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cipitated a crisis in Ethel's relations with her family.

The baby would be born in August and Mrs. Dur-
land contended that the family dignity would suffer
far less if Roy announced his marriage when he left
the university and joined his wife in his father's house
at Indianapolis.

Ethel was outraged by the plan. She would not
live under the same roof with that creature; and she


availed herself of the opportunity to tell Roy what
she thought of him. He had always been petted and
indulged; his mother had favored him over the other
children; they had all been obliged to practice the
most rigid self-denial to educate him, and this was
the result!

Roy surlily martyrized himself in meeting his sis-
ter's attack. He had never wanted to go to college;
he hated the law and if it hadn't been for John Moore's
stupid meddling he would have extricated himself
from the scrape with the girl he had been forced to

"I never thought you'd really do it, mother," Ethel
moaned. "I didn't think you'd be cruel enough to
visit this shame on me. Everybody will talk; we'll
be ostracized by all our friends."

Grace's attempt to restore harmony 1 only infuriated

"I've told Osgood the whole story," Ethel an-
nounced. "I felt that was the only honorable thing to
do and he's been splendid about it. We've been en-
gaged since Easter and he's ready to marry me at any
time. I'd hoped we'd be able to live at home for a
little while, but now I'm going! I can already feel
that abandoned creature in the house! Osgood has a
good offer in Cincinnati and I'll marry him tomorrow
and go away and never come back!"

"I would if I were you," said Grace, as Ethel
stalked from the room. "Safety first! Grab all the
life belts."

Ethel paused and pointed an accusing finger at

"You! You're a pretty one to talk!"

Stephen Durland raised his head, coughed and re-
turned to his reading. Roy announced that he was go-


ing down town. The front door slammed upon him
and Mrs. Durland burst into tears.

"You don't think you don't think Ethel means
she's going!"

"I certainly hope she means it," Grace replied wear-
ily. "Osgood's not a bad fellow and maybe he can beat
some sense into her."


Grace had never been in New York before and Miss
Reynolds gave her every opportunity to see the sights.
The investigation of devices for housing business
women Miss Reynolds pursued with her usual through-
ness, broadening her inquiry to include a survey of
the general social effort in the metropolis. She accepted
no invitations in which Grace could not be included,
with the result that they dined or had luncheon in half
a dozen private homes, and were entertained in fash-
ionable restaurants and at the Colony Club.

"You're so good to me!" said Grace one night when
they reached their hotel after a dinner at the house
of some old friends of Miss Reynolds. "All the
guests were somebody except me! I wonder what
they'd think if they knew that only a little while ago
I was Number Eighteen in Shipley's!"

"They knew you were good to look at," Miss Rey-
nolds replied, "and talked well and had very pretty
manners. Nothing else was any of their business."

"But sometimes sometimes, Cousin Beulah, when
your friends are so kind and treat me so beautifully,
I can't help thinking that if they knew about me "

"My dear Grace, this busy world's a lot kinder
than it gets credit for being! Even if the world knew
it wouldn't condemn you."


They had visited a settlement house on the East
Side one morning and were driving to Washington
Square for luncheon with a friend of Miss Reynolds
who lived in one of the old houses which she said
Grace ought to see.

"We're a bit early for our engagement," Miss Rey-
nolds remarked as they reached Broadway. "We've
got half an hour to look at Trinity."

They walked quickly through the yard, that Grace
might experience the thrill of reading the historic
names on the grave-stones, and entered the church.
It was the noon hour and sightseers mingling with the
employees from the towering buildings came and went.
Miss Reynolds and Grace sat down in a pew near
the door. A service was in progress and Grace, un-
familiar with liturgic churches, at once fixed her at-
tention on the chancel. The minister's voice recit-
ing the office, the sense of age communicated by the
walls of the edifice, all had their effect on her. She
felt singularly alone. The heartache that had troubled
her little since she left home again became acute.
Here was peace, but it was a peace that mocked rather
than calmed the spirit. . . .

. . . "We humbly beseech thee for all sorts and
conditions of men." . . .

The mournful cadence of the prayer only increased
her loneliness. She was like a child who, watching night
descend in a strange place, is overcome by a stifling
nostalgia. Her throat ached with inexpressible emo-
tions; her heart fluttered like a wild bird in her breast.
She knew she wanted Trenton; nothing else mattered;
no one else could ever fill his place. She bowed her
head and her lips trembled.

A man walked hesitatingly down the aisle and slip-
ped into a pew in front of her. Apparently he was


one of the many who were seeking relief from the
world's turmoil. She remained motionless, staring.
It was unbelievable that it could be Trenton; and yet
beyond question it was he. His coming was like an
answer to prayer. She recalled what he had written
after his illness, that he had thought of her once so
intently that he had brought her into the room. . . .

She remembered that he had once told her that
his New York office was near Trinity. Perhaps it
was his habit to drop in as he passed.

Miss Reynolds, turning the pages of a prayer book,
evidently had not noticed, or had failed to recognize
him. Presently she glanced at her watch, touched
Grace's arm and nodded that it was time to go. As
they paused in the entry to look at the bronze doors
Grace decided not to tell her friend that Trenton was
in the church; but suddenly he stood beside them.

"This is surely more than a coincidence," he said,
smiling gravely as he shook hands. "I pass here every
day but I hadn't been in before for years. But to-
day "

They walked together to the gate, Grace silent,
Miss Reynolds and Trenton discussing the weather
to cover their embarrassment. Grace, still awed by
his appearance, saw that he looked careworn; even
when he smiled at some remark of Miss Reynolds his
eyes scarcely brightened.

"I have a taxi here somewhere." Miss Reynolds
was glancing about uncertainly when the machine
drew in at the curb.

"Are you staying in town long?" asked Trenton as
he opened the cab door.

"Only a few days," Miss Reynolds replied guard-
edly. "Grace and I are here on a little business. I
wonder "


Without finishing the sentence she stepped into the
car and gave the Washington Square address. Trenton
rousing as he realized that they were about to leave
him, bent forward and took Grace's hand.

"It's so good to see you!" he said steadily. "I'm
going West tonight. Mrs. Trenton's been very ill;
she's in a sanitarium in Connecticut." Then, aware
that he couldn't detain them longer, "Miss Reynolds,
I'm sure you and Miss Durland will take good care of
each other!"

"Goodbye," said Grace faintly and watched him
disappear in the crowd.

"I was going to ask him to come and dine with us,"
said Miss Reynolds when the car was in motion, "but
I changed my mind. And now I wish I could change
it again!"

"I'm glad you didn't," Grace answered colorlessly.
"It would have been a mistake."

"Well, perhaps." And Trenton was not referred to

But all the rest of the day Grace lived upon the
memory of his look, his voice. He was still in a world
she knew; any turn of the long road might bring him
in sight again.

A week in Chicago followed a fortnight in New
York and Grace had filled a large portfolio with notes
and pamphlets bearing upon Miss Reynolds's pro-
jected house for business girls. Her mother's letters
had kept her informed of family affairs and she was
prepared to find Ethel gone and Roy's wife estab-
lished in the house. Ethel had refused to be married
at home and the ceremony had been performed by


Dr. Ridgely in his study, with only Mrs. Durland
present to represent the family. Ethel and Haley had
left at once for Cincinnati, where they were to make
their home.

"I did the best I could about it, Grace," Mrs.
Durland kept repeating pathetically. "I hated to
have her go that way, but she would do it. She said
some pretty unkind things to your father after you
left, and he didn't go to see her married."

For Sadie, the new member of the family, Grace
formed an immediate liking. The girl was so anxious
to be friendly and to do her share of the domestic
labor and so appreciative of kindness that she brought
a new element of cheer into the household. She was
intelligent, and amusing, after a slangy fashion; even
Stephen Durland laughed at her jokes.

Grace found that her position as secretary to Miss
Reynolds was far from being a sinecure. She was
present at all the conferences with the architect who
had now been engaged, and when the announcement
of the new club for business girls could no longer
be deferred it fell to Grace's lot to answer the letters
that poured in upon Miss Reynolds. A bedroom was
fitted up as an office and there Grace spent half of
every day, keeping accounts, typing letters and an-
swering the importunities of the telephone.

One day in June Grace went to Judge Sanders'
office on an errand for Miss Reynolds. It was merely
a matter of leaving an abstract of title for examina-
tion, but as she was explaining what was wanted to
the office girl John Moore came out of one of the
inner rooms.

"Caught in the act!" he exclaimed. "I've just been
hankering to see you. Can't you give me a few min-
utes, right now?"


She was really in a hurry, but when he earnestly
protested that he had business with her ske followed
him into a room whose door bore the inscription: "Mr.

"That looks terribly important, John," she said
indicating the lettering. "Onward and upward!"

"Well," he said, when they were seated. "Mr.
Kemp's death has thrown a lot of business into the
office and some of it that doesn't require much brain
power they leave to me. Mr. Trenton just left a
few minutes ago. He came in to see if I'd go down
into Knox County to inventory a coal mine Kemp
owned. I'm getting a lot of little jobs like that."

She smiled, as he wanted her to, at his boyish pride
in his work. She derived a deep pleasure from the
thought that Trenton had just been there. Trenton
would appreciate John's qualities; they would ap-
preciate each other's qualities and talents.

"Maybe you don't know," John went on, "and
maybe I oughtn't to tell you; but right here on my
desk are the papers for your father to sign away
his rights in his motor patents and his formula for
that non-breakable spark plug porcelain you prob-
ably know about. Your father's coming in tomorrow
to sign up. Mr. Trenton has left a check here for
advance royalties that will pay the Durland grocery
bill for sometime to come!"

"Do you mean it, John! I'd been afraid Mr.
Kemp's death would end all that."

"Trenton's the whole cheese in that business now
and he knows what he's doing. He says those two
things are bound to earn your father a lot of money."

"Father certainly deserves any success that may
come to him. I'm so glad for him and mother just


now when things at home don't look particularly

"You're thinking of Roy? Well, Roy will get his
law degree but that boy had no more business in the
law than I'd have in a millinery shop. I sneaked him
up here last Sunday and had Mr. Trenton take a
look at him. You know Roy's a smart, likable chap,
with a friendly way of meeting people and I thought
maybe there was a job somewhere in the Kemp organi-
zation that he'd fit into."

"I don't know " began Grace, doubtfully, remem-
bering Roy's anger at John's meddling.

"Oh, Roy took it fine! Mr. Trenton's taken a
fancy to him; in fact they liked each other immensely.
Roy's to get his sheepskin and then go right into
the Kemp factory for six months to get an idea of
the business and then transfer to the sales depart-

"Why, John, that's wonderful!" exclaimed Grace.
"You don't know how relieved I am."

"You're not half as relieved as Roy is to dodge the
law," John chuckled. "That boy will make good.
I'd told Mr. Trenton all about him and he was as
kind to him as a father. Roy wanted me to ask you to
spring the news on his mother. She's so keen about
having him a lawyer that he's afraid to tell her him-

"Yes, John; I'll do it tonight. And thank you I
Oh, thank you for everything!"


Stephen Durland's announcement that tke Kemp
Company had taken up the option on his motor and


made a contract for the manufacture of the porcelain
tempered in some degree his wife's disappointment
when Grace broke the news that Roy had renounced
the law. Mrs. Durland took comfort in the fact that
Roy had really passed the law examinations and was
admitted to practice with the rest of his class. This
measurably satisfied her family pride by enrolling
Roy on the list of attorneys of his state in succession
to his grandfather and great-grandfather. Roy, how-
ever, was much less thrilled by this than by the pros-
pect of having at once employment that he felt was
within his powers. The idea of making machinery had
never interested him, but the idea of selling it appealed
to him strongly and for the first time in his life he
found himself in sympathy and accord with his father.

Stephen Durland had money in the bank and was
reasonably sure of a good income for the remainder
of his life. The Kemp publicity department had given
wide advertisement to his discoveries, and several tech-
nical journals had asked for photographs of the in-
ventor, the taking of which Grace joyfully super-
vised. A kind fate having intervened to prevent the
mortgaging of the old home Mrs. Durland was now
considering selling it and satisfying the great desire
of her heart by moving beyond the creek.

Ethel, hearing of the family's unexpected pros-
perity, had been up for a visit, and returned to
Cincinnati with a supply of linens for her apartment.
Her mother thought it only fair that she should par-
ticipate in the good luck that had at last overtaken
the Durlands and Grace agreed with her. Haley's
earnings were meager and Ethel received the gift gra-
ciously. She even volunteered a few generous words
to her young sister-in-law, about whom she admitted
she might have been mistaken.


Durland declined to become interested in the pro-
posed change of residence. In fact he continued to
appear dazed by his good fortune and Grace, for years
familiar with his moods, was mystified by his conduct.

One evening when they were alone on the front
porch she asked a question about affairs at the fac-
tory, really in the hope that he would speak of Tren-
ton. When he had answered perfunctorily that every-
thing was running smoothly and that they would be
ready to put the new motor on the market in six
months he remarked that Trenton was away a good

"His wife's sick, you know; down East somewhere.
I guess he's had a good deal to worry him. When
he's in town he works hard. There's a lot to do
moving the stuff from Cummings's old , plant, and
putting up the new buildings."

"Mr. Trenton's certainly been a good friend to
you, daddy. But of course he wouldn't have taken
your patents if they hadn't been all they promised to

Durland turned his head to make sure they were
not overheard. Mrs. Durland was somewhere in the
house and Roy and Sadie had gone for a walk. Dur-
land cleared his throat and said in a low tone:

"I'd never have got those things right, Grace. Tren-
ton straightened me out on a lot o' points that were
too much for me. He worked with me every night for
a week till everything came right. He oughtn't to give
rne the credit."

"Now, daddy, that's just like you! Of course,
they're all your ideas! But it was fine of Mr. Trenton
to help you round them out."

"It was more than that, Grace," Durland persisted


This, then, was the cause of her father's preoccu-
pation and the embarrassment with which he had been
hearing himself praised. It was Trenton's genius,
not his, that had perfected the motor! Something
sweet and wistful like the scents of the summer night
crept into her heart. She was happy, supremely
happy, in the thought that Trenton had done this,
given her father the benefit of his skill, and for her.
Yes; it was all for her, and for those close and dear
to her. But her father's confession moved her
greatly. The light from the window fell upon his hand,
which seemed to her to symbolize failure as it hung
inert from the arm of his chair.

"Oh, lots of inventors must accept help from ex-
perts, when they've got as far as they can by them-
selves. Don't you worry about that! I'm sure it
was a pleasure to Mr. Trenton to help you over your
difficulties. He naturally wouldn't want any of the
credit when you did all the real work."

Durland shook his head impatiently.

"I couldn't have done it!" he said huskily. "I don't
understand even now how he got the results he did!"

"Oh, pshaw!" she exclaimed with a happy little
laugh. "No man would be so generous of his talents
as all that; men are not built that way."

But she knew that it was true, and that it was be-
cause Trenton loved her that he had saved her father
from another and crushing failure.


She was able to keep track of Trenton's movements
through Irene, who got her information from John.
Grace and Trenton were holding strictly to their


agreement not to see each other. Once, as she waited
for the traffic to break at Washington and Meridian
Streets, Trenton passed in a car. Craig was driving
and Trenton, absorbed in a sheaf of papers, didn't
lift his head. He was so near for a fleeting second
that she could have touched him. This, then, was to
be the way of it, their paths steadily diverging; or
if they met it would be as strangers who had ceased
to have any message for each other.

Sadie's baby was born in August and Roy mani-
fested an unexpected degree of paternal pride in his
offspring. The summer wore on to September. Now
and then as she surveyed herself in the mirror it
seemed to Grace that she was growing old and that
behind her lay a long lifetime, crowded with experi-
ence. She felt herself losing touch with the world.
Miss Reynolds, with all her kindness, was exacting,.
Grace saw no young people and her amusements were
few. Irene, who watched her with a keenly critical
eye, remarked frequently upon her good looks, declar-
ing that she was growing handsomer all the time.

"You won't really reach perfection till you're forty,"
said Irene, "and have some gray in your raven tresses.
I'll look like a fat yellow cucumber when I'm forty!"

Unless all signs failed Irene and John were deeply in
love with each other the old story of the attraction of
apparently irreconcilable natures.

"I've told John everything all about Tommy, of
course, to give him a chance to escape," Irene con-
fided. "But I didn't jar him a bit. That man's faith
would make a good woman of Jezabel. John's already
got some little jobs secretaryships of corporations
that Judge Sanders threw his way. He thinks we can
be married early next year and I'm studying real
estate ads. I've got enough money to make a pay-*


ment on a bungalow as far from Shipley's as a nickel
will carry me and there'll be a cow and a few choice
hens. Back to nature for me, dearie I"

"Oh, it's just marvelous!" cried Grace. "You and
John are bound to reach the high places. You've
got just the qualities John needs to help him get on.
When he goes into politics after while you'll be a big

"I think I might like a few years in Washington,"
Irene replied meditatively. "I've already joined up
with a woman's political club to learn how to fool 'em
all the timel"

"Isn't that just like you I"

"But, Grace "

"Yes; Irene."

"I love John." Irene's eyes filled with tears. I've
talked so much foolish nonsense to you about men, and
you must have thought me hard and sordid. I wouldn't
want you to think I married John just to escape from
myself. He's the grandest man in the world, and I'd
die before I'd injure him, or cause him a second's
heartache. You do believe that, don't you?"

"Yes; and it's dear and beautiful. I'm so glad for
both of you! I hope I know, you will be happy!"

A few days later Grace met John in the street and
he turned and walked with her a little way.
"I guess Irene's told you? Well, I want to tell you,
too ! " he said with his broadest smile.
i "Well, I didn't need to be told, John! I saw it
coming. And I congratulate you both with all my

"Yes; 1 1 knew you'd be glad, Grace," he said; then
his face grew grave. "You see Irene was troubled
a lot well about little mistakes she'd made. She was
mighty fine about that. When I found I loved her


and she loved me, nothing else made any difference.
And she's so strong and fine and splendid you just
know it was never in her heart to do wrong!"

"Yes, John," Grace replied, touched by his simple
earnestness, his fine tolerance, his anxiety that she
should know that Irene had withheld nothing of her
past that could ever cast a shadow upon their happi-

Late in September Miss Reynolds proposed to
Grace that they go to Colorado to look at the moun-
tains. The architect could be relied on to watch the
construction of the club house and Miss Reynolds in-
sisted that Grace had earned a vacation.

They established themselves in a hotel that com-
manded a view of a great valley with snowy summits
beyond and Grace tramped and rode and won a meas-
urable serenity of spirit. Miss Reynolds may have
thought that amid new scenes the girl would forget
Trenton, but the look that came into Grace's eyes
at times discouraged the hope. Then one evening, as
they sat in the hotel office reading their mail Miss
Reynolds laid a Denver newspaper on Grace's knee
and quietly pointed to a headline: "Death of Mary
Graham Trenton."

The end had come suddenly in the sanatarium
where Mrs. Trenton had been under treatment. Her
husband, the dispatch stated, was with her when
she died.

"She seemed ill when she was at my house," re-
marked Miss Reynolds; "she was frightfully nervous
and seemed to be constantly forcing herself. That
tired look in her eyes gave the impression of dissipa-
tion. I'm ashamed to say it but I really thought she
might be addicted to drugs."

"I'm sorry," Grace murmured, numbed, bewildered


by the news. She had never taken the reports of
Mrs. Trenton's illness seriously, believing Ward's wife
was feigning illness to arouse her husband's pity per-
haps in the hope of reawakening his love. It had never
occurred to her that she might die.

As soon as possible Grace excused herself and went
to her room, where she flung herself on the bed and
lay for a long time in the dark, pondering. In spite
of their agreement not to write she had hoped con-
stantly to hear from him; and his silence she had in-
terpreted as meaning that he had found it easy to
forget. She now attributed his silence to the remorse
that had probably assailed him when he found that
Mrs. Trenton was hopelssly ill.


Grace had been home a week when she received a
letter from Trenton, written in Pittsburgh. He was
closing up his home; looking after the settlement of
Mrs. Trenton's estate. She had bequeathed her con-
siderable property to the societies for social reform
in which she had been interested. He hoped to be
in Indianapolis shortly, he wrote, and continued:

. . . "My thoughts in these past weeks have
not been happy ones; but I must turn now to the
future. In my dark hours I have groped toward you,
felt the need of your leading hand. I love you. That
is the one great fact in the world. Whatever I have
left to me of life is yours; and it is now my right to
give it. ... It was my fate, not my fault, that
I learned to love you. Nothing can change that. Let
me begin over again and prove my love for you

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Online LibraryMeredith NicholsonBroken barriers → online text (page 26 of 27)