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Formal Invitation to Fifi to share Queed’s Dining-Room (provided it is very cold upstairs); and First Outrage upon the Sacred Schedule of Hours.

QUEED supped in an impenetrable silence. The swelling rednesses both above and below his left eye attracted the curious attention of the boarders, but he ignored their glances, and even Klinker forbore to address him. The meal done, he ascended to his sacred chamber, but not alas, to remain.

For a full week, the Scriptorium had been uninhabitable by night, the hands of authors growing too numb there to write. On this night, conditions were worse than ever; the usual valiant essay was defeated with more than the usual ease. Queed fared back to his dining-room, as was now becoming his melancholy habit. And to-night the necessity was exceptionally trying, for he found that the intrusive daughter of the landlady had yet once again spread her mathematics there before him.

Nor could Fifi this time claim misunderstanding and accident. She fully expected the coming of Mr. Queed and had been nervously awaiting it. The state of mind thus induced was not in the least favorable to doing algebra successfully or pleasurably. No amount of bodily comfort could compensate Fifi for having to have it. But her mother had ruled the situation to-night with a strong hand and a flat foot. The bedroom was entirely too cold for Fifi. She must, positively must, go down to the warm and comfortable dining-room, — do you hear me, Fifi? As for Mr. Queed — well, if he made himself objectionable, Sharlee would simply have to give him another good talking to.


Yet Fifi involuntarily cowered as she looked up and murmured: “Oh — good evening!”

Mr. Queed bowed. In the way of conveying displeasure, he had in all probability the most expressive face in America.

He passed around to his regular place, disposed his books and papers, and placed his Silence sign in a fairly conspicuous position. This followed his usual custom. Yet his manner of making his arrangements to-night wanted something of his ordinary aggressive confidence. In fact, his promise to give an hour a day to exercise lay on his heart like lead, and the lumps on his eye, large though they were, did not in the least represent the dimensions of the fall he had received at the hands of Mr. Pat.

Fifi was looking a little more fragile than when we saw her last, a little more thin-cheeked, a shade more ethereal-eyed. Her cough was quite bad to-night, and this increased her nervousness. How could she help from disturbing him with that dry tickling going on right along in her throat? It had been a trying day, when everything seemed to go wrong from the beginning. She had waked up feeling very listless and tired; had been late for school; had been kept in for Cicero. In the afternoon she had been going to a tea given to her class at the school, but her mother said her cold was too bad for her to go, and besides she really felt too tired. She had n’t eaten any supper, and had been quite cross with her mother in their talk about the dining-room, which was the worst thing that had happened at all. And now at nine o’clock she wanted to go to bed, but her algebra would not, would not come right, and life was horrible, and she was unfit to live it anyway, and she wished she was . . .

“You are crying,” stated a calm young voice across the table.

Brought up with a cool round turn, greatly mortified, Fifi thought that the best way to meet the emergency was just to say nothing.

“What is the matter?” demanded the professorial tones.


“Oh, nothing,” she said, winking back the tears and trying to smile, apologetically — “just silly reasons. I — I’ve spent an hour and ten minutes on a problem here, and it won’t come right. I’m — sorry I disturbed you.”

There was a brief silence. Mr. Queed cleared his throat.

“You cannot solve your problem?”

“I have n’t yet,” she sniffed bravely, “but of course I will soon. Oh, I understand it very well. . . . “

She kept her eyes stoutly fixed upon her book, which indicated that not for worlds would she interrupt him further. Nevertheless she felt his large spectacles upon her. And presently he astonished her by saying, resignedly — doubtless he had decided that thus could the virginal calm be most surely and swiftly restored: —

“Bring me your book. I will solve your problem.”

“Oh!” said Fifi, choking down a cough. And then, “Do you know all about algebra, too?”

It seemed that Mr. Queed in his younger days had once made quite a specialty of mathematics, both lower, like Fifi’s, and also far higher. The child’s polite demurs were firmly overridden. Soon she was established in a chair at his side, the book open on the table between them.

“Indicate the problem,” said Mr. Queed.

Fifi indicated it: No. 71 of the collection of stickers known as Miscellaneous Review. It read as follows:

71. A laborer, having built 105 rods of stone fence, found that if he had built 2 rods less a day he would have been 6 days longer in completing the job. How many rods a day did he build?

Queed read this through once and announced: “He built seven rods a day.”

Fifi stared. “Why — how in the world, Mr. Queed — ”

“Let us see if I am right. Proceed. Read me what you have written down.”
“Let x equal the number of rods he built each day,” began Fifi bravely.



“Then 105 divided by x equals number of days consumed. And 105 divided by x-2 equals number of days consumed, if he had built 2 rods less a day.”

“Of course.”

“And (105 ÷ x - 2) + 6 = number of days consumed if it had taken him six days longer.”

“Nothing of the sort.”

Fifi coughed. “I don’t see why, exactly.”

“When the text says ‘six days longer,’ it means longer than what?”

“Why — longer than ever.”

“Doubtless. But you must state it in terms of the problem.”

“In terms of the problem,” murmured Fifi, her red-brown head bowed over the bewildering book — “in terms of the problem.”

“Of course,” said her teacher, “there is but one thing which longer can mean; that is longer than the original rate of progress. Yet you add the six to the time required under the new rate of progress.”

“I — I’m really afraid I don’t quite see. I’m dreadfully stupid, I know — ”

“Take it this way then. You have set down here two facts. One fact is the number of days necessary under the old rate of progress; the other is the number of days necessary under the new rate. Now what is the difference between them?”

“Why — is n’t that just what I don’t know?”

“I can’t say what you don’t know. This is something that I know very well.”

“But you know everything,” she murmured.

Without seeking to deny this, Queed said: “It tells you right there in the book.”

“I don’t see it,” said Fifi, nervously looking high and low, not only in the book but all over the room.

The young man fell back on the inductive method: “What is that six then?”


“Oh! Now I see. It’s the difference in the number of days consumed — is n’t it?”

“Naturally. Now put down your equation. No, no! The greater the rate of progress, the fewer the number of days. Do not attempt to subtract the greater from the less.”

Now Fifi figured swimmingly:

  105 - 105 = 6
  x-2     x      

105x - 105x + 210 = 6x2 - 12x

      6x2 - 12x = 210

6x2 - 12x - 210 = 0        

x2 - 2x - 35 = 0

                             x = 7 or - 5

She smiled straight into his eyes, sweetly and fearlessly. “Seven! Just what you said! Oh, if I could only do them like you! I’m ever and ever so much obliged, Mr. Queed — and now I can go to bed.”

Mr. Queed avoided Fifi’s smile; he obviously deliberated.

“If you have any more of these terrible difficulties,” he said slowly, “it is n’t necessary for you to sit there all evening and cry over them. You . . . may ask me to show you.”

“Oh, could I really! Thank you ever so much. But no, I won’t be here, you see. I did n’t mean to come to-night — truly, Mr. Queed — I know I bother you so — only Mother made me.”

“Your mother made you? Why?”

“Well — it’s right cold upstairs, you know,” said Fifi, gathering up her books, “and she thought it might not be very good for my cough. . . .”

Queed glanced impatiently at the girl’s delicate face. A frown deepened on his brow; he cleared his throat with annoyance.


“Oh, I am willing,” he said testily, “for you to bring your work here whenever it is very cold upstairs.”

“Oh, how good you are, Mr. Queed!” cried Fifi, staggered by his nobility. “But of course I can’t think of bothering — ”

“I should not have asked you,” he interrupted her, irritably, “if I had not been willing for you to come.”

But for all boarders, their comfort and convenience, Fifi had the great respect which all of us feel for the source of our livelihood; and, stammering grateful thanks, she again assured him that she could not make such a nuisance of herself. However, of course Mr. Queed had his way, as he always did.

This point definitely settled, he picked up his pencil, which was his way of saying, “And now, for heaven’s sake — good-night!” But Fifi, her heart much softened toward him, stood her ground, the pile of school-books tucked under her arm.

“Mr. Queed — I — wonder if you won’t let me get something to put on your forehead? That bruise is so dreadful — ”

“Oh, no! No! It’s of no consequence whatever.”

“But I don’t think you can have noticed how bad it is. Please let me, Mr. Queed. Just a little dab of arnica or witch-hazel — ”

“My forehead does very well as it is, I assure you.”

Fifi turned reluctantly. “Indeed something on it would make it get well so much faster. I wish you would — ”

Ah! There was a thought. As long as he had this bruise people would be bothering him about it. It was a world where a man could n’t even get a black eye without a thousand busybodies commenting on it.

“If you are certain that its healing will be hastened — ”

“Positive!” cried Fifi happily, and vanished without more speech.

One Hour a Day to be given to Bodily Exercise. . . . How long, O Lord, how long!


Fifi returned directly with white cloths, scissors, and two large bottles.

“I won’t take hardly a minute — you see! Listen, Mr. Queed. One of these bottles heals fairly well and does n’t hurt at all worth mentioning. That’s witch-hazel. The other heals very well and fast, but stings — well, a lot; and that’s turpentine. Which will you take?”

“The turpentine,” said Mr. Queed in a martyr’s voice.

Fifi’s hands were very deft. In less than no time, she made a little lint pad, soaked it in the pungent turpentine, applied it to the unsightly swelling, and bound it firmly to the young man’s head with a snowy band. In all of Mr. Queed’s life, this was the first time that a woman had ministered to him. To himself, he involuntarily confessed that the touch of the girl’s hands upon his forehead was not so annoying as you might have expected.

Fifi drew off and surveyed her work sympathetically yet professionally. The effect of the white cloth riding aslant over the round glasses and academic countenance was wonderfully rakish and devil-may-care.

“Do you feel the sting much so far?”

“A trifle,” said the Doctor.

“It works up fast to a kind of — climax, as I remember, and then slowly dies away. The climax will be pretty bad — I’m so sorry! But when it’s at its worst just say to yourself, ‘This is doing me lots and lots of good,’ and then you won’t mind so much.”

“I will follow the directions,” said he, squirming in his chair.

“Thank you for letting me do it, and for the algebra, and — good-night.”


He immediately abandoned all pretense of working. To him it seemed that the climax of the turpentine had come instantly; there was no more working up about it than there was about a live red coal. The mordant tooth bit into his blood; he rose and tramped the floor, muttering savagely 100 to himself. But he would not pluck the hateful thing off, no, no — for that would have been an admission that he was wrong in putting it on; and he was never wrong.

So Bylash, reading one of Miss Jibby’s works in the parlor, and pausing for a drink of water at the end of a glorious chapter, found him tramping and muttering. His flying look dared Bylash to address him, and Bylash prudently took the dare. But he poured his drink slowly, stealing curious glances and endeavoring to catch the drift of the little Doctor’s murmurings.

In this attempt he utterly failed, because why? Obviously because the Doctor cursed exclusively in the Greek and Latin languages.

In five minutes, Queed was upon his work again. Not that the turpentine was yet dying slowly away, as Fifi had predicted that it would. On the contrary it burned like the fiery furnace of Shadrach and Abednego. But One Hour a Day to be given to Bodily Exercise! . . . Oh, every second must be made to count now, whether one’s head was breaking into flame or not.

Whatever his faults or foibles, Mr. Queed was captain of his soul. But the fates were against him to-night. In half an hour, when the sting — they called this conflagration a sting! — was beginning to get endurable and the pencil to move steadily, the door opened and in strode Professor Nicolovius; he, it seemed, wanted matches. Why under heaven, if a man wanted matches, could n’t he buy a thousand boxes and store them in piles in his room?

The old professor apologized blandly for his intrusion, but seemed in no hurry to make the obvious reparation. He drew a match along the bottom of the mantle-shelf, eyeing the back of the little Doctor’s head as he did so, and slowly lit a cigar.

“I’m sorry to see that you’ve met with an accident, Mr. Queed. Is there anything, perhaps, that I might do?”

“Nothing at all, thanks,” said Queed, so indignantly that Nicolovius dropped the subject at once.


The star-boarder of Mrs. Paynter’s might have been fifty-five or he might have been seventy, and his clothes had long been the secret envy of Mr. Bylash. He leaned against the mantel at his ease, blowing blue smoke.

“You find this a fairly pleasant place to sit of an evening, I daresay!” he purred, presently.

The back of the young man’s head was uncompromisingly stern. “I might as well try to write in the middle of Centre Street.”

“So?” said Nicolovius, not catching his drift. “I should have thought that — ”

“The interruptions,” said Queed, “are constant.”

The old professor laughed. “Upon my word, I don’t blame you for saying that. The gross communism of a boarding-house . . . It does gall one at times! So far as I am concerned, I relieve you of it at once. Good-night.”

The afternoon before Nicolovius had happened to walk part of the way downtown with Mr. Queed, and had been favored with a fair amount of his stately conversation. He shut the door now somewhat puzzled by the young man’s marked curtness; but then Nicolovius knew nothing about the turpentine.

The broken evening wore on, with progress slower than the laborer’s in Problem 71, when he decided to build two rods less a day. At eleven, Miss Miller, who had been to the theatre, breezed in; she wanted a drink of water. At 11.45 — Queed’s open watch kept accurate tally — there came Trainer Klinker, who, having sought his pupil vainly in the Scriptorium, retraced his steps to rout him out below. At sight of the tall bottle in Klinker’s hand Queed shrank fearing that Fifi had sent him with a second dose of turpentine. But the bottle turned out to contain merely a rare unguent just obtained by Klinker from his friend Smithy, the physical instructor at the Y. M. C. A., and deemed surprisingly effective for the development of the academic bicep.

At last there was blessed quiet, and he could write again. The city slept; the last boarder was abed; the turpentine 102 had become a peace out of pain; only the ticking of the clock filtered into the perfect calm of the dining-room. The little doctor of Mrs. Paynter’s stood face to face with his love, embraced his heart’s desire. He looked into the heart of Science and she gave freely to her lord and master. Sprawled there over the Turkey-red cloth, which was not unhaunted by the ghosts of dead dinners, he became chastely and divinely happy. His mind floated away into the empyrean; he saw visions of a far more perfect Society; dreamed dreams of the ascending spiral whose law others had groped at, but he would be the first to formulate; caught and fondled the secret of the whole great Design; reduced it to a rule-of-thumb to do his bidding; bestrode the whole world like a great Colossus. . . .

From which flight he descended with a thud to observe that it was quarter of two o’clock, and the dining-room was cold with the dying down of the Latrobe, and the excellent reading-lamp in the death-throes of going out.

He went upstairs in the dark, annoyed with himself for having overstayed his bedtime. Long experimentation had shown him that the minimum of sleep he could get along with to advantage was six and one-half hours nightly. This meant bed at 1.30 exactly, and he hardly varied it five minutes in a year. To his marrow he was systematic; he was as definite as an adding-machine, as practical as a cash register. But even now, on this exceptional night, he did not go straight to bed. Something still remained to be accomplished: an outrage upon his sacred Schedule.

In the first halcyon days at Mrs. Paynter’s, before the board question ever came up at all, the iron-clad Schedule of Hours under which he was composing his great work had stood like this:

8.20 Breakfast
8.40 Evolutionary Sociology
1.30 Dinner
2 Evolutionary Sociology
7 Supper
7.20 to 1.30 Evolutionary Sociology


But the course of true love never yet ran smooth, and this schedule was too ideal to stand. First the Post had come along and nicked a clean hour out of it, and now his Body had unexpectedly risen and claimed yet another hour. And, beyond even this . . . some devilish whim had betrayed him to-night into offering his time for the service and uses of the landlady’s daughter in the puling matter of algebra.

No . . . no! He would not put that in. The girl could not be so selfish as to take advantage of his over-generous impulse. She must understand that his time belonged to the ages and the race, not to the momentary perplexities of a high school dunce. . . . At the worst it would be only five minutes here and there — say ten minutes a week; forty minutes a month. No, no! He would not put that in.

But the hour of Bodily Exercise could not be so evaded. It must go in. On land or sea there was no help for that. For thirty days henceforward at the least — and a voice within him whispered that it would be for much longer — his Schedule must stand like this:

8.20 Breakfast
8.40 Evolutionary Sociology
1.30 Dinner
2 Evolutionary Sociology
4.45 to 5.15 Open-Air Pedestrianism
5.15 to 6.15 The Post
6.15 to 6.45 Klinker's Exercises for all Parts of the
7 Supper
7.20 Evolutionary Sociology

Hand clasped in his hair, Queed stared long at this wreckage with a sense of foreboding and utter despondency. Doubtless Mr. Pat, who was at that moment peacefully pulling a pipe over his last galleys at the Post office, would have been astonished to learn what havoc his accursed fleas had wrought with the just expectations of posterity.



Of Charles Gardiner West, President-Elect of Blaines College, and his Ladies Fair: all in Mr. West’s Lighter Manner.

THE closing German of the Thursday Cotillon, hard upon the threshold of a late Lent, was a dream of pure delight. Six of them in the heart of every season since 1871, these Germans have become famous wherever the light fantastic toe of aristocracy trips and eke is tripped. They are the badge of quality, and the test of it, the sure scaling-rod by which the frightened débutante may measure herself at last, to ask of her mirror that night, with who can say what tremors: “Am I a success?” Over these balls strangers go mad. They come from immense distances to attend them, sometimes with superciliousness; are instantly captivated; and returning to their homes, wherever they may be, sell out their businesses for a song and move on, to get elected if they can, which does not necessarily follow.

Carriages, in stately procession, disembarked their precious freight; the lift, laden with youth and beauty, shot up and down like a glorious Jack-in-the-Box; over the corridors poured a stream of beautiful maidens and handsome gentlemen, to separate for their several tiring-rooms, and soon to remeet in the palm-decked vestibule. Within the great room, couples were already dancing; Fetzy’s Hungarians on a dais, concealed behind a wild thicket of growing things, were sighing out a wonderful waltz; rows of white-covered chairs stood expectantly on all four sides of the room; and the chaperones, august and handsome, stood in a stately line to receive and to welcome. And to them came in salutation Charles Gardiner West and, beside him, the lady whom he honored with his hand that evening, Miss Millicent Avery, late of Maunch Chunk, but now of Ours.


They made their devoirs to the dowagers; silently they chose their seats, which he bound together with a handkerchief in a true lovers’ knot; and, Fetzy’s continuing its heavenly work, he put his arm about her without speech, and they floated away upon the rhythmic tide.

At last her voice broke the golden silence: “I feel enormously happy to-night. I don’t know why.”

The observation might seem unnoteworthy to the casual, but it carried them all around the room again.

“Fortune is good to me,” said he, as lightly as he could, “to let me be with you when you feel like that.”

He had never seen her so handsome; the nearness of her beauty intoxicated him; her voice was indolent, provocative. She was superbly dressed in white, and on her rounded breast nodded his favor, a splendid corsage of orchid and lily-of-the-valley.

“Fortune?” she queried. “Don’t you think that men bring these things to pass for themselves?”

They had made the circle on that, too, before West said: “I wonder if you begin to understand what a power you have of bringing happiness to me.”

He looked, and indeed, for the transient moment, he felt, like a man who must have his answer, for better or worse, within the hour. She saw his look, and her eyes fell before it, not wholly because she knew how to do that to exactly the best advantage. Few persons would have mistaken Miss Avery for a wholly inexperienced and unsophisticated girl. But how was she to know that that same look had risen in the eyes of West, and that same note, obviously sincere, broken suddenly into his pleasant voice, for many, many of the fair?

The music died in a splendid crash, and they threaded their way to their seats, slowly and often stopped, across the crowded floor. Many eyes followed them as they walked. She was still “new” to us; she was beautiful; she was her own young lady, and something about her suggested that she would be slightly unsafe for boys, the headstrong, 106and the foolish; rumor made her colossally wealthy. As for him, he was the glass of fashion and the mould of form, and much more than that besides. Of an old name but a scanty fortune, he had won his place by his individual merits; chiefly, perhaps, for so wags the world, by an exterior singularly prepossessing and a manner that was a possession above rubies. His were good looks of the best fashion of men’s good looks; not a tall man, he yet gave the effect of tallness, so perfect was his carriage, so handsome his address. And he was as clever as charming; cultured as the world knows culture; literary as the term goes; nor was there anyone who made a happier speech than he, whether in the forum or around the festal board. Detractors, of course, he had — as which of those who raise their heads above the dead level have not? — but they usually contented themselves with saying, as Buck Klinker had once said, that his manners were a little too good to be true. To most he seemed a fine type of the young American of the modern South: a brave gentleman; a true Democrat with all his honors; and, though he had not yet been tested in any position of responsibility, a rising man who held the future in his hand.

They took their seats, and at last he freed himself from the unsteadying embarrassment which had shaken him at the first sight of her under the brilliant lights of the ballroom.

“Two things have happened to make this seventh of March a memorable day for me,” said he. “Two great honors have come to me. They are both for your ear alone.”

She flung upon him the masked battery of her eyes. They were extraordinary eyes, gray and emerald, not large, but singularly long. He looked fully into them, and she slowly smiled.

“The other honor,” said Charles Gardiner West, “is of a commoner kind. They want to make me president of Blaines College.”

“Oh — really!” said Miss Avery, and paused. “And shall you let them do it?”


He nodded, suddenly thoughtful and serious. “Long before snow flies, Semple & West will be Semple and Something else. They’ll elect me in June. I need n’t say that no one must know of this now — but you.”

“Of course. It is a great honor,” she said, with faint enthusiasm. “But why are you giving up your business? Does n’t it interest you?”

He made a large gesture. “Oh, it interests me. . . . But what does it all come to, at the last? A man aspires to find some better use for his abilities than dollar-baiting, don’t you think?”

Miss Avery privately thought no, though she certainly did not like his choice of terms.

“If a man became the greatest stock-jobber in the world, who would remember him after he was gone? Miss Avery, I earnestly want to serve. My deepest ambition is to leave some mark for the better upon my environment, my city, and my State. I am baring my small dream for you to look at, you see. Now this little college . . .”

But a daring youth by the name of Beverley Byrd bore Miss Avery away for the figure which was just then forming, and the little college hung in the air for the nonce. Mr. West was so fortunate as to secure the hand of Miss Weyland for the figure, he having taken the precaution to ask that privilege when he greeted her some minutes since. Couple behind couple they formed, the length of the great room, and swung away on a brilliant march.

“It’s going to be a delicious German — can’t you tell by the feel?” began Sharlee, doing the march with a deux-temps step. “I’m so glad to see you, for it seems ages since we met, though, you know, it was only last week. Is not that a nice speech for greeting? Only I must tell you that I’ve said it to four other men already, and the evening is yet young.”

“Is there nothing in all the world that you can say, quite new and special, for me?”

“Oh, yes! For one thing your partner to-night is altogether the loveliest thing I ever saw. And for another — ”


“I am listening.”

“For another, her partner to-night is quite the nicest man in all this big, big room.”

“And how many men have you said that to to-night, here in the youth of the evening.”

But the figure had reached that point where the paths of partners must diverge for a space, and at this juncture Sharlee whirled away from him. Around and up the room swept the long file of low-cut gowns and pretty faces, and step for step across the floor moved a similar line of swallow-tail and masculinity. At the head of the room the two lines curved together again, round meeting round, and here, in good time, the lovely billow bore on Sharlee, who slipped her little left hand into West’s expectant right with the sweetest air in the world.

“Nobody but you, Charles Gardiner West,” said she.

The whistle blew; the music changed; and off they went upon the dreamy valse.

There are dancers in this world, and other dancers: but Sharlee was the sort that old ladies stop and watch. Of her infinite poetry of motion it is only necessary to say that she could make even “the Boston” look graceful; as witness her now. In that large room, detectives could have found men who thought Sharlee decidedly prettier than Miss Avery. Her look was not languorous; her voice was not provocative; her eyes were not narrow and tip-tilted; they did not look dangerous in the least, unless you so regard all extreme pleasure derived from looking at anything in the nature of eyes. Nor was there anything in the least businesslike, official, or stenographic about her manner. If her head bulged with facts about the treatment of the deficient classes, no hint of that appeared in her talk at parties. Few of the young men she danced with thought her clever, and this shows how clever she really was. For there are men in this world who will run ten city blocks in any weather to avoid talking to a woman who knows more than they do, and knows it, and shows that she knows that she knows it.


Charles Gardiner West looked down at Sharlee; and the music singing in his blood, and the measure that they trod together, was all a part of something splendid that belonged to them alone in the world. Another man at such a moment would have contented himself with a pretty speech, but West gave his sacred confidence. He told Sharlee about the presidency of Blaines College.

Sharlee did not have to ask what he would do with such an offer. She recognized at sight the opportunity for service he had long sought; and she so sincerely rejoiced and triumphed in it for him that his heart grew very tender toward her, and he told her all his plans; how he meant to make of Blaines College a great enlightened modern institution which should turn out a growing army of brave young men for the upbuilding of the city and the state.

“They elect me the first of June. Of course I am supposed to know nothing about it yet, and you must keep it as a great secret if you please. I give up my business in April. The next month goes to my plans, arranging and laying out a great advertising campaign for the September opening. Early in June I shall sail for Europe, nominally for a little rest, but really to study the school systems of the old world. The middle of August will find me at my new desk, oh, so full of enthusiasms and high hopes!”

“It’s splendid. . . . Oh, how fine!” pæaned she.

Upon the damask wrapping of Sharlee’s chair lay a great armful of red, red roses, the gift of prodigal young Beverley Byrd, and far too large to carry. She lifted them up; scented their fragrance; selected and broke a perfect flower from its long stem: and held it out with a look.

“The Assistant Secretary of the State Department of Charities presents her humble duty to President West.”

“Ah! Then the president commands his minion to place it tenderly in his buttonhole.”

“Look at the sea of faces . . . lorgnettes, too. The minion dassen’t.”

“Oh, that we two were Maying!”


“You misread our announcement,” said Beverley Byrd, romping up. “No opening for young men here, Gardy! Butt out.”

West left her, his well-shaped head in something of a whirl. In another minute he was off with Miss Avery upon a gallant two-step.

Fetzy’s played on; the dancers floated or hopped according to their nature; and presently a waltz faded out and in a breath converted itself into the march for supper, the same air always for I don’t know how many years.

Miss Avery rose slowly from her seat, a handsome siren shaped, drilled, fitted, polished from her birth for nothing else than the beguiling of lordly man. From the heart of her beautiful bouquet she plucked a spray of perfect lily-of-the-valley, and, eyes upon her own flowers, held it out to West.

“They are beautiful,” she said in her languorous voice. “I had n’t thanked you for them, had I? Wear this for me, will you not?” She looked up and her long eyes fell — we need not assume for the first time — upon the flower in his lapel. “I beg your pardon,” she said, with the slightest change of expression and voice. “I see that you are already provided. Shall we not go up?”

Laughing, he plucked a red, red rose from his button-hole and jammed it carelessly in his pocket.

“Give it to me.”

“Why, it’s of no consequence. Flowers quickly fade.”

“Won’t you understand? . . . you maddening lady. I’ve known all these girls since they were born. When they offer me flowers, shall I hurt their feelings and refuse? Give it to me.”

She shook her head slowly.

“Don’t you know that I’ll prize it — and why?” said he in a low voice. “Give it to me.”

Their eyes met; hers fluttered down; but she raised them suddenly and put the flower in his buttonhole, her face so close that he felt her breath on his cheek.


Beside him at supper, she took up the thread of their earlier talk.

“If you must give up your business why should n’t it be for something bigger than the college — public life for instance?”

“I may say,” West answered her, “that as yet there has not been that sturdy demand from the public, that uproarious insistence from the honest voter . . .”

“At dinner the other evening I met one of your fine old patriarchs, Colonel Cowles. He told us that the new Mayor of this city, if he was at all the right sort, would go from the City Hall to the Governorship. And do you know who represents his idea of the right sort of Mayor?”

West, picking at a bit of duck, said that he had n’t the least idea.

“So modest — so modest! He said that the city needed a young progressive man of the better class and the highest character, and that man was — you. No other, by your leave! The Mayoralty, the Governorship, the Senate waiting behind that, perhaps — who knows? Is it wise to bottle one’s self up in the blind alley of the college?”

Thus Delilah: to which Samson replied that a modern college is by no means a blind alley; that from the presidential retreat he would keep a close eye upon the march of affairs, doubtless doing his share toward moulding public opinion through contributions to the Post and the reviews; that, in fact, public life had long had an appeal for him, and that if at any time a cry arose in the land for him to come forward . . .

“For a public career,” said Delilah, with a sigh, “I should think you had far rather be editor of the Post, for example, than head of this college.”

Samson made an engaging reply that had to do with Colonel Cowles. The talk ran off into other channels, but somehow Delilah’s remark stuck in the young man’s head.

Soul is not all that flows at the Thursday German, and it has frequently been noticed that the dance becomes 112 gayest after supper. But it becomes, too, sadly brief, and Home Sweet Home falls all too soon upon the enthralled ear. Now began the movement toward that place, be it never so humble, like which there is none; and amid the throng gathered in the vestibule before the cloak-rooms, West again found himself face to face with Miss Weyland with whom he had stepped many a measure that evening.

“I’ve been thinking about it lots, President West,” said she; “it grows better all the time. Won’t you please teach all your boys to be very good, and to work hard, and never to grow up to make trouble for the State Department of Charities.”

She had on a carriage-robe of light blue, collared and edged with white fur, and her arms were as full of red roses as arms could be.

“But if I do that too well,” said he, “what would become of you? Blaines College shall never blot out the Department of Charities. I nearly forgot a bit of news. Gloomy news. The Post is going to fire your little Doctor.”

“Ah — no!

“It looks that way. The directors will take it up definitely in April. Colonel Cowles is going to recommend it. He says the Doc has more learning than society requires.”

“But don’t you think his articles give a — a tone to the paper — and — ?”

“I do; a somber, awful, majestic tone, if you like, but still one that ought to be worth something.”

Sharlee looked sad, and it was one of her best looks.

“Ah, me! I don’t know what will become of him if he is turned adrift. Could you, could you do anything?”

“I can, and will,” said he agreeably. “I think the man’s valuable, and you may count on it that I shall use my influence to have him kept.”

So the Star and the Planet again fought in their courses for Mr. Queed. West, gazing down at her, overcoat on arm, looked like a Planet who usually had his way. The Star, too, had strong inclinations in the same direction. For example, 113 she had noted at supper the lily-of-the-valley in the Planet’s buttonhole, and she had not been able to see any good reason for that.

Her eyes became dreamy. “How shall I say thank you? . . . I know. I must give you one of my pretty flowers for your buttonhole.” She began pulling out one of the glorious roses, but suddenly checked herself and gazed off pensively into space, a finger at her lip. “Ah! I thought this gesture seemed strangely familiar, and now I remember. I gave him a flower once before, and ah, look! . . . the president of the college has tossed it away.”

West glanced hastily down at his buttonhole. The lily-of-the-valley was gone; he had no idea where he had lost it, nor could he now stay to inquire. The rose he took with tender carefulness from the upper pocket of his waistcoat.

“What did Mademoiselle expect?” said he, with a courtly bow. “The president wears it over his heart.”

Sharlee’s smile was a coronation for a man.

“That one was for the president. This new one,” said she, plucking it out, “is for the director and — the man.”

This new one, after all, she put into his buttonhole with her own hands, while he held her great bunch of them. As she turned away from the dainty ceremony, her color faintly heightened, Sharlee looked straight into the narrow eyes of Miss Avery, who, talking with a little knot of men some distance away, had been watching her closely. The two girls smiled and bowed to each other with extraordinary sweetness.

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From Queed; A Novel by Henry Sydnor Harrison, New Edition Edited with Introduction, Notes, Questions and Study Helps by Elizabeth Shepardson Curtis; Houghton Mifflin Company; Boston, 1928; pp. 93-113.

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