In time, it came to be Anna's custom, if she awoke, to slip on a pretty kimono and make a cup of coffee for Ralph before he left for school, but if she slept, he kissed her very lightly and went out with a soft "Aloha!"
"Do you like Grand Opera?" he asked her one evening.
Anna didn't know, she had never heard one.
"You shall have a chance to find out."
The next week she discovered that she liked it–she was certain of it; it was angel land and every angel had a good voice.
Ralph did not give his undivided attention to the angels. He was perfectly conscious of the girl at his side. There was not a prettier one in sight – but they were all better dressed! A fact he could not understand when he knew her clothes to be new, up-to-date and of the best material. He set to work to "think it out" and he did. Anna was in a street suit, the others in full evening dress!
They talked it over that night and next day
Anna and Mrs. Lacey undertook another entrancing expedition.
The following evening Anna lay sound asleep on the lounge of silken pillows while Ralph sat digging at school work which had piled the higher from his previous night's neglect.
When he returned from school next day he opened the door upon a strange woman sitting in the big arm-chair. Her head drooped forward and a large hat shaded her face. No common person, she! Her clothes proclaimed taste and money. A pale blue silk dress peeped from a long, white cloak and the white hat was covered with ostrich tips. He couldn't "think it out." When he had stood irresolute as long as the lady thought proper, she sprang up and threw her arms about his neck. From behind the Dining Room portieres came a hearty, boisterous laugh, while between the curtains poked Mrs. Lacey's head.
" Do you like them? " asked the lady in white.
Ralph looked her over and approved and at the opera that night he compared her with the best dressers and was satisfied.
"What does 'Aloha' mean?" asked Anna one morning, as Ralph was leaving her with the word on his lips.
With his hand on the door knob he paused: "Why, 'Aloha' means everything that is kind and nothing that is not. It means 'Good day'; it means 'Good-bye'; it means friendliness; it means, 'I love you'; but unlike the word 'love,' it can be sent through any third person, from anyone to anyone, without offense, because it signifies whatever the receiver interprets it to say, with the certitude that only kindness is intended. Is it clear, Anna? "
Being assured that it was, he hurried on to school.
One Sunday they took an automobile ride, stopping at the orphanage for John, who sat with the chauffeur. Wildly flew John's hair, ditto his tongue, likewise his head in attempts to see both sides of the street at once. It was John's habit each time he met Anna, to tell her that when he got big he would buy a house for her; to-day he added, " and a automobile."
On his return from school one afternoon Ralph found Anna darning a pair of his socks.
"Oh, throw the things away! I wouldn't wear them, dear, if you did repair them," he explained. "I don't think they would feel good. I never have worn a mended pair."
One day Anna mounted the stairs of the Porwancher-Lacey house just ahead of one of the many "managers " of the offices adjoining her room. At the top he paused till she entered the Middle Room.
Though she closed her door,he remained standing watching it; but she did not reappear. He paced back and forth past the door, still it did not open. Finally, he sauntered down the corridor to the laundry-kitchen firm. The soapsuds lady was communing with the wash-board in front, oblivious of the apparition at her back.
Without preliminaries he said, "Who's the little peach in the middle room?"
The wash-board lady unbent her back; the unbent lady faced him. The straightened-up lady answered him, "It's me niece! "
" Oh, there's a watchdog in the case, is there? " But he left. "Business " called him to the offices the next day and the next and for many days. In time he chanced to see Ralph enter with ease the door so persistently closed.
" Ah! the man in the case," he proclaimed to himself. Then he proceeded to the tub-bent lady.
"Good day! " she heard close behind her. Again she unbent her back; again she faced him. He spoke again, "Is the swell who visits the middle room, your nephew? "
The lady of the foaming tubs put her hands on her hips. " It's a young man what is keepin' company with me niece–with me corjil approval."
"And endorsed by the police," added the "manager" of the empty offices.
One day Anna came home from shopping and found Ralph at study in the big arm-chair. Together they made oyster soup and a salad; opened a can of fruit and sliced the bread – when they arose from the meal there was nothing left but the dishes.
In due time a whisper was heard. The city turned its ear to listen. The whisper multiplied. It was Christmas, Christmas, everywhere.
Ralph had asked Anna what she wished and Anna had inquired of Ralph what he desired. They had selected John's present and now they were discussing suitable gifts for D. Porwancher and Mrs. Lacey.
"I want to do the handsome thing by Mrs. Lacey," Ralph had said, " for we are under many obligations to her."
" I'll give her dress goods and gloves," said Anna.
" I shall give her pure, unadulterated money," declared Ralph. "I am always so short of it myself that nothing looks so good to me."
That was how the soap-and-starch lady came to find five twenty-dollar gold pieces on her washbench Christmas morning.
On New Year's eve, Anna initiated Ralph into carnival life, where they blew till horns, threw confetti, laughed at everything and joked with everybody all down Market Street and back till midnight, when they were glad to cover their ears for a quarter of an hour while tell thousand horns blew simultaneously, and every bell and whistle in the city spoke.
Once Anna threw a handful of confetti in the face of a policeman, which he caught and tossed back, in the spirit of the night.
"It's jolly fun," said Ralph.
One quiet evening at home Ralph looked up from a book to say, " Come here, Anna, I want to show you something." Anna tripped over to his chair.
"That's almost a counterpart of my home," pointing to a picture.
" Why, it's just like Golden Gate Park! " she exclaimed.
"That's the Honolulu house, but the one I love is the one at Hilo Bay. I was born there, my pony was born there; Kalani was orphaned there and became my playmate brother and there Hermann Burckhardt taught me for four years. Not far from the living house is my play house. It was built before I call remember; it is one story with open sides and grass roof but covers as much ground as this entire building. I have played in it with Kalani all my life when the weather was bad. When we got well enough acquainted with Hermann Burckhardt to be sure we liked him, we allowed him to come and play with us. There's everything in it, from a baby's rattle to a trapeze bar. Everywhere about are palm trees, banana groves, tree ferns and vines, till places become jungles. And the cascades! Baby cascades, grandfather cascades; oh, cascades by the single, double and dozen. One minute rainbows laugh at you through feathery showers, and the next, the sun's smile has dried your garments. Then comes another tear, another rainbow and another smile. Do you know, Anna, it seems gloomy here without the rainbows. Hundreds of them; thousands of them! Dear Rainbow Land ! And the moonlight! The moon is four times as large as it is here. I never went to bed on moonlight nights."
" Mercy ! did you sleep all day? "
Ralph laughed, " I rode part of the night, then I lay on the veranda and slept the rest of the time. Some day you'll see my Hilo home and some day you'll own it Anna, and we'll ride all night under the big moon and the brightest stars you ever saw."
D. Porwancher gave a party one night–a birthday party. Girt was nine years old. The Middle-Room folks were invited, so was the wash-bench lady. There was a turkey roasted by D. Porwancher himself. Girt got the first helping. There was a cake with nine candles, and a candy dog on top. Girt got the first cut. D. Porwancher poured the wine and all drank many happy returns to Girt. Three glasses were empty and one was full. An explanation was called for and everybody laughed when Anna said that her wine was bitter.
"I wish we could have a whole armful of fresh flowers in a great big-jar here in the room all the time. I do love flowers," said Anna one day.
" Nothing easier than that," asserted Ralph.
"A bill for flowers explains itself. An obvious interpretation would read, 'Fresh flowers daily for bachelor apartments.' "
Next day a tabouret and jardiniere came to the Middle Room and the day following six dozen La France roses nodded at Anna from the "great big jar." As fast as the "armful" expired Anna proclaimed their successor to Ralph, who in turn spoke their name to the florist.
On a morning after an evening at the theatre, where Anna had again worn the beautiful white cloak and hat, a fellow student said to Ralph as they sat in recitation, " Say, that was a classy little girl you had with you at the show last night!"
"Sure, did you think I'd have any other kind? " returned Ralph.
One Sunday in February a great idea came to Ralph. He shared it with Anna. "Let's go out to the Park and sit on that bench, near the merry-go-round, and say the same things to each other, walk the same walks, listen to the music and run for a car at last, just as we did that first Sunday we met."
Anna agreed merrily and the program was carried out. That evening she seated herself in the big arm-chair – Ralph already occupied it, "I didn't feel the same to-day in the merry-go-round as I did that first time we rode together in it."
There was an aggrieved tone in her voice. "When our shoulders joggled together, I didn't feel any little shiver at all."
Ralph put both arms around her. " Neither did I, but this is a thousand times better; is it not so to you, Anna?"
For answer, she reached her arms up about his neck and drew them tight.
There came a stormy night when the wind shook the Middle Room with ever-increasing shudders. The unreasoning terror of the helpless sick, exhibited by Anna's mother since the child could remember, had engendered a morbid fear in both herself and John. To-night, added to the tumult of wind roar and hissing rain, two earth jars rippled through the house to accelerate Anna's quivering nerves. She sat up in bed and put her fingers in her ears; but the periodic tremors reached another sense.
To quiet her, Ralph talked: "Kilauea was the first to rock my cradle; night after night Pele has swayed me to sleep; morning after morning she has jostled me awake, but she never harmed a hair of my head – she was simply brusque in her caressings. I'll tell you a story of Pele that Joe used to tell me:
"A Kamaaina was surf-boat riding one evening when Pele, five thousand feet tall, stood up to look over her domain. At once a strong desire seized her to ride a surfboard. Shrinking her stature and putting on a girdle of ti leaves and a lei of jessarnines, she approached the man, begging to be allowed the use of his board. He, supposing her to be a bold woman, refused with an insulting answer. The goddess waited, apparently humiliated, till he came out of the surf when she sent a boiling river of lava chasing him. For a while terror enabled him to outdistance the stream, but soon he began to stumble and later, falling, the melted fire licked off one of his hands; at another fall it took a foot and at the third he never rose again, whereupon Pele, to torture him sent the lava around him in the shape of a dragon whose head and tail touched, and which ever narrowed the circle, till at last it pressed him at every point, sizzling up everything but his skull, after which the dragon lay cold and quiet with wide-open stone eyes, fixed always on Pele for her next command. Joe showed me the proof, but all I could see was a smooth round stone enclosed by an old lava coil."
He talked on till she lay down; till he knew by her breathing that she had reached No-fearland.
Long afterward, the moon looked in to see if all were well. She lingered as she looked, and smiled as she lingered, while the lace curtains threw flowers and foliage upon two children – babes in the woods!
The very next morning Anna stood in slippers and kimono begging, "Please, Ralph, please, please!"
It was all about two eggs. Two eggs there were in the Dining Room and there was nothing more. She was insisting that he eat both eggs because: " You'll have to work till noon without another bite, while I have only to dress and run down to the grocer for more eggs."
One evening, "Can you swim, Anna?"
No, she could not.
"Well, you must learn. We will go out to the ocean baths to-morrow night for your first lesson. I know you'll like it and after you learn we will go regularly two or three times a week. Father says in every letter, 'Look well to your physical development ' and swimming is one of the best of exercises. Before I met you on that blessed Sunday in the kindest of parks I had intended to get on a base ball team – if I could. But after the ride in the merry-go-round, it was –'no base ball for mine!'"
Once upon another time, Ralph sat writing a letter to his father and upon that same time Anna stood looking over his shoulder – saucy lady! "You always say 'Dad' in your letters, but I never hear you speak of him in that way."
He paused a moment to "think it out." "Why, 'Dad' is sacred; to be heard only between us two. It was what he called himself to me when I was a baby. When I grew older, I refrained from using it in public for the same reason that I would not call you 'Dear' before others."
Another day: "Can you play tennis, Anna? "
No, she could not.
"It's very easy to learn," he assured her, and she found it so. She also found it the most delightful thing she had ever done. She could not get enough of it. Whenever Ralph got back from school early, they took a hurried lunch and bearded a car for Golden Gate Park, where they played as long as they could see the balls. Then, joyously tired and ravenously hungry they rode from the park straight down town to dine at a hotel grill.
"Can you ride a horse, Anna?"
No, she could not.
" You shall go to riding school at once." And she did.
A couple of weeks later in a cross-saddle suit of dark green she took her first ride with Ralph. Often and again, they measured off the ocean boulevard on horseback, but she never became entirely unafraid, so they never attempted more than a gentle canter together, but it became Ralph's practice to take one dash alone each time, riding like an Indian straight ahead for a mile and then back, while she walked her horse leisurely in his direction.
One morning Ralph had not been gone two hours before he returned much excited. " What do you think, Anna, father is here!"
"Where? " said she, also excitedly. " Here in San Francisco, at the Palace Hotel. He came yesterday and went directly to my apartment at Berkeley. Carl covered my absence magnanimously, and father left a note telling me to dine with him to-day at five o'clock. I'll be back here to-night, though it will probably be late." It was past midnight when he returned and there was much to tell.
" Father said that business brought him, but I half believe that he came to assure himself about me. He is going to stay ten days and I'll have to remain in Berkeley till he leaves, for he will be dropping in on me at all sorts of hours. But I'll phone you twice a day, and say, Anna, I've just got to have you see him. All through dinner I was planning how I could arrange it and I think I see a way to bring it about. Suppose you go to Golden Gate Park next Sunday and sit on the bench by the merry-go-round and I'll steer father that way sometime between three and four o'clock. You'll see him as wee pass by, but he'll never guess who you are. Oh ! if I only dared lead you up to him and say, 'Let me marry her.' Not that marriage is of any consequence, but the world demands it. Undoubtedly he would see, in such a step, the downfall of all his hopes for me, and the end of my education. But I know how wrong such a conclusion would be. During my first month at Berkeley I was homesick and restless and tempted more than once to take passage for Hawaii. Then I met you. My conscience pricks me when I remember how my homesickness ceased; as though there were no home to long for; how contentment quieted the heart that had been calling 'Father, Father.' As soon as I came here to live with you, in our dear Middle Room, I began to study with my whole mind upon my work, for the great Unsatisfaction no longer distracted my thoughts. I know; I know; but how can I make him understand? "
Anna spent her days of desolation picturing Ralph's father.
Of course he would have Ralph's glorious dark eyes–only there would be wrinkles around them. Like Ralph, he would be slender and of medium height – but stooped. He would have the same black, waving hair–streaked with gray. The dusky red in Ralph's cheeks would be faded out of the father's.
In Ralph's quarters in Berkeley Albert Young sat facing the light of his life. "Well, Laddie, you've grown two inches and gained a score of pounds. If I had not interviewed your teachers and been made proud, I should have thought you had put in all your time developing the physical," and his glad eyes devoured the form before him, and yet remained as hungry as when the feast began.
Sunday came to Golden Gate Park. So did Anna. She reached the bench by the merry-go-round at two o'clock, so fearful was she of being too late to see the wonderful father. She waited long. The bench grew hard as wood – which it was. Then it grew hard as stone, which it was not. It was three o'clock and still they had not appeared. It was half past three and yet no sight of them. When it was nearly four o'clock an old gentleman sat down on the bench and talked to her a little, so for a few minutes she forgot the unyielding disposition of the bench.
When at last she did see Ralph approaching, she was dumfounded. The man walking by his side weighed two hundred and fifty pounds. He was a head taller than Ralph. He had blue eyes and no wrinkles about them. He had yellow hair–she couldn't see any gray. He did not stoop.
Just as they passed Anna, Ralph dropped one step behind to give her a smile. Instantly Albert Young noticed the movement and turned his head for the cause. He discovered it.
" Ah, you rascal, flirting with every pretty girl you see," he laughed, slapping Ralph's shoulder. " But she belongs to your class; I should not like to have you take up with nurse girls. Fine looking old gentleman, her father."
Albert Young went home, his pulses singing songs.
" Joe told father to bring me home. He said the United States was a very bad country," Ralph was saying to Anna an hour after the American-Hawaiian steamer had carried Albert Young through the Golden Gate.
"Who is Joe? "
"Joe," repeated Ralph, " oh, Joe is my nurse."
Anna laughed amusedly. "Do men have nurses in your country? "
Then Ralph laughed. "That did sound funny, didn't it? I guess an explanation is in order. When I said 'Good morning' to life, my mother bid it 'Good-bye.' Father sent to the United States for a nurse and kept her till I was five years old. Then he thought it better for me to be cared for by Joe. He wanted to guard against my being made a molly coddle. My sister was twelve years old and she, too, looked after me. Joe put me on horseback at once, first in his arms, but very soon alone. He taught me to swim almost at once. Kalani taught me surf-board riding and to climb a palm tree."
" Can't any boy climb a tree? " asked Anna, "and what is surf-board riding? "
Ralph laughed again. " I guess any boy could climb a palm tree that can climb an eighty-foot flag pole. Surf board riding is standing on a board on top of a breaker and riding in to shore. It is not as easy as it sounds, and unless one is born on the water, so to speak, it is almost impossible to learn it. Kalani taught me to swing, too – not your kind, just one rope and a cross stick. The first time I rode off on my pony without Joe's help he crawled away and cried, and so he did at each successive independence on my part. He looked upon my growing self-reliance as base ingratitude, but it never weakened his love."
The disturbing but undisturbed father had been gone many days and life was just as it should be once more. Anna sat reading "Snowbound." She had read it i school, and she had a way of liking better to re-read books she had enjoyed than to peep between strange covers.
" I wonder what snow is really like? " she said aloud.
Ralph looked up from his book. " Of course I don't know any more about it than you do, but a Minnesotan at the University told me that it is like standing in ice cream; so it must be chilly. Miles distant on the tops of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea I have seen it all my life, but it was a picture, not a temperature."
One day D. Porwancher was taken ill; so ill that he had to close his shop for three days. Mrs. Lacey put cold-water compresses on his throat and lungs, gave him hot drinks and sweated him; while Anna made him soups and went to the market for bones for Girt. When D. Porwancher was well again he gave Mrs. Lacey a gold pin and Anna a bracelet from his stock.
One afternoon as Ralph entered the Middle Room, Anna rushed at him and put her handkerchief over his nose. " Guess what I've made for dinner."
Faintly from under the handkerchief, " If I am to be smothered, I won't need any dinner." "But you'll smell it, if I don't cover your nose," she complained. However, she removed the handkerchief, but even then he could not guess what it was.
" It's scalloped oysters!" she announced, and led him over to the tiny oven on the little gas plate, where she opened the door a crack and allowed him to peep in.
"Stoop down," she commanded. "Doesn't it smell delicious? "
"It smells like good eating and then some," complimented Ralph.
When they sat devouring the oyster pie Ralph told her there was to be a great game of base ball between Berkeley and Stanford.
" I'll get some good seats and we'll go, it will be great!"
It was great. Ralph pointed out the different teams to her: "Those with a big 'C' on their breasts are our fellows and the ones with 'S' are Stanford's." He also explained the main points of the game, and Anna experienced a bitter disappointment every time a "C" failed to get "clear around the square" at one run. All around her buzzed a confusing foreign tongue " a pop fly," " starting for the pill," " loaded the pillows," " slam to short," " fumbled his roller," "bat pounder," "main squeeze," "ump failed to call," " walloped out of the box," and yet more. From a profundo basso behind, "What's he doing? Embroidering hisself a shadow-work shirt waist?"
" What you talking about? " interrupted a falsetto tenor.
" What am I talking about? Why, you big hick, can't you see that this is the made-to-order place for'em to pull the squeeze play? Only one hand gone, man on first, and a man on third, and a zoop at the bat that can lay one down, like a Jap auctioneer putting a fish platter in a plush case."
On her left Tragedy moaned: " Well, it's the bush league stuff they pull in this yard, believe me," which was seconded by his Man Friday in the words: "You'd nachully think, now, wouldn't you, that they'd get away from the old army game in a town like this. I wonder if they think that people that came over with the price at the gate, like to dig up with their cush to see this old barnyard stuff?"
" Look at that big prune! " commanded the basso; "only last week a pitcher hauled him a soak on the bean for doing just that stuff. Oh, well, lie won't miss a broken bone or two in his conk; none of them would, the bunch o' Swedes! "
Were they Swedes? Why, some of them were as dark as Indians. She would ask Ralph when they got home, decided Anna.
Vacation approached; that period which Ralph, in September, had felt certain would never arrive and which now, he wished would never come. His ideas of honor were rather high – Hermann Burckhardt had left his mark – but he had a secret conviction that could he meet Father Time he would do his utmost to bribe that official to turn back his clock.
Vacation! and Ralph must spend it at home!
The Land of the Big Moon! Bah! A San Francisco gas jet was transcendently greater–it could show him Anna. Rainbow Land! Didn't San Francisco fog make a tender frame for the blue of Anna's eyes and the crimson in her cheeks? Was there a soul in any rainbow?
Vacation coming! Ralph must spend it with his father. And such a father! The heart that forever said " yes " and the wisdom to – sometimes – say, " no." Ralph tried to think it out. He did not want to go and that ought to have been shame to him–and yet he knew it was not. The time drew pitilessly nearer and nearer. Reluctantly they thought of it, reluctantly they spoke of it, and, as an evening alone did not tend toward forgetfulness, they filled each one with theatre, motoring, or a long-drawn-out dinner at a down-town cafe.
But there were some words which must be spoken.
" I've borrowed two hundred dollars from Carl for you and I will cable some more in D. Porwancher's name. Go out a great deal, dear, while I am away so that you will keep happy and well, but take Mrs. Lacey or D. Porwancher with you evenings for protection. Isn't it strange that I should prefer remaining here with you, whom I have known only a few months, to going to my father, who was my all in all for sixteen years. There would be an intolerable ache in his heart if he knew it. Have you been entirely happy in this room, Anna? "
" I? I didn't know before how happiness felt. My mother was always too sick to take care of us or play with us or even to sing us lullabies. Sometimes she was too sick to speak to us. Then she died. Almost as soon as she was buried, my father died, and then – John was put in an orphanage and I went to live with Mrs. Brown, where I was always afraid. One day I ran away and went to my only friend, Miss Duncan; but she had to leave the city, so she took me to the Merrill's, where you found me. No one, except Miss Duncan, was ever good to me before I knew you. You're just like her, Ralph. I wish we three could live together all our lives."
"Well, there are two of us who are going to do that. For your sake I should be willing to include your friend, but personally, I am quite satisfied as the number now stands," and he insisted that Anna sit in the big arm-chair-though it was already filled.
"I feel here just the way I did in Miss Duncan's house – so happy all day and so safe all night. I never had any pretty clothes till you bought them for me and I never went anywhere for a good time till you took me. And Oh, Ralph, I never dreamed of ever having such a beautiful room as this for my own."
" There is a far lovelier home than this waiting for you out in the blue Pacific–when I'm through at the 'U.' Three years won't be long."
"This won't be bright or pretty at all when you are gone. Don't go away, Ralph." Three or four warm tears, not his own, trickled down inside his collar. He brushed some from his own eyes as he tried to kiss away hers.
Sailing day found Ralph on a steamer and Anna, Mrs. Lacey, D. Porwancher and Girt on the wharf. Anna could not see Ralph for tears, and when promptly at noon, the boat backed out of her slip, the girl dropped her head on Mrs. Lacey's shoulder and cried without restraint.
"See, darlin', he's wavin' good-bye to you," said Mrs. Lacey, but Anna's only reply was to cry on.
Almost before Anna had dried her tears, a message by wireless came:
"S. S. SKYLINE.
Two days out. Weather fine, but oh, so homesick for Middle Room. Aloha, Aloha!"
When this had slept next her heart by day and under her pillow by night, for two sunrises, its mate came fluttering in:
"S. S. SKYLINE.
"Will land in three days. Aloha, dear Middle Room."
A third carrier dove:
"Father is so glad, but I pine for the Middle Room and one it contains, Aloha, Aloha! "
"AT HOME, HILO BAY.
" Dear Hilo hills and fruits and flowers, but dearer still the dear Middle Room with the one God-given to me; for me, for me alone. How almighty He makes the bond between the two He creates for each other. Young as I am, I already know, without teaching, that it is the most powerful force in the world. I met a hundred beautiful girls in Honolulu, but one face only looked out from each, and the lips which spoke to me were the lips I had kissed two thousand miles away. I fear I mope, for father has remarked that I need rest–which I do not. I need a change of climate – San Francisco fog. But I am going to brace up for his sake and make him as happy as I can, with a heart that has committed treason to him. Oh, I do love him! As much as ever? When I started for the United States there was not one thing he could have asked of me to which I would not have replied, 'Yes, father, I will, for I am sure you know best.' Now, there is one thing, which, should he request it, I would refuse."
The earth continued to rotate and each turning made a day and even three months is only ninety days, so if the world would only continue to spin there would have to come an end to those three times thirty days; and there did. Then there had to be three people and a dog at the dock; and there were. The tears should all have been turned to smiles at this time; and they were. Upon landing, Ralph should have run down the gang plank and kissed all four – and he did!
And that is the way in which every sorrowful parting should conclude.
" You've grown like everything, Anna," said Ralph, when they were once more in the beloved Middle Room. Thereupon, they both must needs measure against the wall, Ralph marking for Anna and she doing the same for him. They measured to the same mark. Next, they had to go to the grocery and be weighed, and Anna had the best of the weight.
" You're not going to make any fairy, Anna; you'll be a Venus de Milo," declared Ralph.
About three weeks after Ralph's return Anna gave a birthday party, to which she invited Ralph, Mrs. Lacey, and D. Porwancher. It was Anna's birthday and her cake required six more candles than had Girt's. D. Porwancher gave her a chain and locket; the locket, he said, was from Girt, who, though uninvited, wished to show his gratitude for the bones she had brought him when D. Porwancher was ill. Mrs. Lacey presented her with two yards of pale blue ribbon. Ralph's gift was the talk of the evening. It was a bracelet made of three hundred tiny yellow feathers, overlapped, like shingles on a roof.
"I had it made for Anna from a feather lei of my great-grandmother," explained Ralph.
"A hundred and fifty little birds contributed to this bracelet," he continued. "Each bird has a small yellow feather under each wing, of which it is robbed. The birds are not killed, but caught and plucked of those two feathers and then set free.
D. Porwancher had brought wine and all drank "A thousand years " to Anna. She tasted her glass, in recognition, but still the wine was bitter.
Tell us a Hawaiian story," said D. Porwancher.
"The morning after Hawaii rose out of the water a monstrous bird swam to its shore and from under its wings crept brown chiefs with their wives and children.
"The sea gave them their all; food, recreation and cleanliness. Daily the daughters of the chiefs came to its edge to bathe and play. One day the maiden away heard a whisper and looking up, all dripping and shining, beheld a handsome young chief gazing admiringly at her from behind a tall rock.
"'Send the other maidens away, and I will show you something beautiful,' he whispered, and as she hesitated, he continued, 'I will lead you to pearls enough to net into a veil that will cover you from head to foot.'
" At that she directed the others to proceed farther along the shore to find a more excellent beach. When they were alone he stepped forth extending his hand which she took. He led her to the water's edge and as their feet entered the surf, the hand she clasped became a flipper and the young chief stood not upon two feet, but upon a furcated tail, while his stature grew to forty feet. At the moment she tried to withdraw her hand he raised her aloft and dived twenty thousand fathoms down into the water.
" Long and tearful was the search for Iiwi but she was never seen again.
" In time another maiden disappeared, and then another. It came finally to be noticed that ten days always intervened between the disappearances. The reason was this: the handsome chief who abducted Iiwi was the shark king, and he seized the maidens not for his food–that consisted of the smaller fish–but as a condiment; maidens being an acquired taste. He ate but one meal a day and as each upper limb of a maiden sufficed for a meal, a lower limb for two meals, and the trunk for four, one maiden provided him with sauce for ten days."
" The Hawaiians knew how to tell stories," commented D. Porwancher.
"0o-o," shivered Anna, "I don't think their stories are nice."
" Tell us a rale love story," begged Mrs. Lacey.
" I'll give you one Hermann picked up somewhere."
"Akaaka, whose name means laughter, was a maiden sixteen years of age and so beautiful that her father always left her locked in his hut whenever he was called to battle or to fish. It was his intention to sell her to some chief of great wealth. On one of his expeditions, a torrential storm delayed him and Akaaka was without food for two days. She wept and moaned hour after hour. Toward dark of the second day, a young hunter knocked for cover from the deluge. Akaaka called to him that the door was fastened from the outside. He quickly effected an entrance and stood with kindling eyes gazing at her smooth brown plumpness, her full red lips, her gentle dark eyes, the curling lashes glittering with tears, and the long soft hair like a feather mantle about her. When Akaaka had told him the story of her imprisonment he quickly opened his uki bag and took out sugar cane and taro. While she ate he looked beseechingly at her and when her hunger was appeased, exclaimed, "Wilt thou go with me?'
"'I will go with thee, my lord,' she answered, looking back into his eyes,'I will mix the poi and bring the calabash of awa to thee all the days of my life, and if Oi-e, the Death, calleth thee, I will still sleep by thy side.'.
"' Good !' said the love-stricken hunter, 'but to-night thy father's kapa shall cover us and close held in each other's arms we will forget the kolla. With the rising sun we will up and away before thy father returns.' "The morning broke fair. Akaaka awoke with brooding love in her eyes and clasping her hunter's hand they both passed from beneath the ahos of her father. At the very moment their feet touched the goat path her father came in sight. With intensest anger he gazed at the youth; with deadly hatred he noted the new-born language of Akaaka's eyes.
"'Where goest thou?' he demanded of her.
"'With the lord of my love,' she replied, with a strange courage.
"'Back, under my thatch!' he commanded.
"'Not so, respected father of my love,' interposed the youthful hunter,'even as her mother left her aged father to twine her young arms about thy neck, so would Akaaka wind hers around me, sheltered by my kapa.'
"The old man pondered warily a moment. Should he engage in combat with the boy, he, the old, would probably be fatally wounded. He would temporize; 'I am an old man, my son, and the old forget. All thou sayest is true, but I had forgotten. Take my daughter, but take her not so abruptly; give an old father time to school his heart to the age-old recurring bitterness of fathers. Leave Akaaka with me for the fulling of but one moon and I shall have disciplined myself to lift her with mine own arms into thine.'
"Sorrowfully, the young people consented, and the handsome hunter returned alone to his hut.
" Moodily, day after day, sat the old man in his doorway. The great and wealthy chief of whom he had dreamed as providing him with hogs and goats and tave to the end of his life in exchange for his lovely daughter would brook no woman already wived. But revenge soothes and cruelty relishes. On the last day before the fulling of the moon, he arose, staff in hand telling Akaaka to follow him. Up the steeps of Kilauea he led her, lifting her by her hair when she fell; dragging her where she could not climb.
" To all the males of his line, Pele owed a service once a decade, in return for a battalion of warriors furnished her by a far-removed ancestor of his during her long warfare against Kaiakahinalii who had sought to drown her.
" When he had reached the height desired, the old man opened his uki bag and took from it a skin filled with awa which he emptied on the ground; following that he lighted some twigs, and kneeling before the blaze called three times upon Pele. At the third call she arose standing one thousand feet tall.
"'O Pele,' the old man prayed, 'dost thou call to mind thy promise to the descendants of him who aided thee in thy death grapple with Kaiakahinalii?'
"Three times Pele sprang into the air. This was her answer, 'Yes.'
"'Before thee, O Pele,' continued the old man,'lies my deceiving, disobedient, unchaste daughter. Cause, O Pele, the land to break away on every side from the spot upon which she rests, isolating her, by a chasm five thousand fathoms deep, from every living creature.'
"Instantly thunder rumbled and Akaaka and her father were rolled about like marbles while a crack circled around the maiden ever widening and deepening till she sat alone high in space with an unbridgeable gulf on every side. Then the old man descended to his hut to be met at his door by the young husband. Tauntingly, he described Akaaka's predicament. The maddened youth struck the unnatural father to the ground, then filling his uki bag with food and drink, dashed to the rescue of his love. She could see him flying toward her, but the grave all around stopped him half a league away. He tried to talk to her, but she could only make out that his mouth moved, his voice could not be heard. He attempted to throw cocoanuts across to her, but they fell into the abyss before they had covered a fourth of the distance. When darkness fell, he desisted till dawn; then another day of futile effort followed by another night. The third day he saw her lie down. He knew. She was starving and thirsting to death. Frantically he tried to clamber down his side of the grave. At his first move he lost his hold and rolled to the bottom. Bleeding, he rose and tried to traverse the glass-like cutting rocks at the base. He stepped, he stumbled, he fell. He rose to step and stumble and fall again and then he rose no more.
"Akaaka had said truly, 'If death calleth thee, I will still sleep by thy side.' "
"That is not a nice story either," adjudged the dictator, Anna. " If I wrote a story I'd make it end happy."
The weather was perfect for tennis. Their joy was without alloy; the lost was found; the Beloved, who had gone afar, was returned. The swimming tanks claimed them often and their horseback riding was resumed.
One Sunday all took their lunch and went out to the beach – all but Girt. They stripped off: shoes and stockings and paddled in the surf – all but D. Porwancher. Daringly they followed far out after the receding waves. Cravenly they rall for shore when the waters turned on them. Long after Anna and Ralph had decided to rest, Mrs. Lacey continued the game. Few had been such days in her life. They ate their lunch; they lay full length in the warm sand; they watched the seals diving off the rocks, seals climbing up the cliffs, seals wailing croupily, seals scratching their chins with their hind flippers, seals yawning like sleepy children, enormous males and little baby seals all peaceably taking a sun bath together. They lingered to see the sun cuddle down in the arms of China, and they had the rare luck to see what they might have come a hundred times to see – and failed to see; a ragged bar of vapor had parted, cutting off the upper and lower rihns of the sun, and lo! licking flames in the waters, not beyond them.
Hungry and happy, they said " Good night " to wave and sand and Ralph led the party to a down-town restaurant, where they ate a delicious dinner to the music of a full orchestra.
In the morning Ralph was up and off for school betimes, while Anna swept and " straightened up the house."
Another Sunday Ralph and Anna went over to the Presidio. They entered through the Avenue entrance past the little gate guard house, on by the officers' homes, the hospital, and the rows and rows of white tents. They strolled under shady trees, over rustic bridges, by tangles of vine and flower clear to the water's edge, where, far down the reservation, the great Fort came into view, guarding Golden Gate. Anna, growing tired, sat down on a bench, while Ralph wandered farther; a young soldier came over and sat beside her, offering some bits of information on Presidio life. Whenever he spoke he smiled, but between times his face settled, dull and tired. Anna noting the shadow, decided within herself that he felt as she did at the Merrill's, when she had Sundays from two to five and car fare.
One evening Ralph said, "Anna, what do you say to shooting the chutes to-night? "
"Let's," said Anna.
" Suppose we invite Mrs. Lacey and D. Porwancher to go with us? "
"Say we do," assented she. And so it was.
At first all four shot down the incline together, Mrs. Lacey shrieking each time they struck the water. After a while Anna and D. Porwancher tired of it and went below to stand at the railing and watch Ralph and Mrs. Lacey fly into the water. Mrs. Lacey could not get enough of it, though her shrieks continued. Her play time had come at the wrong end of her years, but she gave it royal greeting when it did pass by.
"B-r-r, rang the telephone one afternoon; Anna flew to answer it.
"Hello," she called.
"Is that you, Anna?" came back Ralph's voice.
"Yes, Ralph," she answered.
" How would you like to go up Mt. Tamalpais? I've never been there. Have you? "
No, she never had, and she would like it.
"Meet me at the Ferry for the 2:30 boat then," he closed.
Anna hurried into her street clothes and ran for a car. Ralph was awaiting her at the Ferry. The boat chug-chugged them across the Bay. They stood at the rail and watched the sea gulls follow, follow, follow, never tiring, never alighting. At Sausalito they took the electric car for Mill Valley; from there they climbed the mountain in a bobtailed gasoline rail car. They read all the little sign boards along the track.
" We are now rising forty-five feet to the minute," said one.
"This is a curve of ninety degrees," another.
They rounded something like nine hundred and ninety-nine other curves that were ninety degrees minus – oh, very little minus.
"A snake could get points on twisting, from this road," remarked Ralph.
For three thousand feet they zig-zagged upward. When they were ready to return, the car brought them all the way down by gravitation.
Again Christmas came bustling along. Clerks were worked to death; street-car conductors thought on hari-kari. Beggars with one leg stood on the corners; beggars with no legs sat on the pavement; beggars with sightless eyeballs extended a pair of shoe strings; beggars without eyeballs held forth a couple of lead pencils.
Again Anna and Ralph questioned each other as to gifts desired. Once again they consulted together over presents for John, Mrs. Lacey and D. Porwancher.
Once again ten thousand tin horns bellowed the New Year in and carloads of confetti made soft walking on Market Street. January passed and the February sun grew bright. Thousands of tourists lay in the warm beach sands. Some coughed as they lay. Children of the wealthy, nurse-guarded, flitted about in blue and red and yellow, like flower petals in a breeze. Here, too, came Anna and Ralph. Sometimes they preferred to canter by the crowd on their horses. Anna sat her horse well, and never looked lovelier than in her pretty cross-saddle habit. The beach loungers watched her far.
In March, tennis was resumed. When April dropped her tears, Anna let fall some, too, for their ghost, who would not down was abroad; the skeleton in their closet was again stalking about–vacation was coming with brutal alacrity!
If they spent an evening alone in the Middle Room both pretended to read, though each saw only words which were forbidden to their tongues.
One evening after many painful evenings, Ralph broke tabu.
" Do you know, Anna," he spoke up suddenly, "that I am strongly inclined to come right out with our whole affair to father, and ask him to let me marry you and bring you home with me this vacation. If he only knew what you've done for me; what you've saved me from. If he could understand how happy we've been, and how completely alone you will be when I leave, he would say, 'Come, Laddie, and don't come alone.' Oh, he would be so good to you, if he could only be made to understand. I know my father – he'd make you forget you had ever been an orphan. He would not allow you to remember that you ever were friendless. He'd love you because I love you and finally, he would love you – because you are lovable."
Again Anna sat down in the big arm-chair already occupied. Ralph talked on: "We'd land at Honolulu, and father would give us a great party. A dancing and surf party combined. We would ride our horses out to the pavilion and dance till we were satisfied, and then we would get into swimming suits, and play in the water till we wished supper. After that we would dance some more, and finish by riding home in the moonlight."
" But I cannot dance," said Anna, regretfully.
"Is that so'" asked Ralph in surprise. He did not know when he could not dance. Always he had seen plantation workers dancing in the moonlight, and always he had imitated them. When he was fourteen he had attended dancing school, but he had little to learn.
"We'll go to Faure Dancing Academy, tomorrow night, and every evening for an hour, till we sail for home. Home! Anna, my home; your home! Doesn't it sound heavenly? "
Anna learned to dance. She learned easily. She was fascinated by it, but she had to keep her mind on the steps, while Ralph could have solved a problem in mathematics and his feet would have waltzed on, unconscious of the abstracted brain.
The ghost had become a fairy; the skeleton was clothed in flesh and showed the face of a friend. Vacation was the dearest subject of conversation. Enthusiastically Ralph talked, described and explained.
"We'll go to Rainbow Land together! At Honolulu we'll take an inter-island boat for the Bay. You'll see the house where I was born. Father had it remodeled according to Hermann Burckhardt's ideas. Hermann said that the actinic or short rays of light destroy living protoplasm and that the roof of a veranda in the tropics should come down so low that seated in a room cannot see the sky. So a lowroofed veranda, as wide as this room runs entirely around the house, and is supplied with hamnlocks, chairs and tables, for we live on it, except in rainy times. There you shall lie through the warm, still days, for Hermann would positively forbid your being outside from eleven o'clock in the forenoon, till four o'clock in the afternoon. He said that all living forms were distributed in zones, whose boundaries were isothermals, and that the human type found in one zoological zone is found nowhere else. He said that acclimatization is impossible, therefore, when migrated out of its zone, extinction always follows, sooner or later. He repeatedly said that the United States is not an Aryan climate, and is fit only for Spaniards, Japanese and Indians of swarthy skin and pigmented eyes and hair. White men in India, he said, by their intelligence, survive as long as two generations, but with all their care a third generation is unknown. In Australia, the native white families are already dying out, and he said we are safe in predicting the death of the Boer type in time. Upon that basis, father asserts that the United States need have no fear of permanent German colonies in South America, for they will die out and there will be no third generation of such blondes to cause the United States any future trouble. Hermann maintained that a species is sharply limited in its northern and southern extensions."
" Ralph ! how could you remember such a lot of science? " exclaimed Anna, putting her hands to her head.
" Oh, I didn't," laughed Ralph. " You see, father swears by Hermann Burckhardt to this day and his religious stunts consist of the intonation of Hermann's credos into my ears."
" Tell me some more about the house, but leave out the zones," begged Anna.
" All right; you're in the hammock, you know. Just lie there and watch the white doves fly down to the fountains; smell the thousand blossoms climbing over the lattice, reach out a hand and pluck an orange from a salaaming branch, and if you hunger, Kalani will run to the far-removed cook house and fetch you Kona coffee and cakes. And I shall be a nonentity ! " sighed Ralph. " Joe will fall in love with you and forget that I was, am, or ever shall be. Kalani will spend all his days weaving leis of roses for you, and father will
" Oh, Ralph, how foolish you are," and a hand was clapped over his mouth.
When the hand was removed he continued: "Then at night we'll mount our ponies and ride under the glorious moon. Ride fast and free over smooth roads under arching branches; ride gingerly over coils of old lava; ride between walls of night-blooming cereus; ride down into gulches, where you will have to stand in your stirrups to keep your mount; ride abreast over green velvet; ride singly along rocky precipices. Ride, ride, ride, till the red ball dies. Then we will return to sleep on Hermann's cool, dark veranda. Next day we will go out to the big pill-thatched playhouse and you and Kalani and I will pretend we are all just six years old again, and we will set up the toy trees and houses and animals and eat out of dishes no bigger than a dime. There will come a day," Ralph's voice took on a serious tone, "when Kalani will prepare you a meal of the most delicious food eve' made by mortal hand. He will bring you a bowl of poi! When you taste it you will call it sour paste–but don't. Don't if you want Kalani to live.
" Oh, it can all come true, Anna; I am not too young to marry; I am nearly eighteen and father married young."
" But how would I ever get you back to the Middle Room? Penned up in just one room after all the sky for a roof?"
Ralph tried to look perplexed. Then he seemed to solve the riddle. "I see! I see! There won't be any Middle Room after father meets Venus de Milo. It will be an airy suite at Sea View Villa."
The days sped, but the faster the better!
" We'll go home on one of father's boats," declared Ralph. "Captain Cunningham is my brother-in-law and we'll take passage with him. The boat is a sailer, and therefore slow, but that will be all the jollier."
A few days later: "I am thinking out my great letter to father; every day I think of something to strengthen my case. I don't want to pen it till I have made it so strong and so convincing that he will draw the inevitable conclusion that his 'No' and not his 'Yes' will wreck my future.
" When I finish school, father and I are to take a two years' tour around the world. Now, instead of two people, there will be three. The immortal three ! One for all and all for one ! "
One evening Ralph lay stretched out on the lounge among the innumerable cushions, while Anna washed the dishes in the Dining Room.
" I am going out for a Turkish bath," he said, rising. " If I am very late, please put Venus de Milo to bed," and laughing, he went out.
When Anna opened her sleepy blue eyes next morning, she concluded that it was late, for Ralph was gone to school. She leaned out of bed to look at the white and gold clock, but it had stopped–it pointed to six o'clock; but, no, it was ticking robustly. The hands must have caught. She got into slippers and kimono and went to Mrs. Lacey's room.
"What is it, darlin'? " came through the door. Anna asked the time.
"It's just six o'clock," she was answered.
Anna stood irresolute a moment and then went back to her room. She was dazed. What had happened to Ralph?
Had his heart failed in the bath? As soon as she heard Mrs. Lacey stirring she went white and trembling to her.
"Don't you worry, darlin', he's all right. He just laid down to rest after his bath and fell asleep. He'll be home soon."
At nine o'clock she said to the crying girl: " He just overslept, and when he woke it was school time. You'll be gettin' a telephone, soon."
Anna tried to kill time by dressing herself; by combing her hair; by making coffee she could not drink; by toasting bread she could not eat. Then she went again to Mrs. Lacey.
"Now, darlin', be aisy, you'll hear by noon, she solaced.
And so it was.
As the white and gold clock told twelve, someone knocked on her door. She opened it to a messenger boy, who gave her a letter from Ralph. It read:
"A terrible thing has happened. It will kill my father and break your heart. I am enclosing a money order for all the cash I can raise and will send more later. Oh, Anna, dear love, dear wife, Aloha! Aloha! "
For an hour she read and re-read the note, then she took it to Mrs. Lacey.
"He says he will 'send' the money," she pointed out. "Isn't he coming back? " and she laid her head on Mrs. Lacey's shoulder and cried as once before she had done on a wharf, when she had thought she might see him no more forever.
" Whatever is the matter, don't ye doubt him, darlin'," comforted that lady, " he'll come back just as soon as iver he can and it's not his fault, whatever it is – the sweet young man."
But when Anna had gone restlessly back to her room, Mrs. Lacey had a word with Mrs. Lacey– They're all divils, ivery one ov them," said the former lady to the latter.
In the middle of the night, Mrs. Lacey was awakened; she listened; she heard a sound; she located it; she went to Anna's room; the door opened at her touch, Anna's door unlocked at midnight! The girl forever afraid of the softest step outside her door! Mrs. Lacey found her sitting up in bed weaving to and fro and crying so unrestrainedly that the policeman on his beat might have heard – had he been on his beat.
She looked not up at Mrs. Lacey, nor ceased to weave or cry. " Oh, darlin', lay down and go to sleep. He'll be back soon. Ye couldn't keel' him away. You're the light of his eyes, and he is the true-hearted boy – that he is." And Mrs. Lacey continued to talk and caress till Anna did most unwillingly float off to No-fear-land.
Then Mrs. Lacey had another word with Mrs. Lacey. "The dirty loafer! Sure it was meself that knew him for a blackguard the first time I set me eyes on him. The hathen Oriental! "
Night after night, Mrs. Lacey was awakened. Night after night she made her journey through the door which was always open. Night after night she sounded Ralph's praises into Anna's eager ears, till the ears heard not and the blue eyes saw but dreams – dreams all happiness with Ralph forever returned!
Faint and fagged for want of sleep, Mrs. Lacey, each morning, resumed her daily stoop over tub and irons. At last it did occur to Anna that it must tire out Mrs. Lacey to be so robbed of her rest and she resolved to cry more softly – to cry with her face in her pillow. When Anna expressed regret at the thoughtlessness in disturbing Mrs. Lacey's sleep, that lady exclaimed :
"It's glad I am, darlin', to have an excuse to roam about at night. I am that restless that I don't be gettin' two hours' sleep the whole night through and I lay till me back is achin' from the bed."
Great was Mrs. Lacey at fairy tales.
At the end of the month, Anna paid the rent and waited. At the close of the second month she repeated the two acts. The third month, Mrs. Lacey paid the Middle Room rent –" Just a loan to the sweet, young man," she told Anna, " and well I know, it's big interest he'll pay me when he comes back."
The fourth month D. Porwancher paid the rent of the Middle Room. "I owed him some money," said D. Porwancher, "and I know he will be glad to have it returned in this way."
D. Porwancher, you have the essentials of a novelist !
The fifth month Anna sold the white and gold bed. The sixth month the great floor rug went. Another thirty days and the floor space was increased by the removal of the bookcase, center table and big, easy chair.
One day Mrs. Lacey met Anna at the ground floor entrance. Mrs. Lacey's arms were full of groceries. At Anna's side stood a gentleman. As Mrs. Lacey drew near he lifted his hat and passed on.
"Why didn't you ask him in, dearie?" said Mrs. Lacey. " It's when we're lonesome that we do be needin' friends. Have you known him long?" she queried.
" Only a week. He sat opposite me in the street car one day and we happened to alight at the same corner, so he helped me off the car."
Mrs. Lacey and Anna ascended the stairs.
"Come into my room, darlin'."
Anna followed her.
" Was that the last ye saw of him till to-day? " continued Mrs. Lacey.
" No, he walked on by my side that first time, till we passed a cafe, then he asked me to have lunch. At first I refused, but he urged me and I was hungry, Mrs. Lacey, so finally, I went in. He came back on the car with me. He didn't ask permission to do so and I couldn't very well prevent him, after eating at his expense. I've met him often since on the car, and each time he has begged me to let him call at my room; but I can't let him come into the Middle Room," and down dropped the tears that had worn Mrs. Lacey to an angularity that was dangerous to the public.
Mrs. Lacey pressed her pillow that night in a deeply contemplative frame of mind.
"Darlin'," she said, next morning, " do ye believe in warnin's? "
Anna didn't know. None had ever visited her.
Mrs. Lacey lowered her voice–"I always have them when there's a death! "
She paused to give the idea time to get into Anna's practical head.
"And they always come true!"–another pause.
" In all me life, they've niver failed me!'– "further rhetorical silence.
"I had one last night! "
Anna woke up. " Did you? " she asked with widening eyes.
" I did that," emphasized Mrs. Lacey. " There was three knocks on the head of the bed – that's a death! There was two knocks on the foot of me bed – that means it's in me house. There was a knock on the right side of me bed; on the right side, mind ye–that means it's a man! And last came sivin knocks; sivin do ye mind, on the left side of me bed–that means," Mrs. Lacey's voice repeated in a whisper, " that means he's been dead sivin months! "
Mrs. Lacey waited for the proper ghostly faith to germinate in Anna, and then with every faculty at " attention," prepared for a final and victorious onslaught.
" Now, darlin', isn't it a great comfort to know that he niver deserted ye at all, at all, but just died, the sweet young man ! "
A momentary halt was strategic; then the general advanced. " And ye are a widow! " The general saluted. "And it's no good ye will be doin' him or yourself by stayin' here all alone." The general sounded taps.
The gentleman of the street car called. He arrived late and left early. The first time he entered the Middle Room, he put an arm around Anna, saying, " Give me a kiss."
She stood passive, while he pressed his mouth to hers.
"Oh, warm up!" Said the street-car gentleman.
He had the habit of coming rather regularly for a couple of weeks, and then staying away for the same length of time.
On one of his visits Anna said to him, " I need a pair of shoes."
"Let me see your shoes."
She showed them. The soles were worn through and the kid peeled off in patches. He walked to the closet to see if there were a better pair which she was hiding. There were no others.
" You can get these half soled for fifty cents, and a ten-cent bottle of blacking will make them look like new." He handed her sixty cents.
On another visit Anna said, " There is nothing to eat in the house." He crossed over to the Dining Room and opened some cans. One contained coffee, the others, nothing. In a paper bag was a half loaf of bread, on a saucer, an inch square of butter.
"You should get a package of breakfast cereal; it is very nourishing and lasts a long time," he told her, " and it will cost only twenty-five cents–a cake of butter, also twenty-five cents; milk, a pint, five cents per day; one loaf of bread a day, five cents. I'll fix you out for a couple of weeks, then I'll be around again." He handed her two dollars.
Months make years, according to the almanac, and one day there came a day when it was one year from the day of the Turkish bath.
Venus de Milo celebrated the anniversary by crying. Crying the kind of tears that swell the eyelids and make the nose red – which also blister the heart and break the hold on life.
Toward evening, Venus put on her cloak and hat; also a veil. Then she walked back into the laundry-kitchen department and put both arms around the wash-board lady's neck and kissed her twice and then again. From there she descended to D. Porwancher and put her arms about his neck and kissed him on both cheeks. She found Girt and kissed him also. Then she went. Where? To hell!