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    “Really,” he began, at length, “I can’t think of anything to say. Can you? If you can think of something very clever, put it in your article and say I said it. Yes, do say I said it. But, of course, it must be very clever.”



    “Oh, no hurry!” she said, with uneasy assent. “That is, if you are not in a hurry,” she added after a pause.{v2-237}


    Wondering greatly at the folkways of Kansas, but determined to commit no gaffe that would imperil his relations with this girl, Hartford lay face down on the mat-covered cot. Takeko removed the tenugi towel with which he'd modestly draped himself and gently stroked sweet-scented sunflower-seed oil into his macerated skin. Using the radical border of her hands, which were remarkably strong, Takeko coaxed the muscles to relax with effleurage; and she further softened the clonic hardness with a kneading motion. "This is," she said, working her thumb-knuckles up his spinal-column as though telling the beads of his vertebrae, "one of the good things my ancestors brought from earth."


    The little child who was so long prayed for, and who came at last in answer to James Ashurst's fervent prayers, had nothing during her childhood to distinguish her from ordinary children. It is scarcely worthy of record that her mother had a hundred anecdotes illustrative of her precocity, of her difference from other infants, of certain peculiarities never before noticed in a child of tender years. All mothers say these things whether they believe them or not, and Mrs. Ashurst, stretched on her sick-couch, did believe them, and found in watching what she believed to be the abnormal gambols of her child, a certain relief from the constant, dreary, wearing pain which sapped her strength, and rendered her life void and colourless and unsatisfactory. James Ashurst believed them fervently; even if they had required a greater amount of credulity than that which he was blessed with, he, knowing it gave the greatest pleasure to his wife, would have stuck to the text that Marian was a wonderful, "really, he might say, a very wonderful child." But he had never seen anything of childhood since his own, which he had forgotten, and the awakening of the commonest faculties in his daughter came upon him as extraordinary revelations of subtle character, which, when their possessor had arrived at years of maturity, would astonish the world. The Helmingham people did not subscribe to these opinions. Most of them had children of their own, who, they considered, were quite as eccentric, and odd, and peculiar as Marian Ashurst. "Not that I'm for 'lowin that to be pert and sassy one minute, and sittin' mumchance wi'out sa much as a word to throw at a dog the next, is quite manners," they would say among themselves; "but what's ye to expect? Poor Mrs. Ashurst layin' on the brode of her back, and little enough of that, poor thing, and that poor feckless creature, the schoolmaster, buzzed i' his 'ed wi' book larnin' and that! A pretty pair to bring up such a tyke as Miss Madge!"

    peculiar. I refer to what goes in Sicily under the name of the omerta, and is, like some of the customs that exist in the Southern States, part of the unwritten law of the country. The principle of this unwritten law is silence. If any one is robbed, wounded, or injured in any way he remains silent. If the police seek to find out who is his enemy he will answer, "I do not know."

    He flushed the interior of the suit out with a reckless disregard for the wastage of his air reserve, holding his breath as much as he could, daring only shallow gasps that made him retch and gag. After a long time he could breathe, though his eyes were spilling tears.


    A-bra-ham had more to think of when he came home. He had seen so much on his trip that the world was not quite the same to him. Scores of flat-boats were moored at lev-ees, steam-boats went and came, big ships




    "I did not, indeed. You are, I confess, one of the last persons I should have expected to see in these rooms."

    A month or two later, we met at Southport, I in the meantime having written an article on Ronald for a musical magazine. With this article he professed himself charmed. He was as jolly about it as a schoolboy, and expressed surprise that I could honestly say such nice things about him.

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