cold air, often did yield to the close air of the sick-room,
and was known, repeatedly, to fall asleep at the bed
side, with a patient s wrist in his podgy fingers. But
such peculiarities were somehow connected, in the pop
ular mind, with his other occult mental processes, and
his patients usually did very well ; at least if they did
not, they were not likely to be in a state to tell about it.
So " ole Doctor Grout " had occupied a place in
Mrs. Snow s life which patent medicines but partly
filled ; and the old lady sighed, and plied her ripping
knife with assiduity. There was a long silence, and
presently she said in a more cheerful tone, " Brought
yer fiddle along, Benjamin ? "
This was tacitly construed to mean that she would
like to hear him play ; so Uncle Ben began. A younger
person, one with tact, might have chosen more inspirit
ing songs ; but the old man was fond of the more
seriously sentimental kind, and played " Old Dog Tray,"
and " The Harp that once thro Tara s Halls," and
" Robin Adair." The music came from the instrument
sweetly, but not passionately ; a tear dropped at inter
vals from the head that was bent over the old dress;
but Uncle Ben never experienced this extreme of senti
ment ; he took his griefs and his memories seriously,
as he did his commonplaces and even his joys ; but he
never felt the poignancy of the backward look and the
vanishing past, as did the aged widow. Presently, as if
noticing her depressed mood, he passed into more
cheerful fields ; he played " Drink to me only with thine
eyes ; " and " Fill the bumper fair," by Tom Moore.
OLD HEARTS AND YOUNG LOVE 291
Among these more hilarious tunes, his big, clumsy
fingers made less successful headway ; but his audience
was not critical, and both the old people caught a little
of the magic of the music. At length the widow brushed
away, furtively, the moisture about her eyes, and re
marked, " Lor , Benjamin, what good times I ve hed in
my day ! Time was when I was considered the spryest
girl in all the country. An dancin , too ! How I did
love ter dance! "
Dancing was an unknown pastime to Uncle Ben.
Many a dance had he supported with his riddle, but
the dancing itself he had never tried. The mention of
it, however, recalled scenes which were agreeable. He
fiddled away, growing redder and redder in the face.
The perspiration rolled down his cheeks in great
globules and rushing rivulets. " I b lieve I ll ease up
a bit," he remarked, and began to take off his coat ; he
followed this by removing his " dicky " and neckerchief.
" Kinder hot work ! " he added, and sat down again to
his playing. He warmed up, considerably, on the
familiar old dancing tunes, and Mrs. Snow s wrinkled
face relaxed, and her foot tapped time to the music.
" I do believe, Benjamin," she began, in a hesitating
way, " I really do believe I could step that dance
ef well, I b lieve I ll try." And she laid down her
work and arose briskly.
At that moment some confused sounds were heard,
outside the sitting-room door. Next, the door opened,
and the specious, smiling countenance of Mr. Wilbur
Blaney appeared in the doorway. Behind him appeared
the disturbed face of the housemaid who had opened
to him the street-door, and had vainly essayed to bar
his progress into the sitting room. Blaney had on his
most engaging grimace. He advanced, and bowed
suavely. " I am very glad to see you, Mrs. Snow,"
292 RONALD CARNAQUAY
he said, with a bow which he considered his very best.
" And looking so well, I must say."
He merely glanced at Uncle Ben, whom he knew
only by sight, and gave his entire attention to the now
confused widow. She was thankful, a hundred fold,
that she had not been actually caught in the frivolity of
dancing. A sense of her age came back to her ; the spell
of the music had momentarily hidden the years ; now
they rolled back upon her, with their full weight. She
felt, too, not a little annoyance, at this comparative stran
ger s coming straight into her sitting room. It was con
trary to her directions. And she responded to the eager
hand-grasp of the visitor, with perplexity and timidity.
" I recollect meeting you several times," said Blaney,
seating himself in a chair, even before his hostess sat
down ; "I know you must remember me, Wilbur Blaney,
Esq., of the North American Consolidated Caoutchouc
Company." And he extended, between the tips of his
fingers, a large, showy-looking business card.
The widow took it vaguely, but did not look at it.
She simply sat, in a repressed way, while her visitor set
his glib tongue in purposeful motion, and unfolded to
her the unparalleled possibilities for wealth of this Com
pany of which he was the secretary. "You see, my
dear Mrs. Snow," said he, with fervor, "there is just
now a rare opening for capital, in the rubber world. All
the trades are using rubber very largely, and the demand
exceeds the supply. With all this use of rubber for
wheels, as, for instance, on bicycles and motor carriages,
there is no such thing as meeting the demand. And,
my dear Mrs. Snow, what is the result ? I will tell you.
Rubber is going up, going up."
Blaney pictured to his listener this process of levitation,
by gracefully raising his hands into the air. Uncle Ben
chanced, just then, to look across from the farther end
OLD HEARTS AND YOUNG LOVE 293
of the room, at the couple, and thought the visitor was
pronouncing a benediction on his old friend ; but the
hands were quickly lowered, and the voluble tongue sped
on in its persuasive speech. " Now, you see, the largest
part of the rubber, or caoutchouc, as it should more
properly be called, used in the industrial world, has
been taken, heretofore, from the back forests of South
America ; but now, so great has been the demand, that
even those forests have become denuded of their rub
ber trees, and there will soon be a scarcity of rubber in
Blaney leaned over affectionately toward his victim,
as he poured out this flood of talk. It was a situation
in which he excelled ; he really believed, at least for the
moment, all that he expressed. He dearly loved to
make large talk, on just such themes as this, for it opened
up a vastness of area in which his pettiness expanded
and rested itself. " Now, Mrs. Snow," he continued,
holding her attention with his forefinger, but himself
gazing across the room, "the world looks to America
for its great staple products. And England and France
and Germany and other great nations are stretching out
their hands to us, for the fundamental necessaries of life.
Give us wheat, they say, and give us vegetables,
and give us rubber. And what reply and response
shall we give ? Mrs. Snow, in a few years the answer
and reply and response will be made and given by this
great Consolidated Caoutchouc Company, of which I
have the honor, the distinguished honor, to be the secre
tary. Listen, madam ! " And Blaney s voice dropped
into a whisper. " The great Consolidated Caoutchouc
Company is buying up thousands of acres in Florida,
and is preparing to plant rubber trees, and, ere long,
will be able to give a complete and full and adequate
response to all European demands."
294 RONALD CARNAQUAY
He fixed his enthusiastic gaze on the aged woman,
who seemed somewhat disconcerted, but showed no sign
of a responsive enthusiasm. After pausing a moment,
as if in rapt vision of the glorious future, Blaney con
tinued, in his most confidential tone, " Now, Mrs. Snow,
I thought that you might like to know about this rare
investment, and I came around to give you such infor
mation as lay in my power. Any money which you put
into this investment will be like like bread cast upon
the waters ; it will return to you buttered after
not many, many days."
His manner was cheerful and sympathetic ; and the
old lady, although she had met his entrance with annoy
ance, was somewhat gratified at the sound of a friendly,
masculine voice a sound which was very rare within
the walls of her home. She rallied a little from her
discomfiture, and gave the talkative little man some in
telligent attention. Then she asked one or two ques
tions, and each question acted like an incautious foot-fall
on an Alpine peak it dislodged masses of verbiage
which threatened to overwhelm her. The name of the
company seemed to trouble her, and she asked twice
over about it. "Caoutchouc, Caoutchouc?" she pon
dered distrustfully. " What s that ? Sounds kinder like
The agile Blaney met the random shot with skill.
" Well, I can assure you, m am, our company s not to be
sneezed at." And then he seemed immensely delighted,
and glanced around, hoping that the other occupant of
the room perceived his clever wit. But Uncle Ben was
impassively gazing out of the window, unmoved and ex
pressionless, a spectacle of interest to sundry people on
" I assure you, my dear Mrs. Snow," began the secre
tary again, in a soft, purring tone, " this is a rare oppor-
OLD HEARTS AND YOUNG LOVE 295
tunity to double and even treble money. It is a sure
thing. You can take ten, twenty, or a hundred shares,
ten dollars a share, and you will see your money come
back fifty and a hundred fold."
It was a fact perceived by the wily secretary, that
his victim was weakening ; she was foreordained, by
forty years of married life with the departed Snow, a
masterful spirit, to weakly yield to masculine assertion
and domination. " How how er much did you
say the shares were?" she asked.
" Ten dollars, madam," responded Blaney, with dig
nity. " We thought at first of putting them at one
hundred each; but our company is very broad and phil
anthropic, and decided to put them down to ten, in order
that people who were not wealthy might be enabled to
increase their slender property." This was a good place
for him to stop ; but Wilbur Blaney never knew the
value of what orators call "the pause." And he had
an instinct to fill every blank moment with words. The
old lady was really very near the point of ignition, if he
had allowed her to focus her thought a few moments
longer upon her will. But he began to describe the
grandeur of this rubber forest that was to be, in Florida,
and when he paused, the widow asked vaguely, " How
long long does it take them trees ter ter grow
up and and bear the rubber?" Evidently she thought
that boots and tires and coats were to be gathered, as
finished products, from the branches.
" Oh, only a Blaney started to give the usual an
swer "only a few years." But his quick senses told
him that for such a listener and possible investor as this
aged dame the term of " a few years " might seem in
conveniently long ; and he covered his sentence in a
cough and then brought it out again in new form,
" Only a very short time, my dear Mrs. Snow a very,
296 RONALD CARNAQUAY
very short time." Then he graphically pictured the fer
tility of the Florida soil, and the readiness, yes, the eager
ness, of the rubber tree to rise into towering luxuriance
especially when planted and encouraged by the great
North American Consolidated Caoutchouc Company.
There was a luscious prodigality in Blaney s language,
which made the old lady almost think that rubber was
edible and very palatable ; but she restrained her partly
hypnotized faculties, and tried to look at the plain facts.
Suddenly she bethought her of Uncle Ben. " Benja
min," she said, more in her normal tone of quiet assur
ance, " Benjamin, come over here ! "
How much of the conversation the old man had
heard cannot be stated, but he had gathered enough to
understand what the visitor s errand was. He walked
across the room, and Mrs. Snow said, " Benjamin, Mr.
Blaney wants me ter invest in in something.
What do you think about it ? "
The agent of the Consolidated felt a natural chagrin,
at having all his expansive dissertation on rubber and
climate and shares suddenly condensed into the one
vague word " something." But he recovered quickly,
and advanced to the attack. He had nearly carried one
redoubt, and, as in the Boer War, here was another
revealed behind it. " How do you do ? " he began,
meeting the old man with his blandest manner. Then,
as Uncle Ben volunteered nothing, he went on in his
nervous, nimble way, repeating much of the " patter "
which he had given to the widow. Through it all Uncle
Ben maintained an inscrutable mien, looking straight at
the secretary and uttering no word. There were sev
eral very convenient stopping-places, as there often are
in long-winded preachers discourses, but Blaney never
knew how to make an exit; and he "stayed in," with
increasing weariness to his listeners.
OLD HEARTS AND YOUNG LOVE 297
Finally, at one pause, longer than usual, the widow
turned to Uncle Ben, " Benjamin, what do you think
of this plan ? "
The old man cleared his throat, and then delivered
himself, briefly, but intelligibly, with precisely the candor
he would have shown in setting a value on a cow or a
horse. " Mis Snow," he said, " I don t jest like the
looks er this man." He addressed the widow as he
spoke. Then he turned his great red honest face full
on the now angry visitor, gazed thoughtfully at him for
a moment, and, turning again toward his old friend, he
said, " Tears ter me t he don t look jest honest."
Well ! This was a pleasant sentence to fall on the
Blaney ears, but the Blaney face and eyes and gestures
all justified it. "I I don t understand, sir, what
what you mean," bristled he, with features working
wrathfully. " I have never been so insulted in my
He was astonished and angry and dreadfully disap
pointed. He drew out his handkerchief, wiped his
forehead, then his hands, and restored the fabric to his
pocket. Mrs. Snow was somewhat surprised, and vis
ibly trembled, but she said nothing. Both the old
people remained silent and impassive. The natural
reticence of age served them well ; and Wilbur Blaney,
after two or three futile attempts to repair the breach in
his defences, made by these two destructive bomb-shells
of Uncle Ben s, and after repressing a rising desire to
strike the imperturbable old man to the floor, fumed
and fretted his way to the door, and went out with a
Mrs. Snow sank back into the chair from which she
had partly risen. "Lor sakes, Benjamin," she gasped,
" I feel all upset." And her hands trembled so that
she could hardly gain possession of her handkerchief.
298 RONALD CARNAQUAY
" There, there, Elviry ! Naow don t take on so ! "
said Uncle Ben, comfortingly. " It s all over, and you
haint a-goin ter be swindled." Whereupon fresh rec
ollections of the harrowing interview came upon the
widow, and she sobbed and rocked nervously.
The door opened once more, and the housemaid
looked in to be assured that everything was right. Mrs.
Snow caught sight of her, and at once lost her feelings
of feebleness in more robust emotions of anger. " You
hussy ! " exclaimed the old lady, "what did you let that
awful man in for ? Haven t I told you, time and again,
not to let in any of those agents and canvassers and
such things? I have never "
The housemaid was a Yankee girl, untrained and in
solent, and she broke in upon her mistress with reso
nant tones that silenced that lady s thin, piping voice :
" Well, I d have yer know that he came right in him
self. I told him that it was against orders, but he jest
elbowed his way right in. The cheek of the man ! "
And the girl tossed her head, and stood with arms akimbo,
with all the self-assertion of a falsely accused, free-born
Mrs. Snow was convinced, and again took refuge in
tears. The maid backed out, scolding Blaney, Mrs. Snow,
and even herself. " O dear me, Benjamin ! " sobbed the
widow, after the maid departed, " I m a poor lonely old
woman, unprotected." And she cast an appealing look
up at the wall, where hung the portrait of her departed
husband, grim and resolute, even in paint and canvas,
and much more so in the flesh.
Uncle Ben was about as skilful in comforting a weep
ing woman, as a cow would have been in caring for a
deserted kitten or a bereft chicken ; but his intentions
were of the best, and when he tried to wipe the old
.dame s brown wrinkled forehead, with a piece of the
OLD HEARTS AND YOUNG LOVE 299
old black dress which she was " ripping," the clumsy
kindness of the act made the widow laugh, and she
caught Uncle Ben s big hairy paw, and clung to it with
affection. "Benjamin," she said, "you re the only real
friend I ve got. All these folks in the house is time-
servers. All of em after money, and all losin sleep
nights tryin to think how they can get rid o their
work. Oh, Benjamin," she continued with increasing
and pathetic earnestness, " there ain t no place in the
world for an old woman like me. All the book agents
and the committees a-chasin after me, a-wantin sub
scriptions and contributions not one of em cares a
pennyworth about me myself, but all with an eye for
my money. The door-bell never rings, Benjamin, day
in an day out, without it s somebody that s tryin to get
somethin out er me." And she rocked back and forth,
overcome with her loneliness and helplessness.
Uncle Ben made no further attempt to quiet her, but
stood, open-mouthed and mildly compassionate, waiting
for the storm to subside. Suddenly a new idea came
to the widow. " Benjamin," she said, speaking with
quietness and resolution, " I m a-goin ter say some
thing to you something serious. I m I m " Here
she broke off, and, looking fixedly at him a moment,
she continued, " Benjamin, put on your vest and dicky
again ! "
Uncle Ben stared a moment, then obeyed. He pres
ently stood, fully clothed, in " Mis " Snow s presence.
" Now, Benjamin, you re in a fit state of body and of
mind, I hope, to hear the serious words I m a-goin ter
say ter ye.
"Benjamin, I m alone an you re alone; we re both
alone ; an an the Scripture says says that it ain t
good for folks ter be alone. Now I ve bout made up
my mind that you an I d better git married. I don t
300 RONALD CARNAQUAY
really trust anybody in the world, Benjamin, xcept
you; and "
"Did you say er merried?" queried Uncle
Ben, showing more genuine surprise in his mild, dim,
blue eyes than had appeared there for years.
"I did, jest that," retorted the widow, defiantly, her
strength and spirit reviving.
"All right," assented Uncle Ben, submissively, and
waited for further information.
" As I was a-sayin ," continued the widow, " I m
alone, an you re alone ; an I m hunted almost ter
death, by agents and sich, an I m lorded it over by
these upstart servant girls, an if you was reg larly my
husband, Benjamin, you could protect me as you can t
" P r aps I could," agreed Uncle Ben, gently, yet
"Yes, you certainly could. An I want that hussy
discharged, first of all; that one that talked back to
me so, jest now. I ve tried twice ter discharge her,
but I somehow couldn t. I told her ter go, an she
jest laughed at me. O dear, dear!" and once more
the poor, desolate, feeble old lady sank back in tears.
Uncle Ben cleared his throat and began, " I d hev
ter stay ter hum with the cats, nights, Elviry, I I
really would, yer know. But days, now, I could be
over here most er the time."
His reflections were of an interrogative nature, and
Mrs. Snow received them as such. " Yes, you could
keep the cats, an stay over ter your place nights ; but
if we was married, that would give yer power an
authority ter ter protect me. Oh, Benjamin, I m
I m a poor, lone old woman." And again sobs and
Soon she roused herself, and went on with the sub-
OLD HEARTS AND YOUNG LOVE 301
ject. Evidently she had thought it out before, and this
recent annoying episode had merely chemically precipi
tated in her mind what was before a strong solution.
She had about half supported her old friend, during the
past dozen years, and but few changes would be made
in either of their lives by the union. " You must have
some better clothes, Benjamin," she said thoughtfully,
" an I won t have yer a-carryin that fiddle back an
forth in the streets ; I ll get yer another one, an yer
can keep one in each place. Now now, Benjamin, I
feel a lot better already ; an I want you ter go an get
the papers, whatever is necessary, the the license, I
mean. An if you ll have your friend, Mr. Freeman,
come around here some day soon, we ll be married ;
yes, married. My heart s set on it."
So Uncle Ben, always having obeyed " Mis " Snow,
obeyed her in this particular, and agreed to go, the next
day, to the city hall, and take out the required license.
THE PRICE OF BLOOD
" Not what we give, but what we share.
For the gift without the giver is bare."
J. R. LOWELL.
So the two old people were made one one in the
sight of the law, as they had been one in trustfulness
and sympathy for years past. The marriage caused no
stir. There was no general interest aroused in it. One
newspaper had three or four lines about it ; but few
readers had even heard about the names of the contract
ing parties ; indeed, several persons who were familiar
with the large figure of the old man, ruddy faced and
white haired, knew him only as "Uncle Ben," and they
did not recognize him under the dignified title of Ben
jamin Symmes Birch. In the household of Mrs. Snow
a considerable flurry was stirred up in spinster breasts ;
but as the members of the household were apprised
of the coming event, only twenty-four hours before it
happened, the tide of emotion did not have time to
reach a very great height. Mrs. Snow was naturally
timid and defenceless, in the hands of the "help," and
in this matter of a marriage she was especially sensitive.
She did not quite dare to say the surprising words
directly to anybody in the house ; so she wrote a note to
the cook, who was the leader in all household insubordi
nation, and broke the news in this way. The cook at
once became dignified and taciturn, but was not forget
ful of her professional duties. She prepared, with skill
THE PRICE OF BLOOD 303
and despatch, a wedding-cake ; but she made it in the
largest possible baking-pan, giving it vast area, and on
this expansive, snowy surface she wrote her virtuous
protest. She inscribed, in that pink composition of liquid
sweetness, known more intimately in the kitchen than in
the library, the number "74," this being the age of the
widow, to the best of the cook s knowledge.
Mr. Freeman came to the house one afternoon, the
two old people were married, and then the three returned,
each to his usual routine of life : Mrs. Birch to her sew
ing and knitting, Uncle Ben to his chores and cats,
and Mr. Freeman to his multifarious duties. The busy
clergyman had been somewhat surprised, at learning
about the intended marriage, but now that it was over,
it seemed not a bad plan after all ; moreover Mr. Free
man was so deeply absorbed, at this time, in certain
labor-union troubles, that he had little attention to give
to other affairs. The masons of the city had struck, in
a body, and after a week s idleness had gone back to
work ; and it was understood that the minister of the
chapel on the North Side had been an effective force
in bringing about this result.
During the several years in which Freeman had
shared the life of this quarter of the city, he had
steadily gained in influence among all classes. There
was a simplicity about him which made him easy to get
at, and made his words carry conviction. He wore no
clerical costume whatever, and did not arouse that idle
transient interest, which is aroused in work like his by
persons who affect a peculiar garb. Such an interest is
useful up to a certain point ; but in the end it precludes
that mutual confidence, which can exist between two
human beings, only as each feels the resemblances that
unite, and forgets the differences which tend to keep
304 RONALD CARNAQUAY
Beyond this, Lawrence had a real interest in sociologi
cal matters. His name was becoming a familiar one, in
the lists of contributors to economic journals, and he
was frequently invited to address conventions and
associations, on economic and sociological topics. This
side of His life was but little known to the rank and file
of the workmen, and to but few of their leaders ; but so
just and intelligent a character as his very favorably
interested such men in overalls as met him. He had
attended some of their meetings, and they naturally
turned to him, after their week s idleness and anxiety,
and he met a large committee and conferred with them.
Exactly how that conference went on, nobody clearly