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to people the comforter she herself aspired to be: only
she had to have everything explained. The two sons
were like their father. They were altogether what was
a mere strain in him. Somebody had once named it
poetic, and she had felt a relief in hearing it classified and
being able to put it away as something she need not try
to understand. But heretofore she had acquiesced in it
and followed humbly on.

" All right, Bee," she said, " we'll do our best." Then
Susanne appeared with a card, and she read aloud: " Miss
Andrea Dove. Do I know her?" she added, to herself,
and sat a moment mutely interrogating her memory.

'' The young lady said," Susanne offered, " it was some-
thing connected with psychical research."

Susanne was not more learned than became her posi-
tion, but she rattled off the last words glibly. She had
heard them a great deal in this house, within the past
weeks, and they had a confused yet vivid meaning for her.
She saw ladies sitting at a table persuading ouija and
planchette, or latterly a common pencil. She heard Mrs.
Harvey proposing this or that excursion to other tables
and other pencils, and Mr. Harvey's tentative objection,
" Must you, dear? " To her tolerant mind, used to the


vagaries of the employer class, which might wallow in
idleness if it chose, but mysteriously preferred eccentric
activities, psychical research was no more important than
any other plaything of an empty day. But her delivery
of this added elucidation had upon Mrs. Harvey an imme-
diate determining effect.

" Yes, indeed, I'll see her," she said. " Show her up

After Susanne had left the room, Madam Brooke, who
was always most careful to preserve the decent reticences
between the family and " below stairs," forbore to sniff
until the maid had got well outside the door; then she
did it with somewhat diminished effect, owing to the de-
lay. This she realised. A sniff, she knew, had to be
served up hot. But her daughter looked at her with an
undiminished sweetness of appeal.

' I shouldn't dare," she said, " turn any one away. It
might be a message. It might be Phil."

" It might be a gold brick," said Madam Brooke ruth-
lessly, " or a messenger from Mars selling stock in the

" I'll run along," said Beatrice. She couldn't forbear
touching Madam Brooke on the hand, in passing, a tiny
admonitorjr tap telling her how naughty she was and yet
so much in the nature of a caress that it emphasized her
dearness also. " Love to Brooke when he does ask
for me, you know."

She snatched up her stole and muff and was gone, and
presently there was Susanne again, vanishing at the en-
trance of Andrea Dove, who paused just over the thresh-
old as if not so much mutely interrogating those who
were in the room as presenting herself for scrutiny and,
if it might be, acceptance. The mother and daughter
gave her a look of inquiry which settled at once into sat-


isfied approval. Andrea Dove had beauty of a high
type. She was tall and slim and moved with an easy
grace. Her hair was the rarest bright gold touched with
red and her skin a faintly flushed perfection fitted to it.
She was as unlike the girl who had just gone out as it is
possible for two individuals of evidently the same social
plane to be. Beatrice, in her gallant bearing, suggested
the conventional, the rightly " placed," and Andrea looked
as if she had seen strange circumstance, perhaps been
driven too hard and too far and felt a little breathless with
it all. Madam Brooke found herself thinking she looked
as if she had been out in the wind and it had swept and
buffeted her until her eyes ached with it and her nostrils,
when she turned to face it, were blown wider. There was
something apprehensive in her gray-eyed glance. She
looked, indeed, as Madam Brooke also concluded, highly
nervous, as if strung up to a task she feared. All this
was in the instant she stood there, before Mrs. Harvey, in
a forward movement, indicated a chair and spoke her
name, again with reference to the card. Andrea Dove
took the chair and began at once in a low, painfully hesi-.
tating voice:

" Mrs. Harvey, I hoped you might be in need of a

Mrs. Harvey's expectant gaze cooled. " This," it
seemed to say, " is not connected with psychical research."
But she answered promptly:

" I have a secretary. She is entirely satisfactory."

" Let's hear what the young lady has to say," put in
Madam Brooke. " I'm not sure your Bixby's so satis-
factory you never want to think of anybody else."

" How did you hear of me? ' inquired Mrs. Harvey,
who was always loath to dismiss a suppliant unsatisfied.

Her husband often told her, with the tender under-



standing he had of her, that she believed in cutting off the
dog's tail an inch at a time. The moment she asked the
question it seemed to ease Andrea off on the second lap of
her dreaded task. It looked as if in a moment, now that
the interview had begun to move as she imagined it, she
might be in full swing.

" I saw your name," she said, " as giving a large sum
of money to psychical research."

" Are you," Mrs. Harvey asked, the keenness of her
interest whetted again by this slightest of hints, " inter-
ested in psychical research? '

" More," said Andrea, " than anything else in the
world almost."

The last word seemed to be an afterthought, springing
from some deep imperative memory. But Madam
Brooke hardly took note of the word and all it might im-
ply, so discouraged was she by the girl's confessed interest
in things unseen. As they pervaded this house they were,
to the old lady, no more than an unpicturesque and dis-
orderly form of witchcraft. There could be no doubt of
the honesty of the girl's enthusiasm. Her face glowed
under it. Her eyes met Isabel Harvey's brilliantly. She
smiled a little, as if turning aside from a too eager pur-
suit of her aim, and said:

" I've been studying stenography and typewriting. I
hoped you wanted a secretary. Then when you knew me
I could ask you for what I really want."

" And what do you want? " prompted Mrs. Harvey.

The girl answered directly:

" Money."

Madam Brooke drew a quick breath which was not a
snort but very near it. She found everybody nowadays
seeking, with a sad unanimity, this one medium of
worldly advantage, money. Sometimes they veiled their


purpose and seemed to seek something else while they at
the same time put out the stealthy claw of cupidity.
But this girl frankly wanted it and said so. Madam
Brooke was neither surprised nor disappointed as her
daughter was.

" I suppose," said Mrs. Harvey, temporizing, " that was
what you learned stenography for."

" Yes," said Andrea. " We've almost nothing to live
on and I thought '

" We? " put in Madam Brooke.

" My father and I. I thought, if I could be your secre-
tary you might pay me six hundred dollars a year. And
if you would advance me a part of it, my father could
use it in his work. We could live on what I got by copy-
ing in the evening. I should think I might get copying,
shouldn't you? "

This she addressed to Madam Brooke as if her harder
surface indicated a faculty for pronouncing on the valid-
ity of a copyist's ambition. But the old lady was
ready for her.

" Undoubtedly," she answered.

She simply couldn't help it, the girl seemed to her so
honest and indeed compelling in her clarity.

" How much do you want in advance? " Mrs. Harvey
asked, almost fretfully.

She too believed in the girl, but she felt no confidence
in her own nose for bargains. She knew how inevitably
she was allowing herself to be led or, indeed, wander-
ing wilfully into one of those paths from which her hus-
band had to pluck her at intervals, for invariably they
ended in purlieus where the undeserving flourish on
ill-gotten gains. Now Andrea did recoil from her task.

" Quite a large sum," she faltered.

" How large? " asked Madam Brooke.


" Five hundred dollars."

" But why," again Mrs. Harvey asked, " why come to

" Because," said the girl again, " you are interested in
psychical research." Then she laughed a little sudden
laugh, as if finding herself more stupid than she had
imagined. " How badly I do it! " she said, with an hon-
est directness they both found charming. " You see I
ought to have told you first about father, not about me.
My father is a scientist. He has always believed in com-
munication with another world."

" Wait," said Mrs. Harvey. She got up, pressed an
electric button and Susanne appeared. " Susanne, ask
Mr. Harvey to come here." Then, as Susanne departed,
she turned to Andrea and explained, with no diminution
of excitement: " I feel as if you were going to say some-
thing very interesting. I want my husband to hear."


WHEN Peter Harvey came in, he found his wife and
Andrea Dove both standing, faces turned expectant
toward the door. Madam Brooke had wheeled round to
the fire and sat rigidly erect, back obliquely to the room,
as if tacitly repudiating whatever might occur. Peter
Harvey was a man something over fifty, of middle height,
generously but not heavily built. His large-featured
face, blue-eyed and florid, was arresting from its expres-
sion of an anxious tenderness, a look that dealt with life as
it did with individuals, as if he had reflected deeply upon
the phenomena of things human, found them inscrutable
and despairingly given them up: but not renounced them
in any sense of shirking the anxiety of still further coping
with a system not understood. On the contrary, he was
instant in eager service at even the unspoken appeal of
the fellow wonderer, and now he came forward to his
wife with the look of receptive inquiry he so often found
her challenging. She was flushed and eager, a little
nervous, and he recognized the look sadly as one he had
become used to. She had, he was resignedly sure, dis-
covered a new medium of communication with another

" Peter," she said, " Miss Dove Miss Dove, this is
my husband Miss Dove has come to tell us about her
father's work in psychical research."

Mr. Harvey bowed gravely to Miss Dove, recognizing
in her face the reaction his wife too often roused in her



psychic ministrants. She went too fast for them. If
they showed her a hope, she transmuted it into a cer-
tainty; she assumed they could work with the lightning
rapidity of a magician stocked up with elixirs. This
grave-eyed girl, whom he at once liked and, in spite of
her tiresome errand, trusted in a surprising way, had come
to bring them something, but not a master key to open
all locks. That he knew, from long dwelling on the
puzzle. There was no such key. Andrea, feeling the
meeting was embarrassingly in her h#nds, plunged des-

" My father is a scientist."

This seemed to be the preamble she had provided her-
self with, the spring-board for her leap.

" Sit down," said Mrs. Harvey. Already her voice,
in its premature certainty, was exultant. " Peter, sit

But Peter elected to sit elsewhere, so that he might get
the light more fully on Miss Dove's face. She sat where
Mrs. Harvey had indicated, clasping her hands in her
lap. And the hands trembled. But Peter Harvey, his
gaze on her face, absently remarked, in a way he had of
putting down mental notes, that her eyes, lifted to his,
wore an almost commanding look of sincerity. They
bade you believe in her. They did not plead for it, in
any way of ingenuous appeal. They made a calm state-
ment of her worth.

" Since my mother died," she began, with a perfectly
apparent effect of controlling her breath which had begun
to come unevenly, " my father has been trying to get
into communication with another world."

' Oh ! ' breathed Mrs. Harvey, in a rush of abandon-
ment to this new solace. " You see, Peter. We were the
very ones for Miss Dove to come to."


" How long ago was that? ' Mr. Harvey asked of

" That mother died? Nearly twelve years. Father
isn't old, but he looks like an old man. All that time he's
never stopped believing that some day he will do it."

" Establish communication? ' Harvey prompted her.

" Yes. I tell it badly. I don't know just how far to
go back. But father is a scientist, you see. He used to
teach. He is a professor chemistry. But about the
time mother died my grandfather her father left us
quite a lot of money and a place on Long Island, and
father stopped teaching and gave all his time to trying
to get into communication with the other world."

" Then you have money? " said Isabel impulsively.

Andrea smiled slightly, a sad little smile, and her
brows were wistful.

"We had it, but father used it all up in his experi-
ments. And the house burned down the Long Island
house. It caught from his laboratory." She shook her
head, smiling in a rueful way. " I do tell it badly," she
said. " I wish you'd ask me questions."

" These investigations you speak about," said Harvey,
" what were they? "

" That's it," she said, with an air of relief. " The very
thing it all hangs on I've left out. You see father be-
lieves that communication will come in a perfectly simple
scientific way. He believes it will come suddenly, with
some new discovery, and that it will seem no more mirac-
ulous than the telephone, for instance, or wireless."

Madam Brooke hitched her chair to an angle that im-
plied a willingness to renew communication with this
world if the other was to be so reasonably introduced.

" That," said she, pointedly addressing her son-in-law,
" sounds more like it."


" Yes," said he, " there's some degree of reason in that.
At least, if you're going to play with the idea in any
form, it's less offensive."

" Play with it ! " echoed his wife, in a tone of passionate
rebuttal. " Peter, we're not playing."

Her husband was near enough to reach out his hand
and give hers, on the arm of her chair, a kindly touch.
It admonished her to remember that, whatever road of
investigation he had to take, he was always with her in
the undeviating effort of protecting her from her creduli-
ties and guarding the path to her desire. Andrea, having
now reached the point where she could whole-heartedly
back her mission, threw off her air of studied concentra-
tion and spoke impetuously.

" And now he has done it."

" Has he heard from your mother? " cried Isabel Har-

She was keyed to an extreme of agitation.

"What is it he has done? " inquired Harvey, with his
patient, unflinching moderation.

Andrea addressed herself to him.

" He has discovered a new element. It is something like
radium, only, he says, in every way more powerful."

Isabel's face had fallen. A new element, an element
sounding to her something like a feature of the weather,
seemed to her far fflkm the magnificent climax of her

" Where did he discover it? " pursued Harvey, looking
at her intently from under wrinkled brows.

She stood his scrutiny. Madam Brooke noted that,
wind-blown as she was, she seemed for the moment to be
standing in some sheltered corner where she could collect
herself and think.

" In pitchblende."


" Where they found radium."

" Yes. And he had to have tons and tons of pitch-
blende and other things that used up our money."

" What reason has he for thinking it has anything to
do with another world? "

Andrea looked at him with an intensifying of that
compelling sincerity of her eyes.

" W T hy," she said, " he's got flashes."

" What do you mean by flashes? "

" They're long and short. They spell out words, just
as the telegraph does."

Peter Harvey sat looking at her, more and more sorry
for her. " Poor child! " was coming from his lips, but he
shut them on the words.

" From your mother? " his wife was asking, in the
mounting excitement he knew. " Were the messages
from her? '

" No," said Andrea. " Not from anybody we know
about. That's what drives father almost wild. He can't
get connected sentences. They're words here and there.
But they all say the same thing. And he is perfectly sure
they mean he hasn't enough olympium that's what
he's named it to work with. They're urging him to get


" How much of this thing has he? " inquired Harvey.
" Not that it would mean anything to me."

" A quarter gramme. And he must have more. Don't
you see he must have more? "

Here was an appeal from the real heart of her, no
ordered argument she might have brought from some one
else, but the cry of protecting love for the creature it
nurtures and succors.

You say," Harvey began hesitatingly, with the deli-
cacy of one forced to tread ground not yet firm under him,


" your house on Long Island burned. You still have the
land? "

" Oh, no," said Andrea, in a perfect clarity. " That
was mortgaged. They've done what do they call it?
taken it away from us. It isn't ours."

" And why did you come on here? "

He asked the question with an almost conciliatory gen-
tleness, as if begging her to remember he was considering
her side of the question and not his own incidental con-
nection with it at all, and that he was trying to give her
a just hearing, that he meant even to be generous.

" Father thought it might be less expensive. Besides,"
her look of liquid appeal resting on him with a confi-
dence he was quick to interpret, as indicating she believed
there was no need of concealing anything from his sym-
pathetic gaze, " we knew you lived here."

" I? "

The word betrayed his perfect wonderment.

" You, your family," she said gently. " We knew Mrs.
Harvey had given all that money for psychical research."

Harvey rose, took a quick turn about the room and
came back. He could have groaned, in futile despair
over it all. Yet he was glad he hadn't indulged himself
in that bodily easement of the natural man. He wouldn't
for worlds have had her repent her ingenuous disclosure.
So they had come on, attracted by the lure of the gift he
had so unwillingly allowed his wife to make to a new and
obscure association of dabblers in mysteries they knew not
what. It was one of his temporising concessions, buoyed
by the despairing hope that it might solace Isabel and
let her get breath until he could draw her at least a step
away from these anomalous explorations. And now a
father and daughter, the daughter at least appealingly
honest, had caught the gleam of the benefaction and


dumped themselves on him in a trustful expectation of

" If," said he weakly, seeking another avenue some-
where, he did not know where, " your father is a scientist,
he must have a wide acquaintance among men of his
own profession. He must have told them all this."

" No," said she, in a depressed tone, as if this were
another of the discouragements involved. " Father
hasn't had anything to do with scientific men for a good
many years."

"Oh!' said Harvey. And all that occurred to him
to add was, " I'm sorry for that."

But she had her answer brightly ready. It came to
him that she had needed to repeat it to herself at moments
of her own inevitable questioning. That was why it came
so pat.

" Don't you see? " she said. " They didn't believe in
him. They couldn't, literal men like that."

" But," said Harvey, " there's been a good deal of
romance in scientific research. In a way, it's a sort of
guessing, full of surprises, if you come to that. Literal
chaps have had to get used to it. A scientific man ought
to be the sort of fellow that's prepared for anything."

" Oh, but they're not," she said, with a conclusive cer-
tainty. " Father says so. He's explained it to me."

So, Harvey thought again, she had had to go to him
for her own reassuring.

" He says," she went on, " that they won't accept any-
thing but proof."

"No, of course not," put in Harvey, and Madam
Brooke offered an impatient:

" Why, no, child, that's what science is."

" I mean," she said, flushing, as if, though she knew
exactly what point she meant to make, she found herself


blocked by some incredulity of her own in offering it,
" they're not sympathetic. When youVe only half proved
something, they've no use for you until you give them the

" Nevertheless," said Harvey, " I should say a scientific
man would find his colleagues helpful to him."

" And," she continued, lifting her head a little as if this
might not be a peculiarity to advance and yet she was
determined to be proud of it, " maybe father wanted to
keep his own discovery to himself till he could offer it to
the world. It would be a shame if he should work all
these years and then have some other man step in and
take the credit, now wouldn't it? "

" Most unfortunate," said Harvey gravely. " Yet it

And now Isabel, who had been looking from one to the
other in a seething impatience, found herself unable to
leave the issue at this lagging pace.

" But Peter," she said, " whatever scientific men might
feel, it's perfectly clear what we ought to do."

He had known she would say that, though he couldn't
have told at what point it would come, and he accepted
it patiently. Madam Brooke used to repeat to herself,
with the relish an accurate mind has for definitions of
uncharted emotions: "That slow courage known as
patience." It was the efflorescence of his feeling to-
ward his wife, whom he loved with an unwavering devo-
tion and protected at every turn from the consequences of
her own gentle rashness. Now he gave her hand an-
other warning touch and, instead of answering her di-
rectly, said:

" I should think the most practical thing is for me
for us to see Mr. Dove."

Isabel nodded triumphantly. So assured was she of


the integrity of the issue that she felt perfectly certain
the day was won. If Peter saw him, he would write a
cheque. Harvey, glancing at Andrea to see how she
took it, found himself warming at the eager delight that
overspread her face. It was queer, he told himself in-
wardly, with a whimsical perplexity, how bent they
three were on having her come out right, she and her
mission. It seemed as if they had a recognised compact
of belief in her. And as if joy brought its own intoxica-
tion she burst out into a little cascade of talking, telling
them what they never would have thought of asking her:
all about the everyday fortunes of olympium and how
they guarded it from covetous hands. The world was
against them, she implied, but smilingly, as if she did
not fear it any more, now she had found them; and her
father had invented the simplest as well as the cleverest
scheme for hiding it. When she told them what it was,
they admired it sufficiently and always the figure in the
foreground, her father, with it. Then, without warning,
the tears rushed into her eyes.

" It's wonderful," she said frankly, " to talk with some-
body again, somebody like you. And father'll feel so,
too. You'll question him and he'll tell you everything
you want to know. It'll do him so much good. We've
been very much alone."

" Then," said Harvey, pulling out his watch, " what
if we should take you round there now, my wife and I? "

Mrs. Harvey made a little murmurous sound of ap-
proval and came to her feet, eager, Madam Brooke saw,
with an inward lament over her credulity, to lose no time
in getting her hat and cloak. But Andrea hesitated.
She was demurring.

" If you don't mind," she said apologetically, " not just
now. Not to-day."


Harvey felt rebuffed. She wasn't meeting thm with
the satisfactory promptness he had expected.

" Oh, very well," he said, and Andrea, seeming to guess
how she had impressed him, at once explained:

" Father's not strong. It would startle him. Do you

see? "

" Perfectly," said Harvey, relinquishing his plan. " It
doesn't matter. We'll go another day."

But he was plainly aware that he had wanted to come
upon father before the scene could be set to influence or
hamper him in any way. There might not be any such
way, but he was hard-headed and keen in the measure
of his kindliness, and if he was to help father along the
difficult road of achievement, he could do it only accord-
ing to his own consistencies.

" But," said Andrea, rising, " if you could come to-
morrow? Could you? '

She looked at him in anxious expectation. It was per-

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Online LibraryAlice BrownThe wind between the worlds → online text (page 2 of 17)