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The bacillus of beauty


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Title:TheBacillusofBeautyARomanceofTo-day
Author:HarrietStark
ReleaseDate:October,2005[EBook#9081][Yes,wearemorethanoneyear

aheadofschedule][ThisfilewasfirstpostedonSeptember4,2003]
Edition:10
Language:English
Charactersetencoding:ISO-8859-1
***STARTOFTHEPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKTHEBACILLUSOF


BEAUTY***

ProducedbySuzanneShell,RichardPrairieandDistributedProofreaders

BACILLUS
OF
BEAUTY
ARomanceofTo-day
BY
HARRIETSTARK
CONTENTS.


CHAPTER


BookI:TheBrokenChrysalis:
I.THEMETAMORPHOSISII.THEMOSTBEAUTIFULWOMANINTHE
WORLDIII.THEHORNETS’NESTIV.THEGODDESSANDTHEMOBV.
AHIGH-CLASSCONCERT
BookII:TheBirthoftheButterfly:
I.THEPSYCHOLOGICALMOMENTII.ASUNDAY-SCHOOLLESSON
III.THEQUESTOFKNOWLEDGEIV.GIRLBACHELORAND
BIOLOGISTV.THEFINDINGOFTHEBACILLUSVI.THEGREAT
CHANGEVII.THECOMINGOFTHELOVER
BookIII:TheJoyoftheSunshine:
I.CHRISTMASII.ALOOKINGOVERBYTHEPACKIII.SNARLINGAT
THECOUNCILROCKIV.INTHEINTERESTSOFMUSICV.APLAGUE
OFREPORTERSVI.LOVEISNOTHINGVII.LOVEISALLVIII.ALITTLE
BELATEDEARL
BOOKIV:TheBruisingoftheWings:
I.THEKISSTHATLIEDII.THEIRONYOFLIFEIII.THE
SUDDENNESSOFDEATHIV.SOMEREMARKSABOUTCATSV.THE


LOVEOFLORDSTRATHAYVI.LITTLEBROWNPARTRIDGESVII.
LETTERSANDSCIENCEVIII.ACHAPERONONACATTLETRAINIX.A
BURSTOFSUNLIGHTX.PLIGHTEDTROTH
BOOKV:TheEndoftheBeginning:
I.THEDEEDSOFTHEFARMII.CADGE’SASSIGNMENTIII.“P.P.C.”

BOOKI.

THEBROKENCHRYSALIS.


(FromtheShorthandNotesofJohnBurke.)



THEBACILLUSOFBEAUTY

CHAPTERI.

THEMETAMORPHOSIS.
NEWYORK,Sunday,Dec.16.
IamgoingtosetdownascalmlyandfullyasIcanaplainstatementofallthat
hashappenedsinceIcametoNewYork.
Ishallnottrimdetails,norsoftenthefactstohumourmyownamazement,nor
trytoexplainthemarvelthatIdonotpretendtounderstand.
Ibeginatthebeginning—attheplungeintofairytaleandmiraclethatImade,
afterlivingtwenty-fiveyearsofbaldestprose,whenImetHelenWinshiphere.
Why,Ihaddraggedhertoschoolonasledwhenshewasachild.Iwatchedher
growup.ForyearsIsawhernearlyeverydayattheStateUniversityintheWest
thatalreadyseemssounreal,sofaraway,Ilovedher.
Man,IknewherfacebetterthanIknewmyown!YetwhenImetherhere—
whenIsawmypromisedwife,whohadkissedmegood-byonlylastJune—Idid
notrecogniseher.Ilookedfullintohergreateyesandthoughtshewasa
stranger;hesitatedevenwhenshecalledmyname.It’samiracle!Oralie,ora
wilddream;orIamgoingcrazy.Thethingwillnotbebelieved.Andyetit’s
true.
Thisismycalmness!IfIcouldbutthinkitmightbeatremendousblunderoutof
whichIwouldsometimewakeintoverity!Buttherehasbeennomistake;Ihave
notbeendreamingunlessIamdreamingnow.
AsdistinctlyasIseetheuglystreetbelow,Iremembereverythingthathas
befallenmesincemytrainpulledintoJerseyCitylastThursdaymorning.I
rememberasonedoeswhoisservedbysharpenedsenses.Onlyonceina


fellow’slifetimecanhelookuponNewYorkforthefirsttime—andtomeNew
YorkmeantHelen.Everythingwasvividlyimpresseduponmymind.
IcrossedtheCortlandtStreetferryandwalkedupBroadway,wonderingwhat
HelenwouldsayifIcalledbeforebreakfast.Icouldscarcelywait.Istoppedin
frontofSt.Paul’sChurch,gapingupatatwenty-sixstorybuildingopposite;a
monstrousshaftwithagougeoutofitssouthsideasiflightninghadrivedoffa
sliver.IwentovertoitandsawthatIhadcometoAnnStreet,whereBarnum’s
museumusedtostand.ThePostOffice,theCityHall,therestaurantwhereIate
breakfast,studyinguponthewallthebibletextsandsignsbiddingmewatchmy
hatandovercoat;theTribunebuilding,justasitlooksonthealmanaccover—all
thesemadeaninstant,deepimpression.Notintheleastlikeadream.
BythestatueofHoraceGreeleyIstoodamomentirresolute.Iknewthat,before
Icouldreachher,HelenwouldhaveleftherroomsforBarnardCollege;
breakfasthadbeenamistake.ThenInoticedthatNassauStreetwasjust
opposite;and,inspiteofmyimpatiencetobeatherdoor,Iconstrainedmyselfto
lookupJudgeBaker.
BetweenitsBabeltowersnarrowNassauStreetwaslikeacanyon.The
pavementswerewet,forfolkshadjustfinishedwashingwindows,thoughitwas
eighto’clockintheforenoon.Bicycleszippedpastandfromsomewherenortha
freshetofpeoplefloodedthesidewalkandroadway.
Downasteeplittlehillandupanother—boththrongedpastbelief—andina
greatmarblemazeoflawyers’officesIfoundthesignofBaker&Magoun.
TheboywhoalonerepresentedthefirmsaidthatImighthavetowaitsome
minutes,andturnedmeloosetobrowseinthebig,high-ceiledouterroomor
libraryoftheplacewhereIamtowork.Afterthedimcorridorsitwasablazeof
light.Onallsidesweremassivebookshelves;thedoorwaysgaveglimpsesof
otherrooms,finewithrugsandpicturesandheavydesks,differentenoughfrom
theplainfittingsofthecountrylawyers’workshopsIhadknown.Thecarpet
sankundermyfeetasIwenttothewindow.
IstoodlookingattheJerseyhills,blueandfairinthedistance,anddreamingof
Helen,whowastoblessandcrownmygoodfortune,whenIheardastepatthe
doorandayoungmancamein—atall,blonde,supplefellownotmucholder
thanI.ThentheJudgeappeared,ponderous,slowoftread,immaculateofdress;


thesame,unlesshisiron-graylockshaveretreatedyetfartherfromhiswallofa
brow,thatIhaverememberedhimfromboyhood.
“Burke!”hesaid,“Iamgladtoseeyou.WelcometoNewYorkandtothis
office,myboy!”
Thegraspofhisbigwarmhandwasasgoodasthewordsandtheeyesbeneath
hisheavygraybrowswerefullofkindnessas,holdingbothmyhandsinhis,he
drewmetowardtheyoungmanwhohadprecededhim.Withawinningsmile
thelatterturned.
“Hynes,”saidtheJudge,withaheartinessthatmadeoneforgethisformal
manner,“youhaveheardmespeakofBurke’sfather,theboyhoodcompanion
withwhom,whenthefinnytribeswereeager,Isometimesstrayedfromthestrait
andnarrowpaththatledtoschool.Burke,Hynesisthesportsmanhere—our
tiger-slayer.HebeardsintheirlairsthoseTammanyornamentsofthebench
whomtheflippantterm‘necessityJudges,’becauseoftheirslenderacquaintance
withthelaw.”
“Gladtoseeyou,Burke,”saidHynes,asdutifullywelaughedtogetheratthe
time-honouredjest.
Iknewfromthelookofhimthathewasagoodfellow,andhehadanhonest
grip;thoughoutwhereIcomefromwemightcallhimadude.AllNewYorkers
seemtodressprettywell.
PresentlyManagingClerkCrosbycame,andMr.Magoun,aslean,brusqueand
mosquito-likeashispartneriselephantine;andafterafewwordswiththemI
wascalledintotheJudge’sprivateroom,whereagreatlumproseinmythroat
whenItried,andmiserablyfailed,tothankhimforallhisgreatkindness.
“Consider,ifitpleasesyou,”hesaid,toputmequiteatmyease,“thatIhave
proposedourarrangement,notsomuchonyourownaccountasbecauseIloved
yourfatherandmustrelyuponhisson.Itbringsbackmyyouthtospeakhis
name—yourname,JohnnyBurke!”
Yes,Irememberthewords,Irememberthetremourinthekindvoiceandthe
mistofunshedtearsthroughwhichhelookedatme.I’mnotdreaming;
sometimesIwishIwere,almost.


WhenIlefttheJudge,ofcourseIpastedrightuptoUnionSquare,thoughIfelt
surethatHelenwouldbeatcollege.No.2provedtobeadingybrickbuilding
withwigsandarmourandolduniformsandgrimypicturesinthewindows,and
abovethemthesignsofa“dentalparlour”andaschoolfortheatricaldancing.
ItseemedanoddplaceinwhichtolookforNelly,butIpoundeduptheworn
stairs—dressmakers’advertisementsoneveryriser—untilIreachedthetopfloor,
whereameal-bagofawomanwhoseheadwastiedupinacoloured
handkerchiefconfrontedmewithdustpanandbroom.
“I’mthenewleddyscrubwoman,andnotaftherknowin’th’namesavth’
tinants,”shesaid,“butavut’sagir-rulye’reseekin’,surethey’stwoavthimin
there,an’bothout,I’mthinkin’.”
IpushedanoteforNellyunderthedoorsheindicated—itborethecardsof
“MissHelenWinship”and“MissKathrynReid”—andhurriedawaytolookup
thisgemofahallbedroomwhereIamwriting;youcouldwearitonawatch
chain,butIpay$3aweekforit.Thelandladywouldboardmefor$8,but
regulardinnersatrestaurantsareonlytwenty-fivecents;good,too.Andanybody
canbreakfastforfifteen.
ThenIwentbacktoUnionSquare,whereIhungabout,lookingatthestatues.
OnceIwalkedasfarasTammanyHallandrushedbackagaintowatchHelen’s
door.FinallyIsatdownonabenchfromwhichIcouldseeherwindows;and
thereinthebriefDecembersunlight,withthelittleoasisaroundmegreeneven
inwinter,andtheroarofDeadMan’sCurvejustfarenoughaway,IsupposeI
spentalmostthehappiestmomentsofmylife.
IwaslookingatNelly’spicture,takenincapandgownjustbeforeshegraduated
lastJune.MyNelly!Nellyassheusedtobebeforethisstrangethinghappened;
eager-eyed,thinwithover-studyandrapidgrowth.Nelly,whosebrightface,
sweptbysomanylightsandshadowsofexpression,sensitivetosomany
shiftingmoods,Ilovedandyearnedfor.Nearlysixmonthswe’dbeenapart,but
atlastIhadfollowedtoNewYorktoclaimher.AsIsatsmilingatthedream
picturesthedearfaceevoked,mybrainwasbusywiththoughtsofthenewhome
wewouldtogetherbuild.I’dhoardeverypenny,Iplanned;I’dwalktosave
carfare,practicealleconomies—
Wasn’tthatafaceatherwindow?


Ireachedthetoplandingagain,threestepsatatime;butthevoicethatsaid
“Come!”wasnotHelen’sandthefigurethatturnedfrompullingattheshades
wasshortandrolypolyandcrownedbyflamingredhair.
“MissWinship?”saidthevoice,asitsownerseatedherselfatabigtable.“Can’t
imaginewhat’s,keepingher.AreyoutheJohnBurkeI’veheardsomuchabout?
And—perhapsHelenhaswrittentoyouofKittyReid?”
Withoutwaitingforareply,shebentoverthetable,scratchingwithaknifeata
sheetofbolddrawingsofbears.
“Youwon’tmindmykeepingrighton?”shequeriedbriskly,liftingarosy,
freckledface.“ThisistheanimalpageoftheSundayStarandCadgeisina
hurryforit,todotheobbligato.”
IsupposeImusthavelookedthepuzzlementIfelt,forsheaddedhastily:—
“Thetext,youknow;alittlecoolrillofittotrickledownthroughthepagelikea
fine,thinstrainofmusicthat—thathelpsoutthesong—tee-e-e-um;tee-e-e-um
—”Sheliftedherarm,sawingwithalongrulerataviolinofair,—“butyou
don’thavetolistenunlessyouwish—totheobbligato,youknow.”
“Doesn’tthewriterthinkthepicturestheunobtrusiveembroideryoftheviolin,
andthewritingthemagicmelodyonecannotchoosebuthear?”
IthoughtthatratherneatformyfirstdayinNewYork,buttheshrewdblueeyes
openedwideattheheresy.
“Why,no;ofcourseCadgeknowsit’sthepicturesthatcount;everybodyknows
that.”
Awriting-tablejuttedintotheroomfromasecondwindow,backingagainstMiss
Reid’s.OnitsflaplayGermanvolumesonbiologyandalittletreatiseinEnglish
about“AdvancedMethodsofImbedding,SectioningandStaining.”Thewindow
ledgeheldavaseofwillowandaldertwigs,whosebudsappearedtobeswelling.
Besideitwasaglassofwaterinwhichseedsweresproutingonafloatingisland
ofcottonwool.
“AdmiringHelen’sforest?”camethevoicefromthedesk.“I’mafraidthere’s
onlysecondgrowthtimberleft;shecarriedawaythegreatredwoodsandallthe


giantsofthewildernessthismorning.Areyouinterestedinzoology?
Sometimes,sinceIhavebeenlivingwithHelen,Ihavewishedmorethan
anythingelsetofindout,Whatisprotoplasm?Doyouhappentoknow?”
“I’mafraidnot.”
“NeitherdoesHelen—noranyoneelse.”
MissReid’smerrywaysareinfectious.I’mgladHelenisroomingwithanice
girl.
Theplacewasshabbyenough,withcrackedandbrokenceiling,marred
woodworkandstainedwallpaper;butetchings,foreignphotographs,sketches
putupwiththumbtacksandbrighthangingsmadeitoddandattractive.Ona
lowcouchpiledwithcushionslayHelen’smandolinandabanjo.Aplastercast
ofsomequeeranimalroostedonthemantel,craningitsneckdowntowardsthe
fireplace.
“That’stheNotreDamedevil,”MissReidsaid,followingmyglance;“theother
istheLincolnCathedraldevil.”Shenoddedatawide-mouthedimp,clawingata
door-top.“Don’tyoujustadoregargoyles?”
“Yes;thatis—verymuch,”Istammered,wanderingbacktoHelen’sdesk.And
then!
AndthenIheardquickstepsoutside.Theyreachedthedoorandpaused.I
lookedupeagerly.“There’sHelennow,”saidMissReid;“orelseCadge.”
Atallgirlburstintotheroom,droppinganarmfulofbooks,andsprangtoMiss
Reid.
“Kitty!Kitty!”shecried,inavoiceofwonderfulmusic.“Twocamerafiends!
Oneinfrontofthecollege,theotherbytheelevatedstation;waitingformeto
pass,Idobelieve!Andsuchcrowds!Theyfollowedme!Look!Look!Downin
theSquare!”

CHAPTERII.



THEMOSTBEAUTIFULWOMANINTHEWORLD.
Bothgirlsrantothewindow.MissReidlaughedteasingly.“Iseenobody—or
alltheworld;it’smuchthesame,”shesaid;“butyouhaveacaller.”
Irosefrombehindthedeskwithsomeconfused,trivialthoughtthatIoughtto
havespentpartoftheafternoongettingmyhaircut.
Ihadhadbutaglimpseofthenewcomerinherflightacrossthefloor;Iknew
shehadscarletlipsandshiningeyes;thatyouthandjoyandunimaginedbeauty
hadenteredwithherlikeaburstofsunlightandfloodedtheroom.Ifelt,rather
thansaw,thatshehadturnedfromthewindowandwaslookingatme,curiously
atfirst,thensmiling.Hersmilehadbewilderedmewhensheopenedthedoor;it
wasasoft,flashinglightthatshonefromherfaceandblessedtheair.She
seemedsurroundedbyanaureole.
Butshe—howcouldthiswonderfulgirlknowme?—shesurelywassmiling!She
wascomingtowardsme.Shewasputtingoutherhands.Thatgloriousvoicewas
speaking.
“John!Isityou?I’msoglad!”itsaid.
HadIreadabouther?HadIseenherpicture?HadHelendescribedherina
letter?WassheCadge?No;notaltogetherastranger;somewherebeforeIhad
seen—ordreamed—
“John,”shepersisted.“Whydidn’tyouwrite?Ithoughtyouwerecomingnext
week.Didyouplantosurpriseme?”
MissReidmusthavemadeamistake,Ifelt;ImustexplainthatIwaswaitingfor
Helen.ButIcouldnotspeak;Icouldonlygape,chokingandgiddy.Ididnot
speakwhenthebrightvisionseemedtotakethehandsIhadnotoffered.Icould
feelthebloodbeatinmyneck.Icouldnotthink;andyetIknewthatareal
womanstoodbeforeme,albeitunlikealltheotherwomenthateverlivedinthe
world;andthatsomethingsurprisedandperplexedher.Thesmilestillcurvedher
lips;Ifeltmyselfgrininidioticimitation.
“Whatisthematter?”theradiantstrangerpersisted.“Youactasif—”


Thesmilegrewsunnier;itrippledtoalaughthatwasmerrimentsettomusic.
“John!JohnBurke!”shesaid,givingmyhandsalittle,impatientshake,justas
Nellyusedtodo.“Itisn’tpossible!Don’tyou—why,yougoose!Don’tyou
knowme?”
“Helen!”
Ofcourse!Ihadknownherfromthebeginning!Amancouldn’tbeinthesame
roomwithNellyWinshipandfeeljustasifshewereanyothergirl.Butshewas
notHelenatall—thatradiantimpossibility!Andyetshewas.Orshesaidso,and
myheartagreed.ButwhenIwouldhavedrawnhertome,shesteppedbackin
lovelyconfusion,withaflutteredquestion:—
“Howlonghaveyoubeenhere,John?”
Thatvoice!Sweet,fresh;fullofexquisitecadencessuchasonemighthearin
dreamsandeverafteryearnfor—fromthefirstithadbaffledmemorethanthe
beautifulface.ItwasnotHelen’s.Whatablunder!
Igazedather,stillgiddy.Whowasshe?Icouldnottrusttheastounding
recognition.Shereturnedthelook,bendingtowardsme,seekingaseagerly,I
sawwithconfusedwonderment,toreadmythoughtasItofathomhers.Then,as
somehalfknowledgegrewtocertainty,thelightofherbeautybecameaglory;
sheseemedtransfiguredbyamightyjoysuchasnootherwomancouldever
havefelt.
Aninstantshestoodmotionless,thesunshineofhereyesstillonme.Then,
drawingalongbreath,sheturnedaway,pullingthepinsoutofherfeatheredhat
withhandsthattrembled.
Iwatchedtheprocesswiththestrainedattentiononegivesatcrucialmomentsto
nothings.Ilaughedoutofsheerinanity;everypulseinmybodywasthrobbing.
Sheliftedthehatfromhershininghead.Sheputitdown.Sheunfastenedher
coat.Inaminuteshewouldturnagain,andIshouldoncemoreseethatface
imbuedwithlightandfire.Iwaitedforhervoice.
“I’msureofit!”shecried,wheelingaboutofasudden,withalaughlike
caressingmusic,andconfrontingmeagain.“Youdidn’tknowme,John;did
you?”


“Whydidn’tIknowyou?”Igasped.“WhyareyougladIdon’tknowyou?What
doesitallmean,Helen?”
Insteadofansweringshelaughedagain.Itwasthehappiestjoy-songinthe
world.Amirthfulgoddessmighthavetrilledit—alaughlikesunshineand
flowersandchasingcloudshadowsonwavinggrass.
“HelenWinship,stopit!Stopthismasquerade!”Ishouted,notknowingwhatI
did.
“ButI—I’mafraidIcan’t,John.”
Thegloriousfacebrimmedwithmischief.InvaintheWomanPerfectstruggled
tosubduehermirthtopenitence.
“I—I’msogladtoseeyou,John.Won’tyou—won’tyousitdownandletKitty
giveyousometea?”
Tea!Atthatmoment!
Clatteringlittleblueandwhitecupsandsaucers,MissReidrecalledherselfto
myremembrance.Ihadforgottenthatshewasintheroom.Isuspectthatshe
darednotliftherheadforfearImightseethelaughterinhereyes.
“I’vemadeitextrastrong,Mr.Burke,”shemanagedtosay,“becauseI’m
startingfortheStarofficetofindthephoto-engraversroutingthenosesand
toesesoffallmybestbeastesses.”
“Kittythinksallphoto-engraverstheembodimentoforiginalsin,”saidthe
ShiningOne.“Theyclipherbears’claws.”
“Well,”returnedMissReid,makingaflatparcelofherdrawings,“thisistheden
ofBeautyandthebeasts,andthebeastsmustbeworthyofBeauty.Mr.Burke,
don’tyouknowfromwhatcountyoffairylandHelenhails?IsshetheMaiden
Snow-white—butno;seeherblush—orthePrincessMarvel?Andifshe’s
Cinderella,can’twehaveapeepatthefairygodmother?Cadgewillcallher
nothingbut‘H.theM.’—shortfor‘HelentheMagnificent.’And—and—oh,
isn’tshe!”
“Kathryn!”


Beforethatgrievedorgan-toneofreproach,Kitty’seyesfilled.Icouldhavewept
atthegreatnessandthebeautyofit,butthelittleartistlaughedthroughhertears.
“HelenEliza,Irepent,”shesaid.“Timetobegood,Mr.Burke,whenshesays
‘Kathryn.’”
Adjustingherhatbeforeaglass,Kittyhummedwithavoicethattriednot
quaver:—
“Mirror,mirroronthewall,AmImostbeautifulofall?
“Queen,thouartnotthefairestnow;Snow-whiteoverthemountain’sbrowA
thousandtimesfaireristhanthou.
“PoorQueen;poorallofus.I’mgood,Helen,”sherepeated,whiskingoutofthe
room.
“Suchachatterbox!”thegoddesssaid.“But,John,amIreallysomuchaltered?
Isittruethat—justatfirst,youknow,ofcourse—youdidn’tknowme?”
ShebentonmethebreathlesslookIhadseenbefore.Inhereagerness,itwasas
ifthehaloofjoythatsurroundedherwerequivering.
“Iknowyounow;youaremyHelen!”
AgainIwouldhavecaughtherinmyarms;butshemoveduneasily.
“Wait—I—youhaven’ttoldme,”shestammered;“I—Iwanttotalktoyou,
John.”
Sheputoutahandasiftofendmeoff,thenletitfall.Asuddenheartsickness
cameuponme.Itwasnotherwords,notthemovementthatchilledme,butthe
palingofthewonderfullightofherface,thelookthatcreptoverit,asifIhad
startledanymphtoflight.IwasangrywithmyclumsyselfthatIshouldhave
causedthatlook,andyet—frommyownHelen,notthislovely,poisingcreature
thathardlyseemedtotouchtheearth—Ishouldhavehadadifferentgreeting!
IgazedatherfromwhereIstood,thenIturnedtothewindow.Therattleof
streetcarscameupfrombelow.AchildwassittingonthebenchwhereIhadsat
andfeastedmyeyesupontheflutterofHelen’scurtains.Mynumbbrainvaguely


speculatedwhetherthatchildcouldseeme.Thesunhadgone,thesquarewas
wintry.
AfteralongminuteHelenfollowedme.
“John,”shesaid,“Iamsogladtoseeyou;butI—Iwanttotellyou.Everything
hereissonew,I—Idon’t—”
Itmustallbetrue;Irememberherexactwords.Theycameslowly,hesitated,
stopped.
“Areyou—whatdoyoumean,Helen?”
“Letmetellyou;letmethink.Don’t—pleasedon’tbeangry.”
ThroughthefogthatenvelopedmeIfeltherdistressandsmartedfromthe
wrongIdidsobeautifulacreature.
“I—Ididn’texpectyousosoon,”themusicsighedpleadingly.“I—wemustn’t
hurryabout—whatweusedtotalkof.NewYorkissodifferent!—Oh,butit
isn’tthat!HowshallImakeyouunderstand?”
“Iunderstandenough,”Isaiddully;“orrather—GreatHeavens!—Iunderstand
nothing;nothingbutthat—youaretakingbackyourpromise,aren’tyou?Or
Helen’spromise;whosewasit?”
IcouldnotfeelasifIwerespeakingtomysweetheart.Thefigurebeforeme
woreherpearl-setKappakey—thebadgeofhercollegefraternity;itwore,too,a
trim,darkbluedress—Helen’sfavouritecolourandmine—butthere
resemblanceseemedtostop.
ConfusedasIstillwasbythegloryIgazedon,Ibeganpainfullycomparingthe
NellyIrememberedandtheHelenIhadfound.MyHelenwasnotquitesotall,
butattwentygirlsgrow.Shedidnotswaywiththeyieldinggraceofayoung
whitebirch;butshewasslimandstraight,andgirlishanglesroundeasilyto
curves.ThoughIfeltasubtleandwondrouschange,Icouldnottraceortrack
themiracle.
MyHelenhadblue-grayeyes;thisHelen’seyesmight,insomelights,bebluegray;theyseemedofasmanytintsasthesea.Theyweredark,luminousand


velvetsoftastheywatchedmystruggle.Afewminutesearliertheyhadbeenof
extraordinarybrilliancy.
MyHelenhadsoftbrownhair,likeandhowunlikethesefragrantlocksthatlay
inglintingwaveswithlifeandsparkleineverythread!
MyHelen’sfacewasexpressive,piquantlyirregular.ThefaceintowhichI
lookedluredmeatmomentswithahauntingresemblance;butthebrowwas
lowerandwider,thenosestraighter,themouthmoresubtlymodelled.Itwasa
faceGreekinitsperfection,brightenedbywesternforceandsoftenedbysome
flittingtouchofsensuousnessandmysticism.
MyHelenblushedeasily,butotherwisehadlittlecolour.ThisHelenhadababy’s
delicateskin,withrose-flushedcheeksandred,redlips.Whenshespokeor
smiled,sheseemedtoglowwithaninnerradiancethathadnothingtodowith
colour.And,oh,howbeautiful!Howbeautiful!
Idon’tknowhowlongIgazed.
Iwastryingtostudythegirlbeforemeasifshehadbeenmerelyafact—a
statue,apicture.Butherewasnoneofthecalmcertaintyofart;Iwasinthegrip
ofapower,alivingcharmasmightyaselusive,nomoretobefixedinwords
thanarethesplendoursofsunset.YetIsawthevitalharmoniesofherfigure,the
graceofeveryexquisitecurve—thefirm,stronglineofherwhitethroat,the
graciouspoiseofherhead,hersweepinglashes.
Ilookeddownatherhands;theywereofmarvellousshapeandtint,butImissed
alittlesickle-shapedscarfromthejointoftheleftthumb.Iknewthestoryof
thatscar.IhadseenthechildNellyruntohermotherwhentheknifeslipped
whileshewasparingapieceofcocoanutfortheSaturdaypie-baking.Thatscar
waspartofHelen;Ilovedit.Ifeltasuddenrevoltagainstthisgoddesswho
usurpedlittleNelly’splace,andsaidthatshehadchanged.Whywasshelooking
atme?Whatdidshewant?
“Youarethemostbeautifulwomanintheworld,”saidachokedvoicethatI
hardlyrecognisedasmyown.
Instantlythejoylightshoneagainfromherface,bathingmeinitssunshine,and
theworldwasfair.Shestartedforwardimpulsively,holdingoutherhands.


“Thenit’strue!Oh,it’strue!”shecried.“HowcanIbelieveit?I—Nelly
Winship—amIreally—”
“Ah—youareNelly!MyNelly!”
Whathappenedispasttelling!
Withthatjubilantoutburst,asnaiveasachild’s,shewasmyownloveagain,but
dearerathousandtimes.WouldIhavegivenherupifherhairwereblanchedby
painorsorrow,hercheeksfurrowed,herfacegrownpaleinillness?NeedIlook
uponhercoldlybecauseshehadbecomeradiant,compellinglylovely?Why,she
wasenchanting!
AndshewasHelen.Amiraclehadbeenworked,butHelen’sselfwaslookingat
meoutofthatgoddess-likefaceasunmistakablyasfromanunfamiliardress.It
wasseeingherinamarvellousnewgarbofflesh.
“Oh,I’msohappy!I’mthehappiestgirlonearth;I’m—amIreallybeautiful?”
Therich,low,brooding,wonderingvoicewasnotHelen’s,butineverysentence
somenoteorinflectionwasasfamiliaraswerehertricksofmanner,her
impulsivegestures.Yes,shewasHelen;warm-breathing,flushedwithjoyofher
ownloveliness,herperfectwomanhood—thegirlIadored,theloveliestthing
alive!
Iseizedthehandsshegaveme;Idrewhernearer.
“Helen,”Icried,“youareindeedthemostbeautifulbeingGodevercreated,and
—lastJuneyoukissedme—”
“Ididn’t!”
“—OrIkissedyou,whichisthesamething—aftertheCommencement
reception,bythemapletrees,infrontofthechapterhouse;and–-”
“Andthenceinaneast-southeasterlydirection;withallthehereditamentsand
appurtenances—Oh,youfunnyOldPreciseness!”
“AndnowI’mgoingto–-”Thewordswerebrave,buttherewassomethingin
theposeandpoiseofher—thewonderofherbeauty,themajesty—perhapsthe


slightestwithdrawal,thestartofsurprise—thatawedme.Lamelyenoughthe
sentenceended:
“Helen,kissme!”Ibegged,hoarsely.
Forjustafractionofasecondshehesitated.Thenthemerrimentofcoquetry
againsparkledinhersmile.
“Ah,butI’mafraid—”shemocked.
Hereyesdancedwithmischiefasshedrewawayfromme.
“I’mafraidofamanwho’sgoingtobeagreatcitylawyer.Andthen—oh,
listen!”
Hurried,ostentatiouslyheavyfootstepssoundedinthehall.Theystoppedatthe
door,andsomeonefumblednoisilyattheknob.Therewasastagecough,and
Kittyplungedintotheroom,carefullyunnoticing.
“Suchanideafor—ahippopotamuscomic,”shepanted;“adarling!Sent
drawingsdown—messenger—rushedbacktosketch—”
Hereshepausedtotakebreath.
“—lestIforget.”
Snatchingoffherglovessheresumedherplaceatthebigtable,andbegan
makingwildstrokeswithacrayononagreatsheetofcardboard.
“Ijusthadtodoit,”saidsheapologeticallyoverhershoulder;“but—don’tmind
me.”

CHAPTERIII.

THEHORNETS’NEST.
ItwasduskwhenIleftHelen.Myheadwasbuzzing.


OutofherpresencewhatIhadseenwasunthinkable,unbelievable.Icoulddo
nothingbutwalk,walk—amaninadream.
Irushedahead,jostlingpeopleinsillyhaste;Idawdled.Icarefullysetmyfeet
acrossthejoiningsofpavingblocks;Izigzagged;Iturnedcornersaimlessly.
OnceapolicemantouchedmeasIblinkedintotheroaringtorchesofastreetrepairinggang.OnceIfoundmyselfonBrooklynBridge,lookingdownatbig
boatsshapedlikepumpkinseeds,withlightsstreakingfromeverywindow.Once
IwokebehindanoisygroupunderthecolouredlightsofaBowerymuseum.
Itrained,forhorseswererubber-blanketed,andumbrellasdrippedonmeasI
passed.Iwashungry,forIsmelledthecoffeeasoddenwomandrankattheside
ofanightlunchwagon.ButhowcouldIbelievemyselfawakeorsane?
AgainandagainIfoundmywaybacktothebenchonUnionSquare,from
whichIcouldgazeatHelen’swindow,nowdarkandforbidding.Acrossanopen
spacewasagarishsaloon.Whenthedoorswungopen,Isawthetowelshanging
fromthebar.Twomenreeledacrossthestreetandsatdownbyme.
“Oo-oo!”onegurgled.
“Dan’sgoin’t’kill‘imself‘cause‘iswife’sgone,”blubberedtheother.“Tell‘m
notter,can’tye,matey?Tell‘im’t’s‘noughferonet’die!”
“Oo-oo!”bellowedDan.
Iwalkedawayinthedarkness,butIfeltbetter.Drunkennesswasnomiracle:I
wasawakeandsane,saneandawakeinahomelyworldofsorrowandfollyand
loveandmystery.
IwenttobedthinkingofCleopatra,“brow-boundwithburninggold”;ofFair
Rosamond;Vivien,whowonMerlin’ssecret;ofLilithandstrange,shining
women—notoneofthemlikethegoddessthegloryofwhosesmilehaddazzled
me.AtlastIslept,lateandheavily.
NextmorningIwasagainfirstattheoffice;andbydaylightinthebustlingcity,
thingstookadifferentcomplexion.Ihadgonetomysweethearttiredbyalong
journey,andIfeltsure,ortriedtofeelsure,thatmyimpressionsofchangeinher
werefantasticandexaggerated.


JudgeBaker,onhisarrival,installedmeinHynes’sroom,behindthelibrary,
betweenthecorridorandoneofthecourtsthatlighttheinneroffices.Inhisown
room,totheleft,hedetainedmeforsomebusinesstalk,afterwhichhesaid,
carefullyrubbinghisglasses:
“Itrustthatyouwillnotfindyourselfaltogetherastrangerinthecity.Mywife
willwishtoseeyou,andmysister,MissBaker,cherishespleasantrecollections
ofyourmother.IbelieveyouarealreadyacquaintedwithMrs.Baker’syoung
cousin,MissWinship.Youknowthat,sincegraduation,shehascometoNew
Yorkforthepurposeofpursuingpost-graduatestudiesinBarnard?”
“Yes.”
Idrewabreathofrelief.TherewasnothingintheJudge’smannertogive
significancetohismentionofHelen.Imusthavedeceivedmyself.
“Amostcharmingyounglady.”
Heglancedatthelettersonhisdeskandmethodicallycutopenanenvelope.
Thenhedroppedthepaperknife,raisinghisbushybrows,agesturethat
indicateshismostgenialhumour,ashecontinuedwithmorethanusual
deliberateness:—
“Youknewher,nodoubt,asanintelligentstudent;youmaybesurprisedtolearn
thatshehasdevelopedextraordinary—thewordisnottoostrong—extraordinary
beauty.”
“Alwaysalovelygirl,”Imuttered.
“FromherchildhoodNellyhasbeenafavouritewithme;”theJudgeleanedback
inhisbigchair,seemingtocommithimselftoanutterance;“butherattractions
wereratherthoseofmindandheart,Ishouldhavesaid,thanofpersonal
appearance.ThechangetowhichIhavealludedismorethanthenotuncommon
buddingofaplaingirlintotheevanescentbeautyofearlywomanhood;itisthe
mostremarkablethingthathasevercomeundermyobservation.Iamgettingto
beanelderlyman,Burke,andIhavebeenarespectfuladmirerofmany,many
fairwomen,butIhaveneverseenagirllikeMissWinship;sheisphenomenal.”
“You—youthinkso?”


Itwastrue,then!
“Ihaveceasedtothink;Iamnonplussed.Witchcraft,thoughnotintheolder
senseoftheword,isstillnodoubtexercisedbyyoungladies,andthereare
certainimprovementcommissionsthatundertake,forasuitableconsideration,
the—ah—redecorationoffemininearchitecture,oreventhepartialrestorationof
humanantiques.Butthisisadifferentmatter.”
“IsawMissWinshipyesterday.”
“Youwillnotthenaccusemeofoverstatement?”
“Sheisindeedbeautiful.”
TherestraintwithwhichIspokeevidentlypuzzledhim.Hecontinuedtolookat
mecuriously,ashesaidslowly:—
“FromayoungmanIshouldhaveexpectedmoreenthusiasm.AttimesIsuspect
thattheyouthoftodayarelesssusceptiblethanwerethoseoftwenty-fiveyears
ago.Butthisaffairhasperhapsoccupiedmythoughtsmorethanotherwiseit
might,becauseHelenisinameasuremywardduringherstayintheEast,and
becauseofmydaughters’affection—”
“Judge,IhadsupposedyouawareofanengagementbetweenHelenand
myself.”
“Ah,thataccountsformuch.Toyou,nodoubt,sheislittlealtered.Youreyes
haveseenthebuddingofthatbeautywhichbutnowbecomesvisibletothose
lesspartial.IbelieveMrs.Bakerdidhintatsomethingbetweenyou,butithad
escapedmymind.”
TheJudge’sbrighteyesthatcontradictsopleasantlytheheavycastofhis
featuresbegantotwinkle.Littlelinesofgenialityformedattheircornersand
rayedoutoverhischeeks.Hebeamedkindliness,ashecontinued:—
“Acceptmycongratulations.Amostexcellentfamily.Mrs.WinshipisMrs.
Baker’scousin.Ah,timeflies;timeflies!Itseemsbutyesterdaythatmylittle
girlswererunningaboutwithNelly,pigtailed,duringtheirvisitsintheWest.”
“DoesMrs.BakeralsothinkNelly—changed?”


“OnlyonTuesdaymywifereturnedfromnursinganailingrelative.Shehasnot
seenHeleninsometime.IbelievewearetohaveherwithusatChristmas.We
musthaveyoualso.ButIcannotaltogetheradmitthatthechangeisamatterof
myopinion.Ithasbeencommenteduponbymydaughtersintermsofutmost
emphasis.”
“Sheisthemostbeautifulwomanintheworld!”
“Thereweshallnotdisagree.ToNellyherselftheriddleofnaturethatweseek
toreadisdoubtlessalsoamystery,butoneforwhoseunravelingsheishappyto
wait.Mydaughtershaveapictureofher,takenattheage,possibly,ofsix,which
givesinartisticprominenceto‘GrandpaWinship’sears’—theleftlargerthanthe
right.Youknowthefamilypeculiarityownedbytheeldestchildineach
generation?Thelossofthisinheritancemaynotbe,toayounglady,matterfor
regret;butasamarkofidentificationanddescent,theWinshipearsmighthave
entitledhertorankamongtheRevolutionaryDaughters.However,sheisapoor
womanwhohasnotaclubtospare.”
“Judge,howlongisitsincethis—transformationtookplace?Youspeakofitas
recent.”
“Nellycomestome,”saidtheJudge,“with—ah—naturalpunctualityfor
monthlyremittancesfromherfather.InNovemberIwasstruckwiththefactthat
NewYorkagreedwithher;yeteventhenIdidnotmissthefamilynose—a
compromiseofpugandRoman.Buttendaysago,whenIsawherlast,I
recognisedherwithdifficulty.Formorepreciseinformationyoumustaskmy
daughters.”
“Thenitwasonlytendaysagothatyousawanythingwrong—?”
“Wrong!Mydearyoungfriend,ifNelly’scaseobtainedpublicity,wouldnotthe
world,whichlovesbeauty,bedividedbetweenahowlingNewYorkanda
wilderness?”
TheJudgeglancedupatme,slippinghispaperknifeendoverendthroughhis
fingers.
“Ihavespokenofmyselfasnonplussed,”hesaidmoreseriously,“andIam.I
wasnevermoreso;butIseenooccasionforanxiety.Sincewhenhasitbeen
thoughtnecessarytocallpriestorphysicianbecauseofayounglady’sgrowing


charm?Confrontedbyanuglyduckling,wemustcongratulatetheswan.”
“Judge,howmuchmoneydoesoneneedtomarryoninNewYork?”
“Allthatamanhas;allthathecanget;oftenmore.But—ah—isthequestion
imminent?Nellyisinschool;youhavecomeoutoftheWest,asIunderstandit,
toattackNewYork.Conquerit,Sir;conquerNewYorkbeforeyouspeakof
marriagetoaNewYorkwoman.”
“HelenisnotaNewYorkwoman.”
“Wenaturalizethematthedocksandstations.”
“Butyou—”Irepressedamovementofimpatience.“Didn’tyoumarryyoung?”
“Mrs.BakerandIbeganourmarriedlifeinoneroom;cookedoverthegasjet,in
tinpails.AndiflittleNellyistheequalofotherwomenofherfamily—butthat
ispracticeversusprinciple,myyoungfriend;practiceversusprinciple.”
Heturnedagaintohisletters,andIunderstoodthattheinterviewwasclosed.
RightafterlunchIstartedforBarnard.Helenhaswrittensomuchaboutthe
collegethatassoonasIstrucktheBoulevardIknewthesolidbrickbuilding
withitstrimmingsofstonefasces.IturnedintothecloisteredcourtonOne
HundredandNineteenthStreetandpausedaminute,lookingupatitsIonic
porticoesandhighwindowlettered“MillbankHall.”
ThenIentered,andapage,small,meekandblue-uniformed,trottedaheadofme
throughabeautifulhall,whitewithmarblecolumnsandmosaics,sumptuous
withgoldenceiling,dazzlingwithlightandgreenwithpalms,tothecurtained
entranceofadaintyreceptionroom.
“Stopaminute,Mercury,”Isaidasheturnedtoleave;“whereisMissWinship?”
Hereappearedfromanofficebeyond,replying:—
“Biol’gylab’r’tory.Whatname?”
InsteadofwaitinguntilNellycouldbesummoned,Ifollowedthemildly
disapprovingboyupagreat,whitestairway,pastgroupsofgirls,someinbright


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