xt7ttd9n3n9c https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt7ttd9n3n9c/data/mets.xml Daviess, Maria Thompson, 1872-1924. 1913  books b92-213-30910671 English Century Co., : New York : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Tinder-box  / by Maria Thompson Daviess ; with illustrations by John Edwin Jackson. text Tinder-box  / by Maria Thompson Daviess ; with illustrations by John Edwin Jackson. 1913 2002 true xt7ttd9n3n9c section xt7ttd9n3n9c 
 
 














































"You don't need another vine," I answered
             mutinously

 


          THE


TINDER-BOX

             BY
  MARIA THOMPSON DAVIESS
           Author of
 "The Melting of Molly," "Miss Selina Lue,"
         "Sue Jane," Etc.

      WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY
      JOHN EDWIN JACKSON



   NEW YORK
THE CENTURY CO.
      I9I3

 




















   Copyright, 1913, by
   THE CENTURY CO.

Published, November, iqi3

 




















  I DEDICATE THIS BOOK TO
HANNAH DAVIESS PITTMAN
   WHO BLAZED MV TRAIL
      AND STILL DOES

 This page in the original text is blank.


 










             CONTENTS

CHAPTER                                PAGE
  i.THE  LOAD   . .  . .  . .  . .  .  .  3
  II. THE MAIDEN LANCE  . . . . . . . 26
III. A FLINT-SPARK. . . . . . . . . 48
IV. SWEETER WHEN TAMED . . . . . . 79
V. DEEPER THAN SHOULDERS OR RIBs .     . . io5

VI. MAN AND THE ASAFETIDA SPOON     . . . I36
VII. SOME SMOULDERINGS . . . . . . . 173
VIII. AN ATTAINED To-MoRRoV  . . . . . 2ii
IX. DYNAMITE   . . . . . . . . . . 248
x. TOGETHER  . . . . . . . . . . 282

 This page in the original text is blank.


 









           ILLUSTRATIONS


"You don't need another vine," I an-
   swered mutinously ...    .    . Frontispiece
                                           FACING
                                           PAGE
He stood calmly in the midst of Sallie's family
   and baggage, both animate and inanimate  . 38

"Say, Polk, I let the Pup git hung by her apron
   to the wheel of your car " . . . . . 98

His gray eyes were positively mysterious with
   interrupted dreams  . ....z. .     .   . i8z

"We must not allow the men time to get sore
   over this matter of the League "  . . . 21S

"Is this right" he asked . . . . . . . 244

"She's our Mother," he said  . . . . . . 276

Scrouged so close to his arm that it was difficult
   for both of them to walk . . . . . . 280

 This page in the original text is blank.


 















THE TINDER-BOX

 This page in the original text is blank.


 








THE TINDER-BOX

              CHAPTER I

              THE LOAD

 A  LL love is a gas, and it takes either
 IN     loneliness, strength of character, or
 religion to liquefy it into a condition to be
 ladled out of us, one to another. There is
 a certain dangerously volatile state of it;
 and occasionally people, especially of oppo-
 site sexes, try to administer it to each other
 in that form, with asphyxiation resulting to
 both hearts. And I 'm willing to confess
 that it is generally a woman's fault when
 such an accident occurs. That is, it is a
 mistake of her nature, not one of intent.
But she is learning!
  Also when a woman is created, the winds
have wooed star-dust, rose-dew, peach-
                   3

 


THE TINDER-BOX



down, and a few flint-shavings into a
whirlwind of deviltry, and the world at
large looks on in wonder and sore amaze-
ment, as well as breathless interest. I
know, because I am one, and have just been
waked up by the gyrations of the cyclone;
and I 'm deeply confounded. I don't like
it, and wish I could have slept longer, but
Fate and Jane Mathers decreed otherwise.
At least Jane decree,-, and Fate seems so
far helpless to controvert the decree.
  I might have known that when this jolly,
easy-going old Fate of mine, which I in-
herited from a lot of indolent, pleasure-
loving Harpeth Valley Tennesseans, let me
pack up my graduating thesis, my B. S.,
and some delicious frocks, and go off to
Paris for a degree from the Beaux Arts in
Architecture, we would be caught up with
by some kind of Nemesis or other, and put
in our place in the biological and ethnolog-
ical scheme of existence. Yes, Fate and I
are placed, and Jane (lid it.
                    4

 


THE LOAD



  Also, I am glad, now that I know what
is going to happen to me, that I had last
week on shipboard, with Richard Hall bomn-
barding my cardiac regions with his honest
eyes and booming voice discreetly muffled
to accord with the moonlight and the quiet
places around the deck. I may never get
that sort of a joy-drink again, but it was
so well done that it will help me to admin-
ister the same to others when the awful oc-
casion arrives.
  " A woman is the spark that lights the
flame on the altar of the inner man, dear,
and you '11 have to sparkle when your time
comes," he warned me, as I hurried what
might have been a very tender parting, the
last night at sea.
  "SPark "-she 's a conflagration by this
new plan of Jane's, but I 'mn glad he did n't
know about it then. He may have to suf-
fer from it yet. It is best for him to be as
happy as he can as long as he can.
   Evelina, dear," said Jane, as she and
                    5

 

THE TINDER-BOX



Mary Elizabeth Conners and I sat in the
suite of apartments in which our proud
Alma Mater had lodged us old grads, re-
turned for our second degrees, "your suc-
cess has been remarkable, and I am not
surprised at all that that positively creative
thesis of yours on the Twentieth Century
Garden, to which I listened to-night, pro-
cured you an honorable mention in your
class at the Beaux Arts. The French are
a nation that quickly recognizes genius. I
am very happy to-night. All your honors
and achievements make me only the more
certain that I have chosen the right person
for the glorious mission I am about to of-
fer you."
  " Oh, no, Jane! " I exclaimed, from a
sort of instinct for trouble to come. I
know that devoted, twenty-second century
look in Jane's intense, near-sighted eyes, and
I always fend from it. She is a very dear
person, and I respectfully adore her. In-
deed, I sometimes think she is the real spine
                    6

 


THE LOAD



in my back that was left out of me, and of
its own strength got developed into another
and a finer woman. She became captain
of my Freshman soul, at the same time she
captured the captaincy of the boat crew,
on which I pulled stroke, and I 'm still hit-
ting the water when she gives the word,
though it now looks as if we are both adrift
on the high and uncharted seas - or sitting
on the lid of a tinder-box, juggling lighted
torches.
  "You see, dear," she went on to say
slowly, drawing Mary Elizabeth into the
spell-bound circle of our intensity, as we
three sat together with our newly-engraved
sheepskins on our knees, " for these two
years while you have been growing and
developing along all your natural lines in a
country which wvas not your own, in a little
pool I should call it, out of even sight and
sound of the current of events, we have
been here in your own land engaged in the
great work of the organization and reor-
                    7

 

THE TINDER-BOX



ganization which is molding the destinies
of the women of our times, and those that
come after us. That is what I want to
talk to you about, and devoutly have I been
praying that your heart will be receptive to
the call that has claimed the life of Mary
Elizabeth and me. There is a particular
work, for which you are fitted as no other
woman I have ever known is fitted, and I
want to lay the case plainly before you to-
night. 'Will you give me a hearing "
  And the hearing I gave that beloved and
devout woman was the reveille that awak-
ened me to this -this whirlwind that
seems to be both inside me and outside me,
and everywhere else in the whole world.
  It's not woman's suffrage; it has gone
way down past the road from votes for
women. I wish I could have stopped in
that political field of endeavor before Jane
got to me. She might have left me there
doing little things like making speeches be-
fore the United States Senate and running
                   8

 


THE LOAD



for Governor of Tennessee, after I had,
single-handed, remade the archaic consti-
tution of that proud and bat-blind old State
of my birth; but such ease was not for me.
  Of course for years, as all women have
been doing who are sensible enough to use
the brains God gave them and stop depend-
ing on their centuries-seasoned intuitions
and fascinations, I have been reading about
this feminist revolution that seems all of a
sudden to have revoluted from nobody
knows where, and I have been generally in-
dignant over things whether I understood
them or not, and I have felt that I was be-
ing oppressed by the opposite sex, even if
I could not locate the exact spot of the pain
produced. I have always felt that when I
got to it I would shake off the shackles of
my queer fondness and of my dependence
upon my oppressors, and do something re-
vengeful to them.
  When my father died in my Junior year
and left me all alone in the world, the first
                   9

 

THE TINDER-BOX



thing that made me feel life in my veins
again was the unholy rage I experienced
when I found that he had left me boda-
ciouslv and otherwise to my fifth cousin,
James Hardin.
  Cousin James is a healthy reversion to
the primitive type-of Father Abraham, and
he has so much aristocratic moss on him
that he reminds me of that old gray crag
that hangs over Silver Creek out on Prov-
idence Road. Artistically he is perfectly
beautiful in an Old-Testament fashion.
He lives in an ancient, rambling house
across the road from my home, and he is
making a souvenir collection of derelict
women. Everybody that dies in Glendale
leaves him a relict, and including his mother,
Cousin Martha, he nosw has either seven or
nine female charges, depending on the sex
of Sallie Carruthers's t-win babies, which I
can't exactly remember, but will wager is
feminine.
  My being left to him was an insult to me,
                   IO

 


THE LOAD



though of course Father did not see it that
way. He adored the Crag, as everybody
else in Glendale does, and would n't have
considered not leaving him precious me.
WVanting to ignore Cousin James, because
I was bound out to him until my twenty-
fifth year or marriage, which is worse, has
kept me from Glendale all these four years
since father died suddenly while I was away
at college, laid up with the ankle which I
broke in the gymnasium. Still, as much
as I resent him, I keep the letter the Crag
wrote me the night after Father died, right
where I can put my hand on it if life sud-
denly panics me for any reason. It covers
all the circumstances I have yet met. I
wonder if I ought to burn it now!
  But, to be honest with myself, I will
have to confess that the explosively senti-
mental scene on the front porch, the night
I left for college, with Polk Hayes has had
something to do with my cowardice in lin-
gering in foreign climes. I feel that it is
                    II

 


THE TINDER-BOX



something I will have to go on with some
day, and the devil will have to pick up the
chips. Polk is the kind of man that ought
to be exterminated by the government in
sympathy for its women wards, if his clan
did n't make such good citizens when they
do finally marry. He ought at least to be
labeled " poison for the very young." I
was very young out on the porch that night.
Still, I don't resent him like I do the archaic
Crag.
  And as Ja::e talked, my seasoned indigna-
tion of four years against my keeper flared
up, and while she paused at intervals for
breath I hurled out plans for his demolish-
ment. I wish now I had been more con-
servatively quiet, and left myself a loophole,
but I did n't. I walked into this situation
and shut the door behind me.
  " Yes, Evelina, I think you will have to
insist forcibly on assuming charge of your
own social and financial affairs in your own
home. It may not be easy, with such a
                    12

 


THE LOAD



man as you describe, but you will accom-
plish it. However, many mediocre women
have proved their ability to attend to their
own fortunes, and do good business for
themselves; but your battle is to be fought
on still higher grounds. You are to rise
and establish with your fellowman a plane
of common citizenship. You do it for his
sake and your own, and for that of human-
ity."
  " Suppose, after I get up there on that
plateau, I did n't find any man at all," I yen-
tured faint-heartedly, but with a ripple of
my risibles; the last in life I fear.
  " You must reach down your hands to
them and draw them up to you," she an-
swered in a tone of tonic inspiration.
" You are to claim the same right to express
your emotions that a man has. You are
to offer your f riendship to both men and
women on the same frank terms, with no
degrading hesitancy caused by an embar-
rassment on account of your sex. It is his
                   I3

 

THE TINDER-BOX



due and yours. No form of affection is to
be withheld from him. It is to be done
frankly and impressively, and when the
time comes    I can hardly write this, but
the memory of the wonderful though
fanatic light in Jane's eyes makes me able
to scrawl it-" that you feel the mating
instinct in you move towards any man, I
charge you that you are to consider it a
sacred obligation to express it with the same
honesty that a man would express the same
thing to you, in like case, even if he has
shown no sign of that impulse toward you.
No contortions and contemptible indirect
method of attack, but a fearless one that
is yours by right, and his though he may
not acknowledge it. The barbaric and
senseless old convention that denies women
the right of selection, for which God has
given her the superior instinct, is to be
broken down by just such women as you.
A woman less dowered by beauty and all
feminine charm could not do it just yet, but
                    14

 


THE LOAD



to you, to who-i the command of men is
a natural gift, is granted the wonderful
chance to prove that it can be done, honestly
and triumphantly, with no sacrifice of the
sacredness of womanhood."
  " Oh, Jane," I moaned into the arm of
the chair on which I had bowed my head.
  I am moaning now just as much, down
in the bottom of my heart. Where are all
my gentle foremothers that smiled behind
their lace fans and had their lily-white
hands kissed by cavalier gentlemen in
starched ruffles, out under the stars that
rise over Old Harpeth, that they don't
claim me in a calm and peaceful death
Still, as much as I would like to die, I am
interested in what is going to happen.
  " Yes, Evelina,' she answered in an
adamant tone of voice, "and when I have
the complete record of what, I know, wvill
be your triumphant vindication of the truth
that it is possible and advisable for women
to assert their divine right to choose a mate
                   I5

 


THE TINDER-BOX



for their sacred vocation of bearing the
race, I shall proceed, as I have told you, to
choose five other suitable young women to
follow your example, and furnish them the
money, up to the sum of a hundred thou-
sand dollars, after having been convinced
by your experience. Be careful to make
the most minute records, of even the most
emotional phases of the question, in this
book for their guidance. Of course, they
will never know the source of the data, and
I will help you elucidate and arrange the
book, after it is all accomplished."
  If Jane had n't had two million dollars
all this trouble would not be.
  "I can never do it!" I exclaimed with
horror. "And the men will hate it -and
me. And if I did do it, I could n't write it."
  I almost sobbed as a vision flashed be-
fore me of thus verbally snap-shotting the
scene with dear old Dickie as we stood
against the rail of the ship and watched the
waves fling back silvery radiance at the full
                    i6

 


THE LOAD



moon, and I also wondered how I was to
render in serviceable written data his
husky:
  " A woman is the flame that lights the
spark -"
  Also, what would that interview  with
Polk Hayes look like reproduced with high
lights
    Now," she answered    encouragingly,
"don't fear the men, dear. They are sen-
sible and business-like creatures, and they
will soon see how much to their advantage
it is to be married to women who have had
an equal privilege with themselves of show-
ing their preferences. Then only can they
be sure that their unions are from real
preferences and not compromises, on the
part of their wives, from lack of other
choice. Of course, a woman's pride will
make her refrain from courtship, as does
her brother man, until she is financially in-
dependent, and self-supporting, lest she be
put in the position of a mendicant." Jane
                    I7

 


THE TINDER-BOX



has thought the whole thing out from Gen-
esis to Revelation.
  Still, that last clause about the mendicant
leaves hope for the benighted man who still
wants the cling of the vine. A true vine
would never want - or be able - to hustle
enough to flower sordid dollars instead of
curls and blushes.
  " A woman would have to be - to be a
good deal of a woman, not any less one, to
put such a thing across, Jane," I said, with
a preflash of some of the things that might
happen in such a cruel crusade of reforma-
tion and deprivation of rights.
  "That is the reason I have chosen you
to collect the data, Evelina," answered
Jane, with another of those glorious tonic
looks, issuing from my backbone in her
back. " The ultimate woman must be
superb ir. body, brain, and heart. You are
that now more nearly than any one I have
ever seen. You are the woman!"
  I was silenced with awe.
                    I S

 


THE LOAD



  " Jane plans to choose five girls who
would otherwise have to spend their lives
teaching in crowded cities after leaving
college and to start them  in any pro-
fession they choose, with every chance of
happiness, in the smaller cities of the South
and Middle West," said Mary Elizabeth
gently, and somehow the tears rose in my
eyes, as I thought how the poor dear had
been teaching in the high school in Chicago
the two glorious years I had been frolick-
ing abroad. No time, and no men to have
good times with.
  And there were hundreds like her, 1
knew, in all the crowded parts of the United
States. And as I had begun, I thought
further. Just because I was embarrassed
at the idea of proposing to some foolish
man, who is of no importance to me, him-
self, or the world in general, down in Glen-
dale, where they have all known me all my
life, and would expect anything of me any-
way after I have defied tradition and
                    I9

 

THE TINDER-BOX



gone to college, five lovely, lonely girls
would have to go without any delightful
suitors like Richard-or Polk Hayes, for-
ever.
  And, still further, I thought of the other
girls, coming under the influence of those
five, who might be encouraged to hold up
their heads and look around, and at least
help out their Richards in their matri-
monial quest, and as I sat there with Jane's
compelling and Mary Elizabeth's hungry
eyes on me, I felt that I was being besought
by all the lovers of all the future genera-
tions to tear down some sort of awful
barrier and give them happiness. And it
was the thought of the men that was most
appealing. It takes a woman who really
likes them as I do, and has their good really
at heart, to see their side of the question as
Jane put it, poor dears. Suddenly, I felt
that all the happiness of the whole world
was in one big, golden chalice, and that I
had to hold it steadily to give drink to all
                   20

 


THE LOAD



men and all women -with a vision of lit-
tle unborn kiddies in the future.
  Then, before I could stop myself, I de-
cided - and I hope the dear Lord - I say
it devoutly -indeed I do! -xvill help that
poor man in Glendale if I pick out the
wrong one. I 'm going to do it.
  " I accept your appointment and terms,
Jane," I said quietly, as I looked both those
devout, if fanatic, women in the face. " I
pledge myself to go back to Glendale, to
live a happy, healthy, normal life, as use-
ful as I can make it. I had intended to do
that anyway, for if I am to evolve the real
American garden, I can't do better than
sketch and study those in the Harpeth
Valley, for at least two seasons all
around. I shall work at my profession
whole-heartedly, take my allotted place in
the community, and refuse to recognize any
difference in the obligations and opportuni-
ties in my life and that of the men with
whom I am thrown, and to help all other
                    2I

 

THE TINDER-BOX



women to take such a fearless and honest
attitude-if Glendale blows up in con-
sequence. I will seek and claim marriage
in exactly the same fearless way a man
does, and when I have found what I want
I shall expect you to put one hundred
thousand dollars, twenty to each, at the dis-
posal of five other suitable young women,
to follow my example, as noted down in
this book - if it has been successful. Shall
I give you some sort of written agreement  "
  " Just record the agreement as a note in
the book, and I will sign it," answered
Jane, in her crispest and most business-like
tone of voice, though I could see she was
trembling with excitement, and poor Mary
Elizabeth was both awe-struck and hopeful.
  I 'II invite Mary Elizabeth down to
Glendale, as soon as I stake out my own
claim, poor dear!
  And here I sit alone at midnight, with
a huge, steel-bound, lock-and-keyed book
that Jane has had made for me, with my
                   22

 


THE LOAD



name and the inscription, " In case of death,
send unopened to Jane AMathers, Boston,
Massachusetts," on the back, committed to
a cause as crazy and as serious as anything
since the Pilgrimages, or the Quest of the
Knights for the Grail. It also looks
slightly like trying to produce a modern
Don Quixote, feminine edition, and my
cheeks are flaming so that I would n't look
at them for worlds. And to write it all,
too! I have always had my opinion of
women who spill their souls out of an ink-
bottle, but I ought to pardon a nihilist, that
in the dead of night, cold with terror, con-
fides some awful appointment he has had
made him, to his nearest friend. I am the
worst nihilist that ever existed, and the
bomb I am throwing may explode and de-
stroy the human race. But, on the other
hand, the explosion might be of another
kind. Suppose that suddenly a real wom-
an's entire nature should be revealed to the
world, might not the universe be enveloped
                   23

 


THE TINDER-BOX



in a rose glory and a love symphony
We '11 see!
  Also, could the time ever come when a
woman would n't risk hanging over the
ragged edge of Heaven to hold on to the
hand of some man Never! Then, as
that is the case, I see we must all keep the
same firm grip on the creatures we have
always had, and haul them over the edge,
but we must not do it any more without let-
ting them know about it -it is n't honest.
Yes, women must solidify their love into
such a concrete form that men can weigh
and measure it, and decide for themselves
whether they want to - to climb to Heaven
for it, or remain comfortable old bachelors.
We must n't any more lead them into mar-
riage blinded by the overpowering gaseous
fragrance called romantic love.
  But, suppose I should lose all love for
everybody in this queer quest for enlight-
enment I have undertaken Please, God,
                   24

 


THE LOAD



let a good man be in Glendale, Tennessee,
who will understand and protect me -no,
that 's the wrong prayer! Protect him
no-both of us!



25


 









CHAPTER II



           THE MAIDEN LANCE

A    WOMAN      may shut her eyes, and
       put a man determinedly out of her
heart, and in two minutes she will wake up
in an agony of fear that he is n't there.
Now, as I have decided that Glendale is to
be the scene of this bloodless revolution of
mine - it would be awful to carry out such
an undertaking anywhere but under the
protection of ancestral traditions - I have
operated Richard Hall out of my inmost
being with the utmost cruelty, on an aver-
age of every two hours, for this week Jane
and I have been in New York; and I have
still got him with me.
  I, at last, became determined, and chose
the roof-garden at the Astor to tell him
                   26

 


THE MAIDEN LA\NCE



good-by, and perform the final operation.
First I tried to establish a plane of common
citizenship with him, by telling him how
much his two years' friendship across the
waters had meant to me, while we studied
the same profession under the same mas-
ters, drew at the same drawing-boards and
watched dear old Paris flame into her
jeweled night-fire from Montmarte, to-
gether. I was frankly affectionate, and it
made him suspicious of me.
  Then I tried to tell him just a little, only
a hint, of my new attitude towards his sex,
and before he had had tine even to grasp
the idea he exploded.
  "Don't talk to me as if you were an
alienist trying to examine an abstruse case,
Evelina," he growled, with extreme temper.
" Go on down and rusticate with your rel-
atives for the summer, and fly the bats in
your belfry at the old moss-backs, while T
am getting this Cincinnati and Gulf Sta-
tions commission under way. Then, when
                   27

 

THE TINDER-BOX



I can, I will come for you. Let 's don't
discuss the matter, and it 's time I took you
back to your hotel."
  Not a very encouraging tilt for my
maiden lance.
  I 've had a thought. If I should turn
and woo Dickie, like he does me, I suppose
we would be going so fast in opposite di-
rectlons that we would be in danger of
passing each other without recognizing sig-
nals. I wonder if that might get to be the
case of humanity at large if women do un-
dertake the tactics I am to experiment with,
and a dearth of any kind of loving and
claiming at all be the result. I will eluci-
date that idea and shoot it into Jane. But
I have no hope; she 'll have the answer
ticketed away in the right pigeon-hole,
statistics and all, ready to fire back at
me.
  I have a feeling that Jane won't expect
such a diary as this locked cell of a book
is becoming, but I can select what looks
                   28

 


THE MAIDEN LANCE



like data for the young from these soul
squirmings, and only let her have those for
The Five. I don't know which are which
now, and I '11 have to put down the whole
drama.
  And my home-coming last night was a
drama that had in it so much comedy,
dashed with tragedy, that I 'm  a little
breathless over it yet, Jane, and my mind
is breathing unevenly still.
  Considering the situation, and my inten-
tions, I was a bit frightened as the huge
engine rattled and roared its way along the
steel rails that were leading me back, down
into the Harpeth Valley. But, when we
crossed the Kentucky line, I forgot the hor-
rors of my mission, and I thrilled glori-
ously at getting back to my hills. Old
Harpeth had just come into sight, as we
rounded into the valley and Providence
Knob rested back against it, in a pink glow
that I knex came from the honeysuckle in
bloom all over it like a mantle. I traveled
                   29

 

THE TINDER-BOX



fast into the twilight, and I saw all the
stars smile out over the ridge, in answer to
the hearth stars in the valley, before I got
across Silver Creek. I hadn't let any one
know that I was coming, so I could n't ex-
pect any one to meet me at the station at
Glendale. There was nobody there I be-
longed to -just an empty house. I sup-
pose a man coming home like that would
have whistled and held up his head, but I
could n't. I 'm a woman.
  Suddenly, that long glowworm of a
train stopped just long enough at Glendale
to eject me and my five trunks, with such
hurried emphasis that I felt I was being
planted in the valley forever, and I would
have to root myself here or die. I still feel
that way.
  And as I stood just where my feet were
planted, in the dust of the road, instead of
on the little ten-foot platform, that did n't
quite reach to my sleeper steps, I felt as
small as I really am in comparison to the
                    30

 


THE MAIDEN LANCE



universe. I looked after the train and
groveled.
  Then, just as I was about to start run-
ning down the track, away from nowhere
and to nowhere, I was brought to my senses
by a loud boohoo, and then a snubby choke,
which seemed to come out of my bag and
steamer-blanket that stood in a pile be-
fore me.
  " Train 's gone, train 's gone and left us!
I knew it would, when Sallie stopped to put
the starch on her face all over again. And
Cousin James, he's as slow as molasses,
and I could n't dress two twins in not time
to button one baby. Oh, damn, oh, damn!"
And the sobs rose to a perfect storm of a
wail.
  Just at that moment, down the short
platform an electric light, that was so fee-
ble that it seemed to show a pine-knot in-
fluence in its heredity, was turned on by the
station-agent, who was so slow that I per-
ceived the influence of a descent from old
                   31

 


THE TINDER-BOX



Mr. Territt, who drove the stage that came
down from the city before the war, and
my fellow-sufferer stood revealed.
  She was a slim, red-haired bunch of
galatea, stylish of cut as to upturned nose
and straight little skirt but wholly and de-
fiantly unshod save for a dusty white rag
around one pink toe. A cunning little
straw bonnet, with an ecru lace jabot dan-
gled in her hand, and her big brown eyes
reminded me of Jane's at her most inquisi-
tive moments.
  "If you was on a train, what did you
git offen it here for " she demanded of
me, with both scorn and curiosity in her
positive young voice.
  " I don't know why," I answered weakly,
not at all in the tone of a young-gallant-
home-from-the-war mood I had intended to
assume towards the first inhabitant of my
native town to whom I addressed a remark.
  " We was all a-goin' down to Hillsboro,
to visit Aunt Bettie Pollard for a whole
                   32

 


THE MAIDEN LANCE



week, to Cousin Tom's wedding, but my
family is too slow for nothing but a
funeral. And Cousin James, he's worse.
He comed for us ten minutes behind the
town   clock, and   Mammy     Dilsie had
phthisic, so I had to fix the two twins, and
we 're done left. I wisht I did n't have
no family!" And with her bare feet the
young rebel raised a cloud of dust that rose
and settled on my skirt.
  " There they come now," she continued,
with the pained contempt still rising in her
voice.
  And around the corner of the station
hurried the family party, with all the haste
they would have been expected to use if
they had not, just two minutes earlier, be-
held their train go relentlessly on down the
valley to Hillsboro and the wedding cele-
bration. I had n't placed the kiddie, but I
might have known, from her own descrip-
tion of her family, to whom she belonged.
  First came Sallie Carruthers, sailing
                   33

 


THE TINDER-BOX



along in the serene way that I remembered
to have always thought like a swan in no
hurry, and in her hands was a wet box
from which rose stems protruded.
  Next in the procession came Aunt Dilsie,
huge and black and wheezing, fanning her-
self with a genteel turkey-tail fan, and car-
rying a large covered basket.
  But the tail-piece of the procession par-
alyzed all the home-coming emotions that
I had expected to be feeling, save that of
pure hilarity. James Hardin was carrying
two bubbly, squirmy, tousle-headed babies,
on one arm, and a huge suitcase in the
other hand, and his gray felt hat set on the
back of his shock of black hair at an angle
of deep desperation, though patience shone
from every line of his strong, gaunt body,
and I could see in the half light that there
were no lines of irritation about his mouth,
which Richard had said looked to him like
that of the prophet Hosea, when I had
shown him the picture that Father had had
                   34

 


THE MAIDEN LANCE



snapped of himself and the Crag, with their
great string of quail, on one of their hunt-
ing-trips, just before Father died.
  " Eve! " he exclaimed, when he suddenly
caught sight of me, standing in the middle
of the dusty road, with my impedimenta
around me, and as lie spoke lie dropped
both babies on the platform in a bunch, and
the small trunk on the other side. Then
he just stood and looked, and I had to
straighten the roar that was arising in me
at the sight of him into a conventional
smile of greeting, suitable to bestow on an
enemy.
  But before the smile was well launched,
Sallie bustled