xt7ksn010732 https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt7ksn010732/data/mets.xml Rice, Alice Caldwell Hegan, 1870-1942. 1921  books b92-241-31439192 English Century Co., : New York : This digital resource may be freely searched and displayed.  Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically.  Physical rights are retained by the owning repository.  Copyright is retained in accordance with U. S. copyright laws.  For information about permissions to reproduce or publish, contact the Special Collections Research Center. Quin  / by Alice Hegan Rice. text Quin  / by Alice Hegan Rice. 1921 2002 true xt7ksn010732 section xt7ksn010732 
QUIN
 
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'If you don t leave the room instantly, I will !"

 
Q



U



I N



BY



    ALICE HEGAN RICE
Author of "Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch,"
"Lovey Mary," "Sandy," "Calvary Alley," etc.



    NEW YORK
THE CENTURY CO.
        192 1

 























Copyright, 192t, by
THE CENTURY CC.
























PRINTED IN U. S. A.

 




















TO MY MERRIEST FRIEND

JOSEPHINE F. HAMILL

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 QUIN
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               Q U I N


                 CHAPTER i

I F the dollar Quinby Graham tossed up on New
    Year's eve had not elected to slip through his
fingers and roll down the sewer grating, there might
have been no story to write. Quin had said, "Tails,
yes"; and who knows but that dowen there under
the pavement that coin of fate was registering
'Heads, xio" It was useless to suggest trying it
over, however, for neither of the young privates
Nsith town leave for twenty-four hours possessed
another coin.
  The heavier of the two boys, Cass Martel,-the
lame one, whose nose began quite seriously, as if it
had every intention of being a nose, then changed
abruptly into a button,-scraped the snow from the
sewer grating with his cane, and swore savagely
under his breath. But Quin shrugged his shoulders
with a slow, easy-going laugh.
  "That settles it." he said triumphantly. "We got
to go to the Hawaiian Garden now, because it's the
only place that 's free !"
                       3

 

  "I ll be hanged if I know what you want to go
to a dance for," argued his companion fiercely.
"Here you been on your back for six months, and
your legs so shaky they won't hardly hold you.
Don't you know you can't dance "
  "Sure," agreed Quin amicably. "I don't mean
to dance. But I got to go where I can see some
girls. I 'm dead sick of men. Come on in. We
don't need to stay but a little while."
  "That's too long for me," said Cass. "If you
were n't such a bonehead for doing what you start
out to do, we could do something interesting."
  One might have thought they were Siamese
twins, from the way in which Cass ignored the
possibility of each going his own way. He glared
at his tall companion with a mingled expression of
rage and dog-like devotion.
  "Cut it out, Cass," said Quin at last, putting an
end to an argument that had been in progress for
fifteen minutes. "I'm going to that dance, and
I 'm going to make love to the first girl that looks
at me. I '11 meet you wherever you say at six
o'clock. "
  Cass, seeing that further persuasion was useless,
reluctantly consented.
  "Well, you take care of yourself, and don't forget
you are going home with me for the night," he
warned.
  "Where else could I go Have n't got a red



QUIN



4

 


cent, and I would n't go back out to the hospital if
I had to bunk on the curbstone! So long, chrie!"
  Sergeant Quinby Graham, having thus carried
his point, adjusted his overseas cap at a more acute
angle, turned back his coat to show his distinguished-
conduct medal, and went blithely up the steps to the
dance-hall. He was tall and outrageously thin, and
pale with the pallor that comes from long confine-
ment. His hands and feet seemed too big for the
rest of him, and his blond hair stuck up in a bristly
mop above his high forehead. But Sergeant Graham
walked with the buoyant tread of one who has a
good opinion not only of himself but of mankind in
general.
  The only thing that disturbed his mind was the
fact that, swagger as he would, his shoulders, usually
so square and trim, refused to fill out his uniform.
It was the first time he had had it on for six months,
his wardrobe having been limited to pajamas and
bath-robes during his convalescence in various hos-
pitals at home and abroad.
  Two years before, when he had left a lumber
camp in Maine to answer America's first call for
volunteers to France, his personal appearance had
concerned him not in the least. But the army had
changed that, as it had changed most things for
Quin.
  He checked his overcoat at the hall entrance,
stepped eagerly up to the railing that divided the



QUIN



5

 


spectators from the dancers, and drew a deep breath
of satisfaction. Here, at last, was something dif-
ferent from the everlasting hospital barracks: glow-
ing lights, holiday decorations, the scent of flowers
instead of the stale fumes of ether and disinfectants;
soul-stirring music in place of the wheezy old
phonograph grinding out the same old tunes; and,
above all, girls, hundreds of them, circling in a
bewildering rainbow of loveliness before him.
  Was it any wonder that Quin's foot began to
twitch, and that, in spite of repeated warnings at the
hospital, a blind desire seized him to dance At
the mere thought his heart gained a beat-that
unruly heart, which had caused so much trouble.
It had never been right since that August day in
the Sevzevais sector, when, to quote his citation,
he "had shown great initiative in assuming command
when his officer was disabled, and, with total disre-
gard for his personal safety, had held his machine-
gun against almost impossible odds." In the ac-
complishment of this feat he had been so badly
gassed and wounded that his career as a soldier was
definitely, if gloriously, ended.
  The long discipline of pain to which he had been
subjected had not, however, conquered Quin's buoy-
ancy. He was still tremendously vital, and when
he wanted anything he wanted it inordinately and
immediately. Just now, when every muscle in him
was keeping time to that soul-disturbing music, he



6



QUIN

 


heard his own imperative desire voiced at his elbow:
  "I don't want to go home. I want to dance.
Nobody will notice us. Just one round, Captain
Phipps."
  The voice was young and singularly vibrant, and
the demand in it was quite as insistent as the demand
that was clamoring in Quin's own khaki-covered
breast.
  He craned his neck to see the speaker; but she
was hidden by her escort, in whose supercilious
profile he recognized one of the officers in charge
of his ward at the hospital.
  "You foolish child !" the officer was saying,
fingering his diminutive mustache and viewing the
scene with a somewhat contemptuous smile. "You
said if I would bring you in for a moment you
would n't ask to stay."
  "I know, but I always break my promises," said
the coaxing voice; "and besides I 'm simply crazy
to dance."
  "You surely don't imagine that I would get out
on the floor with all this hoi-poloi "
  Quin saw a pair of small gloved hands grasp the
railing resolutely, and he was straightway filled
with indignation that any man, of whatever rank,
should stand back on his dignity when a voice like
that asked a favor. A similar idea had evidently
occurred to the young lady, for she said with some
spirit:



QUIN



7

 


  "The only difference I can see between these boys
and you is that they are privates who got over, and
you are an officer who did n't."
  Quin could not hear the answer, but as the officer
shifted his position he caught his first glimpse of
the girl. She was very young and obviously im-
perious, with white skin and coal-black hair and
the most utterly destructive brown eyes he had ever
encountered. Discretion should have prompted him
to seek immediate safety out of the firing-line, but
instead he put himself in the most exposed position
possible and waited results.
  They arrived on schedule time.
  "Captain Phipps !" called a page. "Wanted on
the telephone."
  "Will you wait for me here just a second" asked
the officer.
  "I don't know whether I will or not," was the
spirited answer; "I may go home."
  "Then I '11 follow you," said the Captain as he
pushed his way through the crowd to the telephone-
booth.
  It was just at this moment, when the jazz band
was breaking into its most beguiling number, that
Quin's eyes and the girl's eyes met in a glance of
mutual desire. History repeated itself. Once again,
"with total disregard for his personal safety,
Sergeant Graham assumed command when his



8



QUIN

 


officer was disabled," and rashly flung himself into
the breach.
  "Will you dance it with me" he asked eagerly,
and he blushed to the roots of his stubbly hair.
  There was an ominous pause, during which the
young girl stood irresolute, while MXrs. Grundy
evidently whispered "Don't" in one ear and instinct
whispered "Do" in the other. It lasted but a second,
for the next thing Quin knew, a small gloved hand
was slipped into his, a blue plume was tickling his
nose, and he was gliding a bit unsteadily into Para-
dise.
  What his heart might do after that dance was of
absolutely no consequence to him. It could beat
fast or slow, or even stop altogether, if it would
only hold out as long as the music did. Round and
round among the dancers he guided his dainty part-
ner, carefully avoiding the entrance end of the hall,
and devoutly praying that his clumsy army shoes
might not crush those little high-heeled brown pumps
tripping so deftly in and out between them. He
was not used to dancing with officers' girls, and he
held the small gray-gloved hand in his big fist as
if it were a bird about to take flight.
  Next to the return of the Captain, he dreaded that
other dancers, seeing his prize, would try to capture
her; but there was a certain tempered disdain in the
poise of his little partner's head, an ability to put



QUIN



9

 


up a quick and effective defense against intrusion,
that protected him as well.
  Neither of them spoke until the music stopped,
and then they stood applauding vociferously, with
the rest, for an encore.
  "I ought to go," said the Radiant Presence, with
a guilty glance upward from under long eyelashes.
"You don't see a very cross-looking Captain charg-
ing around near the door, do you"
  "No," said Quin, without turning his head, "I
don't see him"-and he smiled as he said it.
  Now, Quin's smile was his chief asset in the way
of looks. It was a leisurely smile, that began far
below the surface and sent preliminary ripples up
to his eyes and the corners of his big mouth, and
broke through at last in a radiant flash of good
humor. In this case it met a very prompt answer
under the big hat.
  "You see, I'm not supposed to be dancing," she
explained rather condescendingly.
  "Nor me, either," said Quin, breathing heavily.
  Then the band decided to be accommodating, and
the saxophone decided to out-jazz the piano, and
the drum got its ambition roused and joined in the
competition, and the young couple who were not
supposed to be dancing out-danced everything on
the floor!
  Ouin's heart might have adjusted itself to that
first dance, but the rollicking encore, together with



QUIN



IO

 


the emotional shock it sustained every time those
destructive eyes were trained upon him, was too
much for it.
  "Say, would you mind stopping a bit-just for
a second " he gasped, when his breath seemed about
to desert him permanently.
  "You surely are n't tired" scoffed the young
lady, lifting a pair of finely arched eyebrows.
  "No; but, you see-as a matter of fact, ever since
I was gassed
  "Gassed !"
  The word acted like a charm. The girl's sensitive
face, over which the expressions played like sunlight
on water, softened to instant sympathy, and Quin,
who up to now had been merely a partner, suddenly
found himself individuaL
  "Did you see much actual service " she asked, her
eyes wide with interest.
  "Sure," said Quin, bracing himself against a post
and trying to keep his breath from coming in jerks;
"saw sixteen months of it."
  Her quick glance swept from the long scar on his
forehead to the bar on his breast.
  "What do all those stars on the rainbow ribbon
mean" she demanded.
  "Major engagements," said Quin diffidently
  "And the silver one in the middle"
  "A citation." He glanced around to make sure
none of the other boys were near, then confessed,



QUIN



I I

 


as if to a crime: "That's where I got my medal."
  "Come over here and sit down this minute," she
commanded. "You 've got to tell me all about it."
  It would be very pleasant to chronicle the fact
that our hero modestly declined to take advantage
of the opportunity thus offered. But it must be
borne in mind that, his heart having failed him at
a critical hour, he had to fall back upon his tongue
as the only means at hand of detaining the Celestial
Being who at any moment might depart. With what
breath he had left he told his story, and, having a
good story to tell, he did it full justice. Sometimes,
to be sure, he got his pronouns mixed, and once he
lost the thread of his discourse entirely; but that
was when he became too conscious of those star-like
eyes and the flattering absorption of the little lady
who for one transcendent moment was deigning "to
love him for the dangers he had passed." With
unabated interest and curiosity she drank in every
detail of his recital, her half-parted lips only closing
occasionally to say, "Wonderful !" or "How per-
fectly wonderful !"
  On and on wvent the music, round and round went
the dancers, and still the private in the uniform that
was too big and the officer's girl in blue and gray
sat in the alcove, totally oblivious to everything but
each other.
  It was not until the girl happened to look at the



QUIN



12

 


ridiculous little watch that was pretending to keep
time on her wrist that the spell was broken.
  "Merciful heaven !" she exclaimed dramatically,
"It's six o'clock. What will the family say to me
I must fly this minute."
  "But ain't you going to finish this dance with
me" asked Quin with tragic insistence.
  "Ought you to dance again " The note was
personal and divinely solicitous.
  "I ought n't, but I am"; and, with superb disre-
gard for doctors and syntax alike, Quin put a firm
arm around that slender yielding figure and swept
her into the moving crowd.
  They danced very quietly this time, for he was de-
termined to hold out to the end. In fact, from the
dreamy, preoccupied look on their faces one might
have mistaken them for two zealous young acolytes
lost in the performance of a religious rite.
  Quin was still in a trance when he helped her on
with her coat and piloted her clown the crowded
stairs. He could not bear to have her jostled by
the boisterous crowd, and he glared at the men
whose admiring glances dared to rest too long
upon her.
  Now that the dance was over, the young lady was
in a fever of impatie,:ce to get away. Qualms of
remorse seized her for the way she had treated her
one-time escort, and she hinted at the trouble in
store for her if the family heard of her escapade.



QUIN



13

 


  Outside the pavements were white with snow, and
falling flakes glistened against the blue electric
lights, Holiday crowds thronged the sidewalks, and
every other man was in uniform.
  "I left my car at the corner," said Quin's com-
panion, nervously consulting her watch for the
fourth time. "You needn't come with me; I can
find it all right."
  But Quin had n't the slightest intention of for-
going one second of that delectable interview. He
followed her to her car, awkwardly helped her in,
and stood looking at her wistfully. In her hurry
to get home she seemed to have forgotten him en-
tirelv. In two minutes she would never know that
she had met him, while he-
  "Good-by, Soldier Boy," she said, suddenly hold-
ing out her hand.
  "My name is Graham," stammered Quin-"Ser-
geant Quinby Graham; Battery C, Sixth Field Ar-
tillery. And yours "
  She was fussing with the starter by this time, but
she smiled up at him and shook her head.
  "I Oh, I have n't any! I 'm just an irrespon-
sible young person who is going to gets fits for
having stayed out so late. But it was worth it,
was n't it-Sergeant Slim"
  And then, before he knew what had happened,
the small runabout was skilfully backed out of its
narrow space and a red tail-light was rapidly wag-



QUIN



14

 
                     QUIN                     I5
ging down the avenue, leaving him standing dazed
on the curbstone.
  "Where in the devil have you been " demanded a
cross voice behind him, and turning he encountered
Cass's snub-nose and irate eyes.
  Quin's own eyes were shining and his face
was flushed. With a laugh he flung his arm around
his buddy's shoulder and affectionately punched his
head.
  "In heaven," he answered laconically.
  "Funny place to leave your overcoat !' said Cass,
viewing him with suspicion. "Quin Graham, have
you had a drink"
  Quin hilariously declared his innocence.  The
draught of which he had so freely imbibed, though
far more potent than any earthly brew, was one
against which there are no prohibitory laws.


 







CHAPTER 2



T     HE fact that Cass had neglected to tell the
      family that he was bringing a friend home
to supper did not in the least affect his welcome. It
was not that the daily menu was of such a lavish
nature that a guest or two made no difference; it
was simply that the Martels belonged to that casual
type which accepts any interruption to the regular
order of things as a God-sent diversion.
  In the present instance Rose had only to dispatch
Edwin to the grocery for eggs and cheese, and send
Myrna next door to borrow a chafing-dish, and,
while these errands were being accomplished, to
complete her own sketchy toilet. Rose was an im-
pressionist when it came to dress. She got the de-
sired effect with the least possible effort, as was
evinced now 1w the way she was whirling two coils
of chestnut hair, from which the tangles had not
been removed, into round puffs over each ear. A
dab of rouge on each cheek, a touch of red on the
lips, a dash of powder over the whole, sleeves turned
back, neck turned in, resulted in a poster effect that
was quite satisfactory.
  Of course the Martels had heard of Quinby
                       ,-

 


Graham: his name had loomed large in Cass's letters
from France and later in his conversation; but this
was the first time the hero was to be presented in
person.
  "What's he like, Rose" asked Myrna, arriving
breathlessly with the chafing-dish.  Myrna was
twelve and seemed to labor under the constant
apprehension that she was missing something, due
no doubt to the fact that she was invariably dis-
patched on an errand when anything interesting was
pending.
  "Don't know," said Rose; "the hall was pitch-
dark. He 's got a nice voice, though, and a dandy
handshake."
  "I bid to sit next to him at supper," said Myrna,
hugging herself in ecstasy.
  "You can if you promise not to take two helps
of the Welsh rabbit."
  Myrna refused to negotiate on any such drastic
terms. "Are we going to have a fire in the sitting-
room" she asked.
  "I don't know whether there is any more wood.
Papa Claude promised to order some. You go see
while I set the table. I 've a good notion to call
over the fence and ask Fan Loomis to come to
supper."
  "Oh, Rose, please do!" cried Myrna. "I won't
take but one help."
  Cass, in the meanwhile, was making his guest at



QUIN



I7

 
x8                   QUIN
home in the sitting-room by permitting him to be
useful.
  "You can light the lamp," he said, "while I make
a fire."
  Quin was willing to oblige, but the lamp was not.
It put up a stubborn resistance to all efforts to coax
it to do its duty.
  "I bet it has n't been filled," said Cass; then, after
the fashion of mankind, he lifted his voice in suppli-
cation to the nearest feminine ear:
  "Oh! Ro-ose !"
  His older sister, coming to the rescue, agreed with
his diagnosis of the case, and with Quin's assistance
bore the delinquent lamp to the kitchen.
  "Hope you don't mind being made home-folks,"
she said, patting the puffs over her ears and looking
at him sideways.
  "Mind ' said Quin. "If you knew how good
all this looks to me! It 's the first touch of home
I 've had in years. Wish you'd let me set the table
-I'm strong on K. P."
  "Help yourself," said Rose; "the plates are in
the pantry and the silver in the sideboard drawer.
Wait a minute!"
  She took a long apron from behind the door and
handed it to him.
  "How do these ends buckle up" he asked, help-
lessly holding out the straps of the bib.

 


  "They button around your little neck," she told
him, smiling. "Turn round; I'll fix it."
  "Why turn round" said Quin.
  Their eyes met in frank challenge.
  "You silly boy !" she said-but she put her arms
around his neck and fastened the bib just the same.
  How that supper ever got itself cooked and
served is a marvel. Everybody took a turn at the
stirring and toasting, everybody contributed a
missing article to the table, and there was much
rushing from kitchen to dining-room, with many
collisions and some upsets.
  Quin was in the highest of spirits. Even Cass
had never seen him quite like this. With his white
apron over his uniform, he pranced about, dancing
attendance on Rose, and keeping Myrna and Edwin
in gales of laughter over his antics. Every now
and then, however, his knees got wabbly and his
breath came short, and by the time supper was pre-
pared he was quite ready to sit down.
  "What a shame Nell 's not here !" said Rose,
breaking the eggs into the chafing-dish. "Then we
could have charades. She's simply great when she
gets started."
  "Who is Nell" asked Quin.
  "Eleanor Bartlett, our cousin. She 's like chicken
and ice-cream-the rich Bartletts have her on week-
days and we poor Martels get her only on Sundays.
Has n't Cass ever told you about Nell "



QUIN



I9

 


  "Do you suppose I spend my time talking about
my precious family" growled Cass.
  "No, but Nell s different," said Rose; "she 's a
sort of Solomon's baby-I mean the baby that
Solomon had to decide about. Only in this case
neither old Madam Bartlett nor Papa Claude will
give up their half; they 'd see her dead first."
  "You did tell me about her," said Quin to Cass,
"one night when we were up in the Cantigny
offensive. I remember the place exactly. Some-
thing about an orphan, and a lawsuit, and a little
girl that was going to be an actress."
  "That 's the dope." said Cass. "Only she 's not a
kid any more. She grew up while I was in France.
She's a great girl, Nell is, when you get her away
from that Bartlett mess!"
  "Does anybody know where Papa Claude is "
Rose demanded, dexterously ladling out steaming
Welsh rabbit on to slices of crisp brown toast.
  "He is here, nies enfants, he is here !" cried a
joyous voice from the hall, followed by a presence
at once so exuberant and so impressive that Quin
stared in amazement.
  "This is Quinby Graham, grandfather," said
Cass, by way of introduction.
  The dressy old gentleman with the flowing white
locks and the white rose in his buttonhole bore down
upon Quin and enveloped his hand in both his own.
  "I welcome you for Cassius' sake and for your



QUIN



20

 


own !" he declared with such effusion that Quin was
visibly embarrassed. "My grandson has told me of
your long siege in the hospital, oi your noble service
to your country, of your gallant conduct at  "
  "Sit down, Papa Claude, and finish your oration
after supper," cried Rose; "the rabbit won't wait on
anybody."
  Thus cut short, Mr. Martel took his seat and,
nothing daunted, helped himself bountifully to
everything within reach.
  "I am a gourmet, Sergeant Graham, but not a
gourmand. Edwin Booth used to say "
  "Sir" answered Edwin Booth's namesake from
the kitchen, where he had been dispatched for more
bread.
  "No, no, my son, I was referring to-"
  But Papa Claude, as usual, did not get to finish
the sentence. The advent of the next-door neighbor,
who had been invited and then forgotten, caused
great amusement owing to the fact that there was
no more supper left.
  "Give her some bread and jam, Myrna," said
Rose; "and if the jam is out, bring the brown sugar.
You don't mind, do you, Fan"
  Fan, an amiable blonde person who was going to
be fat at forty, declared that she did n't want a thing
to eat, honestly she did n't, and that besides she
adored bread and brown sugar.
  "We won't stop to wash up," said Rose; "Myrna



QUIN



21

 


will have loads of time to do it in the morning,
because she does n't have to go to school. We '11
just clear the table and let the dishes stand."
  "We are incorrigible Bohemians, as you observe,"
said Mr. Martel to Quin, with a deprecating arching
of his fine brows. "We lay too little stress, I fear,
on the conventions.  But the exigencies of the
dramatic profession-of which, you doubtless know,
I have been a member for the past forty years  "
  "Take him in the sitting-room, Mr. Graham,"
urged Rose; "I 11 bring your coffee in there."
  Without apparently being conscious of the fact,
Mr. Martel, still discoursing in rounded periods,
was transferred to the big chair beside the lamp,
while Quin took up his stand on the hearth-rug
and looked about him.
  Such a jumble of a room as it was! Odds and
ends of furniture, the survival of various household
wrecks; chipped bric-A-brac; a rug from which the
pattern had long ago vanished; an old couch piled
with shabby cushions; a piano with scattered music
sheets. On the walls, from ceiling to foot-board,
hung faded photographs of actors and actresses,
most of them with bold inscriptions dashed across
their corners in which the donors invariably ex-
pressed their friendship, affection, or if the chiro-
graphy was feminine their devoted love, for "dear
Claude Martel.' Over the mantel was a portrait
of dear Claude himself, taken in the r6le of Mark



QUIN



22

 


Antony, and making rather a good job of it, on the
whole, with his fine Roman profile and massive
brow.
  It was all shabby and dusty and untidy; but to
Quinby Graham, standing on the hearth-rug and
trying to handle his small coffee-cup as if he were
used to it, the room was completely satisfying.
There was a cozy warmth and mellowness about it,
a kindly atmosphere of fellowship, a sense of inti-
mate human relations, that brought a lump into his
throat. He had almost forgotten that things could
be like this!
  So absorbed was he in his surroundings, and in
the imposing old actor encompassed by the galaxy
of pictured notables, that he lost the thread of Mr.
Martel's discourse until he heard him asking:
  "What is the present A clamor of the senses,
a roar that deafens us to the music of life. I dwell
in the past and in the future, Sergeant Graham-
the dear reminiscent past and the glorious unborn
future. And that reminds me that Cassius tells me
that you are both about to receive your discharge
from the army and are ready for the next great
adventure. Mlay I ask what yours is to be A re-
turn, perhaps, to your native city"
  "My native city happens to be a river," said
Quin. "I was born on a house-boat going up the
Yangtse-Kiang."



QUIN



23

 


  "Indeed !" cried Mr. Martel with interest. "What
a romantic beginning! And your family-"
  "Have n't got any. You see, sir," said Quin,
expanding under the flattering attention of his host,
"my people were all missionaries. Most of them
died off before I was fourteen, and I was shipped
back to America to go to school. I did n't hold out
very long, though. After two years in high school
I ran away and joined the navy."
  "And since then you have been a soldier of for-
tune, eh"  No cares, no responsibilities. Free to
roam the wide world in search of adventure."
  Quin studied the end of his cigarette.
  "That ain't so good as it sounds," he said. "Some-
times I think I 'd amounted to more if I had some-
body that belonged to me."
  "Is n't it rather early in the season for a young
man's fancy to be lightly turning-"
  The quotation was lost upon Quin, but the twinkle
in the speaker's expressive eye was not.
  "I did n't mean that," he laughingly protested;
"I mean a mother or a sister or somebody like that,
who would be a kind of anchor. Take Cass, for
instance; he 's steady as a rock."
  "Ah! Cassius! One in ten thousand. From the
time he was twelve he has shared with me the finan-
cial burden. An artist, Sergeant Graham, must
remain aloof from the market-place. Now that I
have retired permanently from the stage in order



QUIN



24

 


to devote my time exclusively to writing, my only
business engagement is a series of lectures at the
university, where, as you know, I occupy the chair
of Dramatic Literature."
  The chair thus euphemistically referred to was
scarcely more than a three-legged stool, which he
occupied four mornings in the week, the rest of his
time being spent at home in the arduous task of
writing tragedies in blank verse.
  "What I got to think about is a job," said Quin,
much more interested in his own affairs than in
those of his host.
  "Commercial or professional " inquired Mr.
Martel.
  "Oh, I can turn my hand to 'most anything,"
bragged Quin, blowing smoke-rings at the ceiling.
"It 's experience that counts, and, believe me, I 've
had a plenty."
  "Experience plus education," added Mr. Martel;
"we must not underestimate the advantages of edu-
cation."
  "That's where I 'm short," admitted Quin. "My
folks were all smart enough. Guess if they had
lived I 'd been put through college and all the rest
of it. My grandfather was Dr. Ezra Quinby. Ever
hear of him"
  Mr. Martel had to acknowledge that he had not.
  "Guess he is better known in China than in



QUIN



25

 
26                   QUIN
America," said Quin. "He died before I was born."
  "And you have no people in America '
  "No people anywhere," said Quin cheerfully;
"but I got a lot of friends scattered around over the
world, and a bull-dog and a couple of cats up at a
lumber-camp near Portland."
  "Cassius tells me that you are thinking of return-
ing to Mlaine."
  Quin ran his fingers through his hair and laughed.
"That was yesterday," he said.   "To-day you
couldn't get me out of Kentucky with a machine-
gun!"
  Claude Martel rose and laid an affectionate hand
on his shoulder. "Then, my boy, we claim you as
our own. Cassius' home is your home, his family
your family, his  "
  The address of welcome was cut short by Cass's
arrival with an armful of wood which he deposited
on the hearth, and a moment later the girls, followed
by Edwin, came trooping in from the kitchen.
  "Let 's make a circle round the fire and sing the
old year out," suggested Rose gaily. "Myrna, get
the banjo and the guitar. Shall I play on the piano,
Papa Claude, or will you"
  Mr. Martel, expressing the noble sentiment that
age should always be an accompaniment to youth,
took his place at the piano and, with a pose worthy
of Rubinstein, struck a few preliminary chords,

 


while the group about the fire noisily settled itself
for the evening.
  "You can put your head against my knees, if you
like," Rose said to Quin, who was sprawling on the
floor at her feet. "There, is that comfy"
  "I '11 say it's all right!" said Quin with heartfelt
satisfaction.
  There was something free and easy and gipsy-like
about the evening, a sort of fireside picnic that
brought June dreams in January. As the hours
wore on, the singing, which had been noisy and
rollicking, gradually mellowed into sentiment, a
sentiment that found vent in dreamy eyes and long-
drawn-out choruses, with a languorous over-ac-
centuation of the sentimental passages.  One by
one, the singers fell under the spell of the music and
the firelight. Cass and Fan Loomis sat shoulder
to shoulder on the broken-springed couch and gazed
with blissful oblivion into the red embers on the
hearth. Rose, whose voice led all the rest, sur-
reptitiously wiped her eyes when no one was look-
ing; Edwin and Myrna, solemnly plucking their
banjo and guitar, were lost in moods of dormant
emotion; while Papa Claude at the piano let his dim
eyes range the pictured walls, while his memory
traveled back through the years on many a secret
tryst of its own.
  But it was the lank Sergeant with the big feet,
and the hair that stood up where it should n't, who



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