Illustrated by Howard Chandler Christy
[Illustration: “Are you in love with me now?” he asked wistfully]
TO MARY BALDWIN
If I should lose from my life that part of it of which you are a part, there would be but a skeleton left. Yet if you had played a larger part in my life I should have been so spoiled that there would be no living with me. And I’m spoiled enough, God knows!
In the Iliad you wrote for me, and I “drawed” for us both, ’twas Hector fixed Achilles. When I sat at your right hand and your sharp, swift knife went into the turkey, ’twas I that got the tit-bits and the oyster. And all was right with the world then, I can tell you!
We have ridden together over old battlefields, and I have worn the epaulettes and the swords in the attic, and listened to tales of the great brother who died of the war, and whose bull-terrier Jerry chased the cannon-balls at Gettysburg. Oh, the cutlass captured from the Confederate ram, and the wooden canteen, and the Confederate money (in a frame)! I was the hunter that used to handle the Colt (with the ships engraved on the cylinder) that shot the buffalo from the rear platform of the train, and was stolen by a genuine thief. Is Jeff Davis’s bible that he gave to the brother who with Major R. caused game chickens to fight for the edification of his captivity still in your upper bureau drawer?
Are the photographs that General Gilmore had taken of Charleston siege still in the bookcase with the glass doors? Or have they vanished like the child’s footprint that I made for you when we were planting the—the “plant,” and I was going away?
Time has passed. Grand nephews are as young and hopeful as nephews used to be. I have written innumerable miserable grovelling tales. I dedicate this one to you; despairing at last of writing that masterpiece which should have been worthy of you.
But tell me this: Is there still a little corner of your heart that I may call mine? a corner into which no one else is allowed to put—yes—to put foot? Oh, but I should be glad to know that!
Bedford, February, 1913.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
“Are you in love with me now?” he asked wistfully (Frontispiece).
She wished that she might die, or, infinitely better, that she had 4 never been born.
She had on her work-apron, but she was not working.
He praised, blamed, patronized, puffed his pipe, and dwelt with superiority on topics which are best left alone.
She took some coins from her purse and dropped them into the tin cup.
The young man knelt at the door by which he had entered and began to remove its ancient lock.
Harry, the workman, ... rose to his feet, and turned to Barbara with a certain quiet eagerness.