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As a Man is Able


[ALL RIGHTS RBSESYET*.] i As a Man is Able BY DORA LANG LOIS, Author of A Boll from ine Blue," "The Crimson Slipper," ,3zc. From a brown barn on the side of a hill overlooking the Severn valley came the sound of whistling, no popular air massacred, but the waltz from "Faust" faultlessly rendered, accompanied by the grinding of a turnip- cutter. "A farmer's b with all that music in him," said one v the two men who stood out- side the barn lis: ning, "and the waltz; not the soldiers' ciioi mark you! One could understand it better if it had been the sol- diers' chorus. I have locked the obstinate young ruffian in. "What for?" demanded the other, the taller and handsomer man of the two. "To punish him for telling lies, and deny- ing that he could whistle anything." The whistling ceased, and the musical en- thusiast, left to himself, leaned comfortably against the fence. h l\Iy young friend will be getting uneasy presently," he mused. "Where did he hear the music. I wonder, and having memorised it, how did he get in his pig-driv- ing experience the faintest inkling of the emotions he throws into it? He seems to know what, I felt when the mother died—and the thing that is in a man when the world won't be driven. I'll swear that he has some idea, too, of what I shall feel when the 'one woriian arrives, and what I might experience if, having arrived, she departed with an- other.' Hullo What's that? Yes; by jove! He has got out." Wincott. was over the fence in a moment, and tearing down-hill in hot pursuit of an ordinary-looking boy in corduroys. The latter had a good start, however, and the chase was a fairly long one. "How did you get out of the barn?" Win- cott demanded, when he finally caught his man. "I wasn't in the barn," sobbed the youth. Iwas behind iot. cutting turmuts. It ain't me as does the whistling, and I'll ask my father if you've a right to come making a fool o' me. and chasing me up hill and down dale." There was such convincing sincerity about the disclaimer that after some further nego- tiations, in which half-a-crowu played a pro- minent part. the would-be patron of youth- ful genius hurried up the hill again a sadder and wiser man. "Wrong boy. of course!" he said, as he fitted the rusty key in the lock. "They arc- all as much aiike as wild rabbits in these small villages.' Come along out, my hd! Hullo! Where are you?" There was no re- j sponse from the musty interior of the barn, and after a moment's hesitation, the captor plunged into the darkness in search of his captive. The place was littered with swedes, Wincott trod on one, fell forward, caught a human wrist, and had v unceremoniously pulled himself up it before he discovered, to his horror, that there was a bracelet on it. "Allow me to apologise for having tres.. passed in your barn," a refined voice re- marked, in tones polite to the verge of sar- ] casm. j It isn't even my barn," he stammered | hopelesslv. "I—it—it was all a mistake." "Then.' if I am not to be detained for the police. I should like to go-now." There waw the swish of a silk-lined skirt, a trim figure, remarkably well carried, silhou- j etted for a moment in the doorway, and Win- cott was alone in the interior, shamed al- most to the point of seeking sepulture under the swedes. "Can vou tell me the right time?" "Half past seven," he replied, the ordinary cuerv restoring his mental balance. "Then I shall miss the seven forty-fivl train ?" lon might catch it by the short cut, be faltered guiltily. I can'show you the way," and, his offer' being accepted, he plunged into a jerkv explanation. "I had followed the bov twice to the barn, go vou see it was a very natural mistake," h« asserted. "Verv natural!" was his companions com- j ment. (m Wincott hastily changed the subject. "Dc vou often go there to practise," he asked. < t have been several times, but I am not iikelv to repeat the experiment." Tlie unfortunate enthusiast wa» juat given j time to feel the full force of the sarcasm, j and then the lady added: "I am not coming back here, you see. I "What about vour ticket? May I get it for 7°"i have a return half, thank you." "And vour, luggage?" "It is 'at the sfation, labelled. I need not trouble about it. He had put her into a carriage and closed 1 the door when she surprised him by saying in a voice that had no laughter in it, "1 do not thank vou for vour assistance, 1 had a xieht to it; but 1 do thank you for wag- ing to pluck struggling genius out of the slough of poverty. # From his holiday on the hills Wincott took back to the provincial city in which his work II as a doctor lava store of memories, but those that came oftenest and stayed longest had to do with a sparkle of mirth in dark tsjes, and a not,, of earnestness in a soft woice. „ < A green Christmas brought him the usual gtrese of work. and after a hard day he went one evening to the local theatre to see the annual pantomime. "What Haven't you seen it yet? an acquaintance of his demanded, as he took his «eat. "The principal girl is splendid, I've øeen the show five t' nlei4.. "Miss Jeanne Ayton. you meant" queried the doctor. "Tre not seen her. but her aunt, who is with her, i* a patient of mine." "Lucky fellows you doctors!" ejaculated the voun'g man. "I say, I've asked her to lunch with the to-morrow. Shell be on the stage in a minute. She's awfully pretty, and her sincing ami lier whistling have taken the town bv s tor in. Ah Here she comes." Wincott turned sharply towards the foot- lights, and it. tlie white-robed figure that had j stepped into the flood of limelight he recog- nised the ladv of hiis adventure on the hills. A couple of minutes later he was at the stage dour. "I did not find it so easy to make acquaintance." he said to himself grimlv. "It remains to be seen whether that was due to the- lady or to my methods." As the local "Association" doctor he had no difficulty in passing the hall keeper, and found himself in the wings just in time to meet Miss Ayton as she came from the stage, her arms full of flowers. He had not allowed his resolution time to cool, and advancing with the air of an old acquaintance he said." This is an unexpected pleasure, JeaQ." The "fflsthod" apparently accrcnmted for efsrything; she shook hands with him and asked him to carry some of her flowers to her room. j "You might have told me you were on the stage," he said, as soon as he found himself out of the crowd, in a sione-xiagged passage. "In order that you might take some such liberty as you took just now?" There was no mistaking the tone of voice, and unable even to frame an excuse for him- self, Wincott stammered, "I thought you were lunching to-morrow with the fellow who sent those flowers." In spite of herself, the little lady's face dimpled with humour. What very excel- lent logic!" she said. "No, I'm afraid I can't tell you what I am going to do with him; and I'm afraid I can't spare you any more time." Shs turned as she spoke towards a work- man who was approaching. The handle has come off the property dagger," she said. I shall want another one for the next scene. Gibbs." I'n brought the best I can do," the pro- party man replied. "I'm afraid it's a bit sharp, Yi3S." Sharp!" Wincott exclaimed, eyeing tho substitute critically, It's a deadly sort of weapon. You surely will not use it?" "I'm afraid I must," Jeanne Ayton re- plied, but I shall certainly be careful. Good-bye." The meeting paved the way for a good deal of friendly intercourse with his patient and her niece. Had it lasted a week or a fortnight only it would have been a pleasant interlude doing neither any harm; but tha panto' ran on with a success that seemed un- flagging, and the friendship of a very pretty woman with the saving grace of humour and a roica that is music spoken may not be quite sufflcient. One day Wincott found her alone, trying over a bundle of the latest music. "See, this is a tenor song," she said, "a poem of Mrs. Browning's set to music. Let me play it for you to try." Both excellent sight-readers, they had glanced only at the title page. and a moment later he was singing words as new to him aai the air itself. Love me sweet with an thou art. Feeling, thinking, seeing. Love me in the lightest part, Love me in full being Love me with thine open youth In its frank surrender, WiHi the vowing of thv mouth, With its silence tender. Love me with thy hand stretched out Freely, open minded. Love me with thy loitering foot. Hearing one V-hind it. Love me with thy thinking soul, Break it to love sighing, Love me with thy thoughts that roll On through living-dying. "Love me in thy gorgeous aim, When the world has crowned thee Love me, kneeling at thy prayers Witn the angels round thee. I Love me pure as musers do Up the woodlands shady, Love me gaily, fast and true. As a winsome lady. Through all hopes that keep us brave Further off or nigher, Love me for the house, and grave, And for something higher. Thus if thou will prove me dear, Woman's love no fable, I will love tltee--hilf a year, As a man is able." He had sung well, but no praise came to him. I—I did not know it ended like that," she said with a strange nervous laugh. He looked at her and saw tears in her eyes. "It would not end that way with me," he said hi a low, hurried voice. As a man is aoic she repeated. "It is a poor return for ail—all that." Don't let it frighten you, Jeanne," he urged. Don't believe it. Only give me a cha nee——" S tol.)! Wait one minute," she interrupted, drawing back and looking at him with startled eyes. "We have been going, very fast and very far haven't wer Let us get back to solid ground." What solid ground is there for me?" he asked. Only what I have tried to show you from the first," she answered. I do appreciate my agreeable acquaintance. I do value my kind friend-but I do not want a lover." Is that quite truer" he asked with a sud den pang of jealousy. I will be frank with iny friend," she an- swered; "the whole truth is I do not want another lover." "Now I understand, he said. C,oo d- bye." That evening as Wincott sat alone trying to realise what had happened to his life, he was interrupted by a visit from the friend with whom he had spent his holiday on the lulls. I suppose I am to congratulate you, Har- rington," he remarked with a fair assump- tion of clieerfulness. "'rhey tell me you are just engaged to the handsome heiress of one our city magnates." H} am engaged to Miss Thorne," his visi- tor replied, but your congratulations are a trifle premature for all that., I'm afraid. "What is it this time?" Wincott de- manded. "Have you quarrelled already, or have you just discovered that some other lady has your heart's devotion?" "The other lady has my hlla; was the disconsolate respond, "tmd that's a good deal more to the point. I met her six months ago, Wincott; she is altogether charming, lId I was very much in earnest at the time. But she is on the stage, you know, and as my uncle would certainly disapprove, it's very fortunate that I pulled up just in time. Seri- ously, I can't afford to have my marriage broken off; my engagement will be an- nounced in the local papers to-morrow, and the worst of the business is that she is here, in this town, now." A sharp exclamation made the speaker pause. "How on earth did you break that whisky glass and cut your hand?" he de- manded- "Don't stand staring at it, man. Surely you've got something to bind it up?" •"It'* nothing," Wincott replied, moving [ into his surgery. "What were you saying about Miss Ayton, and how am I to help You couldn't suggest any sort of private arrangement, could you?" I certainly could not and I should have a poor opinion of the intelligence of any man who tried to." "Wincott, if she took any public action she would absolutely ruin me." "Yon quite misunderstand me," the doctor retorted. emerging once more from the depths* of his surgery. "My candid opinion is that when Miss Avion knows she will leave you serorely alone," The following morning the engagement j was announced. "How will she get through I her work to-night?" he asHe-.l himself, as he laid his paper down. "And there is no es- cape for her, with bov ui; tudy ill and in her bed. What i* HaiThuJ.on writing to trouble mo about mv'- < -r- J L T ureamng me envelope, ne read trie enclo- sure. "I believe niy fiancee has heard something. She insists on my taking her to the theatre to-night. We are to kt, 8 the stage-box. Get them to put Miss Avton's understudy on." "Her aunt must tell her," he said. "We can do nothing but trust to her pride and courage." "Her fortitude and self-control are won- derful," Wincott thought, as he watched Jeanne's entrance that evening from the stalls. "And Harrington is nearest the stage, and sitting well back." That which he almost instinctively ex peeted happened' as soon as the little actress was left alone upon the boards, for, as Jeanne came down to the footlights for her solo, Miss Thorne touched her companion's arm, and forced him to show himself. Her sudden piteous pause, and the falling away from her, all in an instant, of the joy- ous carriage she had so far successfully as- sumed, told her anxious watcher only too plainly that half what he had praised was courage, the other was unconsciousness. Could she recover herself while the band played the introduction to her whistling I solo? With tense anxiety he waited for the beat—it came, and with it her first note full and clear; but the -jealous woman in the box, not satisfied as y;t with her display of power, burst into a little laugh, as though at something irresistibly ludicrous, and Harrington, intent on pleas- ing or from nervousness laughed with her. It was enough for Jeanne she whistled no more. Fo- -e moment she stood still, as though dazed; then she turned away from Wincott and staggered towards the wings, but. before she readied them she fell, and tlie dar^: stain that appeared suddenly on j her while draperies told that the fairy's dagger had done some tragic work. ifc was Wincott who reached her first, over the orchestra and footlights; it was on him J the responsibility naturally fell, and behind j the horror of not knowing if he had skill enough to save her was the lurking horror of a suspicion that tlie thing had happened be- fore she dropped on the boards in a little huddled heap. j When his work was done, and science had j won at least a temporary victory, he went um into the streets to find that at every corner they were discussing the thing that troubled him. "It does not matter one jot," Wincott cried, wrestling with his trouble in the watches of tlie' night, "if she did it she was! mad and irresponsible." "Can't we forget the past, Jeanne," he asked on the eve of her departure. "I am willing never to think of it again, if you are willing to trust my wedding ,ring to make you forget it too." "That means," she said, "that you do not question, but you doubt." "You have not given me my answer," ha- replied evasively. "That is my answer," she said. "People who daren't look back could not go forward happily. And you have no cause—no right. Why could you not remember that I knew I was deserted hours before this happened, and still faced my work. Can you not understand what the 'last straw* means? Was it so diffi- cult to believe that whatever happened when he laughed at me, I did not know I held any thing in my hand?" "it was (litticult," 1.9 answered," because 1 love you." "'As a man is she retorted. "Oh I know—I know. It is a better love than his was, but not enough. I shall never quite for- get, and you will never quite forgive, and I dare not risk L,f lis as much to give as the other needs, so there is no help for it, we must part." I After Jeanne was gone it seemed to Win- eott that the town was not big enough to bokl both him and Harrington, and he sold his practice and went elaew here. It was months later that he suddenly came face to face with the man he wishud to avoid, aIÙI seeing him in deep mourning asked involuntarily, "Your wife?" "No, only my un^-le," his some-time friend replied. I'm staying here at the Northern. Spare me a minute, Wincott, if you can, for old-times' sake." For a moment Wincott was inclined to re- fuse, but he conquered the impulse. "We will not discuss old times," he said steadily. "Your conduct to Miss Ayton al- tt-ced the old-time feeling, and ) can't pre- tend otherwise." "I like you all the better for that," was the careless reply. "I should never have aeied as I I did if I hadn't.been driven into a corner. By the way, do you know that Miss Avton is coming to this town the week after next?" "I would rather not discuss Miss Avion with you," he said. "Then you are engaged to her?" "I am not, but I fail to see how that can interest you." Why, it's the very thing I came down here to find out," responded his unconscious tormentor. Didn't-, yon guess that even at the time I thought more of Jeanne's little fin- ger than of Miss Thome's whole body? What's the matter, man alive? Oh! Of course I ought to have told you that that affair was broken off. There were difficulties over the settlement and all titat--y". my dear fellow, I'm happy to say that Ada Thorne simply jilted me." You tire more easily than you did, Jeanne," the elder Miss Ayton remarked a fortnight later as she and her niece drove to their hotel after receiving the welcome and congratulations of certain leading townsmen at the station. It was late in the afternoon when the townsman who had not been at the station to welcome her was announced. He, too, looked tired, a tired busy man making a duty call. No third party, therefore, would have been in the least surprised that the person who greeted him was a graceful woman of the world quite capable ot ignoring awkward in- cidents in the past. I ought not to have disl urbed you this afternoon,' he said, "but I am the bearer of a message that might otherwise not have reached you, Miss Ayton." po4t {;•••g< most things safely." she answered. "Vi'- .t! Dr. "This message was trusted to the post or:; he explained, and returned by vou A alight palio- overspread her face. I have only returned one letter in that way in a.JI my life," she said.. It follows then • haf that is the letter to which I refer," he continued "the sender thinks that had you known the content), you might possibly have vouchsafed an answer. It was a letter asking your forgiveness and reaowiug a former proposal for your hand.' "ø- "tt ? ct jt make sure tha. X luow tb¡¡.\ *;> said a f<itt intyked across at i!r sorely ^uvMla*. "'i thought it rigut," h- sa-id, convey my auswe>s'j)n quori :d. "That will hardly be necessary," he a3- nwered uneasily. "He vvi'l not return an* f Y, i "Still I think I c: IjardJy do bcfter than this affair where he has placed it, in your hands," she said. "I tokl vou onw before that I should never again risk any- thing. but I will see Mr. Harrington and lii-ten to what he has to sav if vou aceompanv him." It was a shock to Wincott to hear her repeat so coolly words spoken with emotion in the past. "Just as you like," he answered. "Then bring him hero to-night," she said., "after I have finished my work." "It's an odd arrangement, Wincott," ITer- rington remarked, as they waited for Jeanne's return from the theatre. "it 3 Licrange that she should insist on having you as a witness." "I told you that she said she woald risi nothing," Wincott explained. "Quittp so! Quite soil It's unflattering in one sense, and takes the romance out of the thing, but, of course, in a way it's satis- factory." The door opened, and Jeanne in alone, a radiant, happy, triump* 1:it Jeanne. | It turned Wincott dumb and cold to see tlisr change in her. She advanced towards them, waving aside preliminaries. "I said that I would listen to what you have to say," she began, address- ing Harrington, "but it can't be easy under the conditions I have imposed; so to «•>.•%re tJ, 'I m"ch as ir>««5Hh» ms»v T ta>? that j you are asking me to become yowr wife?" "'1 hat's vrv bald and business like,. J Hamngton ans.vered, "ùut it is the sum and substance of it. Sh, drew a deep breath. "Poor Arnold," she said. "I am sorry-sorry to hurt even you but 'ou owe me a great deal, and I can only hurt your vanity. You made havoc in my life with your first proposal, which I accepted. Is it any sort of consolation to know that you may have brought me happi- uess with tliis last one, which I refuse." Arnold Harrington looked from her to Wincott in amazement; but if he lacked. some high qualities, sqivoir fa ire was not one of them. "I think I am d, frrp here." he said, after a momentary pause. "Good j night, Miss Ayton.1* "What does it mean. JeairaeT" Wincott demanded, as the door closed on him. "Only that you proved agun to-day," qher answered, "how dreadfully difficult it was for you to forget that I had loved that man." "And you are now and always determined not to risk anything?" he asked. "It seems I must," she with a In' return of her old gay la yglt. "There is no escaping the conclusion lil",¡. I shall never be loved except 'as a man is Well, I am ready to give everything agairt--oven my caz-o.r provided you are the man."





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