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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, December 22, 1907, Image 34

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elors fall heir to. For some reason I never can
separate the idea of home and Christmas. You
can hang up all the red ribboned wreaths you choose,
and you can dress your married friends' trees for
your married friends' children, and you can eat
your married friends' Christmas dinners; but it
isn't reallv Christmas, because it isn't reallv home.".
\1 iss Maynard glanced about the room. "Some
people would call this a pretty good home; and you
seem to have plenty of friends,'' she added, nodding
her head at the long row of photographs on the
shelf over the fireplace.
"Those photographs? They're a bluff. You know
what I mean, Rita. '
"Of course I know what yoq mean, and I'm glad
of it. Sometimes, Harry, I'm only afraid you won't
feel that way about things. I know there are a lot
of foolish women who make a fuss over you, and I
fear sometimes you can't stand it, and that it will
make you different. Are all these photographs
bluffs?"
Carmichael nodded. "Pretty much. You know
how it is. Men affect women so differently. There
are some men, generally very fine citizens, whom
women fiv from, and there are others they want to
fly with, and still others they want to have tea with
when their husbands are down town and to give
their photographs to. I'm in the last class. Then,
I suppose, they have heard of my gallery of inter
national beauties, and wish to be represented."
Miss Maynard picked up from the table at her
side a large photograph of herself in a silver frame
and looked at it quite impersonally. "A bluff?" she
asked, holding it up so that Carmichael could see it.
"No," he said, "that is the only picture that 1
insist must never be moved. It's a per
manent quantity,?always been in the
same place for years."
"Always in the same place for years?"
the girl repeated slowly. "Who changes
the others, then, with so much taste,
and creates all this mystery in the breasts
of your young lady friends?"
"My man does all that," Carmichael
answered promptly, "and it's one of his
most cherished perquisites. It doesn't
cost me anything, and it gives him a
great deal of pleasure. He's terribly
fickle, though,?he features two or three
a week some weeks. And what he sees
in some of them I cannot understand,
and yet it seems ia little familiar for me
to ask him. There was a hand painted
photograph of a Viennese soubrette that
he was crazy about. He set her up against
my ink well first, and when I threw her
into the waste paper basket he fished her
out and leaned her against the lamp on
the table there. It lit her up like a spot
light. I hid her behind books and in
closets and in every out of the way cor
ner in the place; but the next day there
she would be with her tinted beauty
presiding over the dining room or the
bath room or any old place, till I had to
cremate her in the grate.
"It's little wonder then," said Miss
Maynard. "that no one has ever been
able to find the real one."
Carmichael smiled and clasped his
hands about his knees. "Ah!'- he re
peated, "the real one, eh?"
The girl sat up straight in her chair,
and in imitation of her host clasped her
hands about her knees and then looked
him fairly in the eyes. "Yes, tell me,
please, Harry; I'm su..h an old
mend. Which is the one?."
Carmichael smiled up at the
girl, and then slowly pulled him
self to his feet. " You don't
mind if I smoke, do you?"
Miss Maynard shook her head, and the
young man crossed the room to find a
cigar, and then returned to his place at
the fire. He took a match box from his
]>ocket, and as he slowly lit his cigar the
red light from the hearth fell full on his
face.
"After all, Rita," he said, "what's the
use?"
The girl impulsively put out her hand
and laid it on his arm. "Why, Harry,"
she whispered, "I'm so sorry! I didn't
understand. You know we've seen so
little of each other lately. I thought
they were all?you know?just bluffs." The girl
tossed her head toward the pictures over the fire
place.
"Well," he said, "so they are; the one is the only
one that isn't here. Don't you believe, Rita, that
every man who writes knows one story he never
writes, and every painter one picture that he would
rather starve than put on canvas? I do.
" But she used to be here," he went on. "There
was a little picture of her on the table over there,
and another on the top of the desk, and one on the
mantel, and there was a big one on the piano.
Wherever you looked you could see her. She was
everywhere; at least, so it seemed to me. And
there was another one of her on my bureau. She
looked particularly bright in that one, and sort of
riquant and very cheery, and every morning when
got up I used to say good morning to her."
Miss Maynard leaned forward, resting her elbows
on her knees and holding her chin between the palms
of her hands. " You knew her very well," she asked,
"and for a long time?"
Carmichael nodded, "Yes, for quite a long time?
too long, I suppose."
"What?what was she like, Harry? Do you
mind?"
Carmichael stared at the fire and shook his head.
"Xo, of course I don't mind," he said; "that is, to
you. I like to talk about her."
For some moments he hesitated, and then went
on again. "It's hard, in a way, because it's so
difficult to give one an idea of personality, and
that's about all that really counts, isn't it? She
was very pretty too, in a way,?her express;on was
always changing: it seemed as if it reflected every
shade of every thought and idea she had, and she
certainly had wonderful thoughts and ideas. I
think she had the clearest, cleanest grasp of things
and the broadest and most sane philosophy of life
of any woman or man I have ever known. I sup
pose it was because she had had a rather hard time
of it, and experience had taught her much that
many girls never know. She had what the artist
folk call temperament too, and with her intelligence
ought to have made the greatest actress of our day."
"She was on the stage?" Miss Mavnard asked.
" Yes, still is."
"Isn't she clever?I mean on the stager"
Carmichael shook his head. "No. and never will
be, I imagine. With all her intelligence and good
looks, she lacks the one essential thing,?the trick
the actors call getting it over the footlights."
"Then why?"
"Why," interrupted Carmichael,?"why? Oh,
Then He Understood and
Held Out His Arms.
just because she is independent and doesn't want
to admit failure. I don't think the stage meant
anything to her but her rent and board; but she
liked to pay for those herself, and I think the suc
cess of other women, with only half her talents, an
noyed her and hurt her pride, and she had a great
deal of that."
For some moments there was silence, while Car
michael twisted his cigar slowly between his lips
and the girl still sat looking into the fire with her
chin resting between her hands. It was she who
broke the silence.
"Who were her friends?"
"I don't know. I don't know that she had any
real friends. The first time I met her was at a sort
of Bohemian supper, and I couldn't understand ex
actly why she was there at all. She worried me a
good deal for a time; that is, until I got to know
her. I thought ^t first that she must be ignorant
of their moral point of view, because I knew from
everything about her that she couldn't possibly
share it. And then afterward I talked to her about
it,"and her knowledge was iust as much greater than
mine as her charity was. Why, Rita, she saw people
just as we would see things through that magnifying
glass over there on the table. For a long time after
that she used to come here in the afternoon and sit
at the tea table and drink tea, and I would drink
Scotch and smoke and listen to her. It was wonder
ful how she accepted her share of life always with a
smile on her lips."
"Still," said the girl, "her share was more or less
what she made it. After all, her lot might have
been different; that is, if I understand you?I
mean how much you cared."
" Yes, it might have been different," Carmichael
said: "but she chose her failure on the stage and
the hall bed room and the one dress and the one
hat. I tell you, Rita, the hall bed room and the one
dress have had almost as much effect on some girls'
lives in this town as mothers' prayers. What do
you think?"
For answer Miss Maynard sat back in the deep
chair and. looking at Carmichael, slowly shook her
head. "I think, ' she said, "there must have been
some other reason. Admitting that she had the
highest motives in the world, it is difficult to under
stand why she should have chosen the hall bed room
instead of all this." The girl glanced about the room
and then back at Carmichael. "Of course, Harry,
if you were an ogre, it would have been different;
but you are not an ogre. In fact, I understand all
mothers and most daughters call you eligible. It
really seems as if she might have brought herself
to care a little."
"Perhaps," said Carmichael, slowly weighing his
words, "she cared too much. She had an absurd
idea of the world that you, for instance, belong to;
probably because she knew so little of it. I think
you represented to her everything that a woman
ought to be,?at least the type of woman I ought
to marry."
"I?"
" Yes, you. I had talked to her a lot about you,
and?"
"And the one photograph," Miss Maynard in
terrupted, "that was never moved?"
Carmichael nodded. "I sxippose so. She said
that her visits here were nothing but a bundle of
faded letters tied with a ribbon and hid away in
the bureau drawer at the actors' boarding house.?
the kind of letters that a woman marks ' Burn with
out opening,' and reads only when her husband is
down town and she is discouraged and wants to
bring on a good cry."
"And what was the end of all this? There's
always an end."
"The end was that she was very ill, and I did
everything that a man who had a certain amount
of brains and a good deal of money could do for a
woman. The fact that she was sick made it possible,
where it wasn't possible before."
"And then?" the girl said.
"And then I found out, just as every man finds
out when a woman he cares for is really ill. It's the
only perfectly sure test I know. And when she was
<|uite well and at work again, and her pride had come
back, I asked her to tea. After tea. I told her my
discovery. It was a very important one to me;
but not to her, it seemed. Then I collected all her
photographs, and we sat here just as you and I are
sitting here to-night, and one by one I tore the
photographs in two and put them in the fire and
they burned up. I told her that I was a strong man,
and liked a fight"; but I knew when I was beaten. It
was a case of marrying me, or saying good by. That
evening I went out to my cottage at Rye, where I
made the caretaker cook for a friend and me for
two days. For those two days I did exactly what
I had always read about men doing in novels and
what I had seen them do on the stage. I tramped
up and down and talked and raved about her to
the man whom I had brought along for the purpose,
and he was just as sympathetic as 1 knew he was
going to be. At the end of two days I had exhausted
myself and my friend, and I came back here to the
blank spaces where her photographs used to be
and to the wicker chair where she used to sit.
" That is all a year ago, and since those two days
until to-night I have never spoken to anyone about
her; but the blank spaces are still blank spaces,
although they have been filled with many faces,
and the spirit of home which she brought here in
those days is just as lacking to me as if the rooms
were stripped and the packing boxes were standing
in the hall."
"And you've never seen her since?"
"Yes. Several times on the stage, and once, just
the other day, I met her in the street."
"Did you speak to her?"
"Xo; but I wanted to take her in my arms and
carry her away?anywhere. There was such a
tired look in her eves, and her face was so peaked,
and she seemed terribly worn and poor."
"And you didn't speak to her?"
"Xo; she would have preferred it that way. I
know her so well, Rita."
" Perhaps?one never knows. Women have been
known-to change."
Carmichael looked up and smilingly shook his
head. "Not this woman," he said.
"Is she playing here now?" Miss Maynard asked.
"I suppose it's absurdly curious of me; but I should
Continued on page 20

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