A Land a Great Way Off

A Land a Great Way Off  (1904) 
by Zona Gale

From The Smart Set, Oct 1904

Gradually the girl forgot the mere novelty of the hour and became absorbed in its beauty. What did all this remind her of? she wondered. What was it that he used to tell her? If she could only remember! There had been something about a land a great way off ... And there were things which he used to tell her were dearer than the splendor that she longed for—love, of course, for one thing; people always said that, she reflected; and books—perhaps it was books; only so much of all books was stupid! And as for music—but she could not sit always and listen to music. What could it have been? Something about a land a great way off! ...


By Zona Gale

THE Juliet of that night's performance tapped her cardboard check impatiently on the window of the baggage-master's office.

"Please," she said again, with a little offended intonation, "I am in a great hurry. It's a big gray canvas one, with a strap."

The baggage-master caressed his forehead with the back of his hand, wrinkling his face horribly.

"You know, miss," he observed, "the trunk hain't been settin' here waitin' your arrival; nor no more hev I. You can't expect——"

A sympathetic sniff from Jerry, the great, grinning savage who was assistant at the little Sun Prairie station, caused his chief to lift his eyes. They met those of Miss Cressida Tower, who was the Juliet, and the baggage-master faltered. Such big, tired, lit-from-within eyes she had that other people before him had faltered no less obviously. The chief turned on his lounging aide.

"Look alive, Jerry!" he called in a terrible voice. "Wot's your business w'en the lady says a big gray one, with a strap?"

A moment later the baggage-master was pointing a deferential, corduroy finger in the direction of the hotel.

"We'll have it down to the John Calhoun House in a half-hour, miss," he promised with the condescension of an oracle. Then he looked after the Juliet as she walked down the hot board sidewalk.

"Member of the Great Casino and Lyceum All-Star Repertory," he deduced.

The Great Casino and Lycetun All-Star Star Repertory Company boasted no advance-agent, no press-agent and no business manager. Mr. Jefferson B. Marlybone stood for all three officials and was the Romeo and the Brutus and the Claude Melnotte and the Armand, as exigency demanded. It chanced that Mr. Jefferson B. Marlybone was, at the moment, not on friendly terms with the leading woman named in the iron-bound contract which she held with him. Consequently, when he arrived at the desk of the John Calhoun and found that hostelry already nearly filled by the delegates to the Sun Prairie Methodist County Conference, he engaged the remaining rooms for himself and the minor members of his company, and congratulated himself upon having neatly inconvenienced the leading woman.

When Miss Cressida Tower, therefore, eventually reached the hotel she was told by a faint, polite clerk that there was not a room in the house. He followed her to the door, thumbs in the armholes of his oilcloth waistcoat.

"Why don't you try Mis' Ephraim Meadows?" he inquired argumentatively.

Miss Tower expressed her weary willingness; and who, she asked, might Mis' Meadows be? Mis' Meadows might be a widow-woman, the clerk made answer, who took roomers since the Sun Prairie City Bank had suspended; four blocks up and one over, house with the lilacks.

Miss Tower gave directions about her trunk and hurried away. It was four o'clock, and the lining of Juliet's's cloak was torn and one of the tinsel lilies on the friar's cell gown was raveling out. She must mend those before the performance. She wondered if they had found the balcony rail yet; the last time she had played the scene she had had to look down at Romeo in the garden from a balcony so abrupt that it resembled a fire-escape.

A great breath of fragrance suddenly swept her face, and a long line of purple lilacs nodded to her. This was the "house with the lilacks" then—this little box of a house, with a faintly greening curtain of vines and a faintly greening square of lawn and—yes, a little painted fountain. She caught her breath with delight, and lifted the gate-latch. A great golden-eyed collie stepped down the walk to meet her, a canary was singing from the porch, a workman was mending the side fence and whistling with pleasant monotony.

"Oh," said Miss Tower as she pulled the jangling bell, "she won't have any room for me, either. It's too nice here."

But Mrs. Meadows had a room. Her face—tired, kindly, without surprise—smiled on almost without her knowledge as she talked. It was a front corner room, and it was sunny, and there was hardly any noise from the side alley. Dear, no, she did not object to taking an actress. The young gentleman that had had the room was a musician himself; yes, indeed, he played the fiddle in the orchestra at the opera house. He was just moving into the back room, and his pictures were not all out yet, if she didn't mind that? She might come right in and right up and look at the room. It could be got ready in no time.

White walls, white bed, spotless white woodwork and cream-colored matting made the room a very practical heaven to the travel-worn little Juliet. She threw off her hat and leaned joyously out of the open window, watching the shy May shadows on the lawn, hearing the workman's whistle and the swallows overhead. And Sun Prairie had been selected as only a one-night stand! Usually a convention town was a gold mine, but Mr. Jefferson B. Marlybone had learned that this convention was a conference and had booked at the Sun Prairie Opera House for only one night. Ah, well! this was the one night and she would make the most of it.

Mrs. Meadows was busily removing a pair of foils and a few photographs from the mantel.

"They belong to the young gentleman that's just movin'," she explained easily, wiping the glass of a picture in a little black frame. The face caught Miss Tower's eye, and she went nearer and looked at it curiously. It was the face of a young girl whose simple, low-cut bodice might have been of any period, yet the photograph had the unmistakable mark of a bygone time. The young face was crowned by braids of brown hair and lighted by wonderful eyes. "From Mother to her Dear Boy" was written below. Miss Tower held it for a moment, enviously struggling against the memory of her own mother as she had last seen her—rouged and with bobbing skirts and bobbing curls, in the back row of the chorus.

"Poor mother," she thought, "poor Mademoiselle Fadette! I wonder what her own mother looked like? But I—I've been started without my chance. Why, I—no wonder I never got an engagement in town—started that way, without my chance!"

When the room was quiet Miss Tower leaned idly at the window, awaiting her trunk. Dressing-rooms were only brusquely and casually considered in the building of the Sim Prairie Opera House, as in all the one-night-stand theatres in that Western State. Also, there was no stage entrance, and those who assembled early might see the players arrive by way of the main doors and, laden with costumes, hurry down a side aisle to the big swinging door. Side seats were considered choice because they offered such a superior view of the same swinging door, opening between acts to emit an odor of mingled lamp smoke and tableau powder as the star and the "heavy" came out to visit the Sun Prairie Opera House Buffet and Café. Hence the Great Casino and Lyceum All-Star Repertory Company did not think of having its trunks sent to the theatres upon which it descended.

Sitting on the floor by the low south window of Mrs. Meadows's cottage, Miss Tower drew the pins from her hair and let it fall about her shoulders. She leaned against the casement, the warm air fanned her face, bees hung above the lilacs, the little attenuated fountain tinkled in its stucco basin, and lulled by surroundings such as she had not known in years Miss Tower, still facing the homely glory of the garden, presently fell asleep. And so it was that, coming briskly home from the violin lesson which he had been giving, Arnold West, who had just vacated the front room at Mrs. Meadows's, saw her.

The window was not high, and the wistaria framed its picture charmingly. Arnold watched, spellbound. Who was she—here in Sun Prairie, and at Mrs. Meadows's? He demanded this of Mrs. Meadows breathlessly, when he met her on the stairs. Cressida Tower, the Juliet of that night's performance—the performance at which, as usual, he was to play first violin in the orchestra! He went to his room, and his hands were trembling.

"Oh," he warned himself, "but she will have the same dreadful voice that they all have! What are you hoping for?"

He hurried to put on his worn "best" clothes, and rushed from his room, expecting he hardly knew what. In the hall he met Jerry bearing the "gray trunk, with a strap." As Arnold went down the path on his way to dinner at the hotel, his violin case under his arm, he saw that the muslin curtains of his old room were drawn.

"Nonsense," he said to himself, impatiently as before, "her voice is sure to be frightful. What are you thinking of?"

"Alice West's boy," as Sun Prairie knew him, was "doing for himself" as bookkeeper in the little bank since his mother died, and giving violin lessons to the high-school professor's daughter, and playing first violin in the orchestra. He was a delicate lad, hardly twenty, with a face fresh for all its sadness, and a mouth as sensitive as his long, fair hands. In spite of his reserve, in spite of his unconquerable aloofness, he was shyly loved by the rough, kindly people who had loved his mother, a hard-working little seamstress. Even though he was known to go to the upland and play on his violin alone at night, no one thought him really mad, for his mother's sake. Yet a young stranger schoolmaster who had been caught red-handed declaiming poetry in Dates's Grove was looked at askance until he was supplanted, to the relief of the Sun Prairie mothers. Even Mrs. Meadows, without Arnold suspecting it, lost a dollar a month on the room which he occupied, and lost it cheerfully.

"Alice West never stented me in her time," she would say. "Often she's set and sewed over-hours for me to get somethin' done. An' I ain't the one to forget it with her boy."

At Miss Tower's urgent request Mrs. Meadows consented to serve her with supper that night, so that the little actress did not leave the house until time to go to the theatre. Then great Lallie Marshall, the character man—Laurien Marchiel on the play-bills—lounged around to help her carry her costumes and make-up box.

"Mighty mean of Marley to play you that trick," said Mr. Marshall sympathetically, as he closed the gate and gathered up a dragging tassel.

"What—to make me come here?" asked Miss Tower in surprise. "Oh, Lallie! I've loved it! Look back."

Mr. Marshall glanced back at the little white cottage and its purple forest of lilacs. The moon was showing low and red in the warm dusk.

"You're a queer one, Cress," he said. "Why, the hotel's a bird. Bathroom on every floor."

Arnold West, waiting by the opera house door, saw the two arrive. He scanned Miss Tower's face breathlessly. She was a little blue, simply clad figure, with a cheap sailor hat set on her glorious hair. But Arnold's eyes rested gratefully on the small features and unrouged cheeks. He heard her full contralto voice as she passed. There had never been a woman like her in any company that had come to Sun Prairie since he had played first violin. The others had been creatures of loud voices, high in favor with the incredible men of the troupe. But she! And her name was Cressida. Arnold's hands were trembling again as he tried the strings of his instrument. They trembled as he drew his bow over them in the thin, sweet notes of the overture. Jefferson B. Marlybone, donning the cotton velvet of the Montagues, stopped and listened.

"Gad!" he said. "Some poor devil with an ear got himself buried alive in Sun Prairie."

When the curtain arose on the palace of Verona, Arnold sat in a fever of impatience. He had read the play a hundred times—Alice West's boy had a little shelf of his mother's well-thumbed books—and he noted gratefully the immoderate cuts which the text had suffered, since they hastened the appearance of Juliet. When at last she came, in her tawdry blue frock, her abundant hair about her shoulders, and when the boy in the orchestra heard again her clear, low voice, which all her bad training could not harm, he closed his eyes in a sudden access of something like pain. For he knew her—that she was not of the race of the others, knowing too much of the world, nor yet of the Sun Prairie women, knowing nothing of the world; but a woman with wonderful hair and voice, who spoke the words, he thought, as if she loved them. Poor Arnold had no wish to judge her as Juliet; he could not have gauged her simple art if he would; he was only overwhelmingly conscious of a star within his own barren orbit at last.

Cressida saw the boy in the orchestra. He was a noticeable figure, his pale distinction flowering from the red-faced German musicians about him. The fashion in which his great eyes followed her through the piece pleased her. Once she smiled at him, and Arnold went cold and faint, and then the blood surged to his face and he sat breathless, hungering for another look from her. The absurdity of his young self in the village orchestra going mad over a girl in a strolling company did not occur to him. For the first time in his life his delicate, detached humor forsook him, and he lived the moments as if they were the first moments of his life.

When the curtain went down and left her lying in her tinsel gown in the tomb, the boy, with streaming eyes, groped for his violin case and stumbled somehow from the theatre. It must be remembered that Arnold was barely twenty, and in his life he had never seen a beautiful woman—a woman with the beauty that has been awakened—the beauty that does not lie asleep, and dies at last as he had seen it die on the faces of the women in Sun Prairie. The boy—sensitive, high-strung, unconsciously attuned to all beauty—was profoundly moved, and he offered no resistance to the new, enthralling force that possessed him.

He hovered at the door, a little apart from the other stragglers, and watched her leave the place, Benvolio, who was Mr. Marshall again, carrying her burden. She moved up the moon-swept street, Arnold following in ecstasy to know that the same roof would shelter them. Of the morrow, when she would be gone, he dared not think. He waited until he had seen her safely admitted to the cottage and Mr. Marshall had swung away down the street. Then he went softly into the garden and stole away from the path, over the glittering grass, and threw himself in the shadow of the lilacs near the little fountain, where he could watch her window. It remained dark for several minutes. Then, to his great joy, the curtains parted and he saw her lean from the casement in the bright spring moonlight.

It had been a very long time since Cressida had looked from a window over a garden when the moon was shining. Yet she remembered herself, a shy, thin, lonely little child in her one year at school, stealing from her bed to stand in the square of moonlight that poured through the uncurtained dormitory window, and she remembered how Sister Elizabeth had carried her to bed with a gentle reproof. The moon was made to put one to sleep, Cressida remembered that Sister Elizabeth had said. And she recalled another time, when she was taking dancing lessons, and a poor young poet, who lived on the floor above, had come into her life. Three times a week he would walk home with her from the professor's to her mother's lodging—the lodging of Mademoiselle Fadette. And on those nights sometimes the moon was already shining over the little park they crossed. She could see her young poet now, footing silently beside her, his hat carried in his hand, the moon softening his tired young face. Ah, the things that he had taught her to see—and what were they? she wondered suddenly, looking out over the feathery purple of the lilacs. But she had forgotten; how could she, poor and overworked, remember how the boy-poet had taught her to notice the night, star-lit or softly dark or moon-white, as it chanced, and to take account of its beauty as the busy and the preoccupied take account of rain? He had taught her to live the moments that she was hurrying to her lesson and home again, thus respecting the out-of-doors as she respected the very walls of her ugly home; he had taught her to read about these things, too, and had laughed at her for confession of "skipping the descriptions" when she read, and he had taught her to say soft, musical verses that rested her when she was weary beyond belief. In the end she had regretfully to tell him that to share his little attic room and to learn more of the magic that he had to teach would be very wonderful, but that she meant to be rich and great instead.

Rich and great! Oh, the faint little fountain falling in its painted basin—how it stood for the splendor that she had meant to have for her own!—vague splendor, in which figured fountains and terraces, and she in trailing gowns moving about among blossoms, forever young and beautiful and devotedly admired. Instead, there had been hard work, ghastly, unspeakable drudgery, and journeys without comfort, and cheap theatres and—Marley.

As she remembered these things, looking down on the white green and the dim lilacs and the shining ribbon of water, she was seized by a whimsical desire. She had acted for other people a very long time now; why should she not, this once, act for herself? There was the fair little lawn, there were the blossoming trees and falling water, refined by the night and their unfamiliarity into positive grandeur. And here—across her trunk—lay the white-and-tinsel Juliet gown, why should she not pretend, for an hour, that the world had gone her way?

Smiling, she slipped off the cheap blue frock, and in a moment stood in Juliet's long white gown, embroidered with silver lilies. She shook down her hair and bound it about with her chain of white beads, and then she went softly down the stairs and out the door which Mrs. Meadows had adjured her to leave open for Arnold. She stepped out in the full whiteness of the moon, beating down on the glittering grass, and crossed to the fountain.

Arnold, lying in the shadow of the lilacs, watched her as if she were an apparition from the world of his dream of her. She sat on the edge of the fountain's low basin, and the moon caught the white of the beads in her hair and the silver in her gown and the whiteness of her teeth as she smiled at her whim. The strangeness of her appearance there in that attire did not even occur to him. She was Juliet; why should she not be there in white and silver, with a net of pearls in her hair? Then the boy boldly left the shadow of the lilacs and stood before her, his violin in his hand.

"Please, don't be frightened," he said; "I live here, too."

"Oh," said Cressida, startled, but at once recognizing the delicate face from the orchestra, "I know! I saw your mother's picture."

Arnold's face lighted.

"Did you?" he cried. "Did Mrs. Meadows show you? I am so glad."

He moved a little away from her, hesitating.

"Sit down!" cried Cressida briskly, waving him to the edge of the fountain beside her. "Let's talk, shall we? So you are glad I saw your mother's picture. Why is that?"

In any other surroundings Arnold would have shrunk instinctively from her words, but now he hardly noted them or was conscious of her manner. Was not her voice full and low, and was she not Juliet? He threw his hat on the grass and laid his violin beside it, and sat where she bade him.

"Well," he answered, not daring to look at her, "I always like her to see anything beautiful I have seen."

Cressida stared a moment.

"Upon my word," she said, "that's pretty, now."

The boy flushed and took something from his pocket.

"I had her picture there with me tonight," he said shyly, holding it toward her. "I saw you at the window, asleep, when I came home, and I wanted her to see."

Cressida stretched out her hand for the picture in its little black frame.

"What a nice idea!" she said gently.

Arnold stole a shy, breathless glance at her. Her face still wore the red and white of its stage make-up, but the moon softened it to beauty. The hand that held the picture flashed with rings. Her hair was loosened and fell about her neck. The long straight lines of the Juliet gown, the girl's slimness, the rainbow ribbon of water flashing over her head and the white, white moon—these intoxicated him.

All the fancy and dream in his hungry little heart, so long stifled at its bookkeeping, so long outraged in the scraping orchestra, suddenly flowered in the moment. And all the little spirits of shadow and light wind drew near him, as is their custom when there is the slightest hope of weaving themselves into dreams and spells. It was these, perhaps, that made the boy suddenly bold.

"You look beautiful," he said shyly; "like a princess. Do you mind my telling you? I couldn't help it, somehow."

Cressida stared.

"Not a bit of it," she returned cordially, and was suddenly embarrassed by the boy's dear look, and she glanced down at her gown with a laugh that was almost awkward.

"It must look right silly," she said, "these things, out here in the wet grass!"

"The whole world ought to dress like that," declared Arnold, and remembered a party at the professor's when he had sat on a balcony with the professor's daughter, who wore a high-throated, starched muslin gown. How could he have thought her beautiful?

"I came out here where it's cool," pursued Cressida, haunted by some demand for explanation.

The boy longed to have her know that he understood why she really came.

"Oh," he cried boldly, "no, you didn't! You came out here because you love the moon and the night and the—the differentness!"

Cressida looked about her.

"Well," she admitted, with a laugh, "maybe. I like it, I guess, because it lets me pretend. As if I didn't have pretending enough to do on the stage!"

"No," cried Arnold earnestly, "nobody can do pretending enough. It's the nicest thing in the world."

"When you're hungry?" asked the actress sharply.

"When you're lonely," said the boy simply. "I do it all the time. I'm doing it now."

"You are. Well, what are you pretending I am?" asked Cressida dubiously.

"Why, you are just you, of course," returned Arnold seriously, "but I am pretending I'm a great musician, with the world at my feet, and I've brought it to you—out here in the garden. And I've come to play to you besides," he finished, surprised at his own courage.

"What a nice idea!" she said again. "And you're going to take me away on a yacht, with a lot of jolly people, aren't you? Well, play for me then—really, play for me. Let's wake the old town up."

Arnold took up his case readily.

"I can play softly," he said; "I often do, out here. No one seems to be disturbed."

He stood up by the lilacs, the moon on his face, and played to her softly, softly, as one who plays and listens in dreams.

Cressida listened. It immensely pleased her instinct for the dramatic. When the boy began she glanced quickly about, with a little breath of content, and reflected that this was quite the nicest thing that had happened to her since Marley had taken her to the carnival ball and she had worn her Magda gown.

The notes of the violin were threaded on the thin under-harmony of the falling water and the light wind. The music was not the voice of the night. It was rather the voice of some heart, stronger than the night, and at such piercingly beautiful speech the night was quiet, hushing its own manifold little voices.

Gradually the girl forgot the mere novelty of the hour and became absorbed in its beauty. What did all this remind her of? she wondered. Nothing beautiful and lost, for she had had nothing beautiful in her life; unless— For the second time that night her mind went back to the young poet whom she had known. In some strange way the night and the violin reminded her of him. She wondered vaguely if he, too, had played the violin; but he had not, she remembered, and it was not that he looked like Arnold, either; yet the thought of him and his words persistently stirred in her heart. What was it that he used to tell her? If she could only remember! There had been something about a land a great way off—something about a land a great way off. And there were things which he used to tell her were dearer than the splendor that she longed for—love, of course, for one thing; people always said that, she reflected; and books—perhaps it was books; only so much of all books was stupid! And as for music—but she could not sit always and listen to music. What could it have been? Something about a land a great way off!

The playing ceased, and Arnold came back to the fountain, breathing quickly. He threw himself down and looked up into her face. Perhaps he knew, she thought suddenly, what it was that the poor young poet used to tell her about. She bent toward him eagerly.

"There is something," she said uncertainly, "that I think of and want when you play, and I think I have been told what it is, but I can't remember. It's nothing about being good—that is tiresome, and this that I mean is beautiful. It's—it's like Something you've dreamed about, and remember when you first wake up, and then forget. Do you know what I mean?"

"Yes," cried Arnold radiantly; "I know! I know!"

"Tell me," she cried breathlessly, and he hardly knew that he took both her hands as he sat looking up in her wonderful eyes.

"You mean," cried Arnold, "the sort of life that two people know about who care more for this sort of thing—this hour that we are having now, than for anything in the world, and who have this same joy in their hearts, no matter how hard they work, or how tired they get, or what stupid people they have to be with. It's being all the time just what you are when the moon is this way, and the lilacs smell like this. Oh, I knew that you knew! Tell me that you do know!"

Cressida's forehead moved in a little frown; her eyes were wide and earnest, but her look was undeniably puzzled. She shook her head and groped out with one hand.

"It's all in the air," she said; "I can't touch it, somehow. I think I know now. But tomorrow—tomorrow when we catch the seven-ten for Barlo's Centre, and the trunks don't get down in time, and Marley's cross—what then?"

"There'll be this to remember," cried the boy triumphantly, "and to keep on having."

"That was the way I tried to keep the carnival ball in my head," said Cressida thoughtfully. "When I was tired next day I tried to remember the lights, and the champagne, and the way the men flattered, and how I danced on the——"

She caught herself abruptly, with a quick glance at the boy.

"I suppose it isn't the same," she muttered, "but that didn't work."

In the boy's heart was a great wave of sympathy and strange joy. Why, this woman loved the beautiful things in the world as he did, and she was infinitely wiser and cleverer, and yet she was losing everything. In that instant the boy felt the man's longing to protect her, and, too, the boy's reverence for her.

"Oh," he said, "listen! listen! You are so beautiful! I loved you when I saw you there this afternoon, asleep in the window. And now that I know what you are"—her eyes scanned his face and withdrew—"I dare to tell you, because I worship you. I have a little money—only a little, but it will help us till my music begins to bring in more. Stay here—stay—and let us live here, and learn together the things that we want to know about—and let me teach you what it is you dream of when I play."

Cressida looked at the exquisite, trembling face so near her own, and she bent suddenly and kissed it, because she did whatever it was her impulse to do. The fresh young lips met hers and the fresh young cheek was laid against her own. Oh, was this what the music had said? Just for a moment the spell lay upon her; then she remembered. To break her contract with Marley would serve him right—that almost tempted her; but to break her contract that she might stay in Sun Prairie—in Sun Prairie! And yet, why not? Here was peace, and here was the house with the lilacs where she had longed to stay, and here was this eager, beautiful boy, and his love—and here was the spell of that other unknown thing, the spell of the land that is a great way off. Why not? She crushed his hands together fiercely, and something hard lay beneath them. It was his mother's picture—the picture of Alice West, whose boy was placing himself in her keeping.

"You!" she cried to him suddenly, "what of you? I've never thought of anybody but myself in my life. What of you?"

Arnold smiled—the confident, pitiful smile of young hope.

"I!" he cried magnificently, "I love you!"

But the woman knew; though whether it was that she grew sentimental in the spell of the moon, or that the old life called her, or that the black-framed picture of Alice West rebuked her, she never knew. But she rose with a little indulgent laugh.

"Come," she said, "I'm cold, and I have an early start tomorrow. You are delightful—but it's late."

Arnold struggled to his feet.

"What do you mean?" he cried, his face quite white.

She spoke to him with sudden gentleness.

"See," she said, "I have a long contract to fill. It would be dishonorable to break that—wouldn't it, now?"

"Yes," said Arnold, quietly enough.

"I'll let you hear of me sometimes," she said. "No—not from me; you can't think how I spell—but of me. Now, good-bye—and thank you for tonight. You almost made me remember what it is I think of when you play."

Arnold lay face downward under the lilacs until the moon had set. In the chill and dark of early dawn he groped to his room, hugging his violin. A few hours later he heard Jerry in the hall with her trunk and then he heard her step, and though Mrs. Meadows was garrulous on the stairs, he could not catch a tone of the voice that he longed to hear.

Cressida went out past the fountain and the lilacs to the village street, which was early astir for the sake of its departing delegates. A few steps from Mrs. Meadows's gate she came back and gathered a plume of lilac from the bush that overhung the fence. She drew in its deep breath.

"What was it that I thought of when he played?" she wondered again. "When I smell this I can almost remember, too."

On the station step stood Mr. Jefferson B. Marlybone, his hand in his checked waistcoat pocket, his face aglow with the satisfaction of a successful booking.

"Come here a minute," he bade Cressida, with a backward motion of his head and a lift of his black eyebrows, "Look here, now," he went on confidentially, "hasn't this gone on far enough, Cress? Aren't you about willing to make it up?"

"Willing enough," replied Cressida indifferently.

"Call bygones done-withs?" he insisted facetiously,

"All right," said Cressida.

"Well, then, that's better," said the manager comfortably. "I ain't the one to bear a grudge, and you've had your side. What's the matter—little tired? Well, we'll have to have a quiet little dinner tonight—eh?"

"All right," said Cressida again.

"Give us a flower to bind the bargain?" he added, laying thumb and forefinger on the plume of lilac on her coat.

"No!" cried Cressida passionately.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1926.

The author died in 1938, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.