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The House of the
By ANNA KATHARINE GREENE Copyright igio. By Anna Katharine Rohlfs CHAPTER XXTV. LOVED ADELAIDE BETTER THAN MY SELF." HIS brought Mr. Fox to his feet Turning to the judge, hfe cried: "This testimony is irrelevant and incompetent, and I ask to have it stricken out." Mr. Moffat's voice as he arose to an swer this was like honey poured upon gall. "It is neither irrelevant nor incom petent, and if it were the objection comes too late. My friend should have objected to the question." "The whole course of counsel has been very unusual," began Mr. Fox. "Yes, but so is the case. I beg your honor to believe that in some of its features this case is not only unusual, but almost without a precedent. I beg that my witness may be allowed to proceed and tell her story in all its de tails." "The motion is denied," declared the •jjidge. Mr. Fox sat down, to the universal relief of all but the two persons most interested—Arthur and myself. Mr. Moffat, generous enough or dis creet enough to take no note of his opponent's discomfiture, lifted a paper from the table and held it toward the witness. "Do you recognize these lines?" he asked, placing the remnants of my half burned communication in her hands. She started at sight of them. Evi dently she had never expected to see them again. "Yes," she answered after a mo ment. "This is a portion of the note I have mentioned." "You recognize it as such?" "I do." Her eyes lingered on the scrap and followed it as it was passed back and marked as an exhibit. Mr. Moffat recalled lier to the matter in hand. "What did you do next. Miss Cum berland?'" "I answered the note." "May I ask to what effect?" "I refused Mr. Ranelagh's request. I said that I could not do what he asked and told him to wait till the next day and he would see how I felt toward him and toward Adelaide. That was all. I could not write much. was suffering greatly." "Suffering in mind or suffering in body?" "Suffering in my mind. I was terri fied, but that feeling did not last very long. Soon I grew happy, happier than I had been in weeks, happier than I had ever been in all my life before. I found that I loved Adelaide better than I did myself. This made everything easy, even the sending of the answer I have told you about to Mr. Ranelagh." "Miss Cumberland, how did you get this answer to-Mr. Ranelagh?" "By means of a gentleman who was going away on the very train I had been asked to leave on. He was a guest next door, and I carried the note in to him." "Did you do this openly?" "No I'm afraid not. I slipped out by the side door in as careful a way as I could." "Did this attempt at secrecy suc ceed? Were you able to go and come without meeting an.v one?" "No. Adelaide was at the head of the stairs when I came back, standing there, very stiff and quiet." "Did she speak to you?" "No. She just looked at me. But it wasn't a common look. I shall never forget it." "And what did you do then?" "I went to my room." "Miss Cumberland, did you see any body else when you came in at this time?" "Yes, our maid, Helen. She was just laying down a buncli of keys on the table in the lower hall. I stopped and looked at the keys. had recognized them as the ones I had seen in Mr. Ranelagh's hands many times. He had gone, yet there were his keys. One of them unlocked the clubhouse. I noticed it among the others, but I didn't touch it then. Helen was still in the hall, and I ran straight up stairs. where I met my sister, as I have just told you." "Miss Cumberland, continue the sto ry. What did you do after re-entering your room?" "I don't know what I did first I was very excited—elated one minute, deeply wretched and very frightened the next. I must have sat down, for I was shaking very much and felt a little sick. The sight of that key had brought up pictures of the clubhouse, and I thought and thought how quiet it was and how far away and how cold it was. too. and how secret. I would go there for what I had to do there! And then I saw in my fancy one of its rooms, with the moon in it. and—but I soon shut my eyes to that. I heard Arthur moving about his room, and this made me start up and go out into the hall again. "Arthur's room is near and Ade laide's far off, but I went to Ade laide's first. Her door was shut, and when I went to oDen it I found it locked Oullfne Der name. I said that Whispering Pines rrrTTTWTWYYWVTYTYWTVVVVTfr I was tired and would be glad to say good night. She did not answer at once. When she did her voice was strange, though what she said was very simple—I was to please myself: she was going to retire too. And then she tried to say good night, but she only half said it. like one who is choked with tears or some other dread ful emotion. 1 cannot tell you how this made me feel, but you don't care for that. You want to know what I did—what Adelaide did. I will tell you, but I cannot hurry." "Take your time. Miss Cumberland we have no wish to hurry you." "I can go on now. The next thing I did' was to knock at Arthur's door. 1 heard him getting ready to go out. and 3 wanted to speak to him before he tvent. When he heard me he opened the door and let me in. He began at once on his grievances, but I could not listen to them. 1 wanted him to har ness the gray mare for me and leave it standing in the stable. I explained the request by saying that it was necessary for me to see a certain friend of mine immediately and that no one would notice me in the cutter under the bearskins. He didn't approve, but I persuaded him. I even persuaded him to wait till Zadok was gone, so that Adelaide would know nothing about it. He looked glum, but he promised. "He was going away when I heard Adelaide's steps in the adjoining room. This frightened me. The partition is very thin between these two rooms, and I was afraid she had heard me ask Arthur for the gray mare and cut ter. I could hear her rattling the bot tles in the medicine cabinet hanging on this very wall. 1 hurried back to in.v own room, where I collected such little articles as I needed for the expedition before me. "I had hardly done this when I heard the servants on the walk outside, then Arthur going down. The impulse to see and speak to him again was irre sistible. 1 flew after him and caught him in the lower hall. 'Arthur,' I cried, 'look at me—look at me well— and then—kiss me!' And he did kiss me. I'm glad when I think of it, though he did say next minute: 'What is the matter with you? What are you going to do—to meet that villain "1 looked straight into his face. I waited till 1 saw I had his whole at tention. Then I said as slowly and emphatically as I could: "If you mean Elwood—no! I shall never meet him again, except in Adelaide's presence. He will not want to meet me. You may be at ease about that. Tomor row all will be well and Adelaide very happy.' "He shrugged his shoulders and reached for his coat and hat. As he was putting them on 1 said, 'Don't forget to harness up Jenny.' Jenny is the gray mare. 'And leave off the bells.' 1 urged. '1 don't want Adelaide to hear me go out.' "He swung about at this. 'You and Adelaide are not very good friends, it seems.' 'As good as you and she are.' I answered. Then 1 flung my arms about him. 'Don't go down street to night,' I prayed. 'Stay home for this one night. Stay in the house with Ade laide. Stay till I come home.' He stared, and I saw his color change. Then he flung me off, but not rudely. 'Why don't you stay he asked. Then he laughed and added. 'I'll go harness the mare.' 'The key's in the kitchen,' I said. 'I'll go get it for you. 1 heard Zadok bring it in.' He did not answer, and I went for the key. I found two on the nail, and I brought them both, but only handed him one, the key to the stable door. 'Which way are you go ing?' I asked as he looked at the key, then back toward the kitchen. 'The short way, of course.' 'Then here's the key to the Fulton grounds.' "As he took the key 1 prayed again: 'Don't do what's in your mind, Arthur. Don't drink tonight.' He only laughed, and I said my last word: 'If you do it will be for the last time. You'll nev er drink again after tomorrow.' "He made no answer to this, and I went slowly upstairs. Everything was quiet—quiet as death—in the whole house. If Adelaide had heard us she made no sign. Going to my own room, 1 waited until I heard Arthur come out of the stable and go away by the door in the rear wall. Then I stole out again. I carried a small bag with me, but no coat or hat. "Pausing and listening again and again, I crept downstairs and baited at the table under the rack. The keys were still there. Putting them in my bag, I searched the rack for one of my brother's warm coats. But I took none I saw. I remembered an old one which Adelaide had put away in the closet under the stairs. Getting this, I put It on, and, finding a hat there, too, I took that also, and when I had pulled it over my forehead and drawn up the collar of the coat I was quite unrecognizable. I was going out when I remembered there would be no light in the clubhouse. I had put a box of matches in my bag while I was up stairs, but I needed a candle. Slip ping back, I took a candlestick and candle from the dining room mantel and drove swiftly away." VARK.IR. "I LAID THEM BIGHT ACROSS MT CHEEK.' THE OOUtUER-LKMOGKAT THUR8DAY, FEBRUARY 8,1912. "How did you leave the stable door?" "Open." "Can you tell us what time it was when you started?" "No. I did not look. Time meant nothing to me. I drove as fast as I could straight down the hill and out toward the Whispering Pines. I had seen Adelaide in her window as I went flying by the house, but not a soul on the road nor a sign of life near or far. The whistle of a train blew as I stopped in the thicket near the club house door. If it was the express train you can tell"— "Never mind the if." said Mr. Mof fat. "It is enough that you beard the whistle. Go on with what you did." "I tied up my horse, then 1 went into the house. I had used Mr. Ranelagh's key to open the door, and for some rea son I took it out of the lock when I got in and put the whole bunch back into my satchel. But I did not lock the door. Then I lit my candle and then— I went upstairs. "There is a room upstairs in the club house where I have often been with Adelaide. It has a fireplace in it, and I had seen a box there half filled with wood the day before. This is the room I went to. and here I built a fire. When it was quite bright I took out something I had brought in my satchel and thrust it into the flame. Then I got up and walked away. I—I did not feel very strong and sank on my knees when 1 got to the couch and buried my face in my arms. But I felt better when I came back to the fire again and very brave till I caught a glimpse of my face in the mirror over the mantel piece. That—that unnerved me, and I think I screamed. Some one screamed, arid I think it was 1. I know my hands went out—1 saw them in the glass: then they fell straight down at my side, and 1 looked and looked at myself till I saw all the terror go out of my face, and when it was quite calm again I stooped down and pulled out the little tongs I had been heating in the fire and laid them quick—quick, before 1 could be sorry again, right across my cheek, and then"— Uproar in the court. If she had screamed when she said she did, so some one cried out loudly now. I think that pitiful person was myself. They say I had been standing straight up in my place for the last two minutes. CHAPTER XXV. "CHOOSE." I HAVE not finished." were the first words we heard from Car mel when order was restored and we were all in a condition to listen again. "I had to relate what you have just heard that you might understand what happened next. 1 was not used to pain, and 1 could never have kept on pressing those irons to my cheek if 1 had not had the strength given me by my own reflection in the glass. When I thought the burn was quite deep enough I tore the tongs away and was lifting them to the other cheek when saw the door behind me open inch by inch, as though pushed by nesitating touches. "Instantly I forgot my pain, almost my purpose, watching that door, saw it slowly swing to its full width and disclose my sister standing in the gap with a look and in an attitude which terrified me more than the fire had done. Dropping the tongs. I turn ed and faced her, covering my cheek instinctively with my hand. "I saw her eyes run over my elab orate dinner dress—my little hand bag and the candle burning in a room made warm with a fire on the hearth— this before she spoke a single word. Then, with a deep laboring breath, she looked me iu the eye again with the simple question: 'And where is he?' Carmel's head had drooped at this, but she raised it almost instantly. Mine did not rise so readily. 'Do you mean Elwood?' I asked. 'You know!" said she. 'The veil is down between us. Carmel. We will speak plainly now. I saw him give you the letter. 1 heard you ask Arthur to harness up the horse. 1 have de meaned myself to follow you. and we will have no subterfuges now. You expect him here?' 'No,' I cried. 'I am not so bad as that. Adelaide—nor is he. Here is the note. You will see by it what he ex pects and at what place I should have joined him if 1 bad been the selfish creature you think.' 1 had the note hidden in my breast. I took it out and held it toward her. I did not feel the burn at all. but 1 kept it covered. She glanced down at the words, and 1 felt like falling at her feet she look ed so miserable. "She glanced down at the paper and let it drop almost immediately from her hand. 'I cannot read his words!' she cried. '1 do not need to. We both know which of us he loves best. You cannot say that it is l. his engaged wife.' 1 was silent, and her face took on an awful pallor. 'Carmel." said she. 'do you know what this man's love has been to meV You are a child, a warm hearted and passionate child, but you do not know a woman's heart. Cer tainly you do not know mine. 1 doubt if any one does—even he. Cares have warped my life. 1 bare no charms to rival yours 1 have only love, such love as you cannot dream of at your age. And this is no longer desirable to Mm!' •You see that I reuieiuticr word she spoke. They niirii'-d Elwood or luyself. But he is not here, and the cast of the die is be tween us two. unless you wish a cer tainty. Carmel, in which case I will pour out but one glass and drink that myself.' "She was in a fever now and des perate. Death was iu the room. I felt it in my lifted hair and in her strangely drawn face. If I screamed who would hear me? I never thought of the telephone, and I doubt if she would have let me use it then. The power she had always exerted over me was very strong in her at this mo ment. 'Shall I drink alone?' she repeated, and I cried out. 'No.' at which her hand went to her breast, as I had so long expected, and I saw the glitter of a little vial as she drew it forth. 'Oh. Adelaide!" I began, but she heeded me no more than the dead. "On leaving home she had put on a long coat with pockets, and this coat was still on her and the pockets gap ing. Thrusting her other hand into one of these she drew out a little flask covered with wicker and set It on a stand beside her. Then she pulled out two small glasses and set them down also, and then she turned her back. I could hear the drop-drop of the liquor, and dark as the room was it seemed to turn darker till 1 put out my hands like one groping in a sudden night But everything cleared before me when she turned around again. Features set like hers force themselves to be seen. "She advanced, a glass in either hand. As she came the floor swayed and the walls seemed to bow together, but they did not sway her. Step by step she drew near, and when she reached my side she smiled In my face once. Then she said: 'Choose aright, dear heart. Leave the poisoned one lor me." m-. fiercely than the iron. I tun .• in burn at all just then, n-n stead—bitterly, awfully roict ,-rv heart seemed frozen, hum -nee was dreadful. But no: -i.t-aU: could not answer her ''You have '\erv Ishe uow went on. "\Vlv ''id mn i-iI me of my one bappine—v ,\ vni have robbed me. CaniM-i. ]. ymi i.nnw why I am here?' shook my head. '1 am here to end ii all. said she. 'I ioiiim" I at ihis threat, and she, a mother i" Torn my cradle, started instinctively :o catch me. but the feel ing left tier before she had taken wo steps, and she stopped still. 'Drop your hand!- she cried. *1 want to see your whole face while I ask you one last question. I could not read th« note. Why did you come here?' dropped my hand, and she stood stat ing then she uttered a cry and quickly toward me. 'What is itV" cried. 'What has happened to you? Is it the shadow or'— "I caught her by the hand. I could speak now. 'Adelaide,' said I, 'you are not the only one to love to the point of hurt. I love you. Let this little scar be witness.' Then, as her eyes opened and she staggered, 1 caught her to my breast and hid my face on her shoulder. 'You say that tomorrow I shall be free to receive notes. He will not wish to write them tomorrow. The beauty he liked is gone. If it weighed overmuch with him, then you and 1 are on a plane again—or 1 am on an inferior one. Your joy will be sweeter for this break.' "She starred, raised my head from her shoulder, looked at me and shud dered. but no longer with hate. 'Car mel,' she whispered, 'the story—the story I read you of Francis I. and'— 'Yes.' 1 agreed, 'that made me think.' Her knees bent under her she sank at mv feet, but her eyes never left my face. 'And—and Elwood?' 'He knows nothing. I did not make up my mind till tonight. Adelaide, it had to be. 1 hadn't the strength to—to leave you all or—or to say no if he ever asked me to my face what he asked me in that note.' "And then 1 tried to lift her, but she was kissing my feet, kissing my dress, sobbing out her life on my hands. Oh, 1 was happy! My future looked very simple to me. But my cheek began to burn, and instinctively I put up my hand. This brought her to her feet. 'You are suffering,' she cried. 'You must go home at once, at once, while I telephone to Dr. Carpenter." 'We will go together," I said. 'We can telephone from there." But at this the awful look came back into her face. and. see ing her forget my hurt, 1 forgot it. too. in dread of what she would say when she found strength to speak. "It was worse than anything I had imagined she refused absolutely to go back home. 'Carmel.' said she. 'I have done injustice to your youth. You love him, too—not like a child, but a woman. The tangle is worse than 1 thought your heart is caught in it as well as mine, and you shall have your chance. My death will give it to you.' "I tried to dissuade her. I urged every plea, even that of my own sac rifice. But she was no more her nat ural self. She had taken up the note and read it during my entreaties, and my words fell on deaf ears. 'Why, these words have killed me!' she cried, crumpling the note in her hand. 'What will a little poison do? It can only finish what he has begun.' "Poison! I remembered how I had heard her pushing about bottles in the medicine cabinet and felt my legs grow weak and my head swim. 'You will not!' I cried, watching her hand, iu terror of seeing it rise to her breast. 'When I ca me here,' she said, 'I brought a bottle of cordial with me and three glasses. I brought a little vial of poison, too. once ordered for sickness. 1 expected to find Elwood here. If I had I meant to drop the poison into one glass and then fill them all up with the cordial. We should have drunk, each one of us his glass, and on» of us would have fallen. 1 did not care which, you or "Fascinated, I stared at one glass, then at the other. Had either of her hands trembled I should have grasped at the glass it held, but not a tremor shook those icy fingers, nor did her eyes wander to the right hand or to the left. 'Adelaide,' I shrieked out, 'toss them behind you. Let us live—live!' But she only reiterated that awful word, 'Choose!' and I dare not hesitate longer lest I lose my chance to save her. Groping, I touched a glass—I never knew which one—and. drawing it from her fingers. I lifted it to my mouth, instantly her other hand rose. 'I don't know which is which myself.' she said and drank. That made me drink also. "The two glasses sent out a clicking sound as we set them back on the stand. Then we waited, looking at each other. 'Which?' her lips seemed to say. 'Which?' In another moment we knew. 'Your choice was the right one.' said she and she sank back into a chair. 'Don't leave me!" she called out, for I was about to run shrieking out into the night. 'I—I am happy now that it is all settled, but I do not want to die alone. Oh. how hot I am!" And. leaping up. she flung off her coat and went gasping about the room for air. When she sank down again it was on the lounge, and again I tried to fly for help, and again she would not let me. "I tried to soothe her—to keep down my awful fear and soothe her. But the nearness of death had calmed her poor heart into its old love and habit ual thoughtfulness. She was terrified at my position. She recalled our moth er and the oath she had taken at that mother's deathbed to protect me and care for mo and my brother. 'And I have failed to do either.' she cried. 'Arthur I have alienated, and you I am leaving to unknown trouble and danger.' "She was not to be comforted. I saw her life ebbing and could do nothing. She clung to me while she called up all her powers and made plans for me and showed me a way of escape. 1 was to burn the note, fling two of the glasses from the window and leave the other and the deadly vial near her hand—this before I left the room. Then I was to call up the police and say there was some thing wrong at the clubhouse, but I was not to give my name or ever ac knowledge I was there. 'Nothing can save trouble." she said, 'but that trou ble must not come near you. Swear that yon will heed my words—swear that you will do what I say.' "T swore. All that she asked I prom ised. I was almost dying, too. and had the light gone out and the rafters of the house fallen in and buried us both it would have been better. But the light burned on. and the life in her eyes faded out. and the hands grasping mine relaxed. I heard one little gasp, then a low prayer. 'Tell Arthur never—never—again to'— Then —silence!" Sobs, cries, veiled faces, then si lence in the courtroom too. It was broken but by one sound—a heart rending sigh from the prisoner. But nobody looked at him. and nobody looked at me. Every eye was on the face of this young girl whose story bore such an impress of truth and yet was so contradictory of all former evi dence. What revelations were yet to follow? It would seem that she was speaking of her sister's death. But her sister had not died that way her sister had been strangled. Could this dainty creature, with beauty scarred and yet powerfully triumphant, be the victim of a hallucination, or did she seek to mislead justice and to con ceal truth? At a question from Mr. Moffat she spoke again, and we heard her say: "Yes, she died that way. with her hands in mine. There was no one else by. We were quite alone." That settled it, and for a moment the revulsion of feeling threatened to throw the court into tumult. "Can you fix the hour of this oc currence?" Mr. Moffat asked. "In any way can you locate the time?" "No. for I did not move at once. I felt tied to that couch. I am very young, and I had never seen death before. When 1 did get up I hobbled like an old woman and almost went distracted, but came to myself as I saw the note on the floor—the note 1 was told to burn. Lifting it. I moved toward the fireplace, but got a fright on the way and stopped in the middle of the floor and looked back. I thought I had heard my sister speak. "But the fancy passed as I saw how still she lay. and I went on after awhile and threw the note into the one small flame which was all that was left of the tire. I saw it caught by a draft from the door behind me and go flam ing up the chimney. "Some of my trouble seemed to go with the note, and I lifted a pillow from the window seat near by and covered her face. 1 must have done more. I must have covered the whole lounge with pillows and cushions, for pres ently my mind cleared again, and I recollected that it was something about the poison. I was to put the vial in her hand—or was I to throw it from the window? Something was to be thrown from the window—it must be the vial. But I couldn't lift the win dow. so. having found the vial stand ing on the table beside the little flask, I carried it into the closet where there was a window opening inward, and dropped it out of that and thought I had done all. Bat when I came back and saw Adelaide's coat lying in a heap where she had thrown it I re called that she had said something about this, but what I didn't know. So I lifted it and put it in the closet—why I cannot say. Then I set my mind on going home. "But there was something to do first —something not in that room. It was to telephone the police. I seized the PAGE SEVEJN receiver, and wnen central answerea I said something about the Whispering Pines and wanting help. This is all I remember about that. "Some time afterward—I don't know when—I was stumbling down the stairs on my way out. I had gone to—to the room again for my little bag, for the keys were in it. and I dared not leave them. But I didn't stay a minute, and I cast but one glance at the lounge. What happened afterward is like a. dream to me. I found the horse, the horse found the road, and some tim later I reached home. As I came with in sight of the house I grew suddenly strong again. The open stable door re minded me of my duty. and. driving in, I quickly unharnessed Jenny and put her away. Then I dragged the cutter into place and hung up the harness. Lastly I locked the door and carried the key with me into the house and hung it up on its usual nail in the kitchen. I had obeyed Adelaide, and now I would go to my room. That is. what she would wish. But I don't know whether I did this or not. My mind was full of Adelaide till confu sion came, then darkness and then a perfect blank." She had finished she had done as she had been asked she had told the story of that evening as she knew it from the family dinner till her return home after midnight, and the mystery of Adelaide's death was as great as ever. "Mr. District Attorney, the witness is yours," said Mr. Moffat. Mr Fox at once arose. The mo ment was ripe for conquest. He put his most vital question first: "In all this interview with your sis ter did you remark any discoloration on her throat?" The witness' lips opened. Surprise spoke from her every feature. "Dis coloration?" she repeated. "I do not know what you mean." "Any marks darker than the rest of her skin on her throat or neck?" •\Vo. Adelaide had a spotless skin. It looked like mnrnle as she lay there. No I saw no marks. I do not know what you allude to." "Did you bold your sister's hands all the time she lay dying, as you thought, on the lounge?" "Yes, yes." "How was it when you let go of them? Where did they fall then?" "On her breast. I laid them down softly and crossed them. I did not leave her till I had done this and clos ed her eyes." "And what did you do then?" "I went for the note to burn it." "Miss Cumberland, in your direct ex amination you said that you stopped still as you crossed the floor at the time, thinking that your sister called, and that you looked back at her to see." "Yes. sir." "Were her hands crossed then?" "Yes. sir just the same." "And afterward, when you came from the fire after waiting some little time for courage?" "Yes. yes. There were no signs of movement. Oh. she was dead—quite dead." "No statements. Miss Cumberland. She looked the same, and you saw no change in the position of her hands?" "None. They were just as I left them." "Can you say she did not clutch or grip her throat during any of this time?" "Yes, yes. I couldn't have forgotten it if she had done that. I remember every move she made so well. She didn't do that." "When, after telephoning, you re turned to the room where your sister lay you glanced at the lounge?" "Yes I could not help it." "Was it in the same condition as when you left—the pillows. I me™?" "I—I think so. I cann"' sa*\ only half looked. I was terrified by it." "Can you say they had not been dis turbed?" "No. I can say nothing. But what does"— "Only the answer. Miss Cumber land. Can you tell us how those pil lows were arranged?" "I'm afraid not. I threw them down quickly, madly just as I collected them. I only know that I put the window cush ion down first. The rest fell any how. But they her—quite." a a face?" "Her whole body." "And did they cover her quite when you came back?" have— Wait wait! I know 1 have no right to say that, but 1 cannot swear that I saw any change." "Can you swear that there was no change—that the pillows and the win dow cushion lay just as they did when you left the room?" "No." II Kit STRENGTH TTATI GIVEN WAT. At the next moment she was in Dr. Carpenter's arms. Her strength had given way for the time, and the court was hastily adjourned to give her op portunity for rest and recuperation. [TO BE CONTINUED.] I It isn't so nara to una wuai we nu as it is to like it after we have found it. Don't worry about today. It will soon be gone and tomorrow will be able to blithely turn Into today and will hurry away to yesterday with equal celerity.