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and they'll look out for her till Roy finishes at the
law school. I guess that's about all. He didn't want
any of you to know about it just yet; but I sat down on
that and he agreed I should tell you. I was sure you'd
handle it right at home."

"Oh, it will break mother's heart! She's counted
everything on Roy."

"Well, everything isn't lost yet," he replied. "I
hope you think I did right."

"It was the only thing, of course, John. It was just
like you to see it straight and do the right thing."

She wormed from him the fact that he had given
Roy a hundred dollars, and that certain payments for
the support of Roy's wife had been agreed on.

"You're certainly a friend, John. We'll return the
money at once; that's the least we can do."

When he protested that he did not need the money
immediately she explained that her father's affairs
were looking brighter and that the return of the sum
advanced would work no hardship.

The bad news having been delivered, Moore exerted
himself to cheer her, but a vast gloom had settled upon
her. As he shook hands at the gate her sense of his
tolerance, kindness and wisdom brought tears to her
eyes but, left alone, her only emotion was one of fury
against Roy. She stood on the door-step pondering.
Again, as after Roy's appeal for money to cover his
share of the expense of his automobile escapade, she
thought of her own weakness in yielding to temptation.
But for John's advice that it would be better for the
rest of the family to know at once of Roy's tragedy
this being the only word that fitly described this new
and discouraging blight upon her brother's future


she would have lacked the courage to communicate
the evil tidings to the household.

It was not until they had all settled in the living
room after supper that she broke the news. Her
father sat at the table, reading a technical journal,
with Ethel near by preparing her Sunday-school les-
son. Mrs. Durland had established herself by the
grate with the family darning in her lap. Since Dur-
land's removal to Kemp's establishment a new cheer
and hope had lightened the atmosphere of the home,
and Grace, moving restlessly about the room, dreaded
to launch her thunderbolt upon the tranquil scene.

"I have something to tell you; please listen,
you too, father," she began quietly.

She used much the same blunt phrases in which
Moore had condensed the story, watching with a kind
of fascination a long black stocking slip from her
mother's hand, pause at her knee and then crawl in
a slow serpentine fashion down her apron to her feet.

u Oh, Roy!" Mrs. Durland moaned, her face white.

Mr. Durland coughed, took off his glasses, breathed
on the lenses and began slowly rubbing them with
the corner of the linen table cover. He desisted sud-
denly, remembering that Ethel had once rebuked him
for mussing the cover.

"I guess that's all there is to say about it," Grace
concluded when she had told everything, not omitting
their financial obligation to Moore. "We've all got
to make the best of it."

Grace picked up the fallen stocking and handed it
to her mother, who made a pretense of carefully in-
specting a hole in the heel.

"What time's the first train down in the morning?"
she asked. "I must see Roy and "


Ethel, who had sunk back helplessly in her chair,
jumped to her feet, her eyes blazing.

"You shan't go one step mother 1 It's enough that
Roy's brought this disgrace on the family without
you going down there to pet him. It's your spoiling
him that's made him what he is. John Moore had
no business meddling in our affairs. What Roy should
have done was to go away and never show his face
to any of us again. Father, you tell mother to keep
away from Roy!"

The appeal to Durland, who had so rarely found
himself a court of last resort in the whole course of his
life, was not without its humor and Grace smiled bit-
terly as she watched her sister, who stood before her,
white, her lips set in hard lines, her hands clenched
at her sides. Durland cleared his throat and recrossed
his legs.

"I guess your mother'll do the right thing, Ethel,"
he said.

"I think you're all crazy ! " Ethel flared. "What will
Osgood think of me, with my brother forced to marry a
girl off the street."

"I didn't say she was off the street," Grace corrected
her. "I'd show the girl a little mercy if I were you,
and I wouldn't make it any harder than necessary for
father and mother. You're not the only one of us
who has feelings."

"I'll leave! The rest of you may do as you please,
but I'll not let Osgood think I don't feel the shame
of my brother's sin."

"If Osgood reads his Testament he may not see it
in quite that light."

Ethel breathed hard in the effort to think of some
withering retort. The best she could do, however,
was not especially brilliant.


"Osgood," she announced grandly, "is a gentle-

"He might be that and still be a Christian," Grace
replied tartly.

"What did you say about trains, Grace," asked Mrs.
Durland, who, deep in thought, had scarcely heard
the colloquy between her daughters.

"I'll call the station and find out. And I'll get
Irene on the 'phone and tell her I won't be at the
store tomorrow. I'm going with you, mother."


Ethel caught up and flung back the name as though
it were some hateful and obscene thing.

"Ethel," said Mrs. Durland serenely, "If you've got
nothing better to do you might help me with the darn-
ing. I don't like to go away without clearing it up."

The visit to Bloomington was not particularly heart-
ening. Roy was in a sullen humor when they talked
to him in the hotel parlor. He wanted to drop the law
course and go West, and they argued the matter most
of the day, Grace alternating between despair at Roy's
stubborn indifference to every attempt to arouse his
pride and ambition and admiration for her mother's
courage and forbearance in the most poignant sorrow
of her life.

Grace finally left them together and took a walk that
led her far from the campus. She had no heart for
looking upon the familiar scenes or meeting the
friends she had left there only a few months earlier.
When she returned to the hotel Roy had been won to
a more tractable humor; and when he left them it
was in a spirit of submission, at least, to what he con-


sidered an ungenerous ordering of fate. Mrs. Durland
insisted on carrying out the plan, with which she had
left Indianapolis, of visiting the young woman who
was now her daughter-in-law.

"She's Roy's wife," she said when Grace tried to
dissuade her. "I'll feel better to see her. And it's
only right I should."

She took the train for Louisville and Grace went

Grace's thoughts were given a new direction early
the next morning when Miss Beulah Reynolds ap-
peared at Shipley's shortly after the doors were

"My dear child, the most astounding thing has hap-
pened!" the little woman declared immediately.

"Your house hasn't burned down!" exclaimed
Grace, amused by the little woman's agitation.

"Worse! I'm to have a visitor, that Mary Gra-
ham Trenton whose book we once talked about. I've
just had a letter from an old friend in Boston warning
me of the lady's approach, and asking me to see the
Indians don't get her. I've wired her at Cleveland
asking her to stay at my house I could hardly do

"I suppose not," said Grace faintly, wondering why
Miss Reynolds had come to her with the news.

"I'm asking some people to dinner the night the
lady lectures Tuesday and I want you to come.
Don't look so scared! She may not be as terrible as
she writes but I'm going to invite Dr. Ridgely, and
my doctor and my lawyer with the hope that they'll all
get a shock. And I want you to come; you've read
her stuff, and I'll count on you to help keep the talk


"Why, I don't know " Grace began, her mind in
a whirl of conjecture.

"Come! That's a dear child. Don't go back on me;
I need your moral support. At six thirty, then? We
have to dine early on account of the lecture."

"Why, yes; Miss Reynolds," Grace answered

"By the little pink ear of Venus!" exclaimed Irene,
coming upon Grace just as Miss Reynolds left. "What's
Little Old Ready Money done to you?"

"Nothing," Grace replied, her mind still in con-
fusion. "She was just asking me to dinner."

"From your looks I'd have guessed it was a funeral,"
Irene replied, and Grace, pulling herself together, hur-
ried away to meet an approaching customer.

Of late she had given little thought to Mrs. Trenton,
and it had never occurred to her in her wildest dreams
that she might meet Ward's wife in the intimate con-
tact of a dinner table. The prospect kept her in a
state of excitement all day and at times she was
strongly impelled to trump up some excuse for re-
fusing to go to Miss Reynolds's. But her earlier curi-
osity as to what manner of woman it was who bore
Ward Trenton's name was rekindled by the thought
of meeting her. Trenton was in Syracuse and might
not reach Indianapolis for a week or more. He had
said that he had not, in the letter he had written
to Mrs. Trenton from St. Louis, revealed the identity
of the woman who had so strongly appealed to him.
Mrs. Trenton would hardly suspect that a girl she
met at a dinner party was the person her husband
had described only vaguely and without indicating
her habitat.

Grace decided against writing Trenton of the im-


pending meeting till it was over. Having quieted her
apprehensions she began dramatizing the scene at
Miss Reynolds's table and she reread "Clues to a
New Social Order" against the possibility that Mrs.
Trenton's book might become a subject of discus-
sion at the dinner. The thought of seeing her lover's
wife in this fashion while she herself remained un-
known and unsuspected laid powerful hold upon her

THE calamity that had befallen Roy cast a shadow
upon the Durland household. Ethel stalked about
with an insufferable air of outraged innocence. Roy
had ruined the family; after all the sacrifices that
had been made for him he had flung away his chance
and was lost beyond redemption. She was merciless
in her denunciation of her brother, and hardly less
severe upon her mother for spoiling Roy and con-
doning his sin.

Grace exerted herself to the utmost to dispel the
gloom. Not since her young girlhood had she felt
so closely drawn to her mother, and she endeavored
by every possible means to lighten her burdens. Mrs.
Durland's attempts to make the best of Roy's pre-
dicament, even professing to see in what she called the
boy's new responsibilities a steadying force that would
evoke his best efforts, were pathetic; but Grace en-
couraged all these hopes though in her heart she was
far from optimistic as to her brother's future.

"Sadie isn't really a bad girl," Mrs. Durland had re-
ported on her return from Louisville. Her family
are not just what we would have wanted, but they
are respectable and we ought to be grateful for that.
Her father is employed in the railroad shops and
they own their own home. Sadie's an only child and
it wasn't necessary for her to go to work, but she was
restless and didn't want to stay at home. There's
a lot of that spirit among girls these days. Sadie's
really fond of Roy and I think she understands that



now she must help him to make a man of himself.
She and her mother appreciated our kindness and I
think, Ethel, when you see Sadie "

"When I see Sadie!" cried Ethel, choking at the
name. "You don't mean to say you're going to bring
her to this house!"

"Not now, of course; she wouldn't want to come.
But in time we'll all know her. You must remember
Ethel that she's one of the family, your brother's
wife, and no matter how much we may regret the
whole thing, we've got to stand by her just as we
stand by Roy."

"I don't understand you, mother; I don't under-
stand you at all! It isn't like you to pass over a thing
like this, that's brought shame and disgrace on the
family. And to think to think " she cried hys-
terically "that you even consider bringing the
shameless creature here to this house, with all its
sacred associations that mean something to me if they
don't to the rest of you!"

"That's right, Ethel," said Grace ironically. "It's
perfectly grand of you to defend the family altar!
I suppose when Sadie comes you'll be for throwing
her into the street and stoning her to death. And
you'd be the only one who could cast the first stone!"

"Please be quiet, girls," Mrs. Durland pleaded. "It
doesn't help any to fuss about things. You haven't
taken this as I hoped you would, Ethel. If we don't
stand together and help each other the family tie
doesn't amount to much. I had hoped you were going
to feel better about Roy. We simply mustn't let the
dear boy think that just one misstep has ruined his
life. We must try to believe that everything is for
the best."

"Certainly, mother," said Grace. "That's the only


way to look at it. Ethel doesn't mean to trouble you.
She'll come round all right."

Ethel failed to confirm this sanguine prediction.
She continued to sulk and when her mother proposed
plans for assisting Roy when he finished at the law
school she contributed to the discussion only the direst
predictions of disaster.

"We all have a lot to be thankful for," Mrs. Dur-
land insisted. "It's a blessing your father's going to
be in a position to help Roy. The first year will be
the hardest for the boy, but after that he ought to be
able to stand on his own feet. I've about decided that
it would be better for him to open an office for him-
self right away and not go in with any one else. The
more independent he feels the better. We must see
what we can do about that."

"I think we'd better talk it all over with John Moore
before we decide about anything," Grace suggested.
"He knows all about Roy and certainly has shown
himself a good friend."

"John Moore 1" sniffed Ethel, who had not for-
given John for meddling in Roy's affairs.

"I hope you love yourself, Ethel; you certainly
don't love anybody else." Grace remarked, and
added, "Oh, yes, there's Osgood! I forgot that you're
concentrating your affections on him."

"I'm not afraid to see him at home; that's more
than you do with the men you run around withl"

"Oh, I wouldn't dare introduce my friends to you;
you might vamp them away from me!"

"Now girls !"

Mrs. Durland sighed heavily; Mr. Durland, intent
upon some computations he was making at the living
room table, stirred uneasily. Grace had not been un-
mindful of the fact that after his first fortnight at


Kemp's the elation with which he had undertaken his
new labors had passed. He was now constructing an
engine embodying his improvements on the Cum-
mings-Durland motor and came home at night haggard
and preoccupied. He seemed to resent inquiries as
to his progress and after the first week Mrs. Durland,
on a hint from Grace, ceased troubling him with ques-
tions. Grace nerself was wondering whether, after
all, the ideas that had attracted Trenton's attention
in her father's patent claims might not fail to realize
what was hoped of them. But her faith in Trenton's
judgment was boundless; with his long experience it
was hardly possible that he could be deceived or that
he would encourage expectations that might not be
realized by the most exacting tests.

Grace had not changed her mind about going to
Miss Reynolds's dinner, though at times she had all
but reconsidered her decision not to tell Trenton of
the invitation. There was really no reason why she
should not let him know of his wife's impending visit
to Indianapolis; what really stayed her hand when
she considered mentioning the matter in one of her
letters was a fear that he might advise her against
going. Her curiosity as to Ward Trenton's wife was
acute and outweighed any fear of his possible dis-
pleasure when he learned and of course Grace
meant to tell him that she had deliberately put her-
self in Mrs. Trenton's way.


On Saturday evening the delivery of a gown she had
picked out of Shipley's stock to wear to the dinner
made it necessary to explain why she had purchased
it. It was the simplest of dinner gowns which she


drew from the box and held up for her mother's and
Ethel's inspection.

"What earthly use can you have for that, Grace?"
Ethel demanded.

Grace laid it across her mother's knees and Mrs.
Durland took a fold in her fingers to appraise the

"It's certainly pretty. This is one of the new shades,
isn't it, Grace? It isn't blue exactly "

"They call it hydrangea blue, mother. Please
hurry and say I'll look scrumptious in it!"

"I don't think I'd have chosen just that," remarked
Ethel putting down a handkerchief she was embroider-
ing, in flourishing script with the initials O. H., to
eye the garment critically. "If I were in your place
and could afford to spend what that must have cost I
think I'd have got something in one of the more
definite shades. You can't really say whether that's
blue or pink."

"That's the artistic part of it, old dear," replied
Grace amiably. "It's out of the new spring stock and
considered very smart. Wake up, daddy! Tell me
you don't think I'm stung!"

"I guess my views about dresses wouldn't help you
much, Grace," Durland remarked, glancing at the
gown absently and returning to his interminable cal-

"You'll look sweet in it, Grace," Mrs. Durland vol-
unteered. "You think it isn't cut too low?"

"It's the very latest model, mother. I don't believe
you'll think it too low when you see me in it. I tried
it on at my lunch hour yesterday and a customer got
her eye on it and did her best to coax me to let her
have it. But I sold her another gown that cost twenty
dollars more, so Shipley's didn't lose anything."


"You get so many clothes, Grace," Ethel inter-
rupted again intent upon her embroidery. "I don't
just see what you can want with a dress like that."

"Oh, this is for a special occasion. Miss Reynolds
has asked me to dinner Tuesday. She's entertaining
for Mrs. Mary Graham Trenton, who's to lecture here
that night."

"You don't mean it!" exclaimed Mrs. Durland. "I
read in the paper that Mrs. Trenton was to speak
here. I'd never have thought of connecting her with
Miss Reynolds!"

"They've never met, I think. A friend of Miss
Reynolds's in Boston wrote and asked her to see that
Mrs. Trenton was properly looked after, so she's put-
ting her up and pulling off a dinner in her honor. I
might say that she didn't appear to be awfully keen
about it. She's asking Dr. Ridgely and Judge Sanders
and Dr. Loomis with their ladies, so theology, law
and medicine will be represented. She asked me, I
suppose, because I happened to mention to her once
that I had read Mrs. Trenton's 'Clues to a New Social
Order.' And it may be in her mind that as a poor
working girl I represent the proletariat."

"She may have thought that being a friend of Mr.
Trenton's it would be pleasant for Mrs. Trenton to
meet you," said Ethel sweetly.

"Thank you, sister, you're certainly the little mind
reader," Grace replied.

"I'm sure it's very kind of Miss Reynolds to ask
you," remarked Mrs. Durland hastily, fearing a clash
between the sisters. "There are no finer people in
town than the Sanders and I have always heard splen-
did things about Dr. Loomis and his wife. It's a
privilege to meet people like that. I hope you realize
that a woman of Miss Reynolds's position can have


her pick of the town. She's certainly paying you a
great compliment, Grace."

"I don't understand Miss Reynolds at all," said
Ethel. "She's the last woman in the world you'd
think would take a creature like Mary Graham Tren-
ton into her house."

"It's because she is Miss Reynolds that she can do
as she pleases," replied Mrs. Durland conciliatingly.
"And as she was asked by a friend to show some
courtesy to Mrs. Trenton, she isn't doing any more
than any one else would do in the same circumstances.
As I said when Grace first spoke of meeting Mr. Tren-
ton, his wife's a dangerous woman. It's in her power
to do a great deal of mischief in the world. I don't
believe Miss Reynolds has any patience with Mrs.
Trenton's ideas, and it can't do Grace any harm to
meet her. You ought to be glad, Ethel, that Miss
Reynolds feels that Grace would fit into a select party
like that."

"I'll be surprised if Dr. Ridgely goes to the din-
ner," replied Ethel. "That woman is fighting every-
thing the church stands for. If I had my way she
wouldn't be allowed to speak here."

"That's no joke!" replied Grace good-naturedly.
"But there are people, you know, who are not afraid
of hearing radical ideas a few broad-minded people
who think it safer to let the cranks talk out in the
open than to drive them into a cellar to touch off the
gentle bomb."

"Many people feel just that way, Ethel," said Mrs.

Mrs. Durland's disapproval of Mrs. Trenton and
the ideas identified with that lady's name was much
softened by the fact that Grace was to be included in
a formal dinner which Miss Reynolds had undoubtedly


arranged with care. And while Mary Graham Tren-
ton might entertain and preach the most shocking
ideas she was nevertheless one of the best known
and most discussed women in America, besides being
the inheritor of wealth and social position. Miss Rey-
nolds's marked liking for Grace afforded Mrs. Durland
a satisfaction not wholly attributable to veneration for
Miss Reynolds's money or unassailable position as a
member of a pioneer Indianapolis family. Grace's
unaccountable ways and her assertions of inde-
pendence often brought alarm and dismay to the
mother's heart; but Grace was indubitably lovely to
look at and the fine spirit in which she had accepted
and met the curtailment of her course at the uni-
versity excused many things. Grace had wits and she
would go far, but the traveling would have to be on
broad highways of her own choosing. It was not with-
out twinges of heartache that Mrs. Durland realized
that this dark-eyed daughter was peculiarly a child of
the new order; that not by prayer, threat or cajolery
could she be made to walk in old paths or heed the old
admonitions. But there had been Morleys who
were independent and forthright and Miss Reynolds's
invitation implied a recognition of Grace as a well-bred
and intelligent girl.

Mrs. Durland, busily sewing, had been giving Grace
such information as she possessed about the Sanderses,
who were to be of Miss Reynolds's company. Hardly
less than the sons and daughters of Virginia and Ken-
tucky, Mrs. Durland was possessed of a vast amount
of lore touching the families of her native state. Mrs.
Sanders was a Shelton of the old Bartholomew County
family of that name. Some Shelton had once been
engaged in business with a Morley who was a second
cousin of Mrs. Durland. It was a tannery she thought,


though it might have been a brickyard. And San-
ders's father had been a prominent citizen somewhere
on the lower Wabash and had married into the Alston
family of Vanderburgh County. Grace lent a sympa-
thetic ear to this recital of ancient Hoosier history
chiefly because her mother found so great a pleasure
in reciting it. It was the crudest of ironies that her
mother, with all her adoration of the State and its
traditions and her constant recurrence to the past
glories of the Morleys, lived a life of self-denial apart
from contemporaries capable of sharing her pride and
pleasure in the old times.

The talk had wandered far from Grace's dinner
engagement when Ethel, who had been quietly plying
her needle, took advantage of a lull to switch it back.

"I suppose you won't feel quite like a stranger with
Mrs. Trenton," she suggested. "Mr. Trenton has no
doubt told his wife of his acquaintance with you."

"No doubt he has," Grace replied calmly. "In fact
he told me he had written her about me."

This was not wholly candid; Trenton had only said
that he had written to his wife, pursuant to an un-
derstanding between them, that he had met a girl
who greatly interested him. But Ethel's remark occa-
sioned Grace a moment of discomfort. In her last
meeting with Trenton his wife had not been men-
tioned, but it was possible that by now he had made
a complete confession of his unfaithfulness. Irene

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Online LibraryMeredith NicholsonBroken barriers → online text (page 20 of 27)