“Isn’t it great, mother? That’s what we get!”
“Well, Joe,” said his mother, “what do you expect?”
Suddenly then another stood before him—bowed, remorseful, humble. It was Sally Heffer, the tears trickling down her face.
She knelt at the bedside and buried her face in the cover.
“It’s my fault!” she cried. “It’s my fault!”
“Yours, Sally?” cried Joe, quite forgetting the “Miss.” “How so?”
“I—I went to Marrin’s and got the girls out.”
“Got the girls out?” Joe exclaimed. “Where are they?”
“On the street.”
“Bring them into the ruins,” said Joe, “and organize them. I’m going to make a business of this thing.”
Sally looked up aghast.
“But I—I ought to be shot down. It’s I that should have been hurt.”
Joe smiled on her.
“Sally! Sally! what an impetuous girl you are! What would I do without you?”
OF THE THIRTY THOUSAND
One wonderful January twilight, when the clear, cold air seemed to tremble with lusty health, Myra sat alone in the Ramble, before the little frozen pond. And she thought:
“This is the bench we sat on; and it was here, that morning, that we quarreled; and this is the little pond; and those the trees—but how changed! how changed!”
A world-city practises magic. Any one who for years has slept in her walls and worn the pave of her streets and mingled with her crowds and her lighted nights, is changed by her subtle enchantment into a child of the city. He is never free thereafter. The metropolis may send him forth like a carrier-pigeon, and he may think he is well rid of his mistress, but the homing instinct inevitably draws him back. “All other pleasures,” as Emerson said of love, “are not worth its pains.” Myra thought that she hated New York—the great nervous sea of life, whose noise and stress and tragedy had shattered her health. She had longed for the peace of nature; she had gone forth to the meadows and the mountains, and for a long time been content with the sounds of the barnyard and the farm, the wind and the brook; she had sunk, as it were, into the arms of the earth and rested on that great nourishing breast. She loved pure air, far horizons, quiet, and the mysterious changes of the landscape. She thought she was done with the city forever. For had she not found that the Vision of White Towers seen that first evening was hollow and bitter at the heart, that beneath the beauty was dust and horror, routine and disease?