Nicola&'s hand shot out and caught her by the wrist."
AUTHOR OF "THE DARK TOWER," "THE SECOND FIDDLE,"
"THE SERVANT OF REALITY," ETC.
WITH PEN-AND-INK DRAWINGS
BY NORMAN PRICE
AND FRONTISPIECE BY
R. L. VAN BUREN
THE CENTURY CO.
Copyright, 1921, by
THE CENTURY Co.
Printed in U. S. A.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
"Nicolas's hand shot out and caught her by the
"Maude was Joy's companion sister, and they did
everything together" 9
" 'But, Nick, you know I like you, awfully, even
though you are good' " 42
"Its precipitous sides leaned over them dark and
formidable" . . 47
"She sat on the edge of Joy's bed" 53
"But Rosemary did recover from the measles" . 59!
"Patch was sewing in the nursery when Joy opened
the question" 60
"Dr. Eames stethoscoped first the dolls and then
"She dropped on her knees" 72
" 'Joy,' he said at last, 'I've come back, but I don't
know where you are' " ........ 83
"He ran across Joy unexpectedly at the churchyard
1 'You're the beginning,' said Nicolas quietly, 'and
you're the end' " . 100
vi LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
:c 'Being married must make it easier to tell people
things' " ill
" 'Being proper isn't the way to get married now' ' 122
"The wedding went off very well" . . . . 137
"She gave it to her mother to read" . . . . 141
"!|Vliss Mullory sat down immediately" . . . 148
"The twins were having their bath" . . . . 152
"Everything about Joy reminded Owen of the
"A gardener found her lying in a little heap" . . 167
"This sheltered, fairy-like child, playing with un-
known fires, wasn't like another woman" . . 177
'There was something dazzling about him, as if he
were more than just her friend and Julia's hus-
' 'Yes,' said Joy very softly, 'it's as quiet as a
prayer'" . 185
"Joy did not dream that Owen sang only for her" 192
"She was still awake and reading, by the light of a
small lamp" 201
"She was sitting close by a large open window" . 224
THE CRYSTAL HEART
Love was born on a May morn,
But he died
An eventide in June.
E. H. COLERIDGE.
MRS. FEATHERSTONE had called her
Joy because she came into the world with
the barest whimper, and seemed subsequently to
be so contented with her arrival.
She liked all the things that babies usually like,
warmth and her mother's breast, the feel of re-
sponsible fingers and safe knees. But she liked
also, from the first, the hazard and strangeness
of baths, the hard, bright rims of basins, the lone-
liness of her deep cot, and the clutch of her help-
less fingers upon naked air. Nobody needed to
provide Joy with a dummy or a coral ring. Be-
hind her very large blue eyes lay secrets of incom-
Elder sisters might nurse her with the awkward
handling of awe, presumptuous brothers might
toss her toward the ceiling with the impunity of
ignorance, she might be left alone for hours to
crawl all over the vast expanses of the nursery
floor, and when a remorseful nurse hurried up-
stairs, after an inordinate tea, to see what had
happened to baby, Joy would still be found smil-
ing unexactingly at the universe.
Earth and air were alike to Joy, a friendly
playground; and human beings, even her father
with his irritating beard, born to be her play-
fellows. For all the animal creation she had an
ecstatic and unhesitating ardor. At two years old
the highest form of human pleasure known to her
was being hurled upon a gravel path by an Aire-
dale and having her fur bonnet amicably worried.
Reinforced by a biblical picture in the nursery,
her love of lambs became a mania. At three years
old she was accused of blasphemy because she per-
sisted in stating to an elder sister that she had
found the Lamb of God in the field below the
She was discovered at the same early age fol-
lowing the local shepherd and his flock, trailing
faint, but eager, in the dusty rear of the sheep,
THE CRYSTAL HEART $
two miles from home, under a pink sunbonnet,
fully convinced that she had found the Good
Shepherd, and was approaching paradise. The
shepherd apologized profusely for this involun-
tary abduction, but averred that he could n't call
her "off it," she was "that set."
Even at three years old Joy was a difficult baby
to convince of sin. Her visions shook reality out
of her head, and made her deal elastically with
circumstance. All the little Featherstones (there
were nine of them) were plucky. They had been
taught by their mother never to tell lies and not
to cry when they were hurt, but usually they had
some sense of the inimical in things and people.
Joy had none. If a hand had been raised
against her, she would have grasped it confid-
ingly; nor was there any enmity set between her
and a serpent.
Day after day, unknown to the entire house-
hold, she visited a vicious horse in the stables.
She had heard her father say it was "a dangerous
brute," and she knew he meant something not
very nice by "brute," but she did not know what
he meant by "dangerous." It hurt Joy to think
that so noble a creature as a horse should be
called something that did not sound quite nice.
6 THE CRYSTAL HEART
She was afraid that Skylark might have overheard
the criticism and taken it to heart. She had to
stand on a wooden box to reach up to the handle
of the loose-box, but she opened the door very
carefully, so as not to startle Skylark, who stood
looking down at her with all the whites of his
vicious eyes rolling, his teeth bared, and his
ears plastered flat against his wicked head. He
had not quite made up his mind what he was
going to do to her.
Joy stood quietly under his nose, holding an
apple out on a flat hand, and murmuring affection-
ate and unveracious praises of his nature.
Skylark's great nostrils dilated nervously above
her, and then he moved to one side to give the
little figure room, dropped his velvet nose down
to her hand, and took his apple. It cannot be
said that a fruit diet altered Skylark's unpleasant
disposition, but he never betrayed his temper to
What she took him to be he was as far as she
was concerned until Mr. Featherstone succeeded
in selling him to a friend.
After Skylark's departure Joy tried to content
herself with the stable cat, a creature of nomad
habits and without natural affections. The stable
THE CRYSTAL HEART 7
cat had lost an ear, her frequent families van-
ished like the dawn, and she had no charm for
any one but Joy. Joy was heard murmuring softly
over her as she tried to claw her way out of the
child's sheltering arms: "You mustn't mind not
being a dog, dear Kitty, nor even an inside cat
I love you much the best, and I spect God does.
You see, it 's so kind of you to be a stable cat."
The dogs (the entire household of dogs, rang-
ing between eight and ten, and not counting Mr.
Featherstone's two retrievers, who were not al-
lowed indoors) worshiped the ground Joy walked
on. They belonged to the other children (Joy
was seldom the legal possessor of anything), but
they served Joy first in the spirit. When she came
dancing out on the lawn, they let the nine points
of the law escape, and danced with her. Joy al-
ways danced. She danced on the tips of her toes
when she was angry, and she danced like an un-
flurried bird when she was glad.
What she did when she was sad was never
known; there was no apparent pause between her
ecstasies. She grew a little wistful sometimes
over the sharp nursery feuds which raged above
her devoted head, or she could take a violent
tooth-and-claw part in them when roused; but
8 THE CRYSTAL HEART
nothing baffled for long her sense of life's enchant-
She set the multiplication table to a tune, and
when she was given dry bread and water for a
punishment, she turned it into a fairy-story, and
asked if she might have it every night for a treat.
Joy was not a naughty child, but life did not have
the same horizons for her as it had for the other
children; her horizons were farther away and
They were all children of the same parents, but
they called themselves the "first" and "second"
families on account of a prolonged break in their
ages. Margaret, Paul, James, and Walter were
all old, and vanished into the world rapidly, with
infrequent and romantic returns. Joy and Maude,
Archie and Rosemary, were comparatively young
and had an air of permanence.
Rosemary was so young that she was like Joy's
own child. Joy was nine when Rosemary was
born, and in an instant her passion for puppies,
kittens, dolls, and even waterfalls sank into insig-
nificance. Joy loved everything and everybody
still, but she knew, when she gazed down at this
unexpected visitant, pinched, a little yellow, with
a whining cry and a rather more unstable neck
THE CRYSTAL HEART 9
than most babies, that she could never love any-
thing so much again.
Maude was Joy's companion sister, there was
barely a year between them, and they did every-
thing together; but Maude was n't like a new-born
baby. On the contrary, she often seemed older
and wiser than Joy. She knew more about the
"Maude was Joy's companion sister, and they did everything together"
world and how to act in it, and she was n't at all
easily dazzled by its charms. The likeness be-
tween the sisters was very strong, but all Joy's
features that ought to be small were smaller, and
all her features that ought to be large were larger,
than Maude's. Her coloring was delicately, firmly
pink, whereas Maude's coloring in moments of ex-
citement or emotion turned to mauve.
io THE CRYSTAL HEART
Maude deeply resented these differences, but
she was relieved to find, as she grew older, that
she usually got what she wanted, whereas Joy,
tentative and never on the lookout for possession,
made few acquisitions, and could usually be in-
duced to part easily with those that she had.
Mr. and Mrs. Featherstone seldom interfered
with their children and lived a long way off. There
were three flights of stairs between the nursery
and the drawing-room, and there was a great gulf
fixed between middle-aged Victorian imaginations
and those of their offspring.
Mrs. Featherstone was still a very handsome
woman, and her husband had been exceptionally
good-looking when he was young. Unfortunately,
he had not worn well. Life had picked out his
weaknesses and had set them on his face. He
was not a strong character, and he reinforced his
decisions by a spirit of petty tyranny. He was
not a reasonable man, and he had a good many
principles, which he fell back upon for defense
when his intellect failed him. This is apt to be
an aggravating quality in family life, especially
when the principles are said to be religious; and
it must be confessed that Mr. Featherstone irri-
tated his family exceedingly. When they got the
THE CRYSTAL HEART n
better of him intellectually, he laid them out mor-
ally, and put an edge to their exasperation by ap-
plying penalties. He had not so strong a nature
as his wife, and he never forgave her for finding
Mrs. Featherstone was a tolerant, quiet woman
with a dreadful courage and a merciless sense of
humor. She was not the wife for a weak, vain
man who wanted to pose as master in his own
house. She let him pose, but he knew that slie
saw through his pose.
Mrs. Featherstone never laughed at him out
loud, and she never gave him away to any one
else, not even to her children. She belonged to
a generation of women who kept married un-
happiness to themselves and did not think it a
matter of great importance.
Mrs. Featherstone loved the country, the
moors, which stretched for miles behind the house,
and the sea, which lay beneath the cliffs in front
of it, with passion. She loved her children with
indulgence and common sense, and she did not
iove her husband at all. Yet she no more dreamed
of giving him up than she dreamed of giving up
Rock Lodge because it faced north and the kitchen
range was extremely inconvenient.
12 THE CRYSTAL HEART
She neyer failed Mr. Featherstone in any of
the duties of a wife, and as a housekeeper she
was faultless. Mrs. Featherstone had never been
very intimate even with her children, but they all
adored her and took from her their cue to life.
She had no favorites; that is to say, no one dis-
covered which was her favorite. She did not
punish easily, and she never praised.
She visited the nursery at breakfast-time, kiss-
ing each child once, satisfied herself that they were
clean, healthy, and without real grievances, and
did not see them again until after nursery tea,
when she had them down-stairs with her till bed-
time. If there were visitors, the children played
by themselves with drawing-room toys on the
floor, and if they were alone, Mrs. Featherstone
read out loud to them in a musical voice, and with
a singularly perfect diction, Dickens, Sir Walter
Scott, and Tennyson's poetry.
She never allowed any of her children to tell
tales, or to boast of anything they could do or
possessed. The most awful thing she could say, be-
cause they knew how very much she meant it, was,
"You are not behaving like a well-bred child."
Nevertheless, in moments of real grief all the
children knew they could safely turn to their
THE CRYSTAL HEART 13
mother. She did not underestimate youthful dis-
When the stable cat died (to be accurate, she
came by her death through having given undue
provocation to Archie's new bull-terrier) and Mrs.
Featherstone found Joy lying prostrate beside
her, having tried, without advantage, stretching
herself over Eliza's mangled form seven times,
according to the familiar example of the prophet
Elijah when raising the widow's only son, Mrs.
Featherstone knew that no light comfort would
Joy was confronted by death for the first time,
and the universe reeled under the shock of her
Mrs. Featherstone took Joy into her arms and
set to work to rob the grave of its victory.
"Poor Eliza," she said soothingly, "will never
feel pain any more."
"She can't lap milk," wailed Joy. "Why can't
Eliza lap milk? I've tried, oh, I've tried so
hard to raise her ! I Ve asked God till I 'm sick
of Him. I don't believe He 's there. I don't
believe a kind God would make a cat go stiff for
Mrs. Featherstone's mind raced hurriedly over
14 THE CRYSTAL HEART
the possible alternatives to this problem and re-
jected all the more plausible ones.
"I 'm afraid," she said gently, "it was Archie's
new bull-terrier who did it. You know we can all
hurt each other if we like. God lets us, but He
does n't like it. He wants us to help each other
instead. But if we had n't the power to do harm,
we could n't have the power to do good, either.
We must have both ; and if we misuse our power,
dreadful things happen."
Joy's sob slackened.
"I 'm not sure," she said tearfully, and it was
her first doubt of any created thing, u that God
ought to have made a bull-terrier at all if He
did n't want Eliza to be hurt. O Mummy, what
happens to stiff cats?"
Mrs. Featherstone looked at Eliza, dispassion-
ately. It was difficult to predict a future for a
cat of such exclusively materialistic habits, but
she did the best she could, and suggested a hand-
some funeral for Eliza's immediate present.
"And may we pick the Madonna lilies under
the wall?" asked Joy, leaping to her feet in re-
Much to the gardener's annoyance, Mrs. Feath-
erstone agreed to the sacrifice of the lilies, and
THE CRYSTAL HEART 15
Eliza's grave was strewn with this inappropriate
emblem. Joy danced hand in hand with Mrs.
Featherstone about the sacred spot, singing with
touching fervor her favorite hymn,
There is a Home for little children,
above the bright blue sky.
It is to be hoped that Eliza's spirit was accom-
modated elsewhere, as she had a very strong dis-
like of children, and would have deeply resented
any home which was given up to them.
Mrs. Featherstone read the "Morte d' Arthur"
out loud to the assembled family after tea. She
knew that as a picture of death it was a little fanci-
ful, but she longed to remove the last traces of
horror that still lingered in Joy's eyes.
The reading was a great success. The seven
queens and the dark barge overlaid the specter
of reality. Eliza and King Arthur floated into
the land of Avalon together,
Where far beyond those voices there is peace.
IT was Joy's fourteenth birthday and the first
of June. She started the day at dawn. Every
bird in Devonshire was awake, and all of them
seemed to Joy to be in the Rock Lodge garden.
Fat thrushes with operatic voices shook them-
selves into trances, blackbirds, with ringing notes
piercingly sweet and loud, got the better of the
most reluctant worms, and divided their talents
with impartial rapture between securing their
breakfast and making most meticulous music.
Chaffinches sprayed their brief melodies from
bough to bough, and every finch and lark and tiny
wren set the seal of their loud joy upon the morn-
Far away in a hollow glen the cuckoo dropped
his wandering challenges, playing hide and seek
with outraged heads of families. Muffling the
ecstatic screams of a fox-terrier puppy called Ab-
solom under her skirt, Joy crept out upon the
THE CRYSTAL HEART 17
The lawn was very wet with dew, and Joy had
taken neither time nor pains over her toilet. She
was the age of Juliet, but she had none of Juliet's
preoccupations. Her mind was as blank and in-
nocent as a new-born leaf blowing this way and
that to catch a light adventure. She looked back
at the old house with a sudden thrill, at her heart.
It was hers ; it must be hers forever. The trans-
figuring golden light covered it, and the birds' per-
sistent voices all around it made it like a shell of
melody. All the happiness of Joy's smooth and
eager years was harvested in its old walls.
She could not think of life without her home.
The mossy, precipitous drive the horses had to be
lead so carefully up and down, the swift drops
and scrambles of the little paths from rocky plat-
form to rocky platform on which garden beds
yielded only to the stoutest and most persistent
flowers, were as much a part of her as Maude
and Archie. The Rock Lodge garden was bad
for gardeners, but it was a paradise for children.
Joy put Absolom down gingerly, and watched a
white and clamorous streak pass through the
shrubberies and out on to the moors. Absolom
had smelt rabbits, and the law and the prophets
no longer existed for him.
1 8 THE CRYSTAL HEART
There was nothing to be done but to fly after
him. Joy's skirts were short, her legs were long
and slender; she flew without increase of breath
up the steep path which led to the moor. She
had not meant to go to the moor; she had meant
to go down to the village and thank the villagers
for sending her presents. She had found in the
hall, left overnight, a jackdaw, two baby rabbits
in a basket, cowslip wine, and heather honey.
They came from the little pink, shell-like cottages
hidden in the trees below her. Lynton was full
of smiling, calm, immovable people with strong
instincts and pleasant manners, who hated slowly
and steadily, loved forever, and on the whole
minded their own business with placidity; and they
were all Joy's friends. Nobody ever hurried or
altered their plans at Lynton, or tried to please
anybody more than they intended to go on pleas-
ing them, and nobody ever changed.
"So if I live here always," Joy thought as she
hurried up the path, "they '11 always love me."
Life stretched before her like the summer day,
sunny and inexhaustible.
When she reached the top of the moor above
the house, Absolom had vanished.
Far away, and yet so near that she could have
THE CRYSTAL HEART 19
dropped a pebble on to it, lay the lawn of Rock
Lodge, with the unshaken summer sea, as still as
bluebells in a wood, beneath it. The little perched
and sliding town of Lynton clung to the cliffs-edge
above the deep-green valley of the Watersmeet.
The valley lay between two steep and heather-
tufted cliffs ; a rapid river with waterfalls tossed
a bright, impatient way under green bushes from
end to end of it.
Three streams met high up in the valley, raged
and played together in a fine lather of waterfalls,
and then united in a swift and businesslike way
in a race to the sea. Joy had followed all the
streams to their source and knew half their se-
crets, where to find a company of kingcups over-
looking a deep pool, and where the big trout lay
under the shelving rock.
But she never told the boys where the trout
lay; she had no wish for the death of living things.
It was one of the reasons why she liked best to be
alone with Absolom and Rosemary. Absolom
and Rosemary were too young to kill anything;
they could chase rabbits all day long, and no one
be the worse for it. Nicolas was different. He
liked to kill rats in a barn with terriers, and he
liked it better if Joy was there to see. Not that
20 THE CRYSTAL HEART
you could call Nicolas cruel; he was remarkably
kind. He carried Rosemary for hours on his back
when she was tired, and mended anything that
was broken. Nicolas was part of Joy's life, too,
quite as much as any of her brothers ; rather more,
perhaps. Not that Joy could have described what
Nicolas was to her. He was Nicolas, and came
a long way after Rosemary in her affections.
The Pennants, who were his people, lived only
four miles away at Foxglove Hall, and came over
constantly on ponies. The only fault Joy had
ever had to find in Nicolas beyond the rats, which
was hardly a fault, as all boys shared the same
desire for their extinction, was that Maude wanted
him to like her best, and Nicolas would n't. Joy
had explained to Nicolas that it would be much
simpler if he would like Maude best, and that he
could go on liking Joy second best, which would
suit her just as well and be pleasanter all round ;
and Nicolas, with his curiously hard and honest
eyes fixed on her, had said, "You little fool, I shall
like you best as long as I live."
It was curious how this remark had remained
with her. She remembered it again now as she
sat on a tuft of heather, her eyes ranging far and
wide in her search for Absolom. Nicolas had not
THE CRYSTAL HEART 21
explained why he cared for her like that; but, then,
Nicolas never explained things : he only did them
when he had said he was going to do them, and
even sometimes when he had not.
He was going to take her to the Doone Valley
this afternoon alone, and, if her mother would
let her, on Fidget. As soon as she could recover
Absolom, Joy must go and look for her mother
in the harness-room and ask her for leave to ride
Fidget. It was tiresome that on her birthday
she was n't to have Archie and Maude with her,
but Nicolas had said it was his last day at home,
where a broken collar-bone had conveniently laid
him, and that he would have his own way about
it. He would n't have minded Rosemary, but it
was too far to take her, and Nicolas had been so
beautifully kind to Joy he had saved all his
pocket money for ages to buy her a brindle bulldog
pup. The puppy was to be called Ajax and was
very fat; if you stuck a finger into him he rolled
over. He was the most deliciously ferocious-look-
ing lamb of a puppy, and Nicolas was training
him to be obedient. The training had got as far
as Ajax sitting down and wagging his tail, with
his head on one side, and all his wrinkles looking
very anxious, whenever Nicolas addressed him.
22 THE CRYSTAL HEART
Ajax was one of the dreams of Joy's life re-
alized, and she shrank from being ungracious to
the giver of a dream.
The silence of the moors inclosed Joy as if the
skies were walls. She sat very still, because it
seemed as if her whole being was surrounded by
something unseen. It was a curious feeling that
she had had before when she was quite alone.
If you kept perfectly still and did n't think of any-
thing at all, you melted away from yourself ; you
became a part of the day and of the listening air.
It was a very wonderful feeling, only you could
never tell any one about it. It was like being a
part of God.
Three white gulls, sailing on their motionless
wings, sank down almost on a level with her head.
She watched the shadows their great wings made
by her on the grass; their uncanny, changeless,
yellow eyes rested on her as if to see whether she