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Andrew the Glad

Maria Thompson Daviess

  Produced by Curtis Weyant, Mary Meehan and the Online DistributedProofreading Team.

  Andrew the Glad


  Author of Miss Selina Lue, Rose of Old Harpeth The Melting of Molly, etc.



















  "There are some women who will brew mystery from the decoction ofeven a very simple life. Matilda is one of them," remarked the major tohimself as he filled his pipe and settled himself before his high-piled,violet-flamed logs. "It was waxing strong in her this morning and anexcitement will arrive shortly. Now I wonder--"

  "Howdy, Major," came in a mockingly lugubrious voice from the hall, andDavid Kildare blew into the room. He looked disappointedly around,dropped into a chair and lowered his voice another note.

  "Seen Phoebe?" he demanded.

  "No, haven't you?" answered the major as he lighted his pipe and regardedthe man opposite him with a large smile of welcome.

  "Not for three days, hand-running. She's been over to see Andy with Mrs.Matilda twice, and I've missed her both times. Now, how's that for luck?"

  "Well," said the major reflectively, "in the terms of modern parlance,you certainly are up against it. And did it ever occur to you that a manwith three ribs broken and a dislocated collar-bone, who has written aplay and a sprinkle of poems, is likely to interest Phoebe Donelsonenormously? There is nothing like poetry to implant a divine passion, andAndrew is undoubtedly of poetic stamp."

  "Oh, poetry--hang! It's more Andy's three ribs than anything else. Hejust looks pale and smiles at all of 'em. He always did have yellow dogeyes, the sad kind. I'd like to smash all two dozen of his ribs," andKildare slashed at his own sturdy legs with his crop. He had dropped inwith his usual morning's tale of woe to confide to Major Buchanan, and hehad found him, as always, ready to hand out an incendiary brand ofsympathy.

  "He ought not to have more than twenty-three; one on the right sideshould be missing. Some woman's got it--maybe Phoebe," said the majorwith deadly intent.

  "Nothing of the kind. I'm shy a rib myself and Phoebe is _it_. Don't Iget a pain in my side every time I see her? It's the real psychic thing,only she doesn't seem to get hold of her end of the wire like she might."

  "Don't trust her, David, don't trust her! You see his being injured inPanama, building bridges for his country, while you sat here idly readingthe newspapers about it, has had its appeal. I know it's dangerous, butyou ought to want Phoebe to soothe his fevered brow. Nothing is too goodfor a hero this side of Mason and Dixon's, my son." The major eyed hisvictim with calculating coolness, gaging just how much more of thebaiting he would stand. He was disappointed to see that the train ofexplosives he had laid failed to take fire.

  "Well, he's being handed out a choice bunch of Mason-Dixon attentions.They are giving him the cheer-up all day long. When I left, Mrs. Shelbywas up there talking to him, and Mrs. Cherry Lawrence and Tom had justcome in. Mrs. Cherry had brought him several fresh eggs. She had got themfrom Phoebe! I sent them to her from the farm this morning. Rode out andcoaxed the hens for them myself. Now, isn't a brainstorm up to me?"

  "Well, I don't know," answered the major in a judicial tone of voice."You wouldn't have them neglect him, would you?"

  "Well, what about me?" demanded David dolefully. "I haven't any greeneyes, 'cause I'm trusting Andy, _not_ Phoebe; but neglect is justwithering my leaves. I haven't seen her alone for two weeks. She isalways over there with Mrs. Matilda and the rest 'soothing the feveredbrow.' Say, Major, give Mrs. Matilda the hint. The chump isn't reallysick any more. Hint that a little less--"

  "David, sir," interrupted the major, "it takes more than a hint to stop awoman when she takes a notion to nurse an attractive man, a sick lion oneat that. And depend upon it, it is the poetry that makes them hover him,not the ribs."

  "Well, you just stop her and that'll stop them," said David wrathfully.

  "David Kildare," answered the major dryly, "I've been married to hernearly forty years and I've never stopped her doing anything yet.Stopping a wife is one of the bride-notions a man had better give upearly in the matrimonial state--if he expects to hold the bride. Andbride-holding ought to be the life-job of a man who is rash enough toundertake one."

  "Do you think Phoebe and bride will ever rhyme together, Major?" askedDavid in a tone of deepest depression. "I can't seem to hear them everjingle."

  "Yes, Dave, the Almighty will meter it out to her some day, and I hope Hewill help you when He does. I can't manage my wife. She's a modern woman.Now, what are we going to do about them?" and the major smiledquizzically at the perturbed young man standing on the rug in front ofthe fire.

  "Well," answered Kildare with a spark in his eyes, as he flecked a bit ofmud from his boots which were splashed from his morning ride, "when I getPhoebe Donelson, I'm going to whip her!" And very broad and tall andstrong was young David but not in the least formidable as to expression.

  "Dave, my boy," answered the major in a tone of the deepest respect, "Ihope you will do it, if you get the chance; but you won't! Thirty-eightyears ago last summer I felt the same way, but I've had a long time tomake up my mind to it; and I haven't done it yet."

  "Anyway," rejoined his victim, "there's just this to it; she has got toaccept me kindly, affectionately and in a ladylike manner or I'm going tobe the villain and make some sort of a rough house to frighten her intoit."

  "David," said the major with emphasis, "don't count on frightening awoman into a compliance in an affair of the affections. Don't you knowthey will risk having their hearts suspended on a hair-line betweenheaven and hell and enjoy it? Now, my wife--"

  "Oh, Mrs. Matilda never could have been like that," interrupted Davidmiserably.

  "Boy," answered the major solemnly, "if I were to give you a succinctaccount of the writhings of my soul one summer over a California man, theagony you are enduring would seem the extremity of insignificance."

  "Heavenly hope, Major, did you have to go up against the other mangame, too? I seem to have been standing by with a basket picking upchips of Phoebe's lovers for a long lifetime; Tom, Hob, Payt, widowersand flocks of new fledges. But I had an idea that you must have been afirst-and-only with Mrs. Matilda."

  "Well, it sometimes happens, David, that the individuality of all of awoman's first loves get so merged into that of the last that it would bedifficult for her to differentiate them herself; and it is bestto keep her happily employed so she doesn't try."

  "Well, all I can say for you, Major," interrupted Kildare with a laugh,"is that your forty years' work shows some. Your Mrs. Buchanan is what Icall a finished product of a wife. I'll never do it in the world. I canget up and talk a jury into seeing things my way, but I get cross-brainedwhen I go to put things to Phoebe. That reminds me, that case on old JimCross for getting tangled up with some fussy hens in Latimer's hen-houseweek before last is called for to-day at twelve sharp. I'm due to put theold body through and pay the fine and costs; only the third time thisyear. I'm thinking of buying him a hen farm to save myself trouble.Good-by, sir!"

David, David," laughed the major, "beware of your growingresponsibilities! Cap Hobson reported that sensation of yours beforethe grand jury over that negro and policeman trouble. The darkies willput up your portrait beside that of Father Abe on Emancipation Dayand you will be in danger of passing down to posterity by thepublic-spirit-fame chute. Your record will be in the annals of thecity if you don't mind!"

  "Not much danger, Major," answered David with a smile. "I'm just a gladman with not balance enough to run the rail of any kind of heavy trackaffairs."

  "David," said the major with a sudden sadness coming into his voice andeyes, "one of the greatest men I ever knew we called the glad man--theboy's father, Andrew Sevier. We called him Andrew, the Glad. Somethinghas brought it all back to me to-day and with your laugh you reminded meof him. The tragedy of it all!"

  "I've always known what a sorrow it was to you, Major, and it is thebitterness that is eating the heart out of Andy. What was it all aboutexactly, sir? I have always wanted to ask you." David looked intothe major's stern old eyes with such a depth of sympathy in his youngones that a barrier suddenly melted and with the tone of bestowing anhonor the old fire-eater told the tale of the sorrow of his youth.

  "Gaming was in his blood, David, and we all knew it and protected himfrom high play always. We were impoverished gentlemen, who were buildingfences and restoring war-devastated lands, and we played in our shabbyclub with a minimum stake and a maximum zest for the sport. But thatnight we had no control over him. He had been playing in secret withPeters Brown for weeks and had lost heavily. When we had closed up thegame, he called for the dice and challenged Brown to square theiraccount. They threw again and again with luck on the same grim side. Isaw him stake first his horses, then his bank account, and lose.

  "Hayes Donelson and I started to remonstrate but he silenced us with alook. Then he drew a hurried transference of his Upper Cumberlandproperty and put it on the table. They threw again and he lost! Then hesmiled and with a steady hand wrote a conveyance of his home andplantation, the last things he had, as we knew, and laid that on thetable."

  "No, Major," exclaimed David with positive horror in his voice.

  "Yes, it was madness, boy," answered the major. "Brown turned his ivoriesand we all held our breath as we read his four-three. A mad joy flamed inAndrew's face and he turned his cup with a steady wrist--and rolledthrees. We none of us looked at Brown, a man who had led another man inwhose veins ran a madness, where in his ran ice, on to his ruin. Wefollowed Andrew to the street to see him ride away in a gray drizzle to agambled home--and a wife and son.

  "That morning deeds were drawn, signed, witnessed and delivered to Brownin his office. Then--then"--the major's thin, powerful old hands graspedthe arm of his chair--"we found him in the twilight under the clump ofcedars that crowned the hill which overlooked Deep-mead Farm--broad acresof land that the Seviers had had granted them from Virginia--_dead_,his pistol under his shoulder and a smile on his face. Just so he hadlooked as he rode at the head of our crack gray regiment in thathell-reeking charge at Perryville, and it was such a smile we hadfollowed into the trenches at Franklin. Stalwart, dashing, joyous Andrew,how we had all loved him, our man-of-smiles!"

  "Can anything ever make it up to you, Major?" asked David softly. As hespoke he refilled the major's pipe and handed it to him, not appearing tonotice how the lean old hand shook.

  "You do, sir," answered the major with a spark coming back into his eyes,"you and your gladness and the boy and his--sadness--and Phoebe most ofall. But don't let me keep you from your hen-roost defense--I agree withyou that a hen farm will be the cheapest course for you to take with oldCross. Give him my respects, and good-by to you." The major's dismissalwas gallant, and David went his way with sympathy and admiration in hisgay heart for the old fire-eater whose ashes had been so stirred.

  The major resumed his contemplation of the fire. Hearty burning logs makegood companions for a philosopher like the major, and such times when hisdepths were troubled he was wont to trust to them for companionship.

  But into any mood of absorption, no matter how deep, the major was alwaysready to welcome Mrs. Matilda, and his expectations on the subject of heradventures had been fully realized. As usual she had begun her tale inthe exact center of the adventure with full liberty left herself to workback to the beginning or forward to the close.

  "And the mystery of it all, Matilda, is the mystery of love--warm,contradictory, cruel, human love that the Almighty puts in the heart of aman to draw the unreasoning heart of a woman; sometimes to bruise andcrush it, seldom to kill it outright. Mary Caroline only followed hercall," answered the major, responding to her random lead patiently.

  "I know, Major; yes, I know," answered his wife as she laid her hand onthe arm of his chair. "Mary Caroline struggled against it but it wasstronger than she was. It wasn't the loving and marrying a man who hadbeen on the other side--so many girls did marry Union officers as soon asthey could come back down to get them--but the _kind_ of enemy he was!"

  "Yes," said the major thoughtfully, "it would take a wider garment oflove to cover a man with a carpetbag in his hand than a soldier in aYankee uniform. A conqueror who looked around as he was fighting and thencame back to trade on the necessities of the conquered cuts but a sorryfigure, Matilda, but a sorry figure!"

  "And Mary Caroline felt it too, Major--but she couldn't help it,"said Mrs. Buchanan with a catch in her voice. "The night before sheran away to marry him she spent with me, for you were away across theriver, and all night we talked. She told me--not that she was going--buthow she cared. She said it bitterly over and over, 'Peters Brown, thecarpetbagger--and I love him!' I tried to comfort her as best I couldbut it was useless. He was a thief to steal her--just a child!" There wasa bitterness and contempt in Mrs. Matilda's usually tender voice. Shesat up very straight and there was a sparkle in her bright eyes.

  "And the girl," continued the major thoughtfully, "was born as her motherdied. He'd never let the mother come back and he never brought the child.Now he's dead. I wonder--I wonder. We've got a claim on that girl,Matilda. We--"

  "And, dear, that is just what I came back in such a hurry to tell youabout--I felt it so--I haven't been able to say it right away. I began bytalking about Mary Caroline and--I--I--"

  "Why, Matilda!" said the major in vague alarm at the tremble in hiswife's voice. He laid his hand over hers on the arm of his chair with awarm clasp.

  "It's just this, Major. You know how happy I have been, we all have been,over the wonderful statue that has been given in memory of the women ofthe Confederacy who stayed at home and fed the children and slaves whilethe men fought. As you advised them, they have decided to put it in thepark just to the left of the Temple of Arts, on the very spot whereGeneral Darrah had his last gun fired and spiked just before he fell andjust as the surrender came. It's strange, isn't it, that nobody knowswho's giving it? Perhaps it was because you and David and I were talkinglast night about what he should say about General Darrah when he madethe presentation of the sketches of the statue out at the opening of theart exhibition in the Temple of Arts to-night, that made me dream aboutMary Caroline all night. It is all so strange." Again Mrs. Buchananpaused with a half sob in her voice.

  "Why, what is it, Matilda?" the major asked as he turned and looked ather anxiously.

  "It's a wonderful thing that has happened, Major. Something, I don't knowwhat, just made me go out to the Temple this morning to see the sketchesof the statue which came yesterday. I felt I couldn't wait until to-nightto see them. Oh, they are so lovely! Just a tall fearless woman with ababy on her breast and a slave woman clinging to her skirts with her ownchild in her arms!

  "As I stood before the case and looked at them the tragedy of all thelong fight came back to me. I caught my breath and turned away--and therestood a girl! I knew her instantly, for I was looking straight into MaryCaroline's own purple eyes. Then I just opened my arms and held herclose, calling Mary Caroline's name over and over. There was no oneel
se in the great room and it was quiet and solemn and still. Then sheput her hand against my face and looked at me and said in the loveliesttenderest voice:

  "'It's my mother's Matilda, isn't it? I have the old daguerreotype!' AndI smiled back and we kissed each other and cried--and then cried somemore."

  "I haven't a doubt of those tears," answered the major in a suspiciouslygruff voice. "But where's the girl? Why didn't you bring her right backwith you? She is ours, Matilda, that purple-eyed girl. When is shecoming? Call Tempie and tell her to have Jane get those two south-wingrooms ready right away. I want Jeff to fill up the decanters with thefifty-six claret, too, and to put--"

  "But wait, Major, I couldn't get her to come home with me! We went outinto the sunshine and for a long drive into the country. We talked andtalked. It is the saddest thing in the world, but she is convinced thather mother's people are not going to like her. She has been taught thatwe are so prejudiced. I think she has found out about the carpetbagging.She is so sensitive! She came because she couldn't help it; she wantedjust to see her mother's country. She's only been here two days. Sheintends to steal away back now, over to Europe, I think. I tried tomake her see--"

  "Matilda," said the major sternly, "go right back and tell thatchild to pack her dimity and come straight here to me. Carpetbagging,indeed!--Mary Caroline's girl with purple eyes! Did old Brown have anypurple eyes, I'd like to know?"

  "I made her promise not to go until tomorrow. I think she would feeldifferently if we could get her to stay a little while. I want her tostay. She is so lonely. My little boy loved Mary Caroline and grieved forher when she went away. I feel I must have this child to comfort fora time at least."

  "Of course she must stay. Did she promise she wouldn't slip away fromyou?"

  "Yes, but I'm uneasy. I think I will go down to her hotel right now. Doyou mind about being alone for lunch? Does Tempie get your coffee right?"

  "She does pretty well considering that she hasn't been tasting it forthirty years. But you go get that child, Matilda. Bring her right backwith you. Don't stop to argue with her, I'll attend to all that later;just bring her home!"

  And as Mrs. Buchanan departed the major rose and stood at the windowuntil he saw her get into her carriage and be driven out of sight.Looking down the vista of the long street, his eyes had a faraway tenderlight, and as he turned and took up his pipe from the table histhoughts slipped back into the province of memory. He settled himselfin his chair before his fire to muse a bit between the whiffs of hisheart-leaf.

  And Mary Caroline Darrah's girl had come home--home to her own, he mused.There was mystery in it, the mystery that sometimes brands the unborn.Brown had never let Mary Caroline come back and the few letters she hadwritten had told them little of the life she led. The constraint hadwrung his wife's yearning heart. Only a letter had come when somehowthe news had reached her of the death of Matilda's boy, and it had beenwild and sweet and athrob with her love of them. And in its pages her ownhopes for the spring were confessed in a passion of desire to give andclaim sympathy. Her baby had been born and she was dead and buried beforethey had heard of it; twenty-three years ago! And Matilda's grief for herown child had been always mingled with love and longing for themotherless, unattainable young thing across the distance. Brown had keptthe girl to himself and had never brought her back--because he _dared_not.

  The major's powerful old hands writhed around the arms of his chair andhis eyes glowed into the embers like live sparks. It was years, nearlythirty years ago--but, God, how the tragedy of it came back! The hotblood beat into his veins and he could feel it and see it all. Wouldthe picture always burn in his brain? Nearly thirty years ago--

  The logs crashed apart in the hearth and with a start the major rose tohis feet, a tear dashed aside under his shaggy old eyebrows. He would goback to his Immortals--and forget. Perhaps Phoebe would come in forlunch. That would make forgetting easier.

  Where had the girl been for the last few days? He smiled as he foundhimself in something of David's dismay at not having seen the busy youngwoman for quite a time.

  And it was perhaps an hour later that, as he sat in the breakfast roompartaking of his lunch in solitary comfort, lost to the world, his wishfor her brought its materialization. He had the morning's paper proppedup before him and an outspread book rested by his plate, while heheld a large volume balanced on his knee, which he paused occasionally toconsult.

  Mrs. Buchanan had telephoned that she would be home with her guest atfive o'clock and his mind was filled with pleasant anticipation. Butthere was never a time with the major, no matter how filled the life wasaround him with the excitement of events, with the echo of joy orwoe, the clash of social strife or the turmoil of vaster interests, whenhe failed to be able to plunge into his books and lose himselfcompletely.

  He was in the act of consuming a remnant of a corn muffin and a draftfrom his paper at the same time, when he heard a merry voice in laughinggreeting to Jeff, and the rose damask curtains that hung between thebreakfast room and the hall parted, and Phoebe stood framed againsttheir heavy folds. She was the freshest, most radiant, tailor-made visionimaginable and the major smiled a large joyful smile at the sight of her.

  "Come in, come in, my dear; you are just in time for a hot muffin and afried chicken wing!" he exclaimed as he rose and drew her to the table.The old volume crashed to the floor unheeded.

  "Oh, no, Major, thank you, I couldn't think of it," exclaimed Phoebe."I'm lunching on a glass of malted milk and a raw egg these days. I losta pound and three-quarters last week and I feel so slim and graceful." Asshe spoke she ran her hands down the charming lines of her tall figureand turned slowly around for him to get the full effect of her loss. Shewas most beautifully set up and the long lines melted into curves wheregracious curves ought to be.

  "Nonsense, nonsense, Phoebe Donelson!" exclaimed the major. "Every poundis an added charm. Sit here beside me." And he drew her into a chair atthe corner of the table.

  In a twinkling of her black eyes Tempie had served her with the goldenmuffins and crisp chicken. With a long sigh of absolute rapture Phoeberesigned herself to the inevitable crash of her resolutions.

  "Ah, I never was so miserable and so happy in all my life before," shesaid. "I'm so hungry--and I'm so stout--and these muffins are wickedlydelicious."

  "Phoebe," said the major sternly, "instead of starving yourself to deathyou need to lie awake at night with lovers' troubles. Why, the summer Icourted Matilda I could have wrapped my belt around me twice. I havenever been portly since. It's loving you need, good, hard, miserableloving. Didn't you ever hear of a 'lean and hungry lover'? Your conductis positively--have another muffin and this little slice of upperjoint--I say positively, unwomanly inhuman. Are there no depths of pityin your breast? Is your bosom of adamant? When did you see David Kildare?He is in a most pitiable condition. He left here not an hour ago and Ifelt--"

  "Don't worry over David, please, Major," said Phoebe as she paused witha bit of buttered muffin suspended on the way to her white teeth. "Heis the most riotously--thank you, Tempie, just one more--happy individualI know. What he wants he has, and he sees to it that he has what hewants--to which add a most glorious leisure in which to want and have."

  "Phoebe, David Kildare has an aching void in his heart that weighsjust one hundred and thirty-six pounds, lacking now I believe one andthree-quarters pounds plus three muffins and a half chicken. How can yoube so heartless?" The major bent a benignly stern glance upon her whichshe returned with the utmost unconcern.

  "He did not see you all of yesterday or the day before and only once onMonday, and then you--"

  "That sounds like one of those rhyming calendars, my dear Major.

  "Monday I am going far away,Tuesday I'll be busy all the day,Wednesday is the day I study French,Thursday is the--"

  and Phoebe hummed the little nonsense jingle to him in a most beguilingmanner.

  The major laughed delightedly. "Phoebe, some day you will be heldresponsible for
David Kildare's--"

  "But, my dear Major," interrupted Phoebe, "how could I be expected towork all day for raiment and food, with malted milk and eggs at the pricethey are now, and then be responsible for such a perfectly irresponsibleperson as David Kildare? Why, just yesterday, while I was writing up theFarrell d?butante tea with the devil waiting at my elbows for copy andthe composing room in a stew, he called me twice over the wire. He knewbetter, but didn't care."

  "Still, my dear, still it's love," said the major as he looked at herthoughtfully and dropped the banter that had been in his voice since shehad come in. "A boy's? Perhaps, but I think not. You'll see! It's a call,a call that must be answered some time, child--and a mystery." For amoment the major sat and looked deep into the gray eyes raised to his inquick responsiveness to the change in his mood. "Don't trifle with love,girl, it's God Almighty's dower to a woman. It's hers; though shepays a bitter price for it. It's a wonder and a worker of wonders. It hasall come home to me to-day and I think you will understand when I tellyou about--"

  "Major," interrupted Tempie with a broad grin on her black face, "Mr.Dave, he done telephoned fer you ter keep Miss Phoebe till he gits here.He says he'll hold you and me 'sponsible, sir."

  A quick flush rose to Phoebe's cheeks and she laughed as she collectedher notebook and pinned down her veil all at the same tune with a view toinstant flight. She gave neither the major nor Tempie time forremonstrance.

  "Good-by!" she called from the hall. "I only came in to tell Mrs. Matildathat I would meet her at the Cantrell tea at five-fifteen and afterwardwe could make that visit together. The muffins were divine!"

  "Tempie," remarked the major as he looked up at her over the devastatedtable with an imperturbable smile, "I have decided positively that womenare just half-breed angels with devil markings all over theirdispositions."

  And having received which admonition with the deepest respect, Tempieimmediately fell into a perfect whirlwind of guest preparations whichinvolved the pompous Jefferson, her husband, and the meek Jane, herdaughter. The major issued her numberless, perfectly impossible butsolicitous orders and then retired to his library chair with his mind atease and his books at hand.

  And it was in the violet flamed dusk as he sat with his immortal friendsranged around that Mrs. Matilda brought the treasure home to him. She wasa very lovely thing, a fragrant flower of a woman with the tender shynessof a child in her manner as she laid her hands in his outheld to her withhis courtly old-world grace.

  "My dear, my dear," he said as he drew her near to him, "here's a welcomethat's been ready for you twenty years, you slip of a girl you, with yourmother's eyes. Did you think you could get away from Matilda and me whenwe've been waiting for you all this time?"

  "I may have thought so, but when I saw her I knew I couldn't; didn't wantto even," she answered him in a low voice that hinted of close-lyingtears.

  "Child, Matilda has had a heart trap ready for you ever since you wereborn, in case she sighted you in the open. It's baited with a silverrattle, doll babies, sugar plums, the ashes of twenty years' roses, thefragrance of every violet she has seen, and lately an aggregation ofevery eligible masculine heart in this part of the country has beenadded. She caught you fair--walk in and help yourself; it's all yours!"