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She said she was glad to be of use to him keep your seli-respect," he said coe dar to in his work. So they had talked chietis Muriel in the light anda be tossed oci about his work for a week or so as the par- serious things “It's coe of the few real trait progressed. Then they talked about satisfactions left us br cbrdoa." other interesting matters, such as them- *The great an," bed Manel, "ibe selves and each other....
real civilization is to do anything you want Her assumption of superior knowledge of and yet keep your self-respect." life he ignored or laughed at, harking back “That's all right." be retarted pointedly, to the old days when she was a mere girl" for any one whose capacity for self-deand he was a man. He still bullied her- ception is unlimited." and that was what she liked. “As a matter "Which corresponds," rejoined Nuriel of fact,” he said, "you have never really glībly, “with the capacity for conceiving and 'lived,' though that, of course, is just what achieving great things. The trouble with you think you have done. You have only you, Fred, is that there is a big man inside, experimented. You have never got into only you won't let it out." the procession. You have never become And Fred thought there was some truth part of the fabric of life. You have only in this. Most of us are convinced that looked on."
there is a pretty big thing inside. And the “And you have found the real thing? joke of it is that we are generally right Is that your point?”.
about it! "My point is that you have missed it," It was all rather silly and very attractive. he retorted, carefully choosing a brush She was very beautiful and somewhat from the little brown jug at his elbow. naughty, and he was still quite young. ...
“Well, it's interesting to look on at those Molly's unexpected visit had put a new who have found it. Is that why you have complexion upon all this. He was brought me around? You wish to do me good?” up short to a realization of things. He did
"It's because you're so good to look at," not like to think, but he had to. Well, he replied simply.
he supposed she would want him to give "Well, keep on looking, if you think it up his innocent fun. He wanted her to be will do you good.”
happy, to have everything-only, why must “Oh, I will, I will,” he bantered, “I'm it always be at the expense of something he not afraid.”
wanted! The daily grind was beginning to “So I have heard you say,” she an- tell. He loathed the work he was doing, swered, continuing to smile at him. the more so because he had proved himself
He stopped painting and looked up. worthy of better things. It was all right to “Dear me, Muriel, do you think you are sacrifice success, everything, for marriage, tempting me?” he jeered at her.
but suppose your marriage is not a success “How can I when you are perfectly —then you haven't anything. His old nohappy?" she answered after a pause. tions of abstract morality had gone with He kept on painting.
promise to love, and the organic need, “Do you know, I believe I could play the strong in natures like his, for fun, sparkle, devil with you if I wanted to,” she laughed recklessness, was storming within him. delightfully, bending to look into his eyes. Marriage seemed a bird-cage. He had been
He was perfectly willing to let her think lured in by the bait of love, and now having so, as long as he knew she was doing noth- devoured the bait, he found himself iming of the sort. And if at times a certain prisoned for life, a heavy penalty for ignowell-known impulse arose, to follow where rance. He could only beat his wings against she led—the old instinct for pursuit and the bars and sigh for the freedom he had capture, conquest and regret-he stopped not valued. short with the thought, “But I don't do But all unknown to him and Muriel, that sort of thing any more.” It was not Molly who knew her husband well, and because he did not want to—that high ideal had taken Muriel's measure in a glance, of himself had crashed long ago—but be- had decided not to bar the cage door, but cause he had no right to. So he went on to Aling it wide open. Sometimes it's not painting.
the cage, but merely the door that troubles “You know, it's a pretty good thing to them. ...
He spoke to Molly, briefly, jocularly, of Fred smiled. It was the “Why trouble Muriel's friendship. “You know we don't your little head about it” expression. look at these things in the stupid way of “Who wants to look at black-and-white?” some people.”
he asked. “Of course not,” said Molly blithely. “Every one-at yours.” “A man should feel he can have all the Again he smiled indulgently. Fond wives friends he wants. Muriel is wonderful. always overrated their husband's importCultivate her.” Molly also cultivated her. ance. It was rather cunning. “All right,” Muriel smiled, thinking it to be a blind he said to dismiss the subject. “I'll ask from which to watch the poaching. Myers if he can give me a gallery.”
But for a conventional little thing, Molly “Why not MacPherson ?". seemed to be throwing them together a He smiled again. “You don't undergreat deal, and to be keeping most oblig- stand such matters, my dear; MacPherson ingly out of the way. “Fred hates to have wouldn't dream of taking me on.” me around," laughed Molly, “when he “He told me to-day that he would," talks to women. Threesomes are always Molly answered quietly. such a bore, don't you find them so?” “What! Have you—why, Molly!” Meanwhile she was telling Fred that he But though he did not like the thought of must see more of Muriel. “It will do you dainty little Molly's interviewing art deal. good,” she urged with most engaging ers, he could not very well refuse to exhibit candor. “You have tried to be a stolid at MacPherson's! And he could not help husband. The pose does not suit you, my being pleased, and told Molly so, while she dear. Let go and be yourself. “Express glowed and was glad. This was not your own individuality,' as Muriel calls it, economic independence. It was better. It 'live your own life.'” Molly's gift of was the mutual de pendence of common inmimicry at this point made Fred blush, terest. Muriel could not have done that, though why should he blush for Muriel? gloated Molly. She would not have cared
This unexpected move was as puzzling to. It was not to her interest to stay awake to Muriel as it was disquieting to Fred. at night planning things to do for Fred. Molly was taking the matter out into the It was to a wife's. A wife stood or fell in light, tearing off the mystery, the surrepti- the world beside her husband. tiousness. Would the charm go, too? Oh, if she could only win back the place
“Muriel is dying to take you on," said that she had lost! She saw now what Molly to Fred. “She's so crazy about might be done there, supplying the qualimen.”
ties he lacked, bringing out and guiding “You little cat!” laughed Fred. “Don't those he had, making herself indispensable be silly." He hated to be thought a to him, as he in turn was indispensable to "ladies' man.” For a moment he felt the her-something more substantial, this, than strange disrelish that he used to experience a pretty-colored rainbow. There was no when as a boy his mother urged him to be longer a chasm between them-merely a "attentive" to the daughters of family woman. Muriel must be destroyed. friends. One invariably detested them. For Molly it was not always an easy part to play, with a smiling face and quick-beating heart. But she hoped and kept silent, try- The spring passed, and Molly was making to believe that if she lost him by free- ing herself of use to her husband in other dom he was not worth winning otherwise. ways than about the studio, though he no
Meanwhile she was trying to insinuate longer objected to her helping him there. herself into his work, gathering up the old As for Fred, he could not very well take threads of common interests, talking the advantage of his wife's trust in him. He old dear language, carefully studying the did not believe in himself, particularly, but exhibitions, but keeping most of the time so long as she believed in him, there was out of his studio.
nothing to do but behave himself. Molly “Fred, why don't you exhibit some of knew now that she could make him give up your recent illustrations in the fall when Muriel, but she did not propose to have any we come back?" she asked him.
self-sacrificing, and sighing for what might
have been; she intended to make him see “Why not?” asked Molly guilelessly. that she was what he wanted, not Muriel. “She's such a dear friend-of both of us The glamour was still there, the fascination now." of the unknown, the unattainable. The “She won't like camping," said Fred reason so many men and women think they scowling. would have been happier married to the “Oh, she told us when you were in the other one is because they never married other room that she 'adored nature."" the other one. Molly could not very well ar- Fred did not laugh. For an intelligent range a trial marriage for this pair, but per- girl, Molly seemed very short-sighted. haps that was not necessary. She evolved “Think what people will say,” he reminded a plan by which, she believed, Muriel would her reluctantly. destroy herself.
“Oh, but we don't look at these things The Carrolls were going off on a vacation in that stupid way," quoted Molly. next month, up in the North Woods, and It would seem that her husband, howthey were telling their guests about it at ever, was beginning to look at things in a a dinner Muriel attended, looking enig- rather stupid way, for he protested to matic and resplendent. “You see, he's Muriel herself. never had a vacation, poor lamb, since the “So you don't want me?" she asked summer we were married. I've gone off standing before him, smiling. and visited my people and his; but he has “No, I don't want you." stayed on here in the heat of the city turn- She only laughed at him. “But you ing out work.”
do!" she reproved him delightfully, and as Fred smiled in a deprecatory manner, if to shake him (perhaps) she lightly took but he liked it. They always do, the noble him by the shoulders, then stopped. “You martyrs.
mean that you're afraid of me!” she said “So, when he refused again this time, in a burlesque whisper, searching his eyes. there was nothing for me to do but go “So you've often told me,” he replied, ahead and telegraph the guides. And now coolly returning her gaze. he must go, whether he wants to or not.” “That settles it,” she said, flushing
Molly knew one reason why he did not slightly, “I'm coming. We'll see.” want to go. So did the guests, including So she came and saw. Muriel herself. The cunning little wife “My, what won't that girl do next!” was going to remove him from temptation. asked certain of the lookers on.
Muriel, who sat very high and straight, “Is Molly blind?” when she was dining out, smiled down upon “No, but she can wink.” Molly. She could not resist displaying her B ut they were only lookers on. They potency and the fear of it. “What fun never understand. you'll have. Won't you take me, too?”. she asked, stepping gracefully into Molly's
“Will you come!” cried Molly with It was the last day of Muriel's visit at genuine eagerness. “Oh, how nice.” And the Carrolls' camp. The climate or someit was arranged at once between them. thing did not agree with her, and so she Fred meanwhile pretending to talk shop to was leaving earlier than had been expected, the woman on his left, while he, like her, much to Molly's disappointment, it seems. listened to Molly with astonishment. Fred, too, protested politely. In all the
Muriel considered it sheer bravado. The six days he had never once been out of young wife wished to say to her and to the Muriel's sight. Molly saw to that. others, “See, I'm not afraid.” Muriel Muriel was not at her best camping. made up her mind to accept in earnest. She "adored nature,” but not in the raw. She was no longer amused with the con- The only kind of camping she had ever ventional little thing. She was becoming done was at certain Adirondack "camps." rather annoyed. Molly seemed so calmly which contained butlers and formal garsure of herself and of her husband. dens. This was different. There was but
“You didn't mean that?" asked Fred as one guide, an old friend of the Carrolls soon as the door closed on the last guest. named John, who was willing to do anything, but expected the "city sports” to do did not care for it. Perhaps his prejudice their share. Since Muriel was a guest, tinged the whole camp. The prejudices Molly and Fred did Muriel's share, because of guides are apt to do that. she did not know much about life in the Fred was all right by moonlight on the woods.
lake, unless he were too sleepy after being Molly did. She was good in camp. out doors all day, but the trouble with “You are the only woman I ever knew,” Fred was that he had not been in the Fred had once said, “who isn't a nuisance woods for years and he was consumed with in the woods.” That was the summer they a barbarous lust for taking innocent life. became engaged-perhaps it had some- His manner was no longer bullying with thing to do with their becoming engaged— Muriel, he had become suspiciously galand a girl does not forget much that is said lant, extravagantly polite. “Oh, we are to her during the summer she is engaged going to have a wonderful time together
But camping did not seem to suit Muri- up here," his manner said—“but just wait el's long attenuated style, and the sun till I catch a two-pounder.” He had once played havoc with her beautiful nose. She been an expert fly-caster. He'd forgotten could not drape herself becomingly upon how much he loved it. the rocks, as with the Italian chairs in the He took Muriel with him to some of the soft candle light of the studio.
nearby streams, while Molly obligingly went She talked at breakfast. That was some far away to the good streams with John. thing Molly had long since learned would The good streams are always far away. Munever do when Fred was around. She riel could not stand the journey. She did not talked interestingly, but it wouldn't do. know how to sit in a canoe, much less “See those clouds," she would say, "like paddle it, and she was bored, frankly disappointed hopes.”
bored. She began to think she ought never “Yes, indeed," said Fred, without look- to have come to this wild place, with this ing up. “Any more flapjacks, Molly?” uncouth, provincial little pair who were not He was unshaven and his necktieless flan- her sort in the least. nel shirt was open at the throat-a gross Molly was making ready to start for creature.
Round Pond with John. “You and Muriel "You cannot retain his interest in you,'” can guard the camp-fire,” she said. Fred quoted Molly from Muriel's celebrated lec- was helping her sort out flies, enviously, ture, “when you are incapable of intelli- Muriel was gazing out upon the lake, her gent interest in his work.'” She did it with hands clasped behind her head, tall, erect, such good nature that Muriel laughed. enigmatic—the very pose in which Fred
After that, however, she took breakfast had painted her. “Molly,” he whispered in her tent.
boyishly, “why can't I go?” “I am so absurdly slow about dress- "Muriel," she replied. “Threesomes ing, my dear, that unless it is an awful nui- are such a bore! Besides, she could not sance "
stand the long carry." “Not at all,” said Molly, “Fred will be “Why can't you stay with Muriel-just delighted to bring your breakfast to you. once," he laughed. And he will be only too glad to get up and “Why, Fred! She's your guest." heat some water for you before breakfast, “She is not. You invited her.” if you like. Won't you, dear.”
“For your sake, Fred.” “Yes, indeed,” said Fred.
“Well, it doesn't seem right for you to But Muriel preferred to have John, the leave her on the last day of her visit. It's guide, perform these functions. Her toilet not nice.” He said it humorously, but he was complicated, and required plenty of hoped she would take the hint. hot water and time. (Molly understood.) “Oh, you can entertain her. Talk about So she tipped John, and this hurt his feel- nature. You haven't grown tired of her ings. John used to crouch upon his so soon, my dear!” haunches before the camp fire in the even- “No, of course not. But, hang it, I've ing and gaze upon her for minutes at a been entertaining her from morning till time in mute contempt. He had never night ever since we arrived, and I'm sick seen anything quite like this before. He of it, I tell you. You haven't done your share. You've been skipping out and hav- conscious of each other's presence. “May ing a good time and getting all the fishing. I not get you a sofa cushion and something I want some fishing, too. That's what I to read ?" asked Fred politely. came for. I think it's selfish of you, I didn't “No, thanks,” Muriel replied musically, think it of you!”
“I must pack.' “Fred, Fred! I didn't think this of you! Cheer up, dear. There's only one day more, then we'll be together-alone, When Molly returned the two egoists dear. Besides, you are going to see enough were sitting side by side talking animatedly of me this winter. We're going to get a about art. But she observed with a smile studio apartment and economize.”
that each had a finger in books they had “What are you two children quarrelling been reading. about?” asked Muriel in her delightfullyW hen at last the hour of departure came, modulated voice, as she 'swam' toward welcome to all, including John, groaning them gracefully, her hands still behind her under Muriel's mountainous duffle bag, head. “I never supposed I'd find you Mr. and Mrs. Carroll stood upon the little quarrelling."
dock and waved good-by to their guest At this Molly bent lower over her fly- until the canoe disappeared behind the book. “Ask Fred,” she said.
point. Molly heard her husband breathe "Oh, the devil,” growled Fred, and he a sigh of relief, and she smiled indulgently hurried down the bank to help John over- as when a mother hears a little child wakturn the canoe.
ing up from a bad dream. The little com"He's as cross as a bear to-day,” said edy was ended. The field was now clear Molly, busily unreeling her line and testing for the greater task still unfinished, to make its strength. “Do cheer him up, when I a real union of what had merely been a am gone, Muriel. If you can't, who can ?” marriage. It was a good place to resume,
Fred, on the little dock, holding the canoe, here where they had made their false start. watched her approach carrying the rod She had it in her own hands now. Man which he had taught her to handle better proposes marriage; woman disposes of it. than most men. She looked like a mere Fred had turned eagerly to talk of fishing girl in her short khaki skirt, as she stepped plans. But he had been arrested by the briskly toward him, strong, alert, full of look on his wife's half-turned face. He was verve and grace.
still gazing at it in amazement as compreIgnoring the hand he held out to her, she hension flashed across his own. Then with stepped nimbly into the canoe, into the the mingled sensations of a man when he centre of it, with apparent thoughtlessness. first awakes to the great fact that his wife Then taking up her paddle, as John took understands him better than he does himup his, “Good-by, my dears,” she said, self-alarm, respect, amusement and solid “take good care of each other. Muriel, comfort—“Molly! you little wretch!” he help yourself to my cold cream, if yours is all cried, sheer admiration for her breaking gone. Help yourself to anything of mine through shame and all the rest, “I see it you want. Good-by. I'll be back at sun- now!" set,” and away she went, paddling swiftly. They turned and confronted each other
The two prisoners gazed after her in si- with new eyes, understanding and unlent alarm, both self-conscious, dreading to ashamed, while laughter crowded out their meet each other's eyes, longing for cheerful old polite artificiality. For him it was the Molly's return. Muriel was no longer a moment of clear vision. He saw what a welcome luxury, and as Molly had inter- stupid thing their marriage had been, what fered with her being a necessity, she had a goodly thing it might be. He caught and become disquietingly like a nuisance. To held her close in their glad renewal, the her Fred had simply become another disap- tenderest of passions. pointment-like all men, when once you “It isn't that I was such an ass that surknow them well enough. Poor Muriel, she prises me,” he said, at last,“ but that you was out of the procession. ... Molly's considered me worth pulling out!” canoe disappeared behind the point. TheShe looked up, tender, merry and wise. two marooned mutineers became more “Oh, I will always pull you out,” she said.