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Arizona republican. [volume] (Phoenix, Ariz.) 1890-1930, April 26, 1908, Image 11

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THE -ARIZONA - REPUBLICAN, - SUNDAY MORNING, APRIL 20, 1 90S.
THE
VALLEY
OF OBLIVION
Copyright, 1S08, ly Thomcu H. McKee.
S'l'.lZ was a dear," Mrs: Osborne said, dealing the
fards with a twist of deft white wrists, "lint so
casual about her clothes. The artistic instinct,
, I suppose. All the Nettleions are dowdy. I
met her :;t Capri, before -the return of the Prodigal
Husband, and she looted like an Englishwoman en
tcv.r. which is the last word. But the whole story is
thrilling and UEUsual, and Olive Nettleton was faithful
enough to deserve to be happy. It is over to you,
Caroline."
The girl across looked at her cards languidly. She
wts a very slender girl, with level brows and a direct
gae. She named a trump at random, and put down
her cards with a little sigh of relief. Past Mrs. Os
borne's carefully coifed head, past Leila Dixon's
satirical smile when she saw the exposed cards, she
whether he uled or T.as kidnapped or voluntarily ef
faced himself, everything that was worth having in
Caroline Summers went with him. '
"Think of it"- Mrs. Baxter persisted. "The brides
maids and men. the bishop, everybody well, 'Waiting
at the Church! ' Bella Severance was there, and she
said she never put in such a half-hour. Mrs. Summers
in hysterics. Every one but Caroline sure he had
funked it at the last minute."
The man rose suddenly and the guitar sent a sharp
discordant . jangle of piano keys through the room.
"I would like to shoot him for her," he said.
Mrs. Baxter smiled. "Don't threaten," she observed
dryly. "You might happen to run across him, you
know. Look at the Nettletons! . Greg Nettleton. Is lost
in New York, searched tor from Alaska to Brazil, and
is picked up in Rome,, looking as If .riotous living
agreed with him.J, Oh, it's a mean little world after all.
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"THE ' IIATER SENT OUT SOME TEA," - HE SAID.
lroked through the long French window to where the
;.jsing clouds cast their shadows on the hills, and
down ia the valley a loaded hay wason creaked along
the road.
Up here on the hilltop there was little enough air
fctirring. The card talil" had loen moved to the music
room Tor coolness; r.nd in the shadows of the alcove a
youns man in white flannels picked querulously at a
guitar, striking tn occasional inniutient note on the
pijtio as a guide. His eyes sought the girl persistently.
Mrs. Baxter, a languid shadow cf some b;lli:nt and
devastating yesterday, had been -'sittins-cuf the rub
ber. She picked up her heavy Jew?l?d purs" and
trailed toward the man in the shadows. -
"It is profanation to gamble or to gambol in a
room like this." she said, looking dcv.u the length
of the music room to where a dcen buzz of conver
tatlon showed the end of the rubber. "A music room
without music is a body without a soul. I feel as
though I am being facetiois in the presence of a
corpse."
"It is pretty bad, isn't It?" Osborne Kingsley said
idly, watching Caroline Summers' white-clad figure
as she rose and went to the window. "The solemnity
of those marble heads, and that funereal procession
of black chairs against the wall four chairs and
Brahms', four more and Chopin, four more and Liszt.'"
"High against the wall, with all their poor weak
nesses written in their marble faces for the ages to
see. instead of being allowed to rot respectably in their
graves. Ah, me. And speaking of marble, how do
you progress with Caroline?"
"I hardly see " he began stiffly.
Mrs Baxter laughed. "Caroline is a husk," she de
clared. "She's a sort of frozen fire, King. Whatever
hardened to that man a year ago, wasn't it?
King, and it shrinks every year. Look how the splen
did isolation of twenty gives place to the rubbing of
elbows of sixty."
"And from that" King caught her mood "it is the
merest step to the funeral urn of seventy, I suppose.
.Tolly, aren't we, this afternoon!"
"I cannot think of you matrimonially. King." said
Mrs. Baxter. "What kind of a husband will you be?
Will yoti be like the rest, cr will you be as you arj
now, just a little different?"
"I will love and honor the woman I marry," he
said stilliy.
"And marry a woman you love and honor! Hut you
will he a loving hushuml. King, and the murrlu.e will
be most successful, because in every happy inairiux
there is one who cares, aud oae who decs not care
so much."
"And I will be "
"The one who cares."
Tea had come in, but no one wanted tea. There
were decanters and tall glasses and ice, and the bridge
game had given way to scraps of gossip. Mrs. Baxter
got up and walked slowly down the room. Near the
table she turned.
"Caroline is on the veranda, King," she called back.
"I am sure she wants her tea."
"Caroline Is hopelessly temperate," Mrs. Osborne
sighed as she put In the cream. "I do not know
whether I am wicked or merely self-indulgent; al
though I suppose we are always self-indulgent when
we are wicked."
"I don't agree with you," Leila Dixon said, acidly.
"I think it is a lot of trouble to do what we ought not
to do."
"You would, naturally," agreed Mrs. Easter, nib
bling at a stulk cf mint. During the ominous pause
MARY ROBERTS RINEHARDT
that followed, the small woman in blue, who had "I am coming in," the girl said wearily, and rose,
made the fourth at the table, took up the thread of con- ' Mrs. Baxter looked past her at King's face.
"Don't come," she said, more gently. "I'll take it in
for you. Sit down like a good girl and make that
gloomy person beside you happy."
As Caroline opened her gold purse, something
dropped to the floor and roiled under a chair. With a
little cry the girl picked it up and clutched it jealously.
Mrs. Baxter's smile was Inscrutable as she turned back
into the room, and through the open window came
again the voice of the little woman In blue. Not a
word was lost to the two on the veranda, who listened
because they must.
"I shall always call Jt the greatest event I ever
lived through," she said, "and when you remember
that I was only an onlooker, you can understand the
emotional pitch. Here was poor Olive Nettleton, in
the heaviest kind of crepe, rushing all .over Europe
after exhausting America, looking for a husband who
had absolutely dropped out of existence, without leav
ing a trace. You know what Olive ia, very much like
Caroline Summers" she dropped her voice a little
"very. Well-poised and self-reliant, so you can only
guess what she feels. There must have been lots of
rows when Olive's emotional temperament tried to
climb the fence of her hereditary conscience. You
know Cassldy, the Irish artist, who tried to make her
marry him, whether poor Nettleton was dead or not?
Well, she stuck It out and was faithful, and lost her
good looks, partly, and all her cheeriness an attrac
tive woman trying to be faithful to a memory has a,
hard time, anyhow.
"Olive had been touring the Riviera in a car, and
Adelaide and I w ere to meet her at the Grand Hotel ia
Rome. The day before she was due there came a
cablegram for Olive, and Adelaide opened It, for fear
it was urgent. Adelaide read it and fell back in a
chair, and it was a full minute before she rallied
enough to give it tc m?. It satdt 'Sailing next
versation.
"We were talking about Olive Nettleton " she
began, but Mrs. Baxter raised a warning, slender fore
finger. "No scandal until King gets out," she objected. "He
has not yet learned that our feminine gossip Is pre
cisely the same as his masculine sense of humor
both treat of the other person's misfortunes. Only we
take seriously what men treat as a joke."
Outside on the wide stone veranda Caroline was
standing with her slender arms behind her. erect,
poised, outwardly cold and self-contained. If the ques
tion in her eyes was almost an appeal, as she stood
there alone if there was tragedy in the corners of her
mouth, there waa an Instant relaxation when she heard
King's step behind her.
"The mater sent out some tea," he said, "and ihe
says you look tired and are to be sure to drink it.
If you don't care about it, I can pour it over the rail.
Shall I trouble you If I stay here?"
"You are a friendly light chasing away shadows,"
she said slowly. Kingsley stood by, made abaorbedly
self-conscious by the unexpected reference to what was
always in his mind. The girl sipped her tea slowly,
looking down the straight path with Its flaunting bor
ders to where the pergola, wreathed with trumpet vine
and creeper, framed the valley below.
"Dear hollyhocks and four o'clocka," she rhymed,
"and the lady slippers and larkspur, and salvia each
one as prim and spruce and bright as a little New
England lady in her Sunday gown. Do you know,"
she said whimsically, "I am an anachronism. I am
not a Calif ornian. King; not a truly bred-ln-the-bone
one at all. I belong here In the East, I am sure. I
have the Puritan conscience."
"Then I like the Puritan conscience," he said,
smiling at her.
Some one's voice was raised in the music room.
"Four years missing, my dear," the voice said, "aad
Olive Nettleton wandering over the continent, looking
Icto people's faces on the street, everywhere; Heme,
St. Petersburg. Cairo! Oh. it was creepy!"
"Well, It is Olive's affair," Mrs. Osborne's ron:'rta
ble voice put In. "and they seem to be beginning thing!
uil over again. But suppose she had married again!"
"O'.lve had the Puritan conscience," came Leila
Dixon's thin, clear voice. "Sho would never have mar
ried agiln, unlesj she hid knewn he was deid."
Caroline-had been listening, her head silshtly tent.
Now she tooked up suddenly at the man beside her.
"I wonder if you understand. King?" she said. "It's
psychology, I suppose; the prctiiem of a s!aall pcu'.. at
that. But I am like that woman they are speaking
cf."
Kingsley took the cup and saucer from her and rut
it carefully on the rail. Then he sat down somewhat
awkwardly beside her.
"I'm glad you've given me a chance to speak," he
?a!d. "I'm not very 'ajrile mentally, and I can't fence
with shadows. But I think I know how you feel. It's
the not knowing how or why it's a sort of wound to
your pride that wont heal. Don't tell me you still
love him. I don't believe It I don't want to be
brutal, butt people don't love the dead; they remember
them you know that. Caroline and everything I',
know of that awful time points to the one thing."
"That he Is dead!" she breathed. "But I want to
know; I'm like my old nurse at home, when her boy
was drowned. She didn't cry; she Just stood by the
river bank and waited, day and night, until they found
him. And then she cried, and they knew her mind
was saved."
King leaned over and took one of her cold hands
between his wmrm. brown ones.
"You said a little while ago that Idrove away the
shadows." he-said earnestly. "Caroliaie. can't we face
this thing together? I love you Gofl knows. I don't
want to dlvhle you with any one, nob even a memory:
but It's come to the point where I'm. almost ready to
throw myself on your pity. Caroline, let me drive
the shadows away, always."
The girl dropped her chin into hentwo palms and
stared frownlngiy ahead.
"Yoa are like him," she said at last."and he loved
ne. too. Oh. yes. whatever people mayfchlnk, nothing
can take that cway from me. He loved one. Kfcjg; am!
v. liat if he should come back and find tiiat I have not
been faithful? In there" she nodded toward th?
house "they have been talking of soniei woman who
haunted the continent, looking into thefares of the
people she met. I sit here r.nd look out over the hills
and I say, 'Which way? Which way?'"
The young man had' folded' his arms, and, leaning
back, he, too, gazed over the hills. He was baffled,
discouraged, but not; beaten. "If you care about him,
Caroline," he said after a silence, "he was not a
scoundrel. I accept that as I accept the ghost that
stands between us. But suppose I can laythe ghost?
Would there be a clhance for me?"
"Could you savetmy faith?" she askedisharply,, turn
ing to him.
"I will try," he pledged solemnly.
dyliig, then we could spring Greg's cablegram, work
ing her through one emotional climax to another.
"But you can't do those things by rule. Just as
Olive drew up at the Grand Hotel In her muddy car.
with her face perfectly covered with dust and her hat
on one side, of course, a carriage dashed up and Greg
Nettleton jumped out What did they do? My dears,
it was the most disappointing thing I ever heard cf.
She didn't even faint. I think she had felt all along
that some time she would meet him face to face, ju-:t
as she did. In that instant she lost the queer, ques
tioning look she had had for so long, and when she
found Greg had little Helen in the carriage, she was
illuminated! So Adelaide and I missed It after all.
But we went around with Olive and helped her get
some respectable gowns and sell her crepe."
"What an alluring story!" Mrs. Baxter said, lightly.
"And how did handsome Greg account for. bis four
years' defection?"
The lady in blue hesitated.
"Well, be did explain," she said apologetically, "buf '
it was not what a more worldly woman would have
called an explanation. He said he had lost four years, -that
was all; dropped them out of his life. That the
last ha remembered was walking across the links at
the Country Club with a caddie and a bunch of clubs. '
You know that's where he was last seen. And the
next thing he knew he waa on a train in California, (
with hit mustache gone and a ticket for Los Angeles
in his pocket. And it was four years later."
. "All the women loved Greg Nettleton," commented
Mrs. Baxter with a drawl. "It would be Interesting
to know If he had married In the Interval."
"Titre w&3 something queer," coc&ded the narrator.
"He was sitting with little Helen on hl3 knee, and
0ive beside him he wouldn't let har move out of his
sight when he showed it to cie. He gave It to Helea'
to play with while he told us, and it sesuic-d incon
gruous, somehow. It seemed that he found on his
xtl' i fx rvvM$
''fa "f-v YwV' ' ltWi-ii E! ' ? rl
SHE PUT DOWN HER CARD3 WITH A SIGH OP RELIEF.
steamer. Explain everything. Love,' and was signed
Gregory Nettleton. My dears, if Greg Nettleton had
risen cut of his grave and fired his headstone at me, I
bhould not hare been more shocked."
As the voice paused for greater effect, Caroline
turned to King. "You see, he came back." she said.
"Olive stayed longer at Naples than Bhe meant to,
and It was not until the day Greg was due that she
came to Rome. Adelaide and I had talked all week of
Mrs. Baxter came languidly to the window and held jj0W to Dreak it to her best, and Adelaide, who has
the curtain asSde'wiih a sweeping gesture. more diplomacy than I have, suggested we work her
"Dear me. how intense you look!" she mocked. ui to it gradually telling her first that there was
"Caroline, you nave lest thirty dollars, and Carrie Oa- . news, and then, while Olive was thinking it was Helen
borne says 'your lasUmake lost the rubber." -that's the child, you know-and that maybe she was
finger one of those heavy old Egyptian rings with a
dull red stone sunk lu it, and a 'C cut into the stoce.
It was strange to know that he didn't remember at all
where he got it."
ThA ft rl nn ihe vp-anda had sat throueh it all and
King had lost no single expression on her face. Sho
sat quite still after the story was Hnished. then she
turned to him suddenly and held out the hand that had
been clcsed. On its palm lay a heavy gold ring of
Efyptlan woTkmansbip with a dull re stone sunk
into the metal. "
- In an instant something had gone cut of the girl's
face, and her mouth had lost its trareJy of uncer
tainty. ' I have buried ray dead. King," she said at last.

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