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"You're not unhappy, dear?"

"No; it's just the strangeness of being here; that's

"It doesn't seem real to me, either. I'd thought so
much of just such an hour as this, facing a new day
and a new world with you, that it's hard to believe
the dream has really come true!"

"But you'll be going away. There will be lots of
times I can't see you. It's going to be hard to get
used to that," she said pensively.

"Don't worry on that score. I've got a lot of work
laid out for the next year right here in the Middle
West. I can easily spend my Sundays in Indianapolis.
I'd travel a mighty long way just for a sight of you.
Let's make the most of today and not worry about
tomorrow. Sufficient unto the day is the happiness


She smiled her acquiscence in this philosophy, was
again buoyant, and joined with him in praising Jerry
as the boy appeared with a plate of fresh waffles.

"I tell you what I'll do!" exclaimed Trenton sud-
denly. "I'll cut all my engagements for today if you
will and we'll stay right here!"

"Oh, it would be wonderful! But I mustn't even
think of it! I'd lose my job; and besides, I mustn't
forget I have a family. Please don't try to persuade
me. But you know I'd love to stay not just today
but forever!"

"I wish you didn't have your job!" he said, frown-
ing. "I don't feel comfortable about that."

"Don't begin telling me I ought to be doing some-
thing different 1 Everybody else does! I really en-
joy my work at Shipley's."

"There ought to be some way, " he began.
Something in her look caused him to pause. "I was
going to say that I don't like the idea of your work-
ing you must let me now "


"Forgive me, dear," he said contritely.

"I believe in work," she went on quickly. "I mean
always to do something; maybe not just what I'm do-
ing now, but something!"

"When you talk that way I feel as though you
didn't expect to belong to me always." He rose and
drew her to her feet. "Let's have that understood
here and now." He held her away, his hands resting
lightly on her cheeks as he looked into her eyes with
mock severity. "We've got to be on our way in about
two minutes, Miss Durland, and there must be no
nonsense about this. Is it for always?"

"Yes, for always," she answered.

"To the very end?"


"Yes, to the very end," she assented soberly, and
there was the foreshadowing of tears in her eyes.

"No matter what may happen; no matter if there
should be times of separation beyond our control
you will still love me and trust me?"

"Yes always. There will never be any one else for
me but you, not if I live a thousand years."

She put her arms about his neck and kissed him,
a kiss without passion, on forehead and lips.

"You don't care less for me, now?" she asked, and
pressed her face close to his.

"Grace!" he cried, catching her wrists and looking
into her eyes. "You wouldn't think that of me! I'd
be a beast "

She laid her hand over his lips.

"Forgive me, dear," she whispered. "If I didn't
trust you I couldn't love you; and I just, I
thought "

"Dearest little girl!"


The sun came out of the mists as they set off for
town with the snow flung up by the rear wheels of
the car whirling behind in a miniature storm.

"You're not afraid of a little speed?"

"Not with you!" she answered happily. "Was that
the right answer?"

"One hundred per cent correct! Look at the smoke
from that farmer's chimney it goes up as straight
as a column. Not a breath of air!"

"It's a dear good old world," she said, her eyes re-
flecting her enjoyment of the swift rush between the
long stretches of white level fields broken by patches
of woodland.


"What's the dearest thing in all the world?" he

"You!" she replied.

"Wrong that time ! It's you ! "

"I wonder how many lovers have said just that to
each other?"

"Thousands billions, no doubt. But that doesn't
matter. It never was as true of the others as it is
of us."

"We're not conceited or anything!"

"No; just happy! Honestly and truly, are you

"Enormously 1 Are you ? ' '

"Right up to the perishing point!"

"Then why are you happy?"

"Because the dearest girl in the world loves me!"

They laughed their delight in this interchange,
stopped to extricate from its difficulties a car which,
unprovided with skid-chains, had landed in a ditch,
and hurried on to make up for lost time. It was with
a sense of disillusionment that Grace saw the city, as
it seemed, coming out to meet her. Trenton was
talking of his day's appointments, of the men he ex-
pected to see. Grace's thoughts flew ahead to the
store, where she would meet Irene meet her friend
with a new self-consciousness and of the deceptions
and evasions that would be necessary to explain her
night's absence at home. But these thoughts were
fleeting. She was happy in the confidence that the
man beside her truly loved her and her love for him,
which she had so often challenged and questioned
even after she first encouraged him to think she cared,
was no longer a matter for debate. She assured her-
self that there was nothing base in the relationship
into which she had entered with him; that the attrac-


tion had been of the mind and spirit first of all. She
swiftly reviewed all the points upon which her justi-
fication rested, and was satisfied that they stood the
test of the morning sunlight and the clean wholesome
air. She had no regrets; no misgivings. She had
already convinced herself that their love was sufficient
in itself. He turned from time to time to smile at
her and took her hand that it might rest beneath his
on the wheel.

"We haven't settled yet when I'm to see you again.
I want every minute you can give. Can't we have
dinner together tonight?"

"I wish we could, but I've got to go home for

"But I can see you afterwards, please!"

"I could go to Miss Lawton's where we met the first
time. I think I can fix it with Minnie."

"Then that's settled! I understand perfectly that
you have your family to consider and we've got to
remember there are people in the world who haven't
much to do but pry into other people's business.
They're a large and michievous phalanx. For the
present we've got to be careful."

She was rather relieved that he did not amplify
the suggestive "for the present." He was thinking,
she assumed, of his wife and the freedom which he
had intimated would be his for the asking. But mar-
riage was no assurance of the perpetuation of love;
it was a convention, no doubt desirable and necessary
for society's protection; but Grace was in a mood to
enjoy her sense of being in rebellion against society,
that intangible "they" which, she had brought her-
self to believe, quite ignorantly established laws and
in the light of them appraised and condemned human


She derived the greatest comfort from this idea; it
encouraged and strengthened her belief that she was
an independent unit of the social order. If her rela-
tionship with Trenton became known she would forfeit
the love and confidence of her family and many prized
friendships. But his love would be compensation for
anything she might lose in the eyes of people she felt
to be hopelessly shackled to old notions of rectitude
and chastity with which she no longer felt any con-
cern. It would be necessary, of course, to maintain
secrecy; but it was no one's business what she did with
her life.

"Last chance for a kiss," Trenton exclaimed, slip-
ping his arm about her as they reached the Meridian
street bridge.

She asked him to let her out at the soldiers' monu-
ment to avoid the possibility of being inspected by
questioning eyes at Shipley's. Trenton was going at
once to Kemp's house to make sure Tommy was all
right; he meant to have it out with Tommy about his

"Tell your father I'd like to see him tomorrow at
two o'clock. Yes; I have the address."

With his good-bye ringing in her ears she walked
the few remaining blocks to the store.


WHEN Grace reached home that evening her absence
of the preceding night was barely mentioned by her
mother, and Ethel did not refer to it at all. The
conduct of another member of the family had aroused
grave apprehensions in the domestic circle and any
suspected derelictions of her own were suffered to
pass, or were accepted in a spirit of resignation, as a
part of a visitation of an inscrutable providence upon
the house of Durland.

Roy had turned up in the early hours of the morn-
ing much the worse for dalliance with a contraband
beverage that had served him ill. There was gloom
in the kitchen where she found her mother and Ethel
preparing supper and after satisfying herself that she
was not the cause of the depression she summoned
courage to ask her mother what had happened.

"I think, mother," said Ethel loftily, "that Grace
should know. It may be possible that she can help
us in our trouble. Roy has always been fonder of her
than of me."

Ethel's tone was replete with intimations that this
affection was not wholly complimentary to either her
brother or sister. She entered upon a circumstantial
account of Roy's misbehavior which omitted nothing
that could enhance its heinousness, Mrs. Durland in-
terrupting occasionally to soften the harsh terms in
which Ethel described Roy's appearance on the snowy
threshold at two o'clock, in the care of two young
friends in little better condition than himself. It had



been necessary to summon a doctor to relieve Roy's
stomach of the poison he had consumed.

"I'm sure it's the first and last time for Roy," said
Mrs. Durland. "He's terribly cut up over it; but of
course at the holiday season, and meeting old friends
and all, I suppose we must make allowances."

"That's the way to look at it, mother," said Grace,
sincerely grieved for her mother and anxious to restore
her confidence in Roy. "I know Roy wouldn't do
anything to trouble you. We ought to be glad that
stuff didn't kill him! Roy isn't the only boy who
thinks it smart to drink now that it's forbidden. I
hear a lot about that, down-town."

"I suppose you do," said Mrs. Durland, catching
hopefully at the suggestion that her boy was not the
only wanderer in the path that leads to destruction.

"Roy knows our hopes are centered in him; there's
not the slightest excuse for his conduct!" Ethel re-
sumed, unwilling that Roy's sin should be covered up
in charitable generalizations. "Instead of running
around with a lot of dissolute young men he ought to
be making friends who can help him get a start in
life. As for prohibition, it's the law of the land and
you'd think a young man who's studying law would
respect it. Only the other day Osgood gave me an
article with statistics showing what's being done to
enforce the law and it will only be a short time until
the rum power is completely vanquished."

"It's dying mighty hard," remarked Grace cheer-
fully. "Anybody can get whiskey who has the price."

"One would think " began Ethel, moved at once
to give battle.

"Oh, I'm not hankering for it myself," Grace in-
terrupted. "But they ought to enforce the law or
repeal it. I'm only saying what everybody knows."


"Well, of course, Grace, we don't know just who
your friends are," Ethel retorted.

"Oh, they probably wouldn't amuse you even if you
knew them!" Grace flung back.

Whereupon Mrs. Durland, who was arranging a
tray with coffee and toast to carry up to Roy, an-
nounced that enough had been said on the subject.


Trenton's week in town lengthened to ten days.
Minnie Lawton's apartment proved to be a convenient
meeting place, and on two evenings Grace and Trenton
dined there alone, with Jerry to serve them. Trenton
had persuaded Kemp to go to a hospital for rest and
observation. The reports of the local physician merely
confirmed what the New York specialist had told
Trenton as to his friend's condition. Trenton took
Irene and Grace to the hospital to see Kemp one
evening. They found him looking a little thin and
white but he greeted them joyfully. He wasn't wholly
cut off from civilization in spite of their efforts to get
rid of him, he said, pointing gleefully to a telephone
at his bedside which he had obtained as a special
concession. He boasted that he could lie in bed and
direct his business affairs almost as well as at his

"But the nurses won't flirt with me," he complained,
"and you girls showed up just in time to keep me from
passing up your whole unaccountable sex. I've got to
be amused even if I am locked up here with fourteen
disagreeable things being done to me every day. The
purpose of woman is to amuse."

"There you go, Tommy! Women are divided into
two classes," said Irene in her spacious manner, "those


who amuse their husbands and those who amuse other
women's husbands. It's not for me to say to which
variety, subdivision or group I prefer to belong."

Trenton had visited Stephen Durland twice at his
shop in the Power Building and at the hospital he
mentioned the matter of Durland's improvements on
the Cummings-Durland motor. The issuance of the
patents to Durland had brought inquiries from several
Eastern manufacturers and the representative of one
concern had opened negotiations for an option.

"Look here, Grace," said Kemp when Trenton had
explained concisely the nature of the improvements,
"I'm going to be mighty sore if you let this escape
before I have a look at it. Go on, Ward, and tell me
more about it."

"You father must have something good," said Irene,
who had listened attentively to the talk, "for I don't
understand a word of it. I hope there's millions in it."

"That new composition Mr. Durland's working on
for non-cracking spark-plug porcelains will be worth
something handsome if it's as good as it promises to
be," Trenton remarked. Kemp's alert curiosity had
to be satisfied as to the nature of the substance Dur-
land was working on and Trenton went into the chem-
istry of the composition and said it would have to be
subjected to more exacting tests.

"We'll test that at my plant too," said Kemp, "but
the sooner we get to work on the motor the better.
We'll give Mr. Durland a corner in my shop, and all
the help he needs; I'll call up the superintendent in
the morning and explain what's wanted."

"It's all too good to be true!" said Grace.
"Father's such a dear, patient, gentle soul and to land
something now will mean more than you can under-
stand. Thank you so much, Tommy."


She walked to the bed and took Kemp's hand.

"I suppose your father would rather Cummings had
the new features for the engine," he said drily.

"Gracious heavens, no!" Grace exclaimed. "Father
would cheerfully die in the poor house before he'd
let Cummings have anything of his."

"That's the spirit! Ward, don't be stingy with Mr.
Durland. Double whatever anybody else offers for
an option on the motor improvements and we'll hope
it's only the beginning."


Stephen Durland discussed with Grace everything
pertaining to his new connection with the Kemp con-
cern. He had made so many mistakes in his life that
he didn't want to risk making any more, he said
pathetically at a noon hour which Grace spent with
him after he had agreed to the terms Kemp had pro-
posed through Trenton.

"A thousand dollars just for an option looks mighty
big," he said. "I never expected to see that much
money again. And I'm to draw two hundred a month
from the Kemp Company while I'm building a motor
out there. It's pretty nice, Grace."

He wanted to give her the thousand dollars and
any income he might derive from the improved motor
as compensation for what he felt was the wrong she
had suffered through his inability to keep her in col-
lege. He was greatly in earnest about this and showed
his affection for her in a shy gentle fashion that
touched her deeply. She laughed him into accepting
her rejection of his offer and overruled his decision
not to tell his wife and Ethel of his brightening pros-
pects. The motor might not stand up under the tests,


he said, and he wished to avoid the necessity of con-
fessing a fresh failure.

"Don't be afraid; I'll see that you don't get scolded!
You just strut around the house and make the most of
your success for that's what it is! Mr. Trenton
told me he was sure your improvements were enor-
mously important greater efficiency, greater economy
of operation and every other little old thing you've
thought up in that dear bean of yours!"

"Trenton's a fine man. He's been mighty nice to
me," said Durland. "It's a pleasure to talk to a man
who catches an idea so quick. I guess Kemp does
pretty much what he says. I don't know Kemp. I
never thought of it till after the break, but Cummings
never wanted me to meet other manufacturers in our
line. Guess he didn't trust me," he ended with a
grim smile. "Afraid I might get away from him be-
fore he was sure I'd petered out."

"He guessed wrong, daddy! We'll let Cummings
do the worrying now."

On the day he closed his shop in the Power Building
and moved to the experimental room that had been
fitted up for him at Kemp's big plant Durland men-
tioned his new prospects at the supper table. He made
the disclosure so slightingly that Mrs. Durland and
Ethel, who had been busily discussing the merits of a
novel they had been reading and Ethel thought grossly
immoral, failed to catch the point of the revelation un-
til he had cleared his throat and announced for a
second time that he was moving out to Kemp's to do a
little experimenting.

"I guess that's yours, Allie," he remarked, produc-
ing the check. "Got it for an option on a patent I've
been tinkering at. Trenton, that Pittsburg expert,
recommended it to Kemp."


"Trenton?" repeated Ethel, carefully scrutinizing
the Kemp Manufacturing Company's check before
passing it on to her mother.

"Yes; Ward Trenton," Durland replied with a note
of pride that so distinguished an engineer had recog-
nized his merits. "He keeps track of everything that
goes through the patent office for clients he's got all
over the country. I'm going to build some of my
motors at Kemp's; they've given me a lot better place
to work in than I used to have at Cummings's, and I'm
going to have all the help I want. And I'm to draw
two hundred a month while I'm there. I guess that's
fair enough."

"This is your friend, Trenton, is it, Grace?" asked
Ethel, awed into respect by the size of the check.

"The same," Grace replied, carelessly meeting
Ethel's gaze across the table. "He's the kindest man
imaginable. You can hardly complain of his treat-
ment of father."

"I've always believed in father," said Ethel. "I
hope Isaac Cummings will see in this a retribution
God's punishment for the way he treated father."

"Let's not hand out the retribution to Cummings
till Kemp's satisfied about the motor," suggested

"We're all proud of you, Stephen," said Mrs. Dur-
land, smoothing the creases in the check. "I'm writ-
ing Roy tonight and I'll tell him the good news. Of
course I'll warn him not to speak of it. Your success
will be a great incentive to the dear boy. He was so
contrite over his behavior while he was home that
I'm glad to have this news for him. We should all
feel grateful. Something told me when Isaac Cum-
mings turned you out that it was for the best. I'll
never again question the ways of Providence. I don't


feel like taking this money, Stephen, but it will come
in handy in giving Roy a start."

In the happier spirit that now dominated the home
circle Grace's increasingly frequent absences for
evenings and occasionally for a night passed with little
or no remark.

"You've got to live your life in your own way,"
Mrs. Durland would say with a sigh when she found
Grace leaving the house after supper. "I hardly see
you any more."

To guard against awakening in Ethel's mind any
suspicion that her evenings away from home coincided
with Trenton's presence in town, which her father
usually mentioned, Grace made a point of going out
at times when Trenton was away. There were al-
ways things she could do entertainments among the
Shipley employees, dances, theatre parties of busi-
ness girls with whom she had become acquainted.
These engagements she refrained from describing with
any particularity as this would make the more marked
her silence on evenings when she went to Minnie Law-
ton's to meet Trenton. She had adopted a regular
formula when she left the house, saying merely, "I'm
going out for a little while," which her mother and
Ethel had schooled themselves to accept as an
adequate explanation of her absences.

Mrs. Bob Cummings looked in on her one day at
Shipley's with the promised invitation to dinner, and
to go to a club dance afterwards, which Grace refused
only because the dramatic club of Shipley employees
was giving a play the same night and she had a lead-
ing part. And Miss Reynolds dropped in to the ready-
to-wear department frequently when she was down
town and occasionally asked Grace to dinner.

The mild winter almost imperceptibly gave way be-


fore the blithe heralds of spring and April appeared
smiling at the threshold.

No cloud darkened the even course of her affair
with Trenton. She was more and more convinced
of the depth and sincerity of her love for him and he
was the tenderest, the most considerate of lovers.
When she did not see him, sometimes for a week or
fortnight, his messages floated back with those con-
stant reassurances of his loyalty and affection that
are the very food of love. He rarely mentioned his
wife in their talks and Grace was no longer a prey to
jealousy. She wondered sometimes whether he had
ever broached to Mrs. Trenton the matter of the
divorce at which he had hinted, but Grace found her-
self caring little about this one way or another. She
exulted in her independence, complacent in the thought
that she was a woman of the Twentieth Century, free
to use her life as she would.


John Moore had not crossed Grace's vision since the
afternoon of Christmas day, when his unexpected ap-
pearance in the highway near The Shack proved so
disconcerting. She suspected that he was avoiding her,
probably from a generous wish to spare her the em-
barrassment of explaining herself.

When she left Shipley's at the closing hour of a day
early in April she was surprised to see him waiting at
the door.

"Good evening, Grace! Hope you don't mind being
held up, but I wanted to see you and this seemed the
easiest way. Got time to walk home?"

Grace had meant to take the car but she decided
instantly that in view of the glimpse he had got of


her in Trenton's arms on the memorable day at The
Shack it would be poor diplomacy to refuse.

"Of course, I'll walk, John," she replied cordially.
"I've been wanting to see you." She waited till they
were out of the crowd, then said with a preluding

"You must be thinking the awfulest things of me,
and that's why you've given me the go-by. That
was an awful fib I told you Christmas about going to
a matinee. The truth of the matter was that I had
promised to go with some people into the country for
the afternoon and didn't want the family to know;
and I couldn't explain over the telephone. And out
there we all got to cutting up and well you saw mel
I'm terribly ashamed of myself!"

"Oh, pshaw, you needn't be! I didn't think any-
thing about it. I always know you're all right. I'm
for you, Grace you know that. I've been so busy
since I moved to town that I've kept my nose right
on the grindstone."

His words lacked the usual John Moore flavor, and
in spite of his protest she guiltily attributed his un-
usual restraint to reservations as to the Christmas
day episode. But his next speech quickly shifted the
ground of her apprehensions.

"I've just been down to Bloomington to see Roy,"
he said, doggedly blurting out the sentences. "The boy
sent for me; he'd got into a bad scrape about a girl.
You can guess the rest of it."

"Oh!" she gasped, feeling the earth whirling. "Not

"Roy was in a blue funk and threatened to run
away but I talked him out of that. The girl's name is
Sadie Den ton; she's not really a bad girl. I had a
talk with her and went down to Louisville with them


yesterday and saw them married. Her folks live there

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Online LibraryMeredith NicholsonBroken barriers → online text (page 19 of 27)