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I!



THE TOP OF
THE MORNING



ty of California
ern Regional
ary Facility



ET WILBOR TOMPK1NS



THE TOP OF THE MORNING




DONNA



THE TOP OF
THE MORNING



BY

JULIET WILBOR TOMPKINS

Author of
"Dr. Ellen" and "Open House"



NEW YORK

THE BAKER & TAYLOR COMPANY

1910



COPYRIGHT, 1910, BY
THE BAKER & TAYLOR COMPANY



Published, January, 1910



THE PREMIER PRESS
NEW YORK



CONTENTS



Chapter Page

I Charlotte's Little Boy .... 9

II One Of Us 23

III Donna's Last Week .... 43

IV Lorrimer Becomes A Fad . . 83

V "Mr. Gosbek's Career". ... 105

VI A Writer Of Plays 127

VII The Morning and The Evening, 149

VIII Paul and Viola 169

IX An Outsider 193

X Cameron's Affair 217

XI The Proving Of Us .... 233

XII The Little Thing 255

XIII The Glamour 291

XIV Paul's Wife 327



2227789



THE TOP OF THE MORNING



The Top of the Morning

CHAPTER I.

CHARLOTTE'S LITTLE BOY.



. McLEAN moved about the flat with
the suppressed smile of one who had
the best secret in the world in her possession.
Good happenings usually set her humming,
but to-night's mood was evidently too big for
anything but an exultant silence. She even
handled the dishes quietly as she placed them
on the blue and white table cover that was as
regular a feature of Sunday night supper as
the salad or the toasted muffins. Whenever
she passed a faded photograph of a little boy
in knickerbockers, she stopped and studied it,
and once she drew her hand caressingly down
it, brushing off with serene indifference the
little ridge of dust it left on the edge of her
palm. When the electric bell in the kitchen
rang, she pressed the button that opened the
front door, three flights below 1 then threw

9



THE TOP OF THE MORNING

open her own front door and stood waiting,
suppressing her air of good news by a firm re-
arrangement of her lips, blinking the dreams
out of her eyes, shrugging head and shoulders
into their everyday angle.

"All five together," she commented as the
figures emerged from the lower dimness.
"How did that happen?"

"Lorrimer and I got into an argument on
the doorstep and forgot to ring the bell," ex-
plained the girl who was leading, lifting a
vivid, joyous face framed in windblown hair.
"When Paul and Lanse came, they naturally
joined in. We might have been there yet if
Evelyn had not dashed up in her grand motor.
That depressed us, someway."

"What was the argument?"

"The advantages of poverty," with a laugh.
"I don't care, they are real," she added, throw-
ing back her rain coat. "Paul agrees with



me."



"If Donna spoke from any real experience
of wealth," began Lorrimer. Mrs. McLean,
returning to the dining-room, heard the argu-
ment rising again, and, ten minutes later,
found them still filling the little hall, Donna,
on the one chai^ still in the act of taking off

10



CHARLOTTE'S LITTLE BOY

her overshoes, the three men vigorously inter-
rupting each other, Evelyn, still in her furs,
looking on in amused silence.

"Children, come!" she commanded. "I
want Donna to toast the muffins," she added
as they obeyed, lighting a small gas stove that
stood on a table in the corner. The toasting
had originally been done in the kitchen, but so
many muffins had been ruined through the
toast maker's fear of missing something that
she had been forced to set up a special Sunday
night apparatus in the midst of things.

"Four apiece," announced Donna, begin-
ning to cut her muffins in half somewhat
clumsily and at reckless slants. Lorrimer,
after watching her unhappily for a moment,
sprang up in exasperation.

"For heaven's sake, Donna, let me cut
those. You are butchering them!" he ex-
claimed.

"Well, you know I'm stupid with my
hands," she returned, giving him the knife.
"We can't all be T. Lorrimer Ffloyds! Char-
lotte, why don't you make Paul butter them?
He never shares in the menial tasks."

Mrs. McLean looked up consideringly
from her salad making.

Hi



THE TOP OF THE MORNING

"Ought I, Paul?" she asked of the man be-
side her.

"Oh, let T. Lorrimer Ffloyd do it; he likes
notoriety," was the answer. "Did you know
that he cuts out everything he sees printed
about himself and saves it? He has a cigar
box full of remarks about the eminent carica-
turist, Lorrimer Ffloyd. He isn't even
ashamed of it."

Ffloyd, who was slicing muffins with ex-
quisite precision, smiled behind his glasses.

"Yes; and if I ever see anything about you
in print, Paul, I'll cut that out, too," he said.
They all laughed, though Donna came at once
to the defense.

"It will take more than a cigar box to hold
the clippings about Paul, once he gets discov-
ered," she declared hotly.

Mrs. McLean interposed. "You will all be
famous in time, so don't scrap about it. Where
are the other two?"

"They're in the next room, fighting over the
third act," answered Paul. "Lanse wants to
hide the leading lady behind a screen, and
Evelyn is afraid it has been done before."

Mrs. McLean summoned the reluctant
playwrights and began serving things with ab-

12



sent minded profuseness. Her laughter was
very near the surface to-night, and shone in
her eyes, even when she was evidently not
listening.

"Charlotte, what is it?" Paul finally asked.
"Have you sold a poster or been asked for a
frontispiece? What has happened?" The
others looked at her in surprise.

"I knew Paul would discover it," she cried;
"I was waiting for him. Oh, children, it's
the best thing in the world!" Her eyes rested
on the photograph. "My boy my dear lit-
tle boy will be home next week."

"O Charlotte! How perfectly beautiful!"
There was an excited chorus, and those nearest
her took her hands and squeezed them.

"Just thinkj I haven't seen him for over
three years," she went on, tears in her eyes,
"His uncle has to give up his pupils and go
away for his health, so Cameron is to come
back to me perhaps for good. That dear
little man!"

For a while enthusiasm for her sake kept
them all jubilant; but gradually, one by one,
they grew unwontedly quiet. Ffloyd pushed
back his chair with a frown and began to

13



THE TOP OF THE MORNING

smoke. Donna got up and stared pensively
at the shabby old photograph.

"You will have to be awfully good now,
Charlotte," she said with a sigh. "You'll
have to be a parent day and night, instead of
just when you write letters. And Paul will
have to expurgate his stories."

"I know," said Charlotte; "we won't be so
free. But a son is worth more than that."
Paul smiled at her sympathetically.

"father," he assented.

"What is bothering me," began Ffloyd, "is,
can we make him one of Us?" They always
said Us with a capital when they were alone
together, these six. "Three years in an Eng-
lish family it's going to be pretty hard to
counteract that. Has he imagination, Char-
lotte?" A troubled look crossed her face.

"How do I know?" she said. "I only know
that he is my little boy, and he's coming
home."

"And that is quite enough," said Paul
quickly. "Let's give him a perfectly rousing
welcome." Charlotte's face cleared, and the
others brightened.

"We'll cast him for the leading juvenile,"
said Lanse; " 'Little Cameron, son to Mrs.



McLean, who unconsciously plays the part of
Cupid and brings ' '

"Oh, be still!" commanded Donna. "Will
he have the little room, Charlotte? We might
fix it up for him. I'll tell you a dado of
caricature rabbits by Lorrimer Ffloyd!"
Ffloyd took out his cigar and looked interested.

"That is an idea," he said. "And you can
do some nonsense verses^ Donna, and we'll
work them in all round shall we, Charlotte?"
Mrs. McLean was radiant.

"It would be the dearest thing in the
world!" she exclaimed.

"When do you expect him?" asked Paul.

"A week from Wednesday it is a slow
boat."

"Let's go and see the room now," Donna
proposed, jumping up. Five minutes later
they were hard at work, sketching, measuring,
and planning, all talking at once.

"He'll enjoy it; but he will never get the
fun out of it that we're having now," Donna
said when they finally separated for the night.

All that week they worked, planning and
devising things for a boy's comfort and amuse-
ment, neglecting or dropping their own daily
work with generous readiness. It was their

15



apology for their secret dismay. For all
their faith in the bond that made them
"Us," they were afraid. Little groups in
a great city tend to scatter; the world
is always tugging at their most valu-
able members, and a small thing may start a
loosening of the bond. With their freedom
of speech abridged, as it must be in a boy's
presence, the charm might break; and pres-
ently the Sunday suppers in Charlotte's little
flat would become memories, and the bright-
est height of their youth would be passed, the
splendid morning would have turned to dull
afternoon. Donna, foreseeing all this, fell
into days of depression which culminated in
a poem called "Afterwards" which she sold
for fifteen dollars, thereby greatly cheering
herself. Paul became doubly affectionate, al-
most anxiously appreciative of them all, as
though dimly realizing that he might be the
first to go, since it was on him that the world's
clutch fell most eagerly. (These five would
have put Paul highest had he never laid his
wonderful hands on clay or marble, and felt
contempt for a world that increased its de-
mand for him in simple, direct ratio to his
growing fame.) The two playwrights were,

16



CHARLOTTE'S LITTLE BOY

as usual, impenetrably courteous, but Lorri-
mer Ffloyd smoked morosely and said sharp
things about youth and crudity, and even
Charlotte, at rare intervals between her ma-
ternal rejoicings, looked at them wistfully, as
though begging them to be as wholly glad as
she was. There was a faint hope though no
one but Lorrimer Ffloyd would have worded
it that a boy fresh from several years of an
English boarding school would find them and
their abstract topics a bore and take himself
out of the way, but knowledge of Charlotte
made that improbable: Charlotte's son would
never be out of the way when anything what-
ever was going on. Lorrimer drew a bitter
caricature of the six seated wearily about a
round-eyed baby with a nursing bottle, but
had the grace not to show it to Charlotte. The
others met it with sounds of protest andUoyalty
in their throats, but they laughed guiltily.
Ffloyd dropped the sketch into a portfolio of
old cartoons and first draughts, and very soon
forgot all about it.

There were several differences of opinion
before the boy's room was finished. Lanse
wanted muslin curtains on the little white iron
bed, and the picture of a white surpliced boy

'7



THE TOP OF THE MORNING

chorister with upturned face hung over it
"it would give him such pretty little ideas";
but he was hooted down and a file of crouch-
ing, war-painted Indians hung in its place.

"He won't be any little angel boy if he's
the son of Charlotte," commented Ffloyd.
"He'll want blug."

By Saturday evening everything was prac-
tically done. Ffloyd's animals pranced along
the walls bearing streamers of foolish verse
such as any boy who was one of "Us" must
love. There was a cupboard for games, al-
ready fitted with a pot of mucilage, a stamp
album, and a lump of Paul's modeling clay.
The books on the shelf above were chiefly
what Ffloyd called hair curlers, though Lanse
insisted on adding a volume of Keats "just
to see if he has a soul yet." After a final in-
spection, they shut the door on their labors
and wandered vaguely about the little sitting
room, all rather silent.

"It is the last week we shall ever really be
just Us," Donna said, a little sadly.

"Come on, then," called Ffloyd with a des-
perate effort at gaiety, pushing tables and
chairs back from the center of the room.
"We'll finish up 'Alfaretta.' "

18



CHARLOTTE'S LITTLE BOY

"Oh, yes," exclaimed Lanse, beginning to
brighten; this was his especial opportunity.
"Alf aretta, the Little Slave Girl," was an un-
written play which had already been drawn
through about nine acts on the spur of various
moments. It had begun in a serious attempt
to work out a dramatic situation, but had
gradually degenerated into burlesque melo-
drama. They were all clever at impromptu,
and as each actor was allowed to twist the plot
in any way he chose, without warning, the ac-
tion was frequently delayed until heroine or
villain could recover from overmastering
laughter.

It proved to be the "Storm Scene in the
Castle" tonight, and Evelyn was supplying
such realistic thunder and lightning on the
piano that no one heard a ring at the flat door,
and the sound of some one being admitted.
They were in the act of rescuing the Little
Slave Girl from a dungeon in the Haunted
Wing when a deep voice startled them into
an unintentional tableau, and a large, mascu-
line presence filled the doorway. The stran-
ger hesitated for a moment, evidently dazzled
by the light, then began to smile.

19



THE TOP OF THE MORNING

"I beg pardon," he said, a but isn't one of
you my mother?"

There was a cry from Charlotte, a startled,
dismayed sound, and a look of bitter disap-
pointment flashed across her face. Then she
ran forward.

"Cameron!" she cried, and her son gathered
her up in his arms very much as she had
dreamed of gathering him up any night these
three years.

There was a brief pause; then Ffloyd's
voice broke the silence.

"So that's what you call a little boy, is it,
Charlotte?" he asked drily.

She drew away and looked up at her son
with bewildered eyes, in which a great won-
dering pride was dawning.

"I don't understand!" she exclaimed.
"Cameron was so little!"

"But, my dear mother, that was three
nearly four years ago; and I was over twelve
then. I have done an awful lot of growing,"
he added.

"Twelve so you were," murmured Char-
lotte. "Some way, I never thought about age ;
you were such a baby! And all these years

20



CHARLOTTE'S LITTLE BOY

I've been looking at people's little boys I
never noticed their big ones!"

Paul came forward and held out his hand.

"You don't know us, and your mother is
too excited to introduce us," he said, "but
we're awfully glad to see you just the same.
We didn't expect you till Wednesday."

"Why, I found I could come on a fast boat
almost as cheap, so I changed at the last mo-
ment," said the boy, adding, with a laugh, "I
wanted to surprise my mother."

"Well, you did," said Charlotte with a long
breath. "Now, don't you want to go to
your "

Ffloyd gave a sudden wail.

"His room," he cried, "his little boy room!"
He began to laugh hysterically. "The little
white bed and the rabbits, and the hooks low
down so that he can reach them !" There was
a sound of dismay from Donna, and then they
all began to laugh, weakly, helplessly. Cam-
eron stared at them, bewildered.

"What is it? What have I done?" he de-
manded.

"Nothing, dear; you've just grown,"
sobbed his mother.

"Oh, come and see it Charlotte's little

21



son's room!" cried Ffloyd, lifting his glasses
to mop his eyes. "Come on I" They hurried
the boy down the hall to the little room. His
head nearly touched the gas fixtures and his
splendid young shoulders seemed to reach
from wall to wall. Ffloyd looked from him
to the little iron bed and the file of Indians,
and flung himself face down on the counter-
pane.

"Lanse's little choir boy," he wept.

Cameron stared about him, then his eyes
fell on the frisking procession of animals that
crossed the wall. With a whoop of spon-
taneous delight, he fell on his knees to study
them.

"Oh, I say! Ripping!" he shouted. "Oh,
look at that rabbit oh, I say!"

They watched him breathlessly as he
studied out one of the verses, quite uncon-
scious that he was on trial. A splendid laugh,
deep but with a boyish crack in it, set them all
smiling at Charlotte.

"He's one of Us," they said. "Never mind
his inches he's one of Us."



CHAPTER II.

ONE OF US.

"CEE here," began Cameron after a long
period of silence, looking about from
one to another; "you're all making money,
aren't you? You're all geniuses, and famous,
and that?"

Ffloyd, who was lying flat on his back across
the divan in Sunday night contentment, took
out his cigar and sent a puff of smoke up
towards the ceiling.

"I'll tell you about us," he said seriously.
"Paul doesn't make money yet "

"That's too true to be funny," objected Paul.

"But he is the real thing," Ffloyd went on.
"We all admit that we have genius, but other
people are beginning to admit that Paul has.
The G. P. hasn't discovered him yet, but he's
secretly acquiring fame. People call him a
sculptor as seriously as they would call a man
a doctor or a lawyer. While when they call
Donna a poet, they think they're getting off a
joke."

23



THE TOP OF THE MORNING

"Well, the joke isn't on me," said Donna
placidly; "it's on the magazines."

"Donna and I make money," Ffloyd con-
tinued. "I have a certain cheap notoriety
I'm in vogue, while she has enormous industry
and a blue hat with irises that she puts on
which she goes to call on editors. The two
together net her a fabulous income. She's
entirely natural and simple, while Lanse and
Evelyn are hot-house products, artifi-
cial-

"Oh, Lorrimer!" came in indignant pro-
test.

"I don't mean consciously so; they are gen-
uine of their kind," Ffloyd amended. "But
it's an elaborate, hypercivilized kind, a natural
artificiality. They are drawing-room orna-
ments. Lanse may do something clever and
ingenious, but he won't be great."

"He hasn't heard my third act yet," said
Lanse; "he doesn't know."

"And how about my mother?" asked Cam-
eron.

"Your mother," interposed Paul, "is an
artist, and a lady, and the heart and center of
Us."

"And she's a bully Alfaretta," added

24



ONE OF US

Ffloyd. Charlotte rose seriously, and bowed
her thanks.

"Well, here's what I'm thinking," Cameron
said, "Why can't I make some money, too?
I've had loads of education solid chunks of
it; I don't see why I need any more."

"But there's no especial hurry, is there?"
asked Ffloyd. "You have only been here a
few weeks."

"I know; but when you have an expensive

young mother on your hands " Cameron

began loftily, then ducked his head behind a
defensive elbow and peered around it at Char-
lotte.

"Ungrateful cub," she commented. "What
can you do, anyway? Where does your talent
lie?"

"I might pose as a model," Cameron sug-
gested. "Don't you want to do a young Greek
god, Paul?"

" 'Goliath at sweet sixteen' would be more
appropriate," Donna observed, while they all
laughed at the great overgrown figure drawn
up Apollo fashion.

"I could use those big shoulders of yours,"
Paul said, studying him critically. "They've
got the look of youngness and strength that I

25



THE TOP OF THE MORNING

want for one of my iron workers. Bring them
down, if you like."

"What'll you give me?" the boy asked.

"Cameron!" protested his mother. "I am
ashamed of you. It is quite enough if Paul
wants you to do it; you ought to feel very
much honored." Cameron was entirely un-
abashed.

"Not much," he declared. "Honor be
hanged. I want to earn money."

"You miserable little screw!" said Paul.
"I'll give you fifty cents an hour."

"Is that what you generally pay?"

"Yes; and it's a lot for a scrub model that
doesn't know anything."

"Cash down at the end of each sitting?"

Paul nodded.

"All right, then, it's a go;" and Cameron
leaned back complacently.

"Well, I never supposed," said his mother
disgustedly, "that I should live to see a son of
mine driving such a bargain. Cameron,
you're not one of Us. You don't belong.
You're a sordid, unsensitive Paul, I wish
you wouldn't encourage him."

"I didn't suppose I had, exactly," Paul re-
turned mildly.

26



ONE OF US

Cameron's shoulders went into business at
nine the next morning,, to his great excite-
ment. Paul did not require a rigid attitude,
and lounging in a pleasant studio began to
seem a very desirable way of earning one's
living before the morning was over.

"And the beggars get fifty cents an hour
just for this!" he exclaimed.

"It isn't all just this," Paul returned. "Wait
till you've had to pose for a disk thrower or a
boar fighter or a Flying Mercury, if you want
to know what backache and leg cramp are.
I've seen models "

There was a knock at the door, the off-hand
patter of accustomed knuckles. Cameron, in
an anguish of modesty, grasped a table cover
and flung it about his bare shoulders while
Paul went to the door. A tall girl with rough,
short hair, and a painting apron of many hues
covering her from neck to feet, stood frowning
in on them. There was a gaunt beauty about
her, and a disquieting look of wilful power.

"Paul," she began abruptly, "that beast of
a model has failed me again. I've simply got
to have one today. My stuff is promised for
tomorrow. Don't you know any one who
could help me out?"

27



THE TOP OF THE MORNING

Paul considered.

"I could perhaps get Dougherty for you,"
he finally suggested; "that red-haired chap,
you know."

"Too old," objected the girl. "I want a
young fellow."

"Is Barnes engaged?"

"Oh, but he's such an ass! He stands like a
block of wood and doesn't help one a bit. I
want That isn't a bad looking model you
have there. Is he any good?" The clear
voice made no pretense at a decent lowering,
and Cameron, hugging his draperies, turned
away, blushing furiously. She studied the
back of his head with cool interest.

"He's a trifle ungainly, but I rather like
him," she said. "Is his time all taken?"

"Well, I have him for the next few morn-
ings," said Paul, biting his lips, "and I fancy
his afternoons are engaged."

"Are they?" she demanded. Cameron
faced her reluctantly. Her voice was as com-
pelling as a hand on his shoulder.

"Why, I I'm afraid so," he said uncom-
fortably.

"Look here," said the girl ; "if you can come
to me for a couple of hours this afternoon, I'll

28



ONE OF US

pay you double rates a dollar an hour.
You're not worth it, but I'm in a strait." Cam-
eron looked desperately at Paul, who wickedly
refused to help him out, and was so plainly
enjoying the situation that a gleam of defiant
mischief came into the boy's eyes.

"Why, yes, ma'am, I think I can manage
that," he said gravely.

"Oh, see here " began Paul.

"I won't fail you, sir; I'll be here just as
usual," interposed Cameron deftly; and shook
a threatening fist when the girl was not look-
ing.

"That's good," she said. "I'm on this floor,
five doors down. I hope you've a fairly good
suit though it doesn't much matter. Paul,
you've saved my life." And she went out,
leaving a momentary silence behind her. Then
Cameron began to dance with clumsy aban-
don, using the table cover for a scarf.

"Double rates, by jingo!" he exulted.

"But you're not going to do it?" protested
Paul.

"Oh, I'm not?" commented the boy. "You
wait, that's all." Then his voice became in-
sinuating. "I say, Paul, you wouldn't be a
low down telltale and spoil it, I know. It's

29



THE TOP OF THE MORNING

just this one day. I give you my word I'll
tell my mother all about it when I've the
money in my hand; but if she knew now, she
might annoy me. You'll keep dark, won't
you?"

"Well, of course it's none of my business,"
said Paul reluctantly. ''But I don't know
Irene Potter isn't just the woman for a kid
like you to She's all right, but she has
strange, pessimistic, brutal theories. I'd hate
to have you "

"Oh, I'm the dust under her feet!" said
Cameron blithely. "She won't bother about
me. Now come on and finish my low neck.
Double rates! Oh, my!"

Cameron was inwardly shivering with joy
and excitement when he knocked at the ground
glass door bearing the name of "Irene Potter"
in severe letters. Miss Potter opened the door
for him, and gave a curt nod of approval at
his clothes.

"That will do nicely," she said. "Just sit
down a minute while I get this canvas ready."

He looked about with interest. The room
had dull red walls, against which a litter of
casts and sketches seemed to have been flung
with savage energy. The furniture had the

30



ONE OF US

same air of having been roughly pushed into
place. It was an angry room, splendid in col-
orings, but uncheerful and unfriendly. One
of Charlotte's posters hung like a red flame
near the door, and Cameron paused before it
in boyish pride, hoping she would say some-
thing. As she did not notice, he finally ven-
tured a half timid :

"This is nice."

She looked up.

"Um," she said. "It's a McLean poster


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