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So many grinning, stupid faces! Thea was sitting by the
window in Bowers's studio, waiting for him to come
back from lunch. On her knee was the latest number of an
illustrated musical journal in which musicians great and
little stridently advertised their wares. Every afternoon
she played accompaniments for people who looked and
smiled like these. She was getting tired of the human
Thea had been in Chicago for two months. She had a
small church position which partly paid her living ex-
penses, and she paid for her singing lessons by playing
Bowers's accompaniments every afternoon from two until
six. She had been compelled to leave her old friends Mrs.
Lorch and Mrs. Andersen, because the long ride from North
Chicago to Bowers's studio on Michigan Avenue took too
much time--an hour in the morning, and at night, when
the cars were crowded, an hour and a half. For the first
month she had clung to her old room, but the bad air in
the cars, at the end of a long day's work, fatigued her
greatly and was bad for her voice. Since she left Mrs.
Lorch, she had been staying at a students' club to which
she was introduced by Miss Adler, Bowers's morning ac-
companist, an intelligent Jewish girl from Evanston.
Thea took her lesson from Bowers every day from
eleven-thirty until twelve. Then she went out to lunch
with an Italian grammar under her arm, and came back
to the studio to begin her work at two. In the afternoon
Bowers coached professionals and taught his advanced
pupils. It was his theory that Thea ought to be able to
learn a great deal by keeping her ears open while she
played for him.
The concert-going public of Chicago still remembers the
long, sallow, discontented face of Madison Bowers. He
seldom missed an evening concert, and was usually to be
seen lounging somewhere at the back of the concert hall,
reading a newspaper or review, and conspicuously ignoring
the efforts of the performers. At the end of a number he
looked up from his paper long enough to sweep the ap-
plauding audience with a contemptuous eye. His face was
intelligent, with a narrow lower jaw, a thin nose, faded
gray eyes, and a close-cut brown mustache. His hair was
iron-gray, thin and dead-looking. He went to concerts
chiefly to satisfy himself as to how badly things were done
and how gullible the public was. He hated the whole race
of artists; the work they did, the wages they got, and the
way they spent their money. His father, old Hiram Bowers,
was still alive and at work, a genial old choirmaster in Bos-
ton, full of enthusiasm at seventy. But Madison was of the
colder stuff of his grandfathers, a long line of New Hamp-
shire farmers; hard workers, close traders, with good minds,
mean natures, and flinty eyes. As a boy Madison had a
fine barytone voice, and his father made great sacrifices
for him, sending him to Germany at an early age and keep-
ing him abroad at his studies for years. Madison worked
under the best teachers, and afterward sang in England in
oratorio. His cold nature and academic methods were
against him. His audiences were always aware of the
contempt he felt for them. A dozen poorer singers suc-
ceeded, but Bowers did not.
Bowers had all the qualities which go to make a good
teacher--except generosity and warmth. His intelligence
was of a high order, his taste never at fault. He seldom
worked with a voice without improving it, and in teach-
ing the delivery of oratorio he was without a rival. Sing-
ers came from far and near to study Bach and Handel
with him. Even the fashionable sopranos and contraltos
of Chicago, St. Paul, and St. Louis (they were usually
ladies with very rich husbands, and Bowers called them the
"pampered jades of Asia") humbly endured his sardonic
humor for the sake of what he could do for them. He was
not at all above helping a very lame singer across, if her
husband's check-book warranted it. He had a whole bag
of tricks for stupid people, "life-preservers," he called
them. "Cheap repairs for a cheap 'un," he used to say,
but the husbands never found the repairs very cheap.
Those were the days when lumbermen's daughters and
brewers' wives contended in song; studied in Germany and
then floated from SANGERFEST to SANGERFEST. Choral so-
cieties flourished in all the rich lake cities and river cities.
The soloists came to Chicago to coach with Bowers, and
he often took long journeys to hear and instruct a chorus.
He was intensely avaricious, and from these semi-profes-
sionals he reaped a golden harvest. They fed his pockets
and they fed his ever-hungry contempt, his scorn of him-
self and his accomplices. The more money he made, the
more parsimonious he became. His wife was so shabby
that she never went anywhere with him, which suited him
exactly. Because his clients were luxurious and extrava-
gant, he took a revengeful pleasure in having his shoes half-
soled a second time, and in getting the last wear out of a
broken collar. He had first been interested in Thea Kron-
borg because of her bluntness, her country roughness, and
her manifest carefulness about money. The mention of
Harsanyi's name always made him pull a wry face. For
the first time Thea had a friend who, in his own cool and
guarded way, liked her for whatever was least admirable in
Thea was still looking at the musical paper, her grammar
unopened on the window-sill, when Bowers sauntered in
a little before two o'clock. He was smoking a cheap cigar-
ette and wore the same soft felt hat he had worn all last
winter. He never carried a cane or wore gloves.
Thea followed him from the reception-room into the
studio. "I may cut my lesson out to-morrow, Mr. Bowers.
I have to hunt a new boarding-place."
Bowers looked up languidly from his desk where he had
begun to go over a pile of letters. "What's the matter
with the Studio Club? Been fighting with them again?"
"The Club's all right for people who like to live that
way. I don't."
Bowers lifted his eyebrows. "Why so tempery?" he
asked as he drew a check from an envelope postmarked
"I can't work with a lot of girls around. They're
too familiar. I never could get along with girls of my
own age. It's all too chummy. Gets on my nerves. I
didn't come here to play kindergarten games." Thea
began energetically to arrange the scattered music on the
Bowers grimaced good-humoredly at her over the three
checks he was pinning together. He liked to play at a
rough game of banter with her. He flattered himself that
he had made her harsher than she was when she first came
to him; that he had got off a little of the sugar-coating
Harsanyi always put on his pupils.
"The art of making yourself agreeable never comes
amiss, Miss Kronborg. I should say you rather need a
little practice along that line. When you come to market-
ing your wares in the world, a little smoothness goes
farther than a great deal of talent sometimes. If you hap-
pen to be cursed with a real talent, then you've got to be
very smooth indeed, or you'll never get your money back."
Bowers snapped the elastic band around his bank-book.
Thea gave him a sharp, recognizing glance. "Well,
that's the money I'll have to go without," she replied.
"Just what do you mean?"
"I mean the money people have to grin for. I used to
know a railroad man who said there was money in every
profession that you couldn't take. He'd tried a good
many jobs," Thea added musingly; "perhaps he was too
particular about the kind he could take, for he never
picked up much. He was proud, but I liked him for that."
Bowers rose and closed his desk. "Mrs. Priest is late
again. By the way, Miss Kronborg, remember not to frown
when you are playing for Mrs. Priest. You did not re-
"You mean when she hits a tone with her breath like
that? Why do you let her? You wouldn't let me."
"I certainly would not. But that is a mannerism of
Mrs. Priest's. The public like it, and they pay a great deal
of money for the pleasure of hearing her do it. There she
Bowers opened the door of the reception-room and a
tall, imposing woman rustled in, bringing with her a glow
of animation which pervaded the room as if half a dozen
persons, all talking gayly, had come in instead of one. She
was large, handsome, expansive, uncontrolled; one felt this
the moment she crossed the threshold. She shone with care
and cleanliness, mature vigor, unchallenged authority,
gracious good-humor, and absolute confidence in her per-
son, her powers, her position, and her way of life; a glowing,
overwhelming self-satisfaction, only to be found where
human society is young and strong and without yesterdays.
Her face had a kind of heavy, thoughtless beauty, like a
pink peony just at the point of beginning to fade. Her
brown hair was waved in front and done up behind in a
great twist, held by a tortoiseshell comb with gold fili-
gree. She wore a beautiful little green hat with three long
green feathers sticking straight up in front, a little cape
made of velvet and fur with a yellow satin rose on it. Her
gloves, her shoes, her veil, somehow made themselves felt.
She gave the impression of wearing a cargo of splendid
Mrs. Priest nodded graciously to Thea, coquettishly to
Bowers, and asked him to untie her veil for her. She
threw her splendid wrap on a chair, the yellow lining out.
Thea was already at the piano. Mrs. Priest stood behind
"`Rejoice Greatly' first, please. And please don't hurry
it in there," she put her arm over Thea's shoulder, and
indicated the passage by a sweep of her white glove. She
threw out her chest, clasped her hands over her abdomen,
lifted her chin, worked the muscles of her cheeks back
and forth for a moment, and then began with conviction,
Bowers paced the room with his catlike tread. When he
checked Mrs. Priest's vehemence at all, he handled her
roughly; poked and hammered her massive person with
cold satisfaction, almost as if he were taking out a grudge
on this splendid creation. Such treatment the imposing
lady did not at all resent. She tried harder and harder, her
eyes growing all the while more lustrous and her lips redder.
Thea played on as she was told, ignoring the singer's
When she first heard Mrs. Priest sing in church, Thea
admired her. Since she had found out how dull the good-
natured soprano really was, she felt a deep contempt for
her. She felt that Mrs. Priest ought to be reproved and
even punished for her shortcomings; that she ought to
be exposed,--at least to herself,--and not be permitted
to live and shine in happy ignorance of what a poor thing
it was she brought across so radiantly. Thea's cold looks
of reproof were lost upon Mrs. Priest; although the lady
did murmur one day when she took Bowers home in her
carriage, "How handsome your afternoon girl would be
if she did not have that unfortunate squint; it gives her
that vacant Swede look, like an animal." That amused
Bowers. He liked to watch the germination and growth
One of the first disappointments Thea had to face when
she returned to Chicago that fall, was the news that the
Harsanyis were not coming back. They had spent the
summer in a camp in the Adirondacks and were moving
to New York. An old teacher and friend of Harsanyi's,
one of the best-known piano teachers in New York, was
about to retire because of failing health and had arranged
to turn his pupils over to Harsanyi. Andor was to give
two recitals in New York in November, to devote him-
self to his new students until spring, and then to go on a
short concert tour. The Harsanyis had taken a furnished
apartment in New York, as they would not attempt to
settle a place of their own until Andor's recitals were over.
The first of December, however, Thea received a note
from Mrs. Harsanyi, asking her to call at the old studio,
where she was packing their goods for shipment.
The morning after this invitation reached her, Thea
climbed the stairs and knocked at the familiar door. Mrs.
Harsanyi herself opened it, and embraced her visitor
warmly. Taking Thea into the studio, which was littered
with excelsior and packing-cases, she stood holding her
hand and looking at her in the strong light from the big
window before she allowed her to sit down. Her quick eye
saw many changes. The girl was taller, her figure had be-
come definite, her carriage positive. She had got used to
living in the body of a young woman, and she no longer
tried to ignore it and behave as if she were a little girl.
With that increased independence of body there had come
a change in her face; an indifference, something hard and
skeptical. Her clothes, too, were different, like the attire of
a shopgirl who tries to follow the fashions; a purple suit, a
piece of cheap fur, a three-cornered purple hat with a
pompon sticking up in front. The queer country clothes
she used to wear suited her much better, Mrs. Harsanyi
thought. But such trifles, after all, were accidental and
remediable. She put her hand on the girl's strong shoulder.
"How much the summer has done for you! Yes, you are
a young lady at last. Andor will be so glad to hear about
Thea looked about at the disorder of the familiar room.
The pictures were piled in a corner, the piano and the
CHAISE LONGUE were gone. "I suppose I ought to be glad you
have gone away," she said, "but I'm not. It's a fine thing
for Mr. Harsanyi, I suppose."
Mrs. Harsanyi gave her a quick glance that said more
than words. "If you knew how long I have wanted to get
him away from here, Miss Kronborg! He is never tired,
never discouraged, now."
Thea sighed. "I'm glad for that, then." Her eyes
traveled over the faint discolorations on the walls where
the pictures had hung. "I may run away myself. I don't
know whether I can stand it here without you."
"We hope that you can come to New York to study
before very long. We have thought of that. And you must
tell me how you are getting on with Bowers. Andor will
want to know all about it."
"I guess I get on more or less. But I don't like my work
very well. It never seems serious as my work with Mr.
Harsanyi did. I play Bowers's accompaniments in the
afternoons, you know. I thought I would learn a good
deal from the people who work with him, but I don't
think I get much."
Mrs. Harsanyi looked at her inquiringly. Thea took
out a carefully folded handkerchief from the bosom of
her dress and began to draw the corners apart. "Singing
doesn't seem to be a very brainy profession, Mrs. Har-
sanyi," she said slowly. "The people I see now are not a
bit like the ones I used to meet here. Mr. Harsanyi's
pupils, even the dumb ones, had more--well, more of
everything, it seems to me. The people I have to play
accompaniments for are discouraging. The professionals,
like Katharine Priest and Miles Murdstone, are worst of
all. If I have to play `The Messiah' much longer for Mrs.
Priest, I'll go out of my mind!" Thea brought her foot
down sharply on the bare floor.
Mrs. Harsanyi looked down at the foot in perplexity.
"You mustn't wear such high heels, my dear. They will
spoil your walk and make you mince along. Can't you at
least learn to avoid what you dislike in these singers? I
was never able to care for Mrs. Priest's singing."
Thea was sitting with her chin lowered. Without mov-
ing her head she looked up at Mrs. Harsanyi and smiled;
a smile much too cold and desperate to be seen on a young
face, Mrs. Harsanyi felt. "Mrs. Harsanyi, it seems to me
that what I learn is just TO DISLIKE. I dislike so much and
so hard that it tires me out. I've got no heart for any-
thing." She threw up her head suddenly and sat in defi-
ance, her hand clenched on the arm of the chair. "Mr.
Harsanyi couldn't stand these people an hour, I know he
couldn't. He'd put them right out of the window there,
frizzes and feathers and all. Now, take that new soprano
they're all making such a fuss about, Jessie Darcey. She's
going on tour with a symphony orchestra and she's work-
ing up her repertory with Bowers. She's singing some
Schumann songs Mr. Harsanyi used to go over with me.
Well, I don't know what he WOULD do if he heard her."
"But if your own work goes well, and you know these
people are wrong, why do you let them discourage you?"
Thea shook her head. "That's just what I don't under-
stand myself. Only, after I've heard them all afternoon, I
come out frozen up. Somehow it takes the shine off of
everything. People want Jessie Darcey and the kind of
thing she does; so what's the use?"
Mrs. Harsanyi smiled. "That stile you must simply
vault over. You must not begin to fret about the suc-
cesses of cheap people. After all, what have they to do
"Well, if I had somebody like Mr. Harsanyi, perhaps I
wouldn't fret about them. He was the teacher for me.
Please tell him so."
Thea rose and Mrs. Harsanyi took her hand again. "I
am sorry you have to go through this time of discourage-
ment. I wish Andor could talk to you, he would under-
stand it so well. But I feel like urging you to keep clear of
Mrs. Priest and Jessie Darcey and all their works."
Thea laughed discordantly. "No use urging me. I don't
get on with them AT ALL. My spine gets like a steel rail when
they come near me. I liked them at first, you know. Their
clothes and their manners were so fine, and Mrs. Priest IS
handsome. But now I keep wanting to tell them how
stupid they are. Seems like they ought to be informed,
don't you think so?" There was a flash of the shrewd grin
that Mrs. Harsanyi remembered. Thea pressed her hand.
"I must go now. I had to give my lesson hour this morn-
ing to a Duluth woman who has come on to coach, and I
must go and play `On Mighty Pens' for her. Please tell
Mr. Harsanyi that I think oratorio is a great chance for
Mrs. Harsanyi detained her. "But he will want to know
much more than that about you. You are free at seven?
Come back this evening, then, and we will go to dinner
somewhere, to some cheerful place. I think you need a
Thea brightened. "Oh, I do! I'll love to come; that will
be like old times. You see," she lingered a moment, soft-
ening, "I wouldn't mind if there were only ONE of them I
could really admire."
"How about Bowers?" Mrs. Harsanyi asked as they
were approaching the stairway.
"Well, there's nothing he loves like a good fakir, and
nothing he hates like a good artist. I always remember
something Mr. Harsanyi said about him. He said Bowers
was the cold muffin that had been left on the plate."
Mrs. Harsanyi stopped short at the head of the stairs
and said decidedly: "I think Andor made a mistake. I
can't believe that is the right atmosphere for you. It would
hurt you more than most people. It's all wrong."
"Something's wrong," Thea called back as she clattered
down the stairs in her high heels.
DURING that winter Thea lived in so many places that
sometimes at night when she left Bowers's studio and
emerged into the street she had to stop and think for a
moment to remember where she was living now and what
was the best way to get there.
When she moved into a new place her eyes challenged
the beds, the carpets, the food, the mistress of the
house. The boarding-houses were wretchedly conducted
and Thea's complaints sometimes took an insulting form.
She quarreled with one landlady after another and moved
on. When she moved into a new room, she was almost
sure to hate it on sight and to begin planning to hunt
another place before she unpacked her trunk. She was
moody and contemptuous toward her fellow boarders,
except toward the young men, whom she treated with a
careless familiarity which they usually misunderstood.
They liked her, however, and when she left the house
after a storm, they helped her to move her things and came
to see her after she got settled in a new place. But she
moved so often that they soon ceased to follow her. They
could see no reason for keeping up with a girl who, under
her jocularity, was cold, self-centered, and unimpression-
able. They soon felt that she did not admire them.
Thea used to waken up in the night and wonder why
she was so unhappy. She would have been amazed if she
had known how much the people whom she met in Bowers's
studio had to do with her low spirits. She had never been
conscious of those instinctive standards which are called
ideals, and she did not know that she was suffering for
them. She often found herself sneering when she was on a
street-car, or when she was brushing out her hair before
her mirror, as some inane remark or too familiar manner-
ism flitted across her mind.
She felt no creature kindness, no tolerant good-will for
Mrs. Priest or Jessie Darcey. After one of Jessie Dar-
cey's concerts the glowing press notices, and the admiring
comments that floated about Bowers's studio, caused
Thea bitter unhappiness. It was not the torment of per-
sonal jealousy. She had never thought of herself as even
a possible rival of Miss Darcey. She was a poor music
student, and Jessie Darcey was a popular and petted
professional. Mrs. Priest, whatever one held against her,
had a fine, big, showy voice and an impressive presence.
She read indifferently, was inaccurate, and was always
putting other people wrong, but she at least had the
material out of which singers can be made. But people
seemed to like Jessie Darcey exactly because she could
not sing; because, as they put it, she was "so natural and
unprofessional." Her singing was pronounced "artless,"
her voice "birdlike." Miss Darcey was thin and awkward
in person, with a sharp, sallow face. Thea noticed that
her plainness was accounted to her credit, and that
people spoke of it affectionately. Miss Darcey was sing-
ing everywhere just then; one could not help hearing
about her. She was backed by some of the packing-house
people and by the Chicago Northwestern Railroad. Only
one critic raised his voice against her. Thea went to
several of Jessie Darcey's concerts. It was the first time
she had had an opportunity to observe the whims of the
public which singers live by interesting. She saw that
people liked in Miss Darcey every quality a singer ought
not to have, and especially the nervous complacency that
stamped her as a commonplace young woman. They
seemed to have a warmer feeling for Jessie than for Mrs.
Priest, an affectionate and cherishing regard. Chicago
was not so very different from Moonstone, after all, and
Jessie Darcey was only Lily Fisher under another name.
Thea particularly hated to accompany for Miss Darcey
because she sang off pitch and didn't mind it in the least.
It was excruciating to sit there day after day and hear her;
there was something shameless and indecent about not
One morning Miss Darcey came by appointment to go
over the programme for her Peoria concert. She was such
a frail-looking girl that Thea ought to have felt sorry for
her. True, she had an arch, sprightly little manner, and
a flash of salmon-pink on either brown cheek. But a nar-
row upper jaw gave her face a pinched look, and her eye-
lids were heavy and relaxed. By the morning light, the
purplish brown circles under her eyes were pathetic enough,
and foretold no long or brilliant future. A singer with a
poor digestion and low vitality; she needed no seer to cast
her horoscope. If Thea had ever taken the pains to study
her, she would have seen that, under all her smiles and
archness, poor Miss Darcey was really frightened to death.
She could not understand her success any more than Thea
could; she kept catching her breath and lifting her eye-
brows and trying to believe that it was true. Her loqua-
city was not natural, she forced herself to it, and when she
confided to you how many defects she could overcome by
her unusual command of head resonance, she was not so
much trying to persuade you as to persuade herself.
When she took a note that was high for her, Miss Darcey
always put her right hand out into the air, as if she were
indicating height, or giving an exact measurement. Some
early teacher had told her that she could "place" a tone
more surely by the help of such a gesture, and she firmly
believed that it was of great assistance to her. (Even when
she was singing in public, she kept her right hand down
with difficulty, nervously clasping her white kid fingers
together when she took a high note. Thea could always
see her elbows stiffen.) She unvaryingly executed this
gesture with a smile of gracious confidence, as if she were
actually putting her finger on the tone: "There it is,
This morning, in Gounod's "Ave Maria," as Miss Dar-
cey approached her B natural,--
DANS---NOS A--LAR-- -- --MES!
out went the hand, with the sure airy gesture, though it
was little above A she got with her voice, whatever she
touched with her finger. Often Bowers let such things
pass--with the right people--but this morning he
snapped his jaws together and muttered, "God!" Miss
Darcey tried again, with the same gesture as of putting
the crowning touch, tilting her head and smiling radiantly
at Bowers, as if to say, "It is for you I do all this!"
This time she made B flat, and went on in the happy belief
that she had done well enough, when she suddenly found
that her accompanist was not going on with her, and this
put her out completely.
She turned to Thea, whose hands had fallen in her lap.
"Oh why did you stop just there! It IS too trying! Now
we'd better go back to that other CRESCENDO and try it
"I beg your pardon," Thea muttered. "I thought you
wanted to get that B natural." She began again, as Miss
After the singer was gone, Bowers walked up to Thea
and asked languidly, "Why do you hate Jessie so? Her
little variations from pitch are between her and her public;
they don't hurt you. Has she ever done anything to you
except be very agreeable?"
"Yes, she has done things to me," Thea retorted hotly.
Bowers looked interested. "What, for example?"
"I can't explain, but I've got it in for her."
Bowers laughed. "No doubt about that. I'll have to
suggest that you conceal it a little more effectually. That
is--necessary, Miss Kronborg," he added, looking back
over the shoulder of the overcoat he was putting on.
He went out to lunch and Thea thought the subject
closed. But late in the afternoon, when he was taking his
dyspepsia tablet and a glass of water between lessons, he
looked up and said in a voice ironically coaxing:--
"Miss Kronborg, I wish you would tell me why you
Taken by surprise Thea put down the score she was
reading and answered before she knew what she was say-
ing, "I hate her for the sake of what I used to think a singer
Bowers balanced the tablet on the end of his long fore-
finger and whistled softly. "And how did you form your
conception of what a singer ought to be?" he asked.
"I don't know." Thea flushed and spoke under her
breath; "but I suppose I got most of it from Harsanyi."
Bowers made no comment upon this reply, but opened
the door for the next pupil, who was waiting in the recep-
It was dark when Thea left the studio that night.
She knew she had offended Bowers. Somehow she had
hurt herself, too. She felt unequal to the boarding-house
table, the sneaking divinity student who sat next her and
had tried to kiss her on the stairs last night. She went
over to the waterside of Michigan Avenue and walked
along beside the lake. It was a clear, frosty winter night.
The great empty space over the water was restful and
spoke of freedom. If she had any money at all, she would
go away. The stars glittered over the wide black water.
She looked up at them wearily and shook her head. She
believed that what she felt was despair, but it was only one
of the forms of hope. She felt, indeed, as if she were bid-
ding the stars good-bye; but she was renewing a promise.
Though their challenge is universal and eternal, the stars
get no answer but that,--the brief light flashed back to
them from the eyes of the young who unaccountably
The rich, noisy, city, fat with food and drink, is a
spent thing; its chief concern is its digestion and its little
game of hide-and-seek with the undertaker. Money and
office and success are the consolations of impotence. For-
tune turns kind to such solid people and lets them suck
their bone in peace. She flecks her whip upon flesh that
is more alive, upon that stream of hungry boys and girls
who tramp the streets of every city, recognizable by their
pride and discontent, who are the Future, and who possess
the treasure of creative power.
WHILE her living arrangements were so casual and
fortuitous, Bowers's studio was the one fixed thing
in Thea's life. She went out from it to uncertainties, and
hastened to it from nebulous confusion. She was more
influenced by Bowers than she knew. Unconsciously she
began to take on something of his dry contempt, and to
share his grudge without understanding exactly what it
was about. His cynicism seemed to her honest, and the
amiability of his pupils artificial. She admired his drastic
treatment of his dull pupils. The stupid deserved all they
got, and more. Bowers knew that she thought him a very
One afternoon when Bowers came in from lunch Thea
handed him a card on which he read the name, "Mr.
Philip Frederick Ottenburg."
"He said he would be in again to-morrow and that he
wanted some time. Who is he? I like him better than the
Bowers nodded. "So do I. He's not a singer. He's a
beer prince: son of the big brewer in St. Louis. He's been
in Germany with his mother. I didn't know he was
"Does he take lessons?"
"Now and again. He sings rather well. He's at the
head of the Chicago branch of the Ottenburg business, but
he can't stick to work and is always running away. He
has great ideas in beer, people tell me. He's what they call
an imaginative business man; goes over to Bayreuth and
seems to do nothing but give parties and spend money, and
brings back more good notions for the brewery than the
fellows who sit tight dig out in five years. I was born too
long ago to be much taken in by these chesty boys with
flowered vests, but I like Fred, all the same."
"So do I," said Thea positively.
Bowers made a sound between a cough and a laugh.
"Oh, he's a lady-killer, all right! The girls in here are al-
ways making eyes at him. You won't be the first." He
threw some sheets of music on the piano. "Better look
that over; accompaniment's a little tricky. It's for that
new woman from Detroit. And Mrs. Priest will be in this
Thea sighed. "`I Know that my Redeemer Liveth'?"
"The same. She starts on her concert tour next week,
and we'll have a rest. Until then, I suppose we'll have
to be going over her programme."
The next day Thea hurried through her luncheon at a
German bakery and got back to the studio at ten minutes
past one. She felt sure that the young brewer would come
early, before it was time for Bowers to arrive. He had
not said he would, but yesterday, when he opened the door
to go, he had glanced about the room and at her, and some-
thing in his eye had conveyed that suggestion.
Sure enough, at twenty minutes past one the door of the
reception-room opened, and a tall, robust young man with
a cane and an English hat and ulster looked in expect-
antly. "Ah--ha!" he exclaimed, "I thought if I came
early I might have good luck. And how are you to-day,
Thea was sitting in the window chair. At her left elbow
there was a table, and upon this table the young man sat
down, holding his hat and cane in his hand, loosening his
long coat so that it fell back from his shoulders. He was a
gleaming, florid young fellow. His hair, thick and yellow,
was cut very short, and he wore a closely trimmed beard,
long enough on the chin to curl a little. Even his eye-
brows were thick and yellow, like fleece. He had lively
blue eyes--Thea looked up at them with great interest
as he sat chatting and swinging his foot rhythmically.
He was easily familiar, and frankly so. Wherever people
met young Ottenburg, in his office, on shipboard, in a
foreign hotel or railway compartment, they always felt
(and usually liked) that artless presumption which seemed
to say, "In this case we may waive formalities. We
really haven't time. This is to-day, but it will soon be
to-morrow, and then we may be very different people,
and in some other country." He had a way of floating
people out of dull or awkward situations, out of their
own torpor or constraint or discouragement. It was a
marked personal talent, of almost incalculable value in
the representative of a great business founded on social
amenities. Thea had liked him yesterday for the way in
which he had picked her up out of herself and her German
grammar for a few exciting moments.
"By the way, will you tell me your first name, please?
Thea? Oh, then you ARE a Swede, sure enough! I thought
so. Let me call you Miss Thea, after the German fashion.
You won't mind? Of course not!" He usually made his
assumption of a special understanding seem a tribute to the
other person and not to himself.
"How long have you been with Bowers here? Do you
like the old grouch? So do I. I've come to tell him about
a new soprano I heard at Bayreuth. He'll pretend not to
care, but he does. Do you warble with him? Have you
anything of a voice? Honest? You look it, you know.
What are you going in for, something big? Opera?"
Thea blushed crimson. "Oh, I'm not going in for any-
thing. I'm trying to learn to sing at funerals."
Ottenburg leaned forward. His eyes twinkled. "I'll
engage you to sing at mine. You can't fool me, Miss Thea.
May I hear you take your lesson this afternoon?"
"No, you may not. I took it this morning."
He picked up a roll of music that lay behind him on the
table. "Is this yours? Let me see what you are doing."
He snapped back the clasp and began turning over the
songs. "All very fine, but tame. What's he got you at this
Mozart stuff for? I shouldn't think it would suit your
voice. Oh, I can make a pretty good guess at what will
suit you! This from `Gioconda' is more in your line.
What's this Grieg? It looks interesting. TAK FOR DITT ROD.
What does that mean?"
"`Thanks for your Advice.' Don't you know it?"
"No; not at all. Let's try it." He rose, pushed open the
door into the music-room, and motioned Thea to enter be-
fore him. She hung back.
"I couldn't give you much of an idea of it. It's a big
Ottenburg took her gently by the elbow and pushed her
into the other room. He sat down carelessly at the piano
and looked over the music for a moment. "I think I can
get you through it. But how stupid not to have the Ger-
man words. Can you really sing the Norwegian? What
an infernal language to sing. Translate the text for me."
He handed her the music.
Thea looked at it, then at him, and shook her head. "I
can't. The truth is I don't know either English or Swedish
very well, and Norwegian's still worse," she said confi-
dentially. She not infrequently refused to do what she
was asked to do, but it was not like her to explain her
refusal, even when she had a good reason.
"I understand. We immigrants never speak any lan-
guage well. But you know what it means, don't you?"
"Of course I do!"
"Then don't frown at me like that, but tell me."
Thea continued to frown, but she also smiled. She was
confused, but not embarrassed. She was not afraid of
Ottenburg. He was not one of those people who made her
spine like a steel rail. On the contrary, he made one ven-
"Well, it goes something like this: Thanks for your ad-
vice! But I prefer to steer my boat into the din of roaring
breakers. Even if the journey is my last, I may find what I
have never found before. Onward must I go, for I yearn for
the wild sea. I long to fight my way through the angry waves,
and to see how far, and how long I can make them carry me."*
Ottenburg took the music and began: "Wait a moment.
Is that too fast? How do you take it? That right?" He
pulled up his cuffs and began the accompaniment again.
He had become entirely serious, and he played with fine
enthusiasm and with understanding.
Fred's talent was worth almost as much to old Otto
Ottenburg as the steady industry of his older sons. When
Fred sang the Prize Song at an interstate meet of the
TURNVEREIN, ten thousand TURNERS went forth pledged to
As Thea finished the song Fred turned back to the first
page, without looking up from the music. "Now, once
more," he called. They began again, and did not hear
Bowers when he came in and stood in the doorway. He
stood still, blinking like an owl at their two heads shining
in the sun. He could not see their faces, but there was
something about his girl's back that he had not noticed be-
fore: a very slight and yet very free motion, from the toes
up. Her whole back seemed plastic, seemed to be mould-
ing itself to the galloping rhythm of the song. Bowers
perceived such things sometimes--unwillingly. He had
known to-day that there was something afoot. The river
of sound which had its source in his pupil had caught him
two flights down. He had stopped and listened with a kind
of sneering admiration. From the door he watched her
with a half-incredulous, half-malicious smile.
When he had struck the keys for the last time, Otten-
burg dropped his hands on his knees and looked up with a
quick breath. "I got you through. What a stunning song!
Did I play it right?"
Thea studied his excited face. There was a good deal of
meaning in it, and there was a good deal in her own as she
answered him. "You suited me," she said ungrudgingly.
After Ottenburg was gone, Thea noticed that Bowers
was more agreeable than usual. She had heard the young
brewer ask Bowers to dine with him at his club that even-
ing, and she saw that he looked forward to the dinner
with pleasure. He dropped a remark to the effect that
Fred knew as much about food and wines as any man in
Chicago. He said this boastfully.
"If he's such a grand business man, how does he have
time to run around listening to singing-lessons?" Thea
As she went home to her boarding-house through the
February slush, she wished she were going to dine with
them. At nine o'clock she looked up from her grammar to
wonder what Bowers and Ottenburg were having to eat.
At that moment they were talking of her.
THEA noticed that Bowers took rather more pains with
her now that Fred Ottenburg often dropped in at
eleven-thirty to hear her lesson. After the lesson the young
man took Bowers off to lunch with him, and Bowers liked
good food when another man paid for it. He encouraged
Fred's visits, and Thea soon saw that Fred knew exactly
One morning, after her lesson, Ottenburg turned to
Bowers. "If you'll lend me Miss Thea, I think I have an
engagement for her. Mrs. Henry Nathanmeyer is going to
give three musical evenings in April, first three Saturdays,
and she has consulted me about soloists. For the first
evening she has a young violinist, and she would be
charmed to have Miss Kronborg. She will pay fifty dollars.
Not much, but Miss Thea would meet some people there
who might be useful. What do you say?"
Bowers passed the question on to Thea. "I guess you
could use the fifty, couldn't you, Miss Kronborg? You
can easily work up some songs."
Thea was perplexed. "I need the money awfully," she
said frankly; "but I haven't got the right clothes for that
sort of thing. I suppose I'd better try to get some."
Ottenburg spoke up quickly, "Oh, you'd make nothing
out of it if you went to buying evening clothes. I've
thought of that. Mrs. Nathanmeyer has a troop of daugh-
ters, a perfect seraglio, all ages and sizes. She'll be glad to
fit you out, if you aren't sensitive about wearing kosher
clothes. Let me take you to see her, and you'll find that
she'll arrange that easily enough. I told her she must
produce something nice, blue or yellow, and properly cut.
I brought half a dozen Worth gowns through the customs
for her two weeks ago, and she's not ungrateful. When can
we go to see her?"
"I haven't any time free, except at night," Thea re-
plied in some confusion.
"To-morrow evening, then? I shall call for you at eight.
Bring all your songs along; she will want us to give her a
little rehearsal, perhaps. I'll play your accompaniments,
if you've no objection. That will save money for you and
for Mrs. Nathanmeyer. She needs it." Ottenburg chuckled
as he took down the number of Thea's boarding-house.
The Nathanmeyers were so rich and great that even
Thea had heard of them, and this seemed a very remarkable
opportunity. Ottenburg had brought it about by merely
lifting a finger, apparently. He was a beer prince sure
enough, as Bowers had said.
The next evening at a quarter to eight Thea was dressed
and waiting in the boarding-house parlor. She was ner-
vous and fidgety and found it difficult to sit still on the
hard, convex upholstery of the chairs. She tried them one
after another, moving about the dimly lighted, musty
room, where the gas always leaked gently and sang in the
burners. There was no one in the parlor but the medical
student, who was playing one of Sousa's marches so vigor-
ously that the china ornaments on the top of the piano
rattled. In a few moments some of the pension-office girls
would come in and begin to two-step. Thea wished that
Ottenburg would come and let her escape. She glanced
at herself in the long, somber mirror. She was wearing
her pale-blue broadcloth church dress, which was not un-
becoming but was certainly too heavy to wear to any-
body's house in the evening. Her slippers were run over
at the heel and she had not had time to have them mended,
and her white gloves were not so clean as they should be.
However, she knew that she would forget these annoying
things as soon as Ottenburg came.
Mary, the Hungarian chambermaid, came to the door,
stood between the plush portieres, beckoned to Thea, and
made an inarticulate sound in her throat. Thea jumped
up and ran into the hall, where Ottenburg stood smiling,
his caped cloak open, his silk hat in his white-kid hand.
The Hungarian girl stood like a monument on her flat heels,
staring at the pink carnation in Ottenburg's coat. Her
broad, pockmarked face wore the only expression of which
it was capable, a kind of animal wonder. As the young man
followed Thea out, he glanced back over his shoulder
through the crack of the door; the Hun clapped her hands
over her stomach, opened her mouth, and made another
raucous sound in her throat.
"Isn't she awful?" Thea exclaimed. "I think she's
half-witted. Can you understand her?"
Ottenburg laughed as he helped her into the carriage.
"Oh, yes; I can understand her!" He settled himself on
the front seat opposite Thea. "Now, I want to tell you
about the people we are going to see. We may have a
musical public in this country some day, but as yet there
are only the Germans and the Jews. All the other people
go to hear Jessie Darcey sing, `O, Promise Me!' The
Nathanmeyers are the finest kind of Jews. If you do any-
thing for Mrs. Henry Nathanmeyer, you must put your-
self into her hands. Whatever she says about music, about
clothes, about life, will be correct. And you may feel at
ease with her. She expects nothing of people; she has
lived in Chicago twenty years. If you were to behave
like the Magyar who was so interested in my buttonhole,
she would not be surprised. If you were to sing like Jessie
Darcey, she would not be surprised; but she would manage
not to hear you again."
"Would she? Well, that's the kind of people I want to
find." Thea felt herself growing bolder.
"You will be all right with her so long as you do not try
to be anything that you are not. Her standards have noth-
ing to do with Chicago. Her perceptions--or her grand-
mother's, which is the same thing--were keen when all
this was an Indian village. So merely be yourself, and you
will like her. She will like you because the Jews always
sense talent, and," he added ironically, "they admire cer-
tain qualities of feeling that are found only in the white-
Thea looked into the young man's face as the light of a
street lamp flashed into the carriage. His somewhat aca-
demic manner amused her.
"What makes you take such an interest in singers?"
she asked curiously. "You seem to have a perfect passion
for hearing music-lessons. I wish I could trade jobs with
"I'm not interested in singers." His tone was offended.
"I am interested in talent. There are only two interesting
things in the world, anyhow; and talent is one of them."
"What's the other?" The question came meekly from
the figure opposite him. Another arc-light flashed in at
Fred saw her face and broke into a laugh. "Why, you're
guying me, you little wretch! You won't let me behave
properly." He dropped his gloved hand lightly on her
knee, took it away and let it hang between his own. "Do
you know," he said confidentially, "I believe I'm more
in earnest about all this than you are."
"About all what?"
"All you've got in your throat there."
"Oh! I'm in earnest all right; only I never was much
good at talking. Jessie Darcey is the smooth talker. `You
notice the effect I get there--' If she only got 'em, she'd
be a wonder, you know!"
Mr. and Mrs. Nathanmeyer were alone in their great
library. Their three unmarried daughters had departed in
successive carriages, one to a dinner, one to a Nietszche
club, one to a ball given for the girls employed in the big
department stores. When Ottenburg and Thea entered,
Henry Nathanmeyer and his wife were sitting at a table
at the farther end of the long room, with a reading-lamp
and a tray of cigarettes and cordial-glasses between them.
The overhead lights were too soft to bring out the colors
of the big rugs, and none of the picture lights were on.
One could merely see that there were pictures there. Fred
whispered that they were Rousseaus and Corots, very fine
ones which the old banker had bought long ago for next to
nothing. In the hall Ottenburg had stopped Thea before a
painting of a woman eating grapes out of a paper bag, and
had told her gravely that there was the most beautiful
Manet in the world. He made her take off her hat and
gloves in the hall, and looked her over a little before he
took her in. But once they were in the library he seemed
perfectly satisfied with her and led her down the long room
to their hostess.
Mrs. Nathanmeyer was a heavy, powerful old Jewess,
with a great pompadour of white hair, a swarthy complex-
ion, an eagle nose, and sharp, glittering eyes. She wore a
black velvet dress with a long train, and a diamond necklace
and earrings. She took Thea to the other side of the table
and presented her to Mr. Nathanmeyer, who apologized
for not rising, pointing to a slippered foot on a cushion;
he said that he suffered from gout. He had a very soft
voice and spoke with an accent which would have been
heavy if it had not been so caressing. He kept Thea stand-
ing beside him for some time. He noticed that she stood
easily, looked straight down into his face, and was not
embarrassed. Even when Mrs. Nathanmeyer told Otten-
burg to bring a chair for Thea, the old man did not release
her hand, and she did not sit down. He admired her just
as she was, as she happened to be standing, and she felt it.
He was much handsomer than his wife, Thea thought. His
forehead was high, his hair soft and white, his skin pink, a
little puffy under his clear blue eyes. She noticed how warm
and delicate his hands were, pleasant to touch and beauti-
ful to look at. Ottenburg had told her that Mr. Nathan-
meyer had a very fine collection of medals and cameos,
and his fingers looked as if they had never touched any-
thing but delicately cut surfaces.
He asked Thea where Moonstone was; how many in-
habitants it had; what her father's business was; from what
part of Sweden her grandfather came; and whether she
spoke Swedish as a child. He was interested to hear that
her mother's mother was still living, and that her grand-
father had played the oboe. Thea felt at home standing
there beside him; she felt that he was very wise, and that he
some way took one's life up and looked it over kindly, as
if it were a story. She was sorry when they left him to
go into the music-room.
As they reached the door of the music-room, Mrs.
Nathanmeyer turned a switch that threw on many lights.
The room was even larger than the library, all glittering
surfaces, with two Steinway pianos.
Mrs. Nathanmeyer rang for her own maid. "Selma
will take you upstairs, Miss Kronborg, and you will find
some dresses on the bed. Try several of them, and take the
one you like best. Selma will help you. She has a great
deal of taste. When you are dressed, come down and let us
go over some of your songs with Mr. Ottenburg."
After Thea went away with the maid, Ottenburg came
up to Mrs. Nathanmeyer and stood beside her, resting his
hand on the high back of her chair.
"Well, GNADIGE FRAU, do you like her?"
"I think so. I liked her when she talked to father. She
will always get on better with men."
Ottenburg leaned over her chair. "Prophetess! Do you
see what I meant?"
"About her beauty? She has great possibilities, but you
can never tell about those Northern women. They look so
strong, but they are easily battered. The face falls so early
under those wide cheek-bones. A single idea--hate or
greed, or even love--can tear them to shreds. She is
nineteen? Well, in ten years she may have quite a regal
beauty, or she may have a heavy, discontented face, all
dug out in channels. That will depend upon the kind of
ideas she lives with."
"Or the kind of people?" Ottenburg suggested.
The old Jewess folded her arms over her massive chest,
drew back her shoulders, and looked up at the young man.
"With that hard glint in her eye? The people won't mat-
ter much, I fancy. They will come and go. She is very
much interested in herself--as she should be."
Ottenburg frowned. "Wait until you hear her sing. Her
eyes are different then. That gleam that comes in them
is curious, isn't it? As you say, it's impersonal."
The object of this discussion came in, smiling. She had
chosen neither the blue nor the yellow gown, but a pale
rose-color, with silver butterflies. Mrs. Nathanmeyer
lifted her lorgnette and studied her as she approached. She
caught the characteristic things at once: the free, strong
walk, the calm carriage of the head, the milky whiteness of
the girl's arms and shoulders.
"Yes, that color is good for you," she said approvingly.
"The yellow one probably killed your hair? Yes; this
does very well indeed, so we need think no more about
Thea glanced questioningly at Ottenburg. He smiled
and bowed, seemed perfectly satisfied. He asked her to
stand in the elbow of the piano, in front of him, instead of
behind him as she had been taught to do.
"Yes," said the hostess with feeling. "That other posi-
tion is barbarous."
Thea sang an aria from `Gioconda,' some songs by Schu-
mann which she had studied with Harsanyi, and the "TAK
FOR DIT ROD," which Ottenburg liked.
"That you must do again," he declared when they fin-
ished this song. "You did it much better the other day.
You accented it more, like a dance or a galop. How did
you do it?"
Thea laughed, glancing sidewise at Mrs. Nathanmeyer.
"You want it rough-house, do you? Bowers likes me to sing
it more seriously, but it always makes me think about a
story my grandmother used to tell."
Fred pointed to the chair behind her. "Won't you rest
a moment and tell us about it? I thought you had some
notion about it when you first sang it for me."
Thea sat down. "In Norway my grandmother knew a
girl who was awfully in love with a young fellow. She
went into service on a big dairy farm to make enough
money for her outfit. They were married at Christmas-
time, and everybody was glad, because they'd been sigh-
ing around about each other for so long. That very sum-
mer, the day before St. John's Day, her husband caught
her carrying on with another farm-hand. The next night
all the farm people had a bonfire and a big dance up on
the mountain, and everybody was dancing and singing. I
guess they were all a little drunk, for they got to seeing
how near they could make the girls dance to the edge
of the cliff. Ole--he was the girl's husband--seemed the
jolliest and the drunkest of anybody. He danced his wife
nearer and nearer the edge of the rock, and his wife began
to scream so that the others stopped dancing and the
music stopped; but Ole went right on singing, and he
danced her over the edge of the cliff and they fell hundreds
of feet and were all smashed to pieces."
Ottenburg turned back to the piano. "That's the idea!
Now, come Miss Thea. Let it go!"
Thea took her place. She laughed and drew herself up
out of her corsets, threw her shoulders high and let them
drop again. She had never sung in a low dress before, and
she found it comfortable. Ottenburg jerked his head and
they began the song. The accompaniment sounded more
than ever like the thumping and scraping of heavy feet.
When they stopped, they heard a sympathetic tapping
at the end of the room. Old Mr. Nathanmeyer had come
to the door and was sitting back in the shadow, just inside
the library, applauding with his cane. Thea threw him a
bright smile. He continued to sit there, his slippered foot
on a low chair, his cane between his fingers, and she
glanced at him from time to time. The doorway made a
frame for him, and he looked like a man in a picture, with
the long, shadowy room behind him.
Mrs. Nathanmeyer summoned the maid again. "Selma
will pack that gown in a box for you, and you can take it
home in Mr. Ottenburg's carriage."
Thea turned to follow the maid, but hesitated. "Shall
I wear gloves?" she asked, turning again to Mrs. Nathan-
"No, I think not. Your arms are good, and you will feel
freer without. You will need light slippers, pink--or
white, if you have them, will do quite as well."
Thea went upstairs with the maid and Mrs. Nathan-
meyer rose, took Ottenburg's arm, and walked toward her
husband. "That's the first real voice I have heard in
Chicago," she said decidedly. "I don't count that stupid
Priest woman. What do you say, father?"
Mr. Nathanmeyer shook his white head and smiled
softly, as if he were thinking about something very agree-
able. "SVENSK SOMMAR," he murmured. "She is like a
Swedish summer. I spent nearly a year there when I was
a young man," he explained to Ottenburg.
When Ottenburg got Thea and her big box into the car-
riage, it occurred to him that she must be hungry, after
singing so much. When he asked her, she admitted that
she was very hungry, indeed.
He took out his watch. "Would you mind stopping
somewhere with me? It's only eleven."
"Mind? Of course, I wouldn't mind. I wasn't brought
up like that. I can take care of myself."
Ottenburg laughed. "And I can take care of myself, so
we can do lots of jolly things together." He opened the
carriage door and spoke to the driver. "I'm stuck on the
way you sing that Grieg song," he declared.
When Thea got into bed that night she told herself that
this was the happiest evening she had had in Chicago. She
had enjoyed the Nathanmeyers and their grand house, her
new dress, and Ottenburg, her first real carriage ride, and
the good supper when she was so hungry. And Ottenburg
WAS jolly! He made you want to come back at him. You
weren't always being caught up and mystified. When
you started in with him, you went; you cut the breeze, as
Ray used to say. He had some go in him.
Philip Frederick Ottenburg was the third son of the
great brewer. His mother was Katarina Furst, the daughter
and heiress of a brewing business older and richer than
Otto Ottenburg's. As a young woman she had been a con-
spicuous figure in German-American society in New York,
and not untouched by scandal. She was a handsome, head-
strong girl, a rebellious and violent force in a provincial
society. She was brutally sentimental and heavily ro-
mantic. Her free speech, her Continental ideas, and her
proclivity for championing new causes, even when she
did not know much about them, made her an object of
suspicion. She was always going abroad to seek out in-
tellectual affinities, and was one of the group of young
women who followed Wagner about in his old age, keep-
ing at a respectful distance, but receiving now and then
a gracious acknowledgment that he appreciated their
homage. When the composer died, Katarina, then a ma-
tron with a family, took to her bed and saw no one for a
After having been engaged to an American actor, a
Welsh socialist agitator, and a German army officer,
Fraulein Furst at last placed herself and her great brewery
interests into the trustworthy hands of Otto Ottenburg,
who had been her suitor ever since he was a clerk, learning
his business in her father's office.
Her first two sons were exactly like their father. Even as
children they were industrious, earnest little tradesmen.
As Frau Ottenburg said, "she had to wait for her Fred,
but she got him at last," the first man who had altogether
pleased her. Frederick entered Harvard when he was
eighteen. When his mother went to Boston to visit him,
she not only got him everything he wished for, but she
made handsome and often embarrassing presents to all
his friends. She gave dinners and supper parties for the
Glee Club, made the crew break training, and was a gen-
erally disturbing influence. In his third year Fred left the
university because of a serious escapade which had some-
what hampered his life ever since. He went at once into
his father's business, where, in his own way, he had made
himself very useful.
Fred Ottenburg was now twenty-eight, and people could
only say of him that he had been less hurt by his mother's
indulgence than most boys would have been. He had never
wanted anything that he could not have it, and he might
have had a great many things that he had never wanted.
He was extravagant, but not prodigal. He turned most of
the money his mother gave him into the business, and
lived on his generous salary.
Fred had never been bored for a whole day in his life.
When he was in Chicago or St. Louis, he went to ball-
games, prize-fights, and horse-races. When he was in
Germany, he went to concerts and to the opera. He
belonged to a long list of sporting-clubs and hunting-
clubs, and was a good boxer. He had so many natural
interests that he had no affectations. At Harvard he kept
away from the aesthetic circle that had already discovered
Francis Thompson. He liked no poetry but German poetry.
Physical energy was the thing he was full to the brim of,
and music was one of its natural forms of expression. He
had a healthy love of sport and art, of eating and drink-
ing. When he was in Germany, he scarcely knew where
the soup ended and the symphony began.
MARCH began badly for Thea. She had a cold during
the first week, and after she got through her church
duties on Sunday she had to go to bed with tonsilitis. She
was still in the boarding-house at which young Ottenburg
had called when he took her to see Mrs. Nathanmeyer.
She had stayed on there because her room, although it
was inconvenient and very small, was at the corner of the
house and got the sunlight.
Since she left Mrs. Lorch, this was the first place where
she had got away from a north light. Her rooms had all
been as damp and mouldy as they were dark, with deep
foundations of dirt under the carpets, and dirty walls. In
her present room there was no running water and no clothes
closet, and she had to have the dresser moved out to
make room for her piano. But there were two windows,
one on the south and one on the west, a light wall-paper
with morning-glory vines, and on the floor a clean matting.
The landlady had tried to make the room look cheerful,
because it was hard to let. It was so small that Thea could
keep it clean herself, after the Hun had done her worst.
She hung her dresses on the door under a sheet, used the
washstand for a dresser, slept on a cot, and opened both
the windows when she practiced. She felt less walled in
than she had in the other houses.
Wednesday was her third day in bed. The medical stu-
dent who lived in the house had been in to see her, had left
some tablets and a foamy gargle, and told her that she
could probably go back to work on Monday. The land-
lady stuck her head in once a day, but Thea did not en-
courage her visits. The Hungarian chambermaid brought
her soup and toast. She made a sloppy pretense of put-
ting the room in order, but she was such a dirty crea-
ture that Thea would not let her touch her cot; she got
up every morning and turned the mattress and made the
bed herself. The exertion made her feel miserably ill, but
at least she could lie still contentedly for a long while
afterward. She hated the poisoned feeling in her throat,
and no matter how often she gargled she felt unclean and
disgusting. Still, if she had to be ill, she was almost glad
that she had a contagious illness. Otherwise she would
have been at the mercy of the people in the house. She
knew that they disliked her, yet now that she was ill, they
took it upon themselves to tap at her door, send her mes-
sages, books, even a miserable flower or two. Thea knew
that their sympathy was an expression of self-righteous-
ness, and she hated them for it. The divinity student,
who was always whispering soft things to her, sent her
"The Kreutzer Sonata."
The medical student had been kind to her: he knew that
she did not want to pay a doctor. His gargle had helped
her, and he gave her things to make her sleep at night. But
he had been a cheat, too. He had exceeded his rights. She
had no soreness in her chest, and had told him so clearly.
All this thumping of her back, and listening to her breath-
ing, was done to satisfy personal curiosity. She had watched
him with a contemptuous smile. She was too sick to care;
if it amused him-- She made him wash his hands before
he touched her; he was never very clean. All the same,
it wounded her and made her feel that the world was a
pretty disgusting place. "The Kreutzer Sonata" did not
make her feel any more cheerful. She threw it aside with
hatred. She could not believe it was written by the same
man who wrote the novel that had thrilled her.
Her cot was beside the south window, and on Wednesday
afternoon she lay thinking about the Harsanyis, about old
Mr. Nathanmeyer, and about how she was missing Fred
Ottenburg's visits to the studio. That was much the worst
thing about being sick. If she were going to the studio
every day, she might be having pleasant encounters with
Fred. He was always running away, Bowers said, and he
might be planning to go away as soon as Mrs. Nathan-
meyer's evenings were over. And here she was losing all
After a while she heard the Hun's clumsy trot in the hall,
and then a pound on the door. Mary came in, making her
usual uncouth sounds, carrying a long box and a big basket.
Thea sat up in bed and tore off the strings and paper. The
basket was full of fruit, with a big Hawaiian pineapple in
the middle, and in the box there were layers of pink roses
with long, woody stems and dark-green leaves. They filled
the room with a cool smell that made another air to breathe.
Mary stood with her apron full of paper and cardboard.
When she saw Thea take an envelope out from under the
flowers, she uttered an exclamation, pointed to the roses,
and then to the bosom of her own dress, on the left side.
Thea laughed and nodded. She understood that Mary as-
sociated the color with Ottenburg's BOUTONNIERE. She pointed
to the water pitcher,--she had nothing else big enough
to hold the flowers,--and made Mary put it on the window
sill beside her.
After Mary was gone Thea locked the door. When the
landlady knocked, she pretended that she was asleep. She
lay still all afternoon and with drowsy eyes watched the
roses open. They were the first hothouse flowers she had
ever had. The cool fragrance they released was soothing,
and as the pink petals curled back, they were the only things
between her and the gray sky. She lay on her side, putting
the room and the boarding-house behind her. Fred knew
where all the pleasant things in the world were, she re-
flected, and knew the road to them. He had keys to all the
nice places in his pocket, and seemed to jingle them from
time to time. And then, he was young; and her friends had
always been old. Her mind went back over them. They
had all been teachers; wonderfully kind, but still teachers.
Ray Kennedy, she knew, had wanted to marry her, but
he was the most protecting and teacher-like of them all.
She moved impatiently in her cot and threw her braids
away from her hot neck, over her pillow. "I don't want him
for a teacher," she thought, frowning petulantly out of the
window. "I've had such a string of them. I want him for
"THEA," said Fred Ottenburg one drizzly afternoon in
April, while they sat waiting for their tea at a restau-
rant in the Pullman Building, overlooking the lake, "what
are you going to do this summer?"
"I don't know. Work, I suppose."
"With Bowers, you mean? Even Bowers goes fishing
for a month. Chicago's no place to work, in the summer.
Haven't you made any plans?"
Thea shrugged her shoulders. "No use having any plans
when you haven't any money. They are unbecoming."
"Aren't you going home?"
She shook her head. "No. It won't be comfortable there
till I've got something to show for myself. I'm not getting
on at all, you know. This year has been mostly wasted."
"You're stale; that's what's the matter with you. And
just now you're dead tired. You'll talk more rationally
after you've had some tea. Rest your throat until it
comes." They were sitting by a window. As Ottenburg
looked at her in the gray light, he remembered what Mrs.
Nathanmeyer had said about the Swedish face "breaking
early." Thea was as gray as the weather. Her skin looked
sick. Her hair, too, though on a damp day it curled charm-
ingly about her face, looked pale.
Fred beckoned the waiter and increased his order for food.
Thea did not hear him. She was staring out of the window,
down at the roof of the Art Institute and the green lions,
dripping in the rain. The lake was all rolling mist, with a
soft shimmer of robin's-egg blue in the gray. A lumber
boat, with two very tall masts, was emerging gaunt and
black out of the fog. When the tea came Thea ate hungrily,
and Fred watched her. He thought her eyes became a little
less bleak. The kettle sang cheerfully over the spirit lamp,
and she seemed to concentrate her attention upon that
pleasant sound. She kept looking toward it listlessly and
indulgently, in a way that gave him a realization of her
loneliness. Fred lit a cigarette and smoked thoughtfully.
He and Thea were alone in the quiet, dusky room full of
white tables. In those days Chicago people never stopped
for tea. "Come," he said at last, "what would you do this
summer, if you could do whatever you wished?"
"I'd go a long way from here! West, I think. Maybe I
could get some of my spring back. All this cold, cloudy
weather,"--she looked out at the lake and shivered,--
"I don't know, it does things to me," she ended abruptly.
Fred nodded. "I know. You've been going down ever
since you had tonsilitis. I've seen it. What you need is to
sit in the sun and bake for three months. You've got the
right idea. I remember once when we were having dinner
somewhere you kept asking me about the Cliff-Dweller
ruins. Do they still interest you?"
"Of course they do. I've always wanted to go down
there--long before I ever got in for this."
"I don't think I told you, but my father owns a whole
canyon full of Cliff-Dweller ruins. He has a big worthless
ranch down in Arizona, near a Navajo reservation, and
there's a canyon on the place they call Panther Canyon,
chock full of that sort of thing. I often go down there to
hunt. Henry Biltmer and his wife live there and keep a
tidy place. He's an old German who worked in the brewery
until he lost his health. Now he runs a few cattle. Henry
likes to do me a favor. I've done a few for him." Fred
drowned his cigarette in his saucer and studied Thea's
expression, which was wistful and intent, envious and ad-
miring. He continued with satisfaction: "If you went
down there and stayed with them for two or three months,
they wouldn't let you pay anything. I might send Henry
a new gun, but even I couldn't offer him money for putting
up a friend of mine. I'll get you transportation. It would
make a new girl of you. Let me write to Henry, and you
pack your trunk. That's all that's necessary. No red tape
about it. What do you say, Thea?"
She bit her lip, and sighed as if she were waking up.
Fred crumpled his napkin impatiently. "Well, isn't it
"That's the trouble; it's TOO easy. Doesn't sound prob-
able. I'm not used to getting things for nothing."
Ottenburg laughed. "Oh, if that's all, I'll show you how
to begin. You won't get this for nothing, quite. I'll ask
you to let me stop off and see you on my way to California.
Perhaps by that time you will be glad to see me. Better
let me break the news to Bowers. I can manage him. He
needs a little transportation himself now and then. You
must get corduroy riding-things and leather leggings.
There are a few snakes about. Why do you keep frown-
"Well, I don't exactly see why you take the trouble.
What do you get out of it? You haven't liked me so well
the last two or three weeks."
Fred dropped his third cigarette and looked at his watch.
"If you don't see that, it's because you need a tonic. I'll
show you what I'll get out of it. Now I'm going to get a
cab and take you home. You are too tired to walk a step.
You'd better get to bed as soon as you get there. Of course,
I don't like you so well when you're half anaesthetized all
the time. What have you been doing to yourself?"
Thea rose. "I don't know. Being bored eats the heart
out of me, I guess." She walked meekly in front of him to
the elevator. Fred noticed for the hundredth time how
vehemently her body proclaimed her state of feeling. He
remembered how remarkably brilliant and beautiful she
had been when she sang at Mrs. Nathanmeyer's: flushed
and gleaming, round and supple, something that couldn't
be dimmed or downed. And now she seemed a moving
figure of discouragement. The very waiters glanced at her
apprehensively. It was not that she made a fuss, but her
back was most extraordinarily vocal. One never needed
to see her face to know what she was full of that day.
Yet she was certainly not mercurial. Her flesh seemed to
take a mood and to "set," like plaster. As he put her into
the cab, Fred reflected once more that he "gave her up."
He would attack her when his lance was brighter.
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