Grace S. Richmond.

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The two pairs of eyes met. There must have been something in
Constance's - invisible to other beholders - which recalled some incident
or other to Janet, for after staring a minute she suddenly dropped her
eyes, said, "Oh, yes - " and sewed away faster than ever.

"Will you come?" demanded Dorothy Chase.

They tried to get out of it - they pointed out various reasons why it
would be difficult for them to come away. Dorothy overrode all their
objections, and became so persistent that at last the four agreed, but
refused to go until evening. As for the young men of the household, it
would be of no use to ask them.

"Send out for us just in time for your affair, and we'll come," promised
Sally. "But what you want of Jo and me I don't see. We can't perform for
you in any way."

"Oh, but you can help make things go. Sally can talk to the bishop - "

"I can't," cried Sally, dismayed.

"And Jo can be nice to Mrs. bishop. I don't see why your men won't
come. It's so hard to get men for anything except sports in summer.
How perfectly absurd it is for Jarvis Burnside to prefer hoeing
potatoes in this frightful sun to playing society man for an hour or
two in the evening!"

"It's truly incomprehensible, but so it is. Besides, he looks like an
Indian, and in his evening clothes would resemble a fiend. Be satisfied,
Dorothy, now you have us for victims, and let the men stay at home." And
Sally slashed a seam open with shears that clipped like her speech.

But Mrs. Chase was not satisfied, and berated Jarvis roundly, when,
presently he came walking up to the porch with Neil, looking the picture
of well-browned contentment. He took her displeasure lightly enough, and
presently had her laughing in spite of herself.

"Well, I know all about it now," Neil Chase informed the company, as he
got into his car. "We ploughed seven acres and sowed it to buckwheat,
turned the buckwheat under and have now planted the ground to potatoes.
In the end there are to be strawberries on the seven acres - or a good
share of it - and Burnside, Lane & Co. are to become the most successful
strawberry culturists in this part of the country."

"Right you are," agreed Jarvis placidly, sitting down on the edge of the
porch and poking about in Janet Ferry's work-bag until he found a
thimble, which he placed on the only finger it would fit, the smallest
one on his right hand. He had washed the hands before he came to the
porch, but they were so brown that the little gold thimble looked most
absurd in its new position.

"If I sew for you for an hour, Miss Janet," he proposed, as the car
bolted away down the drive, "will you come and hoe potatoes for me until
lunch time?"

"I would gladly hoe potatoes all day if I could be let off from going to
play for Mrs. Chase's friends this evening." The fierce energy with which
Janet pulled out a row of bastings gave emphasis to her words.

Jarvis looked at his sister. "How did you manage not to let me in for
this affair, Sis?"

"I knew you wouldn't go, and Janet knew her brother wouldn't. Sally said
Max would be too used up. Happy boys - we saved you from it at the price
of going ourselves."

"Self-sacrificing girls! We'll have to make it up to you somehow. When I
see Ferry I'll - Hold on, I've an idea. How are you coming home?"

"In Neil's car - as we go."

"We'll see that you come in a better way. Be good little girls, do your
stunts, keep up your courage, and we'll rescue you promptly at eleven
o'clock," and putting down the thimble Jarvis went away, deaf to
entreaties to tell what his interesting plan might be.

"Oh, dear, isn't it horrid?" demanded Sally that evening, running into
Josephine's room in the course of her dressing to have certain
unreachable hooks and eyes fastened. "After sewing all day we deserve
something better than one of the Chases' fussy affairs."

"Stop fuming and stand still. Anybody who looks as pretty as you do in
this white swiss - "

"Poor old white swiss - the same one. I wish Dorothy could forget the
pattern of it. She'll undoubtedly mention that I wore it at her
wedding, - she does, every time."

"Don't you care a bit. Those touches of blue make it seem perfectly fresh
to me, and I've seen it much oftener than Dorothy Chase has."

"You're a comfort. You look like a dream yourself, in that
peach-coloured thing."

"A midsummer day's dream, then - with my gypsy skin. Oh, there's Neil
and his car."

"A nice lot you are," Neil Chase was exclaiming outside, as he drove up
to the porch and eyed the male figures occupying its comfortable
recesses. Max reposed in a hammock; Mr. Timothy Rudd swayed to and fro in
a rocker, reading the evening paper by the sunset light; Alec and Bob,
sitting on the steps, were playing a game of some sort; and Jarvis lay
stretched at full length on a rug, his arms beneath his head, luxuriously
resting after his bath and change of work clothes for fresh flannels,
enjoying the sense of virtue earned by having hoed many rows of potatoes
with a vigorous arm.

"A nice lot," Neil went on. "We have it in for you particularly, Jarve.
Max never was much of a society chap, but you once could be depended upon
to do your duty like a man. Bob, run in and see if those girls are ready.
Dorothy won't be easy till she sees them. One thing I know - you'll soon
tire of this playing at farming. To be the real thing you fellows ought
to work till the sun goes down, doing 'chores.' I'll wager a fiver you
come in and get your bath every night before dinner, eh?"

"We certainly do," Jarvis laughed.

"And you don't sit down in your shirt-sleeves?"

"Well - hardly."

"You're not the real thing - never will be. Look at those girls!" He
pulled off his straw hat as two figures appeared in the doorway. "Nice
farmers' folks they are!"

"We're glad you think we're nice," responded Sally, gathering her white
skirts about her. "Jo, be careful - don't get that peaches-and-cream frill
against the running board."

Jarvis's reposeful posture had become an active one, and he took care
that neither peach-coloured skirts nor white ones fluttered against
anything on the outside of the car that might soil them.

"Here come Constance and Janet. Aren't they imposing society ladies now?"
and Sally stood up to wave at the two coming through the hedge,
accompanied by Janet's brother. Ferry had an eye upon the porch and meant
to spend the evening consoling his friends for the absence of the usual
feminine contingent.

"You exquisite person - may I venture to sit beside you?" whispered Sally,
as Constance, in trailing pale gray with bands of violet velvet, a
shimmering cloak of the same hues enveloping her like a mist, took the
place beside her. "This is the singer, not my friend Constance.
I'm - just - a little - afraid of you!"

"Nonsense!" Constance's warm hand caught Sally's beneath the cloak. "You
know I don't like show singing - or anything that goes with it."

"Don't forget your promise - " Josephine called back, as the big car, with
its rainbow-tinted load rolled away.

An answering shout from the porch, accompanied by the waving of several
arms, conveyed assurance.

"What promise?" asked Janet, turning to the others. Being the smallest of
the party she occupied one of the folding seats which enable a roomy
tonneau to hold five people.

"The boys are coming after us - we don't know how. Doesn't that give you
courage to face the evening?" murmured Josephine, and the expression on
Janet's face became decidedly more hopeful.

"But how can they come? They've only your brother's car!" she said in
Josephine's ear.

"Don't know, and don't care. They'll come - and rescue us from our fate."

They felt, during the following hours, that they needed the cheering
prospect of a merry home-going, to enable them to bear the rigours of
the form of entertainment offered them. It was not that the affair
differed much from affairs of its sort, but the fact that it did not
materially differ might have been what made it seem so tiresome. Possibly
the effect of a summer of out-door, home merrymaking, under the least
conventional of conditions, had been to make formal entertaining under a
roof seem more than ordinarily fatiguing and pointless. The handsome
rooms were hot, in spite of open windows; the guests quite evidently were
making heroic efforts to seem gay. Somehow even Janet's brilliant music
stirred only a perfunctory sort of applause.

"Never played so badly in my life," whispered the performer, when she
regained Josephine's side, after her second number.

"You played perfectly, as you always do."

"I played like an automaton - a 'piano-player.' Don't pretend you don't
know the difference."

"I understand, of course. But, you know, we shouldn't really like to
have you play for the bishop and these people as you do for us on your
own piano."

"The poor bishop! Doesn't he look like a martyr? I'm sure he's
delightful - in his own library, or at his friends' dinner-tables - but he
hates this sort of thing. He's beautifully polite, but he's bored. My
only hope is that Con will revive him. It's her turn next."

If anything could revive a weary bishop, who had that day attended two
funerals and a diocesan convention, it would be both the sight and the
sound of Miss Constance Carew.

"Isn't she _dear_?" breathed Sally, in Josephine's ear, as Constance took
her place, her slender, gray-clad figure and interest-stirring face a
notable contrast to the personality of the professional singer who had
opened the program of occasional numbers, interspersed through an evening
of - so-called - conversation. Sally's hands were unconsciously clasped
tight all through the song, and her eyes left the singer's face only long
enough to observe that the bishop's tired eyes were also fixed upon the
creator of all those wonderful, liquid notes, and to fancy that, for the
moment, at least, he forgot how hot his neck was inside his close,
clerical neckwear.

"That pays me for coming," was the reward Constance had from Sally, whose
praise she had somehow come to value more highly than that of most people
she knew. Sally might be no musician herself, but she was a most
sympathetic listener, and could appreciate the points singers love to
have appreciated, as few people can.

"That pays me!" Constance answered, drawing a long breath. "But, Sally,
will it never end? It's nearly eleven, now."

"Thank heaven! I'd lost all count of time. The boys said they'd be here
at eleven. But Dorothy is not to know they're within five miles of here.
She'd never forgive them."

As she spoke a maid came to her elbow and handed her a note. Retiring to
a secluded corner to read it, Sally returned with triumphant eyes. "We're
to go down the lawn to a gate that opens on the other road. They're
there. Now - to get away from Dorothy."

This proved difficult.

"Not let Neil take you back? Why not? How will you get back? But you're
not going yet?"

"Both the girls have performed twice, with two encores. You don't expect
any more of them this hot night? Your bishop is going to sleep; do let
him off and send him to bed. Yes, we must go now. They've sent for us.
Don't bother about how we're going to get back - Neil will be thankful not
to have to take us."

Thus Sally. And when Dorothy persisted in exclamations and questions her
guests fell into a little gusto of enthusiasm over the stately old house
which Neil had bought after he had to give up the Maxwell Lane place,
and diverted Dorothy's attention. Sally also praised everything she could
honestly praise in relation to the affair of the evening - and not a thing
she couldn't, for Sally was the most honest creature alive. Somehow at
last she got her party away from their hostess, taking advantage of the
bishop's approach to whisper hastily - "Here comes your guest of honour.
Now do attend to him and forget us!" - and so had them all out a side door
and off down the lawn out of range of the lighted windows. As they
hurried along in their airy dresses, they were pulling off long, hot
gloves, and saying, still under their breath, "Oh, isn't it good to get
out?" They were laughing softly, and breathing deep breaths of the warm
summer air, and looking up at the starlit sky.

"Now where is that gate?" They had reached the high fence at the back of
the grounds.

"Here you are - this way," came back a low voice, and a doorway in the
fence swung open. There was a rush of skirts, and the four were out in
the road at the back of the suburban place, a country road on which
stood, most appropriately, a long hay-wagon, cushioned with hay and rugs,
drawn by a pair of farm horses, with Jake Kelly in command. Four other
dark figures were grouped about the back end.

"You splendid things!"

"What a jolly idea!"

"Oh, what a delicious change from a hot music-room!"

"Here's Mother Burnside, tucked away in the corner. How good of you to
come, you patient person!"

"Now tell us all about it," demanded Donald Ferry of Sally, next whom, at
the end of the load, he sat. It may be noted that Jarvis had not been
found, of late, at Sally's elbow. Without a suggestion of seeming
avoidance on her part, or of umbrage on his, the two no longer fell to
each other as a matter of course. Sally's plea had had the effect she
wished for. Both Constance and Janet appeared to like Jarvis immensely,
and Sally could not detect any failure on his part to enjoy their
society. She told herself it was a very good thing that she had been so
frank with him.

"All about it?" She was answering Ferry's question. "Why, I don't need to
tell you. You know, without having been there, exactly how things went."

"More or less, probably. Was it very hot?"

"Stifling! How could it be anything else on an August night? Janet vows
her fingers burned on the keys. But she played beautifully, of course,
and the bishop had a little interval of being glad he was there. Poor
man - I wonder if anything can be warmer than a clerical waistcoat."

"Nothing, except a clerical collar, I believe. Did Constance have a bad
time of it, too? She doesn't like singing in hot rooms."

"She sang like an angel. The bishop opened his eyes and stared at her all
through, and applauded so vigorously it must have made him several
degrees warmer. But she deserved it."

"I don't doubt it. And what did you and Miss Josephine do?"

"Stood about and tried to look pleased and happy. My gloves felt like
furs and a soapstone, and I couldn't think of anything intelligent to say
to anybody."

Ferry laughed. "I wonder if anybody ever does say anything intelligent at
such entertainments. Did Mr. Neil Chase himself rise to the occasion and
play the genial host as he should?"

"I think he mostly spent the evening sitting on the porch rail at the
farthest corner away from the drawing-room."

"The memory of the fellows lounging comfortably on your porch undoubtedly
made his role seem the harder by contrast. I saw a longing look in his
eye as he drove away, and had an idea he might be back. But I suppose he
couldn't get out of it."

"No - their 'country home' isn't much like our 'country home.' Oh, isn't
this air delicious? Do you suppose Constance would be willing to sing in
it? Wouldn't it sound like a part of the summer night out here?"

They were bowling along the quiet country road, only the chirp of many
locusts, the rumble of the wheels, and the sound of their own voices to
break the stillness. Ferry leaned forward. Constance was at the farther
end of the wagon, between Jarvis and Max.

"Constance!" he called softly. Sally thought she would not hear, but she
did. Ferry's voice, even in its subdued tones, possessed that carrying
quality which is the peculiar acquirement of the trained public speaker.

"Yes, Don," she called back, and everybody stopped talking. People had a
way of stopping other talk to listen when either of these two had
anything to say.

"Here's a person, at this end of the chariot, who wonders if people with
drawing-room voices ever venture to test them in the open air."

"What do you think about it?"

"That one of them will, if we ask her. Therefore, we ask."

Constance considered an instant. "Will you and Janet sing 'My Garden'
with me - especially for Sally?"

For answer Ferry tried for the proper key, found it - under his
breath - and began, very softly, and on a low note, to sing. Janet joined
him with a subdued contralto, and the two voices, without words, made
themselves into a harmonious undertone of an accompaniment. Upon this
support, presently, rose Constance's pure notes. It was no "show
singing," this time, and the song did not lift above a gentle volume
which seemed to fit, as Sally had anticipated, into the night. But the
listeners gave themselves to the listening as they had never done before,
even in the many times they had heard this girl. Even Jake Kelly, on his
driver's seat, turned about to hearken with held breath. The farm-hand
drew his horses down to a walk, that not a note might be marred.

"A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot!
Rose plot,
Fringed pool,
Ferned grot -
The veriest school
Of Peace, and yet the fool
Contends that God is not -
Not God! in gardens! when the eve is cool?
Nay, but I have a sign:
'Tis very sure God walks in mine."

The words[A] were familiar to some of them - the music new. Together
words and music were something to remember.

[Footnote A: The words are those of Thomas Edward Brown.]

Certain of these phrases came in over and over, throughout the
song - taking hold of one's heart most appealingly. "_Not God - in
gardens! - when the eve is cool_?" came again and again, till one felt
it indeed to be the word of the fool. Then, in exquisite harmony, fell
the assurance - "_Nay, but I have a sign - a sign - a sign - 'Tis very sure
God walks in mine_!"

Everybody but Sally found words in which to tell, in some sort, how the
song had seemed to them, even Alec observing boyishly, "I say, but that's
great. I didn't know you folks could all sing."

After some minutes had gone by, Donald Ferry bent to speak in Sally's
ear. She was looking off into the night, her hands clasped tight together
in her lap. "I know," he said, very gently.

"You always know," she answered, under cover of the talk, which was now
going on again. "Tell me," - wistfully - "do you think - He - walks in mine?"

"I know it. He walks in every garden - when He is wanted there."




CHAPTER XVI

TIME-TABLES


"If ever I felt weepy over seeing people off, it's this minute!"

"We feel just as weepy over going, Sally Lunn. But cheer up. We shall
come out every other minute, Jarvis and I, and mother will be planning
all winter, I know, how early she can get back in the spring."

Josephine gave Sally a tremendous hug as she spoke, and Mrs. Burnside, in
her turn, took the girl into her motherly embrace.

"I shouldn't have believed," she said warmly, "how reluctant I should be
to go back to town in the fall, after this charming summer - nor how
willing I should be to promise to return in the spring. Sally, dear - do
make use of our rooms all you care to - though they're not half as cheery
as your own, for the winter."

"It _has_ been a lovely summer, hasn't it?" cried Sally, as the Burnside
carriage, fine bay horses and liveried coachman, appeared upon the
driveway, looking suggestively like city life again. "A successful one
too, don't you think, for the boys? They're confident they have improved
the ground so much that their first real crops, next year-will begin to
show what crops ought to be."

"Yes, it has all been a success," agreed Mrs. Burnside, "in spite of the
mistakes they own to and laugh over. Jarvis himself has received a world
of good from his out-door life. I'm hoping that all your brothers will
make the most of next season - especially Max."

"Oh, Max will come round in time," declared Josephine confidently. "I
caught him feeling enviously of Jarvis's arms the other day. When Jarvis
said he felt like a giant, Max said he thought he'd have to begin giant
culture, whether he succeeded in making any squashes grow or not."

This thought cheered Sally through the trying moment of watching her
friends drive away. Their going took place at rather an unfortunate time
for her. Uncle Timothy was off on a visit to his old New Hampshire home;
Constance Carew had departed the week before - though under promise to
return for a long visit the following summer; and Janet was away for a
wedding in which she was to play the part of bridesmaid. Sally's one
consolation was that Joanna was to take the place of Mary Ann Flinders in
the kitchen.

This arrangement had been made by Mrs. Burnside. On just what terms it
had been effected Sally was not permitted to inquire. She had protested
against it, but the argument had ended by the elder woman's saying
gently, "Sally dear, I shall spend a happier winter if I know you have my
good Joanna here. She likes the place, it is a pleasant change for her
from the responsibilities of my entertaining, and her sister is eager to
take her place with me. So let me have my way - at least for this
winter." It was a way of putting the matter which could not be set aside.

When the carriage had disappeared, Sally wandered out to the kitchen to
console herself with the sight of Joanna. There was no doubt that the
presence of that capable, comfortable person, possessed as she was of
intelligence and common sense, would be a real support to the young
mistress of the house. But at this moment even Joanna failed her, for
she had gone to her room, the hour being that of mid-afternoon. Sally
wandered back again into the living-room, feeling too disconsolate even
to make the effort to cheer herself by going for a brisk walk in the
keen late October air, a measure which usually had a prompt effect upon
her spirits.

From the living-room window she saw a messenger boy approaching, and
hurried to the porch door to meet him, hoping he brought no ill news. Two
minutes later she was reading the message, alone in the living-room,
while the boy waited in the hall. Its purport banished all thought of
present circumstances, except to bring the wish that it had arrived a
half-hour earlier. "Mr. Rudd seriously ill anxious to have you come at
once" it read, and was signed by the name of one of Mr. Rudd's old New
Hampshire friends.

After a minute's deliberation, Sally wrote her reply "Will come at once.
Leave to-night if possible," and sent the boy off with it. As he departed
Jarvis came into the hall from the door at the rear. Sally turned with an
exclamation of surprise and relief.

"Oh, I thought you had gone."

"Without saying good-by? You ought to know better. But I'd have been off
when the others went if I hadn't had some unexpected magneto trouble. All
right now, and I'm going at once. What's that?" as he caught sight of the
yellow envelope in her hand. "No bad news, I hope?"

"Uncle Timmy's very sick - up in New Hampshire. I'm going to him as fast
as I can get off."

"Uncle Timmy? Oh, I'm mighty sorry! You're going, you say?"

"Of course. He asked me to come. I was just going to telephone to find
out about trains."

"I'll see to all that - if you must go. But, Sally - have you let
Max know?"

"Not yet."

"Have you sent an answer saying you will come, on your own
responsibility?"

Sally's slight figure drew itself up. "Why not? There's nothing else to
do but go - and if there were, I wouldn't do it."

"It will take you at least twenty-four hours to get there."

"Yes. What has that to do with it?"

Jarvis's face looked as if he thought it had a good deal to do with it.
He knew that, dress as quietly as she would - and Sally's dressing for the
street meant always the plainest and simplest of attire - there was that
about her which invariably attracted attention. He understood with just
what a barrier of youthful reserve she would be likely to surround
herself upon such a journey, but he understood also that barriers of
reserve are not all the defences sometimes necessary for a girl who
travels alone. For one moment he felt as if he must go along to take care
of her, in the next that nothing could be more out of the question.

"I'm glad it's no farther, anyhow," he replied to Sally's quick
question. "But hadn't you better let the boys know, before you go at your
preparations? Max wouldn't be pleased at not being consulted, you know."

"Will you tell him, please? But first find out what train I must take, so
you can be definite with him."

"But, Sally - really - shouldn't you ask old Maxy's consent?"

"Why?"

"Well - it's the diplomatic thing to do."


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