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"Get your flash, Craig," Trenton said. But with-
out waiting for the light he thrust in his arms and
lifted Kemp out. Irene and Grace had crawled out
and stood in the road clinging to each other and hys-
terically demanding to know what had happened to

Craig jerked out the seat cushions and Trenton
laid Kemp upon them. The flashlight showed
Kemp's face deathly white and smeared with blood.
Trenton was on his knees, his head against the stricken
man's heart. He looked up with a startled awed look
and shook his head.

"God!" he said under his breath.

"Oh, Ward! Not that!" faltered Irene, "Not "

"No No! We must keep our heads! Craig 1
What's the quickest way of getting help?"

"Ward Oh, Tommy, Tommy!" cried Irene, drop-
ping on her knees and taking Kemp's head in her

"Don't Irene don't!" moaned Grace helplessly.

"There's a house a quarter of a mile ahead where
I can telephone," Craig said. "I know the farmer;
you can rely on him."

"Just a minute," said Trenton, looking at his watch.


"There are things to consider. We've got to think
of Tommy first of all. Craig, I can count on you

"Yes, certainly, sir. I'm afraid it was my fault;
I ought to have been watching. But I thought - "

"You were no more to blame than I was. We can't
discuss that now. We've got to take care of this in a
way that will protect Tommy, and you girls mustn't
figure in it at all."

"We understand all that; we'll do anything you
say, Ward," sobbed Irene.

"I'm trying to think of some one we can trust to
help," said Trenton. "There will be many things to
do immediately."

"I wonder," said Irene turning to Grace, "whether
we could reach John Moore."

"There's no one better!" Grace eagerly assented.
"We could telephone him at his boarding house."

Trenton asked a few questions about Moore and be-
gan instructing Craig as to the persons he was to call
by telephone; first a physician, who was also an inti-
mate friend of the Kemps and two of Kemp's neigh-
bors, well known to Trenton.

"Kemp and I had been to The Shack for dinner
alone Jerry and the cateress must be taken care of as
to that. Tommy was driving home. Something went
wrong with the car and it ran off into the ditch. How
about that, Craig?"

"I wouldn't say, Mr. Trenton, that Mr. Kemp was
driving. The driver in such accidents is seldom hurt.
We'd better say the car simply struck a stone and

Craig hurriedly suggested possible explanations of
a deflection that would ditch a car at this point.

"Yes; that's better," Trenton agreed.


"If the young ladies could go into town on an inter-
urban car that would help," said Craig. "It's only a
little way to a stop on the crossroad back yonder.
There'll be a car passing at half-past twelve."

These matters hastily determined, Craig hurried
away, the quick patter of his feet on the macadam
suggesting the flight of a malevolent fate that had
struck its blow and was flying from the scene.

Tommy Kemp was dead. There was no question
but that he had died instantly, either from the violent
blow on the head or from a failure of the heart due
to the shock of his precipitation against the windshield.

No cars had passed since the accident, but as they
were on a highway Trenton urged Irene and Grace to
go at once.

"You mustn't be seen here. It's horrible enough
without having you mixed up in it."

Irene bent down and touched the quiet face, mur-

"It's cruel to leave him like this! Poor boy! Poor
dear Tommy 1"


Grace and Irene had worn hats on the tragic ad-
venture and their long dark cloaks covered their party
dresses so that their entrance into the interurban car
awakened little interest in the half-dozen dozing pas-
sengers. Fortunately Grace had her purse and paid
the fares. The swift rush of the car exerted a quieting
effect upon them. Irene had wrenched her shoulder
when the machine leaped into the ditch, but Grace had
escaped with only a few scratches. They conferred in
low tones, still dazed by their close contact with death.


"I ought to have insisted on going home earlier.
But I did the best I could. Tommy wouldn't budge.
Tell me that I did the best I could!"

"Of course you did! We should never have gone
any of us! " said Grace. "I'm as much to blame as any
one. But Tommy would have gone anyhow, you know
he would."

"Ward's wonderful," said Irene. "I'll never forget
him as he stood there beside Tommy as we left. Those
men loved each other; and Tommy was good, Grace.
I'm glad I had it out with him about quitting I mean.
He was sober then; perfectly all right. It was just
before you and Ward came back that he began drink-
ing crazily. When I told him I thought it was all
wrong and that I wanted to quit he talked to me in the
finest way. He said he wouldn't let me think I could
be better than he was and he was going to live straight
the rest of his life. But Tommy would never have
quit. There would always have been some girl; and
he just had to have his parties. I suppose there's no
use worrying about that!"

"No," Grace consoled her, "things just have to be.
You can't change anything. Ward and I said good-
bye to each other tonight. So that's all over."

"I'm not so sure," Irene replied after a deliberate
inspection of Grace's face. "I wouldn't count much
on Ward giving you up. Love is a strange thing.
You'll go on loving each other and breaking your
hearts about it and then some day you'll meet and
things will begin all over again. I've always been
pretty cynical about these things, but I know love
when I see it. It's "

"Don't, Irene!" whispered Grace, a sob in her
throat. "I can't bear it! To think of Tommy "

Her hand stole out and clasped Irene's. The events


of the night had made upon both an impression that
never could be effaced. Aware of this, silence held
them until the lights of the station flashed upon the

Moore was on the platform, and they found a quiet
corner of the waiting room where Irene told the story
of the accident. John expressed no surprise, made
no criticism; merely said that he was proud that they
had thought of him. Trenton had suggested that they
ask Moore to visit the newspaper offices and then go
to Kemp's house Mrs. Kemp was still away and
notify the servants. John's practical mind had con-
sidered every aspect of the matter after his brief talk
with Craig over the telephone and he had already dis-
patched the coroner to the scene of the accident that
there might be no delay or subsequent criticism.

"The sooner you both get home the better," he
said. "We'll decide now that you were both with me
all evening. I'll account for my knowledge of the
accident by explaining to the newspapers that Mr.
Kemp's chauffeur called me on the telephone after
trying to get Judge Sanders, who's Kemp's lawyer
and an old friend. It happens that the judge left
for Washington tonight. I think that covers it all."

It was not until Grace had crept into bed that she
was able to think clearly. It was like a hideous
dream that Kemp was dead that she had seen him
die. His death obscured the memory of her parting
with Trenton, or blending with it, became a part
of the dissolution of all things. Alone in the dark,
remorse stole upon her like a nightmare. From the
hour that she had met Kemp and Trenton a doom
had followed her. In a few short months she had
played havoc with her life. She groped back to
her days at the University happy days, they were;
days of clean wholesome living and buoyant aspira-


tion. And she never could be the same carefree girl

It was not till near dawn that she slept, to be wak-
ened by her mother a little before the prompting of
the alarm clock.

"Something awful's happened, Grace. Thomas
Kemp died last night, on the way home from his
farm. There was an accident to his car but the paper
says he died of heart disease. Mr. Trenton was with
him. Your father's terribly upset; he doesn't know
how it will affect his prospects. It's a strange part
of it that only yesterday Kemp closed a deal for the
purchase of the Cummings Company. The paper
says he'd gone out to the farm with Mr. Trenton
to talk over the merger."

It was necessary for Grace to hear Kemp's death
discussed in all its bearings at the breakfast table.
The talk was chiefly between her mother and Ethel,
Durland merely confirming or correcting, when ap-
pealed to, their statements as to items of the dead
man's history. They speculated fruitlessly as to the
fate of Kemp's business interests, and how much he
was worth and whether he had left large sums to

Grace read the account of the accident and the long
biographical sketch of Kemp while this was in prog-
ress. Trenton and Moore had managed the thing
well. Trenton's statement as to the manner of his
friend's death bore every mark of veracity, and it was
fortified by the coroner's report and a statement from
Kemp's physician.

"I suppose," remarked Ethel, "that Irene Kirby
will be terribly shocked. It's a wonder she wasn't
with him. They were always gadding about the coun-
try together. I'm relieved, Grace, that you weren't
mixed up in this mess."


"Don't speak so to your sister, Ethel," admonished
Mrs. Durland. "There are things about Mr. Kemp
I never knew. It seems he gave large sums to some
of our needy institutions and wouldn't let it be known.
And he was beautiful to all his employees. It's not
for us to say he wasn't a good man."

"Well," said Irene, the day after Kemp's funeral,
"I hope Tommy knows all the fine things that have
been said about him. I cried when I read about the
poor people who went to his house just to look at him
again people he'd helped in their troubles for years,
and you can be sure he always did it with a smile.
I met Ward as I was coming down this morning. He
was on his way to Judge Sanders's office and didn't
see me till I spoke to him. You'd think he'd lost
his own brother! He asked about you and said to
tell you not to worry about anything. And he smiled
in that wistful way he has. He said he might be
kept here some time."

"Oh, I hope not!" Grace cried, and her eyes filled
with tears.

She was already trying to accustom herself to the
idea that they were never to meet again and the
prospect of encountering him filled her with mingled
hope and dismay. A few days later when Kemp's
will was published her heart bounded as she read that
the testator had appointed Trenton the managing
trustee of Kemp's industrial enterprises, and that
he would in all likelihood become a resident of In-
dianapolis. His picture was published, with a lauda-
tory account of his career. The purchase of the


Cummings concern, which was consummated on the
day of Kemp's death, greatly increased the responsi-
bilities of the trustee, who was to serve for a period
of ten years.

It was with confused sensations of happy pride and
poignant heartache that Grace read all this. At home
it was necessary constantly to play a part, to feign
indifference as to Trenton's suddenly attained promi-
nence, while her mother and Ethel reviewed daily all
the potentialities of the situation as it affected Stephen
Durland, who stolidly refrained from expressing any
opinion as to what bearing Kemp's death might have
on his personal affairs.

The complexities of her life seemed to Grace enor-
mously multiplied. Trenton was there in town-
no doubt walking at times the streets she traversed
going to and from her work, and she could not see
him must never see him again! If only the family
affairs were less perplexing Roy's future, clouded by
his marriage, dominated all the domestic coun-
cils she could leave; go where the remembrance of
him would be less an hourly torture.

In combating her longing to see him she sought
comfort in the thought that his new duties would
help him to forget; and she wanted him to forget.
With his nature he was sure to be profoundly affected
by his friend's death and the confidence Kemp had
reposed in him even from the grave. She found a cer-
tain luxury of sorrow in these thoughts; she wanted
him to be happy, even if his happiness were to be won
only by forgetting her.


Miss REYNOLDS called Grace on the telephone a
week after Kemp's death and with her usual kindly
peremptoriness demanded that Grace dine with her
the following night.

"I went away unexpectedly and didn't have a chance
to let you know. I've got something I want to talk
to you about just you and me. Please come!"

Grace was ashamed not to manifest more cordiality
in accepting the invitation but she was beset by fears
lest Miss Reynolds was seizing the first possible mo-
ment to question her as to her singular conduct at
the door on the afternoon when she had gone to the
house with Trenton. And that seemed long ago, hid-
den by the black wall of an impenetrable past.

Miss Reynolds called for her at Shipley's at the
closing hour and greeted her as though nothing had
happened. She had been summoned to Baltimore
on business, she explained. She talked in her brisk
fashion throughout the dinner, of impersonal mat-
ters, not mentioning the Trentons at all until they
were settled in the living room.

"After all, I think I prefer plain bread-and-butter
people plain folks. A woman traveling with a maid
and pretending to be keen about poor suffering hu-
manity seems to me a good deal of a joke. Mrs. Tren-
ton did one thing for me though and I ought to be
grateful for that, she sent me scampering back to the
conservatives! I'd been just a little infected with some



of these new ideas, but after having that woman in
my house two days and hearing her talk and seeing
how fussy she is about her personal comfort, I'm for
hanging on to the old fogy notions a while longer."

As Miss Reynolds continued her dissection of Mrs.
Trenton's social program, Grace felt suddenly a strong
impulse to tell her friend the whole story of her ac-
quaintance with Trenton. In a way Miss Reynolds
had a right to know. She waited, wondering how she
could begin and what her friend would say, when
Miss Reynolds said in her characteristically abrupt

"Look here, little girl, you've got something on
your mind; you haven't been listening to me at all!
You needn't be afraid of me; I'm a queer old person
but sometimes I do understand. I wouldn't force
your confidence; you know that, but why you dear

Grace's eyes had filled with tears. Miss Reynolds
crossed to her quickly.

"How clumsy I am! I wouldn't hurt you for
worlds, dear!"

She sat down on a stool at Grace's feet and drew
the girl's hands into her own.

"Poor dear heart," she murmured softly. "It's an
awful big old world and little girls do sometimes get
hurt and lost. Maybe you'd like me to call the car
and take you for 1 a drive."

"No; I want to tell you; I've got to tell you. But
I'm afraid if I do "

"You couldn't tell me anything that would make me
stop loving you," Miss Reynolds replied gently. . . .

Grace spared herself in nothing. She told the whole
story, told it as a child might confess a grievous fault
at a mother's knee, described the spirit of revolt


in which she had thought to ignore the old barriers,
scorned the safeguards that had offered protection,
exulted in her freedom. And now, appalled by the
consequences of her treason she found herself de-
fenceless, groping for the support of the very wall
that she had contemptuously disregarded. Her day
of rebellion was past; she was now eager to be re-
ceived again into the ancient citadel.

"I think," she said finally, "that that's all."

Then for the first time Miss Reynolds looked up
at her. Her eyes were wet.

"Dear little girl," she began and then was silent
for a time, gently stroking the girl's hands.

"I guessed there was something wrong, of course,"
she went on, "when I met you in the hall that day.
When I went in I saw right away that my interrup-
tion was unfortunate. But Mrs. Trenton very calmly
introduced me to her husband. We talked a moment
and he left. As he went out he merely bowed to her
without saying anything. He struck me as being a
gentleman none of the look of a dissolute person,
certainly a handsome man a highbred look and air."

"Oh, tell me you saw the fineness, the nobility in
him! I couldn't bear to have you hate him!"

"Why, no, I don't hate him. I'm only sorry for
both of youl But I don't think you quite under-
stand well, that as individuals we are responsible to
those who have prior claims upon our consideration.
For the sake of happiness to the greater number we
must often give up our own happiness. Many beau-
tiful and noble women have done that."

"Oh, I love him! I love him so!" moaned the girl.

"Yes, I believe you do, dear. It's pitiful the
whole thing. Be sure I feel for you; I want to help


Miss Reynolds rose and took a turn across the

"It's in his favor that he realized the thing couldn't
go on; that for your sake it had to stop. That woman
might easily ruin your life; and of course she has
the right on her side."

"Yes, yes, I know. I've no justification at all
except except I love him."

"Yes, I understand. I believe you truly love
him; but now its my business as your friend to urge
you to forget. I realize that it won't be easy. It
would simplify matters if you could go away, see
other people, develop new interests."

"Yes; I'd thought of that," Grace replied. '"But
I can't leave home; there are difficulties; it wouldn't
be kind."

"No; I understand that. But that brings me to the
matter I asked you here to talk about. I want to
equip a house which self-supporting young women
can manage entirely by themselves with the fewest
possible restrictions, not an institution I hate the
word but a club. You notice I'm not smoking!"
Miss Reynolds smiled. "Well, Mrs. Trenton cured
me of that; she left me bored with the whole business
of being an emancipated woman. I've got the idea
that the house I propose can set a standard of morals
and manners something that will be good for the
whole community. But there mustn't be a lot of re-
strictions. I want the girls who live there to use it
as though it were their own home. I have every con-
fidence that they'll make a happy household with just
a little sympathy and encouragement, and," she
smiled, "I hope my example!"

"It's perfectly wonderful!" cried Grace. "And it's
just like you!"


"Humph! It's perfectly selfish on my part; I ex-
pect to have a lot of fun getting it started; maybe the
girls will let me dig in the garden now and then.
There'll be a garden and tennis courts, and they must
have a dance once a week, and I might drop in occa-

"Oh, they'll adore you!"

"Well, I don't mean to bother them. There are
such houses in New York and Chicago and I'm going
to visit them and get all the practical ideas I can
before I say anything about it. I need some one to
help me collect data and look after the thousand
and one details of planning. We'll call it a secretary-
ship. Now, Grace," and Miss Reynolds beamed on
her, "will you help me?"

"Why, Miss Reynolds!"

"It might be just what you need right now," Miss
Reynolds went on, ignoring the girl's questioning,
troubled look. "In fact, my dear child, you put the
whole idea in my head by things you've dropped from
time to time about the problems of young business

"But now since you know "

"Dear child, it's knowing that makes me all the
more eager to have your help! It's only people who
make mistakes and suffer that really understand. And
we've got to have some heart in our club! So we'll
call it settled and we'll go to New York two weeks
from today and begin our work."


Grace's announcement at home that she was to
leave Shipley's to become Miss Reynold's secretary


greatly pleased her mother, who saw in the change
a social advancement. It was much more in keeping
with her idea of the Durland dignity for a daughter
of the house to serve a lady of wealth as secretary
than to be selling ready-made-clothing. And Mrs.
Durland hoped Grace would appreciate the privilege
of becoming identified with so praiseworthy a philan-

Ethel, possibly jealous of Miss Reynolds's growing
interest in Grace, expressed at once her concern as
to proper religious influences in the proposed club.
She confessed to disappointment that Miss Reynolds
had not manifested more interest in the girls' club
in Dr. Ridgely's church. Miss Reynolds might very
easily have given the church the benefit of the money
she would spend on an independent work. It was not
quite loyal, she thought, to the church and all it stood
for; but she hoped the souls of the young women who
lived in the club would be properly cared for and that
Dr. Ridgely would be on the board; she favored strong
boards to administer such institutions.

"There ain't goin' to be no board," Grace answered
cheerily, "of the kind you mean. The girls are going
to run the place themselves."

"Then it won't last long. I have no faith in such

"Better get some, Sis. Miss Reynolds knows what
she's about. She's hoping others will follow her
example and make a chain of such clubs."

Grace learned from her father that there had been
no developments in the motor since Kemp's death;:
he didn't know where he stood, but Trenton had been
encouraging as to the outcome. The reorganization
made necessary by the absorption of the Cummings
concern was causing the delay, Durland thought.


"Trenton's a busy man these days, but he's spent
several evenings with me at the shop. He's a big
man; he knows what he's about and he's been mighty
fine to me."

"I'm glad of that, daddy. I'm sure Mr. Trenton
would tell you if he didn't mean to go through with it."

"I think you're right, Grace. It's a little hard
waiting and I've done a lot of waiting in my time."

"You dear! We've got to believe the patient waiter
gets the biggest tips that's our slogan!"

She tapped him lightly on the shoulder as she
spoke, keeping time to her words. He didn't know
how his praise of Trenton had warmed her heart.
The fact that he saw Trenton and no doubt would
continue to meet him frequently gave her father a
new interest in her eyes.

Grace saw Miss Reynolds every few days, and was
finding relief and happiness in the prospect of her
new work. Irene expressed the greatest satisfaction
when Grace told her that she was leaving Shipley's.

"It's more in your line, Grace. And I certainly
hand it to Little Old Ready-Money for having the
sense to appreciate you. If she haoln't been the real
goods she'd have backed away when you told her about
Ward. Some woman, I say! It does sort of cheer
things up to know there are people like that in the
world. By the way, have you seen John lately?"

"Not since Tommy died."

"Well, there's another of the saints!" said Irene.
"He's pretending now he doesn't know we were on
a wild party and that he saved our reputations. He
won't talk about it; not at all! So don't try to thank
him. Tommy's estate is going through Sanders's of-
fice and John's no end busy. He's getting acquainted
with Ward funny how things work out! But if John


has any idea about you and Ward he never lets on. I
thought you might like to know that."

"Well, he's probably done some thinking," Grace
replied soberly; "John isn't stupid."

"He's my idea of a prince, if you ask me! He's
making a big hit with my family; mother thinks he's
the grandest young man who ever came up the pike.
She's got him carrying all his mending and darning
out to her to do and he's so nice to her I'm getting


Roy came home for a week-end, but only after his
mother had written him repeatedly urging a visit. He
had really been at work Mrs. Durland had this from
the Dean of the Law School but his enthusiasm for
the profession his mother had chosen for him was still
at low ebb. He wanted to find work on a newspaper;
he wanted to go West; anything was preferable to
setting up as a lawyer in an office of his own. It was
disclosed that Mrs. Durland had arranged to mort-
gage the house to raise money with which to establish
him. But it was the definite announcement of her
purpose to bring Roy's wife home immediately after
commencement, that the young couple might, as Mrs.
Durland put it, begin their life together, that pre-

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Online LibraryMeredith NicholsonBroken barriers → online text (page 25 of 27)