gone, of course ; but if Jordan Morse should come, you'd
have to go quickly."
"I'd go faster'n anything," decided the girl, throwing
up her head.
"Your mother's father used to have a family in his
tenement house on this place, and they were all very fond
of her when she was a girl. One of the sons moved to
Bellaire. He's the only one left, and would help you, I
' \Mrbbe if you'd talk to my uncle " Virginia cut in.
An emphatic negative gesture frightened her.
"You don't know him," said Singleton, biting his lips.
"He's nearer being a devil than any other human being."
It was a feeling of bitterness, of the deadly wrong done
him, that forced him to sarcasm. "The great the good
Jordan Morse bah !" he sneered. "If he's 'good,' so are
fiends from perdition."
He sent the last words out between his teeth as if he
loathed the idea expressed in them. If they brought a
ombre red to the girl's cheeks, it was not because she
did not have sympathy with him.
Sudden leaping flames of passion yellowed the man's
eyes, and he staggered up.
"May God damn the best in him! May all he loves
wither and blight! May black Heaven break his
Jinnie sprang forward and clutched him fiercely by the
FATHER AND DAUGHTER 23
arm. "Don't! Don't!" she implored. "That's awful,
Singleton sank back, brushing his foaming lips with the
back of his hand.
"Well," he muttered, "he followed me abroad and did
for me over there!"
"Did for you ?" Virginia repeated after him, parrot-like,
gazing at him in a puzzled way as she sat down again.
"Yes, me! If I'd had any sense, I might have known
his game. In the state of his finances he'd no business to
come over at all. But I didn't know until he got there
how evil he was. Oh, God! I wish I had but I didn't,
. and now my only work left is to send you somewhere
Oh, why didn't I know?"
The deep sadness, the longing in his voice brought Vir-
ginia to her feet once more. She wanted to do something
for the thin, sick man because she loved him just that!
Years of neglect had failed to kill in the young heart the
cherished affection for her absent parent, and in some
subtle way he now appealed to the mother within her, as
all sick men do to all heart-women.
"I'd like to help you if I could, father," she said.
The man, with a quick, spasmodic action, drew her to
him. Never had he seen such a pair of eyes ! They re-
minded him of Italian skies under which he had dreamed
brave dreams dreamed dreams which would ever be
dreams. The end of them now was the grave.
"Little girl ! My little girl !" he murmured, caressing
her shoulders. Then he caught himself sharply, crushing
the sentiment from his voice.
"Hide yourself; change your name; do anything to
keep from your uncle. When you're old enough to handle
your own affairs, you can come out of your hiding-place
do you understand me?"
24 ROSE O' PARADISE
"I think I do," she said, tears gathering under her lids.
"I don't know of any one I could trust in this county.
Jordan Morse would get 'em all under his spell. That
would be the last of you. For your mother's sake "
His lips quivered, but he went on with a masterful effort
to choke down a sob, "I may honestly say, for your own
sake, I want you to live and do well."
There was some strain in his passionate voice that
stirred terrific emotion in the girl, awakening new, tumul-
tuous impulses. It gave her a mad desire to do something,
something for her father, something for herself. At that
moment she loved him very much indeed and was ready to
go to any length to help him. He had told her she must
Virginia glanced through the window into the darkness.
Through the falling snow she could see a giant pine throw
out appealing arms. They were like beckoning, sentient
beings to the girl, who loved nature with all the passion-
ate strength of her young being. Yet to-night they filled
her with new wonder, an awe she had never felt before.
Despite her onrushing thoughts, she tried to calm her
mind, to say with eager emphasis :
"Shall I run to-night now?"
"No, not to-night; don't leave me yet. Sit down in
the chair again ; stay until I tell you."
"All right," murmured Virginia, walking away.
The father watched the fire a few minutes.
"I'll give you a letter to Grandoken, Lafe Grandoken,"
he said presently, looking up. "For your mother's sake
he'll take you, and some day you can repay him. You
see it's this way: Your mother trusted your uncle more
than she did me, or she'd never have given you into his
care in case of my death. Well, he's got me, and he'll
FATHER AND DAUGHTER 25
With no thought of disobedience, Virginia slipped from
the chair to her feet.
"He won't get me if I run now, will he?" she questioned
breathlessly; "not if I go to what'd you say his name
She was all excitement, ready to do whatever she was
bidden. Slowly, as she stood there, the tremendous sus-
pense left her.
"Why couldn't we both go, you and me?" she en-
treated eagerly. "Let's both go to-night. I'll take care
of you. I'll see you don't get wet."
Her glance met and held his for a few seconds. The
vibrant voice thrilled and stirred the father as if he had
been dead and suddenly slipped back to life again. A
brave smile, tenderly sweet, broke over Virginia's lips.
"Come," she said, holding out her hands. "Come, I'll
get my fiddle and we'll go."
He was struck by the vehemence of her appeal. He
allowed himself to listen for a moment to overbalance
all his preconceived plans, but just then his past life,
Jordan Morse, his own near approaching end, sank into
his mind, and the fire in his eyes went out. There was
finality in the shake of his shoulders.
"No, no," he murmured, sinking back. "It's too late
for me. I couldn't earn money enough to feed a pup.
I'm all to pieces no more good to any one. No, you'll
have to go alone."
"I'm sorry." The girl caught her breath in disap-
pointment. She was crying softly and made no effort to
wipe away her tears.
The silent restraint was broken only by the ticking of
the shadowy clock on the mantel and Virginia's broken
sobs. She stifled them back as her father spoke com-
"Well, well, there, don't cry ! If your mother'd lived,
we'd all 've been better."
"I wish she had," gasped the girl, making a dash at
her eyes. "I wish she'd stayed so I'd 've had her to love.
Perhaps I'd 've had you, too, then."
"There's no telling," answered Singleton, drawing up
to his desk and beginning to write.
Virginia watched the pen move over the white page for
a space, her mind filled with mixed emotions. Then she
turned her eyes from her father to the grate as a whirl
of ashes and smoke came out.
Matty's story came back to her mind, and she glanced
toward the window, but back to the fire quickly. The
blizzard seemed to rage in sympathy with her own riot-
ous thoughts. As another gust of wind rattled the case-
ments and shook down showers of soot from the chimney,
Virginia turned back to the writer.
"It's the ghosts of my mother's folks that make that
noise," she confided gently.
"Keep quiet!" ordered Singleton, frowning.
After the letters were finished and sealed, Mr. Single-
ton spoke. "There! I've done the best I can for you
under the circumstances. Now on this," he held up a
piece of paper "I've written just how you're to reach
Grandoken's in Bellaire. These letters you're to give to
him. This one let him open and read." Mr. Singleton
tapped a letter he held up. "In this one, I've written
what your uncle did to me. Give it to Grandoken, telling
him I said to let it remain sealed unless Jordan Morse
claims you. If you reach eighteen safely, burn the letter."
He paused and took out a pocketbook.
"Money is scarce these days, but take this and it'll get
you to Grandoken's. It's all I have, anyway. Now go
along to bed."
FATHER AND DAUGHTER 27
He handed the envelopes to her, and his hand came in
contact with hers. The very touch of it, the warmth and
life surging through her, gave a keener edge to his misery.
Virginia took the letters and money. She walked
slowly to the door. At the threshold she halted, turning
to her father.
"May I take the cats with me?" she called back to him.
She started to explain, but he cut her words off with a
"Hell, yes !" he snapped. "Damn the cats ! Get out !"
Once in the hall, Virginia stood and looked back upon
the closed door.
"I guess he don't need me to teach him swear words,"
she told herself in a whisper.
Then she went down to the kitchen, where Matty sat
dreaming over a wood fire.
A WHITE PRESENCE
"Doss yer pa want me?" grunted Matty, lifting a
tousled black head.
Virginia made a gesture of negation.
"No, he told me to get the hell out," she answered. "So
I got ! He's awful sick ! I guess mebbe he'll die !"
Matty nodded meaningly.
"Some folks might better 'a* stayed to hum for the past
ten years than be runnin' wild over the country like mad,"
Virginia reached behind the stove and drew Milly Ann
from her bed.
"Father" Jinnie enjoyed using the word and spoke it
lingeringly "says he wishes he'd stayed here now. You
know, my Uncle Jordan, Matty She hesitated to
confide in the negro woman what her father had told her.
So she contented herself with:
"He's coming here soon."
Matty rolled her eyes toward the girl.
"I'se sorry for that, honey bunch." Then, without ex-
plaining her words, . asked : "Want me to finish about
Jonathan Woggles' grandpa dyin'?"
But Virginia's mind was traveling in another channel.
NVhere's Bellaire, Matty?" she demanded.
"Off south," replied the woman, "right bearin' south."
"Yes, the same's walkin' or fljin'," confirmed Matty.
"Jest the same."
"Then you can finish the story now, Matty," said Vir-
Matty settled back in her chair, closed her eyes, and
began to hum.
"How far'd I tell last night?" she queried, blinking.
"Just to where the white thing was waiting for Grandpa
Woggles' spirit," explained Virginia.
"Oh, yas. Well, round and round that house the white
shadder swep', keepin' time to the howlin' of other spirits
in the pine trees "
"But there aren't any pine trees at Woggles'," objected
"Well, they'd be pines if they wasn't oaks," assured
Matty. "Oaks or pines, the spirits live in 'em jest the
"I 'spose so," agreed Virginia. "Go on!"
"An 5 round and round he went, meltin' the snow with
his hot feet," mused Matty, sniffing the air. "And in the
house Betty Woggles set beside the old man, holdin' his
hand, askin' him to promise he wouldn't die. . . . Hum !
As if a human bein' could keep from the stalkin' whiteness
beckonin' from the graveyard. 'Tain't in human power."
"Can't anybody keep death away, Matty?" inquired
Virginia, an expression of awe clouding her eyes.
She was thinking of the man upstairs whom she but
twice had called "father."
"Nope, not after the warnin' comes to him. Now
Grandad Woggles had that warnin' as much as three days
afore the angel clim' the fence and flopped about his
house. But don't keep breakin' in on me, little missy,
'cause I cain't finish if ye do, and I'se jest reachin' the
30 ROSE O' PARADISE
"Oh, then hurry," urged Jinnie.
"Well, as I was sayin', Betty set by the ole man, starin*
into his yeller face; 'twas as yeller as Milly Ann's back,
his face was."
"Some yeller," murmured Virginia, fondling Milly Ann.
"Sure! Everybody dyin' gets yeller," informed Matty.
Virginia thought again of the sick man upstairs. His
face was white, not yellow, and her heart bounded with
great hope. He might live yet a little while. Yes, he
surely would! Matty was an authority when she told of
the dead and dying, of the spirits which filled the pine
trees, and it seldom occurred to Virginia to doubt the black
woman's knowledge. She wanted her father to live ! Life
seemed so dizzily upset with no Matty, with no Milly Ann,
and no father, somewhere in the world. Matty's next
words, spoken in a sepulchral whisper, bore down on her
"Then what do ye think, honey bunch?"
"I don't know !" Virginia leaned forward expectantly.
"Jest as Betty was hangin' fast onto her grandpa's
spirit, another ghost, some spots of black on him, come
right longside the white one, wavin' his hands's if he
wag goin' to fly."
Virginia sat up very straight. Two spirits on the scene
of Grandpa Woggles' passing made the story more inter-
esting, more thrilling. Her sparkling eyes gave a new
impetus to the colored woman's wagging tongue.
"The white spirit, he sez, 'What you hangin' round here
Matty rolled her eyes upward. "This he sez to the
black one, mind you!"
Virginia nodded comprehendingly, keeping her eyes
glued on the shining dark face in front of her. She always
dreaded, during the exciting parts of Matty's nightly
A WHITE PRESENCE 31
stories, to see, by chance, the garden, with its trees and
the white, silent graveyard beyond. And, although she
had no fear of tangible things, she seldom looked out of
doors when Matty crooned over her ghost stories.
Just then a bell pealed through the house.
Matty rose heavily.
"It's yer pa," she grumbled. "I'll finish when I git
Through the door the woman hobbled, while Virginia
bent over Milly Ann, stroking her softly with a new ex-
pression of gravity on the young face. Many a day, in
fancy, she had dreamed of her father's homecoming. He
was very different than her dreams. Still she hoped the
doctor might have made a mistake about his dying. A
smile came to the corners of her mouth, touched the
dimples in her cheek, but did not wipe the tragedy from
her eyes. She was planning how tenderly she would care
for him, how cheerful he'd be when she played her fiddle
She heard Matty groping up the stairs heard her pass
down the hall and open the door. Then suddenly she
caught the sound of hurried steps and the woman coming
down again. Matty had crawled up, but was almost fall-
ing down in her frantic haste to reach the kitchen. Some-
thing unusual had happened. Virginia shoved Milly Ann
to the floor and stood up. Matty's appearance, with
chattering teeth and bulging eyes, brought Jinnie forward
a few steps.
"He's daid! Yer pa's daid!" shivered Matty. "And
the house is full of spirits. They're standin' grinnin' in
the corners. I'm goin' hum now, little missy. I'm goin*
to my ole man. You'd better come along fer to-night.'*
Jinnie heard the moaning call of the pine trees as the
winter's voice swept through them, the familiar sound
32 ROSE O' PARADISE
she loved, yet at which she trembled. Confused thoughts
rolled through her mind; her father's fear for her; his
desire that she should seek another home. She could not
stay in Mottville Corners; she could not go with Matty.
No, of course not! Yet her throat filled with longing
sobs, for the old colored woman had been with her many
By this time Matty had tied on her scarf, opened the
door, and as Virginia saw her disappear, she sank limply
to the floor. Milly Ann rubbed her yellow back against
her young mistress's dress. Virginia caught her in her
arms and drew her close.
"Kitty, kitty," she sobbed, "I've got to go ! He said
I could take you and your babies, and I will, I will! I
won't leave you here with the spirits."
She rose unsteadily to her feet and went to the cup-
board, where she found a large pail. Into this she folded
a roller towel. She then lifted the kittens from the box
behind the stove and placed them in the pail, first press-
ing her lips lovingly to each warm, wriggley little body.
Milly Ann cuddled contentedly with her offspring as the
girl covered them up.
Jinnie had suddenly grown older, for a responsibility
rested upon her which no one else could assume.
To go forth into the blizzard meant she must wrap up
warmly. This she did. Then she wrapped a small brown
fiddle in her jacket, took the pail and went to the door.
There she stood, considering a moment, with her hand on
the knob. With no further hesitancy she placed the kit-
tens and fiddle gently on the floor, and went to the stairs.
The thought of the spirits made her shiver. She saw
long shadows making lines here and there, and had no
doubt but that these were the ghosts Matty had seen.
She closed her eyes tightly and began to ascend the stairs,
A WHITE PRESENCE 33
feeling her way along the wall. At the top she opened
reluctant lids. The library door stood ajar as Matty
had left it, and the room appeared quite the same as it
had a few moments before, save for the long figure of a
man lying full length before the grate. That eternal
period, that awful stop which puts a check on human
lives, had settled once and for all the earthly concerns
of her father. The space between her and the body
seemed peopled with spectral beings, which moved to and
fro in the dimly lit room. Her father lay on his back,
the flames from the fire making weird red and yellow twist-
ing streaks on his white, upturned face.
The taut muscles grew limp in the girl's body as she
staggered forward and stood contemplating the wide-
open, staring eyes. Then with a long sigh breathed be-
tween quivering lips, she dropped beside the lifeless man.
The deadly forces eddying around her were not of her
own making. With the going of this person, who was
her father by nature, everything else had gone too. All
her life's hopes had been dissolved in the crucible of death.
She lay, with her hands to her mouth, pressing back the
great sobs that came from the depths of her heart. She
reached out and tentatively touched her father's cheek ;
without fear she moved his head a little to what she hoped
would be a more comfortable position.
"You told me to go," she whispered brokenly, "and I'm
going now. You never liked me much, but I guess one of
my kisses won't hurt you."
Saying this, Jinnie pressed her lips twice to those of
her dead father, and got to her feet quickly. She dared
not leave the lamp burning, so within a short distance of
the table she drew a long breath and blew toward the
smoking light. The flame flared thrice like a torch, then
spat out, leaving the shivering girl to feel her way around
34 ROSE O' PARADISE
the room. To the sensitive young soul the dark was almost
maddening. She only wanted to get back to Milly Ann,
and she closed the door with no thought for what might
become of the man inside. He was dead! A greater
danger menaced her. He had warned her and she would
heed. As she stumbled down the stairs, her memories came
too swiftly to be precise and in order, and the weird moans
of the night wind drifted intermittently through the wild
maze of her thoughts. She would say good-bye to Molly
the Merry, for Molly was the only person in all the
country round who had ever spoken a kindly word to her.
Their acquaintance had been slight, because Molly lived
quite a distance away and the woman had never been to
see her, but then of course no one in the neighborhood
approved of the house of Singleton.
Later by five minutes, Virginia left the dark farmhouse,
carrying her fiddle and the pail of cats, and the blizzard
swallowed her up.
JINNEE'S FAREWELL TO MOLLY THE MERRY
VIRGINIA turned into the Merriweather gate, went up
the small path to the kitchen, and rapped on the door.
There was no response, so she turned the handle and
stepped into the room. It was warm and comfortable. A
teakettle, singing on the back of the stove, threw out little
jets of steam. Jinnie placed the pail on the floor and
seated herself in a low chair with her fiddle on her lap.
Molly would be back in a minute, she was sure. Just as
she was wondering where the woman could be, she heard
the sound of voices from the inner room. A swift sensa-
tion of coming evil swept over her, and without taking
thought of consequences, she slipped under the kitchen
table, drawing the pail after her. The long fringe from
the red cloth hung down about her in small, even tassels.
The dining room door opened and she tried to stifle her
swiftly coming breaths. Virginia could see a pair of legs,
man's legs, and they weren't country legs either. Fol-
lowing them were the light frillings of a woman's skirts.
"It's warmer here," said Miss Merriweather's voice.
Molly and the man took chairs. From her position Vir-
ginia could not see his face.
"Your father's ill," he said in a voice rich and deep.
"Yes," replied Molly. "He's been near death for a
long time. We've had to give him the greatest care.
That's why I haven't told him anything."
36 ROSE O' PARADISE
The man bent over until Jinnie could see the point of
"I see," said he. ... "Well, Molly, are you glad to
have me back?"
Molly's face came plainly within Jinnie's view. At his
question the woman went paler. Then the man leaned
over and tried to take one of her hands. But she drew it
away again and locked her fingers together in her lap.
"Aren't you glad to see me back again?" he repeated.
Molly's startled eyes came upward to his face.
"I don't know I can't tell I'm so surprised and "
"And glad," laughed the stranger in a deep, mesmeric
voice. "Glad to have your husband back once more, eh?"
Virginia's start was followed quickly by an imploration
"Hush, hush, please don't speak of it !"
"I certainly shall speak of it ; I certainly shall. I came
here for no other reason than that. And who would speak
of it if I didn't?"
Molly shivered. There was something about the man's
low, modulated tones that repelled Virginia. She tried in
vain to see his face. She was sure that nowhere in the
hills was there such a man.
"You've been gone so long I thought you'd forgotten
or or were dead," breathed Molly, covering her face with
"Not forgotten, but I wasn't able to get back."
"You could have written me."
The man shrugged himself impatiently.
"But I didn't. Don't rake up old things ; please don't.
Molly, look at me."
Molly uncovered a pair of unwilling eyes and centered
them upon his face.
"What makes you act so? Are you afraid?"
JINNIE'S FAREWELL 37
"I did not expect you back, that's all."
"That's not it! Tell me what's on your mind. . . .
Molly's white lids fell, her fingers clenched and un-
"I didn't I couldn't write," she whispered, "about the
"Baby!" The word burst out like a bomb. The man
stood up. "Baby!" he repeated. "You mean my our
Molly swallowed and nodded.
"A little boy," she said, in a low voice.
"Where is he?" demanded the man.
"Please, please don't ask me, I beg of you. I want to
"But you can't forget you're married, that you've been
the mother of a child and and that I'm its father."
Molly's tears began to flow. Virginia had never seen
a woman cry before in all her young life. It was a most
distressing sight. Something within her leaped up and
thundered at her brain. It ordered her to venture out
and aid the pretty woman if she could. Jinnie was not
an eavesdropper! She did not wish to hear any more.
But fear kept her crouched in her awkward position.
"I just want to forget if I can," Molly sobbed. "I
idon't know where the baby is. That's why I want to
forget. I can't find him."
"Can't find him? What do you mean by 'can't find
Molly faced about squarely, suddenly.
"I've asked you not to talk about it. I've been ter-
ribly unhappy and so miserable. . . . It's only lately
I've begun to be at all reconciled."
"Nevertheless, I will hear," snapped the man angrily.
38 ROSE O' PARADISE
"I will hear ! Begin back from the letter you wrote me."
"Asking you to help me?" questioned the girl.
"Yes, asking me to help you, if you want to be blunt.
Molly, it won't make you any happier to hatch up old
scores. I tell you I've come to make amends to take
you if you will "
"And I repeat, I can't go with you!"
"\\V11 leave that discussion until later. Begin back
where I told you to."
Molly's face was very white, and her lids drooped wear-
ily. Virginia wanted so much to help her! She made a
little uneasy movement under the table, but Molly's tragic
voice was speaking again.
"My father'd kill me if he knew about it, so I never told
him or any one."
"Including me," cut in the man sarcastically.
"You didn't care," said Molly with asperity.
"How do you know I didn't care? Did you tell me?
Did you? Did I know?"
Molly shook her head.
"Then I insist upon knowing now, this moment !"
"My father would have killed me "