Rose Emmet Young.

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By Eose E. Young

Author of " Sally of Missouri"


Cbe Fttecrsibc press, Cambribo*


Published February










FROM the depot at Penangton, Morning
County, Missouri, to the one line of street-
cars it is ten miles. Henderson figured that
out for himself, as he stumbled irritably over
the rough road, across the bridge, up the
plank walk, to the car. It was an October
evening, and the day was trailing off in a
gray, shining halation that was neither mist
nor fog, but dancing haze. Henderson saw
far-away houses brooded over by gray wings ;
he saw rickety wheels of gray spiked by the
small gleam of the street-lamps ; and he saw
occasional people work up out of, and twist
back into, the farther distance in gray spirals.
The whole town and the hills beyond it were


one wavering, lightening, darkening scheme
of gray, except where, far to the west, a
stretch of red lay along the sky.

As he came on toward the car, Henderson
had a half-dashed, half-defiant look in his
eyes. " You 're a pretty cuss ! " he mumbled
once or twice. " Better have stayed in Chi-
cago in the first place. Better have stayed in
Dixburn in the last place. Penangton ! "
He looked about him disgustedly. To the
west he could distinguish the outline of a
tall building, shadowy and uncertain in the
gloom ; he picked out the white letters across
its sides : " P-e-n-r-y-n M-i-1-l-s." He looked
to the east, and saw a straggling line of
sheds. He read the letters on their sides
easily enough, because his eyes had become
accustomed to the first part of the combina-
tion : " Penryn C-o-a-1 Penryn Coal P-o-c-
Penryn Coal Pockets." He stopped half-
way up the plank walk, dropped his heavy
traveling-case, and worked the fingers of
his aching hand. His eyes, sweeping south-


ward, were caught by a trim brick building
beyond the depot. It had white letters across
its front. " The first word is Penryn," said
Henderson, at a guess. " No, the first word

is T-h-o-r-l-e-y. Thorley-P-e-n-r Uh-unh !

I knew Penryn would be along. Now what 's
the rest ? Thorley-Penryn S-e-r-o-t-h-e-r
Oh, go to the dickens ! " he finished impo-
tently. " I don't care what you are." Still
farther south he descried the headstones of
a cemetery. " Good ! One can at least die
in Penangton. I'll bet the tallest shaft is
named Penryn." The night's blacker shadow
leaped up out of the earth then, and the
haze became thick gloom. The last red flare
was gone from the west. Two men came up
the plank walk toward Henderson.

" Coolish night," he heard one saying, as
they clacked off northward.

" Brrrt ! It is a coolish night," said Hen-
derson to himself. He turned to pick up his
valise, but for some reason his hands went
together first, and he clinched them tightly.


" A coolish night," he heard himself re-
peating, with a wandering intonation. Then
he shook himself threateningly. " Oh, I '11
try again. Of course I '11 try," he said ;
but he said it like a man who is trying to
anaesthetize his soul ; and when he got into
the car, the look in his eyes was more dis-
tinctively dashed than defiant.

"Is there a driver? " he by and by asked
wistfully of the one other occupant of the

" Yes, there 's a driver," the other occu-
pant looked out of the window at a frame
house which stood just where the plank walk
ended and the brick pavement and the car
track began, " but there 's also a saloon."

Henderson bit his lower lip in a confiden-
tial enjoyment of the quality of that voice.
There was a note in it of standing things
good-naturedly when they couldn't be

" I wonder if there 's no way of breaking
the connection ? " he said, getting back to


the driver and the saloon with a jerk. He
went to the car door and hallooed at the
frame house. A man came to the door.

" Dave ain't quite ready yet," called the
man, thickly but genially. "Jes wait a
minute till he wets his whis'le, will you ? "

It seemed the thing to do under the circum-
stances. The air had the crispness of early
autumn, and Henderson saw that the woman
in the car felt it ; so he shut the door and
came patiently back to his seat.

" It 's just one of Penangton's ways," she
explained, with a funny little lift of her

Henderson took his lower lip into confi-
dence again and poised himself in mid-air,
as it were on the sound of that voice. It
had so many kinds of suggestion in it. She
had said only two sentences to him, but the
first had made him aware that whatever was
worth laughing at in the world she was ready
to laugh at, and the next had made him
aware that she had run the gamut of Penang-


ton from end to end. After the atony of the
past few weeks he was glad of his rising
interest in that voice, in anything. His soul,
he knew, was somewhere near in the same
tense attitude his body had assumed out on
the plank walk, but he had a desire to tell
his soul to shut up, to come along, to make
the best of it.

" It 's quite a town, Penangton ? "

" The lamp is sputtering," said the woman,
in reply. " Could n't you turn the wick
higher? Oh, goodness, it's going out!
Why, there 's no oil in it."

They both got up hurriedly, but the lamp
was too far gone for rescue. It began to
smoke dismally.

" I '11 go get the driver," said Henderson.
" Just wait here a minute." He jumped off
the car and ran up the steps to the saloon.
Presently he came back, shaking his head.
"The driver's drunk for fair," he said.
" Everybody in there 's drunk. What '11 we



"Couldn't you drive?" she asked mer-

He looked down the silent street and his
eyes lit up a little. " I '11 drive you home,
if you '11 let me," he said, with decision. " I
can just do it." He ran through to the front
of the car, and unwound the reins from the
brake. The mules stirred slowly and sorrow-
fully. "Shall I?" asked Henderson. The
woman began to laugh. " Do you live on the
car-line?" went on Henderson gleefully. He
laughed, too. It seemed good to be pulling
his soul along out of its tragics into some-
thing humorous and commonplace. " Come
up ! " He shook the reins out over the mules.
" It 's my idea to drive until I stop to let you
out, then drive on a little farther, and leave
the car standing on the track, while I cut for
an hotel. Do you think it will work? The
mules seem to like to stand." His voice broke
up into little chuckles, like a schoolboy's.

The woman came out on the front platform
to him. She could hardly talk for laughing.


" It will work," she said, " unless somebody
else gets on the car."

Henderson's face wrinkled a little, but he
shot the leather quirt out over the mules
briskly. "Nobody will get on," he said.
" I '11 never be able to stop this team." He
felt so exhilarated that it was like pain. The
car began to make a great banging noise that
just suited him. The way the sparks flew
from the hoofs of the mules just suited him.
The way that woman leaned back against
the car door and laughed just suited him.
It was all so entirely on the outside. There
was nothing introspective about it. He
looked back at her gayly. "I hope you
live at the other end of the line?" he

"About half way."

" I hope it 's a long line."

" About two miles, not counting the rough-

" Don't count the roughness. Nothing



" That 's it, nothing counts. Is n't this
a lark?"

Henderson nodded brightly. " Will it be
dark like this all the way ? " he asked ; and
when she said yes, he began to sing the first
bars of a gay little air under his breath ; the
woman sang too, both of them holding their
voices down cautiously.

" Don't you ever finish things ? " she com-
plained finally, after trying in vain to adapt
her voice to Henderson's many-tuned mel-

" No," said Henderson. "No; I don't like
the finish of anything." He moved back
to where she was, and leaned against the
car frame, with the reins dangling carelessly.
"The beginning is always so much more

She rocked her head on the door-jamb at
her back. " Mmh ! I don't know."-

" Oh, yes ! " cried Henderson. " In the
beginning you have the beginning and all
you can imagine about the end."


"But in the end you have the end and
all you can remember about the begin-

" Remember ! " It was a bad word for
Henderson. Something like a shiver passed
over him. " I '11 back imagination, anticipa-
tion, against memory, seven days in the week,
won't you ? "

" Hold in your mule steeds here," said the
woman. " Steady for the corner."

They swung around the corner, and started
on a gentle down grade between two rows
of splendid trees. " Say," said Henderson,
following her lead like a happy child, and
shunting the conversation off on a side track
again, " say, are n't you cold ? "

"No, indeed. Is n't this air fine ? That's
one good thing we have in Penangton."

" What other good things do you have in
Penangton ? "

" Oh, mills and coal-mines and an academy.
Then there 's the county," she gave a
wide sweep of her arm which seemed to skip


over the town and encircle something out-
side it, " wheat !"

" Many doctors here ? "

She looked back into the car at the small
case which sat beside his large one. " Oh !
I see. Yes, there are a great many doc-

"What school?"

" Two who get their bills paid eventually,
two who forget to send out bills, and one

Henderson propped one foot on the splash-
board of the car. " The last class seems to
invite as being least crowded," he commented

" Well, I don't know ; if it comes to that,
they are all more or less rascals, at least
they don't believe in themselves. That 's a
pretty bad sort of rascality, you know. Are
you coming here to live ? " she asked sud-
denly, turning her face toward him.

" Like as not."

" Well, if you do, there 's one thing in


Penangton you want to look out for.
There 's one thing that is n't a good thing.
It 's Penrynism."


" It 's the money disease. Some doctors
get it. The rascal here has it."

Henderson dropped his head, and whacked
at his shoes with the butt of his quirt. " I
expect I'll get it, then. I feel particularly
susceptible to infection of that kind just at
this writing." Immediately he was as sombre
as he had been out there on the plank walk ;
his merriment had been a thin cloak, after
all, and it had worn through.

"Slow up now," said the woman next.
"I'm almost home. Just around this last


He drew his breath in sharply, and made
the mules take the corner very slowly. He
made them go slower yet when he found
that he was on a street where the trees were
so big and so close together, and the street-
lamps were so little and so far apart, that it


was as black as Egypt, and as mysteriously

"Stop. I'm home."

" Now you see," said Henderson ruefully,
" why I hate the end of things." He stepped
down to help her from the car.

" Remember the beginning. Oh, you
are going to have to learn to stand remem-
bering," she insisted, laughing lightly.
" Here, this is my gate."

He ran ahead and opened it for her, and
as she passed through he lifted his hat high
and made her a sweeping bow. " I 'd rather
hope it is n't the end," he said.

She only laughed again, and stood looking
at him for a short moment. " I think it is.
But it was a nice ride. I shan't forget it.
Good-night." She called back another cheer-
ful good-night, as she went up the walk,
while Henderson, at the gate, watched her,
with a lonely look on his face. Ahead of her
he traced out a big frowning house-front,
across the lower part of which ran a light


veranda, like a misplaced smile. When the
door had opened to her, she paused for a
moment in the light from the hall, with her
face turned his way ; then the door shut
quietly. Henderson rubbed his hand softly
over the brass head of the low gate-post,
until presently his eyes traveled to it.
" P-e-n-r-y-n," he spelled unseeingly. When
he did begin to see it, he said flat-footedly,
" Well, I 'm damned ! " and turned back to
his mules.

They were gone. As far down the street
as he could see, there was no sign of them.
" Now, how the mischief am I to find my
way ? " mused Henderson, without concern.
" Follow the track," suggested common sense.
" Follow, follow ! " supplemented romance
fancifully ; " a track must lead from the be-
ginning to the ending. So light her up, Fate,
kind lady ; we follow." With that Hender-
son looked at the Penryn house purposefully.

He was sure the car-track would pass an
hotel somewhere, and he had turned but


another corner when he came upon one, with
the car and the sad mules standing before it.
A crowd of mild-looking men were around the

"But how you going to account for
the satchels ? " one man was asking, with
the hope of excitement vibrating blithely in
his voice.

Henderson got into the crowd at this junc-
ture. " I '11 account for the satchels," he vol-
unteered. " You '11 find my name on them,
Henderson. I left them in the car while I
went into the saloon for the driver. The
mules ambled off while I was out of the car."
It was a long hiatus, but Henderson saw that
there was no need of bridging it over; that
the men around him were used to the driver,
the saloon, and the mules.

Once in the hotel, he went directly to his
room, took off his top-coat, and sat down in
front of a comfortably glowing grate. " Very
beautiful," he said, straight at the red coals.
For a few minutes longer a half-blunted


interest remained in his face ; then his hands
spread out weakly on the arms of the chair
and he dropped his chin as though he were
going down in his clothes with the shame-
faced resolution never to come up again.

Slowly and reluctantly his mind went back
over his most recent past, the Illinois days.
First of all came the medical college in Chi-
cago ; and clearest of all was the vision of
Alden, the dean, on the rostrum before the
class, his burning eyes throwing off some kind
of illumination, conviction radiating from
every inch of his long, swaying body. And
loudest of all rang the recollection of Alden's
voice, high and quivering in its advocacy of
the Hahnemannian creed, the beauty of the
" law," the totality of the symptoms, the cen-
tral modality ; or fiercely earnest in its de-
nunciation of routinism, specifics, prescribing
in the lump. Ah, Alden had believed. That
had been the intrinsic beauty of sitting under
him. Henderson's perception had always
been of the keenest, and Henderson, of all


the men and women who had listened to
Alden, and learned of him, in the first four
years of the college's struggle for existence,
had been the one to carry away with him
the deepest impress of Alden's spirit. He,
of them all, had gone out from the college
doors with the feeling most strong upon him
that he had had a glorious bath in some deep,
clean current of ethics. He had never been
able to account to himself for Alden's influ-
ence upon him. Before he went up to college
he had been commonplace enough, a quick,
shrewd fellow, with a good business head,
acute sympathies, and one strong inclination
in the world, the inclination to study
medicine ; but when he left Alden he was
like a finely charged wire, across which
hummed and sang concepts of his profession
as the " noble profession," the scientific pos-
sibilities of the " noble profession," life as
an opportunity for the " noble profession,"
all that went to make Alden's lif e like a



And what happened? What always hap-
pens to the young physician who hasn't
money enough to wait three years for pa-
tients, and abide by the Code while waiting ?
He had first " located " in Chicago, in a
South Side boarding-house ; a little later he
had located in a town in central Illinois ;
and after that he had variously located all
over the state, until he found himself at
Dixburn, in southern Illinois. Henderson's
memory could linger in any one of the half
dozen towns that had preceded Dixburn, and
could find in each something halfway pleasant
or halfway worthwhile ; but Dixburn had been
hell from start to finish. He had to admit that
his acute sufferings in Dixburn had had no
better or bigger excuse than that his clothes
had begun there to show signs of irreparable
wear, and he had had no money for new
ones. Something psychical worked itself out
in him during the second month that he
loafed and suffered around that sun-baked
Illinois town. It might have been change,


or it might have been development, or
it might have been reversion. " I have
got down to my clothes," was the way
he passed judgment upon himself ; and, as
he had the time, he began to outline, with
some contemptuous amusement, the sort of
man he would have been if it had happened
that he had never been influenced by Alden.
When he had put himself to himself as
" ordinary," he went under a wet blanket
of conviction that he must get at life on a
different plane ; that he had been keyed up
too high in the beginning. A little later on
in that last month, there had come a day
when one of his shoes cracked straight across
the top ; and in the black, helpless cursing
that Henderson stuffed into the crack he
checked off self-potentialities never before
suspected. As he sat and glared at the shoe,
he told himself unqualifiedly that he was
done with trying to meet the conditions of
lif e in the Alden way ; that he was ready to
do anything now for money, money ! and


that Fate would better not tempt him. His
face assumed too sharp an expression ; it
became the face of a man in danger of over-
reaching himself, in his greediness for gain.
He felt sure that, if opportunity had come
his way, he would have done things that
much worse men than he never do. The
whiteness and the fineness of Alden's in-
fluence lifted from him entirely, and circled
off above him with a cool backward fan-

Then a medical magazine offered a prize
of one hundred and fifty dollars for the best
essay on The Physician as Friend, and Hen-
derson, with rebellion and blasphemy and
battered-down belief in his heart, wrote eth-
ically, and got the one hundred and fifty
dollars. Inevitably, the next thing he did
was to buy some shoes. That the ethical
should have stretched out a hand to him
with a purse in it just at this moment half
frightened him. He walked about Dixburn

in his new shoes for another month in crushed


incompetency, and when he crossed over to
Penangton he was still effectually flattened
out. The truth was, he told himself in final
review, as he sat there with his face tucked
away from the comfort in the grate, the
truth was that he had primed himself for
wickedness in Dixburn, had hung around and
waited for temptation, and temptation had
not come. Instead of temptation had come a
chance of the right sort. " But if the wrong
sort of chance had come," Henderson pointed
out to his soul, with that pitilessly keen in-
sight that was his, "if the wrong sort had
come, and I had profited by it more than by
the one hundred and fifty, I wonder, my
Soul, if you would be whining around now
like an abused house-cat ? "

He tumbled into bed a few minutes later,
glad to find that he was sleepy. Before he
was done felicitating himself upon that fact
he sat up, staringly awake. " If I don't win
out here," he said, as though he had dragged
up a large conclusion from the edge of the


land of dreams, " if I don't win out here,
I '11 never win out. It 's now or never, and
I don't think I '11 ever forget how she looked
there in that doorway." The dying gleam
in the grate shot up and broke into small
gaseous bubbles as he lay back on his

When he had dressed and breakfasted,
the next morning, and had made his way to
the street, he felt immeasurably better. He
sat down in one of the loafing-chairs outside
the hotel door, and smoked, with two clearly
defined notions in his head : one was to finish
his cigar, and the other was to beat back
along that car-track to the house whose
door had opened and shut in front of him
the night before. Every time he thought of
the woman who had stood framed in that
door, he found his determination to stay in
Penangton strengthening. He was very near
the end of his cigar, and very near the be-
ginning of a dream, when a man stopped in
front of him.



" Scrape my shins if 't ain't ! " said the
man, holding out his hand. The big, assert-
ive voice pushed through Henderson's dream
like a steam-roller, and bowled him back,
willy-nilly, to the medical college, Alden,
and the Chicago days.

" Oh, you, Thorley ? How d' you do ? "
Henderson's greeting was slow, but it had
the amiability that curls off the end of a good
cigar, and he got up and shook hands with
the man, whom he could place as one of the
fellows of the '90 class. He had not seen
Thorley since the finish in April, two years
and more before, and he hardly recognized
him because of the bushy side-whiskers on
his face. Still, when he came to think of it,
it was inevitable that Thorley should have
sprung those whiskers. One never saw a
man with his kind of face who did n't sooner
or later come to side-whiskers, and stop
there permanently. All that Henderson
immediately recalled about him was that he
was the one chap at college who did n't have


to get "used" to the dissecting-room.
Thorley had n't sickened or blinked from the
first. And that odor of blood, still warm
enough to run, which sorely tried every
freshman's stomach in the operating-rooms,
had n't bothered Thorley in the least. He
had n't even noticed it, until a boy in front
of him reeled, and had to be swung out by
his shoulders and heels.

" Live here ? " asked Henderson.

" Yes. How are you making it ? " Thorley
laughed a good-natured, rollicking laugh as
soon as Henderson opened his mouth to
reply. " Need n't to tell me. About eighteen
of the twenty in the '90 class have told me
already. I 'm making it," he rounded off,
with a dogged down jerk of his head.

" How ? "

" Whiskey cure."

"Oh, Lord!"

" And morphine," went on Thorley, un-

"What 's your your cure ? " Henderson


smiled down at Thorley from the heights of
the Code, as he nicked the ash from his cigar.

" Something new. It 's a serotherapy

Henderson's smile became a deep-lunged
laugh, and Thorley's round eyes twinkled.

" Hair of the dog for the bite," Thorley
insisted. " Only mine 's cows. It 's simple."
His eyes fairly danced. " Inoculate a cow
with alcohol ; then draw off the serum from
the cow's blood, and use as an antidote for
inebriety. You 'd be surprised at the way it
works, Henderson."

For a moment Henderson made no reply ;
a direct- line of comparison had projected it-
self from the face of Thorley, standing there
with his fat neck spilling over his collar, to
the face of Alden, all aglow with splendid
dignity. "You've got a long way from
Alden," he demurred at last.

" Oh, Alden hell ! " said Thorley, with a
short laugh which stayed good-natured.
" Alden's wife has enough money for him to


live on. Mine has n't. That 's the difference
between me and Alden." He rocked back
on his heels easily. " Going to be here long ? "
he asked.


" I tell you what you do," suggested Thor-
ley quickly, and with some emphasis. " Come
up and see my sanitarium. And say, one of
these days I '11 take you out to the depot and
show you the Thorley-Penryn Serotherapy
Stables, where we draw off anti-alcoholic
serum for alcoholism."

" Quack, quack, quack ! " laughed Hen-
derson ; and Thorley went off with his own

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Online LibraryRose Emmet YoungHenderson [a novel] → online text (page 1 of 8)