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WESTERN KANSAS WORLD
Hollow of Her Hand Georste Barr MCutclieon CHAPTER XXI. Continued. "I did not see the register at the Inn. I did not know till afterwards that we were not booked, f Once up stairs, I refused to remove my hat or my veil or my coat until he brought his friend to me. He pretended to be very angry over his friend's failure to be there beforehand, as he had promised. He ordered a supper served in the room. I did not eat any thing. Somehow I was beginning to understand, vaguely of course, but Burely and bitterly, Mr. Wrandall. Suddenly he threw off the mask. "He coolly informed me that he knew the kind of a girl I was. I had been on the stage. He said it was no use trying to work the marriage game on him. He was too old a bird and too wise to fall for that.. Those were his words. I was horrified, stunned. When I began to cry out in my fury, be laughed at me but swore he would marry me even at that if It were not for the fact that he was already mar ried. . . , I tried to leave the room. He held me. He kissed me a hundred times before I could break away. I I tried to scream. ... A little later on, when I was absolutely des perate, I I snatched up the knife. There was ' nothing else left for me to do. I struck at him. He fell back on the bed. ... I stole out of the bouse oh, hours and hours afterward it seemed, to me. I cannot tell you bow long I stood there watching him. . . . I was crazed by fear. I I " Redmond Wrandall held up his band. "We will epare you the rest. Miss Castleton," he said, his voice hoarse and unnatural. "There Is no need to say more." . "You you understand? You do be lieve me?" she cried. He looked down at his wife's bowed bead, and received no sign from her; thin at the white, drawn faces of his children. They met his gaze and he read something in their eyes. "1 I think your story is so convinc ing that we we coi.ld not endure the shame of having it repeated to the world." "11 cannot ask you to forgive me, sir. I only ask you to believe me," she murmured brokenly. "I I am sorry it had to be. God is my witness that there was no other way." Mr. Carroll came to hia feet. There were tears in his eyes. "I think, Mr. Wrandall, you will now appreciate my motives In " "Pardon me, Mr. Carroll, if I sug gest that Miss Castleton does not re quire any defense at present," said Mr. Wrandall stiffly. "Your motives were doubtless good. Will you be so good as to conduct us to a room where we may may be alone for a short while?" There was something tragic in the man's face. His son and daughter arose as if moved by an instinctive realization of a duty, and perhaps for the first time in their lives were sub missive to an influence they had never quite recognized before a father's unalterable - right to- command. For c:ice ia their lives they were meek in his presence. They stepped to his side and stood waiting, and neither of them spoke. Mr.' Wrandall laid his hand heavily on hie wife's shoulder. She started, looked up rather vacantly, and then arose without assistance. He did not make the mistake of offering to assist ber. He knew too well that to ques- "There Was Nothing Else Left for Me to Do." tlon her strength now would be but to Invite weakness. She was strong. He "knew her well. She stood straight and firm for a few seconds, transfixing Hetty with a look that seemed to bore into the very soul of her, and then spoke. "You ask us to be your Judges?" . "I ask you to judge not me alone tut your son as well," Bald Hetty, meeting ber look steadily. "You can not pronounce me Innocent without pronouncing him guilty. It will be bard." Sara raised her head from ber arms. "You know the way into sitting room, Leslie," she said, with singular directness. Then she arose and drew ber figure to its full height. "Please remember that it Is I who am to be judged. Judge me as I have judged you. I am not asking for mercy." Hetty impulsively threw her arms about the rigid figure, and swept a pleading look from one to the other of the four stony-faced Wrandall3. They turned away without a word or a revealing look, and slowly moved off In the direction of the boudoir. They who remained behind stood still, motionless as statues. It was Vivian who opened the library door. She closed it after the others had passed through, -and did not look behind. Half an hour passed. Then the door was opened and the tall old man ad vanced into the room. , "We have found against my son, Miss Castleton," he said, . his lips twitching. "He is not here to speak for himself, but he has already been Judged. We, his family, apologize to you for what you have suffered from the conduct of one of us. Not one but all of us believe the story you have told. It must never be retold. We ask this of all of you. It is not In our hearts to thank Sara for shielding you, for her hand Is still raised against uj. We are fair and just. If you had come to us on that wretched night and told the story of my son's infamy, we, the Wrandalls, would have stood between "you and the law. The law could not have touched you then; It shall not touch you now. Our verdict, if you choose to call it that, is sealed. No man shall ever hear from the lips of a Wrandall the smallest part of what has transpired here tonight. Mr. Carroll, you were right. We thank you for the counsel that led this unhappy girl to place her self in our hands." "Oh, God, I thank thee I thank thee!" burst from the Hps- of Sara WrandalL She strained Hetty to her breast. "It Is not for us to judge you, Sara," said Redmond Wrandall, speaking with difficulty. "You are your own judge, and a harsh one you will find yourself. As for ourselves, we can only look upon your unspeakable design as the working of a temporarily deranged mind. You could never have carried it out. You are an honest woman. At the last you would have revolted, even with victory assured. Perhaps Leslie is the only one who has a real griev ance against you in this matter. I am convinced that he loved Miss Castleton deeply. The worst hurt is his, and he has been your most de voted advocate during all the years of bitterness that has existed between you and us. You thought to play him a foul trick. You could not have car ried it to the end. We leave you to pass judgment on yourself." "I have already done so, Mr. Wran dall," said Sara. "Have I not ac cused myself before you? Have I not confessed to the only crime that has been committed? I am not proud of myself, sir." "You have hated us well." "And you have hated me. The crime you hold me guilty of was committed years ago. It was when I robbed you of your son. To this day 1 am the leper in your path. I may be forgiven for all else, but not for allowing Chal lis Wrandall to become the husband of Sebastian Gooch's daughter: That is the unpardonable sin." Mr. Wrandall was silent for a mo ment. "You still are Sebastian Gooch's daughter," he said distinctly. "You can never be anything else." She paled. "This last transaction proves it, you would say?" "This last transaction, yes." She looked about her with troubled, questioning eyes. "I I wonder If that can be true," she murmured, rather piteously. "Am I so different from the rest of you? Is the blood to blame?" "Nonsense!" exclaimed Mr. Carroll nervously. "Don't be silly, Sara, my child. That Is not what Mr. Wran dall means." - Wrandall turned his face away. "You laved as deeply as you hate, Sara," he said, with a curious twitch ing of his chin. "My son was your god. We are not Insensible to that. Per haps we have never realized until now the depth and breadth of your love for him. Love Is a bitter judge of its enemies. - It knows no mercy, it knows no reason. Hate may be con quered by love, but love cannot be con quered by hate. You had reason to hate my son. Instead you persisted In your love for him. We we owe you something for' that, Sara. We owe you a great deal more than I find myself able to express In words." Leslie entered the room at this In stant. He had his overcoat on and carried his gloves and bat In his hand. "We are ready, father." he said thickly. After a moment's hesitation, he crossed over to Hetty, who stood be side Sara. "I I can now understand why you refused to marry me. Miss Castleton," he said, in a queer, jerky manner. "Wont you let me say that I wish you all the happiness still to be found In this rather uneven world of ours?" The crowning testimonial to an ab- l solutely sincere ego! CHAPTER XXII. Renunciation. . On the third day after the singular trial of Hetty Castleton in Sara's li brary, young Mrs. Wrandall's motor drew up in front of a lofty office build ing in lower Broadway; its owner stepped down from the limousine and entered the building. A few moments later she walked briskly into the splendid offices of Wrandall & Co., private bankers and steamship-owners. The clerks in the outer offices stared for a moment in significant surprise, and then bowed respectfully to the beautiful silent partner In the great concern. It was the first time she had been seen in the offices since the tragic event that had served to make her a member of the firm. A boy at the in- formaticn desk, somewhat impressed by her beauty and the trim elegance of her long black broad-tail coat, to say nothing of the dark-, eyes that "What's This?" He Demanded, Sharply. shone through the narrow veil, forgot the dignity of his office and went so far as to politely ask her who she wanted to see and "what name, please." The senior clerk rushed forward and transfixed the new boy with a glare, v . - "A new boy, Mrs. Wrandall," he made haste to explain. To the new boy's surprise, the visitor was con ducted with much bowing and scrap ing into the private offices, where no one ventured except by special edict of the powers. "Who was it?" he asked. In some awe, of a veteran stenographer who came up and sneered at him. "Mrs. Challis Wrandall, you little simpleton," said she, and for once he failed to snap back. It Is of record that for nearly two whole days, he was polite to every vis itor who approached him and was generally worth his salt. Sara found herself In the close lit tle room that once had been her hus band's, but was now scrupulously held In reserve for her own use. Rather a waste of space, she felt as she looked about the office. The clerk dusted an easy chair and threw open the long unused desk near the window. "We are very glad to see you here, madam," he said. "This room hasn't been used much, as you may observe. Is there anything I can do for you?" " She continued her critical survey of the room. Nothing had been changed since the days when she used to visit her husband here on occasions of rare social importance: such as calling to take him out to luncheon, or to see that he got safely home on rainy after noons. The big picture of a steamship still hung on the wall across the room. Her own photograph. In a silver frame stood in one of the recesses of the desk. She observed that there was a clean white blotter there, too; but the ink wells appeared to be empty, if she was to judge by the lock of chagrin on the clerk's face as he in spected them. Photographs of polo scenes in which Wrandall was a prom inent figure, hung about the walls, with two or three pictures of his favor ite' ponies, and one of a ragged gipsy girl with wonderful eyes, carrying a monkey in a crude wooden cage strap ped to her back. On closer observa tion one would have recognized Sara's peculiarly gipsy-like features In the face of the girl, and then one would have noticed the caption written in red ink at the bottom of the photo graph: "The Trumbell's Fancy Dress Ball. January 10, '07. Sara as Gipsy Mab." With a start, Sara came out of her painful reverie. She passed her hand over her eyes, and seemed thereby to put the polite senior clerk back into the picture once more. "No. thank you. Is Mr. Redmond Wrandall down Ehia afternoon ?" "He came in not ten minutes ago. Mr. Leslie Wrandall is also here. Shall I tell Mr. Wrandall you wish to see him?" - "You may tell him that I am here, if you please, she said. I am very sorry about the Ink wells, madam," murmured the clerk. "We we were not expecting " "Pray don't let It disturb you, Mr. Bancroft. I- shall not use them to day." . "They will be properly filled by to morrow." "Thank you." ' He disappeared. She relaxed in the familiar, comfortable old leather-cushioned chair, and closed her eyes. There was a sharp little line between them, but It was hidden by the veil. The door opened slowly and- Red mond Wrandall came Into the room. She rrose at once. " "This is er an unexpected pleas ure, Sara," he said perplexed and ill-at-ease. He stopped just inside the door he had been careful to close be hind him, and did not offer her his hand. "I came down to attend to some business, Mr. Wrandall," she said. "Business?" he repeated, staring. She took note of the tired, haggard look in his eyes, and the tightly compressed Hps. "I intend tS dispose of my entire In terest in Wrandall & Co.." she an nounced calmly. He took a step forward, plainly startled by the declaration. "What's this?" he demanded sharp ly. "We may as well speak plainly, Mr. Wrandall," she said. "You do not care to have me remain a member of the firm, nor do I blame you for feel ing as you do about It. A year ago you offered to buy me out or off, as I took it to be at the time. I had rea sons then for not selling out to you. Today I am ready either to buy or to sell." "You you amaze me." he exclaim ed. "Does you offer of last December still stand?" "I I think we would better have Leslie In, Sara. This is most unex pected. I don't quite feel up to " "Have Leslie in by all means," she said, resuming her seat. He hesitated a moment, opened his lips as if to speak, and then abruptly left the room. Sara smiled. Many minutes passed before the two Wrandalls put In an appearance. She understood the . delay. They were telephoning to certain legal advisers. "What's this I hear, Sara?" demand ed Leslie, extending his hand after a second's hesitation. She shock hands with him, not list lessly but with the vigor born of nerv ousness. "I don't know what ydu've heard," she said pointedly: His slim fingers went searching for the end of his moustache. "Why why, about selling out to us," he stammered. - -- "I am willing to retire from the firm of Wrandall & Co.," she said. "Father says the business i3 as good as it was a year ago, but I don't agree with' him," said the son, .trying to look lugubrious. "Then you don't care to repeat your original proposition?" "Well, the way business has been falling off" "Perhaps you would prefer to sell out to me," she remarked quietly. "Not at all!" he said quickly, with a surprised glance at his father. "We couldn't think of letting the business pass out of the Wrandall name." "You forget that my name is Wran dall," she rejoined. - "There would be no occasion to change the firm's name; merely Its membership:' "Our original offer stands," said the senior' Wrandall stiffly. "We prefer to buy. . "And I to sell. Mr. Carroll will meet you tomorrow, gentlemen. He will represent me as usual. Our busi ness as well as social relations are about to end, I suppose. My only re gret is that I cannot further accom modate you by changing my name. Still you may live In hope that time may work even that wonder for you." She arose. The two men regarded her in an aggrieved way for a mo ment. ' . . " " "I have no real feeling of hostility toward you, Sara," said Leslie nerv ously, "in spite of all that you said the other night." "I am afraid you don't mean that, deep down in your heart, Leslie." she said, with a queer little smile. "But I do," he protested. "Hang It all, we we live in a glass house our selves, Sara. I dare say. in a way, I was quite as unpleasant as the rest of the family. You see. we just can't help being snobs. It's In us. that's all there Is to it." Mr. Wrandall looked up from the floor, his gaze, having dropped at the first outburst from his son's Hps. "We we prefer to be friendly, Sara, if you will allow us " She laughed and the old gentleman stopped in the middle of his sentence. "We can't be. friends, Mr. Wran dall." she said, suddenly serious. "The pretence would be a mockery- We are all better off if we allow our paths, our Interests to diverge today. "Perhaps you are right," said Bfe, compressing his lips. "I believe that Vivian and I could but no! I won't go so far as to say that either. There Is something genu ine about her. Strange to say, I have never disliked her." "If you had made the slightest ef fort to like us, no doubt we could have " "My dear Mr. Wrandall," she Inter rupted quickly, "I credit you with the desire to be fair and just to me. You have tried to like me. You have even deceived yourself at times. I but why these gentle recriminations? We merely prolong an unfortunate con test between antagonistic natures, with no hope of genuine peace being established. I do not regret that I am your daughter-in-law, nor do I be lieve that you would regret it If I had not been the daughter of Sebastian Gooch." "Your father was as little impress ed with my son as I was with his daughter," said Redmond Wrandall drily. "I am forced to confess that he was the better judge. We had the better of the bargain." "I believe you mean It, Mr. Wran dall," she said, a note of gratitude in her voice. "Good-bye. Mr. Carroll will see you tomorrow." She glanced quickly about the room. "I shall send for for certain articles that are no longer required In conducting the bus iness of Wrandall & Co." With a quaint little smile, she indi cated the two photographs of herself. "By Jove, Sara," burst out Leslie abruptly. "I wish you'd let me have that Gipsy Mab picture. I've always been dotty over it, don't you know. Ripping study." Her lip curled slightly. "As a matter of fact," he explained conclusively, "Chal often said he'd leave it to me when he died. In -a joking way. of course, but I'm sure he meant it." - "You may have it, Leslie," she said slowly. It 13 doubtful if he correctly Interpreted the movement of her head as she uttered the words. "Thanks," said he. "IH hang it In my den, if you don't object." "We shall expect Mr. Carroll tomor row, Sara." said his father, with an air of finality. "Good-bye. May I ask what plans you are making for the winter?" "They are very indefinite." "I say, Sara, why don't you get married?" asked Leslie, surveying the Gipsy Mab photograph with . undis guised admiration as he held it at arm's length. "Ripping!" This to the picture. She paused near the door to stare at him for a moment, unutterable scorn In her eyes. "I've had a notion you were pretty keen about Brandy Booth," he went on amiably. She caught her breath. There was an instant's hesitation on her part be fore she replied. "You have never been very smart at making love guesses, Leslie," she said. "It's a trick you haven't acquired." He laughed uncomfortably. "Neat stroke, that." Following her Into the corridor out side the offices, he pushed the elevator bell for her. "I meant what I said. Sara," he re marked, somewhat doggedly. "You ought to get married. Chal didn't leave much for you to cherish. There's no reason why you should go on like I "Because I Love You So Dearly," Said Sara. this, living alone and all that sort of thing. You're young and beautiful and" "Oh, thank you. Leslie," she cried out sharply. "You see. It's going to be this way: Hetty will probably marry Booth. That's on dit, I take it. You're depend ing on ber for companionship. Well, shell quit you cold after she's mar ried. She will" She interrupted him peremptorily. "If Challis did nothing else for me, Leslie, be at least gave me you to cherish. Once more, good-bye." The elevator stopped for her. He strolled back to bis office wtih a puz zled, frown on his face. She certainly was Inexplicable! The angry red faded from her cheeks as she sped homeward In the automobile. Her thoughts were no longer of Leslie but of another . . . She sighed and closed ber eyes, and her cheeks were pale. Workmen from a picture dealer's es tablishment were engaged in hanging a full length portrait in the long living-room of her apartment when she reached home. She had sent to the country for Booth's picture of Hetty, and was having it hung In a conspicu ous place. Passing the open library door, Sara paused for an instant to peer within. Then she went on down the hall to her own sitting-room. The canary was singing glibly In his cage by the window-side. She threw aside her furs, and, with out removing her hat, passed Into the bed-chamber at the left of the cozy lit tle boudoir. This was Hetty's room. Her own was directly opposite. On the girl's dressing-table, leaning against the broad, low mirror, stood the unframed photograph of a man. With a furtive glance over her shoul der, Sara crossed to the table and took up the picture in her gloved hand. For a long time she stood there gazing into the frank, good-looking face of Brandon Booth. She breathed faster; her hand shook; her eyes were strained as If by an Inward sug gestion of pain. She shook her head slowly, as If In final renunciation of a secret hope or the banishment of an unwelcome de sire, and resolutely replaced the pho tograph. Her lips were almost white as she turned away and re-entered the room beyond. "He belongs' to her," she said, un consciously speaking aloud; "and he la like all men. She must not be unhap py." Presently she entered the library. She had exchanged her tailor-suit for a dainty house-gown. Hetty was still seated in the big lounging chair, be fore the snapping fire, apparently not having moved since she looked in on passing a quarter of an hour befora. One of the girl's legs was curled up under her, the other swung loose; an elbow rested on the arm of the chair, and her cheek was in her hand. - Coming softjy up from behind, Sara leaned over the back of the chair and put her hands under her friend's chin, tenderly, lovingly. Hetty started and shivered. "Oh, Sara, how cold your hands are!" Slfc grasped them in her own and fondly stroked them, as if to restore warmth to the long, slim fingers which gave the lie to Mrs. Coburn's declara tions. ' "I've been thinking all morning of what you and Brandon proposed to me last night," said Sara, looking straight over the girl's head, the dark, languorous, mysterious glow filling her eyes. "It Is good of you both' to want me, but " "Now don't say 'but, Sara," cried Hetty. "We mean It, and you must let us have our way." "It would be splendid to be near you all the time, dear; It would be wonderful to live with you as you so generously propose, but I cannot do it. I must decline." "And may I ask why you decline to live with me?" demanded Hetty re sentfully. "Because I love you so dearly," said Sara. THE END. Pigeon Makes 700-MHe Trip. Goldfield, Nev.. is In her new San Francisco home today, and so is Dizzy, according to a dispatch to the New York Sun. Dizzy Is not a homer, but for an or dinary pigeon It has an acute travel ing sense. It followed Its little mis tress all the 700 miles by train from Goldfield to San Francisco, and then to her home here. Marion kissed Dizzy good-by at Goldfield and then wept. She looked out of the car window and there was Dizzy. She took it in, kissed it again and tossed it out once more. But the pigeon wouldn't go back. When the Olrams got on the ,ferry at Oakland, across the bay from San Francisco, Dizzy alighted on the girl's arm- Island Paradise of Birds. On one little island In Gatun lake, formerly known as Lion Hill, before the impounded waters of the Chagres river isolated It from the rest of the Canal Zone, are more species of birds than In any one locality in the west ern hemisphere. E. A. Goldman of the biological survey, department of agri culture, in two short collecting trips to Panama has procured about 300 different species, and it is estimated that a larger variety is to be. found within the limits of the Canal Zone than in any one state In the United States about 900. In the neighborhood of Gatun, at the Atlantic entrance of the Canal Zone, no less than 250 species have been found. Good Ones. "Do you want me to misrepresent the goods and say they are fine when they are not?" asked the taw sales man. "Yes," sternly answered the un scrupulous dealer. "Always remem ber that our assets are your lie-abilities-"