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|The Journalist's -- English Story
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|Author:||Pooja [ Thu May 20, 2010 10:28 pm ]|
|Post subject:||The Journalist's -- English Story|
The Journalist's highly Ranked English Story about Journalist's and RAILWAY STATION.
On Friday night, just as we were finishing dinner--we had eaten inside--the Divorcee said: "It may not be in order to make the remark, but I cannot help saying that it is so strange to think that we are sitting here so quietly in a country at war, suffering for nothing, very little inconvenienced, even by the departure of all the men. The field work seems to be going on just the same. Every one seems calm. It is all most unexpected and strange to me."
"I don't see it that way at all," said the Journalist. "I feel as if I were sitting on a volcano, knowing it was going to erupt, but not knowing at what moment."
"That I understand," said the Divorcee, "but that is not exactly what I mean. I meant that, in spite of that feeling which every one between here and Paris must have, I see no outward signs of it."
"They are all about us just the same," remarked the Doctor, "whether you see them or not. Did it ever happen to you to be walking in some quiet city street, near midnight, when all the houses were closed, and only here and there a street lamp gleamed, and here and there a ray of light filtered through the shuttered window of some silent house, and to suddenly remember that inside all these dark walls the tragedies of life were going on, and that, if a sudden wave of a magician's wand were to wipe away the walls, how horrified, or how amused one would be?"
"Well," said the Lawyer, "I have had that idea many times, but it has come to me more often in some hotel in the mountains of Switzerland. I remember one night sitting on the terrace at Murren, with the Jungfrau rising in bridal whiteness above the black sides of the Schwarze-Monch, and the moon shining so brightly over the slopes, that I could count any number of isolated little chalets perched on the ledges, and I never had the feeling so strongly of life going on with all its joys and griefs and crimes, invisible, but oppressive."
"I am afraid," said the Doctor, "that there is enough of it going on right here--if we only knew it. I had an example this afternoon. I was walking through the village, when an old woman called to me, and asked if I were the doctor from the old Grange. I said I was, and she begged me to come in and see her daughter-in-law. She was very ill, and the local doctor is gone. I found a young, very pretty girl, with a tiny baby, in as bad a state of hysteria as I ever saw. But that is not the story. That I heard by degrees. It seems the father-in-law, a veteran of 1870, now old, and nearly helpless, is of good family, but married, in his middle age, a woman of the country. They had one son who was sent away to school, and became a civil engineer. He married, about two years ago, this pretty girl whom I saw. She is Spanish. He met her somewhere in Southern Spain, and it was a desperate love match. The first child was born about six weeks before the war broke out. Of course the young husband was in the first class mobilized. The young wife is not French. She doesn't care at all who governs France, so that her man were left her in peace. I imagine that the old father suspected this. He had never been happy that his one son married a foreigner. The instant the young wife realized that her man was expected to put love of France before love of her, she began to make every effort to induce him to go out of the country. To make a long story short, the son went to his mother, whom he adored, made a clean breast of the situation, and proposed that, to satisfy his wife, he should start with her for the Spanish frontier, finding means to have her brother meet them there and take her home to her own people. He promised to make no effort to cross the frontier himself, and gave his word of honor to be with his regiment in time. He knew it would not be easy to do, and, in case of accident, he wished his mother to be able to explain to the old veteran. But the lad had counted without the spirit that is dominant in every French woman to-day. The mother listened. She controlled herself. She did not protest. But that night, when the young couple were about to leave the house, carrying the sleeping baby, they found the old man, pistol in hand, with his back against the door. The words were few. The veteran stated that his son could only pass over his dead body--that if he insisted, he would shoot him before he would allow him to pass: that neither wife nor child should leave France. It was in vain that the wife, on her knees, pleaded that she was not French--that the war did not concern her--that her husband was dearer to her than honor--and so forth. The old man declared that in marrying his son she became French, though she was a disgrace to the name, that her son was a born Frenchman; that she might go, and welcome, but that she would go without the child, and, of course, that ended the argument. The next morning the baby was christened, but the tale had leaked out. I suppose the Spanish wife had not kept her ideas absolutely to herself--and the son joined his regiment. The Spanish wife is still here, but, needless to say, she is not at all loved by her husband's family, who watch her like lynxes for fear she will abduct the child, and she has developed as neat a case of hysterical mania of persecution as I ever encountered. So you see that even in this quiet place there are tragedies behind the walls. But I seem to be telling a story out of my turn!"
"And a forbidden war story, at that," said the Youngster. "So to change the air--whose turn is it?"
The Journalist puffed out his chest. "Ladies and gentlemen," he said, as he rose to his feet, and struck, the traditional attitude of a monologist, "I regret to inform you that you will be obliged to have a taste of my histrionic powers. I've got to act out part of this story--couldn't seem to tell it in any other form."
* * * * *
A slender young woman turned at the word, so sharply spoken over her shoulder, and visibly paled.
She was strikingly attractive, in her modish tailor frock, and her short tight jacket of Persian lamb, with its high, collar of grey fur turned up to her ears.
Her singularly fair skin, her red hair, her brown eyes, with dark lashes, and narrowly pencilled eyebrows that were almost black, gave her a remarkable look, and at first sight suggested that Nature had not done it all. But a closer observation convinced one that the strange combination of such hair and such eyebrows was only one of those freaks by which Nature now and then warns the knowing to beware even of marvellous beauty. In this case it stamped a woman as one who--by several signs--might be identified by the initiated as one of those, who, without reason or logic, spring now and again from most unpromising soil!
She had walked the entire length of the station from the wide doors on the street side to the swing doors at the opposite end which gave entrance to the tracks.
As she passed, no man had failed to turn and look after her, as, with her well hung skirts just clearing the wet pavement, she stepped daintily over the flagging, and so lightly that neither boots nor skirt were the worse for it. One sees women in Paris who know that art, but it is rare in an American.
She must have been long accustomed to attracting masculine eyes, and no wonder, for when she stepped into the place she seemed to give a color to the atmosphere, and everything and everybody went grey and commonplace beside her.
It was a terrible night in November.
The snow was falling rapidly outside, and the wind blew as it can blow only on the New England coast.
It was the sort of night that makes one forced to be out look forward lovingly to home, and think pityingly of the unfortunate, while those within doors involuntarily thank God for comfort, and hug at whatever remnant of happiness living has left them.
The railway station was crowded.
The storm had come up suddenly at the close of a fair day. It was the hour, too, at which tradespeople, clerks, and laborers were returning home to the suburbs, and at which the steamboat express for New York was being made up--although it was not an encouraging night for the latter trip.
The pretty young woman with the red hair had looked through the door near the tracks, and glanced to the right, where the New York express should be. The gate was still closed. She was much too early! For a second she hesitated. She glanced about quickly, and the look was not without apprehension. It was evident that she did not see the man who was following her, and who seemed to have been waiting for her near the outer door. He did not speak, nor attract her attention in any way. The crowd served him in that!
After a moment's hesitation, she turned toward the ladies' waiting room, and just as she was about to enter, the man behind addressed her--and the word was said so low that no one near heard it--though, by the start she gave, it might have been a pistol shot.
She stood perfectly still. The color died out of her face; but only for an instant. She looked alarmed, then perplexed, and then she smiled. She was evidently a young woman of resources.
The man was a stalwart handsome fellow of his class--though it was almost impossible to guess what that was save that it was not that which the world labels by exterior signs "gentleman." He might easily have been some sort of a mechanic. He was certainly neither a clerk nor the follower of any of the unskilled professions. He was surely countrybred, for there was a largeness in his expression as well as his bearing that spoke distinctly of broad vistas and exercise. He was tall and broad-shouldered. He stood well on his feet, hampered as little by his six feet of height and fourteen stone weight as he was by the size of his hands. One would have easily backed him to ride well and shoot straight, though he probably never saw the inside of what is called a "drawing-room."
There was the fire of a mighty emotion in his deep-set eyes. There were signs of a tremendous animal force in his square chin and thick neck, but it was balanced well by his broad brow and wide-set eyes. He seemed at this moment to hold himself in check with a rigid stubbornness that answered for his New England origin, and Puritan ancestry! Indeed, at the moment he addressed the woman, but for his eyes, he might have seemed as indifferent as any of the stone figures that upheld the iron girders of the roof above him!
Still smiling archly she moved forward into the waiting room and, passing through the dense crowd that hung about the door, crossed the room to an open space.
Without a word the man followed.
The room was dimly lighted. The crowd that surged about them, coming and going, and sometimes pressing close on every side, seemed not to note them. And, if they had, they would have seen nothing more remarkable than an extremely pretty young woman conversing quietly with a big fellow in a reefer and long boots--a rig he carried well.
"Dora!" he said again, and then had to pause to steady his voice.
Dora wet her red lips with the pointed tip of her tiny tongue; swallowed nervously once or twice, before she spoke. She was now facing him, and still smiling.
He kept his eyes fixed on her face. He did not respond to the smile. His eyes were tragic. He seemed to be seeking something in her face as if he feared her mere words would not help him.
"Why, Zeke," she said at last, when she realized that he could not get beyond her name, "I thought you had gone home an hour ago! Why didn't you take the 5.15 train?"
"I changed my mind! To tell you the truth, I heard that you were in town this afternoon. I have been watching for you--for some time."
"Well, all I can say is--you are foolish. Where's the good for you fretting yourself so? I can take care of myself."
"I can't get used to you being about in the city streets alone."
"I have been absurd a great many times of late--in your eyes. Our ideas don't seem to agree any more."
"No, Zeke, they don't!"
"Why speak to me in that tone, Dora? Don't do it!"
He looked over her head, as if to be sure of his hold on himself. He was ghastly white about his smooth-shaven, thick lips. Both hands were thrust deep into his reefer pockets.
"What's come to you, Zeke?" she asked nervously. His was not exactly the face one would see unmoved!
He answered her without looking at her. It was evident he did not dare just yet. "Nothing much, I reckon. I've been a bit down all day. I really don't know why, myself. I've had a queer presentiment, as if something were going to happen. As if something terrible were coming to me."
"Well, I'm sorry. You've no occasion to feel like that, I'm sure."
"All right, if you say so. What train shall we take?"
He stretched out one hand to take the small bag she carried.
She shrank back instinctively, and withdrew the bag. He must have felt rather than seen the movement, it was so slight.
His hand fell to his side.
Still, he persisted.
"I'm dead done up, Dora. I need my dinner, come on!"
"Then you'd better take the 6.00 train. You've just time," she said hurriedly.
"All right. Come on!"
He laid his hand on her shoulder with a gesture that was entreating. It was the first time he had touched her. A frightened look came into her eyes. He did not see it, for he was still avoiding her face. It was as if he were afraid of reading something there he did not wish to know.
Her red lips had taken on a petulant expression--that of one who hated to be "stirred up." In a childish voice--which only thinly veiled an obstinate determination--she pouted: "I'm not going--yet."
The words were said almost under her breath, as if she were fearful of their effect on him, yet was determined to carry her point.
But the man only sighed deeply as he replied: "I thought your dancing lessons were over. I hoped I was no longer to spend my evenings alone. Alone! Looking round at the things that are yours, and among which I feel so out of place, except when you are there to make me forget. God! What damnable evenings I've spent there--feeling as if you were slipping further and further out of my life--as if you were gone, and I had only the clothes you had worn, an odor about me somewhere to convince me that I had not dreamed you! Sometimes that faint, indistinct, evasive scent of you in the room has almost driven me out of my head. I wonder I haven't killed you before now--to be sure of you! I'm afraid of Hell, I suppose, or I should have."
The woman did not look at all alarmed. Indeed there was a light in her amber eyes that spoke of a kind of gratification in stirring this young giant like that--this huge fellow that could so easily crush her--but did not! She knew better why than he did--but she said nothing.
With his eyes still fixed on space--after a pause--he went on: "I was fool enough to believe that that was all over, at last, that you had danced to your heart's content, and that we were to begin the old life--the life before that nonsense--over again. You were like my old Dora all day yesterday! The Dora I loved and courted and married back there in the woods. But I might have known it wasn't finished by the ache I had here," and he struck himself a blow over the heart with his clenched fist, "when I waked this morning, and by the weight I've carried here all day." And he drew a deep breath like one in pain.
The woman looked about as if apprehensive that even his passionate undertone might have attracted attention, but only a man by the radiator seemed to have noticed, and he had the air of being not quite sober enough to understand.
There was a long pause.
The woman glanced nervously at the clock.
The man was again staring over her head.
It was quarter to six. Her precious minutes were flying. She must be rid of him!
"See here, Zeke, dear," she said, in desperation, speaking very rapidly under her breath--no fear but he would hear--"the truth is, that I'm not a bit better satisfied with our sordid kind of life than I was a year ago, when we first discussed it. I'm awfully sorry! You know that. But I can't change--and there is the whole truth! It's not your fault in one way--and yet in one way it is. God knows you have done everything you could, and more some ways than you ought. But, unluckily for you, gratifying me was not the way to mend the situation for yourself. It is cruel--but it is the truth! If a man wants to keep a woman of my disposition attached to him, he'd do far better to beat her than over-educate her, and teach her all the beauties of freedom. He should keep her ignorant, rather than cultivate her imagination, and open up the wonders of the world to her. It's rough on chaps like you, that with all your cleverness you've no instinct to set you right on a point like this--but it is lucky for women like me--at times! You were determined to force all this out of me, so you may as well hear the whole brutal truth. I'm sick of our stupid ways of life--I have been sick of it for a long time. I've passed all power to pretend any longer. I have learned that there is a great and beautiful world within the reach of women who are clever enough and brave enough to grasp at an opportunity, without looking forward or back. I want to walk boldly to this. I'm not afraid of the stepping-stones! This is really all your fault. When you married me, five years ago, I was only sixteen, and very much in love with you. Now, why didn't you make me do the housework and drudge as all the other women on the farms about yours did? I'd have done it then, and willingly, even to the washing and scrubbing. I had been working in a cotton mill. I didn't know anything better than to drudge. I thought that was a woman's lot. It didn't even seem terrible to me. But no--you set yourself to amuse me. You brought me way up to town on a wedding journey. For the first time in my life I saw there idle women in the world, who wore soft clothes and were always dressed up. You bought me finery. I was clever and imitative. I pined for all the excitement and beauty of city life when we were back on the farm, in the life you loved. I cried for it, as a child cries for the moon. I never dreamed of getting it. And you surprised me by selling the farm, and coming nearer the town to live. Just because I had an ear for music, and could pick out tunes on the old melodeon, I must have a piano and take lessons. Just because my music teacher happened to be French and I showed an aptitude for studying, that must be gratified. Can you really blame me if I want to see more of the wide world that opened up to me? Did you really think French novels and music were likely to make a woman of my lively imagination content with her lot as wife of a mechanic--however clever?"
The man looked down at her as if stunned. Arguments of that sort were a bit above the reasoning of the simple masculine animal, who seemed to belong to that race which comprehends little of the complex emotions, and looks on love as the one inevitable passion of life, and on marriage as its logical result and everlasting conclusion.
It was probable at this moment that he completed his alphabet in the great lesson of life--and spelled out painfully the awful truth, that not all the royal service of worship and love in a man's heart can hold a woman.
There was something akin to a sob in his throat as he replied: "You were so young--so pretty! I could not bear to think that you should soil your hands for me! I wanted to make up to you for all the hardships and sorrows of your childhood. I dreamed of being mother and father as well as husband to you. I thought it would make you happy to owe everything to me--as happy as it made me to give. I would willingly have carried you every step of your life, rather than you should have tired your feet. Is that a sin in a woman's eyes?"
A whimsical smile broke over the woman's face. It quivered on her red lips for just a breath, as if conscious how ill-timed it was. "I really like to tire my feet," she murmured, and she pointed the toe of her tiny boot, as if poised to dance, and looked down on it with evident admiration.
The man caught his breath sharply.
"It's that damned dancing that has upset you, Dora!"
"Sh! Don't swear! I do like dancing! I have always told you so. It was you who first admired it. It was you who let me learn."
"You were my wife! I thought that meant everything to you that it meant to me. I loved your beauty because it was yours; your pleasures because they gave you pleasure. All my ideas of right and wrong in marriage which I learned in my father's honest house bent to your desires and happiness."
She looked nervously at the clock. Ten minutes to six.
"Dora--for God's sake look at me! Dora--you're not leaving me?"
It was an almost inarticulate cry, as of a man who had foreseen his doom, and only protested from some unconquerable instinct to struggle!
She patted his clenched hand gently.
It was plainly evident that she hated the sight of suffering, and hated more not having her own way, and was possessed by a refined kind of cowardice.
"Don't make a row, there's a dear boy! It is like this: I am going over to New York, just for a few weeks. I would have told you yesterday, only I hated spoiling a nice day. It was a nice day?--with a scene. You'll find a nice long letter at home--it's a sweet one, too--telling you all about it. Don't take it too hard! I am going to earn fifty dollars a week--just fancy that--and don't blame me too much!"
He didn't seem to hear! He hung his head--the veins in his forehead swelled--there were actually tears in his eyes--and the mighty effort he made to restrain a sob was terrible--and six feet of American manhood, as fine a specimen of the animal as the soil can show, animated by a spirit which represented well the dignity of toil and self-respect, stood bowed down with ungovernable grief and shame before a merely ornamental bit of femininity.
Fate had simply perpetrated another of her ghastly pleasantries!
The woman was perplexed--naturally! But it was evidently the sight of her work, and not the work, itself, that pained her.
"Don't cut up so rough, Zeke, please don't," she went on. "I'm very fond of you--you know that--but I detest the odor of the shop, and it is so easy for us both to escape it."
He shrank as if she had struck him.
Instinctively he must have remembered the cotton mill from which he took her. A man rarely understands a woman's faculty for forgetting--that is to say, no man of his class does.
"Doesn't it seem a bit selfish of you," she went on, "to object to my earning nearly three times what you can--and so easily--and prettily?"
"I wanted you to be happy with what I could give you."
"Well, I'm sorry, but I'm not. No use to fib about it! It is too late. Your notions are so queer."
"I suppose it is queer to love one woman--and to love her so that laboring for her is happiness! I suppose you do find me a queer chap, because I am not willing that my wife--flesh of my flesh--should flaunt herself, half dressed, to excite the admiration of other men--all for fifty dollars a week!"
"See here, Zeke, you are making too much of this! If it is the separation you can't stand--why come, too! I'll soon enough be getting my hundred a week, and more. That is enough for both of us. You can be with me, if that is what you mind!"
"If that is what I mind? You know better than that! Am I such a cur that you think, if there were no other reason, I'd pose before the world as the husband of a woman who owes nothing to him--as if I were--"
She interrupted him sharply.
"What odds does it make--tell me that--which of us earns the money? To have it is the only important thing!"
The man straightened up--and squared his broad shoulders. A strange change came over him.
He laid his heavy hand on her shoulder, and, for the first time, he spoke with a disregard for self-control, although he did not raise his voice.
"Look at me, Dora, and be sure I mean what I say. Leave me to-day, and don't you ever come back to me. It may kill me to live without you. Well, better that than--than the other! I married you to live with you--not merely to have you! I've been a faithful husband to you! I shall remain that while I live. I never denied you anything I could get for you! But this I will not put up with! I thought you loved me--even if you were sometimes vain, and now and then cruel. If you're ill--if you disappoint yourself, I'll be ready to take care of you--as I promised. But don't never dare to come back to me otherwise! Unless you're in want and homeless, unless you can't live, but by the labor of my hands, I'll never sleep under the same roof with you again. Never!"
"What nonsense, Zeke! Of course I'll come back! You won't turn me away! I only want to see a little of the world, to get a few of the things you can't give me--no blame to you, either!"
He did not seem to hear her.
Almost as if speaking to himself, he went on: "I've feared for some time you didn't love me. I didn't want to believe it. I was a coward. I shut my eyes. I took what you gave me--I daren't think of this--which has come to me! I dared not! God punishes idolatry! He has punished mine. Be sure you're not making a mistake, Dora! There may be other men will admire you, my girl--will any of them love you as I do? There's never a minute I'm not conscious of you, sleeping or waking. Think again, Dora, before you leave me!"
"I can't, Zeke. I've signed a contract. I couldn't reconsider if I wanted to. It's just seven minutes to train time. Kiss me--there's a dear lad--and don't row me any more!"
She raised herself on tip toes and approached her red lips to his face--lips of an intense color to go with the marked pallor of the rest of the face, and which surely were never offered to him in vain before--but he was beyond their seduction at last.
"You've decided?" he said.
"All right! Good-bye, then! You promised to cleave to me through thick and thin 'till death did us part.' I'll have no halfway business," and he turned on his heel, and without looking back he pushed his way through the crowd, which chatted and fussed and never even noted the passing of a broken heart.
The pretty creature watched him out of sight.
There was a humorous pout on her lips. But she seemed so sure of her man! He would come back, of course--when she called him--if she ever did! Probably she liked him better at that moment than she had liked him in two years. He had opposed her. He had defied her power over him. He had once more become a man to conquer--if she ever had time!
But just now there was something more important. That train! It was three minutes to the schedule time.
As he disappeared into the crowd she drew a breath of relief, and hurried out of the waiting room and pushed her way to the platform, along which she hurried to the parlor car, where she seated herself comfortably, as if no man with a broken life had been set down that day against her record.
To be sure, she could not quite rid herself of thoughts of his face, but the recollection rather flattered her, and did not in the least prevent her noticing the looks of admiration with which two men on the opposite side of the car were regarding her.
Once or twice she glanced out of the window, apparently alternately expecting and dreading to see her stalwart husband come sprinting down the platform for the kiss he had refused.
He didn't come!
She was relieved as the train started--yet she hated to feel he could really let her go like that!
She never guessed at the depth of suffering she had brought him. How could she appreciate what she could never feel? She never dreamed that as the train pulled out into the storm he stood at the end of the station, and watched it slowly round the curve under the bridge and pass out of sight. No one was near to see him turn aside, and rest his arms against the brick wall, to bury his face in them, and sob like a child, utterly oblivious of the storm that beat upon him.
* * * * *
And he sat down.
"Come on," yelled the Youngster, "where's the claque?" And he began to applaud furiously.
"Oh, if there is a claque, the rest of us don't need to exert ourselves," said the Lawyer, indolently.
"But I say," asked the Youngster, after the Journalist had made his best bow. "I AM disappointed. Was that all?"
"My goodness," commented the Doctor, as he lighted a fresh cigar. "Isn't that enough?"
"Not for me," replied the Youngster. "I want to know about her debut. Was she a success?"
"Of course," answered the Journalist. "That sort always is."
"And I want to know," insisted the Youngster, "what became of him?"
"Why," ejaculated the Sculptor, "of course he cut his big brown throat!"
"Not a bit of it," said the Critic. "He probably went up to New York, and hung round the stage door."
"Until she called in the police, and had him arrested as a common nuisance," added the Lawyer.
"I'll bet my microscope he didn't," laughed the Doctor.
"And you won't lose your lens," replied the Journalist. "He never did a blooming thing--that is, he didn't if he existed."
"Oh, my eyes," said the Youngster. "I am disappointed again. I thought that was a simon-pure newspaper yarn--one of your reporter's dodges--real journalese!"
"She is true enough," answered the Journalist, "and her feet are true, and so is her red hair, and, unless she is a liar, and most actresses are, so is he and her origin, but as for the way she cut him out--well, I had to make that up. It is better than any of the six tales she told as many interviewers, in strict secrecy, in the days when she was collecting hearts and jewels and midnight suppers in New York."
"Is she still there?" asked the Youngster, "because if she is, I'll go back and take a look at Dora myself--after the war!"
"Well, Youngster," laughed the Journalist, "it will have to be 'after the war,' as you will probably have to go to Berlin to find her."
"That's all right!" retorted the Youngster. "I am going--with the Allied armies."
We all jumped up.
"No!" cried the Divorcee. "No!!"
"But I am. Where's the good of keeping it secret? I enlisted the day I went to Paris the first time--so did the Doctor, so did the Critic, and so did he, the innocent looking old blackguard," and he seized the Journalist by both shoulders and shook him well. "He thought we wouldn't find it out."
"Oh, well," said the Journalist, "when one has seen three wars, one may as well see one more.--This will surely be my last."
"Anyway," cried the Youngster, "we'll see it all round--the Doctor in the Field Ambulance, me in the air, the Critic is going to lug litters, and as for the Journalist--well, I'll bet it's secret service for him! Oh, I know you are not going to tell, but I saw you coming out of the English Embassy, and I'll bet my machine you've a ticket for London, and a letter to the Chief in your pocket."
"Bet away," said the Critic.
"What'd I tell you--what'd I tell you? He speaks every God-blessed language going, and if it wasn't that, he'd tell fast enough."
"Never mind," said the Trained Nurse, "so that he goes somewhere--with the rest of us."
"You--YOU?" exclaimed the Divorcee.
"Why not? I was trained for this sort of thing. This is my chance."
"And the rest of us?"
The Doctor intervened. "See here, this is forty-eight hours or more earlier than I meant this matter to come up. I might have known the Youngster could not hold his tongue."
"I've been bursting for three days."
"Well, you've burst now, and I hope you are content. There is nothing to worry about, yet. We fellows are leaving September 1st. The roads are all clear, and it was my idea that we should all start for Paris together early next Tuesday morning. I don't know what the rest of you want to do, but I advise you," turning to the Divorcee, "to go back to the States. You would not be a bit of good here. You may be there."
"You are quite right," she replied sadly. "I'd be worse than no good. I'd need 'first aid,' at the first shot."
"I'm going with her," said the Sculptor. "I'd be more useless than she would." And he turned a questioning look at the Lawyer.
"I must go back. I've business to attend to. Anyway, I'd be an encumbrance here. I may be useful there. Who knows?"
As for me, every one knew what I proposed to do, and that left every one accounted for except the Violinist. He had been in his favorite attitude by the tree, just as he had been on that evening when it had been proposed to "tell stories," gazing first at one and then at another, as the hurried conversation went on.
"Well," he said, finding all eyes turned on him, "I am going to London with the Journalist--if he is really going."
"All right, I am," was the reply.
"And from London I shall get to St. Petersburg. I have a dream that out of all this something may happen to Poland. If it does, I propose to be there. I'll be no good at holding a gun--I could never fire one. But if, by some miracle, there comes out of this any chance for the 'Fair Land of Poland' to crawl out, or be dragged out, from under the feet of the invader--well, I'll go home--and--and--"
"And grow up with the country," shouted the Youngster. "Bully for you."
"I may only go back to fiddle over the ruins. But who knows? At all events, I'll go back and carry with me all that your country had done for three generations of my family. They'll need it."
"Well," said the Doctor, "that is all settled. Enough for to-night. We'll still have one or two, and it may be three days left together. Let us make the most of them. They will never come again."
"And to think what a lovely summer we had planned," sighed the Divorcee.
"Tush!" ejaculated the Doctor. "We had a lovely time all last year. As for this summer, I imagine that it has been far finer than what we planned. Anyway, let us be thankful that it was this summer that we all found one another again."
"Better go to bed," cried the Critic; "the Doctor is getting sentimental--a bad sign in an army surgeon."
"I don't know," remarked the Trained Nurse; "I've seen those that were more sentimental than the Journalist, and none the worse for it."
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