
sensed that never would it be again.  All rancor concerning the
forced resignation was swept away in a flood of understanding.  She
was closing her work before her faculties dimmed, singing her swan
song on a high clear note.  To-morrow she would be an old woman.
To-night she was ageless.  Yesterday she had merely mumbled the
words that life was eternal.  To-night she knew it.  She feared
nothing now . . . poverty or old age or death.  None of them
existed.  There was no end to the soul of her . . . to the real
Ella Bishop . . . here or anywhere . . . not while all these people
lived . . . or their children . . . or their children's children.
The remembrance of her in men's hearts would not be for anything
she possessed,--but for what she had done.

Something was tapping at her memory,--some long forgotten dream of
her youth.  Suddenly she remembered,--that early dedication of her
life.  Why, she must have . . . almost without realization . . . by
doing her simple duty from day to day . . . she must have given
some of the living flame that glows more brightly as the ages pass.

She had nothing to fear,--here or beyond.  Out where Professor
Fonda lay sleeping the stone said:

     We have loved the stars too deeply
     To be fearful of the night.

The stars had been Albert Fonda's deepest love.  Her own love was
the students to whom she had given her life.  This, then, could be
her own confidence and faith at the end of the journey:

     We have loved humanity too deeply
     To be fearful of the dead.

The last speech was over.  The great assembly was calling for her.
She must say something.  This was her last opportunity.  She must
stand and tell them what she had just discerned,--that every thread
of life's weaving must be strong, every fiber firm.  True to the
dedication of her life she must tell them of this knowledge she had
just acquired.

Old Miss Bishop rose.  The applause was deafening.  Before she
passed from their lives she must teach them one thing more . . .
these men and women she loved.  But how could she approach it?
What could she say?  She looked over the vast sea of faces.  No, it
was too late.  You cannot teach a great truth like that in the
space of a few moments.  You may only accomplish it, little by
little, day by day, over a long period of time.  If she had not
done so by example and precept in a half-century's teaching, she
could not do so now.  And perhaps she had.  God knew.

She stretched out her arms to them all, with superhuman effort
stilled the trembling of her lips.  "The book is closed," said old
Miss Bishop.  "Hail and farewell."

And the affair was over.

They crowded around her, congratulating her, pressing her hand,
giving her merry messages.  When they left, group by group, she had
a dozen dinner dates and out-of-town week-end invitations.  Not
that old indefinite "Come to see me, sometime, Miss Bishop," but
"to-morrow night at seven" and "next Friday on our silver wedding

Every group which left put the same question:  "Are you ready to go
now?  We'll walk over to your car with you?"  And as many times she
answered:  "Thank you.  I'm not quite ready."

Even when Ronald and Gretchen and the rest of the party came for
her it was the same.  It was Gretchen who intuitively sensed it.
"Come on," she whispered to them all.  "I believe she WANTS to be
the last one."

Just inside the hallway with its cracks in the scarred walls, old
Ella Bishop stood, erect and smiling, and bade the great throng of
students good-night.  Like a mother she watched the last child
break the tie which bound it to home.

For a few moments then she stood alone watching the shadowy figures
move across the campus under the giant trees,--north--south--east--
west--down the four roads of the world.

Then she walked firmly over the worn threshold and closed the doors
that had swung to a thousand youthful hands.

The bell tapped and the pigeons with a great rush of beating wings
flew out of the tower.

Old Chris turned out the lights.

End of this Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook
Miss Bishop by Bess Streeter Aldrich

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