The Seventh Hour - Grace Livingston Hill - E-Book

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Grace Livingston Hill

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Beautiful, willful Caralie is in love at last with a wonderful man of faith, but will her turbulent past keep them apart? 

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The Seventh Hour 

by Grace Livingston Hill

First published in 1939

This edition published by Reading Essentials

Victoria, BC Canada with branch offices in the Czech Republic and Germany

[email protected]

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, except in the case of excerpts by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.


Chapter 1


Dana Barron settled himself in his Pullman chair, tossed his hat up into the rack overhead, and closed his eyes wearily. The day was the culmination of a fortnight of anxiety and pain and sorrow, and the errand on which he was bound promised anything but pleasure.

He was two years out of college and supposed to be working hard in a publisher's office, learning the business. But it was not business that was absorbing his thoughts as he sat with closed eyes being whirled away from the environment that had been his since childhood. He was thinking of the quiet safety and strong kind guidance of the past years, in spite of all the hard work and discipline in self-control, patience, unselfishness, that had been a part of every day. It was all changed now. A new era of life had begun for him, and old things were swept away. He was thinking most of all of those last days of his father's life. How close they had come to each other, making up for all the reticence of the years! That last talk they had had together, in which they were no longer father and young son, but equals with a common interest.

"Son, I haven't ever talked with you much about the circumstances of your life. Somehow I couldn't. I hoped you'd understand someday. And I tried to make up in every way I knew how for what you've lacked in having no mother."

"You have, Father!"

He felt the throb of deep love and pity in his own heart again as he remembered he had said those words. He was glad he had spoken so. The light that came into his father's eyes when he said it was something to remember! Poor Dad! How he must have suffered! And always so patient, so strong, so tender! Such a good sport! So young and companionable, even amid the hardest of his work! Even with uncertainty and loneliness around him, death menacing in the future. Even when he knew he had come to the end and had but a few more weeks to stay!

Some people were coming through the train from the direction of the diner. One sat down across the aisle, but most of them drifted up to the other end of the car and found seats.

Dana did not look up. He wasn't interested in his fellow-passengers.

Then suddenly a familiar voice boomed out joyously. The man across the aisle stood before him and was clapping him boisterously on the shoulder, patting his knee.

"My word! If it isn't Dana Barron! What are you doing here? Oh, boy! But I'm glad to see you! Isn't this great!"

Dana came to life at once, his own eyes filled with a glad light.

"Bruce Carbury, is it really you? I thought you were on your way to South Africa or China or some end of the earth somewhere. How does it happen you are here?"

Dana moved over and made room for him, and Bruce dropped down delightedly as if it were two years ago.

"Well, I didn't go, you see! I couldn't seem to make my plans work. You know how they do, plans, sometimes? It was like that. They didn't, so I didn't. And so I'm here. But where are you going? Just a few miles up the road, or have we time to talk?"

"All the time there is," said Dana with a half sigh. "At least all the way across the continent. New York, if you're going that far."

"Oh boy! Tell the glad news again! I am! That's just where I'm going. I'm on my way to be tried out for a job that I've heard of. If it works out I hope to be on easy street someday, or at least in the next block to it. I've got a pull with a pretty high-up man and it almost looks as if I might make it, unless he takes a dislike to my red hair, or my frankness of speech. But you, Dana, what are you going there for? The same errand? Say, how about a partnership? If they dislike my red hair I'll tell them I have a humdinger of a fella with hair like a morning sunrise. How's that? They pays their money and they takes their choice. But I thought you had a swell job. Weren't you training in a publisher's outfit? Didn't that pan out all right?"

"Oh, yes. It's all right. I'm hard at work right now for them. Only I'm off for a few days. I'm not hunting a job."

"Just going for your health?" questioned his friend, studying him quizzically. "But you look fairly healthy."

A shadow crossed Dana's face. His gaze fell for an instant, thoughtfully, his straight brows drew in a troubled line.

Then he lifted his eyes to his friend's face again, and there was a kind of appeal in them, as if he dreaded putting into words what he was about to say.

"I'm going to see my mother, Bruce!" He tried to make his voice sound natural, as if it were a simple statement he was making.

But the other looked his utter astonishment.

"Your--mother!" he said staring in bewilderment. "Why, but I thought your mother was dead. I thought she died long ago when you were a little chap, only a baby."

Dana's face was very grave and tired-looking as he answered.

"Did I ever tell you that, Bruce?"

Carbury summoned a dazed thoughtfulness.

"Why, I don't know whether you ever did or not, kid. Maybe I just assumed it. But I'm sure you never denied it. I guess maybe we weren't talking much about mothers just then. I know mine was terribly ill when I came to college and I didn't know whether I should ever see her again. As a matter of fact she died early in my first college year, just before I got to know you well. I don't suppose I said much about her when I got back from the funeral. My loss was too new. I couldn't bear to talk about it. I just dropped back into the old life and tried to forget."

"I remember!" said Dana, and pressed his lips together as if the memory brought back something of pain of his own.

"Well, but I don't understand, old man. Did she die, and did your father marry again? Or what?"

"No, he didn't marry again," said Dana. "It was just what."

"Do you mean--" Carbury was perplexed. "Were they divorced--or--! Listen, Dana, tell me about it if you want to. If you'd rather not, just shut up. I won't ever say another thing about it. It won't change our relations, no matter what it is."

A brilliant smile broke over Dana's face, lighting up his eyes and bringing out the gold in his close-cropped curly hair.

"I know, Bruce. Of course. Thank you! I've always known you were like that. Of course I want to tell you. Though there isn't much to tell. My mother just went off and left us, that's all. When I was a little kid. I haven't seen her since. I guess I was ashamed, that's why I never told you."

"But that's nothing for you to be ashamed of. The shame is hers, I should say."

"But she was my mother, you know, and other fellows had mothers who stayed. No matter what, they stayed. And I guess I was ashamed for my father, too. My wonderful father! To leave such a father as that! He was a prince, Bruce! I couldn't bear to have him shamed--my dad! The finest and most honorable I'll ever meet."

"I remember him. He came to commencement. He had hair and eyes just like yours. I remember thinking he seemed more like your elder brother than your father."

"He was," said Dana gravely. "He was both. And mother, too! My mother went away when I was two and a half, so I scarcely remember anything connected with her. She went away when my sister was born. She went away from the hospital and took the baby with her. I have never seen my sister!"

Bruce listened in growing wonder.

"And yet you are going to see your mother?" he asked, amazed. "I shouldn't think you would want to see her."

"I don't!" said Dana. "It would not be my pleasure ever to look upon her. But it was my father's wish that I should go. He wanted me to see her once at least. He wanted me to judge for myself. It seemed as if, at the last, he wanted to make sure that I would find out if in any way he had been unjust in his judgment of her. If there was anything else that he might have done. I think perhaps he wanted me to make sure she had not suffered in any way. Perhaps he hoped that through the years she might have come to be sorry for what she did, and yet was too self-willed to say so."

"Then there was no divorce?"

"Yes, there was a divorce a few years ago. Father would not ask for it. He did not believe in divorces. But he did not oppose her asking. He made it as easy as he could for her."

"And she has married again, I suppose?"

"Yes, she married again, but it did not last long. The man departed for he soon discovered that practically all the money he was evidently after, automatically transferred itself to my sister when her mother married again. Father put it into a trust fund for her till her coming of age."

"But, Dana, isn't it going to be a terribly hard thing for you to do, to go and see them under the circumstances?"

"It is. The hardest thing I ever did."

"Then why do you go? Surely you could make your father understand how you feel."

"He knew how I would feel when he asked me to go. It was my father's dying request, and I promised, Bruce."

"Your father has gone? Oh, Dana, I didn't know. Excuse me!"

"Yes, he died about two weeks ago, after an extended illness. I feel it was the culmination of all he had suffered."

"Man! I'm terribly sorry for you. I know what your father was to you in college. I remember him as one of the finest gentlemen I ever met. In fact I remember wishing I could have had a father like him. You know, I never knew my own father. I was only an infant when he died. But, Dana, I dread this experience for you. Why do you go right away when you must be feeling so sad? Won't it only make your grief the greater?"

"Perhaps," said Dana with a sad little smile. "But it is something my father left for me to do. It is something that he could not very well do for himself. Something that could not, in the nature of the case, be done while he was alive. It was something that had to be wholly impersonal, yet done by one who was a part of the whole thing."

Bruce gave him a puzzled look.

"I don't know that I fully understand just what it is that you have to do. I'm afraid my blind instinct would be to keep just as far away from this thing as possible."

"So would mine," said Dana with a faraway look. "If I consulted my feelings only, I would never go near them. But you see this is a matter that affects more than this earthly life. It has to do in a way with eternity. It was a responsibility that was laid upon my father's heart, and he could not get away from it until he had told me about it, and I promised to do it for him."

"You mean?" asked his friend with kindling eyes that glowed even through the perplexity in his face.

"I mean that Dad came to know the Lord in a rather wonderful way in the last few years, and he felt that somehow he had failed in not knowing Him sooner. He felt greatly burdened for my mother and sister. And yet, because of the peculiar circumstances, he could not go to them and present the matter, for it would be so greatly misunderstood that it would practically undo all he would want to do. Especially if the other husband was still involved in the picture. I do not know that he is. I have to find that out. Gossip has not been busy our way."

"But say, my friend, wouldn't this be a case where a friend might help? I'd be glad to do anything in my power. Would you like me to make some investigations for you? I could do that through--well, through someone--and you wouldn't need to appear in the matter at all. And then if the circumstances are going to be uncomfortable you could give it all up--at least for the present."

Dana shook his head.

"Thank you, no," he said gratefully. "I must go. You know, I shall not be going alone. God will be with me. If it hadn't been for that I couldn't have gone. If my father hadn't known that God was real to me, and that I would feel His presence and guidance, he would not have asked me to go. It is just something that has to be done, and it is my job. I thank you from my heart for your offer of help, but at present I don't see anything that you can do. I'll ask you when there is."

"I only thought it might make things easier for you if you just knew all the circumstances before you went."

"It doesn't have to be made easier for me, does it?" Dana gave his friend a bewildering smile. "And I'm not sure it would if I knew any more circumstances than I do now. I'm afraid I should lose my nerve and run away to hide. I already know too much for my own comfort."

"But, Dana, just what is it you are going to do? Go and preach the Gospel to your reluctant family?"

"Not preach," said Dana decidedly. "Practice, perhaps. Just go and see, and let the Lord open the way if He will. If not, I can go back home again."

Bruce winked the mist away from his eyes.

"You're being rather wonderful about this, Dana, do you know it? I always thought you were wonderful, but now I know it."

"Oh, no," said Dana decidedly. "I've just been finding out what a coward I am. But I'm finding out, too, what a wonderful God I have."

"Yes, that's true, too," said Bruce with fervor. "Well, suppose you tell me what your plans are. Are you going to your mother's house to live while you are in the East? Is she expecting you? Or would there be a chance for us to bunk together for a time?"

Dana's brilliant smile beamed out.

"That would be great!" he said. "No, I'm not going to force myself on them, and my mother does not know I am coming. I would rather have some habitation to hail from, even if it is only a fourth floor hall bedroom. That's about all I can afford just now anyway."

"Then we'll bunk together!" said Bruce delightedly. "I have a room engaged in a fairly decent neighborhood. Nothing grand, of course, and you'll share it with me, as my guest! Yes. That's understood, for I had the room before I knew you were in this part of the world, and you know that any spot on earth is brighter for me if you are in it. It was that way for four years in college and it'll stay that way with me all my life."

"Look out there, brother, that's a pretty big proposition you're taking on, for life!"

"I mean it!" said Bruce. "It's not a new resolve. It's a vow I made in college when I saw you deliberately step back from honors you might have had and let a younger fellow who was struggling hard take them. I've remembered it a number of times since when I've seen you do other things as selflessly, with a look in your face as if you'd been crowned. I didn't know what it all meant at first, but afterward when you led me to know your Lord I understood. I know. You would disclaim it. You're too modest to take praise. Just call it love if that will make you more comfortable. But I know, yes, I understand, it isn't you yourself, it's your Lord who is living in you, shining through the flesh. But it's very notable, and it was through that look in your face that I first understood the Christ who was willing to be my Savior."

The look on Dana's face grew beautiful with love for his friend.

"I appreciate that, Bruce. That's the best thing you could have said, that you saw Him in me!"

"Well, it's true!" said the other with emphasis. "And now, fella, you've got to let me help all I can. I suspect you've got some hard days coming if you go through with this thing. You've got to understand that we're one in this. Whenever there's anything I can do, you'll tell me. And when there isn't I can always pray!"

"All right, old man! I'll remember that. I'm sure it wasn't just for nothing that you happened in on this journey."

They were silent awhile watching the changing tints of a marvelous sunset that had spread across the sky. Then presently Bruce spoke again out of the query of his thoughts.

"Are you planning to stay east for a while, Dana? And if so, what's to become of your business? You were getting on pretty well, weren't you?"

"Yes," said Dana, "and I liked it. But I'm holding all that in abeyance. I had a little talk with my firm. I told them I had business to transact for my father and I didn't know how long it would take me. Would they let me go that way and return later if I found I could come back in a reasonable time? They were grand. They told me to stay as long as I needed to, and then they gave me a letter to friends of theirs in the East in the same business. I may possibly get a temporary job with them if I find I must stay long enough to make it worthwhile."

"That's wise. And what about your girl? Margery, wasn't that her name? Or is there a girl?"

"There isn't!" said Dana with a wry smile.

"A thousand pardons, old man!" said Bruce. "But when I left your parts it looked to me pretty well settled."

"Yes?" said Dana. "Well, I almost thought so myself at one time. But vacation came on, and then Dad got sick and I was naturally with him a good deal. She went away on a trip for several months and before she came back she wrote me that she was engaged to a fellow she used to know before she moved out our way. So, that's that!"

"Well, say, fella, you certainly have been getting the hard knocks! Or--wasn't this a hard knock? Somehow, Dana, I never was quite satisfied with her for you."

"Oh, I know! And I guess it was all for the best. There were a lot of things we didn't agree on. And Dad didn't care for her, either. She had a hard streak sometimes. But she was young. Perhaps she would have changed."

"They don't! Not usually! Not till they get hard knocks themselves!" said Bruce with a conviction that sounded like experience.

"You know so much about it!" grinned Dana. "However, that's the way it is, and I'm not fretting. Now, suppose we forget me for a while and talk about you. Haven't you found a girl that suits your royal highness yet?"

"Haven't had time. Haven't ever seen one I'd go around the corner after. And, of course, I'm not a good-looker like you, so they don't run after me."

"Where do you get that, Bruce? You've always been my ideal of manly beauty. Big and vital. Lots of character in your face, strong features that mean business, you know, and all that red hair and brown eyes. You don't suppose I admire my own golden looks, do you?"

"Girls do," said Bruce with conviction. "But your hair's not gold, it's deeper. There's something about it that makes it noticeable anywhere."

"Don't I know it? Don't I hate it? As a kid I used to wish I could dye it to some common drab shade like other kids. It isn't pleasant to be singled out and commented upon. But honestly, Bruce, I don't know where I could find a finer-looking man than you are, and it's time you got rid of that obsession. Only I wouldn't want the wrong girl to get her eyes on you. You're too fine for that."

"Well, so far as I'm concerned it wouldn't do any good if she did. I've got to get a few shekels put away before I ever start to think about girls. But when I do, if I do, I have an idea I'm going to have a hard time finding one I want. As far as I've seen they don't want to do anything but smoke and drink, and play around. I don't want a wife that doesn't take life in earnest. I'd rather go all my days alone than be tied to one of these painted-up creatures without any eyebrows. They may have brains, but they don't look it."

"Here, too!" said Dana earnestly. "They tell me there used to be girls with earnest purpose, and womanly instincts, but so far life hasn't shown me any. In fact, I don't even know many older women I would care to have married if I were getting on in years. I don't like the way they dress nor act. I couldn't imagine a little child being mothered or grandmothered by many of them. They're all bridge and smoke and cocktails. However, I don't know many of them, and that's a fact, and those I do know I don't know intimately. I only know them from afar. This getting married seems to be taking a big chance, and I for one have had enough of that kind of chance in my life without taking any on my own account. I'd have to know a girl pretty well before I ever fell for her."

"People don't usually plan for any kind of a fall," said Bruce dryly. "As far as I can judge in a matter that I haven't had much opportunity to observe at close range, when you fall you fall, and have to take the consequences. The best thing is to keep away from pitfalls. Personally, I shall be inclined to be very suspicious of any kind of a fall. However, there were some nice girls in college when we were there. There was Harriet Hanby. She was smart as a whip!"

"Too dowdy!" objected Dana.

"Oh, well, she probably didn't have the money to dress as well as some of the rest, but she was smart."

"A girl can wash her face clean, and keep her hands trim and tidy, even if she hasn't much money. She can keep her hair from stringing all around her face, and she can put on her clothes straight. Why, that girl couldn't even put on a sweater right. She always wore one as if it were a dishrag."

"Yes, maybe so," said Bruce. "But there was Allison Brewer. Whatever became of her?"

"Married. She married that Herriot fellow. That insolent highflier who acted as if he was a millionaire, and owned every fellow in college. That's the way those pretty little girls go. Haven't an ounce of sense."

"H'm! Yes, I know. And Carolyn Ostermoor went the same way. Married that Crayton gink who drinks like a fish. Well, life is strange. Anyway, I'm not taking chances at present. Whatever became of Olive Willing?"

They talked far into the night, and then reminding themselves that they had all of the next day together and another night before they reached New York, they turned in, each glad that the other was resting just across the aisle. It seemed like old days at college, with their beds across the room from each other.

They had been exceptional friends, these two, through the four college years, members of the same fraternity, both notable football players, both students and in earnest. More than most college fellows they had like tastes and aims. Their parting at the close of college had been a wrench.

Dana felt a degree of comfort in his loneliness as he drifted off to sleep. Life wouldn't be altogether desolate for the next few days, even if they proved to be more difficult than he anticipated, if Bruce was nearby somewhere.

The next day was one long, quiet rejoicing to them both.

They reviewed the past two years more in detail than could be told in the first few minutes, and then they talked of life as they had found it since college, of their deepest convictions regarding principles and aims. Shyly they touched upon their own growth in the things of the spirit, but more definitely than they had ever done before. They were each greatly thankful that the other was what he was.

They sat toward evening side by side, quiet for the moment, gazing out at the sunset sky lighted in rose and gold, fading so quickly into violet and green and purple, yet touched now and again with the vivid gold of the sun's last effort for the day. At last Bruce spoke.

"Well this has been a great day. I shall never forget it. Our first whole day with absolutely nothing to do but enjoy each other. I hope our future will hold many more such times of leisure even in the midst of our life work. But at least we have this, and it is a fitting memory with which to crown our college days."

"Yes!" said Dana fervently, a touch of sadness in his voice. "It's been great! And we'll always know we have each other even though the coming years may separate us by hundreds of miles. You can't ever know how much it has meant to me, especially just at this time. I was lonely, Bruce. Dead lonely! I don't seem to be able just yet to talk about what Dad's been to me these last two years. He was a wonderful man! I don't feel as if he was dead, either. Just gone on ahead! I wish you had known him better."

"So do I!" said his friend earnestly. "But, you know, in a way I did know him better than you understood. I knew him through you. I began to see you were different from a good many of the fellows about us, and studying it I decided it was because you had a most unusual father. I found that you decided most questions in the light of what your father would do if he were in your place. And every time he came to see you I watched him, and wished I had a father like that living. Well, I'm glad I knew him. He left his mark on my young life, too, and I'm glad."

A look of most unusual affection and understanding for two grown men to give one another was the only answer that passed between the two. Then after another silence Bruce said, in a brisk tone, as if the sadness in their thoughts were growing almost too tender for self-control:

"Well, now, Dana, about tomorrow. I don't know what your plans are, but we're due to reach New York at eight o'clock. We can eat breakfast on the train of course, and then I thought we'd better take a taxi straight to my room. You see I have an appointment at ten o'clock, so I won't have much time to waste getting settled. But you can park your baggage there, and be free to come or go at your will. I probably won't be back until around five o'clock, and perhaps you'll know more about your plans when I get back, and of course I'll be able to tell you more about my own. If we both stay east for a time we can look around and see if there are more comfortable quarters than the place I got at random through writing to my friend. But in the meantime it will likely be comfortable enough for us till we know just what we are going to do. Will that suit you, or have you any other suggestion?"

"Suits me perfectly," said Dana with a warm smile. "Only don't carry around the idea that I'm going to sponge on you! It might get such a hold on you that I would have to bat you over the head to get rid of it."

The next morning, according to plan, the two parted at the pleasant downtown rooming house in a plain district, Bruce going to his prospective job, and Dana left alone again, with his big problem on his hands. Going to take a message to a mother and sister he did not know, from a father who had gone away from this world forever!


Chapter 2


Corinne Barron in flashy embroidered satin pajamas of gaudy colors lounged on an extremely modernesque couch of white velvet in a bleak living room of her mother's ornate apartment, reading a movie magazine.

Her full name was Corinne Coralie. And when her mother had married Dinsmore Collette some years after her divorce from Jerrold Barron, Corinne, still a little girl, took her stepfather's name, leaving out the Coralie, which she felt to be superfluous, and writing it Corinne Collette. But when that stepfather took himself away from them without the usual formalities, the girl was strongly tempted to discard his name and go back to her own father's name. If her mother had not objected so furiously she would have done so. But Lisa reasoned that there would be no other name for her to take except Barron, and Lisa did not care to bring the name of Barron into the picture again. So she was known as Corinne Collette.

The room in which she was sitting was so modern that it was fairly uninviting. There were some things about it that were almost repulsive! There was no air of home or good cheer or comfort about it. The draperies were black velvet, the decorations were fauns and satyrs with a few black devils and dragons here and there. Above her head on a low broad set of squarely graduated shelves that passed for a bookcase, sported a heathen god, with a look on his evil face that boded no good to his followers. There were vast unoccupied spaces. There was one huge impressionistic picture on a wide wall. It looked like a violently angry patchwork quilt in a frame. Here and there were cupboardlike cocktail tables bearing oddly unornamental triangles of silver or bloodred that were intended for ashtrays.

There was nothing attractive or lovely in the room except the girl. She was very lovely in form and feature, with a patrician loveliness that the expression of her face, however, did not bear out. It was as if the little soul that looked out from her wide beautiful eyes had been starved in its infancy until malnutrition had set in and warped her whole life. The selfish twist of her pettish little painted lips that were too red belied anything pleasant there might have been about her. The long curling lashes were too heavy with mascara, and her nice straight young brows had been plucked and falsely arched, till she might have been the daughter of one of the satyrs that posed about as an ornament.

An odd, freakish clock bellowed forth an abrupt chime, and Corinne flung her magazine from her impatiently. It landed near a little black and orange satyr and together they toppled from the straight unpleasant shelf on which it had stood and crashed to the hearth below in front of a distorted grate where burned a sullen fire, the only attempt at homelikeness in the place. The idol's head broke off and lolled to one side; a missing eye presently discovered itself leering alone at the farther end of the hearth. But the girl gazed apathetically and didn't care. The satyr was not a favorite god anyway.

Somewhere in the distance a bell gave forth a flutelike sound, and the girl sat up sharply, gazing fleetingly at the clock to make sure of the counts it had just uttered. Eleven o'clock? Now who could be calling at that unearthly hour? Nobody, of course, unless it might be a credit man from some shop. What a bore! Why didn't Lisa pay for things when she bought them? It was poisonous to have tradesmen constantly coming to beg for money. Tradesmen were so insistent. What business did tradesmen have bothering them in the morning before they had fairly begun the day! Well, he could just go away again, that was all. For Lisa wasn't up yet, of course, and she wasn't going to waken her. Not for any tradesman! If she had to be called, Bella could call her. She wouldn't.

Then the maid entered with a card.

"Miss Corinne, there's a gentleman to see your mamma! What shall I do about it?"

"A gentleman! At this hour? Did he say he had an appointment?"

"No, Miss Corinne."

"Well, he's just a tradesman, of course, then."

"No, Miss Corinne, I think not. He's a gentleman. No one I know, but I'm sure he's a gentleman. He sent his card."

She held out the card, and Corinne rose impatiently and reached for it. From where she stood a scant city ray of brief sunshine touched her wonderful hair to red-gold and brought out its glory, lit up the delicacy of her vivid young face, and made it almost seem lovely in spite of its disfiguring embellishments. She was lithe and fragile-looking even in the costly ungainliness of the garments she was wearing. She stood there studying the card in astonishment, the sun lingering upon the riot of her hair, bringing out its natural waves.

Barron! Could that possibly be--! No! It couldn't! He wouldn't dare! Lisa had fixed all that so he wouldn't dare to come! It must be someone of the same name. Curiously they had never met others of that name.

But wait! That was not her father's name. He was Jerrold Barron. This was Dana. That was the name they had given her brother! Curiously enough, she had always thought of him as a child! Yet he would be a man by this time, of course. A gentleman! So that the maid would recognize the fact!

With a curious feeling of resentment she flung her head back and gave the command: "Let him come in."

And as Dana Barron entered the room the sun reached its zenith for that room and flung its full brightness upon the girl as she stood in her arrogant beauty, facing the brother whom she had never seen before.

Dana entered and paused at the door, his gaze full upon her. He stopped, startled at her beauty, and at her resemblance to their father. He had not expected this.

The maid lingered with curious glances cast at both of them, marveling at the likeness between them.

Corinne had flung up her haughty young chin proudly and faced him as she might have faced a menace, and so they stood and surveyed each other a long startled moment before the girl spoke.

"You wanted to see Lisa?" she asked scornfully. "Well, she isn't up yet, and I'm not going to waken her."

"Oh, of course not," said Dana quickly, regaining his normal poise and courtesy instantly. "I'm sorry!"

The girl eyed him disdainfully.

"Who are you anyway, and why should you come here?"

Dana smiled at her disarmingly.

"I might ask that of you perhaps," he said, "although," he added with a sudden twinkle in his eyes, "with that hair and those eyes I haven't really much doubt but you are your father's daughter and----my father's daughter, too."

Corinne gave a little gasp and a little quick closing and opening of her eyes as if the sight of the look of his face was almost too much for her.

Then her face grew hard as if she were refusing to accept the conviction that was growing within her.

"What are you here for?" she asked insolently. "What do you want of my mother?"

"I have a message for--our mother!"

She gave that little inarticulate gasp again.

"A message? What kind of a message?"

"The message is for her, first." His face had suddenly grown very grave and responsible-looking. He looked older than when he had first come in. She studied his face sharply, wonderingly.

"And suppose I don't choose to let you see her? She won't come out to see you unless she knows what the message is about, and who it is from. I doubt if she will come if she knows who you seem to think you are. Why should you presume to claim her attention?"

"The message is not from me," Dana said sternly. "It is from my father! Your father! It is important!"

"How do I know that?"

"I think you know it." Dana was looking straight into her great wide, wild eyes, and his steady glance seemed to have a power over her that she could not shake off.

"I understood that he was not to communicate with my mother, ever, while he lived."

"Yes. But death came in and set him free from that promise. My father died. It was his dying request that I should bring this message to her. Now, do you understand why you must tell her I am here?"

There was a little stir behind Dana, a soft thick curtain flung aside, and someone stood there. There was a great silence in the room suddenly, a defiant silence upon the part of the girl. Then a voice, hard, cynical, severe, spoke behind the young man; and the girl, wide-eyed, was watching someone across his shoulder.

"What is all this about, Corinne?" The voice went sharply against Dana's consciousness. "Who is this presumptuous person you are daring to discuss me with?"

Dana whirled about and faced her.

She was tiny and fragile, with a face like a hard, tight little flower. There was an imperiousness about her that matched her daughter's expression, though there was an artificiality over it all that was not in the daughter's.

Dana saw it at a glance, and something in his heart that had been growing all the years, and that he had tried to hold in abeyance of late, until this visit, suddenly congealed and asserted itself stronger than ever. Was this his mother? How had his wonderful father ever fallen for her?

Oh, she was beautiful! There was no denying that, of course. But it was a beauty like a lovely painting that gave nothing but form and color, with no soul behind it. His father as he knew him would have seen that at once. But he remembered that his father had been very young, only nineteen, when he met and wooed and won his ruthless bride. It had taken the years of sorrow, perhaps, to give Jerrold Barron the discernment that would have saved him from making such a mistaken marriage.

All this, his perception of the mother, and his excuse for his beloved father's mistake, flashed through Dana's mind, like facts that had been there always, only he had not understood them. It was the answer to the question that had been recurring to his mind through childhood. Why had God ever let such a man make a mistake like that? As if one should ask, "Why did God ever allow Eve and Adam to eat the fruit?" And in a flash he saw. It had been the means through which God had brought knowledge and beauty and fineness to his father's character. It was the answer to "Why is pain?" and a line from an old hymn that his father used to sing ran through him like a ray of sunshine.


. . .I only design,

Thy dross to consume

And thy gold to refine!


And God had wrought through pain and disappointment the beauty of soul that had made his father so fine! All in that instant he saw it. Then he spoke, with a gentleness upon him that was not his own, but rather the look his father might have worn.

"I am Dana Barron! And you are--? My mother? Is it so?"

Lisa's baby complexion left no space for lines in her face. Only her eyes gave forth nature's unvarnished truth, and they were hard and glittering. Her delicately penciled vivid mouth was one thin straight line. No smile lurked there. No welcoming light in the whole lovely flowerlike face. Just an alien face that did not know him.

"Indeed!" said Lisa, studying the face before her. "I might have thought you were Jerrold Barron if you hadn't told me. And what was the message you were discussing when I came in? What right did you have to come here, anyway?"

Dana studied her face calmly, a stern look upon his own, regarding the unloveliness he saw as well as the loveliness. His voice was full of assurance and gravity when he answered.

"The right that death gives!" he said solemnly, and Lisa paused and looked at him for a startled instant.

"He is dead?" she said astonished. "Do you mean that Jerrold Barron is dead?"

Dana bowed silently and stood respectfully awaiting her word. And as she looked at him he was so like his father, that courteous attitude of respect, that steady controlled expression, his glance withdrawn to leave her free to think her own thoughts without observation, the way his bright hair waved crisply away from his forehead, that she was taken back to the days when Jerrold Barron was courting her, when for a little while her butterfly nature was caught and carried away by his strength and beauty, till another, less strong but full of deviltry, enticed her.

"You are very like him," she said with a sudden softening of her voice, a passing hunger in her eyes.

"You could give me no praise that would please me better," said Dana, still aloof.

"He was sweet!" said Lisa, with a touch of tenderness in her voice that may have misled her wonderful lover before he married her.

"He was wonderful!" said the son.

"Yes," said Lisa thoughtfully, "I suppose he was. But you see, I wasn't! I guess that was the trouble." Was there almost a wistfulness in her voice?

Corinne stood by, astonished, seeing a new Lisa, and not understanding. She was familiar with her mother's paramours, and her reaction to them, but she had never seen this look in her mother's eyes before, this look of respect and honor, of something deeper than just amusement, bewitchment. Corinne stared at her mother, and gave a little gasp, and the look in her wide young eyes grew almost wistful. Was there yet another kind of Lisa?

Then Dana's voice broke the solemn quiet.

"Then why did you marry him?"

Lisa looked at her son as if she had suddenly been called to stand before a court of justice. Was that fear that flitted across the pupils of her eyes?

Then a light, careless laugh drifted to her lips, as if she would take refuge in mirth.

"Just because he was wonderful and I wanted to try out everything!" she trilled.

Dana was still for a moment, his eyes downcast, perplexed. Then he lifted that clear compelling gaze once more and looked his mother full in the face, speaking in a voice of desperate sorrow.

"Then--why--did you then--leave us?"

The woman dropped her errant gaze from his eyes with a kind of light shame upon her, and when she raised her eyes again a change had come upon her face, and a hardness had returned to her voice.

"Because I was by nature a butterfly. I was born that way! I could not bear confinement to duties." She lifted her chin arrogantly, almost as if she gloried in her shame. "It was not my fault!" The last words were spoken almost merrily as if a sprite were dancing in her eyes and voice.

"Would you have excused your mother if she had done to you what you have done to your son--and to--your daughter?"

Dana's eyes went swiftly toward his sullen, wondering sister standing aloof by the window.

"What have I done to my daughter?" spoke Lisa sharply. "I'm sure I took her with me. What more could I have done?"