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"Six weeks for everything! Are you asking me to ruin my reputation?" And from the unknown, suavely, but with a quiver of spite, "In Florence, you know, I might even find some one else!" Thallie wondered where she had heard a voice like that.

In the afternoon, since the chatter of the others now increased her irritation, Thallie went out alone. Many beautiful objects and perspectives she passed without a glance while on those solitary walks; for emotions filled her deeper than any satisfaction from esthetic things-the ecstasy of sentimental misery. "Why can I not forget him?" she asked herself, while knowing in her soul that such oblivion could not repay her for the pleasure of these pangs.

Indeed, she nursed his memory in her heart as a priestess might nurse the fire in a sanctuary, because, at each recollection that she was in love, there returned to her a feeling wonderfully sweet, for all its bitterness, of melancholy pride. "I shall never again be the little girl I was!" And something of the majesty of great historic passions, of famous amorous heroines, raised her above the passers-by.

In Via Tornabuoni, toward five o'clock, the sidewalks filled, the tea-rooms began to buzz, the fashionable hour struck. One day as Thallie was passing through this crowd, a figure appeared on the step of a tobacconist's shop. Her heart gave a dreadful leap. He-the young man of the boat-deck!

me.

There he stood, in light flannels, smart, debonair, superior, watching the Florentines as who should say: "They amuse me, these people. Everything amuses. The world was made expressly for my amusement." He was happy. He had not suffered. He had even forgotten her existence; for when he caught sight of her, his was the stare of a stranger.

But his brows contracted. And now, without evincing half enough surprise, he was approaching, hat in hand, his blond hair glinting in the sunlight. Once more, at last, she saw that instinctive smile of his, half mocking and half tender; once

more she heard the pleasant, clipping speech that had sounded through so many dreams:

"Fancy meeting you down here in all this heat!"

She echoed mechanically:
"Fancy meeting you down here!"
She had a touch of vertigo.

"I say, how pale you are!"
"The sun," she uttered.
"You don't feel like fainting?"
"I don't know."

She thought, "Is that what 's happening to me?" and immediately everything whirled round. Then she found that she was walking quickly, that his hand clasped her arm, that he was saying: "Buck up! Get hold of yourself! Here we are!" Gloom surrounded her. She sank into a chair. Dark faces, goldenbrown with olive shadows, appeared behind tables covered with white linen; women's hats were bending over counters laden with pastry; a boyish waiter, with the profile of a Ganymede, gracefully inclined his ear. They were in Giacinta's tea-room. A cup of tea stood before her. "Drink it now."

Submissively Thallie gulped the scalding tea. It burned her all the way down, and she found that pain delicious.

"Now, then, sit still and don't think." A long silence. He lighted a cigarette. "Smoke bother you?"

She shook her head. "Better?"

She nodded.

"That was a near thing, what? Your people must be a bit batty to have you here in this weather."

"I'm all right now," she faltered.

"I should n't have known where to take you."

She was able to smile faintly while replying:

"In case I have a relapse, I live at the Pension Schwandorf."

"I won't forget that."

"As you did once."

For a second he seemed as much startled by that exclamation as she. Then, simulating penitence, he protested:

"I know; but listen to my excuse." And he invented rapidly a complicated tale of good intentions and disappoint

ments.

The friends with whom he was traveling had dragged him straightway down into the château country. On returning to Paris, he had started three times―no, four-toward her hotel. But some one had always crossed his path, and when he was free the hour had passed for calling. "Besides," he added, at a flash of inspiration, "I don't yet know your name!" "Nor I yours." "Reginald Dux."

She missed his uncontrollable tone of satisfaction-the accent with which conspicuous persons, still bound to vanity, identify themselves. She did not know that in his world "Reginald Dux" was synonymous with wealth, social prominence, eligibility. Nevertheless, those syllables descended, one by one, deep into her breast, like priceless jewels into a coffer that would hold them for evermore. When she pronounced her own name in return, it seemed that she gave him something of herself: she felt a thrill, as though this mutual revealment were a subtle consummation of her hopes.

Looking down, she ventured:

"You 're still with those friends of yours?"

He and Hector Ghillamoor had come down for an aviation meet at Rome, scheduled for the morrow. Setting out on the spur of the moment, they had paid for their impulse with innumerable discomforts. He related whimsically the story of their journey. "So far as miraculous. survivals go, the three chaps in the fiery furnace had nothing on Ghillamoor and me!"

Mrs. Ghillamoor and her daughter had done well to stay in France.

The black-haired lady had been abandoned! Thalia raised her head, glanced in the mirror on the wall, and saw herself aglow.

She had on a little straw bonnet, garnished with blossoms, the shadows of which still further softened the contours of her cheeks. Bright ringlets, curled

tight by the heat, lay close to her temples, just where her peach-like flush grew vague. Her large eyes were bathed in the liquid radiance of supreme occasions; her full lips, that still suggested childhood, were parted in a ravishing curve; her lace collar, falling open at the neck, revealed the milk-white throat, ringed with its double rimple, so smooth, so fragrant of her youth, its tissues pulsating from the beating of her heart. He gazed at her with the attention of a precocious connoisseur of beauty. He displayed the look that he had shown for a moment on the boat-deck. Leaning his elbows on the table, he inquired:

"How long are you staying in Florence?"

I'm studying

"We're living here. my painting." "That 's so. You were going to be an artist, and paint my portrait."

"You remembered that!"

"But I remember everything," he responded warmly, leaning nearer. She stirred as a rose stirs in all its petals at the voice of Hesperus.

Then, looking up quickly, at a subconscious twinge of guilt, she saw Lieutenant Olivuzzi, strolling with two brother-officers past the table. The Italian bowed deeply, gravely, as it were reprovingly. Drawing back quickly, she caught up her gloves.

"I ought to go!"

On the sidewalk Reginald Dux demanded:

"A friend of yours?"

"A friend of my sisters. These Italians," she stammered, "don't understand American ideas. Now he 'll think I'm very queer."

His face cleared. "Silly asses!"

"Are n't they? As if-"

All too conveniently an empty cab drove up beside her; and just because it was there, she blundered into it. She was shocked when he took off his hat to say good-by. But he was drinking in her pure young loveliness, in the sunshine more wonderful than in the shadowy tea

"Au revoir."

room or on the starlit boat-deck. He came closer. He rested his hand on the cushions beside her arm.

"Will you be here when I come back this way from Rome? It 's au revoir, then?"

Her voice was of a bird-like liquidity, all ready to break.

As she was borne swiftly homeward, she saw at last how beautiful, how dear a place this Florence was.

(To be continued)

To the Child of a Revolutionist

By LOUIS UNTERMEYER

HILD, you were born with fighting in your blood,

Yet from the tumult and the darkening flood,
Child, you must lift.

Splendid it is to hurl against the strong
Bulwarks of ignorance, a stronger stuff;
Splendid to challenge prejudice and wrong-
But not enough.

Yea, when your angry faith defeats the foe,

And, when the last, deep, thundering growl is stilled,
With the same arms that stabbed and brought them low,
Child, you must build!

Yet you shall hear the soundless bugles call;
And there shall be fresh wars and no release.
And you shall fight the hardest fight of all-

Even in peace.

There shall be little rest and great delight;
And, struggling still, your banner shall ascend,
Battling for Beauty-that exalted fight

Which has no end.

[graphic][merged small]

ALL

The Fruit of the Tree

By WILLIAM MERRIAM ROUSE
Illustrations by George Wright

LL along the river road folks called
Esa Unger meaner than quack-
Esau Unger meaner

grass and twice as aggravating. Quack-
grass just hogged the goodness out of the
land and said nothing, but when Unger
took what lay to his hand, he made a noise
about it, brazenly, and a jest of the vic-
tim. Unger knew the things that were
said about him, and cared not. They
were never said to his bristling beard,
both because of his ruthless strength and
his power in money, and it gave him cov-
ert satisfaction that men did not dare to
speak their minds.

On the morning before Christmas, Unger sat by the stove in his comfortable kitchen and worked a new pair of laces into the high rubber shoes that went on over his thick leggings of felt. It was just after breakfast, and Martha Unger, worked lean and somewhat submissive by twenty years of Esau, moved from table to kitchen sink, clearing away the dishes. Esau knew, although she had not spoken, that there was something in her mind seeking for words. He was ready to put a stop to it, for, to his thinking, almost anything that his wife might suggest would be foolishness.

"I'm going to chop on the spur of the mountain to-day," he said after a time. "You might as well put me up some lunch; it's a waste of time to come back for a warm dinner."

"Yes, Esau."

Martha spoke in her most conciliating

tones as she turned hurriedly from the
dishes and began to prepare the lunch.
Esau gave barely enough thought to her
to realize that she was on the point of
broaching some unwelcome subject.
Working in a stiff new pair of leather
laces was an important matter.
"To-morrow's Christmas."
was a trifle strained.

"Uh-huh."

Her voice

"The church folks in the village is planning to do quite a little this year."

"Then the fools ain't all dead yet." He spoke calmly, but with the strength of a conviction that had been his until it had become part of his life.

"The women are a-going to try and give a Christmas-tree to each one of the famblies around here that can't afford it." She hurried her words a little. "Some is going to furnish one thing, and some another."

"Encouraging shiftlessness," commented Esau as he stamped his feet into the rubber shoes.

"I thought mebbe I might be able to give tree." She turned and faced him, unconsciously twisting up a bit of apron in her work-hardened fingers. "One of that little clump of young spruces up in the back pasture would do first class. They ain't good for nothing else."

Esau grunted and stood up. Despite his contempt for Martha's notions, these rare scenes were unpleasant to him. They made him feel as though his wife thought

he was not a good provider. He knew that he was. Martha never wanted for the best food and the warmest clothes.

"I need all them trees to make sledstakes out of," he said shortly.

Martha's lip quivered.

It irritated

him that it should be necessary to say anything more about the matter, but he waited for her to speak.

"It does seem as though you might spare one, Esau. I was figuring on fixing mine up for Nahum Phinney's fambly. His wife ain't well, and they 's six young uns, and I don't believe they 've got more 'n enough to eat, if they have that much."

"That good-for-nothing little runt!" Esau snorted out the words. "I had n't ought to of rented him fifty acres last fall. The first quarter of rent is due to-day, but he won't never be able to pay it; and if he don't-"

Esau paused abruptly as he put on his Mackinaw jacket, and took the lunch-pail from his wife. He feared she would guess what he had left unsaid, and his fear was justified.

"It would n't seem jest Christian to turn him out of his house in this kind of weather, Esau," she protested.

Martha had struck on the two subjects just then most powerful to stir Esau to wrath, Christian and Nahum Phinney. He turned, with his hand on the doorknob, and glared down from his six feet three of self-sufficient strength.

"Christian!" he grunted. "Tomfoolery! Your Christianity is like spoon victuals-mushy and soft for them that 's too old or too young to eat reg'lar. It ain't for men and women; not if they 've got any sense. Christmas and Christian and Nahum Phinney go together."

"That don't make no difference." Martha had flared up at last. "The Phinneys is human critters, jest like we be."

"Human nuisances!"

He swung out of the house, his cap brushing the top of the doorway. He was too big to be deeply angry with a woman, but he was deeply disgusted. Every year at Christmas Martha was

taken with notions more or less like this. He honestly tried to make allowance for her, and that was more than he did for any other living thing.

Unger stopped at the woodshed and picked up an ax, curling two fingers. around the very tip of the helve. Then he raised his arm slowly and held the ax out straight. There were few men in the township who could do that. Suddenly he lowered the ax, and turned at the sound of footsteps crunching over the hard snow.

He was a little abashed that any one should have caught him at his prideful display of strength, but when he saw the peaked face and stooping shoulders of Nahum Phinney his embarrassment turned to anger.

Phinney came up and stood before him. for all the world like a scared rabbit, Unger thought. He looked scornfully down. at the smaller man, who was plainly suffering from the intense cold despite many wrappings of patched clothes. Phinney dispensed with the customary greetings and remarks about the weather.

"I come over to see about my rent, Mr. Unger," he said nervously. "I sold my hay all right enough, but they ain't come for it on account of the deep snow. Mebbe next week they can draw it, and then I'll have a check that 's jest as good as cash money. I'll turn it right over to you, and I can cut wood enough to pay the rest inside of a month, certain sure."

Although he had no leaning toward mercy, Esau Unger reflected a moment before replying, for Mrs. Unger and Phinney together had stirred him to thought on a matter that ordinarily he would have settled mechanically. The world was full of Nahum Phinneys, never more than holding their own and often needing help. They were a drag on the strong.

"The rent is due to-day," said Unger. "If you can't pay it, you 'd better pack up and move to-morrow, like a man, instead of whining about it."

"But to-morrow 's Christmas!" Phinney's eyes widened with growing apprehension.

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