THE objective of the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition is to provide to readers—present and future—various kinds of information relevant to Willa Cather's writing, obtained and presented according to the highest scholarly standards: a critical text faithful to her intention as she prepared it for the first edition, a historical essay providing relevant biographical and historical facts, explanatory notes identifying allusions and references, a textual commentary tracing the work through its lifetime and describing Cather's involvement with it, and a record of changes in the text's various versions. This edition is distinctive in the comprehensiveness of its apparatus, especially in its inclusion of extensive explanatory information that illuminates the fiction of a writer who drew so extensively upon actual experience, as well as the full textual information we have come to expect in a modern critical edition. It thus connects activities that are too often separate—literary scholarship and textual editing.
Editing Cather's writing means recognizing that Cather was as fiercely protective of her novels as she was of her private life. She suppressed much of her early writing and dismissed serial publication of later work, discarded manuscripts and proofs, destroyed letters, and included in her will a stipulation against publication of her private papers. Yet the record remains surprisingly full. Manuscripts, typescripts, and proofs of some texts survive with corrections and revisions in Cather's hand; serial publications provide final "draft" versions of texts; correspondence with her editors and publishers help clarify her intention for a work, and publishers' records detail each book's public life; correspondence with friends and acquaintances provides an intimate view of her writing; published interviews with and speeches by Cather provide a running public commentary on her career; and through their memoirs, recollections, and letters, Cather's contemporaries provide their own commentary on circumstances surrounding her writing.
In assembling pieces of the editorial puzzle, we have been guided by principles and procedures articulated by the Committee on Scholarly Editions of the Modern Language Association. Assembling and comparing texts demonstrated the basic tenet of the textual editor-that only painstaking collations reveal what is actually there. Scholars had assumed, for example, that with the exception of a single correction in spelling, O Pioneers! passed unchanged from the 1913 first edition to the 1937 Autograph Edition. Collations revealed nearly a hundred word changes, thus providing information not only necessary to establish a critical text and to interpret how Cather composed, but also basic to interpreting how her ideas about art changed as she matured.
Cather's revisions and corrections on typescripts and page proofs demonstrate that she brought to her own writing her extensive experience as an editor. Word changes demonstrate her practices in revising; other changes demonstrate that she gave extraordinarily close scrutiny to such matters as capitalization, punctuation, paragraphing, hyphenation, and spacing. Knowledgeable about production, Cather had intentions for her books that extended to their design and manufacture. For example, shespecified typography, illustrations, page format, paper stock, ink color, covers, wrappers, and advertising copy.
To an exceptional degree, then, Cather gave to her work the close textual attention that modern editing practices respect, while in other ways she challenged her editors to expand the definition of "corruption" and "authoritative" beyond the text, to include the book's whole format and material existence. Believing that a book's physical form influenced its relationship with a reader, she selected type, paper, and format that invited the reader response she sought. The heavy texture and cream color of paper used for O Pioneers! and My Ántonia, for example, created a sense of warmth and invited a childlike play of imagination, as did these books' large dark type and wide margins. By the same principle, she expressly rejected the anthology format of assembling texts of numerous novels within the covers of one volume, with tight margins, thin paper, and condensed print.
Given Cather's explicitly stated intentions for her works, printing and publishing decisions that disregard her wishes represent their own form of corruption, and an authoritative edition of Cather must go beyond the sequence of words and punctuation to include other matters: page format, paper stock, typeface, and other features of design. The volumes in the Cather Edition respect those intentions insofar as possible within a series format that includes a comprehensive scholarly apparatus. For example, the Cather Edition has adopted the format of six by nine inches, which Cather approved in Bruce Rogers's elegant work on the 1937 Houghton Mifflin Autograph Edition, to accommodate the various elements of design. While lacking something of the intimacy of the original page, this size permits the use of large, generously leaded type and ample margins—points of style upon which the author was so insistent. In the choice of paper, we have deferred to Cather's declared preference for a warm, cream antique stock.
Today's technology makes it difficult to emulate the qualities of hot-metal typesetting and letterpress printing. In comparison, modern phototypesetting printed by offset lithography tends to look anemic and lacks the tactile quality of type impressed into the page. The version of the Caslon typeface employed in the original edition of A Lost Lady, were it available for phototypesetting, would hardly survive the transition. Instead, we have chosen Linotype Janson Text, a modern rendering of the type used by Rogers. The subtle adjustments of stroke weight in this reworking do much to retain the integrity of earlier metal versions. Therefore, without trying to replicate the design of single works, we seek to represent Cather's general preferences in a design that encompasses many volumes.
In each volume in the Cather Edition, the author's specific intentions for design and printing are set forth in textual commentaries. These essays also describe the history of the texts, identify those that are authoritative, explain the selection of copy-texts or basic texts, justify emendations of the copy-text, and describe patterns of variants. The textual apparatus in each volume—lists of variants, emendations, explanations of emendations, and end-line hyphenations—completes the textual story.
Historical essays provide essential information about the genesis, form, and transmission of each book, as well as supply its biographical, historical, and intellectual contexts. Illustrations supplement these essays with photographs, maps, and facsimiles of manuscript, typescript, or typeset pages. Finally, because Cather in her writing drew so extensively upon personal experience and historical detail, explanatory notes are an especially important part of the Cather Edition. By providing a comprehensive identification of her references to flora and fauna, to regional customs and manners, to the classics and the Bible, to popular writing, music, and other arts—as well as relevant cartography and census material—these notes provide a starting place for scholarship and criticism on subjects long slighted or ignored.
Within this overall standard format, differences occur that are informative in their own right. The straightforward textual history of O Pioneers! and My Ántonia contrasts with the more complicated textual challenges of A Lost Lady and Death Comes for the Archbishop; the allusive personal history of the Nebraska novels, so densely woven that My Ántonia seems drawn not merely upon Anna Pavelka but upon all of Webster County, contrasts with the more public allusions of novels set elsewhere. The Cather Edition reflects the individuality of each work while providing a standard of reference for critical study.
THIRTY or forty years ago, in one of those grey towns along the Burlington railroad, which are so much greyer today than they were then, there was a house well known from Omaha to Denver for its hospitality and for a certain charm of atmosphere. Well known, that is to say, to the railroad aristocracy of that time; men who had to do with the railroad itself, or with one of the "land companies" which were its by-products. In those days it was enough to say of a man that he was "connected with the Burlington." There were the directors, the general managers, vice-presidents, superintendents, whose names we all knew; and their younger brothers or nephews were auditors, freight agents, departmental assistants. Everyone "connected" with the Road, even the large cattleand grain-shippers, had annual passes; they and their families rode about over the line a great deal. There were then two distinct social strata in the prairie States; the homesteaders and hand-workers who were there to make a living, and the bankers and gentlemen ranchers who came from the Atlantic seaboard to invest money and to "develop our great West," as they used to tell us.
When the Burlington men were travelling back and forth on business not very urgent, they found it agreeable to drop off the express and spend a night in a pleasant house where their importance was delicately recognized; and no house was pleasanter than that of Captain Daniel Forrester, at Sweet Water. Captain Forrester was himself a railroad man, a contractor, who had built hundreds of miles of road for the Burlington,—over the sage brush and cattle country, and on up into the Black Hills.
The Forrester place, as every one called it, was not at all remarkable; the people who lived there made it seem much larger and finer than it was. The house stood on a low round hill, nearly a mile east of town; a white house with a wing, and sharp-sloping roofs to shed the snow. It was encircled by porches, too narrow for modern notions of comfort, supported by the fussy, fragile pillars of that time, when every honest stick of timber was tortured by the turning-lathe into something hideous. Stripped of its vines and denuded of its shrubbery, the house would probably have been ugly enough. It stood close into a fine cottonwood grove that threw sheltering arms to left and right and grew all down the hillside behind it. Thus placed on the hill, against its bristling grove, it was the first thing one saw on coming into Sweet Water by rail, and the last thing one saw on departing.
To approach Captain Forrester's property, you had first to get over a wide, sandy creek which flowed along the eastern edge of the town. Crossing this by the footbridge or the ford, you entered the Captain's private lane bordered by Lombardy poplars, with wide meadows lying on either side. Just at the foot of the hill on which the house sat, one crossed a second creek by the stout wooden road-bridge. This stream traced artless loops and curves through the broad meadows that were half pasture land, half marsh. Any one but Captain Forrester would have drained the bottom land and made it into highly productive fields. But he had selected this place long ago because it looked beautiful to him, and he happened to like the way the creek wound through his pasture, with mint and joint-grass and twinkling willows along its banks. He was well off for those times, and he had no children. He could afford to humour his fancies.
When the Captain drove friends from Omaha or Denver over from the station in his democrat wagon, it gratified him to hear these gentlemen admire his fine stock, grazing in the meadows on either side of his lane. And when they reached the top of the hill, it gratified him to see men who were older than himself leap nimbly to the ground and run up the front steps as Mrs. Forrester came out on the porch to greet them. Even the hardest and coldest of his friends, a certain narrow-faced Lincoln banker, became animated when he took her hand, tried to meet the gay challenge in her eyes and to reply cleverly to the droll word of greeting on her lips.
She was always there, just outside the front door, to welcome their visitors, having been warned of their approach by the sound of hoofs and the rumble of wheels on the wooden bridge. If she happened to be in the kitchen, helping her Bohemian cook, she came out in her apron, waving a buttery iron spoon, or shook cherry-stained fingers at the new arrival. She never stopped to pin up a lock; she was attractive in dishabille, and she knew it. She had been known to rush to the door in her dressing-gown, brush in hand and her long black hair rippling over her shoulders, to welcome Cyrus Dalzell, president of the Colorado & Utah; and the great man had never felt more flattered. In his eyes, and in the eyes of the admiring middle-aged men who visited there, whatever Mrs. Forrester chose to do was "lady-like" because she did it. They could not imagine her in any dress or situation in which she would not be charming. Captain Forrester himself, a man of few words, told Judge Pommeroy that he had never seen her look more captivating than on the day when she was chased by the new bull in the pasture. She had forgotten about the bull and gone into the meadow to gather wild flowers. He heard her scream, and as he ran puffing down the hill, she was scudding along the edge of the marshes like a hare, beside herself with laughter, and stubbornly clinging to the crimson parasol that had made all the trouble.
Mrs. Forrester was twenty-five years younger than her husband, and she was his second wife. He married her in California and brought her to Sweet Water a bride. They called the place home even then, when they lived there but a few months out of each year. But later, after the Captain's terrible fall with his horse in the mountains, which broke him so that he could no longer build railroads, he and his wife retired to the house on the hill. He grew old there,—and even she, alas! grew older.
BUT we will begin this story with a summer morning long ago, when Mrs. Forrester was still a young woman, and Sweet Water was a town of which great things were expected. That morning she was standing in the deep bay-window of her parlour, arranging old-fashioned blush roses in a glass bowl. Glancing up, she saw a group of little boys coming along the driveway, barefoot, with fishing-poles and lunch-baskets. She knew most of them; there was Niel Herbert, Judge Pommeroy's nephew, a handsome boy of twelve whom she liked; and polite George Adams, son of a gentleman rancher from Lowell, Massachusetts. The others were just little boys from the town; the butcher's red-headed son, the leading grocer's fat brown twins, Ed Elliott (whose flirtatious old father kept a shoe store and was the Don Juan of the lower world of Sweet Water), and the two sons of the German tailor,—pale, freckled lads with ragged clothes and ragged rust-coloured hair, from whom she sometimes bought game or catfish when they appeared silent and spook-like at her kitchen door and thinly asked if she would "care for any fish this morning."
As the boys came up the hill she saw them hesitate and consult together. "You ask her, Niel."
"You'd better, George. She goes to your house all the time, and she barely knows me to speak to."
As they paused before the three steps which led up to the front porch, Mrs. Forrester came to the door and nodded graciously, one of the pink roses in her hand.
"Good-morning, boys. Off for a picnic?"
George Adams stepped forward and solemnly took off his big straw hat. "Good-morning, Mrs. Forrester. Please may we fish and wade down in the marsh and have our lunch in the grove?"
"Certainly. You have a lovely day. How long has school been out? Don't you miss it? I'm sure Niel does. Judge Pommeroy tells me he's very studious."
The boys laughed, and Niel looked unhappy.
"Run along, and be sure you don't leave the gate into the pasture open. Mr. Forrester hates to have the cattle get in on his blue grass."
The boys went quietly round the house to the gate into the grove, then ran shouting down the grassy slopes under the tall trees. Mrs. Forrester watched them from the kitchen window until they disappeared behind the roll of the hill. She turned to her Bohemian cook.
"Mary, when you are baking this morning, put in a pan of cookies for those boys. I'll take them down when they are having their lunch."
The round hill on which the Forrester house stood sloped gently down to the bridge in front, and gently down through the grove behind. But east of the house, where the grove ended, it broke steeply from high grassy banks, like bluffs, to the marsh below. It was thither the boys were bound.
When lunch time came they had done none of the things they meant to do. They had behaved like wild creatures all morning; shouting from the breezy bluffs, dashing down into the silvery marsh through the dewy cobwebs that glistened on the tall weeds, swishing among the pale tan cattails, wading in the sandy creek bed, chasing a striped water snake from the old willow stump where he was sunning himself, cutting sling-shot crotches, throwing themselves on their stomachs to drink at the cool spring that flowed out from under a bank into a thatch of dark watercress. Only the two German boys, Rheinhold and Adolph Blum, withdrew to a still pool where the creek was dammed by a reclining tree trunk, and, in spite of all the noise and splashing about them, managed to catch a few suckers.
The wild roses were wide open and brilliant, the blue-eyed grass was in purple flower, and the silvery milkweed was just coming on. Birds and butterflies darted everywhere. All at once the breeze died, the air grew very hot, the marsh steamed, and the birds disappeared. The boys found they were tired; their shirts stuck to their bodies and their hair to their foreheads. They left the sweltering marsh-meadows for the grove, lay down on the clean grass under the grateful shade of the tall cottonwoods, and spread out their lunch. The Blum boys never brought anything but rye bread and hunks of dry cheese,—their companions wouldn't have touched it on any account. But Thaddeus Grimes, the butcher's red-headed son, was the only one impolite enough to show his scorn. "You live on wienies to home, why don't you never bring none?" he bawled.
"Hush," said Niel Herbert. He pointed to a white figure coming rapidly down through the grove, under the flickering leaf shadows,—Mrs. Forrester, bareheaded, a basket on her arm, her blue-black hair shining in the sun. It was not until years afterward that she began to wear veils and sun hats, though her complexion was never one of her beauties. Her cheeks were pale and rather thin, slightly freckled in summer.
As she approached, George Adams, who had a particular mother, rose, and Niel followed his example.
"Here are some hot cookies for your lunch, boys." She took the napkin off the basket. "Did you catch anything?"
"We didn't fish much. Just ran about," said George.
"I know! You were wading and things." She had a nice way of talking to boys, light and confidential. "I wade down there myself sometimes, when I go down to get flowers. I can't resist it. I pull off my stockings and pick up my skirts, and in I go!" She thrust out a white shoe and shook it.
"But you can swim, can't you, Mrs. Forrester?" said George. "Most women can't."
"Oh yes, they can! In California everybody swims. But the Sweet Water doesn't tempt me,—mud and water snakes and blood-suckers—Ugh!" she shivered, laughing.
"We seen a water snake this morning and chased him. A whopper!" Thad Grimes put in.
"Why didn't you kill him? Next time I go wading he'll bite my toes! Now, go on with your lunch. George can leave the basket with Mary as you go out." She left them, and they watched her white figure drifting along the edge of the grove as she stopped here and there to examine the raspberry vines by the fence.
"These are good cookies, all right," said one of the giggly brown Weaver twins. The German boys munched in silence. They were all rather pleased that Mrs. Forrester had come down to them herself, instead of sending Mary. Even rough little Thad Grimes, with his red thatch and catfish mouth—the characteristic feature of all the Grimes brood—knew that Mrs. Forrester was a very special kind of person. George and Niel were already old enough to see for themselves that she was different from the other townswomen, and to reflect upon what it was that made her so. The Blum brothers regarded her humbly from under their pale, chewed-off hair, as one of the rich and great of the world. They realized, more than their companions, that such a fortunate and privileged class was an axiomatic fact in the social order.
The boys had finished their lunch and were lying on the grass talking about how Judge Pommeroy's water spaniel, Fanny, had been poisoned, and who had certainly done it, when they had a second visitor.
"Shut up, boys, there he comes now. That's Poison Ivy," said one of the Weaver twins. "Shut up, we don't want old Roger poisoned."
A well-grown boy of eighteen or nineteen, dressed in a shabby corduroy hunting suit, with a gun and gamebag, had climbed up from the marsh and was coming down the grove between the rows of trees. He walked with a rude, arrogant stride, kicking at the twigs, and carried himself with unnatural erectness, as if he had a steel rod down his back. There was something defiant and suspicious about the way he held his head. He came up to the group and addressed them in a superior, patronizing tone.
"Hullo, kids. What are YOU doing here?"
"Picnic," said Ed Elliott.
"I thought girls went on picnics. Did you bring teacher along? Ain't you kids old enough to hunt yet?"
George Adams looked at him scornfully. "Of course we are. I got a 22 Remington for my last birthday. But we know better than to bring guns over here. You better hide yours, Mr. Ivy, or Mrs. Forrester will come down and tell you to get out."
"She can't see us from the house. And anyhow, she can't say anything to me. I'm just as good as she is."
To this the boys made no reply. Such an assertion was absurd even to fish-mouthed Thad; his father's business depended upon some people being better than others, and ordering better cuts of meat in consequence. If everybody ate round steak like Ivy Peters' family, there would be nothing in the butcher's trade.
The visitor had put his gun and gamebag behind a tree, however, and stood stiffly upright, surveying the group out of his narrow beady eyes and making them all uncomfortable. George and Niel hated to look at Ivy,—and yet his face had a kind of fascination for them. It was red, and the flesh looked hard, as if it were swollen from bee-stings, or from an encounter with poison ivy. This nickname, however, was given him because it was well known that he had "made away" with several other dogs before he had poisoned the Judge's friendly water spaniel. The boys said he took a dislike to a dog and couldn't rest until he made an end of him.
Ivy's red skin was flecked with tiny freckles, like rust spots, and in each of his hard cheeks there was a curly indentation, like a knot in a tree-bole,—two permanent dimples which did anything but soften his countenance. His eyes were very small, and an absence of eyelashes gave his pupils the fixed, unblinking hardness of a snake's or a lizard's. His hands had the same swollen look as his face, were deeply creased across the back and knuckles, as if the skin were stretched too tight. He was an ugly fellow, Ivy Peters, and he liked being ugly.
He began telling the boys that it was too hot to hunt now, but later he meant to steal down to the marsh, where the ducks came at sundown, and bag a few. "I can make off across the corn fields before the old Cap sees me. He's not much on the run."
"He'll complain to your father."
"A whoop my father cares!" The speaker's restless eyes were looking up through the branches. "See that woodpecker tapping; don't mind us a bit. That's nerve!"
"They are protected here, so they're not afraid," said precise George.
"Hump! They'll spoil the old man's grove for him. That tree's full of holes already. Wouldn't he come down easy, now!"
Niel and George Adams sat up. "Don't you dare shoot here, you'll get us all into trouble."
"She'd come right down from the house," cried Ed Elliott.
"Let her come, stuck-up piece! Who's talking about shooting, anyway? There's more ways of killing dogs than choking them with butter."
At this effrontery the boys shot amazed glances at one another, and the brown Weaver twins broke simultaneously into giggles and rolled over on the turf.
But Ivy seemed unaware that he was regarded as being especially resourceful where dogs were concerned. He drew from his pocket a metal sling-shot and some round bits of gravel. "I won't kill it. I'll just surprise it, so we can have a look at it."
"Bet you won't hit it!"
"Bet I will!" He fitted the stone to the leather, squinted, and let fly. Sure enough, the woodpecker dropped at his feet. He threw his heavy black felt hat over it. Ivy never wore a straw hat, even in the hottest weather. "Now wait. He'll come to. You'll hear him flutter in a minute."
"It ain't a he, anyhow. It's a female. Anybody would know that," said Niel contemptuously, annoyed that this unpopular boy should come along and spoil their afternoon. He held the fate of his uncle's spaniel against Ivy Peters.
"All right, Miss Female," said Ivy carelessly, intent upon a project of his own. He took from his pocket a little red leather box, and when he opened it the boys saw that it contained curious little instruments: tiny sharp knife blades, hooks, curved needles, a saw, a blow-pipe, and scissors. "Some of these I got with a taxidermy outfit from the Youth's Companion, and some I made myself." He got stiffly down on his knees,—his joints seemed disinclined to bend at all,—and listened beside his hat. "She's as lively as a cricket," he announced. Thrusting his hand suddenly under the brim, he brought out the startled bird. It was not bleeding, and did not seem to be crippled.
"Now, you watch, and I'll show you something," said Ivy. He held the woodpecker's head in a vice made of his thumb and forefinger, enclosing its panting body with his palm. Quick as a flash, as if it were a practised trick, with one of those tiny blades he slit both the eyes that glared in the bird's stupid little head, and instantly released it.
The woodpecker rose in the air with a whirling, corkscrew motion, darted to the right, struck a tree-trunk,—to the left, and struck another. Up and down, backward and forward among the tangle of branches it flew, raking its feathers, falling and recovering itself. The boys stood watching it, indignant and uncomfortable, not knowing what to do. They were not especially sensitive; Thad was always on hand when there was anything doing at the slaughter house, and the Blum boys lived by killing things. They wouldn't have believed they could be so upset by a hurt woodpecker. There was something wild and desperate about the way the darkened creature beat its wings in the branches, whirling in the sunlight and never seeing it, always thrusting its head up and shaking it, as a bird does when it is drinking. Presently it managed to get its feet on the same limb where it had been struck, and seemed to recognize that perch. As if it had learned something by its bruises, it pecked and crept its way along the branch and disappeared into its own hole.
"There," Niel Herbert exclaimed between his teeth, "if I can get it now, I can kill it and put it out of its misery. Let me on your back, Rhein."
Rheinhold was the tallest, and he obediently bent his bony back. The trunk of a cottonwood tree is hard to climb; the bark is rough, and the branches begin a long way up. Niel tore his trousers and scratched his bare legs smartly before he got to the first fork. After recovering breath, he wound his way up toward the woodpecker's hole, which was inconveniently high. He was almost there, his companions below thought him quite safe, when he suddenly lost his balance, turned a somersault in the air, and bumped down on the grass at their feet. There he lay without moving.
"Run for water!"
"Run for Mrs. Forrester! Ask her for whiskey."
"No," said George Adams, "let's carry him up to the house. She will know what to do."
"That's sense," said Ivy Peters. As he was much bigger and stronger than any of the others, he lifted Niel's limp body and started up the hill. It had occurred to him that this would be a fine chance to get inside the Forresters' house and see what it was like, and this he had always wanted to do.
Mary, the cook, saw them coming from the kitchen window, and ran for her mistress. Captain Forrester was in Kansas City that day.
Mrs. Forrester came to the back door. "What's happened? It's Niel, too! Bring him in this way, please."
Ivy Peters followed her, keeping his eyes open, and the rest trooped after him,—all but the Blum boys, who knew that their place was outside the kitchen door. Mrs. Forrester led the way through the butler's pantry, the dining-room, the back parlour, to her own bedroom. She threw down the white counterpane, and Ivy laid Niel upon the sheets. Mrs. Forrester was concerned, but not frightened.
"Mary, will you bring the brandy from the sideboard. George, telephone Dr. Dennison to come over at once. Now you other boys run out on the front porch and wait quietly. There are too many of you in here." She knelt by the bed, putting brandy between Niel's white lips with a teaspoon. The little boys withdrew, only Ivy Peters remained standing in the back parlour, just outside the bedroom door, his arms folded across his chest, taking in his surroundings with bold, unblinking eyes.
Mrs. Forrester glanced at him over her shoulder. "Will you wait on the porch, please? You are older than the others, and if anything is needed I can call on you."
Ivy cursed himself, but he had to go. There was something final about her imperious courtesy,—high-and-mighty, he called it. He had intended to sit down in the biggest leather chair and cross his legs and make himself at home; but he found himself on the front porch, put out by that delicately modulated voice as effectually as if he had been kicked out by the brawniest tough in town.
Niel opened his eyes and looked wonderingly about the big, half-darkened room, full of heavy, old-fashioned walnut furniture. He was lying on a white bed with ruffled pillow shams, and Mrs. Forrester was kneeling beside him, bathing his forehead with cologne. Bohemian Mary stood behind her, with a basin of water. "Ouch, my arm!" he muttered, and the perspiration broke out on his face.
"Yes, dear, I'm afraid it's broken. Don't move. Dr. Dennison will be here in a few minutes. It doesn't hurt very much, does it?"
"No'm," he said faintly. He was in pain, but he felt weak and contented. The room was cool and dusky and quiet. At his house everything was horrid when one was sick. . . . What soft fingers Mrs. Forrester had, and what a lovely lady she was. Inside the lace ruffle of her dress he saw her white throat rising and falling so quickly. Suddenly she got up to take off her glittering rings,—she had not thought of them before,—shed them off her fingers with a quick motion as if she were washing her hands, and dropped them into Mary's broad palm. The little boy was thinking that he would probably never be in so nice a place again. The windows went almost down to the baseboard, like doors, and the closed green shutters let in streaks of sunlight that quivered on the polished floor and the silver things on the dresser. The heavy curtains were looped back with thick cords, like ropes. The marble-topped wash-stand was as big as a sideboard. The massive walnut furniture was all inlaid with pale-coloured woods. Niel had a scroll-saw, and this inlay interested him.
"There, he looks better now, doesn't he, Mary?" Mrs. Forrester ran her fingers through his black hair and lightly kissed him on the forehead. Oh, how sweet, how sweet she smelled!
"Wheels on the bridge; it's Doctor Dennison. Go and show him in, Mary."
Dr. Dennison set Niel's arm and took him home in his buggy. Home was not a pleasant place to go to; a frail egg-shell house, set off on the edge of the prairie where people of no consequence lived. Except for the fact that he was Judge Pommeroy's nephew, Niel would have been one of the boys to whom Mrs. Forrester merely nodded brightly as she passed. His father was a widower. A poor relation, a spinster from Kentucky, kept house for them, and Niel thought she was probably the worst housekeeper in the world. Their house was usually full of washing in various stages of incompletion,—tubs sitting about with linen soaking,—and the beds were "aired" until any hour in the afternoon when Cousin Sadie happened to think of making them up. She liked to sit down after breakfast and read murder trials, or peruse a well-worn copy of "St. Elmo." Sadie was a good-natured thing and was always running off to help a neighbour, but Niel hated to have anyone come to see them. His father was at home very little, spent all his time at his office. He kept the county abstract books and made farm loans. Having lost his own property, he invested other people's money for them. He was a gentle, agreeable man, young, good-looking, with nice manners, but Niel felt there was an air of failure and defeat about his family. He clung to his maternal uncle, Judge Pommeroy, white-whiskered and portly, who was Captain Forrester's lawyer and a friend of all the great men who visited the Forresters. Niel was proud, like his mother; she died when he was five years old. She had hated the West, and used haughtily to tell her neighbours that she would never think of living anywhere but in Fayette county, Kentucky; that they had only come to Sweet Water to make investments and to "turn the crown into the pound." By that phrase she was still remembered, poor lady.
For the next few years Niel saw very little of Mrs. Forrester. She was an excitement that came and went with summer. She and her husband always spent the winter in Denver and Colorado Springs,—left Sweet Water soon after Thanksgiving and did not return until the first of May. He knew that Mrs. Forrester liked him, but she hadn't much time for growing boys. When she had friends staying with her, and gave a picnic supper for them, or a dance in the grove on a moonlit night, Niel was always invited. Coming and going along the road to the marsh with the Blum boys, he sometimes met the Captain driving visitors over in the democrat wagon, and he heard about these people from Black Tom, Judge Pommeroy's faithful negro servant, who went over to wait on the table for Mrs. Forrester when she had a dinner party.
Then came the accident which cut short the Captain's career as a roadbuilder. After that fall with his horse, he lay ill at the Antlers, in Colorado Springs, all winter. In the summer, when Mrs. Forrester brought him home to Sweet Water, he still walked with a cane. He had grown much heavier, seemed encumbered by his own bulk, and never suggested taking a contract for the railroad again. He was able to work in his garden, trimmed his snowball bushes and lilac hedges, devoted a great deal of time to growing roses. He and his wife still went away for the winter, but each year the period of their absence grew shorter.
All this while the town of Sweet Water was changing. Its future no longer looked bright. Successive crop failures had broken the spirit of the farmers. George Adams and his family had gone back to Massachusetts, disillusioned about the West. One by one the other gentlemen ranchers followed their example. The Forresters now had fewer visitors. The Burlington was "drawing in its horns," as people said, and the railroad officials were not stopping off at Sweet Water so often,—were more inclined to hurry past a town where they had sunk money that would never come back.
Niel Herbert's father was one of the first failures to be crowded to the wall. He closed his little house, sent his cousin Sadie back to Kentucky, and went to Denver to accept an office position. He left Niel behind to read law in the office with his uncle. Not that Niel had any taste for the law, but he liked being with Judge Pommeroy, and he might as well stay there as anywhere, for the present. The few thousand dollars his mother had left him would not be his until he was twenty-one.
Niel fitted up a room for himself behind the suite which the Judge retained for his law offices, on the second floor of the most pretentious brick block in town. There he lived with monastic cleanliness and severity, glad to be rid of his cousin and her inconsequential housewifery, and resolved to remain a bachelor, like his uncle. He took care of the offices, which meant that he did the janitor work, and arranged them exactly to suit his taste, making the rooms so attractive that all the Judge's friends, and especially Captain Forrester, dropped in there to talk oftener than ever.
The Judge was proud of his nephew. Niel was now nineteen, a tall, straight, deliberate boy. His features were clear-cut, his grey eyes, so dark that they looked black under his long lashes, were rather moody and challenging. The world did not seem over-bright to young people just then. His reserve, which did not come from embarrassment or vanity, but from a critical habit of mind, made him seem older than he was, and a little cold.
One winter afternoon, only a few days before Christmas, Niel sat writing in the back office, at the long table where he usually worked or trifled, surrounded by the Judge's fine law library and solemn steel engravings of statesmen and jurists. His uncle was at his desk in the front office, engaged in a friendly consultation with one of his country clients. Niel, greatly bored with the notes he was copying, was trying to invent an excuse for getting out on the street, when he became aware of light footsteps coming rapidly down the outside corridor. The door of the front office opened, he heard his uncle rise quickly to his feet, and, at the same moment, heard a woman's laugh,—a soft, musical laugh which rose and descended like a suave scale. He turned in his screw chair so that he could look over his shoulder through the double doors into the front room. Mrs. Forrester stood there, shaking her muff at the Judge and the bewildered Swede farmer. Her quick eye lighted upon a bottle of Bourbon and two glasses on the desk among the papers.
"Is that the way you prepare your cases, Judge? What an example for Niel!" She peeped through the door and nodded to the boy as he rose.
He remained in the back room, however, watching her while she declined the chair the Judge pushed toward her and made a sign of refusal when he politely pointed to the Bourbon. She stood beside his desk in her long sealskin coat and cap, a crimson scarf showing above the collar, a little brown veil with spots tied over her eyes. The veil did not in the least obscure those beautiful eyes, dark and full of light, set under a low white forehead and arching eyebrows. The frosty air had brought no colour to her cheeks,—her skin had always the fragrant, crystalline whiteness of white lilacs. Mrs. Forrester looked at one, and one knew that she was bewitching. It was instantaneous, and it pierced the thickest hide. The Swede farmer was now grinning from ear to ear, and he, too, had shuffled to his feet. There could be no negative encounter, however slight, with Mrs. Forrester. If she merely bowed to you, merely looked at you, it constituted a personal relation. Something about her took hold of one in a flash; one became acutely conscious of her, of her fragility and grace, of her mouth which could say so much without words; of her eyes, lively, laughing, intimate, nearly always a little mocking.
"Will you and Niel dine with us tomorrow evening, Judge? And will you lend me Tom? We've just had a wire. The Ogdens are stopping over with us. They've been East to bring the girl home from school,—she's had mumps or something. They want to get home for Christmas, but they will stop off for two days. Probably Frank Ellinger will come on from Denver."
"No prospect can afford me such pleasure as that of dining with Mrs. Forrester," said the Judge ponderously.
"Thank you!" she bowed playfully and turned toward the double doors. "Niel, could you leave your work long enough to drive me home? Mr. Forrester has been detained at the bank."
Niel put on his wolfskin coat. Mrs. Forrester took him by his shaggy sleeve and went with him quickly down the long corridor and the narrow stairs to the street.
At the hitch-bar stood her cutter, looking like a painted toy among the country sleds and wagons. Niel tucked the buffalo robes about Mrs. Forrester, untied the ponies, and sprang in beside her. Without direction the team started down the frozen main street, where few people were abroad, crossed the creek on the ice, and trotted up the poplar-bordered lane toward the house on the hill. The late afternoon sun burned on the snow-crusted pastures. The poplars looked very tall and straight, pinched up and severe in their winter poverty. Mrs. Forrester chatted to Niel with her face turned toward him, holding her muff up to break the wind.
"I'm counting on you to help me entertain Constance Ogden. Can you take her off my hands day after tomorrow, come over in the afternoon? Your duties as a lawyer aren't very arduous yet?" She smiled teasingly. "What can I do with a miss of nineteen? One who goes to college? I've no learned conversation for her!"
"Surely I haven't!" Niel exclaimed.
"Oh, but you're a boy! Perhaps you can interest her in lighter things. She's considered pretty."
"Do you think she is?"
"I haven't seen her lately. She was striking,—china blue eyes and heaps of yellow hair, not exactly yellow,—what they call an ashen blond, I believe."
Niel had noticed that in describing the charms of other women Mrs. Forrester always made fun of them a little.
They drew up in front of the house. Ben Keezer came round from the kitchen to take the team.
"You are to go back for Mr. Forrester at six, Ben. Niel, come in for a moment and get warm." She drew him through the little storm entry, which protected the front door in winter, into the hall. "Hang up your coat and come along." He followed her through the parlour into the sitting-room, where a little coal grate was burning under the black mantelpiece, and sat down in the big leather chair in which Captain Forrester dozed after his mid-day meal. It was a rather dark room, with walnut bookcases that had carved tops and glass doors. The floor was covered by a red carpet, and the walls were hung with large, old-fashioned engravings; "The House of the Poet on the Last Day of Pompeii," "Shakespeare Reading before Queen Elizabeth."
Mrs. Forrester left him and presently returned carrying a tray with a decanter and sherry glasses. She put it down on her husband's smoking-table, poured out a glass for Niel and one for herself, and perched on the arm of one of the stuffed chairs, where she sat sipping her sherry and stretching her tiny, silver-buckled slippers out toward the glowing coals.
"It's so nice to have you staying on until after Christmas," Niel observed. "You've only been here one other Christmas since I can remember."
"I'm afraid we're staying on all winter this year. Mr. Forrester thinks we can't afford to go away. For some reason, we are extraordinarily poor just now."
"Like everybody else," the boy commented grimly.
"Yes, like everybody else. However, it does no good to be glum about it, does it?" She refilled the two glasses. "I always take a little sherry at this time in the afternoon. At Colorado Springs some of my friends take tea, like the English. But I should feel like an old woman, drinking tea! Besides, sherry is good for my throat." Niel remembered some legend about a weak chest and occasional terrifying hemorrhages. But that seemed doubtful, as one looked at her,—fragile, indeed, but with such light, effervescing vitality. "Perhaps I do seem old to you, Niel, quite old enough for tea and a cap!"
He smiled gravely. "You seem always the same to me, Mrs. Forrester."
"Yes? And how is that?"
"Lovely. Just lovely."
As she bent forward to put down her glass she patted his cheek. "Oh, you'll do very well for Constance!" Then, seriously, "I'm glad if I do, though. I want you to like me well enough to come to see us often this winter. You shall come with your uncle to make a fourth at whist. Mr. Forrester must have his whist in the evening. Do you think he is looking any worse, Niel? It frightens me to see him getting a little uncertain. But there, we must believe in good luck!" She took up the half-empty glass and held it against the light.
Niel liked to see the firelight sparkle on her earrings, long pendants of garnets and seed-pearls in the shape of fleurs-de-lys. She was the only woman he knew who wore earrings; they hung naturally against her thin, triangular cheeks. Captain Forrester, although he had given her handsomer ones, liked to see her wear these, because they had been his mother's. It gratified him to have his wife wear jewels; it meant something to him. She never left off her beautiful rings unless she was in the kitchen.
"A winter in the country may do him good," said Mrs. Forrester, after a silence during which she looked intently into the fire, as if she were trying to read the outcome of their difficulties there. "He loves this place so much. But you and Judge Pommeroy must keep an eye on him when he is in town, Niel. If he looks tired or uncertain, make some excuse and bring him home. He can't carry a drink or two as he used,"—she glanced over her shoulder to see that the door into the dining-room was shut. "Once last winter he had been drinking with some old friends at the Antlers,—nothing unusual, just as he always did, as a man must be able to do,—but it was too much for him. When he came out to join me in the carriage, coming down that long walk, you know, he fell. There was no ice, he didn't slip. It was simply because he was unsteady. He had trouble getting up. I still shiver to think of it. To me, it was as if one of the mountains had fallen down."
A little later Niel went plunging down the hill, looking exultantly into the streak of red sunset. Oh, the winter would not be so bad, this year! How strange that she should be here at all, a woman like her among common people! Not even in Denver had he ever seen another woman so elegant. He had sat in the dining-room of the Brown Palace hotel and watched them as they came down to dinner,—fashionable women from "the East," on their way to California. But he had never found one so attractive and distinguished as Mrs. Forrester. Compared with her, other women were heavy and dull; even the pretty ones seemed lifeless,—they had not that something in their glance that made one's blood tingle. And never elsewhere had he heard anything like her inviting, musical laugh, that was like the distant measures of dance music, heard through opening and shutting doors.
He could remember the very first time he ever saw Mrs. Forrester, when he was a little boy. He had been loitering in front of the Episcopal church one Sunday morning, when a low carriage drove up to the door. Ben Keezer was on the front seat, and on the back seat was a lady, alone, in a black silk dress all puffs and ruffles, and a black hat, carrying a parasol with a carved ivory handle. As the carriage stopped she lifted her dress to alight; out of a swirl of foamy white petticoats she thrust a black, shiny slipper. She stepped lightly to the ground and with a nod to the driver went into the church. The little boy followed her through the open door, saw her enter a pew and kneel. He was proud now that at the first moment he had recognized her as belonging to a different world from any he had ever known.
Niel paused for a moment at the end of the lane to look up at the last skeleton poplar in the long row; just above its pointed tip hung the hollow, silver winter moon.
In pleasant weather Judge Pommeroy walked to the Forresters', but on the occasion of the dinner for the Ogdens he engaged the liveryman to take him and his nephew over in one of the town hacks,—vehicles seldom used except for funerals and weddings. They smelled strongly of the stable and contained lap-robes as heavy as lead and as slippery as oiled paper. Niel and his uncle were the only townspeople asked to the Forresters' that evening; they rolled over the creek and up the hill in state, and emerged covered with horsehair.
Captain Forrester met them at the door, his burly figure buttoned up in a frock coat, a flat collar and black string tie under the heavy folds of his neck. He was always clean-shaven except for a drooping dun-coloured moustache. The company stood behind him laughing while Niel caught up the whisk-broom and began dusting roan hairs off his uncle's broadcloth. Mrs. Forrester gave Niel a brushing in turn and then took him into the parlour and introduced him to Mrs. Ogden and her daughter.
The daughter was a rather pretty girl, Niel thought, in a pale pink evening dress which left bare her smooth arms and short, dimpled neck. Her eyes were, as Mrs. Forrester had said, a china blue, rather prominent and inexpressive. Her fleece of ashy-gold hair was bound about her head with silver bands. In spite of her fresh, rose-like complexion, her face was not altogether agreeable. Two dissatisfied lines reached from the corners of her short nose to the corners of her mouth. When she was displeased, even a little, these lines tightened, drew her nose back, and gave her a suspicious, injured expression. Niel sat down by her and did his best, but he found her hard to talk to. She seemed nervous and distracted, kept glancing over her shoulder, and crushing her handkerchief up in her hands. Her mind, clearly, was elsewhere. After a few moments he turned to the mother, who was more easily interested.
Mrs. Ogden was almost unpardonably homely. She had a pear-shaped face, and across her high forehead lay a row of flat, dry curls. Her bluish brown skin was almost the colour of her violet dinner dress. A diamond necklace glittered about her wrinkled throat. Unlike Constance, she seemed thoroughly amiable, but as she talked she tilted her head and "used" her eyes, availing herself of those arch glances which he had supposed only pretty women indulged in. Probably she had long been surrounded by people to whom she was an important personage, and had acquired the manner of a spoiled darling. Niel thought her rather foolish at first, but in a few moments he had got used to her mannerisms and began to like her. He found himself laughing heartily and forgot the discouragement of his failure with the daughter.
Mr. Ogden, a short, weather-beaten man of fifty, with a cast in one eye, a stiff imperial, and twisted moustaches, was noticeably quieter and less expansive than when Niel had met him here on former occasions. He seemed to expect his wife to do the talking. When Mrs. Forrester addressed him, or passed near him, his good eye twinkled and followed her,—while the eye that looked askance remained unchanged and committed itself to nothing.
Suddenly everyone became more lively; the air warmed, and the lamplight seemed to brighten, as a fourth member of the Denver party came in from the dining-room with a glittering tray full of cocktails he had been making. Frank Ellinger was a bachelor of forty, six feet two, with long straight legs, fine shoulders, and a figure that still permitted his white waistcoat to button without a wrinkle under his conspicuously well-cut dinner coat. His black hair, coarse and curly as the filling of a mattress, was grey about the ears, his florid face showed little purple veins about his beaked nose,—a nose like the prow of a ship, with long nostrils. His chin was deeply cleft, his thick curly lips seemed very muscular, very much under his control, and, with his strong white teeth, irregular and curved, gave him the look of a man who could bite an iron rod in two with a snap of his jaws. His whole figure seemed very much alive under his clothes, with a restless, muscular energy that had something of the cruelty of wild animals in it. Niel was very much interested in this man, the hero of many ambiguous stories. He didn't know whether he liked him or not. He knew nothing bad about him, but he felt something evil.
The cocktails were the signal for general conversation, the company drew together in one group. Even Miss Constance seemed less dissatisfied. Ellinger drank his cocktail standing beside her chair, and offered her the cherry in his glass. They were old-fashioned whiskey cocktails. Nobody drank Martinis then; gin was supposed to be the consolation of sailors and inebriate scrub-women.
"Very good, Frank, very good," Captain Forrester pronounced, drawing out a fresh, cologne-scented handkerchief to wipe his moustache. "Are encores in order?" The Captain puffed slightly when he talked. His eyes, always somewhat suffused and bloodshot since his injury, blinked at his friends from under his heavy lids.
"One more round for everybody, Captain." Ellinger brought in from the sideboard a capacious shaker and refilled all the glasses except Miss Ogden's. At her he shook his finger, and offered her the little dish of Maraschino cherries.
"No, I don't want those. I want the one in your glass," she said with a pouty smile. "I like it to taste of something!"
"Constance!" said her mother reprovingly, rolling her eyes at Mrs. Forrester, as if to share with her the charm of such innocence.
"Niel," Mrs. Forrester laughed, "won't you give the child your cherry, too?"
Niel promptly crossed the room and proffered the cherry in the bottom of his glass. She took it with her thumb and fore-finger and dropped it into her own,—where, he was quick to observe, she left it when they went out to dinner. A stubborn piece of pink flesh, he decided, and certainly a fool about a man quite old enough to be her father. He sighed when he saw that he was placed next her at the dinner table.
Captain Forrester still made a commanding figure at the head of his own table, with his napkin tucked under his chin and the work of carving well in hand. Nobody could lay bare the bones of a brace of duck or a twenty-pound turkey more deftly. "What part of the turkey do you prefer, Mrs. Ogden?" If one had a preference, it was gratified, with all the stuffing and gravy that went with it, and the vegetables properly placed. When a plate left Captain Forrester's hands, it was a dinner; the recipient was served, and well served. He served Mrs. Forrester last of the ladies but before the men, and to her, too, he said, "Mrs. Forrester, what part of the turkey shall I give you this evening?" He was a man who did not vary his formulae or his manners. He was no more mobile than his countenance. Niel and Judge Pommeroy had often remarked how much Captain Forrester looked like the pictures of Grover Cleveland. His clumsy dignity covered a deep nature, and a conscience that had never been juggled with. His repose was like that of a mountain. When he laid his fleshy thick-fingered hand upon a frantic horse, an hysterical woman, an Irish workman out for blood, he brought them peace; something they could not resist. That had been the secret of his management of men. His sanity asked nothing, claimed nothing; it was so simple that it brought a hush over distracted creatures. In the old days, when he was building road in the Black Hills, trouble sometimes broke out in camp when he was absent, staying with Mrs. Forrester at Colorado Springs. He would put down the telegram that announced an insurrection and say to his wife, "Maidy, I must go to the men." And that was all he did,—he went to them.
While the Captain was intent upon his duties as host he talked very little, and Judge Pommeroy and Ellinger kept a lively cross-fire of amusing stories going. Niel, sitting opposite Ellinger, watched him closely. He still couldn't decide whether he liked him or not. In Denver Frank was known as a prince of good fellows; tactful, generous, resourceful, though apt to trim his sails to the wind; a man who good-humouredly bowed to the inevitable, or to the almost-inevitable. He had, when he was younger, been notoriously "wild," but that was not held against him, even by mothers with marriageable daughters, like Mrs. Ogden. Morals were different in those days. Niel had heard his uncle refer to Ellinger's youthful infatuation with a woman called Nell Emerald, a handsome and rather unusual woman who conducted a house properly licensed by the Denver police. Nell Emerald had told an old club man that though she had been out behind young Ellinger's new trotting horse, she "had no respect for a man who would go driving with a prostitute in broad daylight." This story and a dozen like it were often related of Ellinger, and the women laughed over them as heartily as the men. All the while that he was making a scandalous chronicle for himself, young Ellinger had been devotedly caring for an invalid mother, and he was described to strangers as a terribly fast young man and a model son. That combination pleased the taste of the time. Nobody thought the worse of him. Now that his mother was dead, he lived at the Brown Palace hotel, though he still kept her house at Colorado Springs.
When the roast was well under way, Black Tom, very formal in a white waistcoat and high collar, poured the champagne. Captain Forrester lifted his glass, the frail stem between his thick fingers, and glancing round the table at his guests and at Mrs. Forrester, said,
It was the toast he always drank at dinner, the invocation he was sure to utter when he took a glass of whiskey with an old friend. Whoever had heard him say it once, liked to hear him say it again. Nobody else could utter those two words as he did, with such gravity and high courtesy. It seemed a solemn moment, seemed to knock at the door of Fate; behind which all days, happy and otherwise, were hidden. Niel drank his wine with a pleasant shiver, thinking that nothing else made life seem so precarious, the future so cryptic and unfathomable, as that brief toast uttered by the massive man, "Happy days!"
Mrs. Ogden turned to the host with her most languishing smile: "Captain Forrester, I want you to tell Constance"—(She was an East Virginia woman, and what she really said was, "Cap'n Forrester, Ah wan' yew to tell, etc." Her vowels seemed to roll about in the same way her eyes did.)—"I want you to tell Constance about how you first found this lovely spot, 'way back in Indian times."
The Captain looked down the table between the candles at Mrs. Forrester, as if to consult her. She smiled and nodded, and her beautiful earrings swung beside her pale cheeks. She was wearing her diamonds tonight, and a black velvet gown. Her husband had archaic ideas about jewels; a man bought them for his wife in acknowledgment of things he could not gracefully utter. They must be costly; they must show that he was able to buy them, and that she was worthy to wear them.
With her approval the Captain began his narrative: a concise account of how he came West a young boy, after serving in the Civil War, and took a job as driver for a freighting company that carried supplies across the plains from Nebraska City to Cherry Creek, as Denver was then called. The freighters, after embarking in that sea of grass six hundred miles in width, lost all count of the days of the week and the month. One day was like another, and all were glorious; good hunting, plenty of antelope and buffalo, boundless sunny sky, boundless plains of waving grass, long fresh-water lagoons yellow with lagoon flowers, where the bison in their periodic migrations stopped to drink and bathe and wallow.
"An ideal life for a young man," the Captain pronounced. Once, when he was driven out of the trail by a wash-out, he rode south on his horse to explore, and found an Indian encampment near the Sweet Water, on this very hill where his house now stood. He was, he said, "greatly taken with the location," and made up his mind that he would one day have a house there. He cut down a young willow tree and drove the stake into the ground to mark the spot where he wished to build. He went away and did not come back for many years; he was helping to lay the first railroad across the plains.
"There were those that were dependent on me," he said. "I had sickness to contend with, and responsibilities. But in all those years I expect there was hardly a day passed that I did not remember the Sweet Water and this hill. When I came here a young man, I had planned it in my mind, pretty much as it is today; where I would dig my well, and where I would plant my grove and my orchard. I planned to build a house that my friends could come to, with a wife like Mrs. Forrester to make it attractive to them. I used to promise myself that some day I would manage it." This part of the story the Captain told not with embarrassment, but with reserve, choosing his words slowly, absently cracking English walnuts with his strong fingers and heaping a little hoard of kernels beside his plate. His friends understood that he was referring to his first marriage, to the poor invalid wife who had never been happy and who had kept his nose to the grindstone.
"When things looked most discouraging," he went on, "I came back here once and bought the place from the railroad company. They took my note. I found my willow stake,—it had rooted and grown into a tree,—and I planted three more to mark the corners of my house. Twelve years later Mrs. Forrester came here with me, shortly after our marriage, and we built our house." Captain Forrester puffed from time to time, but his clear account commanded attention. Something in the way he uttered his unornamented phrases gave them the impressiveness of inscriptions cut in stone.
Mrs. Forrester nodded at him from her end of the table. "And now, tell us your philosophy of life,—this is where it comes in," she laughed teasingly.
The Captain coughed and looked abashed. "I was intending to omit that tonight. Some of our guests have already heard it."
"No, no. It belongs at the end of the story, and if some of us have heard it, we can hear it again. Go on!"
"Well, then, my philosophy is that what you think of and plan for day by day, in spite of yourself, so to speak—you will get. You will get it more or less. That is, unless you are one of the people who get nothing in this world. There are such people. I have lived too much in mining works and construction camps not to know that." He paused as if, though this was too dark a chapter to be gone into, it must have its place, its moment of silent recognition. "If you are not one of those, Constance and Niel, you will accomplish what you dream of most."
"And why? That's the interesting part of it," his wife prompted him.
"Because," he roused himself from his abstraction and looked about at the company, "because a thing that is dreamed of in the way I mean, is already an accomplished fact. All our great West has been developed from such dreams; the homesteader's and the prospector's and the contractor's. We dreamed the railroads across the mountains, just as I dreamed my place on the Sweet Water. All these things will be everyday facts to the coming generation, but to us—" Captain Forrester ended with a sort of grunt. Something forbidding had come into his voice, the lonely, defiant note that is so often heard in the voices of old Indians.
Mrs. Ogden had listened to the story with such sympathy that Niel liked her better than ever, and even the preoccupied Constance seemed able to give it her attention. They rose from the dessert and went into the parlour to arrange the card tables. The Captain still played whist as well as ever. As he brought out a box of his best cigars, he paused before Mrs. Ogden and said, "Is smoke offensive to you, Mrs. Ogden?" When she protested that it was not, he crossed the room to where Constance was talking with Ellinger and asked with the same grave courtesy, "Is smoke offensive to you, Constance?" Had there been half a dozen women present, he would have asked that question of each, probably, and in the same words. It did not bother him to repeat a phrase. If an expression answered his purpose, he saw no reason for varying it.
Mrs. Forrester and Mr. Ogden were to play against Mrs. Ogden and the Captain. "Constance," said Mrs. Forrester as she sat down, "will you play with Niel? I'm told he's very good."
Miss Ogden's short nose flickered up, the lines on either side of it deepened, and she again looked injured. Niel was sure she detested him. He was not going to be done in by her.
"Miss Ogden," he said as he stood beside his chair, deliberately shuffling a pack of cards, "my uncle and I are used to playing together, and probably you are used to playing with Mr. Ellinger. Suppose we try that combination?"
She gave him a quick, suspicious glance from under her yellow eyelashes and flung herself into a chair without so much as answering him. Frank Ellinger came in from the dining-room, where he had been sampling the Captain's French brandy, and took the vacant seat opposite Miss Ogden. "So it's you and me, Connie? Good enough!" he exclaimed, cutting the pack Niel pushed toward him.
Just before midnight Black Tom opened the door and announced that the egg-nog was ready. The card players went into the dining-room, where the punchbowl stood smoking on the table.
"Constance," said Captain Forrester, "do you sing? I like to hear one of the old songs with the egg-nog."
"Ah'm sorry, Cap'n Forrester. Ah really haven't any voice."
Niel noticed that whenever Constance spoke to the Captain she strained her throat, though he wasn't in the least deaf. He broke in over her refusal. "Uncle can start a song if you coax him, sir."
Judge Pommeroy, after smoothing his silver whiskers and coughing, began "Auld Lang Syne." The others joined in, but they hadn't got to the end of it when a hollow rumbling down on the bridge made them laugh, and everyone ran to the front windows to see the Judge's funeral coach come lurching up the hill, with only one of the side lanterns lit. Mrs. Forrester sent Tom out with a drink for the driver. While Niel and his uncle were putting on their overcoats in the hall, she came up to them and whispered coaxingly to the boy, "Remember, you are coming over tomorrow, at two? I am planning a drive, and I want you to amuse Constance for me."
Niel bit his lip and looked down into Mrs. Forrester's laughing, persuasive eyes. "I'll do it for you, but that's the only reason," he said threateningly.
"I understand, for me! I'll credit it to your account."
The Judge and his nephew rolled away on swaying springs. The Ogdens retired to their rooms upstairs. Mrs. Forrester went to help the Captain divest himself of his frock coat, and put it away for him. Ever since he was hurt he had to be propped high on pillows at night, and he slept in a narrow iron bed, in the alcove which had formerly been his wife's dressing-room. While he was undressing he breathed heavily and sighed, as if he were very tired. He fumbled with his studs, then blew on his fingers and tried again. His wife came to his aid and quickly unbuttoned everything. He did not thank her in words, but submitted gratefully.
When the iron bed creaked at receiving his heavy figure, she called from the big bedroom, "Good-night, Mr. Forrester," and drew the heavy curtains that shut off the alcove. She took off her rings and earrings and was beginning to unfasten her black velvet bodice when, at a tinkle of glass from without, she stopped short. Rehooking the shoulder of her gown, she went to the dining-room, now faintly lit by the coal fire in the back parlour. Frank Ellinger was standing at the sideboard, taking a nightcap. The Forrester French brandy was old, and heavy like a cordial.
"Be careful," she murmured as she approached him, "I have a distinct impression that there is someone on the enclosed stairway. There is a wide crack in the door. Ah, but kittens have claws, these days! Pour me just a little. Thank you. I'll have mine in by the fire."
He followed her into the next room, where she stood by the grate, looking at him in the light of the pale blue flames that ran over the fresh coal, put on to keep the fire.
"You've had a good many brandies, Frank," she said, studying his flushed, masterful face.
"Not too many. I'll need them . . . to-night," he replied meaningly.
She nervously brushed back a lock of hair that had come down a little. "It's not to-night. It's morning. Go to bed and sleep as late as you please. Take care, I heard silk stockings on the stairs. Good-night." She put her hand on the sleeve of his coat; the white fingers clung to the black cloth as bits of paper cling to magnetized iron. Her touch, soft as it was, went through the man, all the feet and inches of him. His broad shoulders lifted on a deep breath. He looked down at her.
Her eyes fell. "Good-night," she said faintly. As she turned quickly away, the train of her velvet dress caught the leg of his broadcloth trousers and dragged with a friction that crackled and threw sparks. Both started. They stood looking at each other for a moment before she actually slipped through the door. Ellinger remained by the hearth, his arms folded tight over his chest, his curly lips compressed, frowning into the fire.
Niel went up the hill the next afternoon, just as the cutter with the two black ponies jingled round the driveway and stopped at the front door. Mrs. Forrester came out on the porch, dressed for a sleigh ride. Ellinger followed her, buttoned up in a long fur-lined coat, showily befrogged down the front, with a glossy astrachan collar. He looked even more powerful and bursting with vigour than last night. His highly-coloured, well-visored countenance shone with a good opinion of himself and of the world.
Mrs. Forrester called to Niel gaily. "We are going down to the Sweet Water to cut cedar boughs for Christmas. Will you keep Constance company? She seems a trifle disappointed at being left behind, but we can't take the big sleigh,—the pole is broken. Be nice to her, there's a good boy!" She pressed his hand, gave him a meaning, confidential smile, and stepped into the sleigh. Ellinger sprang in beside her, and they glided down the hill with a merry tinkle of sleighbells.
Niel found Miss Ogden in the back parlour, playing solitaire by the fire. She was clearly out of humour.
"Come in, Mr. Herbert. I think they might have taken us along, don't you? I want to see the river my own self. I hate bein' shut up in the house!"
"Let's go out, then. Wouldn't you like to see the town?"
Constance seemed not to hear him. She was wrinkling and unwrinkling her short nose, and the restless lines about her mouth were fluttering. "What's to hinder us from getting a sleigh at the livery barn and going down to the Sweet Water? I don't suppose the river's private property?" She gave a nervous, angry laugh and looked hopefully at Niel.
"We couldn't get anything at this hour. The livery teams are all out," he said with firmness.
Constance glanced at him suspiciously, then sat down at the card table and leaned over it, drawing her plump shoulders together. Her fluffy yellow hair was wound round her head like a scarf and held in place by narrow bands of black velvet.
The ponies had crossed the second creek and were trotting down the high road toward the river. Mrs. Forrester expressed her feelings in a laugh full of mischief. "Is she running after us? Where did she get the idea that she was to come? What a relief to get away!" She lifted her chin and sniffed the air. The day was grey, without sun, and the air was still and dry, a warm cold. "Poor Mr. Ogden," she went on, "how much livelier he is without his ladies! They almost extinguish him. Now aren't you glad you never married?"
"I'm certainly glad I never married a homely woman. What does a man do it for, anyway? She had no money,—and he's always had it, or been on the way to it."
"Well, they're off tomorrow. And Connie! You've reduced her to a state of imbecility, really! What an afternoon Niel must be having!" She laughed as if the idea of his predicament delighted her.
"Who's this kid, anyway?" Ellinger asked her to take the reins for a moment while he drew a cigar from his pocket. "He's a trifle stiff. Does he make himself useful?"
"Oh, he's a nice boy, stranded here like the rest of us. I'm going to train him to be very useful. He's devoted to Mr. Forrester. Handsome, don't you think?"
"So-so." They turned into a by-road that wound along the Sweet Water. Ellinger held the ponies in a little and turned down his high astrachan collar. "Let's have a look at you, Marian."
Mrs. Forrester was holding her muff before her face, to catch the flying particles of snow the ponies kicked up. From behind it she glanced at him sidewise. "Well?" she said teasingly.
He put his arm through hers and settled himself low in the sleigh. "You ought to look at me better than that. It's been a devil of a long while since I've seen you."
"Perhaps it's been too long," she murmured. The mocking spark in her eyes softened perceptibly under the long pressure of his arm. "Yes, it's been long," she admitted lightly.
"You didn't answer the letter I wrote you on the eleventh."
"Didn't I? Well, at any rate I answered your telegram." She drew her head away as his face came nearer. "You'll really have to watch the ponies, my dear, or they'll tumble us out in the snow."
"I don't care. I wish they would!" he said between his teeth. "Why didn't you answer my letter?"
"Oh, I don't remember! You don't write so many."
"It's no satisfaction. You won't let me write you love letters. You say it's risky."
"So it is, and foolish. But now you needn't be so careful. Not too careful!" she laughed softly. "When I'm off in the country for a whole winter, alone, and growing older, I like to . . ." she put her hand on his, "to be reminded of pleasanter things."
Ellinger took off his glove with his teeth. His eyes, sweeping the winding road and the low, snow-covered bluffs, had something wolfish in them.
"Be careful, Frank. My rings! You hurt me!"
"Then why didn't you take them off? You used to. Are these your cedars, shall we stop here?"
"No, not here." She spoke very low. "The best ones are farther on, in a deep ravine that winds back into the hills."
Ellinger glanced at her averted head, and his heavy lips twitched in a smile at one corner. The quality of her voice had changed, and he knew the change. They went spinning along the curves of the winding road, saying not a word. Mrs. Forrester sat with her head bent forward, her face half hidden in her muff. At last she told him to stop. To the right of the road he saw a thicket. Behind it a dry watercourse wound into the bluffs. The tops of the dark, still cedars, just visible from the road, indicated its windings.
"Sit still," he said, "while I take out the horses."
When the blue shadows of approaching dusk were beginning to fall over the snow, one of the Blum boys, slipping quietly along through the timber in search of rabbits, came upon the empty cutter standing in the brush, and near it the two ponies, stamping impatiently where they were tied. Adolph slid back into the thicket and lay down behind a fallen log to see what would happen. Not much ever happened to him but weather. Presently he heard low voices, coming nearer from the ravine. The big stranger who was visiting at the Forresters' emerged, carrying the buffalo robes on one arm; Mrs. Forrester herself was clinging to the other. They walked slowly, wholly absorbed by what they were saying to each other. When they came up to the sleigh, the man spread the robes on the seat and put his hands under Mrs. Forrester's arms to lift her in. But he did not lift her; he stood for a long while holding her crushed up against his breast, her face hidden in his black overcoat.
"What about those damned cedar boughs?" he asked, after he had put her in and covered her up. "Shall I go back and cut some?"
"It doesn't matter," she murmured.
He reached under the seat for a hatchet and went back to the ravine. Mrs. Forrester sat with her eyes closed, her cheek pillowed on her muff, a faint, soft smile on her lips. The air was still and blue; the Blum boy could almost hear her breathe. When the strokes of the hatchet rang out from the ravine, he could see her eyelids flutter . . . soft shivers went through her body.
The man came back and threw the evergreens into the sleigh. When he got in beside her, she slipped her hand through his arm and settled softly against him. "Drive slowly," she murmured, as if she were talking in her sleep. "It doesn't matter if we are late for dinner. Nothing matters." The ponies trotted off.
The pale Blum boy rose from behind his log and followed the tracks up the ravine. When the orange moon rose over the bluffs, he was still sitting under the cedars, his gun on his knee. While Mrs. Forrester had been waiting there in the sleigh, with her eyes closed, feeling so safe, he could almost have touched her with his hand. He had never seen her before when her mocking eyes and lively manner were not between her and all the world. If it had been Thad Grimes who lay behind that log, now, or Ivy Peters?
But with Adolph Blum her secrets were safe. His mind was feudal; the rich and fortunate were also the privileged. These warm-blooded, quick-breathing people took chances,—followed impulses only dimly understandable to a boy who was wet and weather-chapped all the year; who waded in the mud fishing for cat, or lay in the marsh waiting for wild duck. Mrs. Forrester had never been too haughty to smile at him when he came to the back door with his fish. She never haggled about the price. She treated him like a human being. His little chats with her, her nod and smile when she passed him on the street, were among the pleasantest things he had to remember. She bought game of him in the closed season, and didn't give him away.
It was during that winter, the first one Mrs. Forrester had ever spent in the house on the hill, that Niel came to know her very well. For the Forresters that winter was a sort of isthmus between two estates; soon afterward came a change in their fortunes. And for Niel it was a natural turning-point, since in the autumn he was nineteen, and in the spring he was twenty,—a very great difference.
After the Christmas festivities were over, the whist parties settled into a regular routine. Three evenings a week Judge Pommeroy and his nephew sat down to cards with the Forresters. Sometimes they went over early and dined there. Sometimes they stayed for a late supper after the last rubber. Niel, who had been so content with a bachelor's life, and who had made up his mind that he would never live in a place that was under the control of women, found himself becoming attached to the comforts of a well-conducted house; to the pleasures of the table, to the soft chairs and soft lights and agreeable human voices at the Forresters'. On bitter, windy nights, sitting in his favourite blue chair before the grate, he used to wonder how he could manage to tear himself away, to plunge into the outer darkness, and run down the long frozen road and up the dead street of the town. Captain Forrester was experimenting with bulbs that winter, and had built a little glass conservatory on the south side of the house, off the back parlour. Through January and February the house was full of narcissus and Roman hyacinths, and their heavy, spring-like odour made a part of the enticing comfort of the fireside there.
Where Mrs. Forrester was, dulness was impossible, Niel believed. The charm of her conversation was not so much in what she said, though she was often witty, but in the quick recognition of her eyes, in the living quality of her voice itself. One could talk with her about the most trivial things, and go away with a high sense of elation. The secret of it, he supposed, was that she couldn't help being interested in people, even very commonplace people. If Mr. Ogden or Mr. Dalzell were not there to tell their best stories for her, then she could be amused by Ivy Peters' ruffianly manners, or the soft compliments of old man Elliott when he sold her a pair of winter shoes. She had a fascinating gift of mimicry. When she mentioned the fat iceman, or Thad Grimes at his meat block, or the Blum boys with their dead rabbits, by a subtle suggestion of their manner she made them seem more individual and vivid than they were in their own person. She often caricatured people to their faces, and they were not offended, but greatly flattered. Nothing pleased one more than to provoke her laughter. Then you felt you were getting on with her. It was her form of commenting, of agreeing with you and appreciating you when you said something interesting,—and it often told you a great deal that was both too direct and too elusive for words.
Long, long afterward, when Niel did not know whether Mrs. Forrester were living or dead, if her image flashed into his mind, it came with a brightness of dark eyes, her pale triangular cheeks with long earrings, and her many-coloured laugh. When he was dull, dull and tired of everything, he used to think that if he could hear that long-lost lady laugh again, he could be gay.
The big storm of the winter came late that year; swept down over Sweet Water the first day of March and beat upon the town for three days and nights. Thirty inches of snow fell, and the cutting wind blew it into whirling drifts. The Forresters were snowed in. Ben Keezer, their man of all work, did not attempt to break a road or even to come over to the town himself. On the third day Niel went to the post-office, got the Captain's leather mail sack with its accumulation of letters, and set off across the creek, plunging into drifts up to his middle, sometimes up to his arm-pits. The fences along the lane were covered, but he broke his trail by keeping between the two lines of poplars. When at last he reached the front porch, Captain Forrester came to the door and let him in.
"Glad to see you, my boy, very glad. It's been a little lonesome for us. You must have had hard work getting over. I certainly appreciate it. Come to the sitting-room fire and dry yourself. We will talk quietly. Mrs. Forrester has gone upstairs to lie down; she's been complaining of a headache."
Niel stood before the fire in his rubber boots, drying his trousers. The Captain did not sit down but opened the glass door into his little conservatory.
"I've something pretty to show you, Niel. All my hyacinths are coming along at once, every colour of the rainbow. The Roman hyacinths, I say, are Mrs. Forrester's. They seem to suit her."
Niel went to the door and looked with keen pleasure at the fresh, watery blossoms. "I was afraid you might lose them in this bitter weather, Captain."
"No, these things can stand a good deal of cold. They've been company for us." He stood looking out through the glass at the drifted shrubbery. Niel liked to see him look out over his place. A man's house is his castle, his look seemed to say. "Ben tells me the rabbits have come up to the barn to eat the hay, everything green is covered up. I had him throw a few cabbages out for them, so they won't suffer. Mrs. Forrester has been on the porch every day, feeding the snow birds," he went on, as if talking to himself.
The stair door opened, and Mrs. Forrester came down in her Japanese dressing-gown, looking very pale.
The dark shadows under her eyes seemed to mean that she had been losing sleep.
"Oh, it's Niel! How nice of you. And you've brought the mail. Are there any letters for me?"
"Three. Two from Denver and one from California." Her husband gave them to her. "Did you sleep, Maidy?"
"No, but I rested. It's delightful up in the west room, the wind sings and whistles about the eaves. If you'll excuse me, I'll dress and glance at my letters. Stand closer to the fire, Niel. Are you very wet?" When she stopped beside him to feel his clothes, he smelled a sharp odour of spirits. Was she ill, he wondered, or merely so bored that she had been trying to dull herself?
When she came back she had dressed and rearranged her hair.
"Mrs. Forrester," said the Captain in a solicitous tone, "I believe I would like some tea and toast this afternoon, like your English friends, and it would be good for your head. We won't offer Niel anything else."
"Very well. Mary has gone to bed with a toothache, but I will make the tea. Niel can make the toast here by the fire while you read your paper."
She was cheerful now,—tied one of Mary's aprons about Niel's neck and set him down with the toasting fork. He noticed that the Captain, as he read his paper, kept his eye on the sideboard with a certain watchfulness, and when his wife brought the tray with tea, and no sherry, he seemed very much pleased. He drank three cups, and took a second piece of toast.
"You see, Mr. Forrester," she said lightly, "Niel has brought back my appetite. I ate no lunch to-day," turning to the boy, "I've been shut up too long. Is there anything in the papers?"
This meant was there any news concerning the people they knew. The Captain put on his silver-rimmed glasses again and read aloud about the doings of their friends in Denver and Omaha and Kansas City. Mrs. Forrester sat on a stool by the fire, eating toast and making humorous comments upon the subjects of those solemn paragraphs; the engagement of Miss Erma Salton-Smith, etc.
"At last, thank God! You remember her, Niel. She's been here. I think you danced with her."
"I don't think I do. What is she like?"
"She's exactly like her name. Don't you remember? Tall, very animated, glittering eyes, like the Ancient Mariner's?"
Niel laughed. "Don't you like bright eyes, Mrs. Forrester?"
"Not any others, I don't!" She joined in his laugh so gaily that the Captain looked out over his paper with an expression of satisfaction. He let the journal slowly crumple on his knees, and sat watching the two beside the grate. To him they seemed about the same age. It was a habit with him to think of Mrs. Forrester as very, very young.
She noticed that he was not reading. "Would you like me to light the lamp, Mr. Forrester?"
"No, thank you. The twilight is very pleasant."
It was twilight by now. They heard Mary come downstairs and begin stirring about the kitchen. The Captain, his slippers in the zone of firelight and his heavy shoulders in shadow, snored from time to time. As the room grew dusky, the windows were squares of clear, pale violet, and the shutters ceased to rattle. The wind was dying with the day. Everything was still, except when Bohemian Mary roughly clattered a pan. Mrs. Forrester whispered that she was out of sorts because her sweetheart, Joe Pucelik, hadn't been over to see her. Sunday night was his regular night, and Sunday was the first day of the blizzard. "When she's neglected, her tooth always begins to ache!"
"Well, now that I've got over, he'll have to come, or she will be in a temper."
"Oh, he'll come!" Mrs. Forrester shrugged. "I am blind and deaf, but I'm quite sure she makes it worth his while!" After a few moments she rose. "Come," she whispered, "Mr. Forrester is asleep. Let's run down the hill, there's no one to stop us. I'll slip on my rubber boots. No objections!" She put her fingers on his lips. "Not a word! I can't stand this house a moment longer."
They slipped quietly out of the front door into the cold air which tasted of new-fallen snow. A clear arc of blue and rose colour painted the west, over the buried town. When they reached the rounded breast of the hill, blown almost bare, Mrs. Forrester stood still and drew in deep breaths, looking down over the drifted meadows and the stiff, blue poplars.
"Oh, but it is bleak!" she murmured. "Suppose we should have to stay here all next winter, too, . . . and the next! What will become of me, Niel?" There was fear, unmistakable fright in her voice. "You see there is nothing for me to do. I get no exercise. I don't skate; we didn't in California, and my ankles are weak. I've always danced in the winter, there's plenty of dancing at Colorado Springs. You wouldn't believe how I miss it. I shall dance till I'm eighty. . . . I'll be the waltzing grandmother! It's good for me, I need it."
They plunged down into the drifts and did not stop again until they reached the wooden bridge.
"See, even the creek is frozen! I thought running water never froze. How long will it be like this?"
"Not long now. In a month you'll see the green begin in the marsh and run over the meadows. It's lovely over here in the spring. And you'll be able to get out tomorrow, Mrs. Forrester. The clouds are thinning. Look, there's the new moon!"
She turned. "Oh, I saw it over the wrong shoulder!"
"No you didn't. You saw it over mine."
She sighed and took his arm. "My dear boy, your shoulders aren't broad enough."
Instantly before his eyes rose the image of a pair of shoulders that were very broad, objectionably broad, clad in a frogged overcoat with an astrachan collar. The intrusion of this third person annoyed him as they went slowly back up the hill.
Curiously enough, it was as Captain Forrester's wife that she most interested Niel, and it was in her relation to her husband that he most admired her. Given her other charming attributes, her comprehension of a man like the railroad-builder, her loyalty to him, stamped her more than anything else. That, he felt, was quality; something that could never become worn or shabby; steel of Damascus. His admiration of Mrs. Forrester went back to that, just as, he felt, she herself went back to it. He rather liked the stories, even the spiteful ones, about the gay life she led in Colorado, and the young men she kept dangling about her every winter. He sometimes thought of the life she might have been living ever since he had known her,—and the one she had chosen to live. From that disparity, he believed, came the subtlest thrill of her fascination. She mocked outrageously at the proprieties she observed, and inherited the magic of contradictions.
On the evenings when there was no whist at the Forresters', Niel usually sat in his room and read,—but not law, as he was supposed to do. The winter before, when the Forresters were away, and one dull day dragged after another, he had come upon a copious diversion, an almost inexhaustible resource. The high, narrow bookcase in the back office, between the double doors and the wall, was filled from top to bottom with rows of solemn looking volumes bound in dark cloth, which were kept apart from the law library; an almost complete set of the Bohn classics, which Judge Pommeroy had bought long ago when he was a student at the University of Virginia. He had brought them West with him, not because he read them a great deal, but because, in his day, a gentleman had such books in his library, just as he had claret in his cellar. Among them was a set of Byron in three volumes, and last winter, apropos of a quotation which Niel didn't recognize, his uncle advised him to read Byron,—all except "Don Juan." That, the Judge remarked, with a deep smile, he "could save until later." Niel, of course, began with "Don Juan." Then he read "Tom Jones" and "Wilhelm Meister" and raced on until he came to Montaigne and a complete translation of Ovid. He hadn't finished yet with these last,—always went back to them after other experiments. These authors seemed to him to know their business. Even in "Don Juan" there was a little "fooling," but with these gentlemen none.
There were philosophical works in the collection, but he did no more than open and glance at them. He had no curiosity about what men had thought; but about what they had felt and lived, he had a great deal. If anyone had told him that these were classics and represented the wisdom of the ages, he would doubtless have let them alone. But ever since he had first found them for himself, he had been living a double life, with all its guilty enjoyments. He read the Heroides over and over, and felt that they were the most glowing love stories ever told. He did not think of these books as something invented to beguile the idle hour, but as living creatures, caught in the very behaviour of living,—surprised behind their misleading severity of form and phrase. He was eavesdropping upon the past, being let into the great world that had plunged and glittered and sumptuously sinned long before little Western towns were dreamed of. Those rapt evenings beside the lamp gave him a long perspective, influenced his conception of the people about him, made him know just what he wished his own relations with these people to be. For some reason, his reading made him wish to become an architect. If the Judge had left his Bohn library behind him in Kentucky, his nephew's life might have turned out differently.
Spring came at last, and the Forrester place had never been so lovely. The Captain spent long, happy days among his flowering shrubs, and his wife used to say to visitors, "Yes, you can see Mr. Forrester in a moment; I will send the English gardener to call him."
Early in June, when the Captain's roses were just coming on, his pleasant labors were interrupted. One morning an alarming telegram reached him. He cut it open with his garden shears, came into the house, and asked his wife to telephone for Judge Pommeroy. A savings bank, one in which he was largely interested, had failed in Denver. That evening the Captain and his lawyer went west on the express. The Judge, when he was giving Niel final instructions about the office business, told him he was afraid the Captain was bound to lose a good deal of money.
Mrs. Forrester seemed unaware of any danger; she went to the station to see her husband off, spoke of his errand merely as a "business trip." Niel, however, felt a foreboding gloom. He dreaded poverty for her. She was one of the people who ought always to have money; any retrenchment of their generous way of living would be a hardship for her,—would be unfitting. She would not be herself in straitened circumstances.
Niel took his meals at the town hotel; on the third day after Captain Forrester's departure, he was annoyed to find Frank Ellinger's name on the hotel register. Ellinger did not appear at supper, which meant, of course, that he was dining with Mrs. Forrester, and that the lady herself would get his dinner. She had taken the occasion of the Captain's absence to let Bohemian Mary go to visit her mother on the farm for a week. Niel thought it very bad taste in Ellinger to come to Sweet Water when Captain Forrester was away. He must know that it would stir up the gossips.
Niel had meant to call on Mrs. Forrester that evening, but now he went back to the office instead. He read late, and after he went to bed, he slept lightly. He was awakened before dawn by the puffing of the switch engine down at the round house. He tried to muffle his ears in the sheet and go to sleep again, but the sound of escaping steam for some reason excited him. He could not shut out the feeling that it was summer, and that the dawn would soon be flaming gloriously over the Forresters' marsh. He had awakened with that intense, blissful realization of summer which sometimes comes to children in their beds. He rose and dressed quickly. He would get over to the hill before Frank Ellinger could intrude his unwelcome presence, while he was still asleep in the best bedroom of the Wimbleton hotel.
An impulse of affection and guardianship drew Niel up the poplar-bordered road in the early light,—though he did not go near the house itself, but at the second bridge cut round through the meadow and on to the marsh. The sky was burning with the soft pink and silver of a cloudless summer dawn. The heavy, bowed grasses splashed him to the knees. All over the marsh, snow-on-the-mountain, globed with dew, made cool sheets of silver, and the swamp milk-weed spread its flat, raspberry-coloured clusters. There was an almost religious purity about the fresh morning air, the tender sky, the grass and flowers with the sheen of early dew upon them. There was in all living things something limpid and joyous—like the wet, morning call of the birds, flying up through the unstained atmosphere. Out of the saffron east a thin, yellow, wine-like sunshine began to gild the fragrant meadows and the glistening tops of the grove. Niel wondered why he did not often come over like this, to see the day before men and their activities had spoiled it, while the morning was still unsullied, like a gift handed down from the heroic ages.
Under the bluffs that overhung the marsh he came upon thickets of wild roses, with flaming buds, just beginning to open. Where they had opened, their petals were stained with that burning rose-colour which is always gone by noon,—a dye made of sunlight and morning and moisture, so intense that it cannot possibly last . . . must fade, like ecstasy. Niel took out his knife and began to cut the stiff stems, crowded with red thorns.
He would make a bouquet for a lovely lady; a bouquet gathered off the cheeks of morning . . . these roses, only half awake, in the defencelessness of utter beauty. He would leave them just outside one of the French windows of her bedroom. When she opened her shutters to let in the light, she would find them,—and they would perhaps give her a sudden distaste for coarse worldlings like Frank Ellinger.
After tying his flowers with a twist of meadow grass, he went up the hill through the grove and softly round the still house to the north side of Mrs. Forrester's own room, where the door-like green shutters were closed. As he bent to place the flowers on the sill, he heard from within a woman's soft laughter; impatient, indulgent, teasing, eager. Then another laugh, very different, a man's. And it was fat and lazy,—ended in something like a yawn.
Niel found himself at the foot of the hill on the wooden bridge, his face hot, his temples beating, his eyes blind with anger. In his hand he still carried the prickly bunch of wild roses. He threw them over the wire fence into a mud-hole the cattle had trampled under the bank of the creek. He did not know whether he had left the house by the driveway or had come down through the shrubbery. In that instant between stooping to the window-sill and rising, he had lost one of the most beautiful things in his life. Before the dew dried, the morning had been wrecked for him; and all subsequent mornings, he told himself bitterly. This day saw the end of that admiration and loyalty that had been like a bloom on his existence. He could never recapture it. It was gone, like the morning freshness of the flowers.
"Lilies that fester," he muttered, "lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds."
Grace, variety, the lovely voice, the sparkle of fun and fancy in those dark eyes; all this was nothing. It was not a moral scruple she had outraged, but an aesthetic ideal. Beautiful women, whose beauty meant more than it said . . . was their brilliancy always fed by something coarse and concealed? Was that their secret?
Niel met his uncle and Captain Forrester when they alighted from the morning train, and drove over to the house with them. The business on which they had gone to Denver was not referred to until they were sitting with Mrs. Forrester in the front parlour. The windows were open, and the perfume of the mock-orange and of June roses was blowing in from the garden. Captain Forrester introduced the subject, after slowly unfolding his handkerchief and wiping his forehead, and his fleshy neck, around his low collar.
"Maidy," he said, not looking at her, "I've come home a poor man. It took about everything there was to square up. You'll have this place, unencumbered, and my pension; that will be about all. The live-stock will bring in something."
Niel saw that Mrs. Forrester grew very pale, but she smiled and brought her husband his cigar stand. "Oh, well! I expect we can manage, can't we?"
"We can just manage. Not much more. I'm afraid Judge Pommeroy considers I acted foolishly."
"Not at all, Mrs. Forrester," the Judge exclaimed. "He acted just as I hope I would have done in his place. But I am an unmarried man. There were certain securities, government bonds, which Captain Forrester could have turned over to you, but it would have been at the expense of the depositors."
"I've known men to do that," said the Captain heavily, "but I never considered they paid their wives a compliment. If Mrs. Forrester is satisfied, I shall never regret my decision." For the first time his tired, swollen eyes sought his wife's.
"I never question your decisions in business, Mr. Forrester. I know nothing about such things."
The Captain put down the cigar he had taken but not lighted, rose with an effort, and walked over to the bay window, where he stood gazing out over his meadows. "The place looks very nice, Maidy," he said presently. "I see you've watered the roses. They need it, this weather. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll lie down for a while. I did not sleep well on the train. Niel and the Judge will stay for lunch." He opened the door into Mrs. Forrester's room and closed it behind him.
Judge Pommeroy began to explain to Mrs. Forrester the situation they had faced in Denver. The bank, about which Mrs. Forrester knew nothing but its name, was one which paid good interest on small deposits. The depositors were wage-earners; railroad employes, mechanics, and day labourers, many of whom had at some time worked for Captain Forrester. His was the only well-known name among the bank officers, it was the name which promised security and fair treatment to his old workmen and their friends. The other directors were promising young business men with many irons in the fire. But, the Judge said with evident chagrin, they had refused to come up to the scratch and pay their losses like gentlemen. They claimed that the bank was insolvent, not through unwise investments or mismanagement, but because of a nation-wide financial panic, a shrinking in values that no one could have foreseen. They argued that the fair thing was to share the loss with the depositors; to pay them fifty cents on the dollar, giving long-time notes for twenty-five per cent, settling on a basis of seventy-five per cent.
Captain Forrester had stood firm that not one of the depositors should lose a dollar. The promising young business men had listened to him respectfully, but finally told him they would settle only on their own terms; any additional refunding must be his affair. He sent to the vault for his private steel box, opened it in their presence, and sorted the contents on the table. The government bonds he turned in at once. Judge Pommeroy was sent out to sell the mining stocks and other securities in the open market.
At this part of his narrative the Judge rose and began to pace the floor, twisting the seals on his watch-chain. "That was what a man of honour was bound to do, Mrs. Forrester. With five of the directors backing down, he had either to lose his name or save it. The depositors had put their savings into that bank because Captain Forrester was president. To those men with no capital but their back and their two hands, his name meant safety. As he tried to explain to the directors, those deposits were above price; money saved to buy a home, or to take care of a man in sickness, or to send a boy to school. And those young men, bright fellows, well thought of in the community, sat there and looked down their noses and let your husband strip himself down to pledging his life insurance! There was a crowd in the street outside the bank all day, every day; Poles and Swedes and Mexicans, looking scared to death. A lot of them couldn't speak English,—seemed like the only English word they knew was 'Forrester.' As we went in and out we'd hear the Mexicans saying, 'Forrester, Forrester.' It was a torment for me, on your account, Ma'm, to see the Captain strip himself. But, 'pon my honour, I couldn't forbid him. As for those white-livered rascals that sat there,—" the Judge stopped before Mrs. Forrester and ruffled his bushy white hair with both hands, "By God, Madam, I think I've lived too long! In my day the difference between a business man and a scoundrel was bigger than the difference between a white man and a nigger. I wasn't the right one to go out there as the Captain's counsel. One of these smooth members of the bar, like Ivy Peters is getting ready to be, might have saved something for you out of the wreck. But I couldn't use my influence with your husband. To that crowd outside the bank doors his name meant a hundred cents on the dollar, and by God, they got it! I'm proud of him, Ma'm; proud of his acquaintance!"
It was the first time Niel had ever seen Mrs. Forrester flush. A quick pink swept over her face. Her eyes glistened with moisture. "You were quite right, Judge. I wouldn't for the world have had him do otherwise for me. He would never hold up his head again. You see, I know him." As she said this she looked at Niel, on the other side of the room, and her glance was like a delicate and very dignified rebuke to some discourtesy,—though he was not conscious of having shown her any.
When their hostess went out to see about lunch, Judge Pommeroy turned to his nephew. "Son, I'm glad you want to be an architect. I can't see any honourable career for a lawyer, in this new business world that's coming up. Leave the law to boys like Ivy Peters, and get into some clean profession. I wasn't the right man to go with Forrester." He shook his head sadly.
"Will they really be poor?"
"They'll be pinched. It's as he said; they've nothing left but this place."
Mrs. Forrester returned and went to waken her husband for lunch. When she opened the door into her room, they heard stertorous breathing, and she called to them to come quickly. The Captain was stretched upon his iron bed in the antechamber, and Mrs. Forrester was struggling to lift his head.
"Quick, Niel," she panted. "We must get pillows under him. Bring those from my bed."
Niel gently pushed her away. Sweat poured from his face as he got his strength under the Captain's shoulders. It was like lifting a wounded elephant. Judge Pommeroy hurried back to the sitting-room and telephoned Dr. Dennison that Captain Forrester had had a stroke.
A stroke could not finish a man like Daniel Forrester. He was kept in his bed for three weeks, and Niel helped Mrs. Forrester and Ben Keezer take care of him. Although he was at the house so much during that time, he never saw Mrs. Forrester alone,—scarcely saw her at all, indeed. With so much to attend to, she became abstracted, almost impersonal. There were many letters to answer, gifts of fruit and wine and flowers to be acknowledged. Solicitous inquiries came from friends scattered all the way from the Missouri to the mountains. When Mrs. Forrester was not in the Captain's room, or in the kitchen preparing special foods for him, she was at her desk.
One morning while she was seated there, a distinguished visitor arrived. Niel, waiting by the door for the letters he was to take to the post, saw a large, red-whiskered man in a rumpled pongee suit and a panama hat come climbing up the hill; Cyrus Dalzell, president of the Colorado & Utah, who had come over in his private car to enquire for the health of his old friend. Niel warned Mrs. Forrester, and she went to meet the visitor, just as he mounted the steps, wiping his face with a red silk bandanna.
He took both the lady's hands and exclaimed in a warm, deep voice, "Here she is, looking as fresh as a bride! May I claim an old privilege?" He bent his head and kissed her. "I won't be in your way, Marian," he said as they came into the house, "but I had to see for myself how he does, and how you do."
Mr. Dalzell shook hands with Niel, and as he talked he moved about the parlour clumsily and softly, like a brown bear. Mrs. Forrester stopped him to straighten his flowing yellow tie and pull down the back of his wrinkled coat. "It's easy to see that Kitty wasn't with you this morning when you dressed," she laughed.
"Thank you, thank you, my dear. I've got a green porter down there, and he doesn't seem to realize the extent of his duties. No, Kitty wanted to come, but we have two giddy nieces out from Portsmouth, visiting us, and she felt she couldn't. I just had my car hitched on to the tail of the Burlington flyer and came myself. Now tell me about Daniel. Was it a stroke?"
Mrs. Forrester sat down on the sofa beside him and told him about her husband's illness, while he interrupted with sympathetic questions and comments, taking her hand between his large, soft palms and patting it affectionately.
"And now I can go home and tell Kitty that he will soon be as good as ever,—and that you look like you were going to lead the ball tonight. You whisper to Daniel that I've got a couple cases of port down in my car that will build him up faster than anything the doctors give him. And I've brought along a dozen sherry, for a lady that knows a thing or two about wines. And next winter you are both coming out to stay with us at the Springs, for a change of air."
Mrs. Forrester shook her head gently. "Oh, that, I'm afraid, is a pretty dream. But we'll dream it, anyway!" Everything about her had brightened since Cyrus Dalzell came up the hill. Even the long garnet earrings beside her cheeks seemed to flash with a deeper colour, Niel thought. She was a different woman from the one who sat there writing, half an hour ago. Her fingers, as they played on the sleeve of the pongee coat, were light and fluttery as butterfly wings.
"No dream at all, my dear. Kitty has arranged everything. You know how quickly she thinks things out. I am to come for you in my car. We'll get my old porter Jim as a valet for Daniel, and you can just play around and put fresh life into us all. We saw last winter that we couldn't do anything without our Lady Forrester. Nothing came off right without her. If we had a party, we sat down afterward and wondered what in hell we'd had it for. Oh, no, we can't manage without you!"
Tears flashed into her eyes. "That's very dear of you. It's sweet to be remembered when one is away." In her voice there was the heart-breaking sweetness one sometimes hears in lovely, gentle old songs.
After three weeks the Captain was up and around again. He dragged his left foot, and his left arm was uncertain. Though he recovered his speech, it was thick and clouded; some words he could not pronounce distinctly,—slid over them, dropped out a syllable. Therefore he avoided talking even more than was his habit. The doctor said that unless another brain lesion occurred, he might get on comfortably for some years yet.
In August Niel was to go to Boston to begin coaching for his entrance examinations at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he meant to study architecture. He put off bidding the Forresters good-bye until the very day before he left. His last call was different from any he had ever made there before. Already they began to treat him like a young man. He sat rather stiffly in that parlour where he had been so much at home. The Captain was in his big chair in the bay window, in the full glow of the afternoon sun, saying little, but very friendly. Mrs. Forrester, on the sofa in the shadowy corner of the room, talked about Niel's plans and his journey.
"Is it true that Mary is going to marry Pucelik this fall?" he asked her. "Who will you get to help you?"
"No one, for the present. Ben will do all I can't do. Never mind us. We will pass a quiet winter, like an old country couple,—as we are!" she said lightly.
Niel knew that she faced the winter with terror, but he had never seen her more in command of herself,—or more the mistress of her own house than now, when she was preparing to become the servant of it. He had the feeling, which he never used to have, that her lightness cost her something.
"Don't forget us, but don't mope. Make lots of new friends. You'll never be twenty again. Take a chorus girl out to supper—a pretty one, mind! Don't bother about your allowance. If you got into a scrape, we could manage a little cheque to help you out, couldn't we, Mr. Forrester?"
The Captain puffed and looked amused. "I think we could, Niel, I think so. Don't get up, my boy. You must stay to dinner."
Niel said he couldn't. He hadn't finished packing, and he was leaving on the morning train.
"Then we must have a little something before you go." Captain Forrester rose heavily, with the aid of his cane, and went into the dining-room. He brought back the decanter and filled three glasses with ceremony. Lifting his glass, he paused, as always, and blinked.
"Happy days!" echoed Mrs. Forrester, with her loveliest smile, "and every success to Niel!"
Both the Captain and his wife came to the door with him, and stood there on the porch together, where he had so often seen them stand to speed the parting guest. He went down the hill touched and happy. As he passed over the bridge his spirits suddenly fell. Would that chilling doubt always lie in wait for him, down there in the mud, where he had thrown his roses one morning?
He burned to ask her one question, to get the truth out of her and set his mind at rest: What did she do with all her exquisiteness when she was with a man like Ellinger? Where did she put it away? And having put it away, how could she recover herself, and give one—give even him—the sense of tempered steel, a blade that could fence with anyone and never break?
It was two years before Niel Herbert came home again, and when he came the first acquaintance he met was Ivy Peters. Ivy got on the train at one of the little stations east of Sweet Water, where he had been trying a case. As he strolled through the Pullman he noticed among the passengers a young man in a grey flannel suit, with a silk shirt of one shade of blue and a necktie of another. After regarding this urban figure from the rear for a few seconds, Ivy glanced down at his own clothes with gloating satisfaction. It was a hot day in June, but he wore the black felt hat and ready-made coat of winter weight he had always affected as a boy. He stepped forward, his hands thrust in his pockets.
"Hullo, Niel. Thought I couldn't be mistaken."
Niel looked up and saw the red, bee-stung face, with its two permanent dimples, smiling down at him in contemptuous jocularity.
"Hello, Ivy. I couldn't be mistaken in you, either."
"Coming home to go into business?"
Niel replied that he was coming only for the summer vacation.
"Oh, you're not through school yet? I suppose it takes longer to make an architect than it does to make a shyster. Just as well; there's not much building going on in Sweet Water these days. You'll find a good many changes."
"Won't you sit down?" Niel indicated the neighbouring chair. "You are practising law?"
"Yes, along with a few other things. Have to keep more than one iron in the fire to make a living with us. I farm a little on the side. I rent that meadow-land on the Forrester place. I've drained the old marsh and put it into wheat. My brother John does the work, and I boss the job. It's quite profitable. I pay them a good rent, and they need it. I doubt if they could get along without. Their influential friends don't seem to help them out much. Remember all those chesty old boys the Captain used to drive about in his democrat wagon, and ship in barrels of Bourbon for? Good deal of bluff about all those old-timers. The panic put them out of the game. The Forresters have come down in the world like the rest. You remember how the old man used to put it over us kids and not let us carry a gun in there? I'm just mean enough to like to shoot along that creek a little better than anywhere else, now. There wasn't any harm in the old Captain, but he had the delusion of grandeur. He's happier now that he's like the rest of us and don't have to change his shirt every day." Ivy's unblinking greenish eyes rested upon Niel's haberdashery.
Niel, however, did not notice this. He knew that Ivy wanted him to show disappointment, and he was determined not to do so. He enquired about the Captain's health, pointedly keeping Mrs. Forrester's name out of the conversation.
"He's only about half there . . . seems contented enough. . . . She takes good care of him, I'll say that for her. . . . She seeks consolation, always did, you know . . . too much French brandy . . . but she never neglects him. I don't blame her. Real work comes hard on her."
Niel heard these remarks dully, through the buzz of an idea. He felt that Ivy had drained the marsh quite as much to spite him and Mrs. Forrester as to reclaim the land. Moreover, he seemed to know that until this moment Ivy himself had not realized how much that consideration weighed with him. He and Ivy had disliked each other from childhood, blindly, instinctively, recognizing each other through antipathy, as hostile insects do. By draining the marsh Ivy had obliterated a few acres of something he hated, though he could not name it, and had asserted his power over the people who had loved those unproductive meadows for their idleness and silvery beauty.
After Ivy had gone on into the smoker, Niel sat looking out at the windings of the Sweet Water and playing with his idea. The Old West had been settled by dreamers, great-hearted adventurers who were unpractical to the point of magnificence; a courteous brotherhood, strong in attack but weak in defence, who could conquer but could not hold. Now all the vast territory they had won was to be at the mercy of men like Ivy Peters, who had never dared anything, never risked anything. They would drink up the mirage, dispel the morning freshness, root out the great brooding spirit of freedom, the generous, easy life of the great land-holders. The space, the colour, the princely carelessness of the pioneer they would destroy and cut up into profitable bits, as the match factory splinters the primeval forest. All the way from the Missouri to the mountains this generation of shrewd young men, trained to petty economies by hard times, would do exactly what Ivy Peters had done when he drained the Forrester marsh.
The next afternoon Niel found Captain Forrester in the bushy little plot he called his rose garden, seated in a stout hickory chair that could be left out in all weather, his two canes beside him. His attention was fixed upon a red block of Colorado sandstone, set on a granite boulder in the middle of the gravel space around which the roses grew. He showed Niel that this was a sun-dial, and explained it with great pride. Last summer, he said, he sat out here a great deal, with a square board mounted on a post, and marked the length of the shadows by his watch. His friend, Cyrus Dalzell, on one of his visits, took this board away, had the diagram exactly copied on sandstone, and sent it to him, with the column-like boulder that formed its base.
"I think it's likely Mr. Dalzell hunted around among the mountains a good many mornings before he found a natural formation like that," said the Captain. "A pillar, such as they had in Bible times. It's from the Garden of the Gods. Mr. Dalzell has his summer home up there."
The Captain sat with the soles of his boots together, his legs bowed out. Everything about him seemed to have grown heavier and weaker. His face was fatter and smoother; as if the features were running into each other, as when a wax face melts in the heat. An old Panama hat, burned yellow by the sun, shaded his eyes. His brown hands lay on his knees, the fingers well apart, nerveless. His moustache was the same straw colour; Niel remarked to him that it had grown no greyer. The Captain touched his cheek with his palm. "Mrs. Forrester shaved me for awhile. She did it very nicely, but I didn't like to have her do it. Now I use one of these safety razors. I can manage, if I take my time. The barber comes over once a week. Mrs. Forrester is expecting you, Niel. She's down in the grove. She goes down there to rest in the hammock."
Niel went round the house to the gate that gave into the grove. From the top of the hill he could see the hammock slung between two cottonwoods, in the low glade at the farther end, where he had fallen the time he broke his arm. The slender white figure was still, and as he hurried across the grass he saw that a white garden hat lay over her face. He approached quietly and was just wondering if she were asleep, when he heard a soft, delighted laugh, and with a quick movement she threw off the lace hat through which she had been watching him. He stepped forward and caught her suspended figure, hammock and all, in his arms. How light and alive she was! like a bird caught in a net. If only he could rescue her and carry her off like this,—off the earth of sad, inevitable periods, away from age, weariness, adverse fortune!
She showed no impatience to be released, but lay laughing up at him with that gleam of something elegantly wild, something fantastic and tantalizing,—seemingly so artless, really the most finished artifice! She put her hand under his chin as if he were still a boy.
"And how handsome he's grown! Isn't the old Judge proud of you! He called me up last night and began sputtering, 'It's only fair to warn you, Ma'm, that I've a very handsome boy over here.' As if I hadn't known you would be! And now you're a man, and have seen the world! Well, what have you found in it?"
"Nothing so nice as you, Mrs. Forrester."
"Nonsense! You have sweethearts?"
"Are they pretty?"
"Why they? Isn't one enough?"
"One is too many. I want you to have half a dozen,—and still save the best for us! One would take everything. If you had her, you would not have come home at all. I wonder if you know how we've looked for you?" She took his hand and turned a seal ring about on his little finger absently. "Every night for weeks, when the lights of the train came swinging in down below the meadows, I've said to myself, 'Niel is coming home; there's that to look forward to.'" She caught herself as she always did when she found that she was telling too much, and finished in a playful tone. "So, you see, you mean a great deal to all of us. Did you find Mr. Forrester?"
"Oh, yes! I had to stop and look at his sun-dial."
She raised herself on her elbow and lowered her voice. "Niel, can you understand it? He isn't childish, as some people say, but he will sit and watch that thing hour after hour. How can anybody like to see time visibly devoured? We are all used to seeing clocks go round, but why does he want to see that shadow creep on that stone? Has he changed much? No? I'm glad you feel so. Now tell me about the Adamses and what George is like."
Niel dropped on the turf and sat with his back against a tree trunk, answering her rapid questions and watching her while he talked. Of course, she was older. In the brilliant sun of the afternoon one saw that her skin was no longer like white lilacs,—it had the ivory tint of gardenias that have just begun to fade. The coil of blue-black hair seemed more than ever too heavy for her head. There were lines,—something strained about the corners of her mouth that used not to be there. But the astonishing thing was how these changes could vanish in a moment, be utterly wiped out in a flash of personality, and one forgot everything about her except herself.
"And tell me, Niel, do women really smoke after dinner now with the men, nice women? I shouldn't like it. It's all very well for actresses, but women can't be attractive if they do everything that men do."
"I think just now it's the fashion for women to make themselves comfortable, before anything else."
Mrs. Forrester glanced at him as if he had said something shocking. "Ah, that's just it! The two things don't go together. Athletics and going to college and smoking after dinner—Do you like it? Don't men like women to be different from themselves? They used to."
Niel laughed. Yes, that was certainly the idea of Mrs. Forrester's generation.
"Uncle Judge says you don't come to see him any more as you used to, Mrs. Forrester. He misses it."
"My dear boy, I haven't been over to the town for six weeks. I'm always too tired. We have no horse now, and when I do go I have to walk. That house! Nothing is ever done there unless I do it, and nothing ever moves unless I move it. That's why I come down here in the afternoon,—to get where I can't see the house. I can't keep it up as it should be kept, I'm not strong enough. Oh, yes, Ben helps me; he sweeps and beats the rugs and washes windows, but that doesn't get a house very far." Mrs. Forrester sat up suddenly and pinned on her white hat. "We went all the way to Chicago, Niel, to buy that walnut furniture, couldn't find anything at home big and heavy enough. If I'd known that one day I'd have to push it about, I would have been more easily satisfied!" She rose and shook out her rumpled skirts.
They started toward the house, going slowly up the long, grassy undulation between the trees.
"Don't you miss the marsh?" Niel asked suddenly.
She glanced away evasively. "Not much. I would never have time to go there, and we need the money it pays us. And you haven't time to play any more either, Niel. You must hurry and become a successful man. Your uncle is terribly involved. He has been so careless that he's not much better off than we are. Money is a very important thing. Realize that in the beginning; face it, and don't be ridiculous in the end, like so many of us." They stopped by the gate at the top of the hill and looked back at the green alleys and sharp shadows, at the quivering fans of light that seemed to push the trees farther apart and made Elysian fields underneath them. Mrs. Forrester put her white hand, with all its rings, on Niel's arm.
"Do you really find a kind of pleasure in coming back to us? That's very unusual, I think. At your age I wanted to be with the young and gay. It's nice for us, though." She looked at him with her rarest smile, one he had seldom seen on her face, but always remembered,—a smile without archness, without gaiety, full of affection and wistfully sad. And the same thing was in her voice when she spoke those quiet words,—the sudden quietness of deep feeling. She turned quickly away. They went through the gate and around the house to where the Captain sat watching the sunset glory on his roses. His wife touched his shoulder.
"Will you go in, now, Mr. Forrester, or shall I bring your coat?"
"I'll go in. Isn't Niel going to stay for dinner?"
"Not this time. He'll come soon, and we'll have a real dinner for him. Will you wait for Mr. Forrester, Niel? I must hurry in and start the fire."
Niel tarried behind and accompanied the Captain's slow progress toward the front of the house. He leaned upon two canes, lifting his feet slowly and putting them down firmly and carefully. He looked like an old tree walking.
Once up the steps and into the parlour, he sank into his big chair and panted heavily. The first whiff of a fresh cigar seemed to restore him. "Can I trouble you to mail some letters for me, Niel, as you go by the post-office?" He produced them from the breast pocket of his summer coat. "Let me see whether Mrs. Forrester has anything to go." Rising, the Captain went into the little hall. There, by the front door, on a table under the hat rack, was a scantily draped figure, an Arab or Egyptian slave girl, holding in her hands a large flat shell from the California coast. Niel remembered noticing that figure the first time he was ever in the house, when Dr. Dennison carried him out through this hallway with his arm in splints. In the days when the Forresters had servants and were sending over to the town several times a day, the letters for the post were always left in this shell. The Captain found one now, and handed it to Niel. It was addressed to Mr. Francis Bosworth Ellinger, Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
For some reason Niel felt embarrassed and tried to slip the letter quickly into his pocket. The Captain, his two canes in one hand, prevented him. He took the pale blue envelope again, and held it out at arm's length, regarding it.
"Mrs. Forrester is a fine penman; have you ever noticed? Always was. If she made me a list of articles to get at the store, I never had to hide it. It was like copper plate. That's exceptional in a woman, Niel."
Niel remembered her hand well enough, he had never seen another in the least like it; long, thin, angular letters, curiously delicate and curiously bold, looped and laced with strokes fine as a hair and perfectly distinct. Her script looked as if it had been done at a high pitch of speed, the pen driven by a perfectly confident dexterity.
"Oh, yes, Captain! I'm never able to take any letters for Mrs. Forrester without looking at them. No one could forget her writing."
"Yes. It's very exceptional." The Captain gave him the envelope, and with his canes went slowly toward his big chair.
Niel had often wondered just how much the Captain knew. Now, as he went down the hill, he felt sure that he knew everything; more than anyone else; all there was to know about Marian Forrester.
Niel had planned to do a great deal of reading in the Forresters' grove that summer, but he did not go over so often as he had intended. The frequent appearance of Ivy Peters about the place irritated him. Ivy visited his new wheat fields on the bottom land very often; and he always took the old path, that led from what was once the marsh, up the steep bank and through the grove. He was likely to appear at any hour, his trousers stuffed into his top-boots, tramping along between the rows of trees with an air of proprietorship. He shut the gate behind the house with a slam and went whistling through the yard. Often he stopped at the kitchen door to call out some pleasantry to Mrs. Forrester. This annoyed Niel, for at that hour of the morning, when she was doing her housework, Mrs. Forrester was not dressed to receive her inferiors. It was one thing to greet the president of the Colorado & Utah en deshabille, but it was another to chatter with a coarse-grained fellow like Ivy Peters in her wrapper and slippers, her sleeves rolled up and her throat bare to his cool, impudent eyes.
Sometimes Ivy strode through the rose plot where Captain Forrester was sitting in the sun,—went by without looking at him, as if there were no one there. If he spoke to the Captain at all, he did so as if he were addressing someone incapable of understanding anything. "Hullo, Captain, ain't afraid this sun will spoil your complexion?" or "Well, Captain, you'll have to get the prayer-meetings to take up this rain question. The drought's damned bad for my wheat."
One morning, as Niel was coming up through the grove, he heard laughter by the gate, and there he saw Ivy, with his gun, talking to Mrs. Forrester. She was bareheaded, her skirts blowing in the wind, her arm through the handle of a big tin bucket that rested on the fence beside her. Ivy stood with his hat on his head, but there was in his attitude that unmistakable something which shows that a man is trying to make himself agreeable to a woman. He was telling her a funny story, probably an improper one, for it brought out her naughtiest laugh, with something nervous and excited in it, as if he were going too far. At the end of his story Ivy himself broke into his farm-hand guffaw. Mrs. Forrester shook her ringer at him and, catching up her pail, ran back into the house. She bent a little with its weight, but Ivy made no offer to carry it for her. He let her trip away with it as if she were a kitchen maid, and that were her business.
Niel emerged from the grove, and stopped where the Captain sat in the garden. "Good-morning, Captain Forrester. Was that Ivy Peters who just went through here? That fellow hasn't the manners of a pig!" he blurted out.
The Captain pointed to Mrs. Forrester's empty chair. "Sit down, Niel, sit down." He drew his handkerchief from his pocket and began polishing his glasses. "No," he said quietly, "he ain't overly polite."
More than if he had complained bitterly, that guarded admission made one feel how much he had been hurt and offended by Ivy's rudeness. There was something very sad in his voice, and helpless. From his equals, respect had always come to him as his due; from fellows like Ivy he had been able to command it,—to order them off his place, or dismiss them from his employ.
Niel sat down and smoked a cigar with him. They had a long talk about the building of the Black Hills branch of the Burlington. In Boston last winter Niel had met an old mine-owner, who was living in Deadwood when the railroad first came in. When Niel asked him if he had known Daniel Forrester, the old gentleman said, "Forrester? Was he the one with the beautiful wife?"
"You must tell her," said the Captain, stroking the warm surface of his sun-dial. "Yes, indeed. You must tell Mrs. Forrester."
One night in the first week of July, a night of glorious moonlight, Niel found himself unable to read, or to stay indoors at all. He walked aimlessly down the wide, empty street, and crossed the first creek by the footbridge. The wide ripe fields, the whole country, seemed like a sleeping garden. One trod the dusty roads softly, not to disturb the deep slumber of the world.
In the Forrester lane the scent of sweet clover hung heavy. It had always grown tall and green here ever since Niel could remember; the Captain would never let it be cut until the weeds were mowed in the fall. The black, plume-like shadows of the poplars fell across the lane and over Ivy Peters' wheat fields. As he walked on, Niel saw a white figure standing on the bridge over the second creek, motionless in the clear moonlight. He hurried forward. Mrs. Forrester was looking down at the water where it flowed bright over the pebbles. He came up beside her. "The Captain is asleep?"
"Oh, yes, long ago! He sleeps well, thank heaven! After I tuck him in, I have nothing more to worry about."
While they were standing there, talking in low voices, they heard a heavy door slam on the hill. Mrs. Forrester started and looked back over her shoulder. A man emerged from the shadow of the house and came striding down the drive-way. Ivy Peters stepped upon the bridge.
"Good evening," he said to Mrs. Forrester, neither calling her by name nor removing his hat. "I see you have company. I've just been up looking at the old barn, to see if the stalls are fit to put horses in there tomorrow. I'm going to start cutting wheat in the morning, and we'll have to put the horses in your stable at noon. We'd lose time taking them back to town."
"Why, certainly. The horses can go in our barn. I'm sure Mr. Forrester would have no objection." She spoke as if he had asked her permission.
"Oh!" Ivy shrugged. "The men will begin down here at six o'clock. I won't get over till about ten, and I have to meet a client at my office at three. Maybe you could give me some lunch, to save time."
His impudence made her smile. "Very well, then; I invite you to lunch. We lunch at one."
"Thanks. It will help me out." As if he had forgotten himself, he lifted his hat, and went down the lane swinging it in his hand.
Niel stood looking after him. "Why do you allow him to speak to you like that, Mrs. Forrester? If you'll let me, I'll give him a beating and teach him how to speak to you."
"No, no, Niel! Remember, we have to get along with Ivy Peters, we simply have to!" There was a note of anxiety in her voice, and she caught his arm.
"You don't have to take anything from him, or to stand his bad manners. Anybody else would pay you as much for the land as he does."
"But he has a lease for five years, and he could make it very disagreeable for us, don't you see? Besides," she spoke hurriedly, "there's more than that. He's invested a little money for me in Wyoming, in land. He gets splendid land from the Indians some way, for next to nothing. Don't tell your uncle; I've no doubt it's crooked. But the Judge is like Mr. Forrester; his methods don't work nowadays. He will never get us out of debt, dear man! He can't get himself out. Ivy Peters is terribly smart, you know. He owns half the town already."
"Not quite," said Niel grimly. "He's got hold of a good deal of property. He'll take advantage of anybody's necessity. You know he's utterly unscrupulous, don't you? Why didn't you let Mr. Dalzell, or some of your other old friends, invest your money for you?"
"Oh, it was too little! Only a few hundred dollars I'd saved on the housekeeping. They would put it into something safe, at six per cent. I know you don't like Ivy,—and he knows it! He's always at his worst before you. He's not so bad as—as his face, for instance!" She laughed nervously. "He honestly wants to help us out of the hole we're in. Coming and going all the time, as he does, he sees everything, and I really think he hates to have me work so hard."
"Next time you have anything to invest, you let me take it to Mr. Dalzell and explain. I'll promise to do as well by you as Ivy Peters can."
Mrs. Forrester took his arm and drew him into the lane. "But, my dear boy, you know nothing about these business schemes. You're not clever that way,—it's one of the things I love you for. I don't admire people who cheat Indians. Indeed I don't!" She shook her head vehemently.
"Mrs. Forrester, rascality isn't the only thing that succeeds in business."
"It succeeds faster than anything else, though," she murmured absently. They walked as far as the end of the lane and turned back again. Mrs. Forrester's hand tightened on his arm. She began speaking abruptly. "You see, two years, three years, more of this, and I could still go back to California—and live again. But after that . . . Perhaps people think I've settled down to grow old gracefully, but I've not. I feel such a power to live in me, Niel." Her slender fingers gripped his wrist. "It's grown by being held back. Last winter I was with the Dalzells at Glenwood Springs for three weeks (I owe THAT to Ivy Peters; he looked after things here, and his sister kept house for Mr. Forrester), and I was surprised at myself. I could dance all night and not feel tired. I could ride horseback all day and be ready for a dinner party in the evening. I had no clothes, of course; old evening dresses with yards and yards of satin and velvet in them, that Mrs. Dalzell's sewing woman made over. But I looked well enough! Yes, I did. I always know how I'm looking, and I looked well enough. The men thought so. I looked happier than any woman there. They were nearly all younger, much. But they seemed dull, bored to death. After a glass or two of champagne they went to sleep and had nothing to say! I always look better after the first glass,—it gives me a little colour, it's the only thing that does. I accepted the Dalzell's invitation with a purpose; I wanted to see whether I had anything left worth saving. And I have, I tell you! You would hardly believe it, I could hardly believe it, but I still have!"
By this time they had reached the bridge, a bare white floor in the moonlight. Mrs. Forrester had been quickening her pace all the while. "So that's what I'm struggling for, to get out of this hole,"—she looked about as if she had fallen into a deep well,— "out of it! When I'm alone here for months together, I plan and plot. If it weren't for that—"
As Niel walked back to his room behind the law offices, he felt frightened for her. When women began to talk about still feeling young, didn't it mean that something had broken? Two or three years, she said. He shivered. Only yesterday old Dr. Dennison had proudly told him that Captain Forrester might live a dozen. "We are keeping his general health up remarkably, and he was originally a man of iron."
What hope was there for her? He could still feel her hand upon his arm, as she urged him faster and faster up the lane.
The weather was dry and intensely hot for several weeks, and then, at the end of July, thunder-storms and torrential rains broke upon the Sweet Water valley. The river burst out of its banks, all the creeks were up, and the stubble of Ivy Peters' wheat fields lay under water. A wide lake and two rushing creeks now separated the Forresters from the town. Ben Keezer rode over to them every day to do the chores and to take them their mail. One evening Ben, with his slicker and leather mailbag, had just come out of the post-office and was preparing to mount his horse, when Niel Herbert stopped him to ask in a low voice whether he had got the Denver paper.
"Oh, yes. I always wait for the papers. She likes to have them to read of an evening. Guess it's pretty lonesome over there." He swung into his saddle and splashed off. Niel walked slowly around to the hotel for dinner. He had found something very disconcerting in the Denver paper: Frank Ellinger's picture on the society page, along with Constance Ogden's. They had been married yesterday at Colorado Springs, and were stopping at the Antlers.
After supper Niel put on his rubber coat and started for the Forresters'. When he reached the first creek, he found that the footbridge had been washed out from the far bank and lay obliquely in the stream, battered at by the yellow current which might at any moment carry it away. One could not cross the ford without a horse. He looked irresolutely across the submerged bottom lands. The house was dark, no lights in the parlour windows. The rain was beginning to fall again. Perhaps she had rather be alone tonight. He would go over tomorrow.
He went back to the law office and tried to make himself comfortable, though the place was in distracting disorder. The continued rain had set one of the chimneys leaking, had brought down streams of soot and black water and flooded the stove and the Judge's once handsome Brussels carpet. The tinner had been there all afternoon, trying to find what was the matter with the flue, cutting a new sheet-iron drawer to fit under the stove-pipe. But at six o'clock he had gone away, leaving tools and sheets of metal lying about. The rooms were damp and cold. Niel put on a heavy sweater, since he could not have a fire, lit the big coal-oil lamp, and sat down with a book. When at last he looked at his watch, it was nearly midnight, and he had been reading three hours. He would have another pipe, and go to bed. He had scarcely lit it, when he heard quick, hurrying footsteps in the echoing corridor outside. He got to the door in an instant, was there to open it before Mrs. Forrester had time to knock. He caught her by the arm and pulled her in.
Everything but her wet, white face was hidden by a black rubber hat and a coat that was much too big for her. Streams of water trickled from the coat, and when she opened it he saw that she was drenched to the waist,—her black dress clung in a muddy pulp about her.
"Mrs. Forrester," he cried, "you can't have crossed the creek! It's up to a horse's belly in the ford."
"I came over the bridge, what's left of it. It shook under me, but I'm not heavy." She threw off her hat and wiped the water from her face with her hands.
"Why didn't you ask Ben to bring you over on his horse? Here, please swallow this."
She pushed his hand aside. "Wait. Afterwards. Ben? I didn't think until after he was gone. It's the telephone I want, long distance. Get me Colorado Springs, the Antlers, quick!"
Then Niel noticed that she smelled strong of spirits; it steamed above the smell of rubber and creek mud and wet cloth. She snatched up the desk telephone, but he gently took it from her.
"I'll get them for you, but you're in no condition to talk now; you're out of breath. Do you really want to talk tonight? You know Mrs. Beasley will hear every word you say." Mrs. Beasley was the Sweet Water central, and an indefatigable reporter of everything that went over the wires.
Mrs. Forrester, sitting in his uncle's desk chair, tapped the carpet with the toe of her rubber boot. "Do hurry, please," she said in that polite, warning tone of which even Ivy Peters was afraid.
Niel aroused the sleepy central and put in the call. "She asks whom you wish to speak to?"
"Frank Ellinger. Say Judge Pommeroy's office wishes to speak to him."
Niel began soothing Mrs. Beasley at the other end. "No, not the management, Mrs. Beasley, one of the guests. Frank Ellinger," he spelled the name. "Yes. Judge Pommeroy's office wants to talk to him. I'll be right here. As soon as you can, please."
He put down the instrument. "I'd rather, you know, publish anything in the town paper than telephone it through Mrs. Beasley." Mrs. Forrester paid no heed to him, did not look at him, sat staring at the wall. "I can't see why you didn't call me up and ask me to bring a horse over for you, if you felt you must get to a long distance telephone tonight."
"Yes; I didn't think of it. I only knew I had to get over here, and I was afraid something might stop me." She was watching the telephone as if it were alive. Her eyes were shrunk to hard points. Her brows, drawn together in an acute angle, kept twitching in the frown which held them,—the singular frown of one overcome by alcohol or fatigue, who is holding on to consciousness by the strength of a single purpose. Her blue lips, the black shadows under her eyes, made her look as if some poison were at work in her body.
They waited and waited. Niel understood that she did not wish him to talk. Her mind was struggling with something, with every blink of her lashes she seemed to face it anew. Presently she rose as if she could bear the suspense no longer and went over to the window, leaned against it.
"Did you leave Captain Forrester alone?" Niel asked suddenly.
"Yes. Nothing will happen over there. Nothing ever DOES happen!" she answered wildly, wringing her hands.
The telephone buzzed. Mrs. Forrester darted toward the desk, but Niel lifted the instrument in his left hand and barred her way with his right. "Try to be calm, Mrs. Forrester. When I get Ellinger I will let you talk to him,—and central will hear every word you say, remember."
After some exchanges with the Colorado office, he pointed her to the chair. "Sit down and I'll give it to you. He is on the wire."
He did not dare to leave her alone, though it was awkward enough to be a listener. He walked to the window and stood with his back to the desk where she was sitting.
"Is that you, Frank? This is Marian. I won't keep you a moment. You were asleep? So early? That's not like you. You've reformed already, haven't you? That's what marriage does, they say. No, I wasn't altogether surprised. You might have taken me into your confidence, though. Haven't I deserved it?"
A long, listening pause. Niel stared stupidly at the dark window. He had steeled his nerves for wild reproaches. The voice he heard behind him was her most charming; playful, affectionate, intimate, with a thrill of pleasant excitement that warmed its slight formality and burned through the common-place words like the colour in an opal. He simply held his breath while she fluttered on:
"Where shall you go for your honeymoon? Oh, I'm very sorry! So soon . . . You must take good care of her. Give her my love. . . . I should think California, at this time of the year, might be right . . ."
It went on like this for some minutes. The voice, it seemed to Niel, was that of a woman, young, beautiful, happy,—warm and at her ease, sitting in her own drawing-room and talking on a stormy night to a dear friend far away.
"Oh, unusually well, for me. Stop and see for yourself. You will be going to Omaha on business next week, before California. Oh, yes, you will! Stop off between trains. You know how welcome you are, always."
A long pause. An exclamation from Mrs. Forrester made Niel turn sharply round. Now it was coming! Her voice was darkening with every word. "I think I understand you. You are not speaking from your own room? What, from the office booth? Oh, then I understand you very well indeed!" Niel looked about in alarm. It was time to stop her, but how? The voice went on.
"Play safe! When have you ever played anything else? You know, Frank, the truth is that you're a coward; a great, hulking coward. Do you hear me? I want you to hear! . . . You've got a safe thing at last, I should think; safe and pasty! How much stock did you get with it? A big block, I hope! Now let me tell you the truth: I don't want you to come here! I never want to see you again while I live, and I forbid you to come and look at me when I'm dead. I don't want your hateful eyes to look at my dead face. Do you hear me? Why don't you answer me? Don't dare to hang up the receiver, you coward! Oh, you big . . . Frank, Frank, say something! Oh, he's shut me off, I can't hear him!"
She flung the receiver down, dropped her head on the desk, and broke into heavy, groaning sobs. Niel stood over her and waited with composure. For once he had been quick enough; he had saved her. The moment that quivering passion of hatred and wrong leaped into her voice, he had taken the big shears left by the tinner and cut the insulated wire behind the desk. Her reproaches had got no farther than this room.
When the sobs ceased he touched her shoulder. He shook her, but there was no response. She was asleep, sunk in a heavy stupor. Her hands and face were so cold that he thought there could not be a drop of warm blood left in her body. He carried her into his room, cut off her drenched clothing, wrapped her in his bathrobe and put her into his own bed. She was absolutely unconscious. He blew out the light, locked her in, and left the building, going as fast as he could to Judge Pommeroy's cottage. He roused his uncle and briefly explained the situation.
"Can you dress and go down to the office for the rest of the night, Uncle Judge? Some one must be with her. And I'll get over to the Captain at once; he certainly oughtn't to be left alone. If she could get across the bridge, I guess I can. By the way, she began talking wild, and I cut the telephone wire behind your desk. So keep an eye on it. It might make trouble on a stormy night like this. I'll get a livery hack and take Mrs. Forrester home in the morning, before the town is awake."
When daylight began to break Niel went into Captain Forrester's room and told him that his wife had been sent for in the night to answer a long distance telephone call, and that now he was going to bring her home.
The Captain lay propped up on three big pillows. Since his face had grown fat and relaxed, its ruggedness had changed to an almost Asiatic smoothness. He looked like a wise old Chinese mandarin as he lay listening to the young man's fantastic story with perfect composure, merely blinking and saying, "Thank you, Niel, thank you."
As Niel went through the sleeping town on his way to the livery barn, he saw the short, plump figure of Mrs. Beasley, like a boiled pudding sewed up in a blue kimono, waddling through the feathery asparagus bed behind the telephone office. She had already been next door to tell her neighbour Molly Tucker, the seamstress, the story of her exciting night.
Soon afterward, when Captain Forrester had another stroke, Mrs. Beasley and Molly Tucker and their friends were perfectly agreed that it was a judgment upon his wife. No judgment could have been crueller. Under the care of him, now that he was helpless, Mrs. Forrester quite went to pieces.
Even after their misfortunes had begun to come upon them, she had maintained her old reserve. She had asked nothing and accepted nothing. Her demeanour toward the townspeople was always the same; easy, cordial, and impersonal. Her own friends had moved away long ago,—all except Judge Pommeroy and Dr. Dennison. When any of the housewives from the town came to call, she met them in the parlour, chatted with them in the smiling, careless manner they could never break through, and they got no further. They still felt they must put on their best dress and carry a card-case when they went to the Forresters'.
But now that the Captain was helpless, everything changed. She could hold off the curious no longer. The townswomen brought soups and custards for the invalid. When they came to sit out the night with him, she turned the house over to them. She was worn out; so exhausted that she was dull to what went on about her. The Mrs. Beasleys and Molly Tuckers had their chance at last. They went in and out of Mrs. Forrester's kitchen as familiarly as they did out of one another's. They rummaged through the linen closet to find more sheets, pried about in the attic and cellar. They went over the house like ants, the house where they had never before got past the parlour; and they found they had been fooled all these years. There was nothing remarkable about the place at all! The kitchen was inconvenient, the sink was smelly. The carpets were worn, the curtains faded, the clumsy, old-fashioned furniture they wouldn't have had for a gift, and the upstairs bed-rooms were full of dust and cobwebs.
Judge Pommeroy remarked to his nephew that he had never seen these women look so wide-awake, so important and pleased with themselves, as now when he encountered them bustling about the Forrester place. The Captain's illness had the effect of a social revival, like a new club or a church society. The creatures grew bolder and bolder,—and Mrs. Forrester, apparently, had no power of resistance. She drudged in the kitchen, slept, half-dressed, in one of the chambers upstairs, kept herself going on black coffee and brandy. All the bars were down. She had ceased to care about anything.
As the women came and went through the lane, Niel sometimes overheard snatches of their conversation.
"Why didn't she sell some of that silver? All those platters and covered dishes stuck away with the tarnish of years on them!"
"I wouldn't mind having some of her linen. There's a chest full of double damask upstairs, every tablecloth long enough to make two. Did you ever see anything like the wine glasses! I'll bet there's not as many in both saloons put together. If she has a sale after he's gone, I'll buy a dozen champagne glasses; they're nice to serve sherbet in."
"There are nine dozen glasses," said Molly Tucker, "counting them for beer and whiskey. If there is a sale, I've a mind to bid in a couple of them green ones, with long stems, for mantel ornaments. But she'll never sell 'em all, unless she can get the saloons to take 'em."
Ed Elliott's mother laughed. "She'll never sell 'em, as long as she's got anything to put in 'em."
"The cellar will go dry, some day."
"I guess there's always plenty that will get it for such as her. I never go there now that I don't smell it on her. I went over late the other night, and she was on her knees, washing up the kitchen floor. Her eyes were glassy. She kept washing the place around the ice-box over and over, till it made me nervous. I said, 'Mrs. Forrester, I think you've washed that place several times already.'"
"Was she confused?"
"Not a particle! She laughed and said she was often absent-minded."
Mrs. Elliott's companions laughed, too, and agreed that absent-minded was a good expression.
Niel repeated this conversation to his uncle. "Uncle," he declared, "I don't see how I can go back to Boston and leave the Forresters. I'd like to chuck school for a year, and see them through. I want to go over there and clear those gossips out. Could you stay at the hotel for a few weeks, and let me have Black Tom? With him to help me, I'd send every one of those women trotting down the lane."
It was arranged quietly, and at once. Tom was put in the kitchen, and Niel himself took charge of the nursing. He met the women with firmness: they were very kind, but now nothing was needed. The Doctor had said the house must be absolutely quiet and that the invalid must see no one.
Once the house was tranquil, Mrs. Forrester went to bed and slept for the better part of a week. The Captain himself improved. On his good days he could be put into a wheel-chair and rolled out into his garden to enjoy the September sunlight and the last of his briar roses.
"Thank you, Niel, thank you, Tom," he often said when they lifted him into his chair. "I value this quiet very highly." If a day came when they thought he ought not to go out, he was sad and disappointed.
"Better get him out, no matter what," said Mrs. Forrester. "He likes to look at his place. That, and his cigar, are the only pleasures he has left."
When she was rested and in command of herself again, she took her place in the kitchen, and Black Tom went back to the Judge.
At night, when he was alone, when Mrs. Forrester had gone to bed and the Captain was resting quietly, Niel found a kind of solemn happiness in his vigils. It had been hard to give up that year; most of his classmates were younger than he. It had cost him something, but now that he had taken the step, he was glad. As he put in the night hours, sitting first in one chair and then in another, reading, smoking, getting a lunch to keep himself awake, he had the satisfaction of those who keep faith. He liked being alone with the old things that had seemed so beautiful to him in his childhood. These were still the most comfortable chairs in the world, and he would never like any pictures so well as "William Tell's Chapel" and "The House of the Tragic Poet." No card-table was so good for solitaire as this old one with a stone top, mosaic in the pattern of a chess-board, which one of the Captain's friends had brought him from Naples. No other house could take the place of this one in his life.
He had time to think of many things; of himself and of his old friends here. He had noticed that often when Mrs. Forrester was about her work, the Captain would call to her, "Maidy, Maidy," and she would reply, "Yes, Mr. Forrester," from wherever she happened to be, but without coming to him,—as if she knew that when he called to her in that tone he was not asking for anything. He wanted to know if she were near, perhaps; or, perhaps, he merely liked to call her name and to hear her answer. The longer Niel was with Captain Forrester in those peaceful closing days of his life, the more he felt that the Captain knew his wife better even than she knew herself; and that, knowing her, he,—to use one of his own expressions,—valued her.
Captain Forrester's death, which occurred early in December, was "telegraphic news," the only State news that the discouraged town of Sweet Water had furnished for a long while. Flowers and telegrams came from east and west, but it happened that none of the Captain's closest friends could come to his funeral. Mr. Dalzell was in California, the president of the Burlington railroad was travelling in Europe. The others were far away or in uncertain health. Doctor Dennison and Judge Pommeroy were the only two of his intimates among the pallbearers.
On the morning of the funeral, when the Captain was already in his coffin, and the undertaker was in the parlour setting up chairs, Niel heard a knocking at the kitchen door. There he found Adolph Blum, carrying a large white box.
"Niel," he said, "will you please give these to Mrs. Forrester, and tell her they are from Rhein and me, for the Captain?"
Adolph was in his old working clothes, the only clothes he had, probably, with a knitted comforter about his neck. Niel knew he wouldn't come to the funeral, so he said:
"Won't you come in and see him, 'Dolph? He looks just like himself."
Adolph hesitated, but he caught sight of the undertaker's man, through the parlour bay-window, and said, "No, thank you, Niel," thrust his red hands into his jacket pockets, and walked away.
Niel took the flowers out of the box, a great armful of yellow roses, which must have cost the price of many a dead rabbit. He carried them upstairs, where Mrs. Forrester was lying down.
"These are from the Blum boys," he said. "Adolph just brought them to the kitchen door."
Mrs. Forrester looked at them, then turned away her head on the pillow, her lips trembling. It was the only time that day he saw her pale composure break.
The funeral was large. Old settlers and farmer folk came from all over the county to follow the pioneer's body to the grave. As Niel and his uncle were driving back from the cemetery with Mrs. Forrester, she spoke for the first time since they had left the house. "Judge Pommeroy," she said quietly, "I think I will have Mr. Forrester's sun-dial taken over and . I can have an inscription cut on the base. It seems more appropriate for him than any stone we could buy. And I will plant some of his own rose-bushes beside it."
When they got back to the house it was four o'clock, and she insisted upon making tea for them. "I would like it myself, and it is better to be doing something. Wait for me in the parlour. And, Niel, move the things back as we always have them."
The grey day was darkening, and as the three sat having their tea in the bay-window, swift squalls of snow were falling over the wide meadows between the hill and the town, and the creaking of the big cottonwoods about the house seemed to say that winter had come.
One morning in April Niel was alone in the law office. His uncle had been ill with rheumatic fever for a long while, and he had been attending to the routine of business.
The door opened, and a figure stood there, strange and yet familiar,—he had to think a moment before he realized that it was Orville Ogden, who used to come to Sweet Water so often, but who had not been seen there now for several years. He didn't look a day older; one eye was still direct and clear, the other clouded and oblique. He still wore a stiff imperial and twisted moustache, the grey colour of old beeswax, and his thin hair was brushed heroically up over the bald spot.
"This is Judge Pommeroy's nephew, isn't it? I can't think of your name, my boy, but I remember you. Is the Judge out?"
"Please be seated, Mr. Ogden. My uncle is ill. He hasn't been at the office for several months. He's had really a very bad time of it. Is there anything I can do for you?"
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that! I'm sorry." He spoke as if he were. "I guess all we fellows are getting older, whether we like it or not. It made a great difference when Daniel Forrester went." Mr. Ogden took off his overcoat, put his hat and gloves neatly on the desk, and then seemed somewhat at a loss. "What is your uncle's trouble?" he asked suddenly.
Niel told him. "I was to have gone back to school this winter, but uncle begged me to stay and look after things for him. There was no one here he wanted to entrust his business to."
"I see, I see," said Mr. Ogden thoughtfully. "Then you do attend to his business for the present?" He paused and reflected. "Yes, there was something that I wanted to take up with him. I am stopping off for a few hours only, between trains. I might speak to you about it, and you could consult your uncle and write me in Chicago. It's a confidential matter, and concerns another person."
Niel assured him of his discretion, but Mr. Ogden seemed to find the subject difficult to approach. He looked very grave and slowly lit a cigar.
"It is simply," he said at last, "a rather delicate suggestion I wish to make to your uncle about one of his clients. I have several friends in the Government at Washington just at present, friends who would go out of their way to serve me. I have been thinking that we might manage it to get a special increase of pension for Mrs. Forrester. I am due in Chicago this week, and after my business there is finished, I would be quite willing to go on to Washington to see what can be done; provided, of course, that no one, least of all your uncle's client, knows of my activity in the matter."
Niel flushed. "I'm sorry, Mr. Ogden," he brought out, "but Mrs. Forrester is no longer a client of my uncle's. After the Captain's death, she saw fit to take her business away from him."
Mr. Ogden's normal eye became as blank as the other.
"What's that? He isn't her lawyer? Why, for twenty years—"
"I know that, sir. She didn't treat him with much consideration. She transferred her business very abruptly."
"To whom, may I ask?"
"To a lawyer here in town; Ivy Peters."
"Peters? I never heard of him."
"No, you wouldn't have. He wasn't one of the people who went to the Forrester house in the old days. He's one of the younger generation, a few years older than I. He rented part of the Forresters' land for several years before the Captain's death,—was their tenant. That was how Mrs. Forrester came to know him. She thinks him a good business man."
Mr. Ogden frowned. "And is he?"
"Some people think so."
"Is he trustworthy?"
"Far from it. He takes the cases nobody else will take. He may treat Mrs. Forrester honestly. But if he does, it will not be from principle."
"This is very distressing news. Go on with your work, my boy. I must think this over." Mr. Ogden rose and walked about the room, his hands behind him. Niel turned to an unfinished letter on his desk, in order to leave his visitor the more free.
Mr. Ogden's position, he understood, was a difficult one. He had been devoted to Mrs. Forrester, and before Constance had made up her mind to marry Frank Ellinger, before the mother and daughter began to angle for him, Mr. Ogden had come to the Forresters' more frequently than any of their Denver friends. He hadn't been back, Niel believed, since that Christmas party when he and his family were there with Ellinger. Very soon afterward he must have seen what his women-folk were up to; and whether he approved or disapproved, he must have decided that there was nothing for him to do but to keep out. It hadn't been the Forresters' reversal of fortune that had kept him away. One could see that he was deeply troubled, that he had her heavily on his mind.
Niel had finished his letter and was beginning another, when Mr. Ogden stopped beside his desk, where he stood twisting his imperial tighter and tighter. "You say this young lawyer is unprincipled? Sometimes rascals have a soft spot, a sentiment, where women are concerned."
Niel stared. He immediately thought of Ivy's dimples.
"A soft spot? A sentiment? Mr. Ogden, why not go to his office? A glance would convince you."
"Oh, that's not necessary! I understand." He looked out of the window, from which he could just see the tree-tops of the Forrester grove, and murmured, "Poor lady! So misguided. She ought to have advice from some of Daniel's friends." He took out his watch and consulted it, turning something over in his mind. His train was due in an hour, he said. Nothing could be done at present. In a few moments he left the office.
Afterward, Niel felt sure that when Mr. Ogden stood there uncertainly, watch in hand, he was considering an interview with Mrs. Forrester. He had wanted to go to her, and had given it up. Was he afraid of his womenfolk? Or was it another kind of cowardice, the fear of losing a pleasant memory, of finding her changed and marred, a dread of something that would throw a disenchanting light upon the past? Niel had heard his uncle say that Mr. Ogden admired pretty women, though he had married a homely one, and that in his deep, non-committal way he was very gallant. Perhaps, with a little encouragement, he would have gone to see Mrs. Forrester, and he might have helped her. The fact that he had done nothing to bring this about, made Niel realize how much his own feeling toward that lady had changed.
It was Mrs. Forrester herself who had changed. Since her husband's death she seemed to have become another woman. For years Niel and his uncle, the Dalzells and all her friends, had thought of the Captain as a drag upon his wife; a care that drained her and dimmed her and kept her from being all that she might be. But without him, she was like a ship without ballast, driven hither and thither by every wind. She was flighty and perverse. She seemed to have lost her faculty of discrimination; her power of easily and graciously keeping everyone in his proper place.
Ivy Peters had been in Wyoming at the time of Captain Forrester's illness and death,—called away by a telegram which announced that oil had been discovered near his land-holdings. He returned soon after the Captain's funeral, however, and was seen about the Forrester place more than ever. As there was nothing to be done on his fields in the winter, he had amused himself by pulling down the old barn after office hours. One was likely to come upon him, smoking his cigar on the front porch as if he owned the place. He often spent the evening there, playing cards with Mrs. Forrester or talking about his business projects. He had not made his fortune yet, but he was on the way to it. Occasionally he took a friend or two, some of the town boys, over to dine at Mrs. Forrester's. The boys' mothers and sweethearts were greatly scandalized. "Now she's after the young ones," said Ed Elliott's mother. "She's getting childish."
At last Niel had a plain talk with Mrs. Forrester. He told her that people were gossiping about Ivy's being there so much. He had heard comments even on the street.
"But I can't bother about their talk. They have always talked about me, always will. Mr. Peters is my lawyer and my tenant; I have to see him, and I'm certainly not going to his office. I can't sit in the house alone every evening and knit. If you came to see me any oftener than you do, that would make talk. You are still younger than Ivy,—and better-looking! Did that never occur to you?"
"I wish you wouldn't talk to me like that," he said coldly. "Mrs. Forrester, why don't you go away? to California, to people of your own kind. You know this town is no place for you."
"I mean to, just as soon as I can sell this place. It's all I have, and if I leave it to tenants it will run down, and I can't sell it to advantage. That's why Ivy is here so much, he's trying to make the place presentable; pulling down the old barn that had become an eyesore, putting new boards in the porch floor where the old ones had rotted. Next summer, I am going to paint the house. Unless I keep the place up, I can never get my price for it." She talked nervously, with exaggerated earnestness, as if she were trying to persuade herself.
"And what are you asking for it now, Mrs. Forrester?"
"Twenty thousand dollars."
"You'll never get it. At least, not until times have greatly changed."
"That's what your uncle said. He wouldn't attempt to sell it for more than twelve. That's why I had to put it into other hands. Times have changed, but he doesn't realize it. Mr. Forrester himself told me it would be worth that. Ivy says he can get me twenty thousand, or if not, he will take it off my hands as soon as his investments begin to bring in returns."
"And in the meantime, you are simply wasting your life here."
"Not altogether." She looked at him with pleading plausibility. "I am getting rested after a long strain. And while I wait, I'm finding new friends among the young men,—those your age, and a little younger. I've wanted for a long while to do something for the boys in this town, but my hands were full. I hate to see them growing up like savages, when all they need is a civilized house to come to, and a woman to give them a few hints. They've never had a chance. You wouldn't be the boy you are if you'd never gone to Boston,—and you've always had older friends who'd seen better days. Suppose you had grown up like Ed Elliott and Joe Simpson?"
"I flatter myself I wouldn't be exactly like them, if I had! However, there is no use discussing it, if you've thought it over and made up your mind. I spoke of it because I thought you mightn't realize how it strikes the townspeople."
"I know!" She tossed her head. Her eyes glittered, but there was no mirth in them,—it was more like hysterical defiance. "I know; they call me the Merry Widow. I rather like it!"
Niel left the house without further argument, and though that was three weeks ago, he had not been back since. Mrs. Forrester had called to see his uncle in the meantime. The Judge was as courtly as ever in his manner toward her, but he was deeply hurt by her defection, and his cherishing care for her would never be revived. He had attended to all Captain Forrester's business for twenty years, and since the failure of the Denver bank had never deducted a penny for fees from the money entrusted to him. Mrs. Forrester had treated him very badly. She had given him no warning. One day Ivy Peters had come into the office with a written order from her, requesting that an accounting, and all funds and securities, be turned over to him. Since then she had never spoken of the matter to the Judge,—or to Niel, save in that conversation about the sale of the property.
One morning when a warm May wind was whirling the dust up the street, Mrs. Forrester came smiling into Judge Pommeroy's office, wearing a new spring bonnet, and a short black velvet cape, fastened at the neck with a bunch of violets. "Please be nice enough to notice my new clothes, Niel," she said coaxingly. "They are the first I've had in years and years."
He told her they were very pretty.
"And aren't you glad I have some at last?" she smiled enquiringly through her veil. "I feel as if you weren't going to be cross with me today, and would do what I ask you. It's nothing very troublesome. I want you to come to dinner Friday night. If you come, there will be eight of us, counting Annie Peters. They are all boys you know, and if you don't like them, you ought to! Yes, you ought to!" she nodded at him severely. "Since you mind what people say, Niel, aren't you afraid they'll be saying you're a snob, just because you've been to Boston and seen a little of the world? You mustn't be so stiff, so—so superior! It isn't becoming, at your age." She drew her brows down into a level frown so like his own that he laughed. He had almost forgotten her old talent for mimicry.
"What do you want me for? You used always to say it was no good asking people who didn't mix."
"You can mix well enough, if you take the trouble. And this time you will, for me. Won't you?"
When she was gone, Niel was angry with himself for having been persuaded.
On Friday evening he was the last guest to arrive. It was a warm night, after a hot day. The windows were open, and the perfume of the lilacs came into the dusky parlour where the boys were sitting about in chairs that seemed too big for them. A lamp was burning in the dining-room, and there Ivy Peters stood at the sideboard, mixing cocktails. His sister Annie was in the kitchen, helping the hostess. Mrs. Forrester came in for a moment to greet Niel, then excused herself and hurried back to Annie Peters. Through the open door he saw that the silver dishes had reappeared on the dinner table, and the candlesticks and flowers. The young men who sat about in the twilight would not know the difference, he thought, if she had furnished her table that morning, from the stock in Wernz's queensware store. Their conception of a really fine dinner service was one "hand painted" by a sister or sweetheart. Each boy sat with his legs crossed, one tan shoe swinging in the air and displaying a tan silk sock. They were talking about clothes; Joe Simpson, who had just inherited his father's clothing business, was eager to tell them what the summer styles would be.
Ivy Peters came in, shaking his drinks. "You fellows are like a bunch of girls,—always talking about what you are going to wear and how you can spend your money. Simpson wouldn't get rich very fast if you all wore your clothes as long as I do. When did I get this suit, Joe?"
"Oh, about the year I graduated from High School, I guess!"
They all laughed at Ivy. No matter what he did or said, they laughed,—in recognition of his general success.
Mrs. Forrester came back, fanning herself with a little sandalwood fan, and when she appeared the boys rose,—in alarm, one might have thought, from the suddenness of it. That much, at any rate, she had succeeded in teaching them.
"Are your cocktails ready, Ivy? You will have to wait for me a moment, while I put some powder on my nose. If I'd known how hot it would be tonight, I'm afraid I wouldn't have had a roast for you. I'm browner than the ducks. You can pour them though. I won't be long."
She disappeared into her own room, and the boys sat down with the same surprising promptness. Ivy Peters carried the tray about, and they held their glasses before them, waiting for Mrs. Forrester. When she came, she took Niel's arm and led him into the dining-room. "Did you notice," she whispered to him, "how they hold their glasses? What is it they do to a little glass to make it look so vulgar? Nobody could ever teach them to pick one up and drink out of it, not if there were tea in it!"
Aloud she said, "Niel, will you light the candles for me? And then take the head of the table, please. You can carve ducks?"
"Not so well as my uncle does," he murmured, carefully putting back a candle-shade.
"Nor as Mr. Forrester did? I don't ask that. Nobody can carve now as men used to. But you can get them apart, I suppose? The place at your right is for Annie Peters. She is bringing in the dinner for me. Be seated, gentlemen!" with a little mocking bow and a swinging of earrings.
While Niel was carving the ducks, Annie slipped into the chair beside him, her naturally red face glowing from the heat of the stove. She was several years younger than her brother, whom she obeyed unquestioningly in everything. She had an extremely bad complexion and pale yellow hair with white lights in it, exactly the colour of molasses taffy that has been pulled until it glistens. During the dinner she did not once speak, except to say, "Thank you," or "No, thank you." Nobody but Mrs. Forrester talked much until the first helping of duck was consumed. The boys had not yet learned to do two things at once. They paused only to ask their hostess if she "would care for the jelly," or to answer her questions.
Niel studied Mrs. Forrester between the candles, as she nodded encouragingly to one and another, trying to "draw them out," laughing at Roy Jones' heavy jokes, or congratulating Joe Simpson upon his new dignity as a business man with a business of his own. The long earrings swung beside the thin cheeks that were none the better, he thought, for the rouge she had put on them when she went to her room just before dinner. It improved some women, but not her,—at least, not tonight, when her eyes were hollow with fatigue, and she looked pinched and worn as he had never seen her. He sighed as he thought how much work it meant to cook a dinner like this for eight people,—and a beefsteak with potatoes would have pleased them better! They didn't really like this kind of food at all. Why did she do it? How would she feel about it tonight, when she sank dead weary into bed, after these stupid boys had said good-night, and their yellow shoes had carried them down the hill?
She was not eating anything, she was using up all her vitality to electrify these heavy lads into speech. Niel felt that he must help her, or at least try to. He addressed them one after another with energy and determination; he tried baseball, politics, scandal, the corn crop. They answered him with monosyllables or exclamations. He soon realized that they didn't want his polite remarks; they wanted more duck, and to be let alone with it.
Dinner was soon over, at any rate. The hostess' attempts to prolong it were unavailing. The salad and frozen pudding were dispatched as promptly as the roast had been. The guests went into the parlour and lit cigars.
Mrs. Forrester had the old-fashioned notion that men should be alone after dinner. She did not join them for half an hour. Perhaps she had lain down upstairs, for she looked a little rested. The boys were talking now, discussing a camping trip Ed Elliott was going to take in the mountains. They were giving him advice about camp outfits, trout flies, mixtures to keep off mosquitoes.
"I'll tell you, boys," said Mrs. Forrester, when she had listened to them for a moment, "when I go back to California, I intend to have a summer cabin up in the Sierras, and I invite you, one and all, to visit me. You'll have to work for your keep, you understand; cut the firewood and bring the water and wash the pots and pans, and go out and catch fish for breakfast. Ivy can bring his gun and shoot game for us, and I'll bake bread in an iron pot, the old trappers' way, if I haven't forgotten how. Will you come?"
"You bet we will! You know those mountains by heart, I expect?" said Ed Elliott.
She smiled and shook her head. "It would take a life-time to do that, Ed, more than a life-time. The Sierras,—there's no end to them, and they're magnificent."
Niel turned to her. "Have you ever told the boys how it was you first met Captain Forrester in the mountains out there? If they haven't heard the story, I think they would like it."
"Really, would you? Well, once upon a time, when I was a very young girl, I was spending the summer at a camp in the mountains, with friends of my father's."
She began there, but that was not the beginning of the story; long ago Niel had heard from his uncle that the beginning was a scandal and a murder. When Marian Ormsby was nineteen, she was engaged to Ned Montgomery, a gaudy young millionaire of the Gold Coast. A few weeks before the date set for their marriage, Montgomery was shot and killed in the lobby of a San Francisco hotel by the husband of another woman. The subsequent trial involved a great deal of publicity, and Marian was hurried away from curious eyes and sent up into the mountains until the affair should blow over.
Tonight Mrs. Forrester began with "Once upon a time." Sitting at one end of the big sofa, her slippers on a foot-stool and her head in shadow, she stirred the air before her face with the sandalwood fan as she talked, the rings glittering on her white fingers. She told them how Captain Forrester, then a widower, had come up to the camp to visit her father's partner. She had noticed him very little,—she was off every day with the young men. One afternoon she had persuaded young Fred Harney, an intrepid mountain climber, to take her down the face of Eagle Cliff. They were almost down, and were creeping over a projecting ledge, when the rope broke, and they dropped to the bottom. Harney fell on the rocks and was killed instantly. The girl was caught in a pine tree, which arrested her fall. Both her legs were broken, and she lay in the canyon all night in the bitter cold, swept by the icy canyon draught. Nobody at the camp knew where to look for the two missing members of the party,—they had stolen off alone for their foolhardy adventure. Nobody worried, because Harney knew all the trails and could not get lost. In the morning, however, when they were still missing, search parties went out. It was Captain Forrester's party that found Marian, and got her out by the lower trail. The trail was so steep and narrow, the turns round the jutting ledges so sharp, that it was impossible to take her out on a litter. The men took turns carrying her, hugging the canyon walls with their shoulders as they crept along. With her broken legs hanging, she suffered terribly,—fainted again and again. But she noticed that she suffered less when Captain Forrester carried her, and that he took all the most dangerous places on the trail himself. "I could feel his heart pump and his muscles strain," she said, "when he balanced himself and me on the rocks. I knew that if we fell, we'd go together; he would never drop me."
They got back to camp, and everything possible was done for her, but by the time a surgeon could be got up from San Francisco, her fractures had begun to knit and had to be broken over again.
"It was Captain Forrester I wanted to hold my hand when the surgeon had to do things to me. You remember, Niel, he always boasted that I never screamed when they were carrying me up the trail. He stayed at the camp until I could begin to walk, holding to his arm. When he asked me to marry him, he didn't have to ask twice. Do you wonder?" She looked with a smile about the circle, and drew her finger-tips absently across her forehead as if to brush away something,—the past, or the present, who could tell?
The boys were genuinely moved. While she was answering their questions, Niel thought about the first time he ever heard her tell that story: Mr. Dalzell had stopped off with a party of friends from Chicago; Marshall Field and the president of the Union Pacific were among them, he remembered, and they were going through in Mr. Dalzell's private car to hunt in the Black Hills. She had, after all, not changed so much since then. Niel felt tonight that the right man could save her, even now. She was still her indomitable self, going through her old part,—but only the stage-hands were left to listen to her. All those who had shared in fine undertakings and bright occasions were gone.
With the summer months Judge Pommeroy's health improved, and as soon as he was able to be back in his office, Niel began to plan to return to Boston. He would get there the first of August and would go to work with a tutor to make up for the months he had lost. It was a melancholy time for him. He was in a fever of impatience to be gone, and yet he felt that he was going away forever, and was making the final break with everything that had been dear to him in his boyhood. The people, the very country itself, were changing so fast that there would be nothing to come back to.
He had seen the end of an era, the sunset of the pioneer. He had come upon it when already its glory was nearly spent. So in the buffalo times a traveller used to come upon the embers of a hunter's fire on the prairie, after the hunter was up and gone; the coals would be trampled out, but the ground was warm, and the flattened grass where he had slept and where his pony had grazed, told the story.
This was the very end of the road-making West; the men who had put plains and mountains under the iron harness were old; some were poor, and even the successful ones were hunting for rest and a brief reprieve from death. It was already gone, that age; nothing could ever bring it back. The taste and smell and song of it, the visions those men had seen in the air and followed,—these he had caught in a kind of afterglow in their own faces,—and this would always be his.
It was what he most held against Mrs. Forrester; that she was not willing to immolate herself, like the widow of all these great men, and die with the pioneer period to which she belonged; that she preferred life on any terms. In the end, Niel went away without bidding her good-bye. He went away with weary contempt for her in his heart.
It happened like this,—had scarcely the dignity of an episode. It was nothing, and yet it was everything. Going over to see her one summer evening, he stopped a moment by the dining-room window to look at the honeysuckle. The dining-room door was open into the kitchen, and there Mrs. Forrester stood at a table, making pastry. Ivy Peters came in at the kitchen door, walked up behind her, and unconcernedly put both arms around her, his hands meeting over her breast. She did not move, did not look up, but went on rolling out pastry.
Niel went down the hill. "For the last time," he said, as he crossed the bridge in the evening light, "for the last time." And it was even so; he never went up the poplar-bordered road again. He had given her a year of his life, and she had thrown it away. He had helped the Captain to die peacefully, he believed; and now it was the Captain who seemed the reality. All those years he had thought it was Mrs. Forrester who made that house so different from any other. But ever since the Captain's death it was a house where old friends, like his uncle, were betrayed and cast off, where common fellows behaved after their kind and knew a common woman when they saw her.
If he had not had the nature of a spaniel, he told himself, he would never have gone back after the first time. It took two doses to cure him. Well, he had had them! Nothing she could ever do would in the least matter to him again.
He had news of her now and then, as long as his uncle lived. "Mrs. Forrester's name is everywhere coupled with Ivy Peters'," the Judge wrote. "She does not look happy, and I fear her health is failing, but she has put herself in such a position that her husband's friends cannot help her."
And again: "Of Mrs. Forrester, no news is good news. She is sadly broken."
After his uncle's death, Niel heard that Ivy Peters had at last bought the Forrester place, and had brought a wife from Wyoming to live there. Mrs. Forrester had gone West,—people supposed to California.
It was years before Niel could think of her without chagrin. But eventually, after she had drifted out of his ken, when he did not know if Daniel Forrester's widow were living or dead, Daniel Forrester's wife returned to him, a bright, impersonal memory.
He came to be very glad that he had known her, and that she had had a hand in breaking him in to life. He has known pretty women and clever ones since then,—but never one like her, as she was in her best days. Her eyes, when they laughed for a moment into one's own, seemed to promise a wild delight that he has not found in life. "I know where it is," they seemed to say, "I could show you!" He would like to call up the shade of the young Mrs. Forrester, as the witch of Endor called up Samuel's, and challenge it, demand the secret of that ardour; ask her whether she had really found some ever-blooming, ever-burning, ever-piercing joy, or whether it was all fine play-acting. Probably she had found no more than another; but she had always the power of suggesting things much lovelier than herself, as the perfume of a single flower may call up the whole sweetness of spring.
Niel was destined to hear once again of his long-lost lady. One evening as he was going into the dining-room of a Chicago hotel, a broad-shouldered man with an open, sunbrowned face, approached him and introduced himself as one of the boys who had grown up in Sweet Water.
"I'm Ed Elliott, and I thought it must be you. Could we take a table together? I promised an old friend of yours to give you a message, if I ever ran across you. You remember Mrs. Forrester? Well, I saw her again, twelve years after she left Sweet Water,—down in Buenos Ayres." They sat down and ordered dinner.
"Yes, I was in South America on business. I'm a mining engineer, I spent some time in Buenos Ayres. One evening there was a banquet of some sort at one of the big hotels, and I happened to step out of the bar, just as a car drove up to the entrance where the guests were going in. I paid no attention until one of the ladies laughed. I recognized her by her laugh,—that hadn't changed a particle. She was all done up in furs, with a scarf over her head, but I saw her eyes, and then I was sure. I stepped up and spoke to her. She seemed glad to see me, made me go into the hotel, and talked to me until her husband came to drag her away to the dinner. Oh, yes, she was married again,—to a rich, cranky old Englishman; Henry Collins was his name. He was born down there, she told me, but she met him in California. She told me they lived on a big stock ranch and had come down in their car for this banquet. I made inquiries afterward and found the old fellow was quite a character; had been married twice before, once to a Brazilian woman. People said he was rich, but quarrelsome and rather stingy. She seemed to have everything, though. They travelled in a fine French car, and she had brought her maid along, and he had his valet. No, she hadn't changed as much as you'd think. She was a good deal made up, of course, like most of the women down there; plenty of powder, and a little red, too, I guess. Her hair was black, blacker than I remembered it; looked as if she dyed it. She invited me to visit them on their estate, and so did the old man, when he came to get her. She asked about everybody, and said, 'If you ever meet Niel Herbert, give him my love, and tell him I often think of him.' She said again, 'Tell him things have turned out well for me. Mr. Collins is the kindest of husbands.' I called at your office in New York on my way back from South America, but you were somewhere in Europe. It was remarkable, how she'd come up again. She seemed pretty well gone to pieces before she left Sweet Water."
"Do you suppose," said Niel, "that she could be living still? I'd almost make the trip to see her."
"No, she died about three years ago. I know that for certain. After she left Sweet Water, wherever she was, she always sent a cheque to the Grand Army Post every year to have flowers put on Captain Forrester's grave for Decoration Day. Three years ago the Post got a letter from the old Englishman, with a draft for the future care of Captain Forrester's grave, 'in memory of my late wife, Marian Forrester Collins.'"
"So we may feel sure that she was well cared for, to the very end," said Niel. "Thank God for that!"
"I knew you'd feel that way," said Ed Elliott, as a warm wave of feeling passed over his face. "I did!"
THE textual editing of A Lost Lady is the result of contributions from many members of the Cather Edition staff, among whom we wish to acknowledge especially Kathleen Danker and Erin Marcus plus, during the initial year of the project, Kathryn A. Bellman. Numerous graduate students contributed to the project, among whom Tim Tostengard, Ray Korpi, and John Skretta provided major assistance. Pat Riles Bart (University of Virginia) provided invaluable assistance in making the Cather Edition's census of copies by examining copies in Virginia and elsewhere and recording their variant readings or sending us xerographic copies of significant pages, and Mark L. Kamrath provided similar research assistance by examining copies at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
Three people were especially helpful at different stages of the preparation of this edition. In Willa Cather: A Bibliography (Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1982), Joan Crane provided an authoritative starting place for our identifying and assembling of basic materials, then in correspondence was unfailingly generous with her expertise. David J. Nordloh (Indiana University) provided invaluable advice as we established policies and procedures and wrote our editorial manual. James L. W West rn (Pennsylvania State University) brought a knowledge of publishing history as well as a knowledge of editorial practices to his inspection of our materials on behalf of the Committee on Scholarly Editions.
Consultations early in the project were helpful as we charted our course. The late Fredson Bowers (University of Virginia) advised us about the steps necessary to organize the project. As editor of the Lewis and Clark journals, Gary Moulton (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) generously provided expertise and encouragement. Conversations with Richard Rust (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill) were helpful in refining procedures concerning variants.
For the preparation of our historical essay and explanatory notes we are particularly indebted to Lonnie Pierson Dunbier, who during three decades of research focusing upon Lyra Garber acquired expertise and amassed materials, which she made available to us. We are deeply grateful. Kathleen Danker and Emily Levine assisted in assembling materials concerning Nebraska history, geography, fauna, and flora, as did Catherine Janzen, Shelly Ritchason, and Greg Tubach. Matthew Hokom and Daniel Simon helped to trace literary allusions.
We appreciate the assistance of Michelle Fagan and Lynn R. Beideck-Porn, Archives and Special Collections of Love Library, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Patricia Phillips, director, Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial and Educational Foundation, Red Cloud; Anne Billesbach, first at the Cather Historical Center, Red Cloud, and later at the Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln; and John Lindall, formerly of the Cather Historical Center. Helen Mathew, Webster County Museum, assisted with locating photographs; Beverly Cooper (Hastings, Nebraska) generously made materials from her personal collection available to the project, as did Nancy Picchi (Bernardsville, New Jersey, and Red Cloud). We are grateful to Wheeler Wmston Dixon for help in research on filmic versions of A Lost Lady and for locating a publicity still featuring Barbara Stanwyck as Marian Forrester. And we have benefited from Joanne Allen's meticulous review of the typescript.
We relied upon many people who generously contributed their specialized knowledge: Paul A. Olson, for his expertise in plains culture; Kay Young, for her knowledge of plains flora; Andrea Pinto Lebowitz, for the further identification of flora; and Paul Johnsgard, for his knowledge of birds of the Great Plains.
We are grateful to the staffs of Love Library, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; the Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln; the Heritage Room, Bennett Martin Public Library, Lincoln; the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin, and particularly Cathy Henderson; Houghton Library, Harvard University; the University of Vermont Library; the University of Vermont Public Library; the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University; the Firestone Library, Princeton University; the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York; Columbia University Library; the New York Public Library; the Newberry Library, Chicago; and the Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, California. Of special importance were the collections of Bernice Slate and Virginia Faulkner and of J. Robert Sullivan, Archives and Special Collections of Love Library, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We acknowledge with thanks the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin, for permission to quote from the papers of Alfred A. Knopf, and Houghton Mifflin Company and the Houghton Library, Harvard University, for permission to quote from the letters of Ferris Greenslet.
We wish to express our special gratitude to Helen Cather Southwick, for her assistance and encouragement throughout the project, and William A. Koshland, for assistance with our questions about Cather's years with Alfred A. Knopf. And we wish to acknowledge our indebtedness to the late Mildred R. Bennett, whose work as founder and president of the Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial and Educational Foundation ensured that Cather-related materials in Webster County would be preserved and whose knowledge guided us through those materials.
For their administrative support at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln we thank Gerry Meisels and John G. Peters, formerly deans of arts and sciences; John Yost, formerly vice chancellor for research; and John R. Wunder, director of the Center for Great Plains Studies. We are especially grateful to Stephen Hilliard, who as chair of the Department of English provided both departmental support and personal encouragement for the Cather Edition.
For funding during our initial year on the project we are grateful to the Woods Charitable Fund. For research grants during subsequent years we thank the Nebraska Council for the Humanities and the Research Council, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, and the Department of English, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The preparation of this volume was made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, an independent federal agency.
MORE than two decades after writing A Lost Lady, Cather recalled the conception of her book in a letter to Irene Miner Weisz, her friend from their childhood years in Red Cloud. She was visiting Isabelle and Jan McClung in Toronto in the spring and summer of 1921 when the Red Cloud paper came, announcing that Mrs. Garber had died in Oregon.1 The news unsettled Cather more than she would have expected. It was a very hot day, and she went to her room to rest. She had not thought of writing about Mrs. Garber before then, but within an hour she had her story in mind; it was as if she had read it somewhere (6 January 1945).
Thus Cather recalled one version of the genesis of her novel, or at least of its subject, in 1945. To understand the genesis of its idea-the vulnerability of something fine threatened by commercialism—we must go back two years, to 1919 and events that resulted in Cather's move from Houghton Mifflin to Alfred A. Knopf. For A Lost Lady was the first novel Cather conceived and wrote knowing that Knopf would publish it, a fact as important to its design as Cather's memory of Lyra Garber was to its subject.2
Following the publication of My Ántonia in 1918, Cather entered a period in which she was keenly sensitive to the need to protect her books as well as herself from commercial pressures. The years of struggling for recognition were behind her (Mencken had proclaimed My Ántonia's destiny as an American classic); the challenge ahead was to position herself for the long haul. Unhappiness over Houghton Mifflin's arrangements for illustrations of My Ántonia, its charges for corrections in galleys, and its unimaginative advertising all combined to confirm Cather's feeling that her publisher did not understand what she was trying to do. Houghton Mifflin seemed to be in the business of selling books by assembling a list for a season's promotion, and Cather wanted a publisher who believed in her as an artist with a long literary life.
In May 1919 Cather's dissatisfactions were coming to a head as she prepared to leave New York for a first visit with Isabelle (McClung) and Jan Hambourg since their move to Toronto. In letters to Ferris Greenslet, her editor at Houghton Mifflin, Cather described talking with a publisher who believed in her work enough not only to push it but to lose money at first. That kind of commitment was necessary to place an original writer, she said (19 May 1919), and she asked whether Houghton Mifflin would include a Chicago News notice about her in its new publicity publications, as Mr. Knopf was doing for one of his writers (21 May 1919). Writing from Toronto in the late spring of 1919, Cather continued to lay out the terms she was seeking. She thought that her position among the opinion formers was quite different from five years earlier and that she was therefore a different business proposition for a publicity department. "Claude" was getting bigger, Cather wrote about the manuscript that would become One of Ours; but she would not hand him over to anyone who would not do well by him (WC to FG, 30 May 1919). Cather's concern over the book she was then writing intensified her awareness of vulnerability, for by following My Ántonia with the novel she was calling "Claude," Cather was defying her publisher's, the critics', and her readers' expectations of her. It was a hazard, she reflected, to "cut out all descriptive work ... the thing I do best," yet she had cut out just such descriptions "because that boy does not see pictures" (Bohlke 39). Not surprisingly, she was reconsidering what she wanted in her publisher, the person who would negotiate her relationship with the public.
Alfred A. Knopf had founded his publishing house in 1915, when he was only twenty-three years old. There are several different versions of Knopf and Cather's meeting. Fanny Butcher, literary editor for the Chicago Evening Post and Cather's friend from the time she reviewed Alexander's Bridge, recalled Cather's description of a young man listening intently to the music in the largely female audience at afternoon concerts each week: "When I found that he was a book publisher ... I decided then and there that any young man who would neglect his business to listen to music in the afternoon was the publisher I wanted" (Butcher, Many Lives 366). Cather herself wrote of being so impressed with Alfred Knopf's books that she appeared one day in his small office in the Candler Building on West 4md Street.3 She had never met him, and he had never made gestures in her direction, but she had followed his venture with interest, seeing in it a sincere enthusiasm in his work and liking the publicity he did for his authors. Their talk that morning was impersonal, Cather recalled, about books they liked and ones they did not, and she responded to the "degrees and shades of color" in his likings and scorn. After she noticed some blue cloth on his desk, he explained that he had gone to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to find exactly the right shade of Chinese blue for a book of Chinese poems. He did not have much money, but he would "take any amount of pains with a book," he said. "Before I left the office that morning I asked the young man if he would consider becoming my publisher" ("Portrait" 12). As Knopf recalled, around the autumn of 1919, "Willa Cather just walked in, unannounced." She liked the kind of advertising he was doing, and he had been given a good character by Jan Hambourg, husband of her friend Isabelle ("Miss Cather" 205-6).
Whatever their differences in particulars, the various stories are consistent in the values they embody: writer and publisher come together in a common commitment to literature as art. From his first announcements of the Knopf lists in 1915, the young Alfred Knopf's letters "implied grandeur," recalled bookseller Adolph Krach of those days: "They were not sales talks, but literary dissertations and elucidations of a publishing program that was clear, incisive, uncompromising" (41). This was just the approach that appealed to Cather.
Appropriately, publisher and writer worked out the terms of their relationship through their writing. By late December 1919 Knopf was proceeding with plans for a reissue of Cather's 1905 book of short stories, The Troll Garden, eventually to include new stories and to be titled Youth and the Bright Medusa far the Knopf list. Houghton Mifflin was not interested in reviving the book; and because the plates had been destroyed, the text would need to be reset, Cather wrote to Greenslet in describing the generosity of Knopf's offer (WC to FG, 28 December 1919). As if explaining the understanding she was seeking with Knopf, Cather took a break from One of Ours to write "Coming, Aphrodite!" over the Christmas holiday. In this, her first story with a Knopf publication in mind, Cather wrote of an artist who refused to pander to a mass market and instead established himself as "an original" respected by the discriminating few. Published first in Smart Set with the title "Coming, Eden Bower!" (August 1920), then as the lead story in Youth and the Bright Medusa (September 1920) with the title "Coming, Aphrodite!" the story announced the principle by which Cather aligned herself with her new publisher—an uncompromising devotion to art.
That same year Alfred Knopf initiated his side of their literary dialogue by casting Cather among "his" writers featured in The Borzoi 1920: Being a Sort of Record of Five Years' Publishing. It is an extraordinary document in which the publisher describes the House of Knopf as an extended family whose members (readers, writers, and Knopf himself) interact with friendliness, generosity, and cooperation:
As I approached the conclusion of my first five years' publishing it seemed to me—in view of the uncommon friendliness of so many readers—that they, at any rate, would perhaps receive with favor a more permanent record of the early activities of the Borzoi than it would be possible to present in the usual sort of American publisher's announcement. Authors—may I say my authors?—greeted the idea with such enthusiasm (how generous their cooperation the following pages abundantly testify) that it soon took fairly definite shape. (iii)As for the identity of that publishing family, Knopf described that too. By marking five years with a "permanent record" he positioned himself as a publisher who was envisioning a long future, and who was dedicating that future to the promotion of American literature.
In a general sort of way I want to give more attention to the work of American authors and publish more American books. American publishers show, I believe, altogether too much deference to work that reaches us from England. Obviously most of the time the young English novelist is a better craftsman than the American, but there are springing up all over the United States—in Detroit, St. Louis and Washington as well as New York, men and women who do know how to write and who have observed to advantage the life about them. To bring forward work of this kind shall be my chief aim. (138)Sales details appeared in a postscript announcing books scheduled for publication, each presented in a paragraph describing its content and including its cost. Lest the commercial figures distract from his program of higher values, however, Knopf added a parenthetical note disclaiming price as a factor in the way he made books: "By the way, I should like readers to realize this: that I try to make Borzoi Books as well as I know how. Then I base the price on what they cost to make. I do not fix the price first and then try to trim the quality so as to come within that price" (134).
Ever gracious ("authors—may I say my authors?"), Knopf included Cather on the "Who's Who" list, which he "confined to writers who are, I hope, more or less definitely associated with my list," identifying Youth and the Bright Medusa as forthcoming. To further introduce his new author, Knopf included in the Borzoi booklet an essay about her by H. L. Mencken. "If the United States ever becomes civilized and develops a literature," Mencken begins, "no doubt the Middle West will be the scene of the prodigy." Cather is "now discovered," he suggests (implicitly claiming that discovery for Knopf), as that prodigy, "a novelist of original methods and quite extraordinary capacities" who has "patiently and laboriously ... mastered the trade of the novelist," in each book showing "an unmistakable advance" (28-29). Echoing the argument that Knopf had made to Cather personally (WC to FG, 30 May 1919), Mencken made the case for Cather's future at the forefront of American letters by sketching the advance shown by each of her books: O Pioneers! was "a book of very fine achievement and of even finer promise," The Song of the Lark "still more competent, more searching and convincing, better in every way," and then, after three years, there was "a sudden leap forward" with My Ántonia, "the best piece of fiction ever done by a woman in America" (30).
Thus, publisher and writer announced together that Cather was now sheltered under the House of Knopf, Alfred Knopf by featuring her in his program for publishing American literature, Willa Cather by writing a story for the volume he announced therein as forthcoming. The final break with Houghton Mifflin came a year and a half later. Cather wrote to Ferris Greenslet that Knopf would publish "Claude," and then one evening at a party in the Knopfs' home she asked Alfred to go with her into a bedroom, where she showed him the letter she had written to Greenslet (Knopf, Memoirs).
"Next to writing her novels, Cather's choice of Alfred Knopf as a publisher influenced her career ... more than any action she ever took," reflected Edith Lewis (115). Cather found him to be a protector of "the values she most cherishedthe literary values, not the wide-sale values," recalled Elizabeth Sergeant. There was the financial security that Alfred Knopf ensured within a few years. More than that, however, for the rest of her life he "protected her in every way he could from outside pressures and interruptions and made evident, not only to her but to the world in general, his great admiration and belief in her" (116). With him as her publisher, "life was simply no longer a battle-she no longer had to feel apologetic or defensive" (Lewis 116). Long after her death, Alfred Knopf recalled his relationship with Miss Cather (he never called her anything else) as "unique in my experience. From small beginnings it grew into something so close that to the day of her death some twenty-seven years later, we never wavered in our respect and affection for each other" ("Miss Cather" 206).
The period of her transition to Knopf comprised exceptionally productive years in which Cather forged a relationship with her readers as delicately as Knopf had claimed Cather for his list. In 1919, as the young Alfred Knopf was instructing a reading public about his vision of a publishing house, Willa Cather was educating her readers about her ideas of fiction and, at the same time, refining the principles according to which she would write A Lost Lady. "On the Art of Fiction," published in The Borzoi 1920, began her program of repositioning herself vis-a-vis the public. Whereas previously she had written about art as a spectator (in her reviews) or editor (in her introduction to My Ántonia), Cather now wrote as an artist who aligned herself with her reader in always searching "for something for which there is no market, something new and untried, where the values are intrinsic and have nothing to do with standardized values." Implicitly asking to be granted time to write, Cather argued for patience, for "the courage to go on without compromise does not come to a writer all at once—nor, for that matter, does the ability. Both are phases of natural development," and development must be allowed to occur naturally (7-8).
Thus Cather described a journey upon which artist and audience, writer and reader, embark together: "In the beginning, the artist, like his public, is wedded to old forms, old ideals, and his vision is blurred by the memory of old delights he would like to capture." Simplifying, cutting away, doing without—therein lies artistic freedom for both writer and reader. "Very nearly the whole of the higher artistic process" (8) consists in "finding what conventions of form and what detail one can do without and yet preserve the spirit of the whole—so that all that one has suppressed and cut away is there to the reader's consciousness as much as if it were in type on the page" (7, emphasis added).
"On the Art of Fiction" appeared in the most hospitable of forums, Knopf's The Borzoi. Cather placed her next essay, "The Novel Déméuble," in the New Republic (12 April 1922), whose liberal editorial opinions she resisted. The strategy was brilliant, for by it Cather cast a broad net. As Knopf distinguished his publishing program by refusing to fit the book to the price, so Cather now distinguished herself by refusing to write novels "manufactured to entertain great multitudes of people." Art is different from the marketplace of Woolworth store windows and the Stock Exchange, she argued; indeed, "fine quality is a distinct disadvantage in articles made for great numbers of people who do not want quality but quantity, who do not want a thing that 'wears,' but who want change,—a succession of new things that are quickly threadbare and can be lightly thrown away" (Not Under Forty 44).
Having identified herself and her reader by their common interest in the novel as a form of art that endures, Cather proceeded to lay out the principles of that art form. As Hayden Carruth reflected years later, "A real theory of art begins with process and accepts the inevitability of mystery; it rests content with its own incompleteness. A spurious theory of art begins somewhere else and tries to explain everything" (493). "The Novel Déméuble" moves toward that acceptance by which freedom from convention opens to the revelation of mystery. Serving as a climax to the rhetoric of courtship running through the essay, Cather's use of the pronoun "we" celebrates her union with her reader, the two joined together in their common vision of art: "How wonderful it would be if we could throw all the furniture out of the window; and along with it, all the meaningless reiterations ... leave the room as bare as the stage of a Greek theatre, or as that house into which the glory of Pentecost descended."
"The Novel Déméuble" was embraced by readers and criticsalike.Accessible in its language aswellasin itsavailability,4 it was "the most significant and best known article [Cather] ever wrote" (Woodress 342). In it Cather gave authoritative voice to her theory of art as something that is imaginative, that is divested of journalism's allegiance to the material world, that offers to the reader participation in creation, and that accepts incompleteness: "Whatever is felt upon the page without being specifically named there—that, one might say, is created. It is the inexplicable presence of the thing not named, of the overtone divined by the ear but not heard by it, the verbal mood, the emotional aura of the fact or the thing or the deed, that gives high quality to the novel or the drama, as well as to poetry itself" (Not Under Forty 41-42).
As a retrospective explanation for Cather's earlier novels, "The Novel Déméuble" "seemed to account for the method used both in O Pioneers! and My Ántonia," Elizabeth Sergeant reflected; "it stirred up plenty of highbrow talk and critical concurrence" (170). More important, by articulating Cather's shift toward restraint that began with A Lost Lady, "The Novel Déméuble" laid the groundwork for her portrait of a woman who has the "power of suggesting things much lovelier than herself, as the perfume of a single flower may call up the whole sweetness of spring" (A Lost Lady 163).
By confronting her vulnerability in the commercial culture of publishing, Cather was living with emotions from which A Lost Lady would emerge, when in 1921 the obituary for Mrs. Garber yielded the form for those emotions. Cather distinguished the writer who begins with an idea from the artist who begins with "an emotion, and the first thing that he wants to do with it is to find some form to put itin, a design. It reacts on him exactly as food makes a hungry person want to eat. It may tease him for years until he gets the right form for the emotion" (Bohlke 79). Reflecting upon that process after completing A Lost Lady, she used it to illustrate her point that such a writer
has a brain like Limbo, full of ghosts, for which he has always tried to find bodies. A Lost Lady was a beautiful ghost in my mind for twenty years before it came together as a possible subject for presentation. All the lovely emotions that one has had some day appear with bodies, and it isn't as if one found ideas suddenly. Before this the memories of these experiences and emotions have been like perfumes. It is the difference between the remembered face and having that friend one day come in through the door. She is really no more yours than she has been right along in your memory. (Bohlke 79)
After completing One of Ours, Cather began her new novel in the winter and spring of 1922; she proceeded with remarkable speed. "A Lost Lady was written in five months, but I worked with some fervor," Cather later recalled (Bohlke 77). In July 1922 she took her draft with her to Middlebury, Vermont, where she went to teach in the Bread Loaf's summer writing program, and where her companion Edith Lewis joined her; Lewis later recalled that Cather went over her manuscript there.
"What is this Lost Lady business I see announced for the Fall?" Ferris Greenslet wrote to Cather on 29 May 1923. For those who knew of her protracted labor over One of Ours, this new novel must have seemed to have appeared de nova. By the time the Pulitzer Prize was announced for One of Ours on 20 May 1923, A Lost Lady was appearing in the April, May, and June issues of Century Magazine. Cather had made final revisions to her manuscript in January 192 3, Knopf announced it for the fall list, and by mid-September copies had reached Red Cloud (Bohlke 60).
Writing A Lost Lady was more complicated than such a chronology suggests, however. "I discarded ever so many drafts, and in the beginning wrote it in the first-person, speaking as the boy himself," Cather recalled. "The question was, by what medium could I present her the most vividly, and that, of course, meant the most truly. There was no fun in it unless I could get her just as I remembered her and produce the effect she had on me and the many others who knew her" (Bohlke 77). Cather explained her difficulties in terms of the requirements of her art: "Mrs. Forrester's perfume, her place as an objet d'art in the middle of her story were the guide to technique," and she had to try this novel "in three different forms before she hit her mark," she told Elizabeth Sergeant (187). "You can't talk about beauty for pages and pages," Cather explained in an interview. "You have to have something for it to hit, and the boy answered that purpose. Now, a youngster beginning to write would get too fussed up over the story. He would have to have a certain love theme, and in his telling the bank failure in Denver would be made a great deal of, and so it would end in being a conventional novel" (Bohlke 78).
But according to Edith Lewis's account, issues of privacy also were involved. Cather's "difficulty ... arose largely, I think, from the fact that Mrs. Forrester was more a direct portrait than any of her other characters except Ántonia; and although Mrs. Garber, from whom Mrs. Forrester was drawn, and her husband, Governor Garber, were both dead, some of their relatives were alive and might be (and, indeed, were) offended" (124). Cather tried to shift attention away from her models by setting her story in Colorado, Lewis recalled, but after writing at some length, she decided that wouldn't work. "Her memories of Mrs. Garber, and of the Garber place, were among the strongest, most enduring impressions of her childhood; a whole ambiance of thought and feeling surrounded them, and she could not transfer them to an artificial climate. So she started the story anew, writing of things just as she remembered them" (124-25).
After writing perhaps a third of her story, Cather started over, writing several chapters entirely in the first person (Lewis 125). That was where she was when she went to Bread Loaf. She took the two versions of her story with her, and there she went over them. Usually unwilling to talk about work in progress, Cather was uncharacteristicallyopen about this story. A Bookman article describes her working on a "novelette" while there, and one of the Bread Loaf students, Reginald Cook, recalled Cather's reading parts of A Lost Lady to Bread Loaf participants (Woodress 340).
By a combination of factors, then, Cather concluded "that her first method was right. She discarded the chapters she had written in the first person, and from that time on wrote without any break or hesitation" (Lewis 125). Thus Cather worked out the design of her story, always the essential first step in her composition, which then proceeded as "a form of improvisation" guided and controlled by that underlying design (Lewis 126).
The design of Cather's story reflected her sense that "the world broke in two in 1922 or thereabouts" ("Prefatory Note"). That is, the novel has a two-part structure and a backward-looking view. "Thirty or forty years ago, in one of those grey towns along the Burlington railroad, which are so much greyer today than they were then, there was a house well known from Omaha to Denver for its hospitality and for a certain charm of atmosphere." In these opening sentences Cather dated the beginning of her new story between 1883 and 1893, a decade marked by change heralded as progress. In 1883 the Northern Pacific Railroad line was completed; the first skyscraper (numbering ten stories) was built in Chicago; W F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody organized his Wild West Show; the World Exhibition opened in Amsterdam; and New York's Brooklyn Bridge opened to traffic. The decade that followed saw spectacular technological advances: the first underground railroad was completed in London; the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed; the first English electrical power station was established at Deptford; and the first entirely steel-framed building was erected in Chicago. In Red Cloud too changes were apparent: street cars and electric lights appeared in 1888, a system of waterworks in 1889. With progress, however, came faultlines: the American Federation of Labor was founded in 1886, for example, to protect employees against management, and the iron and steel workers went on strike in 1892. In Red Cloud, the water supply was poor, and after the power company failed in 1895 the town had no electricity for ten years.
Writing in 1923 of events thirty or forty years in the past, Cather knew that a broken world lay ahead for the figures peopling her pages. World War I would devastate Europe, and America would suffer disillusionment in its aftermath. Between the onset of the war in 1914 and the publication of Ulysses in 1922 the literary movement known as modernism came into its own, with its self-conscious break from traditional forms and techniques and its emphasis upon individual perceptions of discontinuity and alienation. For Cather, the years 1913 to 1923 wouldmarkherpassingfrom the celebration of possibility in O Pioneers! to the lament over a pioneer past in A Lost Lady. Although she was living on the new side of the historical divide, she identified with the previous seven thousand years.
As Cather's models for the Forresters in A Lost Lady, Silas and Lyra Garber embodied for her this period of historical change. Silas Garber was born in Logan County, Ohio, in 1833. In his early twenties he moved to eastern Iowa, where other family members had settled in 1852. There he married Rosella Dana, with whom he had a son, William Seward Garber. Although his family were members of one of the pacifist Brethren churches, Garber enlisted in the Union army in October 1861. He eventually rose to the rank of captain, a title that, like Captain Forrester's, was still applied to him long after the war was over. His wife had died during the war, and in 1866 Garber went to California, where some of his older brothers were living. There he did some gold mining, and there he probably met eleven-year-old Lyra Wheeler, younger sister of his brother Jacob's fiancee, before returning to Iowa late in 1867.
In 1869 Silas Garber and two of his brothers left Iowa for Nebraska to explore possibilities for settlement in the Republican River valley. After marking out land for future homesteading, they returned to Iowa to organize their families for emigration. In the spring of 1870 they returned with their families to settle in what would soon become Webster County. Garber was the acknowledged leader of the group; he laid out the town of Red Cloud on the land he had homesteaded and was active in recruiting and aiding new settlers. As the new county became organized, he was elected county judge in 1871, state representative in 1872, and governor of Nebraska in 1874. The next year he took a vacation trip to California and returned with a wife, twenty-year-old Lyra Wheeler.
Lyra Wheeler was probably born in 1855 (the dates given on official records vary) in Columbus, Georgia. In 1859 her family moved to California, where her father kept hotels in mining camps in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Lyra reportedly attended convent and finishing schools in California, where she evidently learned the skills and graces that made her a popular hostess in the governor's mansion and in Red Cloud, to which the Garbers returned in 1879.
They built a house just outside of the town, on a site probably chosen by Garber when he had planted a cottonwood grove there six years earlier; the shade of the fast-growing trees made the place a favorite for picnics and other social affairs for the people in the town, including young Willa Cather. During the 1880s Garber was one of the most important people in town; he was active in business, first as a cattle-shipper, then as a banker and in civic affairs. Lyra Garber was a social leader and an active member of the Episcopal church; in the early 1880s she was a frequent visitor to Denver, where she stayed with her sister, the wife of a judge.
During this time Garber's health was declining; the eulogies at his death attributed this to a serious fall and head injury at the time he left the governorship. Once a strong, vigorous man and a natural leader, he became toward the end of his life an invalid who had difficulty carrying on an ordinary conversation. Yet observers agreed that Garber never lost the qualities of character that had distinguished him: the courtesy, the kindness, the gentle humor. Observers also agreed that his wife, despite the gossip about her personal activities, took faithful care of him.
Their fortunes declined also. Garber's Farmers and Merchants Bank failed in the Panic of 1893; Garber and most of the other stockholders put up their land as security, and the depositors were paid. After Garber's death in 1905, Lyra tried to sell the home place, unsuccessfully until 1910; she rented it out to hog-raisers in the meantime. She lived with various friends and relatives until 1914, when she cut most of her ties to Nebraska and moved to Idaho to live with her sister. She married Swan Augustus Anderson, a banker, in 1915 and died in Hillyard, Washington, on 2 March 1921.
News of the death of Lyra Garber took three and a half months to reach Red Cloud, where it was first announced on 2 3 June in the Webster County Argus: "Former Red Cloud Lady Dies. Belated news reached us this week of the death of Mrs. Lyra Garber Anderson, formerly of this city Mrs. Anderson, better known here as Mrs. Garber, ... was held in high esteem by a large circle of friends in this city. For some time she was engaged in the newspaper and automobile business" (Argus, 23 June 1921). As if tracing the informal network by which information spreads, by July the Argus was reporting that the notice of Mrs. Garber's death had surprised many, for relatives in Red Cloud and in Lincoln had not been notified, and news via a mutual friend in Seattle resulted in the editor's contacting S. A. Anderson to ask for details. On 14July 1921 the Argus printed his response, along with his request that he receive a copy of the paper "as that will be the only clipping worthy of note." The Grangeville papers had mentioned her, and the Portland papers had noted her death—apparently, that was all. She had requested that "the least stir made the better" over her death, Anderson explained, and because they had lived in their present town (Hillyard, Washington) so briefly, they had "made but few mutual friends."
When his wife had left Nebraska in the fall of 1914, Anderson wrote, she had gone by railroad to Idaho to be with her sister,Julia A. Garber (widow of Judge J. C. Garber, a brother of Silas Garber). After spending the winter in Grangeville, the sisters had traveled along the Oregon and California coast, visiting the World's Fair at San Francisco and a third sister at Eureka, California. S. A. Anderson and Lyra Garber had married on 6 July 1915, at Portland, Oregon. They then had visited Seattle, Washington, where the Shrine convention was held, before returning to Grangeville, where they had lived for almost three years. Grangeville "was small and acquaintance easily established," Anderson recalled; there his wife "became the idol of the town." In early 1918 they had moved to Portland, Oregon, where he was president of the State Bank; two years later they had moved to Astoria, Oregon, and then in late 1920 they had moved again, to Hillyard.
We visited Grangeville the last time Thanksgiving 1919. The lift from sea level to some four thousand feet may have had something to do with a hemorrhage occurring [to Lyra] in Grangeville, followed by another more severe in Portland on the way home, so tl1at during winter and spring of 1920 a general weakness existed that at various times, more particularly during the spring, threatened to cut her life short. She recovered some during summer, but relapsed on our arrival in Hillyard, so that about Christmas the condition became worse and terminated in her death at 10:20 p.m. on March md and since March 7th her ashes rests [sic] in its niche in the "Lilac Room" of Portland crematorium, this being by her special request as she was well aware of the final outcome and made all arrangements, or requests for same, which were followed to the letter.Anderson concluded his letter by thanking the Argus editor for his interest, adding, "P.S. Doctor's certificate gives cause of death 'Bright's Disease superinduced by tuberculosis.' "
Cheerful to the last, was up more or less every day and walked to the bathroom a few minutes before death. Died in my arms between the bath room and bed after saying, "I am so tired." Her last words were "Thank you, Sweetheart," in response to words of endearment whispered in her ear, as I carried her and with accompanying smile still on her lips she died without the tremor of a muscle, or the slightest sound escaping her.
In her I lost the sweetest companion and the best little pal that a kind Providence ever granted a man, and yet, while her death was a shock, I could not help but be thankful that, inasmuch as it was not unexpected, it came quietly and painlessly, so that the only notice I had of her death was like a child going to sleep in my arms, tired after a hard day's play, so that the tears that found their way down my cheeks were mingled with thankfulness and genuine sorrow over an irreparable loss, which however could not be averted.
A coda to the story of the Garbers was written nearly two years after A Lost Lady appeared, when the lead story of the Argus read, "The Governor Garber Residence Destroyed" (23 April 1925). "Atabouteighto'clockMondaymorningthe fire was discovered; though the fire department responded, the site was too far from town for its hoses to reach a hydrant," and the building was a total loss. The article included a brief history of the house: built by Silas Garber after he retired from the governorship, it was a social center in the early days, one of "the city's" finest houses. Echoing Cather's description in A Lost Lady, the Argus recalled thatitwas"situated on a hill, surrounded by trees, near the sight [sic] of the first stockade, and with a long, tree-lined lane leading away from the house.''
Thirty or forty years earlier, when Red Cloud's future had looked bright, newspapers, correspondence, and census records had outlined the comings and goings of its most prominent couple as Cather would have known them. When we view those records in retrospect, we can recognize in them the design of Cather's story. The Cathers moved to Webster County in April 1883. That fall the Red Cloud papers reported that Mrs. Garber had gone to Denver, in January that she was regaining her health there, and in the spring that she had returned home. Thereafter, their reports reveal a gradual narrowing of her world. In the next three years Mrs. Garber made briefer visits to Denver and California;5 following that, the papers record only trips to Nebraska towns—Lincoln, for example, and Beatrice, and Superior. Governor Garber began going to Hot Springs, Arkansas, in 1889, returning periodically until 1893 when the bank failed; there is no record that his wife accompanied him.
As if confirming that the Garbers moved in a different circle from the rest of Red Cloud society, there are few news stories of social functions at the Garbers, the main one being a musicale for fifty people in late February 1888.6 But family connections extended the network upon which Cather was drawing. Cather's grandfather, William Cather, was on the board of directors of the First National Bank with Silas Garber, and both were investors in the ill-fated Kansas and Nebraska Loan Company (Red Cloud Chief, 2 3 January and 6 March 1885). Lyra Garber was in charge of the Ladies Guild of the Episcopal church, which held a social at the Charles Cather house 3 September 1886;7 and both Mrs. Cather and Mrs. Garber were among the donors of a chair to be given as a going-away present at a party in March 1888 for the W. W. Gardners (who had kept the second-best hotel in town), and both were included on guest lists at euchre parties in the 1880s.
Bennett (174) mentions a home-produced play, Dr. Allen, presented at the Cather house, attended by the Garbers, the Miners, the McKeebys, the Wieners, and others in the fall or early winter of 1887. Although this was probably too informal an occasion to be mentioned in the newspapers (we have not found it), the informality suggests a certain degree of friendliness and interest by the Garbers in the children of the Cathers and the Miners. The papers do make many mentions of picnics and dances in Garber's grove, with special mention of two large and successful picnics in the summer of 1887. In 1889 Cather wrote that she had been to fifteen picnics in Garber's grove that summer and would probably go to a dance there that night; a fine platform had been set up for it under the trees (WC to Mrs. Stowell, 28 August 1889). In 1889 Cather would have been fifteen years old, and these occasions in the years 1887 to 1889 were likely the ones she remembered when, years later, she wrote to Carrie Miner Sherwood (12 February ) that in order to write well she needed to feel like a thirteen-year-old ready for a picnic in Garber's grove.
Correspondence provides a record of Cather's firsthand contact with Mrs. Garber and also outlines the downward movement that would inform A Lost Lady thirty years later. In the spring of 1893 Cather wrote to Mariel Gere, her friend from Nebraska, thatMrs. Garber was "as jolly as ever" (June 1893); then that summer she described spending a Sunday evening with her (16 July 1893).8 The following year Cather wrote that Mr. Wiener was boarding at Mrs. Garber's and that she went driving with both of them (16 June 1894).9 Her next references come after Cather had been away, first at Lincoln attending the university and then at Pittsburgh (a gap that corresponds to that in A Lost Lady when Niel Herbert was off at school); she reports that Mrs. Garber was well but not going anywhere (WC to Mrs. Gere, [July 1901?]).10 Silas Garber's deathinJanuary 1905 is unremarked in Cather's extant letters. The following September she wrote that Mrs. Garber missed her husband, although he had been a care; she was still charming but aged and saddened (30 September 1905). Mrs. Garber then disappears from the correspondence, to reappear in Cather's description of that hot day in Toronto sixteen years later when she learned of her death from the Red Cloud paper.
"During the time she was not writing, or engaged with something else, I think she was very much preoccupied with the past out of which her story sprang," Edith Lewis recalled; "not actively trying to construct anything, but surrendering herself to memories, impressions, experiences, that lay submerged in her consciousness; letting them come to the surface, and relate themselves to the theme of her narrative" (Lewis 127). With Lyra Garber at the center, people clustered round, a landscape took shape, and a time was recalled. As she was preparing to write A Lost Lady, Cather reflected that she drew all her characters from life; but generally her characters were "all composites of three or four persons. I do not quite understand it, but certain persons seem to coalesce naturally when one is working up a story" (Bohlke 45). Inevitably, perhaps, readers from the communities on which Cather had drawn speculated on who figured in her composites; as the Webster County Argus remarked, aside from the primary models of Silas and Lyra Garber, "the general opinion [is] that the other characters are calculated to represent Red Cloud people, although ... the author has not attempted to make ... a faithful presentation of their personalities and characteristics" (8 January 1925). It is almost impossible to identify prototypes by their personalities now that firsthand memory of the people Cather knew is gone, but it is possible to reconstruct some prototypes from events and circumstances recorded in local newspapers, census reports, and correspondence.
After the Farresters, next in importance is Niel Herbert, the center of consciousness for much of the novel. He is a boy of twelve at the beginning of the narrative; as a child of five years or younger he had come to Sweet Water with his ineffectual, aristocratic parents from Fayette County, Kentucky. Left orphanlike (his mother dies and his father later moves to Denver and disappears from the novel), he lives with his distinguished uncle, Judge Pommeroy, a good friend and business associate of the Forresters; he studies law in his uncle's office for a time but finally leaves Sweet Water for a career as an architect. Such details correspond to those of a member of a Red Cloud family in so many respects that the likeness hardly seems coincidental.
Very few people in Webster County (except the Cathers' own Virginia colony) were from the South. Of these few, the Kentucky-born family of George 0. Yeiser (1824-1909) played an important role in Red Cloud during Cather's time. Yeiser came to Red Cloud in 1876 as minister of the Baptist church, and after retiring from the pulpit in 1883 (the year the Cathers emigrated to Nebraska, and two years before they moved to Red Cloud) he continued to preach as a relief or interim pastor while the Cathers were living in Red Cloud and attending the Baptist church. After resigning as minister, Yeiser went into the real estate business, later purchasing Charles Cather's abstract business (Argus, 2 5 February 1886).11
In the fall of 1885, Yeiser was elected county judge (according to an obituary in the Argus, 3 December 1909, he had practiced law before becoming a minister), and even after his term was over he was referred to as Judge Yeiser by the local newspapers. Similarly, Judge Pommeroy in the novel is never seen in court, and his title is probably honorary also. Yeiser was a graduate of Lexington College, Kentucky; Pommeroy, in keeping with the subtle upgrading of status of the upper-class characters, was a graduate of the betterknown University of Virginia.
Yeiser was also a business associate of Silas Garber's, one of the stockholders and directors of Garber's Farmers and Merchants Bank from the beginning. As Pommeroy assisted Farrester when the Denver bank failed, so Yeiser responded when Garber's Red Cloud bank failed in 1893, going to Michigan to try to persuade John Moon, another stockholder, to help meet the bank's obligations. Like the other local stockholders, Yeiser put the deeds to many of his land holdings in trust to cover the debts of the bank; like the Garbers, he probably lost heavily. At Yeiser's funeral, the minister spoke of "the trials, the afflictions, and the bitter disappointments" of his life (Argus, 3 December 1909). Mrs. Forrester says of Judge Pommeroy, "He will never get us out of debt, dear man! He can't get himself out" (117).
Finally,Judge Pommeroy's stately and dignified demeanor has its parallel in Yeiser's manner: the Red Cloud Chief spoke of his "courtly dignity" (2 December 1909), and the Beaver City Times-Tribune described him as "a refined and courtly gentleman of the old school" (3 December 1909). Though Judge Yeiser (unlike the bachelor Judge Pommeroy) was married and a father, it is likely that Willa knew him only as a widower, for Judge Yeiser's wife had died in November 1884, before the Cathers moved to Red Cloud.
By 1880 the Yeiser household included a nephew who had lived in it since childhood, Ryland Dillard Bedford. As a boy, Dillard Bedford probably knew the Garbers as Niel Herbert knew the Farresters, through his uncle's association with them. Like Cather and other Red Cloud children, he probably picnicked in their grove. He probably came into closer association with them when, at the age of seventeen, he went to work in the Farmers and Merchants Bank (Argus, 16 June 1887). When the bank failed in 1893, he was one of the stockholders who put their land in trust to repay depositors (Argus, 2 7 July 1893).
The lives of Niel Herbert and Dillard Bedford touch at other points. Like Niel, Dillard visited Denver repeatedly beginning in 1888, and both go to Boston, one to attend college and the other to be treated for a stuttering problem (Argus, 29 April 1886). For lack of anything better to do, Niel reads law with his uncle, though he has no desire to be a lawyer; for a time, Dillard studied law in the office of pioneer lawyer James Gilham (Republican, 2 7 September 1889), although there is no record that he was ever admitted to the bar. Niel attends "to the routine of business" (140) in Judge Pommeroy's law office during his uncle's long illness, and Dillard Bedford took over Judge Yeiser's land, insurance, and collection business in 1899 when Yeiser left Red Cloud (Argus, 16June 1899).
"In little towns, lives roll along so close to one another," Cather reflected in Lucy Gayheart. Surely, theoccasions were there for Cather to encounter Dillard Bedford at school in 1885, before another school was built for the younger students, at the Baptist church, and socially. The guest list reported by the Republican for a party at Mollie Ferris's house included Dillard Bedford and his Yeiser cousins, as well as Willa Cather (20 June 1890).
The game of identifying models thus continues (see the Explanatory Notes for further examples), sometimes with its humorous side, as Cather reflected in a letter to her Red Cloud friend Irene Miner Weisz. When the early chapters of A Lost Lady appeared in the Century, Mrs. Fred Garber in California boasted of Mrs. Forrester's being her daughters' grandmother. Then with Frank Ellinger's appearance, Mrs. Garber was indignant: she should have attempted to stop that book, Mrs. Garber later told Cather's brother Douglass. But as its author wryly observed, the book had already been translated into French, Norwegian, German, and Dutch (6 January 1945).
Beyond the models, there is Cather's use of names. W D. Farrester was the owner of a furniture store in Red Cloud when the Cathers moved to town; Peters, Grimes, and Weaver appear in Red Cloud records; and Edward C. Elliot was one of Cather's classmates at the University of Nebraska. Other names reappear, slightly changed: Red Cloud's Dr. Denny is a likely source for Cather's Dr. Dennison, and Kiser may reappear as Keezer. At times, tracing the names yields its own comic connections. For example, in life Frank Ellinger, the son of a well-known auctioneer in Webster County, attended the University of Nebraska and then married the niece of Jim Burden, a farmer in northern Webster County. Following a divorce from his wife, Ellinger became a traveling salesman.
The more one probes, the more surprising the connections appear, which may suggest the accumulation of feelings out of which Cather wrote. A book Cather had reviewed in 1899 may have contributed her title, for Cather wrote of John Buchan's A Lost Lady of Old Years in terms that anticipate her own A Lost Lady. She praised the "balance of atmosphere and action," "elegant restraint," and "delicate" style that was "reserved and touched by a certain reflective gentleness and melancholy not easy of description." Cather declined to summarize Buchan's plot, which neither interested her nor anticipated her own A Lost Lady; the style was the living thing, she felt, and it was Buchan's style that led her to almost fancy "that those good old days, or some like unto them, might come again" (The World and the Parish 718-20). Cather's literary conversations extended to the period in which she was writing. She may, for example, have read D. H. Lawrence's "The Lost Girl," as the reviewer Canby implied.12 She certainly read Dorothy Canfield Fisher's Rough Hewn and may have responded to its character Neale in revising the original name of her peephole character from Duncan to Neil/Niel.13 After reading Rough Hewn in October 1922,14 Cather wrote to Fisher that there might be too much about Neale in college, then continued as if describing her own problems with the character she had been calling Duncan: too much about a character blurs it. She may be hipped on withholding a character, but she believes that it is the most effective technique (23 October 1923).
While prototypes for characters can be traced through documentary records, the feelings associated with them are best traced in Cather's writing contemporary to A Lost Lady, when she was living most intensely with the idea of her novel. On 17 November 1922 Cather mentioned in a letter to Ferris Greenslet that a few weeks earlier she had written an article on Mrs. Annie Fields, the wife of the Boston publisher James T. Fields. Reading Memories of a Hostess . . . from the Diaries of Mrs. James T. Fields, edited by M. A. DeWolfe Howe,15 had led Cather to recall her own memories of Mrs. Fields. When Cather met her in 1908, Mrs. Fields was still living in the house at 148 Charles Street, where she had once entertained Dickens, Emerson, and Longfellow, and where the past lived on in her conversations. "The House on Charles Street" appeared as a literary review in the New York Evening Post on 4 November 1922, and it was then incorporated into an extended essay entitled "148 Charles Street" in Not Under Forty.16
Cather's strong personal feelings about the two women were remarkably similar. Like Mrs. Garber, Mrs. Fields had married an older and prominent widower and had been a gracious hostess to his friends and associates. As if recalling Lyra Garber, Cather wrote of Mrs. Fields, "I had seldom heard so young, so merry, so musical a laugh, a laugh with countless shades ... in it." And like Mrs. Garber, Mrs. Fields had the capacity to blend together people to create "an atmosphere in which one seemed absolutely safe from everything ugly" ("148 Charles Street" 58). Cather saw in both women a determination to defy their age: both resisted growing old, and both also resisted changes in the cultural milieu in which they found themselves. Cather wrote of Mrs. Fields, "One rejoiced in her little triumphs over colour-destroying age and its infirmities, as at the play one rejoices in the escape of the beautiful and frail from the pursuit of things powerful and evil. It was a drama in which the heroine must be sacrificed in the end: but for how long did she make the outward voyage delightful, with how many a divertissement and bright scene did she illumine the respite and the long wait at Aulis!" (59). Cather paid tribute to Mrs. Fields, just as she would to Marian Farrester, for having nobly played her part. "It was a little sad, perhaps, to sit and look out over a shrinking kingdom; but if she felt it, she never showed it," Cather reflected; instead, "she had the very genius of survival" (67). "Yes, ... that is Mrs. Fields, at her best. She rose to meet a fine performance, always—to the end" (71).
Such "hospitality, so smooth and unruffled for the recipients, cost the hostess something—cost her a great deal" (59), Cather wrote of Annie Fields. It was this sensitivity to the woman behind the performance that distinguished Cather's treatment from that of others who had written about Mrs. Fields—her husband and his associates as well as of the editor of her diaries. Cather knew that great effort is required to create an effect of effortlessness, whether in preparing a meal or writing a book.
Differences between Cather's treatment of Mrs. Fields and her treatment of Marian Forrester are also revealing. Cather described Mrs. Fields as having never entered the "strange twilight," or limbo, into which Marian Forrester finally disappears; Instead, Mrs. Fields "rounded out her period, ... with her standards unshaken....She died with her world ... unchallenged" (74-77). Reflecting upon that death, Cather found in Proust the idea that she would make central to her fictional portrait: "Marcel Proust somewhere said that when he came to die he would take all his great men with him: since his Beethoven and his Wagner could never be at all the same to anyone else, they would go with him like the captives who were slain at the funeral pyres of Eastern potentates. It wasthus Mrs. Fieldsdied, in thathouse of memories, with the material keepsakes of the past about her" (75).17 Repeating the idea of a funeral pyre in A Lost Lady, Cather gave voice to the would-be captive resisting the sacrificial role in which she was cast: "Perhaps people think I've settled down to grow old gracefully, but I've not," Mrs. Forrester declares; "I feel such a power to live in me" (119). Heightening the tension, Cather gave Proust's ideal to Niel Herbert, who holds against Marian Farrester "that she was not willing to immolate herself, like the widow of all these great men, and die with the pioneer period to which she belonged; that she preferred life on any terms" (161).
Joining the personal and historical influences upon Cather's story are literary ones. After reading of Mrs. Garber's death, Cather recalled, she went to her room for a nap, and when she awoke, the plot of A Lost Lady was in her mind, as if she had read it somewhere. As Richard Harris has argued, she likely had read it, very likely in a story by Turgenev called "First Love." The parallels between Vladimir's love and idealization of the Princess Zinaida and Niel Herbert's feelings about Marian Forrester are so close as to suggest that Cather was drawing on her memory of Turgenev's story in writing A Lost Lady. Since there is abundant evidence that Cather had read Turgenev carefully and praised him extravagantly,18 it is not hard to conclude that "First Love" had sunk into the deep well of her unconscious, to use William]ames's phrase, and that when she began to remember Mrs. Garber, she unconsciously borrowed plot details from the Russian.
Turgenev's story, however, is not the only literary source for A Lost Lady. Readers have long seen Marian Forrester as an Emma Bovary of the prairie, and we know that Cather in her early years thought highly of Flaubert's novel. She told Alvin Johnson when she was a grader for the University of Nebraska's prep school that Madame Bovary was a book "worth committing to memory" (Sergeant rn), a view she confirmed in her maturity, describing it as a book "one can hardly discuss; it is a fact in history. One knows it too well to know it well" ("A Chance Meeting" 17). As if responding to Flaubert, in 1922-23 she wrote her own, far more sympathetic treatment of a lost lady.19
Madame Bovary may have contributed to Marian Forrester, but as David Stouck has pointed out, L'Education sentimentale, with its parallels to Niel Herbert, suggests closer antecedents (72). Frederic is a young law student when he meets Mme Arnoux, the wife of an entrepreneur of diminishing fortune. She is not only married but much older and the mother of two children. Frederic loves her devotedly and carries his passion into his middle-aged bachelorhood. As A Lost Lady ends with Niel's feeling glad that he had known Mrs. Forrester, and "that she had had a hand in breaking him in to life" (163), so Flaubert's novel ends with Frederic's retrospective conclusion that his love for Mme Arnoux, never consummated, had been one of the great experiences of his life.
In "A Chance Meeting," Cather describes her encounter with Mme Grout, Flaubert's niece, in Aix-les-Bains in 1930. The two women talked at length about L'Education sentimentale. They agreed that Frederic was a weak character, but they both remembered Mme Arnoux as a wonderful character, one they both loved. Cather writes: "[Mme Arnoux] passed through the old lady's mind so vividly that it was as if she had entered the room. Madame Arnoux was there with us, in that hotel at Aix, on the evening of September 5, 1930, a physical presence, in the charming costume of her time, as on the night when Frederic first dined at 24 rue de Choiseul" (21).
Cather also mentions in this essay that she had reread L'Education sentimentale "a few years ago" and that she "never had risen to its greatness before." She summarized the novel by saying that despite its dull passages, Frederic's life "is something one has lived through, not a story one has read; less diverting than a story, perhaps, but more inevitable. One is 'left with it,' in the same way that one is left with a weak heart after certain illnesses. A shadow has come into one's consciousness that will not go out again." Had Cather reread the novel about the time she was getting ready to write A Lost Lady, which is quite possible, such an indelible impression of the work could well have helped shape the materials that went into her novel.
Thus we have Turgenev's story, Flaubert's novel, and Cather's memory of Mrs. Garber all blending together to create one of the memorable characters in twentieth-century American literature. In each of these works the author's attitude toward the character—Turgenev's Princess, Flaubert's Mme Arnoux, and Cather's Marian Forrester—is the same: admiring and affectionate. Turgenev said that "First Love" was the most autobiographical of all his stories, Mme Arnoux is clearly identifiable as the older woman Flaubert met and fell in love with when he was an adolescent, and Mrs. Garber was the woman Cather adored when she was growing up in Red Cloud.
Alfred Knopf recalled that after completing A Lost Lady, Cather, apparently feeling that it was too short to appear independently, proposed publishing it with other stories. He read it, then wrote to her that "Mrs. Knopf and I both agree that you ought to be restrained by law, if necessary, from publishing this book, with anything else. It belongs alone, exactly as 'Ethan Frame' belongs, alone, and you are very unjust to it and to yourself, I think, for feeling otherwise" ("Miss Cather" 207). Needing the money to hire a competent secretary, she asked the Knopfs to try to sell her story to a magazine that would pay well, and in December 1922 Blanche Knopf sold it to the Century (Knopf, Memoirs). Cather wrote that she was surprised and thrilled by the sale, then turned her attention to the book publication. She suggested that Blanche Knopf send to Bank Street for the other typescript copy to send to the printer at once so that she might read proof before going abroad in April (29 December 1922). Apparently thinking better of direct transmission of her serial text into book form, two weeks later Cather wrote again, this time asking Blanche Knopf to return to her the copy of "A Lost Lady" if it had not gone to the printers; she would make verbal changes now in order to save trouble in the proofs (letter received 16January 1923). A week later, Cather wrote that A Lost Lady was ready; Mrs. Knopf could send for it the next day after two o'clock (letter received 22 January 1923).
The revisions Cather made in A Lost Lady between its serial and its book publication provide a working example of the principles she had announced in "On the Art of Fiction" and "The Novel Déméuble." Her changes, often clustered in key scenes, have the effect of refinement, of restraint, and of getting the language of class right. In the serial version, for example, Ivy Peters comments about the woodpecker, stunned and covered by his black felt hat, that "he'll come to. You'll hear him in a minute," and Niel replies simply, "It ain't a he; anybody would know that." For the first edition, Cather reinforced the scene's anticipation of the fate that would fall upon Marian Farrester by adding the word "flutter" ("You'll hear him flutter in a minute"), a descriptive verb that applies to the bird and to the woman; and she amplified Niel's comment, "It ain't a he, anyhow," by adding "It's a female" (21).
Sometimes the addition of a word or phrase reinforces a verbal motif. "Play" and "playful," for example, are associated with the innocence of childhood and the possibility of a pioneer spirit; "always" connotes a desire for permanence; and "looking after" suggests responses to the changes that are inevitable. From the beginning, Marian Forrester announces the playfulness so associated with her—waving a buttery iron spoon or shaking a cherry-stained finger at a new arrival to the Farrester place; running from the new bull in the pasture where she had gone to pick flowers; carrying a plate of cookies to the boys picnicking in the grove and telling them that she sometimes wades in the creek. In her description of Niel's encounter with Mrs. Forrester in town, in the serial version Cather had her bowing "gaily" in response to Judge Pommeroy's ponderous acceptance of her invitation to dine with them; by changing the adverb to "playfully" in the book (34), Cather not only draws the scene into the ongoing motif of play but also sets up a mirror effect with a later scene, in which an older and exhausted Mrs. Farrester admits that she does not have time to go into the marsh, then warns Niel that "you haven't time to play any more either, Niel. You must hurry and become a successful man" (rn8). Niel's wondering in the end whether the secret of her ardor "was all fine play-acting" (163, emphasis added) is like a coda to one of the narrative's centralideas.
Another example involves the word "always," the addition of which links a scene to an ongoing verbal motif. Mrs. Forrester was "always there, just outside the front door" (ro) of the Forrester place, the narrator says in introducing her; the young Niel, after driving her from town to the Farrester place, replies to her teasing references to growing old by saying, "You seem always the same to me, Mrs. Forrester" (37). In the serial version, after her husband's stroke, Mrs. Forrester explains to Niel that she no longer goes to town because "I'm too tired"; with the addition of the adverb in the book version "I'm always too tired" (107, emphases added) the scene plays in ironic counterpoint to the earlier conversation.
"Looking after things," another of those phrases that run through the text, underscores the idea of change central to the novel: repeated in various forms, it evokes implicit questions: Who will "look after" Captain Forrester after his stroke, and Marian Farrester following his death? Who will "look after" the fragile beauty of the marsh, and who will look after the spirit of an age? Gradually, "looking after" ceases to mean taking care of someone or something and comes to mean, instead, gazing back upon someone or something. By the substitution of a phrase, Cather contributes to the downward force of this motif. Two years after her husband's stroke, Mrs. Forrester is talking with Niel in her home; in the serial version she explains that Ivy Peters "stayed here at night" when she was in Glenwood Springs; for the book version, Cather deleted "stayed here at night" and has Mrs. Forrester say instead that Ivy Peters "looked after things here" (119).
Other revisions set the mood of a scene. After the young Niel Herbert falls from the tree while trying to rescue the woodpecker, he is brought into Mrs. Forrester's bedroom, where, in the serial version, he ominously "found himself in a big, half-darkened room, full of heavy, old-fashioned walnut furniture." For the book publication, Cather added "wonderingly," so that the passage reads, "Niel opened his eyes and looked wonderingly about the big, half-darkened room" (25). The single word casts a spell upon the scene that follows: no longer looming, the darkened room and heavy furniture now evoke a feeling of enchantment, and it is in this mood that the scene unfolds. The serial version describes the wind in the winter storm as blowing "into curling drifts"; for the book version, Cather replaced the comforting image of curling drifts with the more frantic image of wind's blowing the snow "into whirling drifts" (68).
Revisions frequently demonstrate how subtly a scene is crafted to reinforce the downward action of the novel. Mrs. Forrester simply "poured a glass" of sherry for Niel in the serial version, but she "poured out a glass" in the revised text (36), her action now underscoring the narrative's concern with loss, depletion, and change. When Captain Forrester describes the boulder on which his sundial is set as being from the Garden of the Gods, then adds in an aside that "Mr. Dalzell has his summer home up there" (103), the adverb "up," an addition Cather made for the book version of the novel, underscores the novel's concern with class. And having Captain Forrester offer his toast, "Happy Days," in a manner of "high courtesy" (48) rather than "geniality" (as Cather had it in the serial version) reinforces the ritual and formality of the dinner party and of the Forresters' life. These last two examples illustrate yet another pattern revealed by Cather's revisions, many of which reposition descriptors. The list of variants demonstrates how filled the novel is with such descriptors, which are positioned not so much in terms of geography as in terms of class. Captain Forrester utters his toast, "Happy Days," with "high courtesy," and with it seems to knock at the door of Fate, "behind which all days ... were hidden"; he looks "down" the table at his wife (49), and so on (emphases added).
Adjectives further heighten the novel's sensitivity to class. Returning to Sweet Water from Boston at the outset of part 2, Niel appears as "a young man in a grey flannel suit, with a shirt of one shade of blue and a necktie of another." By specifying in the revised version of the scene that he is wearing a "silk shirt," Cather adds a mark of refinement. Similarly, Niel reflects in the serial version that the town boys assembled for Mrs. Forrester's second dinner would not know the difference "if she had furnished her table that morning, from the stock in Wernz's store"; by specifying that it is "the stock in Wernz's queensware store" (151) that they would confuse with the table settings in the Forrester home, Cather makes specific the contrast and also reminds her reader of what is—and is not—available in Sweet Water.
Revisions also keep the focus upon Marian Forrester. "Is she pretty?" Niel pointedly asks of Miss Erma Salton-Smith in the serial version, while in the book version he poses the open-ended question, "What is she like?" (72), thereby giving the force of the description to Mrs. Forrester. In the serial version Cyrus Dalzell, the president of the railroad, who is returning to Sweet Water to "enquire for the health of his old friend" Daniel Forrester, attracts attention to himself when he comes "puffing" up the hill to the Farrester place; by simply "climbing" (90) up the hill in the book version, he remains a background character. In the serial version, Dalzell has a "deep, mellow voice," and for the first book edition Cather modified his voice to the more conventional "warm, deep voice" (90). During Niel's introduction to Dalzell, the railroad president threatens to take over the scene in the serial version: "Niel was introduced, and Mr. Dalzell shook his hand heartily. He had a heavy, courtly carriage "For the book version, he remains in the background when Cather notes simply that he "shook hands with Niel" (91), then passes on to describe Mrs. Farrester's reception of Niel and her effect upon him.
With changes from the serial to the book version Cather also refined the presentation of her story, the part of this novel that had given her the most trouble. Cather's descriptions of that method suggest her ideas of its function: Niel's perception of Mrs. Farrester was to be the "mirror" (Sergeant 187-88), "only a point of view," and "just a peephole" (Bohlke 77) for her novel, which was to be about the impression that this woman made upon him—and others. What were the nuances of his perception of her? This is the implicit question behind other revisions Cather made in her manuscript. In describing Mrs. Farrester for the serial version, Niel comments that even the slightest encounter was personal, for in it "one became acutely aware of her, of her fragility and grace"; for the book publication Cather substituted "conscious" for "aware" (33). Similarly, Niel sees Mrs. Forrester flush in response toJudge Pommeroy's explanation that her husband had done "what a man of honor was bound to do" in stripping himself to refund depositors in his failed bank. "I wouldn't for the world have had him do otherwise for me," she replies, looking at Niel, her glance "like a delicate and very dignified rebuke to some discourtesy,—though he was not aware of having shown her any," Cather had in her serial version, then for book publication she again replaced "aware" with "conscious" (88).
By such slight but significant revisions, Cather heightened the contrast between feeling and consciousness that is so important to the novel's disillusionment scenes, when Niel's feelings about Mrs. Forrester are contradicted by his consciousness of her relationships with Frank Ellinger and then with Ivy Peters.
After completing A Lost Lady in the spring of 1923, Cather sailed for France on I April to visit the Hambourgs at Ville d'Avray, near Paris. While there, Cather received the news that One of Ours had been granted the Pulitzer Prize. Being in France at the time of the announcement buffered Cather from the flurry of attention inevitably accompanying this pnze, but honoring a commitment she had made to the people back home reminded her of the entanglements that come with success. Cather had agreed to sit for a portrait commissioned by the Omaha Society of Fine Arts, to be hung in the Omaha Public Library. She chose Leon Bakst, the scene designer of the Russian ballet, to do the portrait, then sat for him in his Paris studio as many as twenty times. The happiest result of the commission was the friendship Cather came to feel for Bakst, for the portrait itself was "a complete failure," recalled Lewis, undoubtedly reflecting Cather's opinion: "stiff, dark, heavy, lifeless" (132).
During these months also, A Lost Lady was making its way with the critics, who treated it "with the greatest respect" (Woodress 351). Henry S. Canby declared that "in sheer art [it is] Miss Cather's masterpiece," Fanny Butcher called it "that very rare thing, a perfect thing in parvo," and Heywood Broun proclaimed it "truly a great book." Joseph Wood Krutch articulated the distinction implicit in many of the reviews: it may be too "short and slight" to be called a great novel, but it is "that very rare thing in contemporary literature, a nearly perfect one." Like Krutch, many critics were puzzled about what to call it: romance or realism? novel or short story? "It is hardly a novel and yet it is too full and good for a short story. It is simply a little work of art," the review in the New York Times Book Review concluded, returning to terms characteristic of the reviews, which spoke of its "rigorous simplicity" of form (Mavity) and "exquisite perfection" of style (Rascoe).
There were dissenters, of course. As Niel Herbert would have Marian Forrester serve his expectations of her, some reviewers would have Cather pay homage to their own notion of good taste and ideal women. Percy H. Boynton maintained that "in A Lost Lady Miss Cather loses her bearing altogether" in that Marian Farrester "is a weakling and a ne'er-do-well"; and John B. Edwards described A Lost Lady as "a study by a feminine consciousness of an imaginary lost woman," likened its style to "malicious gossip," objected to the "disgusting horror" of Ivy Peters's treatment of the woodpecker, and concluded that Cather might well employ her talent "in exploiting higher themes." Other reviewers damned by faint praise. Edmund Wilson commended the "skill" of "a charming sketch," then described Cather as "almost the only [writer] who has been able to overlay any sort of fine artistic patina upon the meager and sprawling rural life of the Middle West."20
With Knopf, however, Cather was more insulated from the reviewers than she had ever been. By presenting her writing as a whole rather than sending each work off independently, he encouraged the public to recognize the substance of the oeuvre behind the apparently "short and slight" A Lost Lady. Such presentation also encouraged long-term sales. Favorable reviews of Youth and the Bright Medusa (1920) plus the Pulitzer award for One of Ours (1922) meant increased sales for the books Cather had published with Houghton Mifflin as well. In 1923 Knopf sold A Lost Lady for Century serialization; then early in 1924 he sold the movie rights to Warner Bros. for $12,500.21 As Knopf was to say of 1923, "Her chariot was indeed beginning to roll. In 1923 her books on our list alone earned her nearly $20,000" ("Miss Cather" 208 ).22
In September 1923, the month when A Lost Lady appeared in book form, "Nebraska—The End of the First Cycle" was published in The Nation. The essay is Cather's retrospective tribute to the state that had been the setting for so many of her short stories and all her novels except Alexander's Bridge.23 The essay is also her acknowledgment of personal loss. Her "home town" (43-44) existed no longer, Cather reflected, and with its passing she had lost a sense of familiarity with people who knew her as she was. The country that inspired her too had changed, "the ugly crest of materialism" having "set its seal" upon the landscape. The essay serves as Cather's explanation to her readers, her preparation for shifting her gaze to other places and themes. By the end of the year she had turned from Nebraska to write of Lake Michigan as her setting for The Professor's House, one of her most introspective and autobiographical novels. Beginning with the premise that "the moving was over and done" (the first clause of her new novel), Cather explored the consequences of success upon her character, Godfrey St. Peter.
In the following decade, film adaptations of A Lost Lady were to confirm Cather's suspicions of the mass media. On 6 January 1925 a silent version starring Irene Rich and George Fawcett as the Forresters in a plot apparently adapted to feature the trains for which Warner Bros. paid a thousand dollars a day made its debut in Red Cloud. The New York Times reviewer commented tartly that "one would hardly think that it was necessary to devote time to scenes of trains to bring out the fact that they get on the nerves of the railroad magnate's young wife, especially when this is referred to in the subtitles" (19 January 1925, 14), and the Variety reviewer called "ridiculous" the action of Marian's "beating her way to a railroad station" upon hearing ofEllinger's engagement, going through an electrical storm, falling into a stream, and then running "along the tracks after the train and look[ing] as if she could easily overtake it" (21 January 1925).
In 1934 Warner Bros. decided to reuse their property with rising stars Barbara Stanwyck and Frank Morgan as the Forresters and Ricardo Cortez as Ellinger. The novel's setting was moved to a smart Chicago suburb, the frontier society transformed into that of a pleasant country-club set, Bohemian Mary replaced by a fashionable Chinese cook, and the plot rewritten into a conventional marriage triangle (Niel is unimportant and Ivy Peters nonexistent) conforming to the Hayes Code upholding the sanctity of marriage. As the New York Times review noted, "Change the title, remove Miss Cather's name from the credit line, and you have a made-to-order program film" (4 October 1934, 19).
Cather would never again agree to sell movie rights; her resolve was such that Knopf, hearing of an offer from Hollywood that ran into six figures, replied that he would as soon jump from the window as even mention this offer to Cather—a dramatic point in a conversation taking place in an office on the thirty-fifth floor of the French Building ("Miss Cather" 212). To extend her resolve, she included in her will a prohibition against the release of rights in her literary properties for dramatization or reproduction in any form, "whether by means now in existence or which may hereafter be discovered or perfected."
Reproduction takes myriad forms, of course, one of the most significant being a work's influence upon other writers. When The Great Gatsby was published in 1925, Fitzgerald wrote to Cather "to explain an instance of apparent plagiarism," for he had read A Lost Lady while he was writing The Great Gatsby, and he acknowledged the similarity between Cather's description of Mrs. Forrester and his of Daisy. "Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it," Fitzgerald had written; "but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered 'Listen,' a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour." For her part, Cather replied that before receiving his letter she had enjoyed reading The Great Gatsby, and she had not noticed a similarity with her story. Many writers had tried to say the same thing, she reflected; one can describe beauty only by describing its effect upon an observer (28 April 192 5).24
Cather could have been describing the response of readers to her book, if the outpouring of scholarly and critical writing about it is any criterion. As for other measures, they are there too. When in 1990 the Encyclopaedia Britannica for the first time included the works of women writers in its list of Great Books of the Western World, Willa Cather was among the four named, and the only American woman. A Lost Lady was the book chosen.
THE explanatory notes are designed to assist the reader in understanding the text by providing information on persons, places, historical events, literary allusions, and specialized terminology that is not readily available elsewhere, such as in a standard desk dictionary or one-volume encyclopedia. Regional, occupational, religious, and other specialized terms are explained when more information is needed than can be found in desk references. Prototypes for characters have been suggested when they are likely on the basis of Cather's own comments or contemporary evidence. Cather also used both real and fictional placenames; the notes identify both and give the likely prototypes for the fictional places, when known. Brief backgrounds for historical events are also included; if Cather diverges from the facts as understood by modern historians, that is noted. Sources of quotations in the text are provided, as well as the complete original quotation if different from that in the text, and a translation if necessary. Cather uses common names for her references to local flora and fauna; these have been glossed with the botanical names and brief descriptions of the most likely species for the novel's setting.
Information on people in Webster County is based primarily on the United States Censuses of 1880 and 1900 and the Nebraska State Census of 1885; local newspapers of the 1880s and 1890s, such as the Red Cloud Chief and the Webster County Argus; and Mildred Bennett's The World of Willa Cather (Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1961). Lonnie Pierson Dunbier's dissertation, "Silas and Lyra Garber: A Nebraska Story" (University of Nebraska, 1995), was especially helpful for its material on the Garbers and their associates. Information on places in Webster County is based primarily on contemporary maps, such as Augustus Koch's 1881 bird's-eye view of Red Cloud; the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps of 1886 and 1892; the Official State Atlas of Nebraska (Philadelphia: Everts & Kirk, 1885); the 1900 and 1923 plat books of Webster County; and Mabel Cooper-Skjelver's Webster County: Visions of the Past (n.p., n.d.).
Botanical information for Webster County was derived first from the works of early biologists who surveyed Nebraska. These include Charles Bessey, Preliminary Report on the Native Trees and Shrubs of Nebraska 4, art. no.4 (Lincoln: College of Agriculture Experiment Station, n.d.); Niels F. Petersen, Flora of Nebraska: A List of Conifers and Flowering Plants of the Statewith Keysfor Their Determination (Lincoln: privately printed, ); Raymond Pool, Handbook of Nebraska Trees (1919; 3d ed., Lincoln: University of Nebraska Conservation and Survey Division, 1951); John M. Winter, An Analysis of the Flowering Plants of Nebraska with Keys to the Families, Genera, and Species, with Notes Concerning Their Occurrence, Range, and Frequency within the State (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Conservation and Survey Division, 1936). This information was cross-checked with the works of current authorities such as Lauren Brown, Grasslands, Audubon Society Nature Guide (New York: Knopf, 1985); Robert Lommasson, Nebraska Wild Flowers (Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1973); Great Plains Flora Association, Robert L. McGregor, coordinator, Flora of the Great Plains (Lawrence: UP of Kansas, 1986); Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, Common and Scientific Names of Nebraska Plants: Native and Introduced, Publication No. 101 (Lincoln, n.d.); and Theodore Van Bruggen, Wildflowers, Grasses, and Other Plants of the Northern Plains and Black Hills (Interior, S. Dak.: Badlands Natural History Association, 1983).
Garber planted the cottonwood grove in 1873; cottonwoods (Populus deltoides occidentalis, the eastern cottonwood, and P. sargentii, the plains cottonwood) grow rapidly, and Garber's grove, as it was known, soon gave shade, which made it a favorite place for social gatherings in summer. Cather had many fond memories of the grove, and cottonwoods remained one of her favorite trees all her life.
The approach to the Garber place, across Crooked Creek on the east side of town, was much as Cather describes it here, except that the trees bordering the lane were box elders (Acer negundo, another species of tough, fast-growing prairie trees) rather than the more exotic Lombardy poplars (Populus nigra italica) of the Forrester place; Cather called these poplars "the gayest and saddest of trees" (see The World and the Parish 762). At the foot of the hill on which the house stood, the site of the original stockade, was the second stream, a branch of Crooked Creek. The meadows that Cather describes as "half pasture land, half marsh," were rather more unkindly described by the Red Cloud Chief as "Gov. Garber's swamp."(Go back.)
THIS third volume in the Cather Edition presents a critical text of A Lost Lady, Willa Cather's sixth novel, and the fourth with a Nebraska setting. In the absence of manuscripts or proofs, we have chosen as copy-text the first printing of the 1923 edition, published by Alfred A. Knopf, because it is the closest to Cather's intention for her story's initial appearance in book form; her careful attention to the details of the production of her books is now well known and lends credence to this choice.1 Machine collations have shown that except for the deletion of the dedication page, some alterations in spacing, and one correction in the remainder of the text, plates of the 1923 first edition were used until 1972.2 Because the general policy of the Cather Edition is to present the work as Cather intended it at the time of its first publication in book form, emended only to admit corrections authorized by Cather or deemed necessary by the present editors, we do not include later revisions made by Cather that alter the substance of the work or its aesthetic intention. These rejected revisions are included in our textual apparatus.
Our editorial procedure is guided by the protocols of the Committee for Scholarly Editions. We begin with a bibliographical survey of the history of the text, sorting out the problems it presents. Having then made a calendar of extant texts, we collect and examine examples of all texts published in Cather's lifetime, identifying those forms that are authorial (i.e., that involved or may have involved Cather's participation or intervention). The texts having Cather's authority are then collated against a standard of collation. The collations provide lists of substantive and accidental variations among these forms. The conflation, constructed from a gathering of the collations, then provides us with a list of all substantive pre- or post-copy-text changes in all relevant (authorial) editions. From the collations and this conflation we prepare a critical text (an emended copy-text). The conflation also provides us with materials for a list of emendations, which identifies changes the present editors have made in the copy-text, and a list of variants, which provides a history of the work as contained in its various forms. In a separate procedure we derive a list of hyphenated compounds with their resolution.3
The purpose of this essay is to provide detailed information about (1) the composition of the novel; (2) the production and history of the text itself; (3) Cather's revisions between the serial text and the Knopf first edition; and (4) the rationale according to which emendations have been introduced into the copy-text in preparing this critical edition, together with a discussion of the emendations themselves.
The search for manuscripts or typescripts for A Lost Lady has yielded clues without results. In a letter to Alfred A. Knopf Jr. dated 19 January 1936, Cather wrote that she had burned her typescript of A Lost Lady before leaving Bank Street in 1927; she said that a typescript that turned up later was certainly a forgery. We have been unable to confirm the existence of either the typescript or its forgery. But it is clear that originally there were two typescripts, presumably a ribbon and a carbon, possibly two ribbons. One went to Century Magazine; the other, with Cather's revisions, went to Knopf. Each was used for setting copy. Although it is possible that the typescript sent to Century for serial publication survived, we have been unable to find it.
In the absence of manuscript, typescript, or proofs of A Lost Lady, we can reconstruct the general line of composition and Cather's involvement in the publishing history of her novel from letters, interviews, and essays. During interviews in 1921 and 1925, bracketing A Lost Lady's composition and publication, Cather said that she always wrote the first draft of a work in longhand, then typed the second and third drafts herself, revising in the process, and then sent the last copy to a professional typist, who prepared a clean typescript. Cather made further changes and corrections on the clean typescript of the third draft before sending it to the publisher (Bohlke 41, 76). Knopf correspondence reveals that when serial publication was involved, Cather provided one copy of this last typescript to the Knopfs (who sold it to the magazine) and kept one for the Knopf setting-copy of the book version.
Records document that Cather followed this basic procedure throughout her literary life. In a letter to Alfred A. Knopf in the fall of 1933 Cather reiterated that she never wrote a first draft of anything except by hand (Knopf, Memoirs); a decade later in a letter to Sinclair Lewis (22 March 1944), again looking back, Cather noted that the original holograph copies of her works were usually lost or spoiled, and that she customarily asked Knopf to destroy the printer's copy (the final typescript). The actual line of descent in the early composition of this novel was from the holograph through the intermediate typescripts to the late typescripts (duplicates), two of these providing setting-copy-one for the serial, the other, revised, for Knopf.
|copy 1||copy 2|
|Century serial||Knopf first edition|
The Historical Essay in this edition deals with the original inspiration for A Lost Lady and its close connections both to Cather's experience in Red Cloud and to her cordial relations with her new publisher. Now convinced that she had a publisher who honored literary values in his publishing program, she felt free to begin a different sort of work-a portrait of Marian Forrester written according to principles of the novel déméuble. She wanted to avoid the devices of a conventional novel; all else was to be sacrificed to this central intent. Her concept was of a "portrait" that would be "smooth in outline and perfect in form," with the effect of "a delicate face laughing at you out of a miniature." "I like a book where you do one thing," she reflected (Bohlke 78).
Early in 1922 Cather was a busy writer with health problems: she was reading proofs for One of Ours (January), consulting with Knopf about the typography to be used for the new edition of April Twilights (February), undergoing a tonsillectomy (February), reading more proofs of One of Ours (March), and publishing "The Novel Déméuble" in the New Republic (April). Finally, in the winter of 1922, nearly eight months after the idea had come to her, she was able to begin writing A Lost Lady. In a March letter to the novelist Dorothy Canfield Fisher, a friend from her college days, Cather commented on how the writing of One of Ours had cost her a great deal of living; there had not been any other life in the last two years. To Fisher's query whether she had begun a new novel Cather replied that she had, but that it was an external affair, not "Claude" ([21?] March 1922). In an April interview Cather said that she discarded many drafts in the process of trying and then rejecting Niel Herbert as narrator; once she had solved the problem of narrative point of view, composition went quickly, and she wrote the novel in five months (Bohlke 77).
By July 1922 Cather was sufficiently far along to read portions of a draft of A Lost Lady to the Bread Loaf writers' group in Middlebury, Vermont—an unusual proceeding for a writer who normally did not discuss work in progress, and indeed she resumed her policy of reticence after writing A Lost Lady. During a May 1923 interview with a reporter from the New York World she said that she had started another novel (possibly The Professor's House), but she declined to describe it, declaring, "I never tell even intimate friends anything whatever about my work until it is finished. I find that if I talk about a novel on which I am at work it has a disturbing influence on me and I lose my grip on the story" (Bohlke 58).
In mid-November Cather sent a copy of the story to Knopf, discussing the possibility of serial publication. The money would be useful, but she did not want to put off publication.4 She said that her new story was a bit lawless, perhaps not terribly well constructed; but the main character lived, and that was all she wanted. She did not care about the framing; she had improvised to make a net to capture and hold Mrs. Forrester alive (WC to AK, received 22 November 1922).
Cather seemed satisfied with the ongoing development of her portrait, though at first she had thought the story might be too short to publish alone and had considered combining it with another work. The Knopfs assured her that it could stand on its own. After reading the manuscript of A Lost Lady Knopf wrote to her: "Mrs. Knopf and I both agree that you ought to be restrained by law, if necessary, from publishing this book with anything else. It belongs alone, exactly as Ethan Frome belongs alone, and you are very unjust to it and to yourself, I think, for feeling otherwise" (AK to WC, 20 November 1922).
Although Knopf thought the story "too lovely a thing to let any magazine editor ... read" (AK to WC, 20 November 1922), Cather needed the additional income for secretarial assistance. Blanche Knopf (or Mrs. Knopf, as Cather still addressed her at this time) began to explore the possibilities for serial publication of the novel. On 15 December 1922 she wired Cather in Red Cloud, asking her, "Do you object to me showing the manuscript to Hearst?" Cather replied the same day that she had no objection if they paid well. Within two weeks Mrs. Knopf had found a place for the novel: on 28 December she wired Cather again, declaring, "Century offer two thousand dollars Lost Lady." Cather replied that she was glad to accept the offer and wished Mrs. Knopf a happy new year.
On 29 December 1922 Cather wrote Mrs. Knopf asking about plans for production of A Lost Lady in book form; she was going abroad and was concerned about being able to read proofs of the book edition before leaving New York on 1 April. She asked Mrs. Knopf if it would make the process easier to send down to Cather's Bank Street apartment for the second typescript copy of the story and give it to the printers to be set for the book; Cather would write to Miss Lewis, her companion, to have the second typescript ready. When Cather returned to New York City from Red Cloud, she proposed to Mrs. Knopf that the typescript of A Lost Lady be sent back to her: she wished to make changes to save trouble at the proof stage of production (WC to BK, received 16 January 1923).
The above chronology suggests that Cather had finished an acceptable draft of the novel by as early as mid-November 1922, when she sent it to Knopf for sale to a magazine. Shortly after 29 December Knopf received the duplicate typescript, which Cather recalled and revised in mid-January for the book publication. She completed her revisions to the typescript in less than a week, by 22 January (WC to BK, received 22 January 192 3), and Knopf sent out the contracts for A Lost Lady in February. Cather sent the title page (presumably she had settled on the epigraph by this time) and dedication page in late February; a letter from Knopf acknowledging their receipt informs her that the page proofs, which must have already been in production, would be ready on 3 March 1923—and they were (AK to WC, 24 February, 3 March 1923).
In the meantime, Century proceeded with its typescript. Blanche Knopf wrote to Cather on 30 December 1922 that the magazine was then planning its three-part serial publication, illustrated by Bernhardt Kleboe, to begin in April and end in June. There is no evidence that Cather saw magazine proofs before sailing for Europe. When the May installment of A Lost Lady appeared in New York, Cather was in Paris, deluged with cablegrams congratulating her for the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours. Ferris Greenslet, in his letter of congratulation, mentioned seeing Knopf's advertisement announcing A Lost Lady for fall publication (29 May 1923). Thus, while the installments were appearing, the preparations for publication in book form were already well under way. (The differences between the serial version and the book version are analyzed below, on pp.319-27, and, from a different perspective, in the Historical Essay, pp.213-20.)
When Cather chose Alfred A. Knopf to be her publisher, it was the beginning of a lifelong involvement in the design and production of her books. As Knopf reflected a quarter-century after her death, she always took "an interest in the design of her books-typography, binding, and wrapper" (Knopf, Memoirs), and he always consulted with her about such matters. Knopf asked Cather whether she had any ideas about how the 1923 limited edition of April Twilights and Other Poems, which was then in the hands of his printers, should look; he would carry out her wishes if she had them in concrete form (AK to WC, 22 November 1922). This early exchange anticipates what their ongoing relationship would be; Knopf knew of Cather's editorial interests and skills, and part of his approach as publisher was to listen to her wishes.
The physical format of A Lost Lady was the result of discussion and correspondence between Cather and the Knopfs. Knopf wanted this new book to be similar in type and style to Youth and the Bright Medusa, and he wanted its binding to be like that of One of Ours (AK to WC, 29 December 1922). According to Mrs. Knopf, Cather objected to the binding-and her wishes evidently prevailed. A Lost Lady was bound in bright green linen, with only the title in gilt script on the front cover; One of Ours was bound in olive tan linen, with the author's name and title printed conventionally, along with a gilt ornament. (Cather may also have prevailed in the matter of the dust jacket, which Knopf had envisaged as a "picture jacket in colors," asking her to "put your feeling with regard to this jacket to one side" [AK to WC, 29 December 1922]. The final jacket, with a monochrome vignette by Kleboe, the Century illustrator, may represent a compromise.)
A letter of July 1934 wherein Cather tells Knopf that she prefers type like that used in A Lost Lady for a romantic novel such as Lucy Gayheart shows how she influenced decisions regarding details. Another source indicates her satisfaction with the appearance of A Lost Lady: on 13 September 1923 the Webster County Argus reprinted an article by Will Owen Jones, then in Europe. He had visited Cather at the Hambourgs and wrote, "Miss Cather has just passed upon the first copy of her forthcoming book, 'The Lost Lady,' ... Her publisher has produced a volume of such attractiveness that she admits it gives her pleasure to see it go out." Knopf emphasizes that "she was extremely interested in and concerned about typographical details and expressed herself most strongly about sloppy proofreading and printer's typographical errors" (Knopf, "Willa Cather" 1). Cather's concern about accidentals and her effort to control them in the first edition mean that this edition represents what she wanted in the way of accidentals.
Five true editions (complete resettings of the type) in English of A Lost Lady were published during Willa Cather's lifetime: a serial version in the April, May, and June 1923 issues of Century (C); the first edition in book form, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1923 (K); the first British edition, published by Heinemann in 1924 (H), an edition published by Tauchnitz in Leipzig in 1927 (T), and the Autograph Edition, published by Houghton Mifflin in 1938 ( AE). All other editions published in English prior to Cather's death-indeed, prior to 1973-are either reprints or separate issues printed from plates of K, either directly or by photo offset.
The publishing history of the first edition of A Lost Lady is fairly complex, originating in Knopf's sophisticated marketing campaign for Cather. His announcement in the New York Times Book Review for 16 September 1923 notes that this "first edition of 20,000 is the largest I have ever published, and a second large printing has been ordered before publication." The same announcement mentions the "large paper edition of which 200 are for sale"; twenty additional copies of this limited issue, not for sale, were also produced. The limited issue of the first edition was the fourth in the series oflimited issues of Cather's works that Knopf was producing; they were produced in a larger trim size and on more expensive paper than the trade issues, but used the same plates. Publisher's records and limitation notices included in early printings tell us that the second printing (not separately identified) comprised 6,000 copies and was ordered on 13 August, and that the third printing (so identified), also comprising 6,000 copies, was ordered on 7 September. Thus, the first printing, of 20,220 copies, was ready on 31 July 1923, and 32,200 copies were available for sale on or near the official publication date of 14 September, all printed by the Plimpton Press from electrotypes by Vail-Ballou.
The new evidence offered here about the printing history of A Lost Lady takes its place within the framing established by Joan Crane in her Cather bibliography. Remembering that impression means "a new and complete run of sheets through the press from substantially the same type-setting" (Bowers 395), we can see that Knopf ordered three impressions of the text before 14 September 1923, the date of publication. However, within these impressions there were a number of states, reflecting "all changes made in any manner to the sheets of an impression before publication" (Bowers 395). Crane identified four states of the early printings; in the many copies of the impressions we examined or collated (see below, note 17) we found variants confirming these four different states of the text and identifying two additional substates in two of the four states, as well as an additional accidental variant in the epigraph. We have identified these states as a, b1, b2, c1, c2, and d, maintaining Crane's nomenclature. Text state e represents a much later correction. These seven states are shown in the following table of variants, on which we will elaborate:
|Page/Line||State a||State b||State c||State d||State e||CE|
|157.11||some,||some, (b1)||some, (c1)||some||some||150.9|
|some (b2)||some (c2)|
|163.2, 18||Elliott||Elliott||Elliot||Elliot||Elliot||155.21, 156.11|
As the table shows, in text state b the two variants at 157.12 ("san-") and 164.25-165.1 ("cranky/re-") represent resettings for better spacing; a variation in text state b creates two substates due to the punctuation of "some," and "some" at 150.12. These two substates also occur in text state c. But the table shows that the spacing improvements made in b do not characterize c. What distinguishes text state c is not only the unimproved spacing of a at 157.12 and 164.25-165.1 but also a spelling variant at 155.21 and 156.11 ("Elliot") as well as a resetting of 166, which repositions "Decoration" at the end ofline 7 (with resultant resettings of lines 8-10); it also produces the misprint "af" for "of." Text state d incorporates the changes made in b (157.12, 164.25-165.1, and 165.4) and c (155.21-156. 11, 163.10-11, 166.7-10, and 166.9). The exclusive text state e is distinguished by the correction of "af" to "of."
A title-page variant in the epigraph ("ladies;"/"ladies,") shows certain patterns: all copies seen of the Macmillan issue of band of the Grosset and Dunlap issue of K6 (1925) show the semicolon, while all copies seen of the limited issue and of printings from K7 through K24 show the comma. These data, together with patterns involving broken elements in the page numbers, suggest that mixed sheets were probably involved in the printing history of K; it is less likely that two sets of plates were used, since this was not Knopf's practice.
Following Jan Hambourg's death in 1944, Cather requested that the dedication to him bedeleted; the dedication remains in the eighteenth printing (1945) but was removed in the nineteenth (1952). The words "THE END." following the last line of text were deleted beginning with the twentieth or twenty-first printing. The editors have retained both features in the text printed here.
The history of KI is further complicated because sheets or plates of the edition were made available for other imprints. For example, sheets of text state b were sent to Macmillan in Toronto for a separate Canadian issue. In 1925 sheets of the sixth printing (K6), comprising state d of the text, were used for the Grosset and Dunlap issue in February; this issue included six still photographs from the Warner Brothers film of that year. Plates of K were also used in 1961 to produce by photo offset the Hamish Hamilton "edition" of the novel, and Knopf used them to print the photo offset Vintage paperback "editions" of 1972. Collation has demonstrated that none of these editions has independent authority.
Three editions of A Lost Lady besides those of Century and Knopf were published during Cather's lifetime. The first was the first British edition, published by Heinemann in London in 1924 (tt) and reproduced for its Windmill Library series in 1928. Collation reveals that H was set from a copy of KI, text state a. The Tauchnitz edition (Leipzig, 1927) was set from a copy of KI, text state d. Neither edition shows signs of authorized corrections, and thus neither has independent authority; therefore, the present editors have not included either of these sets of variants in the Apparatus.
The Autograph Edition (Houghton Mifflin, 1938), however, is authoritative. For it Cather worked with Ferris Greenslet, her editor at Houghton Mifflin before she moved to Knopf, with whom she sustained a lifelong correspondence after her break from Houghton Mifflin.5 Their correspondence provides details about its preparation and production. In 1932 Maxwell Perkins, of Scribner's, had proposed publishing what Edith Lewis called "a complete limited edition" of Cather's works, "to be sold through their subscription department" (Lewis 180). Houghton Mifflin, which was also in the subscription business, refused to release the novels it held (FG to WC, 1 July 1933). Ferris Greenslet, at Houghton Mifflin, also made Cather an offer, and "after considerable negotiation" Cather gave her consent (Lewis 181). Thus, by 1936 Cather and Houghton Mifflin were planning such an edition for the autumn of 1937, with the first volume of each set to be signed by Cather.
In early March Cather was planning to set aside time that summer to review some of her books and make corrections (WC to FG, 8 March 1936). On 8 September she sent three of the Knopf books, with corrections, to Houghton Mifflin (WC to FG, 8 September 1936); in October she sent two more (WC to FG, 13 October 1936);6 and in December she turned to matters of design and production. She wanted W. A. Dwiggins, who had designed some of her Knopf books, to prepare the makeup and design of the edition, and she hoped that he would use the type she so liked in the Thistle edition of Robert Louis Stevenson (WC to FG, 18 December 1936). Greenslet disagreed; he called her suggestion "interesting" but said that Dwiggins "is a little bizarre for you" and said "that something more lapidary and classic would be better" (21 December 1936). Bruce Rogers was chosen as designer, and the work proceeded.
A Lost Lady appeared in 1938 as volume 7 of the Autograph Edition. In contrast to her extensive revisions in O Pioneers!, The Song of the Lark, and My Ántonia, Cather left A Lost Lady relatively unchanged, implicitly endorsing the first edition as reflecting her final intention for the novel. The few substantive variants from Kare likely Cather's; some accidental variants may be hers because they cohere with her later practice as illustrated in holograph changes to the surviving typescripts of her later novels (see below, note 1). The Library Edition of 1940 (L) was printed from plates of the Autograph Edition ( AE).7
A chronological table may serve to clarify the history of the text through 1952 (a plus sign [+] indicates that there were subsequent impressions):
|C||Century, April-June 1923|
|K1.a||Knopf, 1923.||First edition in book form, first printing, text state a|
|K1 or 2.b||Knopf, 1923.||First or second printing, text state b|
|K1 or 2.c||Knopf, 1923.||First or second printing, text state c|
|K2-6.d||Knopf, 1923.||Limited issue and second through sixth printings, text state d|
|H||Heinemann, 1924.||First British edition, set from K1.a|
|K6.d (GD)||Grosset & Dunlap, 1925.||Sheets of K6.d used with new title page|
|H (W)||Heinemann, 1928+.||Windmill Edition, photo-offset from H|
|K11.e||Knopf, 1931.||Text state e, with "af" error corrected|
|AE||Houghton Mifflin, 1938.||Autograph Edition|
|AE (L)||Houghton Mifflin, 1940.||Library Edition, using plates of AE|
|K19.e||Knopf, 1949-52.||Dedication deleted|
|K20 or 21.e||Knopf, 1952-56.||"THE END." deleted at end of text|
Collation of copies of the potentially relevant texts demonstrates that three show evidence of Cather's hand and are, therefore, authoritative: the serial version, the first edition in book form, and the Autograph Edition. All other editions during Cather's lifetime were either reprints or separate issues of K or derive from K without evidence of authorial intervention.
A detailed analysis of the variants between the text as published in Century Magazine (C) and in book form by Knopf (K) demonstrates that Cather regarded the version that went to the magazine as something like a penultimate late draft; the many revisions she made for Kon her duplicate typescript show her writing process at work, asifon a manuscript. While (as would be expected) the largest number of changes involve accidentals of varying degrees of significance, substantive variants are frequent and important. In our analysis we began with the ordinary distinction made between "substantive" variants defined as involving changes in wording (including morphemic variations) and "accidental" variants defined as involving changes in punctuation, orthography, typography, capitalization, and word division. The corollary distinction is that substantives entail differences in meaning likely to have engaged an author's or editor's attention, while accidentals are more likely to be the result of a publisher's house style or the practice of compositors. In the case of A Lost Lady, many accidental variations between C and K produce at least as much difference in meaning as some substantive variants do (see "Choice of Copy-Text," below).
Substantive variants between C and K are frequent, although far less so than accidental variants. Many are relatively straightforward: "that" to "which" (rarely vice versa), "each" to "either," and "despite" to "in spite of," for example. Most involve one or two words; fewer than twenty-five involve more than four words. It is easy to see from even a casual examination of these variants how Cather refined her text for KI: using words more economically, choosing the more precise, active, or vivid word or phrase, and rearranging words or phrases for better sound or rhythm.
Examples of economy include such changes as that from "no longer had so many visitors" to "now had fewer visitors" at CE 30.14 and that from "felt a singular pleasure in" to "liked" at 135.2 3. On a few occasions an entire sentence is reduced to a word or two or omitted altogether: at 77.1, when "Now he was curious about these fat volumes" from C becomes "Then," the telling examples are left to speak for themselves, without narrative summary.
Improvements in diction are present in such changes as that in which "superintendents, whom every one knew" becomes "superintendents,whose names we all knew" (CE 7.12-13) or that in which "had lived a bachelor's life since he was six years old" becomes "had been so content with a bachelor's life" (66.14-15)—the KI readings are more precise. The changes from "be at home" to "get home" at 33.23, from "these books" to "his Bohn library" at 78.5, from "came up" to "mounted" at 90.18, and from "put out" to "blew out" at 129.3 show Cather selecting active verbs and vivid details.
Other revisions involve word order. Changing "Touched and happy, he went down the hill" to "He went down the hill touched and happy" (CE 95.9) eliminates an inversion; changing "and often it told" to "and it often told" (68.9) alters the rhythm of the sentence. At 49.9-IO, Mrs. Ogden's vowels seem to "roll about in the same way her eyes did," a reading that eliminates the awkward juxtaposition of "about just as her eyes did" in C.
Although most substantive changes in Kare stylistic, a few hone the presentation of character. When Niel is telling the Captain the "fantastic" story after having brought Mrs. Forrester back from her telephone conversation with Ellinger, he listens "with perfect composure," a phrase added for KI (130.1-2). At 126.20-21, the "wild reproaches, incoherent ravings" Niel expects from Mrs. Forrester when Ellinger answers the telephone that night are reduced to "wild reproaches." Changing "contempt" to "weary contempt" at 161.13 places a greater emphasis on the disillusion Niel feels when he recognizes that Mrs. Forrester prefers "life on any terms," as he puts it, to death "with the pioneer period to which she belonged."
In keeping with the overall emphasis on economy and precision, most substantive alterations either shorten the Century text or leave the total number of words in a variant the same. Comparatively few additions involve more than a word or two, and these are usually significant. At CE 87.5-6, a telling sentence is added to Judge Pommeroy's account of Captain Farrester's actions in Denver: "That was what a man of honour was bound to do, Mrs. Forrester." At 121.12, KI adds "in a low voice" to e's "asked" when Niel talks to Ben about the Denver paper and its news of Ellinger's marriage to Miss Ogden, emphasizing both Niel's inherent caution and his characteristic good manners. The exceptions to this tendency are few; perhaps the most interesting (here textual and historical scholarship intersect) is the dropping (at CE I 31.20-22) of e's sentence "The Episcopal church was closed, having no membership left." Between the time Cather wrote the draft that went to Century and the time she revised her duplicate typescript, she became a confirmed member of the Episcopal church in Red Cloud, the church to which she would belong for the rest of her life.
Many of the variants in accidentals undoubtedly reflect Century's house style.8 Spaced contractions, for example, are characteristic of Century, whereas Cather had abandoned them following My Ántonia (1918).9 Century uses American spellings ("parlor" and "gray"), whereas Cather had come to prefer British spellings ("parlour" and "grey") by 1922, as One of Ours demonstrates. Century consistently indented before direct dialogue, whereas the Knopf text reflects Cather's tendency to embed speeches in the text.10 But we are unable to determine whether the most obvious spelling changes ("Neil" to "Niel," and "Pomeroy" to "Pommeroy") came from Century's intervention or Cather's revision: in any case, inc they were always spelled "Neil" and "Pomeroy."
Alfred Knopf told the general editor of the Cather Edition that house style was never imposed on Cather's work.11 Passages in Cather's letters and comparisons of serial or typescript versions of her novels with the first editions in book form confirm her detailed attention to all kinds of accidentals. Thus, the many differences in accidentals between C and K, which would normally be attributed to varying house styles, probably reflect Cather's return to the readings of the original manuscript or her subsequent changes.
Some of the changes make little discernible changes in meaning, such as the addition or deletion of commas in K, as in "a contractor, who had built" (8.9-10) or "If everybody ate round steak like Ivy Peters' family" (18.22); the change from a comma to a semicolon, as in "They had behaved like wild creatures all morning; shouting from the breezy bluffs" (14.10-11); the change from a dash to a semicolon, as in "east of town; a white house with a wing" (8.16-17); even changes from a semicolon to a period (with attendant capitalization changes), as in "on their way to California. But he had never found" (39.7-8).
Other alterations in accidentals evoke a different mood or tone: the addition of an ellipsis at 25.21-22, for example, reflects Niel's wandering thoughts: "At his house everything was horrid when one was sick.... What soft fingers Mrs. Forrester had"; the deletion or addition of quotation marks around a word changes its implications for the reader: in C they are placed around "valued" in the sentence, "knowing her, he,—to use one of his own expressions,—valued her" (136.20-21); conversely, in K they are added in "been notoriously 'wild'" (47.16). In a number of speeches, the relaxation of formal punctuation, such as changes from a semicolon in C to a comma in K, gives a sense of urgency and rapidity to speeches: "Don't you dare shoot here, you'll get us all into trouble" (20.10-u); changes from an exclamation mark to a comma can have a similar effect: "he's shut me off, I can't hear him!" (128.10-11). These changes from "correct" to less orthodox forms suggest, of course, Cather's revising hand rather than a copyeditor's or compositor's intervention.
Accidentals may also be considered as affecting meaning when they force an audible change in a reader's voice.12 The most obvious examples involve exclamation marks and question marks. Periods in C were replaced by exclamation marks in K in thirty-five cases, heightening the emotional level; a matter-of-fact statement about the Forresters' house becomes, with the substitution of an exclamation mark for a period, a summation of the town gossips' scorn and triumph over Mrs. Forrester: "There was nothing remarkable about the place at all!" (132.11-12). The most significant example comes at the very end of the book, when Ed Elliott's simple agreement with Niel's thankfulness that Mrs. Farrester was taken care of becomes suffused with depth and feeling: "I did!" (166.14), suggesting another story like Niel's.
On the other hand, cases where exclamation marks have been deleted and replaced by periods in the K text may alter the meaning by defusing the emotions. When Niel breaks his way through the snowdrifts to bring the mail, Mrs. Forrester's lethargy is expressed in K when she says only, "How nice of you" (70.14).
The use of question marks invites other distinctions in meaning. When Mrs. Forrester asks the servant to fetch brandy for Niel, her sentence becomes a command when the question mark is removed: "Mary, will you bring the brandy from the sideboard" (24.13). Similarly, George's question in C becomes a statement of faith in Mrs. Forrester's abilities in K: "But you can swim, can't you, Mrs. Forrester?" (16.10). Ellinger's indifference to the ostensible purpose of the sleigh ride is expressed by the removal of the question mark after "cedars" in K: "Are these your cedars, shall we stop here?" (62.6).
As correspondence reveals and collations confirm, Cather worked with a typescript and its duplicate in preparing A Lost Lady for its serial and book publications in 1923. After sending the typescript to Century as setting copy for the serial publication, she revised the duplicate for the Knopf first edition (we to BK, received 16 January 1923). Her significant revision of this second typescript represents a new version of the text of the novel, more fully realizing her intentions for both accidentals and substantives. In considering these revisions as making a decisive case for using the first impression rather than the serial version as copy-text, we follow Greg's rationale for giving preference to the text "closest to the author's hand" (see below, note 1).
Authorial intention involves more than linguistic features, however, as Jerome J. McGann has argued; and while we adopt Greg's general theory of copy-text for the Cather Edition, we are also aware of the manifold complexities of Cather's artistic intentions as well as the socialization of her texts as they moved into and through production. Indeed, one could argue that Cather's artistic intentions for A Lost Lady as they are represented in the serial version, the Knopf first edition, and the Autograph Edition are three separate intentions for her novel, for the three versions have somewhat different "linguistic" and significantly different "bibliographical" signifiers (McGann 57-58).13 One of Cather's intentions for the Century appearance of her novel-on the practical level-was to make money to hire a typist. She gave little attention to the physical aspects of this serial publication,14 reserving her closest scrutiny to a further revision of the text and then to the details of the production of the first edition.15 Most of her artistic and editorial attention and energy were then directed to the first appearance of her text in book form. Her revisions for the 1938 Autograph Edition were part of a collaborative decision with her publishers to make a new set of volumes representing the main body of her work. In the case of A Lost Lady, as we have noted, Cather made few changes. Therefore, because the first edition represents Cather's most intense creative engagement with her work and because the amount of attention she and her publisher gave to the linguistic and bibliographical signifiers of the first edition reflects this engagement, we have chosen it as our copy-text. The copy-text for A Lost Lady is thus a copy of the first state of the first printing of the first edition of the novel in book form.
The emendations initiated by the present editors involve four kinds of accidentals: punctuation (3), spelling (4), hyphenated compounds (4), and miscellaneous (5); these changes make up the Emendations List. In addition, the editors have silently corrected two printer's errors (at 114. rn and 115.17),16 bringing the total to eighteen changes in the text. The Textual Apparatus also provides a list of all substantive variants ("Rejected Variants") between the Century serial, the Knopf printings, and the Autograph Edition, as well as a list of word divisions. In making three emendations of accidentals at 16.10, 77.16, and 88.3, the editors wish to emphasize that there are a number of such variants in punctuation between the Century text and the Knopf first edition that can be seen to affect meaning. The editors believe that at least eight other examples of this particular class invite subjective distinctions: 20.2, 35.5, 74-1, 105.9, 106.9, 117.5, u7.25, and 150.16. The record of these accidental variants deserves more critical attention. The full record of the historical collations, including a list of accidental variants, is on file and available in the Editorial Resources Center, Department of English, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.17
Records of Cather's direct involvement in the design, production, and marketing of her works challenge her editors to extend the conception of a critical edition. The present editors believe that the underlying design of the CSE guidelines coincides with Cather's interests and that her sensitivity to compositorial error is matched by the special care taken in preparing the text of this book. By agreement with the University of Nebraska Press, we undertake proofreading in stages in order to meet the CSE guidelines requiring at least five proofreadings.18 Insofar as is feasible within the series format of a scholarly edition, the editors have cooperated with the designer to create a volume that reflects
In addition, spot checks were made of the first printing, text state a, against an advance review copy; of the first printing, text state a, and eleven other copies of text state a; of five copies of the first printing, text state b1; of four copies of the Canadian issue representing text state b1 and two copies representing text state b2; of two copies of the trade issue representing text state b2; and of four copies representing text state er and two copies representing text state c2. Of the limited issue, representing text state d, two copies (1 and M) belonging to the group lettered A-T were checked, as well as seven copies belonging to the group numbered 1-200. A copy of the trade issue belonging to text state d also was checked. Subsequent printings of the trade issue, text state d, that were checked include four copies of the third printing, four copies of the fifth printing, one copy of the sixth printing and ten copies of the Grosset & Dunlap issue based on the sixth printing, one copy of the seventh printing, and three copies of the tenth printing. Two copies of the eleventh printing, representing text state e, were checked; other examples of this state checked include two copies of the thirteenth printing, two copies of the fourteenth printing, one copy of the fifteenth printing, two copies of the seventeenth printing, two copies of the eighteenth printing, one copy of the nineteenth printing, representing text state e2, and two copies of the twentieth printing, representing text state e3. Three other copies of the Heinemann edition, two other copies of the Tauchnitz edition, and a copy of the Library Edition, based on the Autograph Edition, were also spot-checked.(Go back.)
Alexander's Bridge; she selected stories and wrote an introduction for Houghton Mifflin's edition of Sarah Orne Jewett's stories; she revised—at Greenslet's request—the introduction for the "new" edition of My Ántonia; and she granted requests to reprint stories in anthologies (for "A Wagner Matinee" in Great Short Stories of the World and for "Double Birthday" in A Modern Galaxy).
In May 1930 Greenslet asked Cather whether there was any truth to the rumor that she was going to change publishers, then went on to write that this rumor sounded "incredible, but since it is in the air, I should be very remiss did I not say that there is nothing that could give all of us here,—yes, all of us,—more pleasure than to publish sometime another book by you, and I am sure that we could propose arrangements that would be very much to your profit." He closed this letter with a careful reference to Knopf: "You have been ably and intelligently handled by Alfred Knopf, and we wish him well, but it would pretty well break the remains of my tough old publishing heart if you were to suddenly turn up on some other publisher's list" (FG to we, 7 May 1930). The next day, Cather replied from the Grosvenor Hotel in Manhattan that the report that she was leaving Knopf was utterly false; she said she had never even thought of such a thing. If she were to do so, Greenslet would be the first to hear (we to FG, 8 May 1930). In 1931 Greenslet asked Cather to write a new preface for The Song of the Lark; she refused, never providing such an introduction for Houghton Mifflin but eventually writing one for the British edition published by Heinemann. A year later Greenslet wrote her about selling the movie rights to The Song of the Lark; she was receptive, but the deal fell through.
It was in 1932 that Houghton Mifflin refused to release its novels for a subscription edition by Scribner's, saying that the times were bad for doing one of its own. A year later Greenslet set forth the terms of the agreement with Tauchnitz for My Ántonia; it would not be a moneymaker, but it would give useful exposure (FG to we, 2 January 1935). A number ofletters in this period announce translations. Many personal touches in this correspondence make it clear that Cather and Greenslet were friends; Cather, we believe, respected Greenslet's candor as well as his elegant manners.(Go back.)
114.10 "No,"] CE; "No," K; "No," C, AE
115.17 fields. As] CE; fields.. As K; fields. As C, AE(Go back.)
|Alderman||Alderman Library, University of Virginia, Charlottesville|
|Faulkner||Faulkner Collection, Special Collections, Love Library, University of Nebraska, Lincoln|
|Heritage||Heritage Room, Bennett Martin Public Library, Lincoln|
|HRC||Humanities Research Center, University ofTexas, Austin|
|Knopf||Knopf Collection, Humanities Resource Center, University of Texas, Austin|
|Rosowski||Collection of Susan J. Rosowski, uncatalogued|
|Slote||Slote Collection, Special Collections, Love Library, University of Nebraska, Lincoln|
|UN-L||Love Library, University of Nebraska, Lincoln|
|UN-L Spec||Special Collections, Love Library, University of Nebraska, Lincoln|
When the corrected text and apparatus returns from the compositor, the Cather editors make (4) a team collation of these materials, correcting any errors in page and line numbers, check that the corrections have been made, and compile the word-division list (list B) for the newly reset pages of the novel. The Press undertakes (5) a proofreading that compares pages with corrected proofs to ensure that no text has been dropped and also reads the lines that have been corrected. When the Press returns xeroxes of reproduction paper (equivalent to "blues") to the Cather editors, they (6) conduct a machine collation of the "repros" against the last set of proofread page proofs.(Go back.)
THE following list records all substantive and accidental changes introduced into the copy-text, the first printing of the 1923 Knopf first edition. The reading of the present edition appears to the left of the bracket; to the right of the bracket are recorded the source of that reading, followed by a semicolon, the copy-text reading, the copy-text symbol, and intermediate variant readings when such exist.
Within an entry, a caret (^) indicates the absence of punctuation. The abbreviation CE indicates emendations made for the first time in the Cather Edition and not present in any of the editions examined in the preparation of the text. An asterisk (*) indicates that the reading is discussed in the Notes on Emendations.
The following texts are referred to:
|K||Knopf, 1923; first edition, first printing, text state a|
|C||Century Magazine, April-June 1923|
|AE||Autograph Edition, Houghton Mifflin, 1938|
|16.10||Forrester?] C; Forrester, K; Forrester? C, AE|
|*19.24||cornfields] AE; corn fields K; corn-fields C; cornfields AE|
|*24.9||dining-room] C; dining room K; dining-room C, AE|
|*26.18, 137.9||Dr.] CE; Doctor K, C, AE|
|45.7-8||maraschino] C; Maraschino K; maraschino C, AE|
|60.22, 74.23||astrakhan] C; ashtrachan K, AE; astrakhan C|
|77.16||enjoyments.] C; enjoyments^ K; enjoyments. C, AE|
|*78.15||labours] AE; labors K, C; labours AE|
|*88.3||hands,—"By] CE; hands, "By K; hands,— "my C; hands^— 'by AE|
|90.13||Panama] C; panama K; Panama C, AE|
|*104.7||greyer] C; grayer K; greyer C, AE|
|*112.18||déshabillé] C; déshabille K, AE; déshabillé C|
|*116.6||Good-evening] AE; Good evening K, C; Good-evening AE|
|163.19||ever-piercing] C; every-piercing K; ever-piercing C, AE|
THIS section records all substantive variants in relevant editions published before and after the copy-text and rejected in the present text. The reading of the present edition appears to the left of the bracket; the authority for that reading, followed by a semicolon, the variant reading, and its source or sources appear to the right of the bracket. Within an entry, a caret (^) indicates the absence of punctuation. Superscript numbers identify the first, second, or subsequent use of the same word in a line of text. An equal sign followed by a slash(=/) indicates an end-line division.
We refer to the following texts:
|K||Knopf, 1923; first edition, first printing, text state a|
|K(b1)||first or second printing, text state b1|
|K(b2)||first or second printing, text state b2|
|K(c1)||first or second printing, text state c1|
|K(c2)||first or second printing, text state c2|
|K(d)||second through tenth printings, text state d|
|K(e||eleventh and subsequent printings, text state e|
|C||Century Magazine, April-June 1923|
|AE||Autograph Edition, Houghton Mifflin, 1938|
|7.8||which] K; that C|
|7.11||the general] K; general C|
|7.12||whose names we all] K; whom every one C|
|7.13||younger brothers] K; young brothers AE|
|7.16-17||passes; they and their families] K; passes for themselves and their families, and C|
|8.8||Captain Daniel] K; Captain C|
|8.24||close into] K; in the edge of C|
|9.10||either] K; each C|
|9.11-12||the stout] K; a stout C|
|9.12||road-bridge.] K; road-bridge over which the Captain drove daily on his trips to town. C|
|9.25||either] K; each C|
|10.2||who were older] K; even older C|
|11.16||but] K; only C|
|12.1||will] K; shall C|
|12.7||along] K; up C|
|12.9||was] K; were C|
|12.14||leading grocer's] K; grocer's C|
|13.5||which] K; that C|
|13.7||nodded] K; nodded to them C|
|13.7||one] K; holding one C|
|14.14||among] K; amongst AE|
|14.22||in spite of] K; despite C|
|15.1||was just] K; just C|
|16.19||he'll] K; he will AE|
|16.19||Now,] K; Now, boys, C|
|16.25||German] K; two German AE|
|18.12||22] K; twenty-two C, AE|
|18.20||upon] K; on C|
|19.10||him] K; it C|
|19.14||which] K; that C|
|21.6||flutter in] K; in C|
|21.7||he, anyhow. It's a female. Anybody] K; he; anybody C|
|22.8||struck] K; and struck C|
|23.9||breath] K; his breath C|
|24.8||through the butler's] K; through the kitchen, the butler's C|
|25.8||Niel] K; When Neil C|
|25.8-9||and looked wonderingly about the] K; he found himself in a C|
|25.14||and] K; as C|
|25.24||so quickly] K; quickly C|
|26.11||all inlaid] K; inlaid C|
|27.3||relation] K; relative C|
|27.18||man, young, good-looking,] K; young man C|
|29.4-5||left Sweet Water] K; went away C|
|29.19||winter] K; the winter AE|
|30.4||hedges, devoted] K; hedges^ and devoted C|
|30.12-13||gentlemen] K; gentleman C|
|30.14||now had fewer] K; no longer had so many C|
|31.5-6||town. There] K; town, and there C|
|31.10||arranged] K; he arranged C|
|32.2||solemn] K; by solemn C|
|32.16||lighted] K; had lighted C|
|32.22||chair] K; chair that AE|
|33.15||conscious] K; aware C|
|33.23||get] K; be at C|
|34.4||playfully] K; gaily C|
|34.6||has been] K; is C|
|34.20||snow-crusted] K; snow-encrusted AE|
|36.1||walnut] K; tall walnut C|
|36.2||that had] K; with C; by AE|
|36.9-10||poured out] K; poured C|
|37.7||He] K; Neil C|
|37.25||Forrester, although he had] K; Forrester had C|
|38.1||liked] K; but he liked C|
|39.8-9||distinguished as Mrs. Forrester] K; distinguished C|
|39.9||other women] K; they C|
|39.13||that] K; which C|
|41.2||2the] K; this C|
|41.8||asked to the Forresters'] K; invited C|
|41.10||horsehair] K; horsehairs AE|
|41.11||Captain Forrester] K; The captain C|
|41.21||rather pretty] K; pretty C|
|42.1||which] K; that C|
|42.5||In spite of] K; Despite C|
|42.11||her] K; Miss Ogden C|
|42.11-12||"he found] K; found C|
|42.14||up in] K; inc|
|42.19||lay] K; was C|
|43.17||more lively] K; livelier C|
|43.25||coarse] K; as coarse C|
|44.12||ambiguous] K; club C|
|44.13-14||but he] K; but C|
|45.3||2his] K; their C|
|45.15||laughed] K; had laughed C|
|45.24||next] K; next to C|
|46.20-21||an hysterical] K; a hysterical C|
|25.8-9||"and looked wonderingly about the] K; he found himself in a c"|
|46.21||an] K; or an C|
|47.11||couldn't decide] K; did n't know C|
|47.12||Frank] K; Ellinger C|
|48.23||high courtesy] K; geniality C|
|48.25||otherwise] K; other C|
|49.9-10||in the same way] K; just as C|
|49.21||worthy] K; also worthy C|
|50.5||good] K; with good AE|
|50.12||on his horse to] K; to C|
|51.8||absently] K; absent-mindedly C|
|51.12||to the] K; the C|
|52.9-10||so to speak-] K; as it were, C|
|53.13||Ashe] K; He C|
|53.14||he paused] K; paused C|
|53.20||would] K; would probably C|
|53.20-21||each, probably,] K; each, C|
|54.4||either] K; each C|
|55.5||He] K; Neil C|
|56.3||which] K; that C|
|56.11||called] K; said, C|
|58.19||merry tinkle] K; tinkle C|
|59.4||Wouldn't] K; Would C|
|59.15||then] K; and then AE|
|66.l||first one] K; first C|
|66.14-15||been so content with a bachelor's life,] K; lived a bachelor's life since he was six years old C|
|67.3||run] K; to run C|
|67.6||conservatory] K; conservatory for them C|
|67.22||the] K; by the C|
|67.24||or Thad] K; Thad C|
|68.5||one] K; you C|
|68.9||it often] K; often it C|
|68.12||were] K; was C|
|68.22||whirling] K; curling C|
|69.2||accumulation ofletters] K; accumulation C|
|70.14||you've] K; you have AE|
|72.3||What is she like?] K; Is she pretty? C|
|74.5||at] K; in C|
|74.20||aren't] K; are not C|
|77.1||Juan." Then] K; Juan." Now he was curious about these fat volumes; C|
|77.4||these last,-] K; these; ^ C; these last^ AE|
|77.5||These] K; The C|
|77.14||first found] K; found C|
|77.17||felt that they were] K; thought them C|
|77.18||ever told] K; he had ever come upon C|
|77.18||think of these books as] K; regard them as books, C|
|78.2||know] K; decide C|
|78.5||Bohn library] K; these books C|
|79.21||and after he went to bed, he] K; went to bed, and C|
|80.10||though] K; although AE|
|80.12||round through] K; round C|
|80.12||on to] K; onto AE|
|80.15||knees] K; knee C|
|80.16||globed] K; glowed AE|
|81.22||worldlings] K; worldings C|
|82.3||closed] K; still closed C|
|82.19||and all] K; all C|
|83.2||this was] K; these were C|
|83.3||she] K; that she C|
|84.20||considers] K; considers that C|
|85.25||which] K; that C|
|86.5||which] K; that C|
|87.1||stocks] K; stock C|
|87.4-6||watchchain. "That was what a man of honour was "bound to do, Mrs. Forrester. With] K; watch=/chain. ¶ "With C|
|88.12||and by God, they] K; and they C|
|88.22||conscious] K; aware C|
|90.3||letters] K; letters of solicitous inquiry C|
|90.5||acknowledged. Solicitous inquiries came] K; acknowledged, C|
|90.7||Mrs. Forrester] K; she C|
|90.7-8||the Captain's room] K; Captain Forrester's roomA C|
|90.13||Panama] cE; white panama c; panama K; Panama AE|
|90.14||climbing] K; puffing C|
|90.16||enquire] K; inquire in person C|
|90.18||mounted] K; came C|
|90.21||warm, deep voice,] K; deep, mellow voice: C|
|91.1||Mr. Dalzell shook hands with Niel, and as he talked he] K; Neil was introduced, and Mr. Dalzell shook his hand heartily. He had a heavy, courtly carriage, andc|
|91.3||stopped him to straighten] K; straightened c|
|91.4||pull] K; pulled C|
|91.22||couple] K; couple of AE|
|92.7||beside] K; that hung beside C|
|92.10||light] K; as light C|
|93.9||years] K; time C|
|94.16||help you] K; help C|
|94.20||to] K; for C|
|95.1||"filled three glasses with ceremony] K; with ceremony filled three glasses c"|
|95.9||"He went down the hill touched and happy.] K; Touched and happy,hewentdownthe hill. C|
|99.6||young man] K; man C|
|99.7||silk shirt] K; shirt C|
|99.13||in] K; into C|
|100.4-5||a good many changes] K; changes C|
|101.5-6||determined] K; trying his best C|
|102.9||territory] K; territory that C|
|103.2||plot] K; space C|
|103.6||space] K; plot C|
|103.19||up there] K; there C|
|104.2-3||each other] K; one another C|
|104.9||awhile] K; a while C, AE|
|105.18||Nonsense] K; Nonsense, Neil C|
|106.5||herself] K; herself up, AE|
|106.6||found that] K; felt AE|
|107.22||always too] K; too C|
|108.3||the rugs] K; rugs C|
|108.9||about] K; about myself AE|
|109.19||Mr. Forrester] K; him C|
|111.1||me] K; me out C|
|111.7||fine] K; as fine C|
|112.1||in] K; over in C|
|112.3||go over] K; go C|
|113.9||damned] K; damn C|
|113.13-14||her arm through the handle of a big tin bucket that rested] K; a big tin bucket resting C; her arm through the handle of a big tin pail that rested AE|
|114.11||said quietly] K; said C|
|116.16||shrugged] K; shrugged scornfully C|
|116.25||Niel stood looking after him.] K; Neil, turning to look after him, said: C|
|116.25-117.1||allow him to] K; let him C|
|117.23-24||some of your other] K; some other of your C|
|119.6||he looked after things here] K; he stayed here at night C|
|119.21||with a purpose; I wanted] K; for a purpose, C|
|119.24||have!] K; have! Now I know. C|
|120.2||while.] K; while. Presently, she added: C|
|120.12||dozen] K; dozen more C|
|121.8||over to them] K; over C|
|121.8||and to] K; for them and C|
|121.12||ask in a low voice] K; ask C|
|121.12||had got] K; had C|
|122.22||tools and sheets] K; sheets C|
|122.25||When at last] K; When C|
|123.9||coat] K; rubber coat AE|
|123.10||from] K; from under C|
|123.18||1her] K; the C|
|123.21||After=/wards.] K; Afterward. AE|
|123.25||strong] K; strongly C|
|124.1||rub=/ber] K; old rubber C|
|124.23||He] K; He then C|
|126.9||dare to] K; dare C|
|126.10||be a listener] K; overhear C|
|126.15||You've] K; You have AE|
|126.20-21||reproaches] K; reproaches, incoherent ravingsC|
|127.4||very sorry] K; sorry C|
|129.3||blew] K; put C|
|130.1-2||story with perfect composure] K; story C|
|130.3||thank] K; oh, thank C|
|131.6||quite went] K; went C|
|131.7||had begun] K; began C|
|131.12||Dennison.] K; Dennison. The Episcopal church was closed, having no membership left. C|
|132.21-22||revival, like] K; revival. It was like C|
|132.22||a church] K; church C|
|135.3||September sunlight] K; sunlight C|
|135.10||pleasures] K; pleasure C|
|135.14||alone] K; alone in the lower part of the house C|
|135.23||liked] K; felt a singular pleasure in C|
|136.1||pictures] K; picture AE|
|136.5||which] K; that C|
|136.15||were] K; was C|
|137.6||friends] K; personal friends C|
|138.8||jacket pockets] K; pockets C|
|138.15-16||then turned away her head] K; turned her head away C|
|138.24||put] K; set C|
|138.25||base] K; case C|
|141.13||something that] K; something C|
|141.20||2to] K; of C|
|142.24||Captain's death,- ] K; captain died, ^ c; Captain's death/\- AE|
|142.24||their] K; his C|
|143.2||so."] K; so," Neil said. C|
|143.11||more free] K; freer C|
|143.25||her] K; Mrs. Forrester C|
|145.4||to see] K; to C|
|145.17||her faculty] K; all her faculty C|
|145.17-18||discrimination; her power] K; discrimination, had lost her power C|
|145.23||near his land-holdings] K; in that part of Wyoming where he held land C; near his landholdings AE|
|146.3||him] K; him at almost any hour C|
|146.9||at Mrs. Forrester's] K; with Mrs. Forrester C|
|146.25-26||"kind. You know this town is no place for you.] K; kind. c"|
|147.6||ones] K; one C|
|148.5||come] K; go C|
|148.21||to see] K; on C|
|150.3||Judge Pommeroy's] K; the C|
|150.7||years and years] K; years C|
|150.10||feel] K; felt C|
|150.19||mustn't] K; must not C|
|151.14||and there] K; where C|
|151.23-24||queensware store] K; store C|
|152.14-15||general success] K; success C|
|153.8||so vulgar] K; vulgar C|
|154.22||and] K; when C|
|156.1||listened to them for] K; listened C|
|156.12||smiled and shook her head] K; shook her head and smiled C|
|156.22||father's] K; father's partner C|
|156.24||story; long ago Niel had] K; story. Neil had once C|
|157.9||Once] K; Well, once C|
|157.21||Harney] K; Harvey C|
|158.21||her, but by] K; her; by C|
|158.21||got] K; brought C|
|159.18||the stage-hands] K; stage-hands C|
|160.6||a melancholy] K; melancholy C|
|161.13||weary contempt] K; contempt C|
|161.22||and unconcernedly] K; unconcernedly C|
|162.18||now and then,] K; from time to time C|
|163.6||were] K; was C|
|163.9||in to] K, AE; into C|
|164.9||give you] K; give C|
|164.19||"laugh,—that hadn't] K; laugh; she hadn't C; laughA—that hadn't AE"|
|166.9||of] K, K(b1), K(b2), K(e); ah(c1), K(c2),K(d)|
LIST A records compounds or possible compounds hyphenated at the ends of lines in the copy-text and resolved as hyphenated or as one word. See the Textual Essay (p.303) for a discussion of the criteria used for resolving these forms. List B contains the end-line hyphenations that are to be retained in quotations from the present edition.