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PS 1 .12.7. JK56 I 92





THE WIND BETWEEN THE WORLDS




THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

WEW YORK BOSTON CHICAGO DALLAS
ATLANTA SAN FRANCISCO

MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED

LONDON BOMBAY CALCUTTA
MELBOURNE

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD.

TORONTO



.

THE WIND BETWEEN
THE WORLDS



:>.



BY



ALICE BROWN



AUTHOR OF



** THE PRISONER," "THE BLACK DROP," " BROMLBY
NEIGHBORHOOD," "THE FLYING TEUTON," ETC.



"The wind that blows between the 'worlds.''

RUDYARD KIPLING,



Nefo gorfc

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

1920



All rights reserved







PS \ 127



192.O



.



COPYRIGHT, 1920,
BY ALICE BROWN.

Set up and electrotyped. Published June, 1930.



Norfoooti

J. S. Gushing Co. Berwick & Smith Co.
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.



THE WIND BETWEEN THE WORLDS



THE WIND BETWEEN THE

WORLDS



MRS. PETER HARVEY came down at ten o'clock in the
morning of this winter day of the Boston of 1918, to the
second floor sitting-room which was especially hers, and,
early though it was, she found her mother, Madam
Brooke, a small woman of something over eighty, there
before her. Mrs. Harvey, who also was small, with a
plump abundance of delicate flesh, her pink face mas-
saged to the extreme of scientific art unremittingly pur-
sued, her shining white hair waved in a perfection that
flouted nature, hurried up to her mother sitting there by
the fire, a table with book, glass and handkerchief at her
side, and kissed her soft cheek.

" Darling," said she, " what does make you get up so
early? "

Madam Brooke owed nothing to massage, beguiling
gloss out of a bottle or the best of pink powder. She
was, though much given to laces and soft fabrics hung
with the faintest garden scent, an old-fashioned old
woman, very sweet, from her wholesome habits, but bor-
rowing nothing from the expedients of age not yet accom-
modated to itself. She was as different from even a sug-
gestion of youth as an exquisitely modeled seed vessel,
with gossamer wings to carry it in capricious yet decreed
wanderings on strong winds, is from the flower that
bloomed to make the seed or that other flower, itg child.
B 1



2 THE WIND BETWEEN THE WORLDS

She and her daughter were much alike in their delicacy
of type, only that Mrs. Harvey had taken on veil after
veil of the soft flesh that is so beautifying in its first insid-
ious advent, and her mother had shrunk to slenderest con-
tours. They had the same blue of the eyes, the abundant
fine white hair, the sweetness of curved lips. But the
few deep lines of the older woman's face made a map
where you travelled to keener decisions, more unfailing
rigors of judgment than you would look for in her daugh-
ter; her nose was more decidedly aquiline and she had
the stronger chin. Perhaps the similarity of their outer
lives might have moulded them to some identity of like-
ness, the winters in Boston, the summers abroad or at
their sea-coast home ; but it had done nothing of the sort.
They were ineradicably different, alike in nothing save
that they were gentlewomen, generous, self -forgetful,
kind, but exercising even these salient qualities in ways
so diverse that in Mrs. Harvey they sometimes seemed
faults and in her mother deliberate naughtiness. At her
daughter's question Madam Brooke looked up, with a
quizzical interrogation of her own, but said nothing.

" I do like," said Mrs. Harvey, " to feel you're getting
your ten hours, at least. And last night you were late.
Susanne told me."

" Susanne's a tattler," said the old lady pleasantly.
" Yes, I was late. What was the use of going to bed?
I knew you'd keep me awake."

' *

' I? ' said Mrs. Harvey, in a perfect surprise. She
took a step nearer the fireplace and set her beautifully
shod foot on the fender. " Why, I was down here every
minute with Miss Bixby."

" I knew you were. That's what kept me awake and
Peter in the library waiting till you'd dismissed your
spooks and gone to bed."



THE WIND BETWEEN THE WORLDS 3

"Don't!" said her daughter, with a little unaffected
shiver of repudiation. " We were trying to get Philip."

" I'm not including Philip, dear boy," said the old lady.
" You didn't get him, did you? "

" No," said the mother of the dead aviator, in a low
tone. " That is, I wasn't sure."

Her lower lip trembled. It had taken to trembling
since the news of Philip's death in France. Her mother,
with an inner apprehension of her own, had got into the
habit of watching for that trembling. She never could
help remembering that her sister Clarissa had these fits of
nervous tremor after the death of her husband, and that
she never quite got hold of herself again. But she
thought it salutary for her daughter to be drawn out of
her present habit of action by a robust insistence on the
facts of life as they appear in everyday dress.

" Whom did you get? " she inquired brusquely, in her
decisive voice piquingly deepened by a contralto note.

Her daughter hesitated.

" Uncle Edgar," she said, " Aunt Clarissa, father '

" That will do," said the old lady, with a sudden tremu-
lousness of her own, either anger or close kin to it.
" Don't you take your father's name in vain nor Sister
Clarissa's. I won't have it."

She spoke with authority, as if her daughter were a
little girl, and the daughter humbly accepted it. But
she did venture, after a minute:

" They say Philip is there with them. They all say
the same."

" Then why doesn't Philip speak? "

" He is too tired. He hasn't recovered yet from his
going over."

" I'll tell you why he doesn't speak," said the old lady
fiercely. " Because that Miss Bixby of yours never saw



4 THE WIND BETWEEN THE WORLDS

him. She can perfectly well risk people that died twenty
years ago. But when she's been with you longer and
heard you talk about Philip more and gathered up every
word into her neat little brain, why, then Philip'll come,
too. She's a minx, that Bixby."

"Mother," said Mrs. Harvey desperately, "I don't
care what she is, so long as she can take a pencil and
write these wonderful things."

" They're not wonderful," said the old lady stubbornly.
" They're a kind of dribbling philosophy that's neither
here nor there. You sit down with your Bible, if you
want to read good things in good English, and stop pay-
ing a girl for turning out this half-baked stuff by the
yard. If she's your secretary, let her be your secretary
and write your letters and hold her tongue."

Mrs. Harvey was much cast down. She looked like a
child who finds itself deprived of a harmless solace likely
to hurt no one. And that she said.

" If it's a comfort to me, mother, I don't see what harm
it does any one else."

" The whole atmosphere of this house has changed,"
said her mother vigorously. Hitherto she had been si-
lent, indicating her opinion of Miss Bixby's spiritual sec-
retaryship by merely holding herself aloof. But now,
after mature deliberation, she had decided to speak, and
perhaps her argumentative cohorts rushed on the more
wildly for her sleepless night. " Peter and you might
remember he's your husband he's got some rights
he keeps himself shut up with his grief over Philip because
your way of taking it sets his teeth on edge."

" I never could have believed Peter would take it io
quietly."

The admission leaped from Isabel without her will.
It was one of the spetres in her own sleepless nights.



THE WIND BETWEEN THE WORLDS 5

" That's it," said the old lady. " You've driven him out
of his mind with this spirit writing of yours. No wonder
he's as dumb as a fish."

" Oh, no," said Isabel, with a shade of unaccustomed
irony tingeing her soft voice. " Peter may be feeling
Philip's death, but he isn't out of his mind."

" No," said the old lady, with a different irony, one
sihe frankly adopted and used for what it was worth,
"he's not out of his mind. But you're on the road to
being. And if you don't hold your horses you'll what
is it Philip himself would say? you'll go dotty your-
self. Lord! there's that girl."

Madam Brooke was exceedingly irritated when she
could run the risk of letting her daughter's secretary hear
herself called " that girl " with the tone of an imprecation.
But if Miss Bixby, entering, did hear, she gave no re-
sponsive sign. She came in alert though subdued, the
perfect secretary, concentrated purpose and yet decent
readiness to take orders and obliterate all initiative of
her own. She was a small woman, white-faced, heavy-
browed, black-eyed, with a head made unsymmetrically
large by the quantity of fine shining black hair she evi-
dently disposed to look as inconsiderable as she might,
and that yet showed its weight in every contour. She
Wore black, neat to the last point of care, and exquisitely
kept collar and cuffs. At first it had rather distressed
Mrs. Harvey to find she dressed like a maid, because she
thought it must indicate some mental repression that gave
the girl pain. But when Miss Bixby, with an air of not
finding the topic of any consequence, told her it was a
matter of economy, she rather liked it. For Mrs. Harvey
did, deep down in her kindly heart, love the ritual of
things. She found it soothing to have servitors defined,
just as she liked chapter headings in her novels. They



6 THE WIND BETWEEN THE WORLDS

told you without trouble where to begin and where to
leave off.

This room, perhaps sixteen feet square, had a large
mullioned window making a recess, and in the recess was
a good sized table, in an austere order of rolls of paper
and a pencil tray. This was the corner where she and
Miss Bixby sat hour after hour now, putting down com-
munications from the skies by the hand, though not the
brain, Mrs. Harvey could swear, of Miss Bixby. It was
an ideal corner for work, commanding the room and all
who entered and yet, by reason of the recess, secluded,
and they had the window light by day and a perfectly
placed electric bulb after dark. These were its obvious
advantages; but Mrs. Harvey knew she had placed the
table just at that point because, from her seat, her eyes
looked into the pictured eyes of Philip, her son who had
died, from the big framed portrait over Miss Bixby's
head. Miss Bixby went on to the table and dallied
slightly with the position of paper and pencils. She had
left them in order last night, but one of her secretarial
virtues was not only inflexible insistence on leaving her
tools exactly disposed but the further precaution of run-
ning them over as a pianist tries his keys, when she came
back to them again.

" No," said Mrs. Harvey, in a rather shaken voice that
drew a quick inquiring look from Miss Bixby, instantly
withdrawn, " we won't write this morning. I'd like you
to go out and do a little shopping. The list is on my
dressing-table. I meant to go myself, but I ' She
stopped there, turning her back on Miss Bixby, who
knew, in her accurate habit of getting at the inner mind
of the woman who was her daily bread, that there were
tears in her eyes as well as her voice. Madam Brooke
knew it, too, and when Miss Bixby had vanished out of



THE WIND BETWEEN THE WORLDS 7

the room, in her noiseless way, she put out a thin lace-
veiled old hand and took a fold of her daughter's akirt.
She twitched it a little as an unregarded child might have
done.

" Made you cry, didn't I? " she said, in her deep-tond
voice that showed an emotion of its own far more devas-
tating than tears. " I s'pose I'm an old cat."

Mrs. Harvey patted at her eyes with a little ineffectual
handkerchief and smiled.

" I wish," she said, " you didn't think I'm a fool."

" But you are, Isabel," returned her mother conclu-
sively and also with renewed cheerfulness. She had
somewhat the feeling of a man over woman's tears. If
Isabel wasn't going to cry she could rally her some more.
But cry she mustn't; it was mean, unsportsmanlike.
" Isabel," she said, " it's pretty serious. You know you
didn't have one son only. You had two."

Isabel looked at her with an honest, questioning asser-
tiveness.

" Of course I have two," she said. " Philip ' over
there ' in spirit life and Brooke on his way home."

" Sometimes it seems to me," said the old lady, feel-
ing her way, " as if you'd got so into the rut of trying to
hear from Philip that you've forgotten Brooke."

" Forgotten Brooke? " Her daughter echoed it in
amazement. She was too surprised for rebuttal. " How
could I forget Brooke? "

" Well," said the old lady, watching her and thinking
she was perhaps making some headway into her closed
mind, " Brooke's alive. He's an aviator, too. And he's
escaped his awful perils and he's coming home. That's a
wonderful thing, Isabel. Flying in France and getting out
of it alive and coming home."

" Why, of course it is," breathed her daughter, still in



8 THE WIND BETWEEN THE WORLDS

a confusion of surprise. " Don't you suppose I'm thank-
ful Brooke's coming home? '

" Then why don't you talk about it? " insisted the old
lady. " Instead you sit down at that table and let that
Bixby creature write you things out of a trashy romance
and say your father my husband wrote them, about
Philip."

Isabel, seeing now how inadequately mother had un-
derstood it all, became softly argumentative.

" But that, dear," said she, " is because Brooke IB alive
and Philip is ' over there.'

" Don't say ' over there,' interjected the old lady,
with a sudden brutality startling even to herself. " Say
he's dead dear Philip, dear boy ! use the good old-
fashioned terms."

Isabel was hurt now beyond the power of soft words
to mollify, and her mother knew it. But in proportion
to Madam Brooke's exasperated remorse, it only made
her the more ruthless. She had a quick, deep nature that
was forever fighting down these softer impulses and try-
ing, at all costs, to come at the realities of things.

" Don't you see, Isabel," she began, " that's what it
does to you to dabble in this unhealthy sort of business?
You don't get any nearer what you call ' over there/ and
you entirely unfit yourself for here. And whatever you
may think of this world, here you are now; and what do
you call yourself when you don't do the work of the place
where you're put? I know what Philip would call it.
A slacker! That's what Philip would say, Philip and
Brooke. A slacker, a quitter, that's what they'd say."

" It is something to do for this world," said Isabel, in
a soft monotone of resistance. " Do you know any bigger
thing than proving spiritual communication between this
world and the next? Think of all the mothers O
mother, how can you! "



THE WIND BETWEEN THS WORLDS 9

" And yet," said Madam Brooke astutely, " Brooke is
coming home. He's coming now. You expect him any
day."

" Why, yes," said Isabel a little wildly, as if something
had been proved against her at last. " Of course we
expect him."

"And yet you're not even going on to New York to
meet him. You're going to sit here watching that Bixby
write on wall paper."

" Well," said Isabel, leaping at an excuse, though she
knew and was crushed by the sudden realisation of it,
that deeply as she was moved by the thought of her son's
return she had not thought of meeting him, " Peter isn't
going either. He hasn't mentioned it."

" Mentioned it," mocked the old lady, now angry in-
deed at such lack of comprehension of the man they had
both knowrTfor thirty years. " Do you suppose he'd
mention it when you didn't, and let you think he'd got
more heart than you? That's not Peter. I've a good
mind to go on to New York myself. Only Ije'd be bored
to death at having to take care of me. I'm glad I didn't
invent old age. It must have been the devil."

And then came a diversion greatly needed. A girl's
young and resonant voice called from the doorway:

" May I come in? "



II

THIS was Beatrice Hayden, an intimate of the family,
the familiar friend of Philip and of Brooke. The voice
told a little about her in advance, outwardly cool, with a
more than youthful self-possession never, from lack of a
fine decorum, leaping the border into assertiveness, a clear
eye for the values of life and an ordered precision in
maintaining them. She had the beauty flowered out of
the right kind of fine descent. An English girl she might
have been, long limbed, velvet cheeked, thin from an ath-
letic hardness, with sweet blue eyes and a firm yet smil-
ing mouth. Madam Brooke's eyes dwelt on her as if she
were a flower bordered spring in a dry land.

" Come along in," said she. " What do you mean by
staying away all day yesterday? '

Beatrice, entering, laughed and, though she was not for-
ward with proffers of tenderness, kissed them both, for
they evidently expected it. She was dressed in gray with
gray furs. She completed the group beautifully. They
were very pleasing to the eye, three ladies in the gray
room. Then, seating herself at Mrs. Harvey's inviting
gesture, she looked from one to the other in doubtful
expectation. She had come with a definite purpose. That
was evident. And it was like her to begin at once, with
no indirection.

" I saw by the paper," she said, " you may expect
Brooke."

" At once," announced Brooke's grandmother with em-

10



THE WIND BETWEEN THE WORLDS 11

phasis, as if she had to insist on it when there was so much
wobbling over the return of living sons. Her daughter
commented with a little involuntary sigh, and Madam
Brooke was glad to hear it. Sometimes, like all men and
women of a mind like a sharp-edged sword, she was a
little cruel to less definite minds. Now a deeper flush
came into Beatrice's cheeks and her eyes dilated in a
way they had, startling you with the vividness of their
added beauty. But their gaze did not waver in the min-
ute while she pondered just what she should say and how
to say it. Meantime Isabel had proffered gently, as a
way of telling her how dear she was to them, how imme-
diate to their hearts:

" You'll run over, Bee? We'll telephone you when we
know more definitely. I'd like you to be here when he



comes.'



That gave Beatrice the opening she needed. She
laughed a little and this with some indication of embar-
rassment.

" No, Mrs. Harvey," she said. " It's dear of you, but
I won't come over. And what I really came now to ask
you is, don't mention me to Brooke."

Grandmother looked at her with a sudden keen glance,
but Mrs. Harvey said impetuously:

" We shouldn't have time to mention you. He'll ask
for you the first thing."

Beatrice accepted that gravely, and passed on to the
next step of her argument.

" Yes, of course he'll ask for me. But don't speak of
me in connection with Philip."

Madam Brooke nodded.

" I see," she said. " That is, I guess I do. You want
to begin with Brooke where you left off. You don't
mean to bring up any of the things weVe got hold of



12 THE WIND BETWEEN THE WORLDS

since Phil died. He's got to catch on first. That's what
he'd say. You'd rather we'd go into it with him first, and
tell him "

She hesitated, and Isabel went on as if she were adjust-
ing something for the girl, burying the outlines of it under
layers of soft affection.

" Yes, of course we should tell him you're one of the
family now and have been ever since that day '

" The day the news came about Phil," said Beatrice,
" and I went to pieces in this very room and you saw how
I felt about him." She said it with a perfect composure
of voice and look. And yet the next sentence came im-
petuously, and her eyes were wet. " Oh, haven't you
been good to me, all you Phil's folks! If I'd really known
he liked me " here she hesitated and went over the
jolt bravely "if he'd said it before he went and left
me w r ell, as I wish he had if we'd thought more about
such things anyway! "

She ended with a dash of brave audacity.

" If you'd been married," said Madam Brooke. " Yes,
that would have been the way. But it's just as I told
you, just like Phil, like Brooke, too. Dear darling fools,
both of them, born romancers and not finding the road
other men take till they've stumbled and picked them-
selves up a dozen times and banged their noses and their
shins. Isabel, I don't see where you got two such scat-
ter-brains. You're commonplace enough. So'm I. So's
Peter. No," she added, with an afterthought, " Peter's
a little queer himself, though he keeps it under pretty
well."

" I believe," said Beatrice, with a little smile, her trib-
ute to their unexcelled dearness, " you meant just what
you said, that first day, when you asked me to throw over
Auntie and come here and live."



THE WIND BETWEEN THE WORLDS 13

" We certainly did mean it," said Isabel. She had pos-
sessed herself of the girl's hand. " That's one reason why
I'm so anxious to get a satisfactory message from Phil.
He must have something to say

She stopped, for Beatrice had winced and, with the
slightest involuntary movement, freed her hand. Isabel
Harvey, in her own immediate household, was surrounded
by the unbelieving.

" But," Madam Brooke began, " aren't you cutting it a
little bit fine, this leaving Brooke in the dark? He knew
Phil as well as if they'd been twins. They don't look so
much alike for nothing. He knew just what sort of a
dreamy, unpractical lad the lad was, and that he could
have loved a girl down to the ground '

" Yes, Bee, I'm sure he did love you," interrupted Isa-
bel, " now I think back."

" And not say a word to her when he went away.
Brooke's the last person not to understand."

" Oh, he'd understand," said Beatrice, " old Brooke.
Only Brooke's dreamy, too, Brooke's imaginative, though
it's in another fashion." She gazed at them intently, a
beautiful look of frowning earnestness. She hoped to
impress them with her view of the event. " I want you
to promise not to talk to Brooke about me. I don't want
him to be influenced into taking your attitude. I don't
want him to say, ' They've adopted Bee for their daugh-
ter because they think Phil was in love with her.' For
he'd come into the combine like a shot, and I want him
unprejudiced. Because, you see, he might happen to think
of something. He might say, ' Phil said so and so about
Bee.' "

Madam Brooke nodded her perfect understanding, but
Isabel commented in a worried tone:

" He'd say that anyway."



14 THE WIND BETWEEN THE WORLDS

" Oh," said Beatrice, as if now she had something to
combat that would make it all the plainer, " that's just
the point. He's such a dear fellow he'd go too far.
He'd be most awfully sorry for me and imagine what
message he'd send a girl if he were in love with her, and
then he'd think Phil sent one."

Isabel looked as if something might be resented here.

" I don't think," she said, " that's quite fair to Brooke."

" Of course it's fair," said her mother promptly. " She
isn't saying Brooke would invent anything consciously.
She's only remembering he can write stories and act
plays."

Beatrice smiled at her, thanking her as she often did
for their communion of understanding.

" But if," she said, " no matter how long I waited, we
were sitting here by the fire, for instance, and something
began to knock in his brain and he burst out, that way
he has, ' One night Phil said to me, " Bee's the only girl
I ever liked," ' why, then I should know it was true."

This was Isabel's opportunity, the sort she was seizing
upon a dozen times a day, only to be rebuffed by one or
another of them, and she embraced it the more fervently
because it was so often checked.

" my darling," she said, " why not try the automatic
writing and get Phil to tell you himself? '

Bee looked at her sorrowfully and shook her head.

" Couldn't believe it, dear. I couldn't help thinking
the pencil stole it out of my brain. But now promise.
You're not to speak of me unless he asks."

" Of course he'll ask," Isabel insisted all over again, in
her jealously affectionate antiphony.

" And when he does, you're not to speak with special
affection - - special anything. Just say, ' Bee's well.
Great strong moose of a creature, she's always well.' "



THE WIND BETWEEN THE WORLDS 15

" You'll have to speak to Peter," said Madam Brooke,
remembering her son-in-law's intimate understanding of
the girl and his silent tenderness over her in her strange
position of having confessed her love for a man who might
not have recognized his own for her.
. Beatrice turned on her the clear sincerity of her look.

" I have told him," she said. " I stopped in the library,
and he agreed with me perfectly."

" Yes, he would," said his wife, in that helpless admi-
ration she had for him, always, as he was, taking short
cuts along the unobtrusive way of his intuition and being


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