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was a comparatively trivial matter, but his idea of her was, if not the foundation of her idea of herself, at least of the gravest structural importance. With the deepest distress she now saw it threatened.

How seriously threatened she at once set about finding out, for the thing she valued was endangered, not so much by his marriage as by the state of mind his marriage indicated; she set out, not deliberately, but with unerring instinct. A more intelligent woman would have been less wise, would have tried to reason, where Antonia was content with the strong impression that she received that Lewis never had been, never could be in love with any other woman. She saw neither him nor his wife; no one's confidence was violated, no facts were betrayed, nevertheless she absorbed the whole story, knew that a clever, serious, pretty woman had fallen in love with Lewis and he had married her. There was nothing more to know. No cataclysm had occurred. The past was intact.

She would have felt even greater confidence if she had known that his marriage could as little be a rival to his sentiment for her as his business could. It was all part of his new enthusiasm for the practical. He had married a woman with a genius for execution, a woman who made every-day life a luxury, who smoothed his daily path so clear of obstacles that he was left wholly unhampered, free to do his own work. She was the very best partner he could have had.

But, still an idealist, he was distrustful of real life, afraid of the very success for which he worked. It rejoiced him, therefore, to know that there was still something apart, which he cherished, a love which, quixotic, unfulfilled, bringing nothing but suffering, was still the most valued of his possessions, a remembrance to which he turned, less often, perhaps, but no less fervently than before. Most men of affairs have some deliberate cult for something aside, even opposed to their business: religion, or charities, orchids, books, something to prove to themselves and the world that they had wider possibilities. The love of Antonia was this and more to Lewi

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saw him. She was not insolent enough to wish to follow the doings of him and his wife. It was no affair of hers. She knew the great fact she was concerned to know.

It was with a distinct shock that she read one day in the newspaper of the death of Eleanor, wife of Lewis Ricalton.

She found herself very much moved. She sat down to write to him, since, unlike him, she was not afraid of acknowledging the claims of such a friendship as theirs had been; but after all, she could not send any of her letters. They all, in spite of her care, betrayed her knowledge that his grief was not the bitterest through which a man could pass. She struck a note bound to be jarring; her sentences framed themselves to suggest that her sympathy was itself a very important thing to him—almost more important than his grief.

She could not, however, free herself from the idea that she was churlish not to write, as if she repudiated a responsibility, not, as a matter of fact, disagreeable to her. Nevertheless, she did not send a letter.

This was her position when one evening she found herself going in to dinner with an old friend of Ricalton's, a man whom she had seen constantly in the days when all Lewis's friends were to her significant people. She saw him with pleasure, and before she had taken his arm had formulated half a dozen sentences with which to meet hi first mention of Lewis. That this would come immediately she did not doubt, for he had been so plainly the only cause of their having ever met, the only shadow of a link between them; but dinner went on while they talked of everything else.

Antonia was reluctant herself to introduce Ricalton's name, for she knew this man had heard and seen a great deal more than had ever been discussed between them, and a certain embarrassment hung about the subject. Nevertheless, as their time together grew shorter, she grew less sensitive, and said finally, without circumlocution:

"Do you ever see anything of Lewis Ricalton now? I was so sorry to hear he had lost his wife."

"Yes," said the other, "I see him all the time, or did before he went abroad."

"I had wanted," said Antonia, with the candid manner of one who desires the truth to convey a very untruthful impression, "to

write to him when his wife died, but I never did. You see, I had never seen her at all, and him, not for years. I am very constant to my old friends, but I often find that other people forget. I did not know whether it would please him to hear from me."

"Didn't you?" said her companion, looking at her oddly. They all rose from the table, and Antonia was afraid that she would have to go away with this meagre reply, but he added presently, "Well, you may take my word that it would please him -more than anything that could happen." On this she was not sorry to part.

At thirty, after a life that had somewhat sapped her emotional abilities, Antonia was not seriously discomposed by these words, but she was very glad, very much soothed and flattered, very peacefully restored to a certain belief in herself.

brance of you through too constant use has grown blurred, my old photograph of you through too much looking at has grown meaningless. The living recollection of you eludes me when I most desire it. Let me see you, and I feel it will never elude me again. Yrs.,

L. R.

Many times did Antonia read this letter. A woman could hardly ask a more flattering communication after the lapse of years: her photograph, her looks were still present to him; yet something intangible she felt was lacking, something which even in the old days had been lacking, only then she had not had the interest to observe. She wondered if it were the spoken word to which women cling. She wished the last sentence had read, "Let me see you and I feel you will never again elude me." She did not wish to think it was only her recol

Whatever her state of mind, within a few lection he loved. days she wrote to him:

MY DEAR LEWIS: This is like launching a letter into space, I know so little what or where you now are; but I want you to know how sorry I am for your trouble. In my old age I cling to the friends of the time that really mattered, and to you especially I want to make a late acknowledgment, for I find that you did more for me in some ways than anyone I have ever known before or since. Will you come to see me the next time you are in New York? If not, at least write frankly and tell me that you have no time for foolish, sentimental old maids.

Your friend,


She looked in the mirror over her table, hoping that he would come to see how magnificently she contradicted her own description.

"He may think I mean more than I say," she thought, as she directed the envelope. It was not for a day or two that she realized how right he would be if he did; that she would now be very glad to make use of such a regard as his; that she could imagine no fuller or more rewarding future than to marry him.

As soon as possible, but not before she had had time to await it, an answer arrived:

DEAR ANTONIA: So I am to see you again, and at your own suggestion. I can scarcely take it in. I sail next week. I have had no other plans since I received your letter. Don't think I am attaching too much importance to anything you have said. I could not. I am moved only by your willingness to see me a motive more momentous than anything that has moved me for years. For, dear Antonia, I need to see you. My remem

When at length the drawing-room door his face lined and sharpened and brought opened to admit him, older, obviously wiser, as it were into focus-when she saw him, her first idea was that this man had had admirably the power to advance and alter in every way but one-he still loved her.

He stood silent an instant. Then

"Sit down, Antonia," he said, "and let me look at you." And having followed this course for a few minutes, he passed his hands quickly over his eyes, exclaiming: "That is what I have been needing. A man ought to see his great tragedy every now and then to keep him from becoming utterly base and practical."

A little stirred by his obvious emotion, she answered:

"You don't look as if tragedy had been so very familiar a companion to you, Lewis."

"Perhaps it was not a very good word. I should have said boldly his ideal." "I, Lewis, a worn, worldly creature like me?"

"You have been," he said gravely, "the only purely ideal influence that I have ever had. I was never religious, and aside from ambition and the practical things of each day, the as been only and always you.” "Ambi en very carefully looked to, I hear w ore wonderfully successful, aren't you

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htly changed: "Oh, am successful. The ma


jority is behind, but the minority ahead is confoundedly hard to pass."


"It seems to me you have done so much in your ten years," she answered with a sigh, especially when I look back on mine.' "I had the strongest of incentives." "What?"

"I married on a small income." She was silent. She had almost forgotten the interlude of his marriage. It was he who presently went on, unconscious of any break in her attention.

"That is the thing that makes men really work. They never ask the dreadful question why they are working. They are working to pay their monthly bills, and to have the right to run up others. That is what I began at. Sometimes I feel as if I had only just begun. However, I hope by the next time I come here you will see

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"That sounds as if you did not mean to come for a long time."

"Indeed, Antonia, you must let me see you now and then."


"As often as you wish, Lewis." "That is a dangerous permission. You may see me oftener than you want. week I have to go to Kansas, but I shall probably be back during the summer."

This well-organized future somewhat chilled Antonia, and she said:

"I see men do not need their ideals oftener than once in six months."

He took this very simply. "Ah," he said smiling, "you would not say that if you knew what you had been to me all this time that I have not seen you; how the thought of you has come to me whenever I was alone. I used to think I was like a man working in the hot sun who knew there was a cool, dark room where he could always rest for a few minutes. Whenever I was overpressed and little things grew to look like big ones, I only had to think of you, to remember that somewhere you were living, that I had once seen and talked to you and loved you, and I felt at peace. I put it very badly. It can't be expressed." She was touched by his earnestness.

"Lewis, how can you, when you know me so well?" she said. "It was all very well when you were a boy, but nowSurely you see me a little differently now?" "I shall go to my grave seeing you in exactly the same way that I have always seen you."

The chill of his former speech had entirely passed, and Antonia said eagerly: "You don't know what it is to me that you can feel like this. I was not very appreciative at the time, but since then I have grown to value your opinion of me more -more than anything else, I believe."

"You don't speak as if you had been very happy."

"Happy! Oh, what it had been! Every day like every other day, every year like every other year, except that I was growing a little older and a little harder to amuse. Nothing to make my life disagreeable, everything to make it pleasant, nothing to make it happy."

He appeared genuinely distressed. "I was surprised never to hear that you had married," he said.

She thought men strange creatures, and was moved to ask:

"How would you have felt if you had?" "There would have been an element in my life changed." He hesitated, and then went on: "I hope I should have been glad."

"That means you think matrimony, generally speaking, good for everyone." "Yes," he said, "I do."

"And so you would have been glad to hear of my marriage?"

"Why not? I care very much for your happiness, and I had known for six years that you would never marry me."

"And you never even thought- In the last few months has it never occurred to you, Lewis-" She stopped. He looked at her and understood.

"Oh, poor Antonia," he said, "I see what you have been dreading. It was very brave of you under the circumstances to grant me an interview. You were afraid that I was going to reopen the old question." He shook his head.

For a moment Antonia felt a burning embarrassment in the situation, and then, thanks to her natural frankness, she rose above it.

"Of course it occurred to me, Lewis," she said. "Men are never prepared for the easy leaps of the feminine imagination; and yet be honest-was it such a leap? You are free, you loved me, you admit I am the most important thing in your life." Her tone challenged him to contradict any of these assertions.

"The most important?" he said. His tone was barely a question, certainly not an assent. It was more as if he repeated her words as a test for himself. He got up and stood by the mantel-piece, his back to her. At length he said:

"Did you know I had a daughter, Antonia ?"

No contradiction would have been half as eloquent. Antonia, ignorant as she was of real human relationships, felt herself slip far into the background of his life. His very look was different.

"No," she said, "I did not know;" and added rather weakly, "I suppose you are very fond of her?"

He gave a funny little laugh. "Yes, that and a good deal more. She is why I am here."

"Here?" said Antonia perversely, indicating her drawing-room.

"Here, in the world. She stands for all I must do. She is your guarantee that I am a safe companion, that you can trust me never to annoy you as I used to do."

To Antonia this could mean only one thing.

"You mean you've changed," she said. "I've been married. That's all." So after all, she thought, she had been superseded. She could imagine no other interpretation of such a speech. And, as is so often the case with women, respectful of conventions, masters of fine shades and suggestions, now when she was really frightened, she determined to have the truth by the shortest method.

"Forgive me, Lewis," she said; "I did not know that you had been so much in love with your wife."

He stood silent, contracting his brows, either at the question, or at his own inability to find the right words in which to answer it. "Why do you hesitate?" she demanded. "My dear Antonia!" he flung out his hands with an impatient gesture.


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You must answer me, Lewis. You have thought it worth while to say things to me that make it your duty to answer me.' "I have answered you already," he returned. "If I could have said what would have been right, I should not have had to hesitate."

She drew a breath of relief, remaining still puzzled. They stared at each other, she trying to get his full meaning, he, wait

ing to see her comprehend. At last he said slowly: "I see you don't understand why, if I was not in love with my wife, I should not be as troublesome a lover as ever."

"Of course I see. You fell in love after you married." Her voice trembled a little. He flung back his head, addressing the ceiling. "Oh, these women!" he said. 'They cast men into fiery furnaces and expect them to come out demons, or else unchanged. Six years ago you sent me away

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"But I thought you had been telling me that you had not changed."

"There is absolutely only one respect in which I am not changed and that is my feeling about you. Otherwise I am a different man. I wonder if I can make it plain to you. I have been married. I have lived five years with a good, clever woman, a woman who knew by instinct what I needed, with a mind like crystal. Everything I did she helped me in-oh, not in any fantastic sense, but with her hands and with her brain. My success is just as much hers as-as my child is. We worked and we saved, and at last, thank Heaven! we spent together. That was the main thing in all my life-the best possible aspect of every day. And now there is something left of it-my little girl."

"How old is she?"

"Three," he answered absently, and she was aware that he knew how little interest she had in her question.

Presently he went on, following his own thought: "It's a great game-a great vice, I sometimes think-this game of affairs; but it kept me from cutting my throat when you sent me away." "And now you

"I see," she said coldly. can't be happy without it."

"Happy," he returned; "that is a very remote question. In playing the game I assumed certain responsibilities, which I must of course live up to."

And Antonia, seeing the things she valued swept from her, the practical future, the ideal past, made a last attempt to make him see what might be his:

"And in living up to them, could I be of no help to you, Lewis?"

He answered eagerly: "You can be and are. You are everything I wish you to be, dear Antonia."

She said nothing. She was trying to ad

just herself to this final state of things. In a moment he held out his hand.


Good-by," he said. "I have talked insufferably about myself. You will forgive me."

She had not quite finished with him, and did not take his hand. "I don't quite understand," she said, without looking up. "You talk as if I had had some place in your life."

"The place of a man's first love when there has never been a second. The thought of you was always a delight and strength to me."

"I thought that was what her bodily presence was. Indeed, Lewis," she went on, rising also, "you used the right word a moment ago-fantastic. Your feeling for me is fantastic."

"Do you mean to say," he asked, turning to her suddenly, "that you don't at all value the sort of feeling you inspire?"

She shrugged her shoulders. "A feeling that does not even lead you to wish to see me oftener than once a year or so?"

"It is certainly not necessary to my regard that I should see you at all."

"Why should I value it?" she retorted,

her voice actually breaking. "What good is it to me? What good am I to you as a living woman?"

She did not move him an inch. "After all," he said, "women are never idealists. You are not able to conceive of my having a real sentiment for you, because I am not urging you to marry me. Forgive my form of expression. At least I understand that if I did want to, you would not even let me say so."

"No, I don't think I should," she returned slowly, "now that you show me how impossible it would be to take the place of your wife."

"Dear Antonia, you don't need to be told that it is not very easy to take the place of a man's wife. The place you do take

"I don't want to hear anything more about the place I do take."

He looked at her gravely, and then, after a moment, said again: "Good-by." "You are going?"

"I must. I have an appointment." "You are going to see your daughter?" He smiled, appreciating her keenness, not at all appreciating her bitterness. "Yes," he said, “I am."


By E. S. Martin

I DROPPED a seed in a cold, cold heart
Far back in the early spring;

I've tried and tried to make it start,
Oh, I've tried like anything.

The garden flowers that the sun has freed With bloom are all areek.

Ah, when shall a bud from that little seed Blush pink in my true love's cheek?

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