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the novel alls fair


All’sFair


byGelettBurgess
TAKENFROM“METROPOLITANMAGAZINE,”APRIL1906
“Youmusthavebeenaromanticyoungster,”shesaid,hereyesfixedonthe
distantlandscape.
“Iwas,decidedly,”heanswered,hiseyesfixedonher.Thenheadded,“AndI
amyet.”
“Indeed?”Sheraisedhereyebrows,smiling.
“IspentmychildhoodhereandIfeelnow,somehow,asifIownedtheplace.”
“It’sverygoodofyoutoletmestayhere—”shebegan.
“I’msogladyoucame—atlast!ImissedyouwhenIwasaboy.Iknewyou
wouldcome,sometime.”
“Indeed?Howdearofyou!Howlongagowasthat?”
“Let’ssee—Iwastenyearsold—eighteenyearsago.Justthinkofit!”
“AndIwaseight.I’mafraidIwasn’tveryromanticmyself.Iwasamatter-offactlittlething,thoughIdidhavesomequeerfanciesnowIrememberit.”Her
eyeshadcomebackfromthehills,flutteredabouthimandalightedonhisface.
“Tellmewhatyoudidherewhenyouwereaboy,”shesaid,impulsively,almost
warmly.

“IwasalonemostofthetimeandsoIhadtomakeupgamesthatonlyonecould
play.”
“ButIthoughtyouwereexpectingme.”
Hiseyesfellfromhers.“Iusedtopretendyouwerehere.Youdidnotkeepme
awakethenasyoudonow.”
Shelaughed,withanoteofpleasedincredulity.
“Youdon’tbelieveme?”hesaid.“Ibelieveyoudostayuplaterthanisgoodfor


you,”shereplied.“Youwereoutlatelastnight.AmItobelievethatwasmy
fault?”
“Iwasthinkingaboutyouallthetime,”hesaid.
“IsupposeIoughttobesorrythatIcamedownheretotroubleyou,butreallyI
didn’tknowyouweretobehere,andIhadnoideathatitwasyourfarm.The
advertisementledmetobelievethatitbelongedtoMrs.Briggs.Butgoonabout
yourhappychildhoodhours.Idon’tbelieveyouwerehalfsosillythenasyou
arenow.”
“Well,IusedtoplayIndiansallbymyself,andhidebehindthatstonewallthere
toshootarrowsatthepumpkinsonthevines.Ilivedforawholedayonadesert
islandinthebrook.Oh!AndIburiedatreasureinthisveryorchard!Ihad
almostforgottenaboutthat.”
“Whatfun!Thatisexciting!Whatwasityouhid?”
“Ican’tquiterememberwhetheritwasapunchednickeloramanuscriptinatin
box.Itwassomethingverymysteriousandveryimportant,atallevents.”
“Wheredidyouburyit?”
“Somewhereoverinthatcornerbythepear-tree.IknowIpaintedalotof
cabalisticmarksontheroofofthebarntolocateitby.Theyoughttobethere
yet.”
“Letmeseethem!Wemustdigupthetreasure.I’mdyingforsomeexcitement.”
Herintonationwasimperative.
“Oh,itwasonlyschoolboynonsense.ItmightbesomethingIwouldn’twishyou
tosee.Besides,younevercouldgetnearenoughtoreadthepainting—the
raftersarefrightfullydusty.”
“Idon’tcare.Iinsistthatyoushowmetheplace.”
Hesmiledandrosetoleadtheway.Thebarnwasdarkandcool,odorouswith
thefreshlygarneredhay.Hehelpedheruptheladderandoverthespringymows
towherearicketyset.ofcross-barsledtothesparsely-flooredbeamsabove.
Thisshereachedintriumph,thoughthevictorybroughtruintoafreshwhite



duckgown.
“Whereisit?”shesaid,craninghernecktopeerintotheshadowsundertheroof.
“I’mafraidyoucan’tgetanynearerunlessyoudaretowalkalongthattimber,”
hesaid.
“No,thankyou.Iwon’ttryitatpresent.Yougooverthereandreadittome.”
Hewalkedboldlyacrossthenarrowbeamtowhere,inthegloomoftheroof,a
patchoflettering,donecrudelyinredpaint,shoneout.There,hereadaloud:
“Undernailinknotnumbertwopeartree,linetosummit18,towardScorner
barn5.Down3.”
“Doyouwantmetowriteitdown?”heasked.
“Yes,”shecried,“wemustdigitupimmediately.”
Hedrewoutapencilandnote-bookandcopieddownthedirectionsandrejoined
heronherperch.Inafewmomentsmoretheywerestandinginthesifted
sunlightoftheorchard,andsheporedoverhismemorandum.
“Idon’tunderstandit,”shecomplained.
“That’sbecauseyou’veneverbeenaboy.AnyyoungsterwhohaseverreadPoe
wouldfindthisasclearasday.WaituntilIgetaspadeandI’llshowyou.”
Returningfromthehousewithaspadeandayardstick,hewalkedovertothe
pear-treeanddrewupabarrel,whichheascended.“Iusedtothinkthisbough
wasterriblyhigh,whenIwasaboy,butIcanreachiteasilyfromhere.This
mustbetheknot,althoughthebarkhasclosedoverthenail.Nowwatchwhere
thisstonefalls.”
“Oh,Isee,now!Yougoeighteenfeettowardsthesummit,Isuppose,”shesaid,
referringtohisnotes,“isthathillitoverthere?My!youdidtakealotoftrouble
overit,didn’tyou?”
“Yes,especiallyasIdiditatnight.”


“Why,youcouldn’tseethehillatnight.”
“Youdon’tknowanythingaboutromance!Youhavetodigtheholefirstand
measureafterwardwhenyou’reatrulypirate.”
Withherassistancehegravelymeasuredoffthedistance,thenwentfivefeet
towardthecornerofthebarnwhereasinglesprigofwildturnipgrew.Herehe
removedhiscoatandtookupthespade.
“I’malmostfrightened,”shesaid,puttingherhandforaninstantuponhis;“it
doesseemsoterriblyreal—almostasifwewerediggingupyourdead
childhood.”
“Well,youcanbringittolifeifanybodycan,”helaughed,sinkinghisspadein
thesoil.
Shejumpedatopthebarrelandwatchedhimastheholegrewdeeperandthe
moundofearthbesideitgrewlarger.Shewassmilingthroughhalf-closedlids,
ceasingsuddenlywheneverhelookedup.“I’mafraidyou’regoingtobeaboy
againandallowmetoremainanoldlady,”shesaid.“Ididn’teverburyanyold
treasureatall.Ineverdidanythinginterestingbutplaywithmydollsandwrite
inmydiary.”
Hestopped,buriedtohiskneesintheexcavation,andlookedupathereagerly.
“Didyoukeepadiary?”heasked.“ByJove,I’dliketoseeit!Itrieditonce,but
Igaveitupafterthefirstweek—theweatherpartboredmeso.Won’tyouletme
seeit?”
“Goaheadanddig!Thissuspenseisterrible.”
“Iwon’tdiganotherstrokeunlessyoupromisetoletmeseeit.”
“You’retakinganunfairadvantageofme,butI’llseeifIcanfinditinmytrunk.
IthinkIbroughtitdownherewithme.Butyoumusthurrynow.”
“Ihaven’ttoldyouI’dletyouseethisyet.”
“Thenyou’llneverseemydiary,andit’sagooddealmoreinterestingthanyour
oldtreasure.”


Hedugfuriouslyforafewmomentsandthenhisspadestruckagainstarock.
“Ha-ha!”hecried,“didn’tthatsoundhollowandsepulchralenough?”
Shejumpedoffthebarrelandkneeledexcitedlyupontheedgeoftheholeto
look.Heliftedafiatslabofstoneandthrewitup.Underneath,intherusty
remainsofwhathadoncebeenatinbox,hescrapedtheearthasideand
discoveredaglassbottlewhosecorkwasburiedinamassofredsealing-wax.
Hehelditaloftintriumph.
“Behold,”hecried,“thelosttreasureoftheIncas!”
“I’mgoingtoopenit,”sheannounced.Henoddedandshedroppeditontheflat
stone.Arollofbrownstainedpaperfellout.
Assheunfoldedandreadthescrollhisheadwasperilouslynearhers.Shedid
notseemtonoticeit,thoughthecolorsweptupoverhercheeks.Shefelthishair
brushagainsthertemple,butreadonwithoutmoving.
Themanuscriptwasprintedincrudeletters,somebackwards,thelargemingled
withthesmallinchildishguise.Atthebottomwherehisnamewassigneda
discoloreddimewasfastenedbyafadedribbontoablobofsealing-wax.
Thedocumentranthus:
“I,hereby,sware,bingofsoundmindthatIwillnotmarryorweddanybody
unlesstheyarenamedJaneandmusthavelightbrownhair.Imustbetwoyears
olderortheweddingwillbenullandvoidnotwithstanding.Intesstimony,
whereof,Ihaveherebysignedmynameandseal.
RICHARDMONTGOMERY,
Captain-general.“
Shelookedup,and,seeinghimsonear,startedsuddenlyaside.Hedidn’tspare
herinhisglance,andhiseyesquestionedhersanxiously.
“Ifeelas�ifI’dbeeneavesdropping,”shesaid;“Ihadnoidealittleboystook
thingssoseriously.”
“Nomoreseriouslythanmendo,”hesaid,meaningly.


“Littleboysalwayschangetheirminds.”
“Thisoneneverdid.”
Hereyesdroppedandherfingerspluckedatherhandkerchief.Then,seemingly
againstherwill,asmileblossomedonherface.“I’dliketokeepthisfor
reference,”shesaid.“Idon’tquiteunderstandityet.”
“Youmayhaveitonconditionthatyougetmeyourdiaryimmediately.”
“Mydiaryisverysilly.It’smuchsillierthanthis.”Shehesitated,watchinghis
pleadinglook.
“Pleasehurryandbringthatlittlegirlhere.Alittleboyofteniswaitingforher.”
Shetossedhimasmileandwasoff,runningthroughthetreestotheoldhouse.It
wassometimebeforeshereturned,muchmoreslowly.Shewasreadingalittle
bookasshewalked.
“I’msorry,”shesaid,“butIreallycan’tshowittoyou.It’saltogethertoo
foolish.”
“Youpromised.”Hereachedouthishand.
“DidI?Well,takeitthen.”Shehandedittohimandwalkedawaythroughthe
treestowardthebarn,whilehesatdownbeneaththepear-treetoexamineher
gift.Hesmiled,asheturnedthepagesofthelittlehook,atherconscientious
recordsoffactandfancy.Uponthefly-leafwaswritteninagirlishhandthe
nameJaneGladden,andthedateswerethoseofeighteenyearsago.Hereadfor
awhileinsilence,tastingherexperiencesdaybyday,untilatlastheturneda
leaftofindamoreintrospectivechronicle.Thenhelaughedaloud.
“IhavedecidedthatIshallnotmarryuntilIamtwenty-sixyearsofagelike
mammawasandHemustbetwenty-eightlikepapa.IlikethenameofRichard
bestofallnamesbecauseitmeansbrightness.”
Heputthebookinhispocketandwentafterher.Ashereachedthebarn-doora
voicegreetedhimfromhighamongtherafters.“Comeuphere,”shecried,“if
you’vefinishedyourvivisection.”


Heclimbeduptofindherbalancedperilouslyupontheupperbeam.Itwashis
turntoblushnow.Heheldhisbreathasshecameboldlytowardstheplatform.
“Haveyoureadit?”sheasked.
Hisanswerwastotakeherinhisarmsandseekherlips.Fromthiscomfortable
position,hernextquestioncameabitshyly.
“Weren’twesillywhenyouweretenandIwaseight?”shesaidsoftly;“almost
assillyaswearenow,”sheadded.
“Ithinkweareverywise,”hereplied.“It’sverycomfortabletothinkthatthis
hasbeengoingonsolong.”
“Wemusthavewrittenourconfessionsatjustaboutthesametime,”saidshe.
“Yes,”heassented,“itdoesn’tseemeighteenyearsago,doesit?”
Shebrokeintoalittlestormoflaughter.“No,”sheexclaimed,“bythelooksof
thatredpaintonyoursleeve,Ishouldreallythinkitwasonlyyesterday.”
“Andbythelooksofthenewinkspotunderyourfingernail,”hereplied,“it
mightalmosthavehappenedto-day.”



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