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and wrapper-clad. She carried a clinking silver chatelaine, however,
and at the door she opened it and took out a quarter, extending it
with a regal gesture to the elevator-man.

"Here, old sport," she said, "go and blow yourself to a drink. It's
Easter."

Such munificence appalled the ward.

Rosie was not alone. Behind her, uncomfortable and sullen, was Al.
The ward, turning from the episode of the quarter, fixed on him
curious and hostile eyes; and Al, glancing around the ward from the
doorway, felt their hostility, and plucked Rosie's arm.

"Gee, Rose, I'm not going in there," he said. But Rosie pulled him
in and presented him to the Nurse.

Behind the screen, Claribel, shut off from her view of the open
window, had taken to staring at the ceiling again.

When the singing came up the staircase from the chapel, she had
moaned and put her fingers in her ears.

"Well, I found him," said Rosie cheerfully. "Had the deuce of a time
locating him." And the Nurse, apprising in one glance his stocky
figure and heavy shoulders, his ill-at-ease arrogance, his weak, and
just now sullen but not bad-tempered face, smiled at him.

"We have a little girl here who will be glad to see you," she said,
and took him to the screen. "Just five minutes, and you must do the
talking."

Al hesitated between the visible antagonism of the ward and the
mystery of the white screen. A vision of Claribel as he had seen her
last, swollen with grief and despair, distorted of figure and
accusing of voice, held him back. A faint titter of derision went
through the room. He turned on Rosie's comfortable back a look of
black hate and fury. Then the Nurse gave him a gentle shove, and he
was looking at Claribel - a white, Madonna-faced Claribel, lying now
with closed eyes, her long lashes sweeping her cheek.

The girl did not open her eyes at his entrance. He put his hat
awkwardly on the foot of the bed, and, tiptoeing around, sat on the
edge of the stiff chair.

"Well, how are you, kid?" he asked, with affected ease.

She opened her eyes and stared at him. Then she made a little clutch
at her throat, as if she were smothering.

"How did you - how did you know I was here?"

"Saw it in the paper, in the society column." She winced at that,
and some fleeting sense of what was fitting came to his aid. "How
are you?" he asked more gently. He had expected a flood of
reproaches, and he was magnanimous in his relief.

"I've been pretty bad; I'm better."

"Oh, you'll be around soon, and going to dances again. The Maginnis
Social Club's having a dance Saturday night in Mason's Hall."

The girl did not reply. She was wrestling with a problem that is as
old as the ages, although she did not know it - why this tragedy of
hers should not be his. She lay with her hands crossed quietly on
her breast and one of the loosened yellow braids was near his hand.
He picked it up and ran it through his fingers.

"Hasn't hurt your looks any," he said awkwardly. "You're looking
pretty good."

With a jerk of her head she pulled the braid out of his fingers.

"Don't," she said and fell to staring at the ceiling, where she had
written her problem.

"How's the - how's the kid?" - after a moment.

"I don't know - or care."

There was nothing strange to Al in this frame of mind. Neither did
he know or care.

"What are you goin' to do with it?"

"Kill it!"

Al considered this a moment. Things were bad enough now, without
Claribel murdering the child and making things worse.

"I wouldn't do that," he said soothingly. "You can put it somewhere,
can't you? Maybe Rosie'll know."

"I don't want it to live."

For the first time he realised her despair. She turned on him her
tormented eyes, and he quailed.

"I'll find a place for it, kid," he said. "It's mine, too. I guess
I'm it, all right."

"Yours!" She half rose on her elbow, weak as she was. "Yours! Didn't
you throw me over when you found I was going to have it? Yours! Did
you go through hell for twenty-four hours to bring it into the
world? I tell you, it's mine - mine! And I'll do what I want with it.
I'll kill it, and myself too!"

"You don't know what you're saying!"

She had dropped back, white and exhausted.

"Don't I?" she said, and fell silent.

Al felt defrauded, ill-treated. He had done the right thing; he had
come to see the girl, which wasn't customary in those circles where
Al lived and worked and had his being; he had acknowledged his
responsibility, and even - why, hang it all - -

"Say the word and I'll marry you," he said magnanimously.

"I don't want to marry you."

He drew a breath of relief. Nothing could have been fairer than his
offer, and she had refused it. He wished Rosie had been there to
hear.

And just then Rosie came. She carried the baby, still faintly
odorous of violets, held tight in unaccustomed arms. She looked
awkward and conscious, but her amused smile at herself was half
tender.

"Hello, Claribel," she said. "How are you? Just look here, Al! What
do you think of this?"

Al got up sheepishly and looked at the child.

"Boy or girl?" he asked politely.

"Girl; but it's the living image of you," said Rose - for Rose and
the Nurse were alike in the wiles of the serpent.

"Looks like me!" Al observed caustically. "Looks like an over-ripe
tomato!"

But he drew himself up a trifle. Somewhere in his young and
hardened soul the germs of parental pride, astutely sowed, had taken
quick root.

"Feel how heavy she is," Rose commanded. And Al held out two arms
unaccustomed to such tender offices.

"Heavy! She's about as big as a peanut."

"Mind her back," said Rose, remembering instructions.

After her first glance Claribel had not looked at the child. But
now, in its father's arms, it began to whimper. The mother stirred
uneasily, and frowned.

"Take it away!" she ordered. "I told them not to bring it here."

The child cried louder. Its tiny red face, under the powder, turned
purple. It beat the air with its fists. Al, still holding it in his
outstretched arms, began vague motions to comfort it, swinging it up
and down and across. But it cried on, drawing up its tiny knees in
spasms of distress. Claribel put her fingers in her ears.

"You'll have to feed it!" Rose shouted over the din.

The girl comprehended without hearing, and shook her head in sullen
obstinacy.

"What do you think of that for noise?" said Al, not without pride.
"She's like me, all right. When I'm hungry, there's hell to pay if
I'm not fed quick. Here," - he bent down over Claribel, - "you might
as well have dinner now, and stop the row."

Not ungently, he placed the squirming mass in the baptismal dress
beside the girl on the bed. With the instinct of ages, the baby
stopped wailing and opened her mouth.

"The little cuss!" cried Al, delighted. "Ain't that me all over?
Little angel-face the minute I get to the table!"

Unresisting now, Claribel let Rose uncover her firm white breast.
The mother's arm, passively extended by Rose to receive the small
body, contracted around it unconsciously.

She turned and looked long at the nuzzling, eager mouth, at the red
hand lying trustfully open on her breast, at the wrinkled face, the
indeterminate nose, the throbbing fontanelle where the little life
was already beating so hard.

"A girl, Rose!" she said. "My God, what am I going to do with her?"

Rose was not listening. The Junior Medical's turn had come at last.
Downstairs in the chapel, he was standing by the organ, his head
thrown back, his heavy brown hair (which would never stay parted
without the persuasion of brilliantine) bristling with earnestness.

"_O'er all the way, green palms and blossoms gay_,"

he sang, and his clear tenor came welling up the staircase to Liz,
and past her to the ward, and to the group behind the screen.

"_Are strewn this day in festal preparation,
Where Jesus comes to wipe our tears away -
E'en now the throng to welcome Him prepare._"

On the throne-chair by the record-table, the Nurse sat and listened.
And because it was Easter and she was very happy and because of the
thrill in the tenor voice that came up the stairs to her, and
because of the page in the order-book about bran baths and the rest
of it, she cried a little, surreptitiously, and let the tears drop
down on a yellow hospital record.

The song was almost done. Liz, on the stairs, had fed her baby
twenty minutes too soon, and now it lay, sleeping and sated, in her
lap. Liz sat there, brooding over it, and the last line of the song
came up the staircase.

"_Blessed is He who comes bringing sal-va-a-a-ation!_"

the Junior Medical sang.

The services were over. Downstairs the small crowd dispersed slowly.
The minister shook hands with the nurses at the door, and the Junior
Medical rolled up his song and wondered how soon he could make
rounds upstairs again.

Liz got up, with her baby in her arms, and padded in to the
throne-chair by the record-table.

"He can sing some, can't he!" she said.

"He has a beautiful voice." The Nurse's eyes were shining.

Liz moved off. Then she turned and came back.

"I - I know you'll tell me I'm a fool," she said; "but I've decided
to keep the kid, this time. I guess I'll make out, somehow."

Behind the screen, Rosie had lighted a cigarette and was smoking,
sublimely unconscious of the blue smoke swirl that rose in telltale
clouds high above her head. The baby had dropped asleep, and
Claribel lay still. But her eyes were not on the ceiling; they were
on the child.

Al leaned forward and put his lips to the arm that circled the baby.

"I'm sorry, kid," he said. "I guess it was the limit, all right. Do
you hate me?"

She looked at him, and the hardness and defiance died out of her
eyes. She shook her head.

"No."

"Do you - still - like me a little?"

"Yes," in a whisper.

"Then what's the matter with you and me and the little mutt getting
married and starting all over - eh?"

He leaned over and buried his face with a caressing movement in the
hollow of her neck.

Rose extinguished her cigarette on the foot of the bed, and, careful
of appearances, put the butt in her chatelaine.

"I guess you two don't need me any more," she said yawning. "I'm
going back home to bed."




"ARE WE DOWNHEARTED? NO!"


I

There are certain people who will never understand this story,
people who live their lives by rule of thumb. Little lives they are,
too, measured by the letter and not the spirit. Quite simple too.
Right is right and wrong is wrong.

That shadowy No Man's Land between the trenches of virtue and sin,
where most of us fight our battles and are wounded, and even die,
does not exist for them.

The boy in this story belonged to that class. Even if he reads it he
may not recognise it. But he will not read it or have it read to
him. He will even be somewhat fretful if it comes his way.

"If that's one of those problem things," he will say, "I don't want
to hear it. I don't see why nobody writes adventure any more."

Right is right and wrong is wrong. Seven words for a creed, and all
of life to live!

This is not a war story. But it deals, as must anything that
represents life in this year of our Lord of Peace, with war. With
war in its human relations. Not with guns and trenches, but with
men and women, with a boy and a girl.

For only in the mass is war vast. To the man in the trench it
reduces itself to the man on his right, the man on his left, the man
across, beyond the barbed wire, and a woman.

The boy was a Canadian. He was twenty-two and not very tall. His
name in this story is Cecil Hamilton. He had won two medals for
life-saving, each in a leather case. He had saved people from
drowning. When he went abroad to fight he took the medals along. Not
to show. But he felt that the time might come when he would not be
sure of himself. A good many men on the way to war have felt that
way. The body has a way of turning craven, in spite of high
resolves. It would be rather comforting, he felt, to have those
medals somewhere about him at that time. He never looked at them
without a proud little intake of breath and a certain swelling of
the heart.

On the steamer he found that a medal for running had slipped into
one of the cases. He rather chuckled over that. He had a sense of
humour, in spite of his seven-word creed. And a bit of superstition,
for that night, at dusk, he went out on to the darkened deck and
flung it overboard.

The steamer had picked him up at Halifax - a cold dawn, with a few
pinched faces looking over the rail. Forgive him if he swaggered up
the gangway. He was twenty-two, he was a lieutenant, and he was a
fighting man.

The girl in the story saw him then. She was up and about, in a short
sport suit, with a white tam-o'-shanter on her head and a white
woolen scarf tucked round her neck. Under her belted coat she wore a
middy blouse, and when she saw Lieutenant Cecil Hamilton, with
his eager eyes - not unlike her own, his eyes were young and
inquiring - she reached into a pocket of the blouse and dabbed her
lips with a small stick of cold cream.

Cold air has a way of drying lips.

He caught her at it, and she smiled. It was all over for him then,
poor lad!

Afterward, when he was in the trenches, he wondered about that. He
called it "Kismet" to himself. It was really a compound, that first
day or two, of homesickness and a little furtive stirring of anxiety
and the thrill of new adventure that was in his blood.

On the second afternoon out they had tea together, she in her
steamer chair and he calmly settled next to her, in a chair
belonging to an irritated English lawyer. Afterward he went down to
his cabin, hung round with his new equipment, and put away the
photograph of a very nice Toronto girl, which had been propped up
back of his hairbrushes.

They got rather well acquainted that first day.

"You know," he said, with his cup in one hand and a rather stale
cake in the other, "it's awfully bully of you to be so nice to me."

She let that go. She was looking, as a matter of fact, after a tall
man with heavily fringed eyes and English clothes, who had just gone
by.

"You know," he confided - he frequently prefaced his speeches with
that - "I was horribly lonely when I came up the gangway. Then I saw
you, and you were smiling. It did me a lot of good."

"I suppose I really should not have smiled." She came back to him
with rather an effort. "But you caught me, you know. It wasn't
rouge. It was cold cream. I'll show you."

She unbuttoned her jacket, against his protest, and held out the
little stick. He took it and looked at it.

"You don't need even this," he said rather severely. He disapproved
of cosmetics. "You have a lovely mouth."

"It's rather large. Don't you think so?"

"It's exactly right."

He was young, and as yet more interested in himself than in anything
in the world. So he sat there and told her who he was, and what he
hoped to do and, rather to his own astonishment, about the medals.

"How very brave you are!" she said.

That made him anxious. He hoped she did not think he was swanking.
It was only that he did not make friends easily, and when he did
meet somebody he liked he was apt to forget and talk too much about
himself. He was so afraid that he gulped down his tepid tea in a
hurry and muttered something about letters to write, and got himself
away. The girl stared after him with a pucker between her eyebrows.
And the tall man came and took the place he vacated.

Things were worrying the girl - whose name, by the way, was Edith. On
programs it was spelled "Edythe," but that was not her fault. Yes,
on programs - Edythe O'Hara. The business manager had suggested
deHara, but she had refused. Not that it mattered much. She had been
in the chorus. She had a little bit of a voice, rather sweet, and
she was divinely young and graceful.

In the chorus she would have remained, too, but for one of those
queer shifts that alter lives. A girl who did a song and an
eccentric dance had wrenched her knee, and Edith had gone on in her
place. Something of her tomboy youth remained in her, and for a few
minutes, as she frolicked over the stage, she was a youngster,
dancing to her shadow.

She had not brought down the house, but a man with heavily fringed
eyes, who watched her from the wings, made a note of her name. He
was in America for music-hall material for England, and he was
shrewd after the manner of his kind. Here was a girl who frolicked
on the stage. The English, accustomed to either sensuous or sedate
dancing, would fall hard for her, he decided. Either that, or she
would go "bla." She was a hit or nothing.

And that, in so many words, he told her that afternoon.

"Feeling all right?" he asked her.

"Better than this morning. The wind's gone down, hasn't it?"

He did not answer her. He sat on the side of the chair and looked
her over.

"You want to keep well," he warned her. "The whole key to your doing
anything is vitality. That's the word - Life."

She smiled. It seemed so easy. Life? She was full-fed with the joy
of it. Even as she sat, her active feet in their high-heeled shoes
were aching to be astir.

"Working in the gymnasium?" he demanded.

"Two hours a day, morning and evening. Feel."

She held out her arm to him, and he felt its small, rounded muscle,
with a smile. But his heavily fringed eyes were on her face, and he
kept his hold until she shook it off.

"Who's the soldier boy?" he asked suddenly.

"Lieutenant Hamilton. He's rather nice. Don't you think so?"

"He'll do to play with on the trip. You'll soon lose him in London."

The winter darkness closed down round them. Stewards were busy
closing ports and windows with fitted cardboards. Through the night
the ship would travel over the dangerous lanes of the sea with only
her small port and starboard lights. A sense of exhilaration
possessed Edith. This hurling forward over black water, this sense
of danger, visualised by precautions, this going to something new
and strange, set every nerve to jumping. She threw back her rug, and
getting up went to the rail. Lethway, the manager, followed her.

"Nervous, aren't you?"

"Not frightened, anyhow."

It was then that he told her how he had sized the situation up. She
was a hit or nothing.

"If you go all right," he said, "you can have the town. London's for
you or against you, especially if you're an American. If you go
flat - - "

"Then what?"

She had not thought of that. What would she do then? Her salary was
not to begin until the performances started. Her fare and expenses
across were paid, but how about getting back? Even at the best her
salary was small. That had been one of her attractions to Lethway.

"I'll have to go home, of course," she said. "If they don't like me,
and decide in a hurry, I - I may have to borrow money from you to get
back."

"Don't worry about that." He put a hand over hers as it lay on the
rail, and when she made no effort to release it he bent down and
kissed her warm fingers. "Don't you worry about that," he repeated.

She did worry, however. Down in her cabin, not so tidy as the
boy's - littered with her curiously anomalous belongings, a great
bunch of violets in the wash bowl, a cheap toilet set, elaborate
high-heeled shoes, and a plain muslin nightgown hanging to the
door - down there she opened her trunk and got out her contract.
There was nothing in it about getting back home.

For a few minutes she was panicky. Her hands shook as she put the
document away. She knew life with all the lack of illusion of two
years in the chorus. Even Lethway - not that she minded his casual
caress on the deck. She had seen a lot of that. It meant nothing.
Stage directors either bawled you out or petted you. That was part
of the business.

But to-night, all day indeed, there had been something in Lethway's
face that worried her. And there were other things.

The women on the boat replied coldly to her friendly advances. She
had spoken to a nice girl, her own age or thereabouts, and the
girl's mother or aunt or chaperon, whoever it was, had taken her
away. It had puzzled her at the time. Now she knew. The crowd that
had seen her off, from the Pretty Coquette Company - that had queered
her, she decided. That and Lethway.

None of the girls had thought it odd that she should cross the ocean
with Lethway. They had been envious, as a matter of fact. They had
brought her gifts, the queer little sachets and fruit and boxes of
candy that littered the room. In that half hour before sailing they
had chattered about her, chorus unmistakably, from their smart,
cheap little hats to their short skirts and fancy shoes. Her
roommate, Mabel, had been the only one she had hated to leave. And
Mabel had queered her, too, with her short-bobbed yellow hair.

She did a reckless thing that night, out of pure defiance. It was a
winter voyage in wartime. The night before the women had gone down,
sedately dressed, to dinner. The girl she had tried to speak to had
worn a sweater. So Edith dressed for dinner.

She whitened her neck and arms with liquid powder, and slicked up
her brown hair daringly smooth and flat. Then she put on her one
evening dress, a black net, and pinned on her violets. She rouged
her lips a bit too.

The boy, meeting her on the companionway, gasped.

That night he asked permission to move over to her table, and after
that the three of them ate together, Lethway watching and saying
little, the other two chattering. They were very gay. They gambled
to the extent of a quarter each, on the number of fronds, or
whatever they are, in the top of a pineapple that Cecil ordered in,
and she won. It was delightful to gamble, she declared, and put the
fifty cents into a smoking-room pool.

The boy was clearly infatuated. She looked like a debutante, and,
knowing it, acted the part. It was not acting really. Life had only
touched her so far, and had left no mark. When Lethway lounged away
to an evening's bridge Cecil fetched his military cape and they went
on deck.

"I'm afraid it's rather lonely for you," he said. "It's always like
this the first day or two. Then the women warm up and get friendly."

"I don't want to know them. They are a stupid-looking lot. Did you
ever see such clothes?"

"You are the only person who looks like a lady to-night," he
observed. "You look lovely. I hope you don't mind my saying it?"

She was a downright young person, after all. And there was something
about the boy that compelled candour. So, although she gathered
after a time that he did not approve of chorus girls, was even
rather skeptical about them and believed that the stage should be an
uplifting influence, she told him about herself that night.

It was a blow. He rallied gallantly, but she could see him
straggling to gain this new point of view.

"Anyhow," he said at last, "you're not like the others." Then
hastily: "I don't mean to offend you when I say that, you know. Only
one can tell, to look at you, that you are different." He thought
that sounded rather boyish, and remembered that he was going to the
war, and was, or would soon be, a fighting man. "I've known a lot of
girls," he added rather loftily. "All sorts of girls."

It was the next night that Lethway kissed her. He had left her alone
most of the day, and by sheer gravitation of loneliness she and the
boy drifted together. All day long they ranged the ship, watched a
boxing match in the steerage, fed bread to the hovering gulls from
the stern. They told each other many things. There had been a man in
the company who had wanted to marry her, but she intended to have a
career. Anyhow, she would not marry unless she loved a person very
much.

He eyed her wistfully when she said that.

At dusk he told her about the girl in Toronto.

"It wasn't an engagement, you understand. But we've been awfully
good friends. She came to see me off. It was rather awful. She
cried. She had some sort of silly idea that I'll get hurt."

It was her turn to look wistful. Oh, they were getting on! When he
went to ask the steward to bring tea to the corner they had found,
she looked after him. She had been so busy with her own worries that
she had not thought much of the significance of his neatly belted
khaki. Suddenly it hurt her. He was going to war.

She knew little about the war, except from the pictures in
illustrated magazines. Once or twice she had tried to talk about it
with Mabel, but Mabel had only said, "It's fierce!" and changed the
subject.

The uniforms scattered over the ship and the precautions taken at


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