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And So They Were Married




[Illustration: "'It isn't your husband's place to do your work and his
own, too, my dear'" (p. 126)]




And So They Were
Married


_By_
Florence Morse Kingsley

Author of "Titus," "The
Singular Miss Smith," "The
Resurrection of Miss Cynthia"


With Illustrations
By W. B. King


New York
Dodd, Mead & Company
1908




COPYRIGHT, 1908
By THE CURTIS PUBLISHING COMPANY

COPYRIGHT, 1908
By FLORENCE MORSE KINGSLEY




CHAPTER I


Dr. North's wife, attired in her dressing-gown and slippers, noiselessly
tilted the shutter of the old-fashioned inside blind and peered
cautiously out. The moon was shining splendidly in the dark sky, and the
empty street seemed almost as light as day. It had been snowing earlier
in the evening, Mrs. North observed absent-mindedly, and the clinging
drifts weighed the dark evergreens on either side of the gate almost to
the ground. A dog barked noisily from his kennel in a neighbouring yard,
and a chorus of answering barks acknowledged the signal; some one was
coming along the moonlit street. There were two figures, as Mrs. North
had expected; she craned her plump neck anxiously forward as the gate
clicked and a light girlish laugh floated up on the frosty air.

"Dear, dear!" she murmured, "I do hope Bessie will come right into the
house. It is too cold to stand outside talking."

Apparently the young persons below did not think so. They stood in the
bright moonlight in full view of the anxious watcher behind the shutter,
the man's tall figure bent eagerly toward the girl, whose delicate
profile Mrs. North could see distinctly under the coquettish sweep of
the broad hat-brim.

"The child ought to have worn her high overshoes," she was thinking,
when she was startled by the vision of the tall, broad figure stooping
over the short, slight one.

Then the key clicked in the lock and the front door opened softly; the
sound was echoed by the closing gate, as the tall figure tramped briskly
away over the creaking snow. The neighbour's dog barked again,
perfunctorily this time, as if acknowledging the entire respectability
of the passer-by; all the other dogs in town responded in kind, and
again there was silence broken only by the sound of a light foot on the
carpeted stair.

Mrs. North opened her door softly. "Is that you, Bessie?"

"Yes, mother."

"Isn't it very late, child?"

"It is only half past eleven."

"Did Louise go with you?"

"No, mother; she had a sore throat, and it was snowing; so her aunt
wouldn't allow her to go."

"Oh!" Mrs. North's voice expressed a faint disapproval.

"Of course we couldn't help it; besides, all the other girls were there
just with their escorts. You and grandma are so - old-fashioned. I'm sure
I don't see why I always have to have some other girl along - and Louise
Glenny of all persons! I couldn't help being just a little bit glad that
she couldn't go."

"Did you have a nice time, dear?"

The girl turned a radiant face upon her mother. "Oh, we had a _lovely_
time!" she murmured. "I - I'll tell you about it to-morrow. Is father
home?"

"Yes; he came in early to-night and went right to bed. I hope the
telephone bell won't ring again before morning."

The girl laughed softly. "You might take off the receiver," she
suggested. "Poor daddy!"

"Oh, no; I couldn't do that. Your father would never forgive me. But I
told him not to have it on his mind; I'll watch out for it and answer
it, and if it's Mrs. Salter again with one of her imaginary sinking
spells I'm going to tell her the doctor won't be in before six in the
morning. I do hope it isn't wrong to deceive that much; but your father
isn't made of iron, whatever some people may think."

The girl laughed again, a low murmur of joy. "Good-night, dear little
mother," she said caressingly. "You are always watching and waiting for
some one; aren't you? But you needn't have worried about _me_." She
stooped and kissed her mother, her eyes shining like stars; then hurried
away to hide the blush which swept her face and neck.

"Dear, dear!" sighed Mrs. North, as she crept back to her couch drawn
close to the muffled telephone, "I suppose I ought to have spoken to
her father before this; but he is always so busy; I hardly have time to
say two words to him. Besides, he thinks Bessie is only a child, and he
would have laughed at me."

The girl was taking off her hat and cloak in her own room. How long ago
it seemed since she had put them on. She smoothed out her white gloves
with caressing fingers. "I shall always keep them," she thought. She was
still conscious of his first kisses, and looked in her glass, as if half
expecting to see some visible token of them.

"I am so happy - so happy!" she murmured to the radiant reflection which
smiled back at her from out its shadowy depths. She leaned forward and
touched the cold smooth surface with her lips in a sudden passion of
gratitude for the fair, richly tinted skin, the large bright eyes with
their long curling lashes, the masses of brown waving hair, and the
pliant beauty of the strong young figure in the mirror.

"If I had been freckled and stoop-shouldered and awkward, like Louise
Glenny, he _couldn't_ have loved me," she was thinking.

She sank to her knees after awhile and buried her face in the coverlid
of her little bed. But she could think only of the look in his eyes when
he had said "I love you," and of the thrilling touch of his lips on
hers. She crept into bed and lay there in a wide-eyed rapture, while the
village clock struck one, and after a long, blissful hour, two. Then she
fell asleep, and did not hear the telephone bell which called her tired
father from his bed in the dim, cold hour between three and four.

She was still rosily asleep and dreaming when Mrs. North came softly
into the room in the broad sunlight of the winter morning.

"Isn't Lizzie awake yet?" inquired a brisk voice from the hall. "My,
_my_! but girls are idle creatures nowadays!"

The owner of the voice followed this dictum with a quick patter of
softly shod feet.

"I didn't like to call her, mother," apologised Mrs. North. "She came in
late, and - - "

Grandmother Carroll pursed up her small, wise mouth. "I heard her," she
said, "and that young man with her. I don't know, daughter, but what we
ought to inquire into his prospects and character a little more
carefully, if he's to be allowed to come here so constant. Lizzie's very
young, and - - "

"Oh, grandma!" protested a drowsy voice from the pillows; "I'm twenty!"

"Twenty; yes, I know you're twenty, my dear; quite old enough, I should
say, to be out of bed before nine in the morning."

"It wasn't her fault, mother; I didn't call her."

The girl was gazing at the two round matronly figures at the foot of the
bed, her laughing eyes grown suddenly serious. "I'll get up at once,"
she said with decision, "and I'll eat bread and milk for breakfast; I
sha'n't mind."

"She's got something on her mind," whispered Mrs. North to her mother,
as the two pattered softly downstairs.

"I shouldn't wonder," responded Grandmother Carroll briskly. "Girls of
her age are pretty likely to have, and I mistrust but what that young
Bowser may have been putting notions into her head. I hope you'll be
firm with her, daughter; she's much too young for anything of that
sort."

"You were married when you were eighteen, mother; and I was barely
twenty, you know."

"I was a very different girl at eighteen from what Lizzie is," Mrs.
Carroll said warmly. "She's been brought up differently. In my time
healthy girls didn't lie in bed till ten o'clock. Many and many's the
time I've danced till twelve o'clock and been up in the morning at five
'tending to my work. You indulge Lizzie too much; and if that young
Bixler - - "

"His name is Brewster, mother; don't you remember? and they say he comes
of a fine old Boston family."

"Well, Brewster or Bixler; it will make no difference to Lizzie, you'll
find. I've been watching her for more than a month back, and I'll tell
you, daughter, when a girl like Lizzie offers to eat bread and milk for
breakfast you can expect almost anything. Her mind is on other things.
I'll never forget the way you ate a boiled egg for breakfast every
morning for a week - and you couldn't bear eggs - about the time the
doctor was getting serious. I mistrusted there was something to pay, and
I wasn't mistaken."

Mrs. North sighed vaguely. Then her tired brown eyes lighted up with a
smile. "I had letters from both the boys this morning," she said; "don't
you want to read them, mother? Frank has passed all his mid-year
examinations, and Elliot says he has just made the 'varsity gym' team."

"Made the _what_?"

"I don't quite understand myself," acknowledged Mrs. North; "but that's
what he said. He said he'd have his numerals to show us when he came
home Easter."

"Hum!" murmured Mrs. Carroll dubiously; "I'm sure I hope he won't break
his neck in any foolish way. Did he say anything about his lessons?"

"Not much; he never was such a student as Frank; but he'll do well,
mother."

Elizabeth North, fresh as a dewy rose and radiant with her new
happiness, came into the room just as Mrs. Carroll folded the last sheet
of the college letters. "I'll ask Lizzie," she said. "Lizzie, what is a
g-y-m team?"

"Oh, grandma!" protested the girl, "_please_ don't call me _Lizzie_.
Bessie is bad enough; but _Lizzie_! I always think of that absurd old
Mother Goose rhyme, 'Elizabeth, Lizzie, Betsey and Bess, all went
hunting to find a bird's nest'; and, besides, you promised me you
wouldn't."

"Lizzie was a good enough name for your mother," said grandma briskly.
"Your father courted and married her under that name, and he didn't
mind." Her keen old eyes behind their shining glasses dwelt triumphantly
on the girl's changing colour. "You needn't tell _me_!" she finished
irrelevantly.

But Elizabeth had possessed herself of the letters, and was already deep
in a laughing perusal of Elliot's scrawl. "Oh, how splendid!" she cried;
"he's made the Varsity, on his ring work, too!"

"I don't pretend to understand what particular _work_ Elliot is
referring to," observed grandma, with studied mildness. "Is it some sort
of mathematics?"

Elizabeth sprang up and flung both arms about the smiling old lady. "You
dear little hypocritical grandma!" she said; "you know perfectly well
that it isn't any study at all, but just gymnastic work - all sorts of
stunts, swinging on rings and doing back and front levers and shoulder
stands and all that sort of thing. Elliot has such magnificent muscles
he can do anything, and better than any one else, and that's why he's on
the varsity, you see!"

"Thank you, Elizabeth," said grandma tranquilly. "I'd entirely forgotten
that young men don't go to college now to study their lessons. My memory
is certainly getting poor."

"No, grandma dear; it isn't. You remember everything a thousand times
better than any one else, and what is more, you know it. But of course
Elliot studies; he has to. Mr. Brewster says he thinks Elliot is one of
the finest boys he knows. He thinks he would make a splendid engineer.
He admires Frank, too, immensely, and - - "

"What does the young man think of Elizabeth?" asked Mrs. Carroll with a
wise smile.

"He - oh, grandma; I - didn't mean to tell just yet; but he - I - - "

"There, there, child! Better go and find your mother. I mistrust she's
getting you a hot breakfast." She drew the girl into her soft old arms
and kissed her twice.

Elizabeth sprang up all in a lovely flame of blushes and ran out of the
room.




CHAPTER II


When Samuel Herrick Brewster, B.S. and Civil Engineer, late of the
Massachusetts School of Technology, came to Innisfield for the purpose
of joining the corps of engineers already at work on a new and improved
system of water-works, he had not the slightest intention of falling
seriously in love. By "seriously" Sam Brewster himself might have told
you - as he told his married sister living in Saginaw, Mich., and
anxiously solicitous of the young man's general well-being - that he
meant that sort and quality of affection which would naturally and
inevitably lead a man into matrimony. He had always been fond of the
society of pretty and amiable women, and well used to it, too. His
further ideas with regard to matrimony, though delightfully vague in
their general character, were sufficiently clear-cut and decided in one
important particular, which he had been careful to expound at length to
those impetuous undergraduates of his fraternity who had appeared to
need friendly counsel from their elders. "A man," said young Brewster,
conclusively, "has no business to marry till he can feel solid ground
under his feet. He should be thoroughly established in his profession,
and well able to pay the shot."

When this sapient young gentleman first met Elizabeth North at a picnic
given by the leading citizens of Innisfield to celebrate the completion
of the new aqueduct he was disposed to regard her as a very nice,
intelligent sort of a girl, with remarkably handsome brown eyes. On the
occasion of his third meeting with the young lady he found himself,
rather to his surprise, telling her about his successful work in the
"Tech," and of how he hoped to "get somewhere" in his profession some
day. Elizabeth in her turn had confided to him her disappointment in not
being able to go to Wellesley, and her ambitious attempts to keep up
with Marian Evans, who was in the Sophomore year, in literature and
music. She played Chopin's Fantasia Impromptu for him on Mrs. North's
garrulous old piano; and as her slender fingers twinkled over the yellow
keys he caught himself wondering how much a first-class instrument would
cost. In the course of a month he had fallen into the habit of strolling
home with Elizabeth after church, and twice Mrs. North, in the kindness
of her motherly heart, had asked him to dinner. She was afraid, she told
Grandma Carroll, that the table board at Mrs. Bentwick's was none of the
best. She spoke of him further as "that nice, good-looking boy," and
hoped he wouldn't be too lonely in Innisfield, away from all his
friends.

As for Dr. North, that overworked physician was seldom to be seen, being
apparently in a chronic state of hastily and energetically climbing into
his gig, and as energetically and hastily climbing out again. He had
hurriedly shaken hands with young Brewster, and made him welcome to his
house in one of the brief intervals between office hours and the
ever-waiting gig, with its imperturbable brown horse, who appeared to
know quite as well as the doctor where the sick were to be found. After
that, it is fair to state, the worthy doctor had completely forgotten
that such a person as Samuel Herrick Brewster, B.S., C.E. existed. One
may judge therefore of his feelings when his wife chose a moment of
relaxation between a carefully cooked dinner and an expected summons by
telephone to acquaint him with the fact of their daughter's engagement.

"_Engaged?_" exclaimed the doctor, starting out of his chair.
"Bess - engaged! Oh, I guess not. I sha'n't allow anything of the sort;
she's nothing but a child, and as for this young fellow - what 'd you say
his name was? We don't know him!"

"You don't, you mean, papa," his wife corrected him gently. "The rest of
us have seen a good deal of Mr. Brewster, and I'm sure Bessie - - "

[Illustration: "'Oh, daddy, he's the dearest person in the world!'"]

"Now, mother, what made you? I wanted to tell daddy myself. Oh, daddy,
he's the dearest person in the world!" Then as Elizabeth caught the
hurt, bewildered look in her father's eyes she perched on his knee in
the old familiar fashion. "It seems sudden - to you, I know," she
murmured; "but really it isn't, daddy; as he will tell you if he can
ever find you at home to talk to. Why, we've known each other since last
summer!"

"I'm afraid I'm very stupid, child; but I don't believe I understand.
You don't mean to tell me that you have been thinking of - of getting
married and to a man I don't know even." Dr. North shook his head
decidedly.

"But you do know him, daddy; he's been here ever so many times. Of
course" - she added with a touch of laughing malice - "he's perfectly
well, and you seldom notice well people, even when they're in your own
family."

"I don't have time, Bess," admitted the doctor soberly, "there are too
many of the other sort. But now about this young man - Brewster - eh? You
have him come 'round in office hours, say, and I'll - - "

"Now, daddy, _please_ don't straighten out your mouth like that; it
isn't a bit becoming. Naturally you've got the sweetest, kindest look
in the world, and you mustn't spoil it, especially when you are talking
about Sam."

The doctor pinched his daughter's pink ear. "I'm sorry to appear such an
ogre," he said with a touch of grimness, "but I know too much about the
world in general, and the business of getting married in particular, to
allow my one daughter to go into it blindly. I'll be obliged to make the
young man's further acquaintance, Bess, before we talk about an
engagement."

The girl's scarlet lips were set in firm lines, which strongly resembled
the paternal expression to which she had objected; she kissed her father
dutifully. "I want you to get acquainted with him, daddy," she said
sweetly; "but we _are_ engaged."

That same afternoon Dr. North, looking worried and anxious after a
prolonged conference with the village hypochrondriac, who had come to
the office fully charged with symptoms of a new and distinguished
disease lately imported from Europe, found himself face to face with a
tall, fresh-faced young man. This new visitor came into the office
bringing with him a breath of the wintry air and a general appearance of
breezy health which caused the hypochondriac to look up sourly in the
act of putting on her rubbers.

"If that new medicine doesn't relieve that terrible feelin' in my
epigastrium, doctor - an' I don't believe it's a-goin' to - I'll let you
know," she remarked acidly. "You needn't be surprised to be called most
any time between now an' mornin'; for, as I told Mr. Salter, I ain't
a-goin' to suffer as I did last night for nobody."

"_Good_-afternoon, Mrs. Salter," said the doctor emphatically. "Now
then, young man, what can I do for you?"

The young man in question coloured boyishly. "I shouldn't have ventured
to call upon you during your office hours, Dr. North; but I understood
from Elizabeth that you could be seen at no other time; so I'm here."

"Elizabeth - eh? Yes, yes; I see. I - er - didn't recall your face for the
moment. Just come into my private office for a minute or two, Mr.
Brewster; these - er - other patients will wait a bit, I fancy."

The worthy doctor handed his visitor a chair facing the light, which he
further increased by impatiently shoving the shades to the top of the
windows. Then he seated himself and stared keenly at the young engineer,
who on his part bore the scrutiny with a sturdy self-possession which
pleased the doctor in spite of himself.

"Elizabeth told you of our engagement, I believe, sir?"

[Illustration: "'I said to her that I couldn't and wouldn't consider an
engagement between you at present'"]

"She told me something of the sort - yes," admitted the doctor testily.
"I said to her that I couldn't and wouldn't consider an engagement
between you at present. Did she tell you that?"

"I was told that you wished to make my further acquaintance. I should
like, if you have the time, to tell you something about myself. You have
the right to know."

The doctor nodded frowningly. "If you expect me - at any time in the
future, you understand - to give you my only daughter, I certainly am
entitled to know - everything."

The young man looked the doctor squarely in the eyes during the longish
pause that followed. "There isn't much to tell," he said. "My father and
mother are dead. I have one sister, older than I, married to one of the
best fellows in the world and living West. I made my home with them till
I came to the Tech. You can ask any of the professors there about me.
They'll tell you that I worked. I graduated a year ago last June. Since
then I've been at work at my profession. I'm getting twelve hundred a
year now; but - - "

"Stop right there. Why did you ask my girl to marry you?"

"Because I loved her."

"Hum! And she - er - fancies that she loves you - eh?"

A dark flush swept over Samuel Brewster's ingenuous young face. "She
does love me," was all he said. But he said it in a tone which suddenly
brought back the older man's vanished youth.

There was a short silence; then the doctor arose so abruptly that he
nearly upset his chair. "_Well_," he said, "I've got to go to Boston
to-morrow on a case, and I'll see those professors of yours, for one
thing; I know Collins well. Not that he or anybody else can tell me all
about you - not by a long shot; I know boys and young men well enough for
that. But you see, sir, I - love my girl too, and I - I'll say
_good_-afternoon, sir."

He threw the door wide with an impatient hand. "Ah, Mrs. Tewksbury;
you're next, I believe. Walk right in."

An hour later, when the door had finally closed on his last patient, Dr.
North sat still in his chair, apparently lost in thought. His dinner was
waiting, he knew, and a round of visits must be made immediately
thereafter, yet he did not stir. He was thinking, curiously enough, of
the time when his daughter Elizabeth was a baby. What a round, pink
little face she had, to be sure, and what a strong, healthy, plump
little body. He could almost hear the unsteady feet toddling across the
breadth of dingy oilcloth which carpeted his office floor. "Daddy,
daddy!" her sweet, imperious voice was crying, "I'm tomin' to see you,
daddy!"

His eyes were wet when he finally stumbled to his feet. Then suddenly he
felt a pair of warm arms about his neck, and a dozen butterfly kisses
dropped on his cheeks, his hair, his forehead. "Daddy, dear, he came;
didn't he? I saw him go away. I hope you weren't - cruel to him, oh,
daddy!"

"No, daughter; I wasn't exactly cruel to him. But didn't the young man
stop to talk it over with you?"

"No, daddy; I thought he would of course; but he just waved his hand for
good-bye, and I - was frightened for fear - - "

"Didn't stop to talk it over - eh? Say, I like that! To tell you the
truth, Bess, I - rather like him. Good, clear, steady eyes; good all
'round constitution, I should say; and if - Oh, come, come, child; we'd
better be getting in to dinner or your mother will be anxious. But I
want you to understand, miss, that your old daddy has no notion of
playing second fiddle to any youngster's first, however tall and
good-looking he may be."

And singularly enough, Elizabeth appeared to be perfectly satisfied with
this paternal dictum. "I knew you'd like him," she said, slipping her
small hand into her father's big one, in the little girl fashion she had
never lost. "Why, daddy, he's the best man I ever knew - except you, of
course. He told me" - the girl's voice dropped to an awed whisper - "that
he promised his mother when she was dying that he would never do a mean
or dishonest thing. And - and he says, daddy, that whenever he has been
tempted to do wrong he has felt his mother's eyes looking at him, so
that he couldn't. Anybody would know he was good just from seeing him."

"Hum! Well, well, that may be so. I'll talk to Collins and see what he
has to say. Collins is a man of very good judgment; I value his opinion
highly."

"Don't you value mine, daddy?" asked Elizabeth, with an irresistible
dimple appearing and disappearing at the corner of her mouth.

"On some subjects, my dear," replied the doctor soberly; "but - er - on
this particular one I fancy you may be slightly prejudiced."




CHAPTER III


The question of "wherewithal shall we be clothed," which has vexed the
world since its beginning in the garden "planted eastward in Eden,"
confronts the children of Eve so persistently at every serious crisis of
life that one is forced to the conclusion that clothes sustain a very
real and vital relation to destiny. Even Solomon in all his glory must
earnestly have considered the colour and texture of his famous robes of
state when he was making ready to dazzle the eyes of the Queen of Sheba,
and the Jewish Esther's royal apparel and Joseph's coat of many colours


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