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THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 



THE EMBLEMS OF 
FIDELITY 

A Comedy in Letters 

BY 

JAMES LANE ALLEN 

AUTHOR OF 

"THE KENTUCKY CARDINAL," 
"THE KENTUCKY WARBLER," ETC. 




There is nothing so ill-bred as audible 
laughter. ... I am sure that since I have 
had the full use of my reason nobody has 
ever heard me laugh. 

Lord Chesterfield s Letters to his Son. 



GARDEN CITY NEW YORK 
DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 



LIST OF CHARACTERS 

EDWARD BLACKTHORNE Famous elderly English novelist 

BEVERLEY SANDS Rising young American novelist 

BENJAMIN DOOLITTLE. . . .Practical lawyer, friend of Beverley Sands 
GEORGE MARIGOLD Fashionable physician 

CLAUDE MULLEN Fashionable nerve-specialist, friend of 

George Marigold 

RUFUS KENT Long-winded president of a club 

NOAH CHAMBERLAIN Very learned, very absent-minded professor 

PHILLIPS AND FAULDS Florists 

BURNS AND BRUCE Florists 

JUDD AND JUDD Florists 

ANDY PETERS Florist 

HODGE Stupid gardener of Edward Blackthorne 

TILLY SNOWDEN Dangerous sweetheart of Beverley Sands 

POLLY BOLES Dangerous sweetheart of Benjamin Doolittle, 

friend of Tilly Snowden 

CLARA LOUISE CHAMBERLAIN. . ..Very devoted, very proud sensitive 

daughter of Noah Chamberlain 

ANNE RAEBURN . . .Protective secretary of Edward Blackthorne 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 



EDWARD BLACKTHORNE TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

King Alfred s Wood, 
Warwickshire, England, 
May J, ipio. 

MY DEAR MR. SANDS: 

I have just read to the end of your latest 
novel and under the outdoor influence of that 
Kentucky story have sat here at my windows 
with my eyes on the English landscape of the 
first of May: on as much of the landscape, at 
least, as lies within the grey, ivy-tumbled, 
rose-besprinkled wall of a companionable old 
Warwickshire garden. 

You may or you may not know that I, too, 
am a novelist. The fact, however negligible 
otherwise, may help to disarm you of some 
very natural hostility at the approach of this 
letter from a stranger; for you probably agree 
with me that the writing of novels not, of 
course, the mere odious manufacture of novels 
results in the making of friendly, brotherly 

men across the barriers of nations, and that 

i 



, 4 ....THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

we* -may : often* do as fellow-craftsmen what we 
could do less well or not do at all as fellow- 
creatures. 

I shall not loiter at the threshold of this 
letter to fatigue your ear with particulars re 
garding the several parts of your story most 
enjoyed, though I do pause there long enough 
to say that no admirable human being has 
ever yet succeeded in wearying my own ears 
by any such desirable procedure. In Eng 
land, and I presume in the United States, 
novelists have long noses for incense [poets, 
too, though of course only in their inferior 
way]. I repeat that we English novelists are 
a species of greyhound for running down on 
the most distant horizon any scampering, 
half-terrified rabbit of a compliment. But I 
freely confess that nature loaded me beyond 
the tendency of being a mere greyhound. I 
am a veritable elephant in the matter, being 
marvelously equipped with a huge, flexible 
proboscis which is not only adapted to admit 
praise but is quite capable of actively reach 
ing around in every direction to procure it. 
Even the greyhound cannot run forever; but 
an elephant, if he once possess it, will wave 
such a proboscis till he dies. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 3 

There are likely to be in any very readable 
book a few pages which the reader feels 
tempted to tear out for the contrary reason, 
perhaps, that he cannot tear them out of his 
tenderness. Some haunting picture of the 
book-gallery that he would cut from the frame. 
Should you be displeased by the discrimina 
tion, I shall trust that you may be pleased 
nevertheless by the avowal that there is a 
scene in your novel which has peculiarly en 
snared my affections. 

At this point I think I can see you throw 
down my letter with more insight into human 
nature than patience with its foibles. You 
toss it aside and exclaim: "What does this 
Englishman drive at? Why does he not at 
once say what he \vants?" You are right. 
My letter is perhaps no better than strangers 
letters commonly are: coins, one side of which 
is stamped with your image and the other 
side with their image, especially theirs. 

I might as well, therefore, present to you 
my side of the coin with the selfish image. 
Or, in terms of your blue-grass country life, 
you are the horse in an open pasture and I 
am the stableman who schemes to catch you: 
to do this, I approach, calling to you afFec- 



4 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

tionately and shaking a bundle of oats behind 
which is coiled a halter. You are thinking 
that if I once clutch you by the mane you 
will get no oats. But, my dear sir, you have 
from the very first word of this letter already 
been nibbling the oats. And now you are my 
animal ! 

There is, then, in your novel a remarkable 
description of a noonday woodland scene 
somewhere on your enchanted Kentucky up 
lands a cool, moist forest spot. Into this 
scene you introduced some rare, beautiful 
Kentucky ferns. I can see the ferns! I can 
see the sunlight striking through the waving 
treetops down upon them! Now, as it hap 
pens, in the old garden under my windows, 
loving the shade and moisture of its trees 
and its wall, I have a bank of ferns. They are 
a marvelous company, in their way as good 
as Wordsworth s flock of daffodils; for they 
have been collected out of England s best 
and from other countries. 

Here, then, is literally the root of this letter: 
Will you send me the root-stocks of some of 
those Kentucky ferns to grow and wave on 
my Warwickshire fern bank? 

Do not suppose that my garden is on a 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 5 

small scale a public park or exhibition, made 
as we have created Kensington Gardens. 
Everything in it Js, on the contrary, enriched 
with some personal association. I began it 
when a young man in the following way: 

At that period I was much under the in 
fluence of the Barbizon painters, and I some 
times entertained myself in the forests where 
masters of that school had worked by hunt 
ing up what I supposed were the scenes of 
some of Corot s masterpieces. 

Corot, if my eyes tell me the truth, painted 
trees as though he were looking at enormous 
ferns. His ferns spring out of the soil and 
some rise higher than others as trees; his trees 
descend through the air and are lost lower 
down as ferns. One day I dug up some Corot 
ferns for my good Warwickshire loam. An 
other winter Christine Nilsson was singing at 
Covent Garden. I spent several evenings 
with her. When I bade her good-bye, I asked 
her to send me some ferns from Norway in 
memory of Balzac and Seraphita. Yet an 
other winter, being still a young man and he, 
alas! a much older one, I passed an evening 
in Paris with Turgenieff. I would persist in 
talking about his novels and I remember 



6 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

quoting these lines from one of them: "It 
was a splendid clear morning; tiny mottled 
cloudlets hung like snipe in the clear pale 
azure; a fine dew was sprinkled on the leaves 
and grass and glistened like silver on the 
spiders webs; the moist dark earth seemed 
. still to retain the rosy traces of the dawn ; the 
songs of larks showered down from all over 
the sky." 

He sat looking at me in surprised, touched 
silence. 

"But you left out something!" I suggested, 
with the bumptiousness of a beginner in 
letters. He laughed slightly to himself and 
perhaps more at me as he replied: "I must 
have left out a great deal" he, fiction s 
greatest master of compression. After a mo 
ment he inquired with a kind of vast patient 
condescension: "What is it that you defi 
nitely missed?" "Ferns," I replied. "Ferns 
were growing thereabouts." He smiled remi- 
niscently. " So there were," he replied, smiling 
reminiscently. "If I knew where the spot 
was," I said, "I should travel to it for some 
ferns." A mystical look came into his eyes as 
he muttered rather to himself than for my 
ear: "That spot! Where is that spot? That 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 7 

spot is all Russia!" In his exile, the whole of 
Russia was to him one scene, one fatherland, 
one pain, one passion. Sometime afterwards 
there reached me at home a hamper of Russian 
fern-roots with TurgeniefFs card. 

I tell you all this as 1 make the request, 
which is the body of this letter and, I hope, 
its wings, in order that you may intimately 
understand. I desire the ferns not only be 
cause you have interested me in your Ken 
tucky by making it a living, lovely reality, 
but because I have become interested in your 
art and in you. While I read your book I be 
lieved that I saw the hand of youth joyously 
at work, creating where no hand had created 
before; or if on its chosen scene it found a 
ruin, then joyously trying to re-create reality 
from that ruin. But to create where no hand 
has created before, or to create them again 
where human things lie in decay that to me 
is the true energy of literature. 

I should not omit to tell you that some of 
our most tight - islanded, hard - headed re 
viewers have been praising your work as of 
the best that reaches us from America. It 
was one such reviewer that first guided me to 
your latest book. Now I myself have written 



8 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

to some of our critics and have thrown my 
influence in favour of your fresh, beautiful art, 
which can only come from a fresh, beautiful 
nature. 

Should you decide to bestow any notice 
upon this rather amazing letter, you will bear 
in mind of course that chere will be pounds 
sterling for plants. Whatever character my 
deed or misdeed may later assume, it must 
first and at least have the nature of a trans 
action of the market-place. 

So, turn out as it may, or not turn out at all, 

I am, 

Gratefully yours, 

EDWARD BLACKTHORNE. 



BEVERLEY SANDS TO EDWARD BLACKTHORNE 

Cathedral Heights, New York, 
May 12, IQIO. 

MY DEAR MR. BLACKTHORNE: 

Your letter is as unreal to me as if I had, 
in some modern ^Esop s Fables, read how a 
whale, at ease in the depths of the sea, had 
taken the trouble to turn entirely round to 
encourage a puffing young porpoise; or of 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 9 

how a black oak, majestic dome of a forest, 
had on some fine spring day looked down and 
complimented a small dogwood tree upon its 
size and the purity of its blossoms. And yet, 
while thus unreal, your letter is in its way the 
most encouragingly real thing that has ever 
come into my life. Before I go further I 
should like to say that I have read every book 
you have written and have bought your books 
and given them away with such zeal and zest 
that your American publishers should feel 
more interest in me than can possibly be felt 
by the gentlemen who publish mine. 

It is too late to tell you this now. Too late, 
in bad taste. A man s praise of another may 
not follow upon that man s praise of him. 
Our virtues have their hour. If they do not 
act then, they are not like clocks which may 
be set forward but resemble fruits which lose 
their flavour when they pass into ripeness. 
Still, what I have said is honest. You may 
remember that I am yet moving amid life s 
uncertainties as a beginner, while you walk 
in quietness the world s highway of a great 
career. My praise could have borne little to 
you; yours brings everything to me. And 
you must reflect also that it is just a little 



io THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

easier for any Englishman to write to an 
American in this way. The American could 
but fear that his letter might seriously disturb 
the repose of a gentleman who was reclining 
with his head in Shakespeare s bosom; and 
Shakespeare s entire bosom in this regard, as 
you know, Mr. Blackthorne, does stay in 
England. 

It will give me genuine pleasure to arrange 
for the shipment of the ferns. A good many- 
years have passed since I lived in Kentucky 
and I am no longer in close touch with people 
and things down there. But without doubt 
the matter can be managed through cor 
respondence and all that I await from you 
now is express instructions. The ferns de 
scribed in my book are not known to me by 
name. I have procured and have mailed to 
you along with this, lest you may not have 
any, some illustrated catalogues of American 
ferns, Kentucky ferns included. You have 
but to send me a list of those you want. With 
that in hand I shall know exactly how to 
proceed. 

You cannot possibly understand how happy 
I am that my work has the approval of the 
English reviews, which still remain the best 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY n 

in the world. To know that my Kentucky 
stones are liked in England England which, 
remaining true to so many great traditions, 
holds fast to the classic tradition in her 
literature. 

The putting forth of your own personal in 
fluence in my behalf is a source of joy and 
pride; and your wish to have Kentucky ferns 
growing in your garden in token of me is the 
most inspiring event yet to mark my life. 

I am, 

Sincerely yours, 

BEVERLEY SANDS. 



EDWARD BLACKTHORNE TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

King Alfred s Wood, 
Warwickshire, England, 
May 22, 1910. 

MY DEAR SANDS: 

Your letter was brought out to me as I was 
hanging an old gate in a clover-field canopied 
with skylarks. When I cannot make headway 
against some obstruction in the development 
of a story, for instance, putting the hinges of 
the narrative where the reader will not see 



12 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

any hinges, I let the book alone and go out 
and do some piece of work, surrounded by 
the creatures which succeed in all they under 
take through zest and joy. By the time I get 
back, the hinges of the book have usually 
hung themselves without my knowing when 
or how. Hence the paradox: we achieve the 
impossible by doing the possible; we climb 
our mountain of troubles by walking away 
from it. 

It is splendid news that I am to get the 
Kentucky ferns. Thank you for the cata 
logues. A list of those I most covet is en 
closed. The cost, shipping expenses included, 
will not, I fear, exceed five pounds. Of course 
it would be a pleasure to pay fifty guineas, but 
I suppose I must restrict myself to the despic 
able market price. Shamefully cheap many 
of the dearest things in this world are; and 
what exorbitant prices we pay for the worth 
less! 

A draft will be forwarded in advance upon 
receipt of the American shipper s address. 
Or I could send it forthwith to you. Mean 
time from now on I shall be remembering 
with impatience how many miles it is across 
the Atlantic Ocean and at what a snail s pace 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 13 

American ferns travel. These will be awaited 
like guests whom one goes to the gate to meet. 

You do not know the names of those you 
describe so wonderfully! I am glad. I abhor 
the names of my own. Of course, as they are 
bought, memoranda must be depended upon 
by which to buy them. These data, verified 
by catalogue, are inked on little wooden slabs 
as fern headstones. When each fern is planted, 
into the soil beside it is stuck its headstone, 
which, like that for a human being, tells the 
name, not the nature, of what it memorialises. 

Hodge is the fellow who knows the ferns 
according to the slabs. It is time you should 
know Hodge by his slab. No such being can 
yet be found in the United States: your civi 
lisation is too young. Hodge is my British- 
Empire gardener; and as he now looks out 
for every birthday much as for any total 
solar eclipse of the year with a kind of grow 
ing solicitude lest the sun or the birthday 
should finally, as it passes, bowl him over for 
good he announced to me with visible relief 
the other day that he had successfully passed 
another total natal eclipse; that he was 
fifty-eight. But Hodge is not fifty-eight years 
old. The battle of Hastings was fought in 



14 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

1066 and Hodge without knowing it was be 
ginning to be a well-grown lout then. For 
Hodge is English landscape gardening in 
human shape. He is the benevolent spirit of 
the English turf, a malign spirit to English 
weeds. He is wall ivy, a root, a bulb, a rake, 
a wheelbarrow of spring manure, a pile of 
autumn leaves, a crocus. In a distant future 
mythology of our English rural life he will 
perhaps rank where he belongs as a lumi 
nary next in importance to the sun: a two- 
legged god be-earthed in old clothes, with a 
stiff back, a stiff temper, the jaw of the mas 
tiff and the eye of a prophet. 

It is Hodge who does the slabs. He would 
not allow anything to come into the garden 
without mastering that thing. For the sake 
of his own authority he must subdue as much 
of the Latin language as invades his territory 
along with the ferns. But I think nothing 
comparable to such a struggle against over 
whelming odds Hodge s brain pitted against 
the Latin names of the ferns nothing com 
parable to the dull fury of that onset is to be 
found in the history of man unless it be Eng 
land s war on Napoleon for twenty years. 
England did conquer Napoleon and finally 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 15 

shut him up in a desolate, rocky place; and 
Hodge has finally conquered the names of 
the ferns and shut them up in a desolate, 
rocky place his skull, his personal prom 
ontory. 

Nowadays you should see him meet me in 
a garden path when I come down early some 
morning. You should see him plant himself 
before me and, taking off his cap and scratch 
ing the back of his neck with the back of his 
muddy thumb, make this announcement: 
"The Asplenium filix-fcemina put up two new 
shoots last night, sir. Bishop s crooks, I be 
lieve you calls em, sir." As though I were a 
farmer and my shepherd should notify me 
that one of the ewes had dropped twin lambs 
at three A. M. Hodge s tone implies more yet: 
the honour of the shoots a questionable 
honour goes to Hodge as their botanical sire! 

When I receive visitors by reason of my 
books and strangers do sometimes make 
pilgrimages to me on account of my grove of 
"Black Oaks" if the day is pleasant, we 
have tea in the garden. While the strangers 
drink tea, I begin to wave the well-known 
proboscis over the company for any praise 
they may have brought along. Should this 



16 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

seem adequate, I later reward them with a 
stroll. That is Hodge s hour and opportunity. 
Unexpectedly, as it would appear, but in 
variably, he steps out from some bush and 
takes his place behind me as we move. 

When we reach the fern bank, the visitors 
regularly begin to inquire: "What is the 
name of this fern?" I turn helplessly to 
Hodge much as a drum-major, if asked by a 
by-stander what the music was that the band 
had just been playing, might wheel in dismay 
to the nearest horn. Hodge steps forward: 
now comes the reward of all his toil. "That 
is the Polydactulum cruciato-cristatum, sir." 
"And what is this one?" "That is the Poly- 
podium elegantissimum, mum." Then you 
would understand what it sometimes means 
to attain scholarship without Oxford or Cam 
bridge; what upon occasion it is to be a Roman 
orator and a garden ass. 

You will be wondering why I am telling 
you this about Hodge. For the very particu 
lar reason that Hodge will play a part, I know 
not what part, in the pleasant business that 
has come up between us. He looms as the 
danger between me and the American ferns 
after the ferns shall have arrived here. It is 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 17 

a fact that very few foreign ferns have ever 
done well in my garden, watch over them as 
closely as I may: especially those planted in 
more recent years. Could you believe it pos 
sible of human nature to refuse to water a 
fern, to deny a little earth to the root of a 
fern? Actually to scrape the soil away from 
it when there was nobody near to observe the 
deed, to jab at it with a sharp trowel? I shall 
not press the matter further, for I instinctively 
turn away from it. Perhaps each of us has 
within himself some incomprehensible little 
terrible spot and I feel that this is Hodge s 
spot. It is murder; Hodge is an assassin: he 
will kill what he hates, if he dares. I have 
been so aroused to defend his faithful char 
acter that I have devised two pleadings: 
first, Hodge is the essence of British parlia 
ments, the sum total of British institutions; 
therefore he patriotically believes that things 
British should be good enough for the British 
of course, their own ferns. At other times 
I am rather inclined to surmise that his 
malice and murderous resentment are due to 
his inability to take on any more Latin, least 
of all imported Latin. Hodge without doubt 
now defends himself against any more Latin 



1 8 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

as a man with his back to the wall fights for 
his life: the personal promontory will hold no 
more. 

You have written me an irresistible letter, 
though frankly I made no effort to resist it. 
Your praise of my books instantly endeared 
you to me. 

Since a first plunge into ferns, then, has 
already brought results so agreeable and sur 
prising, I am resolved to be bolder and to 
plunge a second time and more deeply. 

Is there how could there help being! a 
Mrs. Beverley Sands? Mrs. Blackthorne 
wishes to know. I read your letter to Mrs. 
Blackthorne. Mrs. Blackthorne was charmed 
with it. Mrs. Blackthorne is charmed with 
you. Mr. Blackthorne is charmed with you. 
And Mr. and Mrs. Blackthorne would like to 
know whether there is a Mrs. Beverley Sands 
and, if so, whether she and you will not some 
time follow the ferns and come and take 
possession for a while of our English garden. 

You and I can go off to ourselves and dis 
cuss our "dogwoods" and "black oaks"; 
and Mrs. Sands and Mrs. Blackthorne, at 
their tea across the garden, can exchange 
copies of their highly illuminated and pri- 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 19 

vately circulated little masterpieces about 
their husbands. (The husbands should always 
edit the masterpieces!) 

Both of you, will you come ? 

Finally, as to your generous propaganda 
in behalf of my books and as to the favourable 
reports which my publishers send me from 
time to time in the guise of New World 
royalties, you may think of the proboscis as 
now being leveled straight and rigid like a 
gun-barrel toward the shores of the United 
States, whence blow gales scented with so 
glorious a fragrance. I begin to feel that 
Columbus was not mistaken: America is 
turning out to be a place worth while. 
Your deeply interested, 

EDWARD BLACKTHORNE. 



BEVERLEY SANDS TO TILLY SNOWDEN 

June j. 
DEAR TILLY: 

Crown me with some kind of chaplet 
nothing classic, nothing sentimental, but some 
thing American and practical say with twigs 
of Kentucky sassafras or, better, with the 



20 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

leaves of that forest favourite which in boy 
hood so fascinated me and lubricated me with 
its inner bark entwine me, O Tilly, with a 
garland of slippery elm for the virtue of 
always making haste to share with you my 
slippery pleasures! I write at full speed now 
to empty into your lap, a wonderfully recep 
tive lap, tidings of the fittest joy that has 
ever come to me as your favourite author 
and favourite young husband to be. 

The great English novelist Blackthorne, 
many of whose books we have read together 
(whenever you listened), recently stumbled 
over one of my obstructive tales; one of my 
awkwardly placed literary hurdles on the 
world s race-course of readers. As a result of 
his fall he got up, dusted himself thoroughly 
of his surprise, and actually despatched to me 
an acknowledgment of his thanks for the 
happy accident. I replied with a volley of 
my own thanks, with salvos of praise for him. 
Now he has written again, throwing wide 
open his house and his heart, both of which 
appear to be large and admirably suited to 
entertain suitable guests. 

At this crisis place your careful hands over 
your careful heart can you find where it is? 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 21 

and draw u a deep, quivering breath," the 
novelist s conventional breath for the excited 
heroine. Mr. Blackthorne wishes to know 
whether there is a Mrs. Beverley Sands. If 
there is, and he feels sure there must be, far- 
sighted man! he invites her, invites us, Mrs. 
Blackthorne invites us, should we sometime 
be in England, to visit them at their beautiful, 
far-famed country-house in Warwickshire. 
If, then, our often postponed marriage, our 
despairingly postponed marriage, should be 
arranged to madden me and gladden the rest 
of mankind before next summer, we could, 
with our arms around one another s necks, be 
conveyed by steam and electricity on our 
wedding journey to the Blackthorne entrance 
and be there deposited, still oblivious of every 
thing but ourselves. 

Think what it would mean to you to be 
launched upon the rosy sea of English social 
life amid the orisons and benisons of such 
illustrious literary personages. Think of those 
lovely English lawns, raked and rolled for 
centuries, and of many-coloured/?/^ on them; 
of the national tea and the national sand 
wiches; of national strawberries and clotted 
cream and clotted crumpets; of Thackeray s 



22 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

flunkies still flunkying and Queen Anne s 
fads yet f adding; of week-ends without end 
as Mrs. Beverley Sands. Behold yourself 
growing more and more a celebrity, as the 
English mutton-chop or sirloined reviewers 
gradually brought into public appreciation 
the vague potentialities, not necessarily the 
bare actualities, of modest young Sands him 
self. Eventually, no doubt, there would be a 
day for you at Sandringham with the royal 
ladies. They would drive you over I have 
not the least idea how great the distance is 
to drink tea at Stonehenge. Imagine your 
self, it having naturally turned into a rainy 
English afternoon, imagine yourself seated 
under a heavy black-silk English umbrella on 
a bare cromlech, the oldest throne in England, 
tearing at an Anglo-Saxon muffin of purest 
strain and surrounded by male and female 
admirers, all under heavy black-silk umbrellas 
Spitalsfield, I suppose as Mrs. Beverley 
Sands. 

Remember, madam, or miss, that this for 
eign triumph, this career of glory, comes 
to you strictly from me. To you, of your 
self, it is inaccessible. Look upon it as in 
part the property that I am to settle upon 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 23 

you at the time of our union my honours. 
You have already understood from me that 
my entire estate, both my real estate and my 
unreal estate, consists of future honours. 
Those I have just described are an early pay 
ment on the marriage contract foreign ex- 
change! 

What reply, then, in your behalf am I to 
send to the lofty and benevolent Black- 
thornes? As matters halt between us he 
also loves who only writes and waits I can 
merely inform Mr. Blackthorne that there is 
a Mrs. Beverlev Sand?, but that she persists 
in remaining a Miss Snowden. With this 
realisation of what you will lose as Miss 
Snowden and will gain as Mrs. Sands, do you 
not think it wise and wise you are, Till} 
any longer to persist in your persistence? 
You once, in a moment of weakness, conf c 



to me think of your having a moment of 
weakness! you once confessed to me, though 
you may deny it now (Balzac defines woman 
as the angel or devil who denies every thing 
when it suits her), you once confessed to me 
that you feared your life would be taken up 
with two protracted pleasures, each of which 
curtailed the other: the pleasure of being en- 



24 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

gaged to me a long time and the pleasure of 
being married to me a long time. Nerve 
yourself to shortening the first in order to 
enter upon the compensations of the second. 

Yet remorse racks me even at the prospect 
of obliterating from the world one whom I 
first knew and loved in it as Tilly Snowden. 
Where will Tilly Snowden be when only Mrs. 
Beverley Sands is left? Where will be that 
wild rose in a snow bank the rose which was 
truly wild, the snow bank which was not cold 
(or was it?)? I think I should easily become 
reconciled to your being known, say, as 
Madame Snowden, so that you might still 
stand out in your own right and wild-rose in 
dividuality. We could visit England as the 
rising American author, Beverley Sands, and 
his lovely risen wife, Madame Snowden. 
Everybody would then be asking who the 
mysterious Madame Snowden was, and I 
should relate that she was a retired opera 
singer having retired before she advanced. 

By the way, you confided to me some time 
ago that you were not very well. You always 
look well, mighty well to me, Tilly. Perfect 
ly well to me. Can your indisposition be 
imaginary? Or is it merely fashionable? 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 25 

Or is it something else? What of late has 
sickened me is an idea of yours that you 
might sometime consult Doctor G. M. Tilly! 
Tilly! If you knew the pains that rack me 
when I think of that charlatan s door being 
closed behind you as a patient of his! 

Tell me it isn t true, and answer about the 
beautiful Blackthornes! 

Your easy and your uneasy 

BEVERLEY. 



TILLY SNOWDEN TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

"Slippery Elm" Apartments, 
June 4. 

I am perfectly willing, Beverley, to crown 
you with slippery elm you seem to think I 
keep it on hand, dwell in a bower of it if it 
is the leaf you sigh for. But please do not 
try to crown me with a wig of your creative 
hair; that is, with your literary honours. 

How wonderfully the impressions of child 
hood disappear from memory like breaths on 
a warm mirror, but long afterwards return to 
their shapes if the glass be coldly breathed 
upon! As I read your letter, at least as I read 



26 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

the very chilly Blackthorne parts of your 
letter, I remembered, probably for the first 
time in years, a friend of my mother s. 

She had been inveigled to become the wife, 
that is, the legally installed life-assistant, of 
an exceedingly popular minister; and when I 
was a little girl, but not too little to under 
stand was I ever too little to understand ? 
she used to slip across the street to our house 
and in confidence to my mother pour out her 
sense of humour at the part assigned her by 
the hired wedding march and evangelical 
housekeeping. I recall one of those half- 
whispered, always half-whispered, confidences 
for how often in life one feels guilty when 
telling the truth and innocent when lying! 

On this particular morning she and my 
mother laughed till they were weary, while I 
danced round them with delight at the idea 
of having even the tip of my small but very ac 
tive finger in any pie that savoured of mischief. 
She had been telling my mother that if, some 
Sunday, her husband accidentally preached a 
sermon which brought people into the church, 
she felt sure of soon receiving a turkey. If he 
made a rousing plea for foreign missions, she 
might possibly look out for a pair of ducks. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 27 

Her destiny, as she viewed it, was to be 
merely a strip of worthless territory lying 
alongside the land of Canaan; people simply 
walked over her, tramped across her, on their 
way to Canaan, carrying all sorts of bountiful 
things to Canaan, her husband. 

That childish nonsense comes back to me 
strangely, and yet not strangely as I think of 
your funny letter, your very, very funny 
letter, about the Blackthornes invitation to 
me because I am not myself but am possibly 
a Mrs. well, some Mrs. Sands. The English 
scenes you describe I see but too vividly: it 
is Canaan and his strip all over again there 
on the English lawns; a great many heavy 
English people are tramping heavily over me 
on their way to Canaan. The fabulous tea at 
Sandringham would be Canaan s cup, and at 
Stonehenge it would be Canaan s muffin that 
at last choked to death the ill-fated Tilly 
Snowden. 

In order to escape such a fate, Tilly Snow- 
den, then, begs that you will thank the Black- 
thornes, Mr. and Mrs., as best you can for 
their invitation; as best she can she thanks 
you ; but for the present, and for how much of 
the future she does not know, she prefers to 



28 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

remain what is very necessary to her inde 
pendence and therefore to her happiness; and 
also what is quite pleasing to her ear the 
wild rose in the snow bank (cold or not cold, 
according to the sun). 

In other words, my dear Beverley, it is true 
that I have more than once postponed the 
date of our marriage. I have never said why; 
perhaps I myself have never known just why. 
But at least do not expect me to shorten the 
engagement in order that I may secure some 
share of your literary honours. As a little 
girl I always despised queens who were 
crowned with their husbands. It seemed to 
me that the queen was crowned with what 
was left over and was merely allowed to sit 
on the corner of the throne as the poor con 
nection. 

P. S. Still, I would like to go to England. 
I mean, of course, I wish we could go on our 
wedding journey! If I got ready, could I 
rely upon you? I have always wished to visit 
England without being debarred from its 
social life. Seriously, the invitation of the 
Blackthornes looks to me like an opportunity 
and an advantage not to be thrown away. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 29 

Wisdom never wastes, and you say I am 
wise! 

It is true that I have not been feeling very 
well. And it is true that I have consulted 
Dr. Marigold and am now a patient of his. 
That dreaded door has closed behind me! I 
have been alone with him! The diagnosis at 
least was delightful. He made it appear like 
opening a golden door upon a charming land 
scape. I had but to step outdoors and look 
around with a pleasant smile and say: "Why, 
Health, my former friend, how do you do! 
Why did you go back on me?" He tells me 
my trouble is a mild form of auto-intoxica 
tion. I said to him that must be the disease; 
namely, that it was mild. Never in my life 
had I had anything that was mild! Disease 
from my birth up had attacked me only in its 
most virulent form: so had health. I had 
always enjoyed and suffered from virulent 
health. I am going to take the Bulgar bacillus. 

Why do you dislike Dr. Marigold? Popular 
physicians are naturally hated by unpopular 
physicians. But how does he run against or 
run over you? 

Which of your books was it the conde 
scending Englishman liked? Suppose you 



30 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

send me a copy. Why not send me a copy of 
each of your books? Those you gave me as 
they came out seem to have disappeared. 

The wild rose is now going to pour down 
her graceful stalk a tubeful of the Balkan 
bacillus. 

More trouble with the Balkans ! 

TILLY 

(auto-intoxicated, not otherwise in 
toxicated! Thank Heaven at least 
for that!). 



BEVERLEY SANDS TO BEN DOOLITTLE 

June 5- 
DEAR BEN: 

A bolt of divine lightning has struck me 
out of the smiling blue, a benign fulmination 
from an Olympian. 

To descend the long slope of Olympus to 
you. A few days ago I received a letter from 
the great English novelist, Edward Black- 
thorne, in praise of my work. The great 
Edward reads my books and the great Ben 
Doolittle doesn t score heavily for the afore 
said illustrious Eddy. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 31 

Of course I have for years known that you 
do not cast your legal or illegal eyes on fiction, 
though not long ago I heard you admit that 
you had read "Ten Thousand a Year." On 
the ground, that it is a lawyer s novel : which is 
no ground at all, a mere mental bog. My 
own opinion of why you read it is that you 
were in search of information how to make 
the ten thousand! As a literary performance 
your reading "Ten Thousand a Year" may 
be likened to the movement of a land-turtle 
which has crossed to the opposite side of his 
dusty road to bite off a new kind of weed, 
waddling along his slow way under the im 
penetrable roof of his own back. 

For, my dear Ben, whom I love and trust 
as I love and trust no other human being in 
this world, do you know what I think of you 
as most truly being? The very finest possible 
specimen of the highest order of human land- 
turtle. A land-turtle is a creature that lives 
under a shovel turned upside down over it, 
called its back; and a human land-turtle is a 
fellow who thrives under the roof of the five 
senses and the practical. Never does a turtle 
get from under his carapace, and never does 
the man-turtle get beyond the shovel of his 



32 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

five senses. Of course you realise that not 
during our friendship have I paid you so ex 
travagant a compliment. For the human race 
has to be largely made up of millions of land- 
turtles. They cause the world to go slowly, 
and it is the admirable stability of their lives 
neither to soar nor to sink. You are a land- 
turtle, Benjamin Doolittle, Esquire; you live 
under the shell of the practical; that is, you 
have no imagination; that is, you do not read 
fiction; that is, you do not read Me! There 
fore I harbour no grievance against you, but 
cherish all the confidence and love in the 
world for you. But, mind you, only as an 
unparalleled creeping thing. 

To get on with the business of this letter: 
the English novelist laid aside his enthusiasm 
for my work long enough to make a request: 
he asked me to send him some Kentucky 
ferns for his garden. Owing to my long ab 
sence from Kentucky I am no longer in touch 
with people and things down there. But you 
left that better land only a few years ago. I 
recollect that of old you manifested a weak 
ness for sending flowers to womankind 
another evidence, by the way, of lack of 
imagination. Such conduct shows a mere 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 33 

botanical estimate of the grand passion. The 
only true lovers, the only real lovers, that 
women ever have are men of imagination. 
Why should these men send a common 
florist s flowers! They grow and offer their 
own the roses of Elysium! 

To pass on, you must still have clinging to 
your memory, like bats to a darkened, disused 
wall, the addresses of various Louisville flor 
ists who, by daylight or candlelight and no 
light at all, were the former emissaries of your 
folly and your fickleness. Will you send me 
at once the address of a firm in whose hands 
I could safely entrust this very high-minded 
international piece of business? 

Inasmuch as you are now a New York 
lawyer and inasmuch as New York lawyers 
charge for everything concentration of mind, 
if they have any mind, tax on memory and 
tax on income, their powers of locomotion and 
of prevarication, club dues and death dues, 
time and tumult, strikes and strokes, and all 
other items of haste and waste, you are 
authorised to regard this letter a professional 
demand and to let me have a reasonable bill 
at a not too early date. Charge for whatever 
you will, but, I charge you, charge me not for 



34 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

your friendship. " Naught that makes life 
most worth while can be had for gold." 
(Rather elegant extract from one of my 
novels which you disdain to read !) 

I shall be greatly obliged if you will let me 
have an immediate reply. 

BEVERLEY. 

How is the fair Polly Boles ? Still pretend 
ing to quarrel? And do you still keep up the 
pretence ? 

Predestined magpies! 



BEN DOOLITTLE TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

150 Broad Street, 
June 5. 
DEAR BEVERLEY: 

Your highly complimentary and philo 
sophical missive is before my eyes. 

You understand French, not I. But I have 
accumulated a few quotations which I some 
times venture to use in writing, never in 
my proud oral delivery. If I pronounced to 
the French the French with which I am 
familiar, the French themselves would drive 
their own vernacular out of their land over 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 35 

into Germany! Here is one of those fond in 
audible phrases: 

A chaque oiseau 
Son nid est beau. 

That is to say, in Greek, every Diogenes 
prefers his own tub. 

The lines are a trophy captured at a college- 
club dinner the other night. One of the 
speakers launched the linguistic marvel on the 
blue cloud of smoke and it went bumping 
around the heads of the guests without find 
ing any head to enter, like a cork bobbing 
about the edges of a pond, trying in vain to 
strike a place to land. But everybody 
cheered uproariously, made happy by the 
discovery that someone actually could say 
something at a New York dinner that nobody 
had heard before. One man next to the 
speaker (of course coached beforehand) passed 
a translation to his elbow neighbour. It made 
its way down the table to me at the other end 
and I, in the New York way, laid it up for 
future use at a dinner in some other city. 
Meantime I use it now on you. 

It is true that I arrived in New York from 
Kentucky some years ago. It is likewise un- 



36 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

deniable that for some years previous thereto 
I had dealings with Louisville florists. But I 
affirm now, and all these variegated gentle 
men, if they are gentlemen, would gladly 
come on to New York as my witnesses and 
bear me out in the joyful affidavit, that what 
ever folly or recklessness or madness marked 
my behaviour, never once did I commit the 
futility, the imbecility, of trafficking in ferns. 

A great English novelist ferns! A rising 
young American novelist ferns! Frogstools, 
mushrooms, fungi! Man alive, why don t you 
ship him a dray-load of Kentucky spiderwebs? 
Or if they should be too gross for his delicate 
soul, a birdcage containing a pair of warbling 
young bluegrass moonbeams? 

I am a land-turtle, am I ? If it be so, thank 
God! If I have no imagination, thank God! 
If I live and move and have my being under 
the shovel of the five senses and of the prac 
tical, thank God ! But, my good fellow, whom 
I love and trust as I love and trust no other 
man, if I am a turtle, do you know what I 
think of you as most truly being? 

A poor, harmless tinker. 

You, with your pastime of fabricating 
novels, dwell in a little workshop of the 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 37 

imagination; you tinker with what you are 
pleased to call human lives, reality, truth. 
On your shop door should hang a sign to 
catch the eye: "Tinkering done here. Noble, 
splendid tinkering. No matter who you are, 
what your past career or present extremity, 
come in and let the owner of this shop make 
your acquaintance and he will work you over 
into something finer than you have ever been 
or in this world will ever be. For he will make 
you into an unfallen original or into a per 
fected final. If you have never had a chance 
to do your best in life, he will give you that 
chance in a story. All unfortunates, all the 
broken-down, especially welcome. Everybody 
made over to be as everybody should be by 
Beverley Sands." 

But, brother, the sole thing with which you, 
the tinker, do business is the sole thing with 
which I, the turtle, do not do business. I, as 
a lawyer, cannot tamper with human life, 
actuality, truth. During the years that I 
have been an attorney never have I had a 
case in court without first of all things looking 
for the element of imagination in it and trying 
to stamp that element out of the case and kick 
it out of the courtroom : that lurking scoundrel, 



38 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

that indefatigable mischief-maker, your beau 
tiful and beloved patron power imagination. 

Going on to testify out of my experience as 
a land-turtle, I depose the following, having 
kissed the Bible, to wit: that during the 
turtle s travels he sooner or later crosses the 
tracks of most of the other animal creatures 
and gets to know them and their ways. But 
there is one path of one creature marked for 
unique renown among nose-bearing men: 
that of a graceful, agile, little black-and-white 
piece of soft-furred nocturnal innocence sur- 
named the polecat. 

Now the imagination, as long as it is favour 
ably disposed, may in your profession be the 
harmless bird of paradise or whatever winged 
thing you will that soars innocently toward 
bright skies; but, once unkindly disposed, it 
is in my profession, and in every other, the 
polecat of the human faculties. When it has 
testified against you, it vanishes from the 
scene, but the whole atmosphere reeks with 
its testimony. 

Hence it is that I go gunning first for this 
same little animal whose common den is the 
lawsuit. His abode is everywhere, though 
you never seem to have encountered him in 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 39 

your work and walks. If you should do so, if 
you should ever run into the polecat of a hostile 
imagination, oh, then, my dear fellow, may 
the land-turtle be able to crawl to you and 
stand by you in that hour! 

But the tinker to his work, the turtle to 
his ! A chaque oiseau! Diogenes, your tub ! 

As to the fern business, I ll inquire of Polly. 
I paid for the flowers, she got them. Anybody 
can receive money for blossoms, but only a 
statesman and a Christian, I suppose, can 
fill an order for flowers with equity and fresh 
buds. Go ahead and try Phillips & Faulds. 
You could reasonably rely upon them to fill 
any order that you might place in their hands, 
however nonsensical - comical, billy - goatian- 
satirical it may be. They d send your Eng 
lishman an opossum with a pouch full of 
blooming hyacinths if that would quiet his 
longing and make him happy. I should think 
it might. 

We are, sir, your obliged counsel and turtle, 
BENJAMIN DOOLITTLE. 

How is the fair Tilly Snowden ? Still cooing ? 
Are you still cooing? 
Uncertain doves! 



40 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

BEN DOOLITTLE TO POLLY BOLES 

750 Broad Street, 
June 5, 
DEAR POLLY: 

I send you some red roses to go with your 
black hair and your black eyes, never so 
black as when black with temper. When 
may I come to see you? Why not to-morrow 
night? 

Another matter, not so vital but still im 
portant: a few years before we left Louisville 
to seek our fortunes (and misfortunes) in New 
York, I at different times employed divers 
common carriers known as florists to convey 
to you inflammatory symbols of those emo 
tions that could not be depicted in writing 
fluid. In other words, I hired those merce 
naries to impress my infatuation upon you in 
terms of their costliest, most sensational mer 
chandise. You should be prepared to say 
which of these florists struck you as the best 
business agent. 

Would you send me the address of that man 
or of that firm? Immediately you will want 
to know why. Always suspicious! Let the 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 41 

suspicions be quieted; it is not I, it is Beverley. 
Some foggy-headed Englishman has besought 
him to ship him (the foggy one) some Ken 
tucky vegetation all the way across the 
broad Atlantic to his wet domain inter 
locking literary idiots! Beverley appeals to 
me, I to you, the highest court in every 
thing. 

Are you still enjoying the umbrageous so 
ciety of that giraffe-headed jackass, Doctor 
Claude Mullen? Can you still tolerate his 
unimpassioned propinquity and futile gyra 
tions? He a nerve specialist! The only nerve 
in his practice is his nerve. Doesn t my 
love satisfy you? Isn t there enough of it? 
Isn t it the right kind? Will it ever give 
out? 

Your reply, then, will cover four points: 
to thank me for the red roses; to say when I 
may come to see you; to send me the address 
of the Louisville florist who became most 
favourably known to you through a reckless 
devotion; and to explain your patience with 
that unhappy fool. 

Thy sworn and thy swain, 

BEN DOOLITTLE. 



42 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

POLLY BOLES TO BEN DOOLITTLE 

The Franklin Flats, 
June 6. 
MY DEAR BEN: 

Your writing to me for the name of a Louis 
ville florist is one of your flimsiest subterfuges. 
What you wished to receive from me was a 
letter of reassurance. You were disagreeable 
on your last visit and you have since been 
concerned as to how I felt about it afterwards. 
Now you try to conciliate me by invoking my 
aid as indispensable. That is like you men! 
If one of you can but make a woman forget, 
if he can but lead her to forgive him, by flat 
tering her with the idea that she is indis 
pensable! And that is like woman! I see her 
figure standing on the long road of time: 
dumbly, patiently standing there, waiting for 
some male to pass along and permit her to 
accompany him as his indispensable fellow- 
traveller. I am now to be put in a good 
humour by being honoured with your request 
that I supply you with the name of a florist. 

Well, you poor, uninformed Ben, I ll supply 
you. All the Louisville florists, as I thought 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 43 

at the time, carried out their instructions 
faithfully; that is, from each I occasionally 
received flowers not fresh. Did it occur to 
me to blame the florists? Never! I did what 
a woman always does: she thinks less of 
well, she doesn t think less of the florist! 

Be this as it may, Beverley might try 
Phillips & Faulds for whatever he is to export. 
As nearly as I now remember they sent the 
biggest boxes of whatever you ordered ! 

I have an appointment for to-morrow night, 
but I think I can arrange to divide the even 
ing, giving you the later half. It shall be for 
you to say whether the best half was yours. 
That will depend upon you. 

I still enjoy the "umbrageous society" of 
Dr. Claude Mullen because he loves me and 
I do not love him. The fascination of his 
presence lies in my indifference. Perhaps 
women are so seldom safe with the men who 
love them, that any one of us feels herself 
entitled to make the most of a rare chance! 
I am not only safe, I am entertained. As I 
go down into the parlour, I almost feel that 
I ought to buy a ticket to a performance in 
my own private theatre. 

Ben, dear, are you going to commit the 



44 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

folly of being jealous ? If I had to marry him, 
do you know what my first wifely present 
would be? A liberal transfusion of my own 
blood! As soon as I enter the room, what 
fascinates me are his lower eyelids, which 
hold little cupfuls of sentimental fluid. I am 
always expecting the little pools to run over: 
then there would be tears. The night he goes 
for good perhaps they will be tears that 
night. 

If you ask me how can I, if I feel thus about 
him, still encourage his visits, I have simply 
to say that I don t know. When it comes to 
what a woman will "receive" in such cases, 
the ground she walks on is very uncertain to 
her own feet. It may be that the one thing 
she forever craves and forever fears not to 
get is absolute certainty, certainty that some 
day love for her will not be over, everything be 
not ended she knows not why. Dr. Mullen s 
love is pitiful, and as long as a man s love is 
pitiful at least a woman can be sure of it. 
Therefore he is irresistible as my guest! 

The roses are glorious. I bury my face in 
them down to the thorns. And then I come 
over and sign my name as the indispensable 

POLLY BOLES. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 45 

POLLY BOLES TO TILLY SNOWDEN 

June 6. 
DEAR TILLY: 

I have had a note from Beverley, asking 
whether he could come this evening. I have 
written that I have an appointment, but I did 
not enlighten him as to the appointment being 
with you. Why not let him suffer awhile? I 
will explain afterwards. I told him that I 
could perhaps arrange to divide the evening; 
would you mind? And would you mind com 
ing early? I will do as much for you some 
time, and / suspect I couldn t do more! 

P. S. Rather than come for the first half 
of the evening perhaps you would prefer to 
postpone your visit altogether. It would 
suit me just as well; better in fact. There 
really was something very particular, Tilly 
dear, that I wanted to talk to Ben about 
to-night. 

I shall not look for you at all this evening, 
best of friends. 

POLLY BOLES. 



46 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

TILLY SNOWDEN TO POLLY BOLES 

June 6. 
DEAR POLLY: 

The very particular something to talk to 
Ben about to-night is the identical something 
for every other night. And nothing could be 
more characteristic of you, as soon as you 
heard that my visit would clash with one of 
his, than your eagerness to push me partly 
out of the house in a hurried letter and then 
push me completely out in a quiet postscript. 
Being a woman, I understand your tempta 
tion and your tactics. I fully sympathise 
with you. 

Continue in ease of mind, my most trusted 
intimate. I shall not drop in to interrupt you 
and Ben both not so young as you once were 
and both getting stout heavy Polly, heavy 
Ben as you sit side by side in your little 
Franklin Flat parlour. That parlour always 
suggests to me an enormous turnip hollowed 
out square: with no windows; with a hole on 
one side to come in and a hole on the other 
side to go out; upholstered in enormous 
bunches of beets and horse-radish, and lighted 
with a wilted electric sunflower. There you 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 47 

two will sit to-night, heavy Polly, heavy Ben, 
suffocating for fresh air and murmuring to 
each other as you have murmured for years: 

"I do! I do!" 

"I do! I do!" 

One sentence in your letter, Polly dear, 
takes your photograph like a camera; the re 
sult is a striking likeness. That sentence is this : 

"Why not let him suffer awhile? I will ex 
plain afterwards." 

That is exactly what you will do, what you 
would always do: explain afterwards. In 
other words, you plot to make Ben jealous 
but fear to make him too jealous lest he desert 
you. If on the evening of this visit you should 
forget "to explain," and if during the night 
you should remember, you would, if need 
were, walk barefoot through the streets in 
your nightgown and tap on his window- 
shutter, if you could reach it, and say: "Ben, 
that appointment wasn t with any other man; 
it was with Tilly. I could not sleep until I 
had told you!" 

That is, you have already disposed of your 
self, breath and soul, to Ben; and while you 
are waiting for the marriage ceremony, you 
have espoused in his behalf what you consider 



48 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

your best and strongest trait loyalty. Under 
the goadings of this vampire trait you will, a 
few years after marriage, have devoured all 
there is of Ben alive and will have taken your 
seat beside what are virtually his bones. As 
the years pass, the more ravenously you will 
preside over the bones. Never shall the world 
say that Polly Boles was disloyal to whatever 
was left of her dear Ben Doolittle! 

Your loyalty! I believe the first I saw of it 
was years ago one night in Louisville when 
you and I were planning to come to New York 
to live. Naturally we were much concerned 
by the difficulties of choosing our respective 
New York residences and we had written on 
and had received thumb-nailed libraries of 
romance about different places. As you 
looked over the recommendations of each, you 
came upon one called The Franklin Flats. 
The circular contained appropriate quota 
tions from Poor Richard s Almanac. I re 
member how your face brightened as you 
said: "This ought to be the very thing." 
One of the quotations on the circular ran 
somewhat thus: "Beware of meat twice 
boiled"; and you said in consequence: "So 
they must have a good restaurant!" 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 49 

In other words, you believed that a house 
named after Franklin could but resemble 
Franklin. A building put up in New York 
by a Tammany contractor, if named after 
Benjamin Franklin and advertised with quota 
tions from Franklin s works, would embody 
the traits of that remote national hero! To 
your mind not to your imagination, for you 
haven t any to your mind, and you have a 
great deal of mind, the bell-boys, the super 
intendent, the scrub woman, the chamber 
maids, the flunkied knave who stands at the 
front door all these were loyally congregated 
as about a beloved mausoleum. You are still 
in the Franklin Flats ! I know what you have 
long suffered there; but move^way! Not 
Polly Boles. She will be loyal to the building 
as long as the building stands by the con 
tractor and the contractor stands by profits 
and losses. 

While on the subject of loyalty, not your 
loyalty but woman s loyalty, I mean to fin 
ish with it. And I shall go on to say that 
occasionally I have sat behind a plate-glass 
window in some Fifth Avenue shop and have 
studied woman s organised loyalty, unionised 
loyalty, standardised loyalty. This takes 



50 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

effect in those processions that now and 
then sweep up the Avenue as though they 
were Crusaders to the Holy Sepulchre. The 
marchers try first not to look self-conscious; 
all try, secondly, to look devoted to "the 
cause." But beneath all other expressions 
and differences of expression I have always 
seen one reigning look as plainly as though it 
were printed in enormous letters on a banner 
flying over their heads : 

"Strictly Monogamous Women." 

At such times I have felt a wild desire, when 
I should hear of the next parade, to organise 
a company of unenthralled young girls who 
with unfettered natures and unfettered fea 
tures should tramp up the Avenue under their 
own colours. If the women before them 
those loyal ones would actually carry, as 
they should, a banner with the legend I have 
described, then my company of girls should 
unfurl to the breeze their flag with the truth 
blazoned on it: 

"Not Necessarily Monogamous!" 

The honest human crowd, watching and 
applauding us, would pack the Avenue from 
sidewalks to roofs. 

Between you and me everything seems to 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 51 

be summed up in one difference: all my life 
I have wanted to go barefoot and all your life, 
no matter what the weather, you have been 
solicitous to put on goloshes. 

My very nature is rooted in rebellion that 
in a world alive and running over with irre 
sistible people, a woman must be doomed to 
find her chief happiness in just one! The 
heart going out to so many in succession, and 
the hand held by one; year after year your 
hand held by the first man who impulsively 
got possession of it. Every instinct of my 
nature would be to jerk my hand away and 
be free! To give it again and again. 

This subject weighs crushingly on me as I 
struggle with this letter because I have tid 
ings for you about myself. I am to write 
words which I have long doubted I should 
ever write, life s most iron-bound words. 
Polly, I suppose I am going to be married at 
last. Of course it is Beverley. Not without 
waverings, not without misgivings. But I d 
feel those, be the man whoever he might. 
Why I feel thus I do not know, but I know I 
feel. I tell you this first because it was you 
who brought Beverley and me together, who 
have always believed in his career. (Though 



52 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

I think that of late you have believed more 
in him and less in me.) I, too, am beginning 
to believe in his career. He has lately ascer 
tained that his work is making a splendid im 
pression in England. If he succeeds in Eng 
land, he will succeed in this country. He has 
received an invitation to visit some delightful 
and very influential people in England and 
"to bring me along!" Think of anybody 
bringing me along! If we should be enter 
tained by these people [they are the Black- 
thornes], such is English social life, that we 
should also get to know the white Thornes 
and the red Thornes the whole social forest. 
The iron rule of my childhood was economy; 
and the influence of that iron rule over me is 
inexorable still: I cannot even contemplate 
such prodigal wastage in life as not to accept 
this invitation and gather in its wealth of 
consequences. 

More news of me, very, very important: at 
last I have made the acquaintance of George 
Marigold. I have become one of his patients. 

Beverley is furious. I enclose a letter from 
him. You need not return it. I shall not 
answer it. I shall leave things to his imagina 
tion and his imagination will give him no rest. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 53 

If Ben hurled at you a jealous letter about 
Dr. Mullen, you would immediately write to 
remove his jealousy. You would even ridicule 
Dr. Mullen to win greater favour in Ben s 
eyes. That is, you would do an abominable 
thing, never doubting that Ben would admire 
you the more. And you would be right; for 
as Ben observed you tear Dr. Mullen to 
pieces to feed his vanity, he would lean back 
in his chair and chuckle within himself: 
"Glorious, staunch old Polly!" 

And what you would do in this instance you 
will do all your life: you will practise disloyalty 
to every other human being, as in this letter 
you have practised it with me, for the sake 
of loyalty to Ben: your most pronounced, 
most horrible trait. 

TILLY SNOWDEN. 

POLLY BOLES TO TILLY SNOWDEN 

June 7. 
DEAR TILLY: 

I return Beverley s letter. Without com 
ment, since I did not read it. You know how 
I love Beverley, respect him, believe in him. 
I have a feeling for him unlike that for any 



54 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

other human being, not even Ben; I look upon 
him as set apart and sacred because he has 
genius and belongs to the world. 

As for his faults, those that I have not 
already noticed I prefer to find out for my 
self. I have never cared to discover any 
human being s failings through a third person. 
Instead of getting acquainted with the par 
donable traits of the abused, I might really 
be introduced to the abominable traits of the 
abuser. 

Once more, you think you are going to marry 
Beverley! I shall reserve my congratulations 
for the event itself. 

Thank you for surrendering your claim on 
my friendship and society last night. Ben 
and I had a most satisfactory evening, and 
when not suffocating we murmured "I do" 
to our hearts content. 

Next time, should your visits clash, I ll 
push him out. Yet I feel in honour bound to 
say that this is only my present state of mind. 
I might weaken at the last moment even in 
the Franklin Flats. 

As to some things in your letter, I have long 
since learned not to bestow too much atten 
tion upon anything you say. You court a 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 55 

kind of irresponsibility in language. With 
your inborn and over-indulged willfulness you 
love to break through the actual and to revel 
in the imaginary. I have become rather used 
to this as one of your growing traits and I arn 
therefore not surprised that in this letter you 
say things which, if seriously spoken, would in 
sult your sex and would make them recoil 
from you or make them wish to burn you at 
the stake. When you march up Fifth Avenue 
with your company of girls in that kind of 
procession, there will not be any Fifth Avenue: 
you will be tramping through the slums where 
you belong. 

All this, I repeat, is merely your way to 
take things out in talking. But we can make 
words our playthings in life s shallows until 
words wreck us as their playthings in life s 
deeps. 

Still, in return for your compliments to me, 
which, of course, you really mean, I paid you 
one the other night when thinking of you 
quite by myself. It was this: nature seems 
to leave something out of each of us, but we 
presently discover that she perversely put it 
where it does not belong. 

What she left out of you, my dear, was the 



56 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

domestic tea-kettle. There isn t even any 
place for one. But she made up for lack of 
the kettle by rather overdoing the stove! 
Your discreet friend, 

POLLY BOLES. 



BEVERLEY SANDS TO PHILLIPS & FAULDS 

Cathedral Heights, New York, 
June 7, 1900. 
GENTLEMEN: 

A former customer of yours, Mr. Benjamin 
Doolittle, has suggested your firm as reliable 
agents to carry out an important commission, 
which I herewith describe: 

I enclose a list of Kentucky ferns. I desire 
you to make a collection of these ferns and to 
ship them, expenses prepaid, to Edward 
Blackthorne, Esquire, King Alfred s Wood, 
Warwickshire, England. The cost is not to 
exceed twenty-five dollars. To furnish you 
the needed guarantee, as well as to avoid un 
necessary correspondence, I herewith enclose, 
payable to your order, my check for that 
amount. 

Will you let me have a prompt reply, stating 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 57 

whether you will undertake this commission 
and see it through ? 

Very truly yours, 

BEVERLEY SANDS. 

PHILLIPS & FAULDS TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

Louisville p , Ky., 
June 10, IQOO. 
DEAR SIR: 

Your valued letter with check for $25 re 
ceived. We handle most of the ferns on the 
list, and know the others and can easily get 
them. 

You may rely upon your valued order re 
ceiving the best attention. Thanking you for 
the same, 

Yours very truly, 

PHILLIPS & FAULDS. 

BEVERLEY SANDS TO EDWARD BLACKTHORNE 

Cathedral Heights, New York, 

June 75, IQIO. 
MY DEAR MR. BLACKTHORNE: 

Your second letter came into the port of 
my life like an argosy from a rich land. I 
think you must have sent it with some re- 



58 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

membrance of your own youth, or out of your 
mature knowledge of youth itself; how too 
often it walks the shore of its rocky world, 
cutting its bare feet on sharp stones, as it 
strains its eyes toward things far beyond its 
horizon but not beyond its faith and hope. 
Some day its ship comes in and it sets sail 
toward the distant ideal. How much the open 
ing of the door of your friendship, of your life, 
means to me! A new consecration envelops 
the world that I am to be the guest of a great 
man. If words do not say more, it is because 
words say so little. 

Delay has been unavoidable in any mere 
formal acknowledgment of your letter. You 
spoke in it of the hinges of a book. My 
silence has been due to the arrangement of 
hinges for the shipment of the ferns. I 
wished to insure their safe transoceanic pas 
sage and some inquiries had to be made in 
Kentucky. 

You may rely upon it that the matter will 
receive the best attention. In good time the 
ferns, having reached the end of their journey, 
will find themselves put down in your garden 
as helpless immigrants. From what outlook 
I can obtain upon the scene of their reception, 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 59 

they should lack only hands to reach con 
fidingly to you and lack only feet to run with 
all their might away from Hodge. 

I acknowledge with the utmost thanks 
the unusual and beautiful courtesy of Mrs. 
Blackthorne s and your invitation to my wife, 
if I have one, and to me. It is the dilemma 
of my life, at the age of twenty-seven, to be 
obliged to say that such a being as Mrs. 
Sands exists, but that nevertheless there is no 
such person. 

Can you imagine a man s stretching out his 
hand to pluck a peach and just before he 
touched the peach, finding only the bough of 
the tree? Then, as from disappointment he 
was about to break off the offensive bough, 
seeing again the dangling peach? Can you 
imagine this situation to be of long con 
tinuance, during which he could neither take 
hold of the peach nor let go of the tree nor 
go away? If you can, you will understand 
what I mean when I say that my bride per 
sists in remaining unwed and I persist in 
wooing. I do not know why; she protests 
that she does not know; but we do know that 
life is short, love shorter, that time flies, and 
we are not husband and wife. 



60 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

If she remains undecided when Summer re 
turns, I hope Mrs. Blackthorne and you will 
let me come alone. 

Thus I can thank you with certainty for 
one with the hope that I may yet thank you 
for two. 

I am, 

Sincerely yours, 

BEVERLEY SANDS. 



P. S. Can you pardon the informality of 
a postscript? 

As far as I can see clearly into a cloudy 
situation, marriage is denied me on account 
of the whole unhappy history of woman 
which is pretty hard. But a good many 
American ladies the one I woo among them 
are indignant just now that they are being 
crowded out of their destinies by husbands 
or even possibly by bachelors. These ladies 
deliver lectures to one another with discon 
tented eloquence and rouse their auditresses 
to feministic frenzy by reminding them that 
for ages woman has walked in the shadow of 
man and that the time has come for the worm 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 61 

[the woman] to turn on the shadow or to 
crawl out of it. 

My dear Mr. Blackthorne, I need hardly 
say that the only two shadows I could ever 
think of casting on the woman I married 
would be that of my umbrella whenever it 
rained, and that of her parasol whenever the 
sun shone. But I do maintain that if there 
is not enough sunshine for the men and women 
in the world, if there has to be some casting 
of shadows in the competition and the crowd 
ing, I do maintain that the casting of the 
shadow would better be left to the man. He 
has had long training, terrific experience, in 
this mortal business of casting the shadow, 
has learned how to moderate it and to hold 
it steady! The woman at least knows where 
it is to be found, should she wish to avail her 
self of it. But what \vould be the state of a 
man in his need of his spouse s penumbra? 
He would be out of breath with running to 
keep up with the penumbra or to find where 
it was for the time being ! 

I have seen some of these husbands who 
live or have gradually died out in the 
shadow of their wives; they are nature s sub 
dued farewell to men and gentlemen. 



62 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

DIARY OF BEVERLEY SANDS 

June 16. 

A remarkable thing has lately happened to 
me. 

One of my Kentucky novels, upon being 
republished in London some months ago, 
fell into the hands of a sympathetic reviewer. 
This critic s praise later made its way to the 
stately library of Edward Blackthorne. What 
especially induced the latter to read the book, 
I infer, were lines quoted by the reviewer 
from my description of a woodland scene with 
ferns in it: the mighty novelist, as it happens, 
is himself interested in ferns. He conse 
quently wrote to some other English authors 
and critics, calling attention to my work, and 
he sent a letter to me, asking for some ferns 
for his garden. 

This recognition in England hilariously 
affected my friends over here. Tilly, whose 
mind suggests to me a delicately poised pair 
of golden balances for weighing delight against 
delight (always her most vital affair), when 
this honour for me fell into the scales, found 
them inclined in my favour. If it be true, as 
I have often thought, that she has long been 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 63 

holding on to me merely until she could take 
sure hold of someone else of more splendid 
worldly consequence, she suddenly at least 
tightened her temporary grasp. Polly, good, 
solid Polly, wholesome and dependable as a 
well-browned whole-wheat baker s loaf weigh 
ing a hundred and sixty pounds, when she 
heard of it, gave me a Bohemian supper in 
her Franklin Flat parlour, inviting only a 
few undersized people, inasmuch as she and 
Ben, the chief personages of the entertain 
ment, took up most of the room. We were 
so packed in, that literally it was a night in 
Bohemia aux sardines. 

Since the good news from England came 
over, Ben, with his big, round, clean-shaven, 
ruddy face and short, reddish curly hair, 
which makes him look like a thirty-five-year- 
old Bacchus who had never drunk a drop 
even Ben has beamed on me like a mellower 
orb. He is as ashamed as ever of my books, 
but is beginning to feel proud that so many 
more people are being fooled by them. 
Several times lately I have caught his eyes 
resting on me with an expression of affection 
ate doubt as to whether after all he might be 
mistaken in not having thought more of me. 



64 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

But he dies hard. My publisher, who is a 
human refrigerator containing a mental ther 
mometer, which rises or falls toward like or 
dislike over a background for book-sales, got 
wind of the matter and promptly invited me 
to one of his thermometric club-lunches 
always an occasion for acute gastritis. 

Rumour of my fame has permeated my club, 
where, of course, the leading English reviews 
are kept on file. Some of the members must 
have seen the favourable criticisms. One 
night I became aware as I passed through the 
rooms that club heroes seated here and there 
threw glances of fresh interest toward me and 
exchanged auspicious words. The president 
who for so long a time has styled himself the 
Nestor of the club that he now believes it is 
the members who do this, the garrulous old 
president, whose weaknesses have made holes 
in him through which his virtues sometimes 
leak out and get away, met me under the 
main chandelier and congratulated me in 
tones so intentionally audible that they vio 
lated the rules but were not punishable under 
his personal privileges. 

There was a sinister incident: two members 
whom Ben and I wish to kick because they 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 65 

have had the audacity to make the acquaint 
ance of Tilly and Polly, and whom we despise 
also because they are fashionable charlatans 
in their profession these two with dark looks 
saw the president congratulate me. 

More good fortune yet to come! The ferns 
which I am sending Mr. Blackthorne will 
soon be growing in his garden. The illus 
trious man has many visitors; he leads them, 
if he likes, to his fern bank. "These," he will 
some day say, "came from Christine Nilsson. 
These are from Barbizon in memory of Corot. 
These were sent me by Turgenieff. And 
these," he will add, turning to his guests, 
"these came from a young American novelist, 
a Kentuckian, whose work I greatly respect: 
you must read his books." The guests sepa 
rate to their homes to pursue the subject. 
Spreading fame may it spread! Last of all, 
the stirring effect of this on me, who now run 
toward glory as Anacreon said Cupid ran 
toward Venus with both feet and wings. 

The ironic fact about all this commotion 
affecting so many solid, substantial people 
the ironic fact is this: 

There was no woodland scene and there were 
no ferns. 



66 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

Here I reach the curious part of my 
story. 

When I was a country lad of some seven 
teen years in Kentucky, one August afternoon 
I was on my way home from a tramp of 
several miles. My course lay through patches 
of woods last scant vestiges of the primeval 
forest and through fields garnered of summer 
grain or green with the crops of coming 
autumn. Now and then I climbed a fence 
and crossed an old woods-pasture where stock 
grazed. 

The August sky was clear and the sun beat 
down with terrific heat. I had been walking 
for hours and parching thirst came upon me. 

This led me to remember how once these 
rich uplands had been the vast rolling forest 
that stretched from far-off eastern mountains 
to far-off western rivers, and how under its 
shade, out of the rock, everywhere bubbled 
crystal springs. A land of swift forest streams 
diamond bright, drinking places of the bold 
game. 

The sun beat down on me in the treeless 
open field. My feet struck into a path. It, 
too, became a reminder: it had once been a 
trail of the wild animals of that verdurous 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 67 

wilderness. I followed its windings a sort of 
gully down a long, gentle slope. The wind 
ings had no meaning now: the path could 
better have been straight; it was devious be 
cause the feet that first marked it off had 
threaded their way crookedly hither and 
thither past the thick-set trees. 

I reached the spring a dry spot under the 
hot sun; no tree overshadowing it, no vegeta 
tion around it, not a blade of grass; only dust 
in which were footprints of the stock which 
could not break the habit of coming to it but 
quenched their thirst elsewhere. The bulged 
front of some limestone rock showed where 
the ancient mouth of the spring had been. 
Enough moisture still trickled forth to wet a 
few clods. Hovering over these, rising and 
sinking, a little quivering jet of gold, a flock 
of butterflies. The grey stalk of a single dead 
weed projected across the choked orifice of 
the fountain and one long, brown grasshopper 
spirit of summer dryness had crawled out 
to the edge and sat motionless. 

A few yards away a young sycamore had 
sprung up from some wind-carried seed. Its 
grey-green leaves threw a thin scarred shadow 
on the dry grass and I went over and lay 



68 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

down under it to rest my eyes fixed on the 
forest ruin. 

Years followed with their changes. I being 
in New York with my heart set on building 
whatever share I could of American literature 
upon Kentucky foundations, I at work on a 
novel, remembered that hot August after 
noon, the dry spring, and in imagination re 
stored the scene as it had been in the Ken 
tucky of the pioneers. 

I now await with eagerness all further 
felicities that may originate in a woodland 
scene that did not exist. What else will grow 
for me out of ferns that never grew? 



PART SECOND 



EDWARD BLACKTHORNE TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

King Alfred s Wood, 
Warwickshire, England, 
May J, jp/J. 

DEAR SIR: 

It is the first of the faithful leafy May 
again. I sit at my windows as on this day a 
year ago and look out with thankfulness upon 
what a man may call the honour of the vege 
table world. 

A year ago to-day I, misled by a book of 
yours or by some books for I believe I read 
more than one of them I, betrayed by the 
phrase that when we touch a book we touch 
a man, overstepped the boundaries of caution 
as to having any dealings with glib, plausible 
strangers and wrote you a letter. I made a 
request of you in that letter. I thought the 
request bore with it a suitable reward: that 
I should be grateful if you would undertake 
to have some ferns sent to me for my col 
lection. 

69 



70 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

Your sleek reply led me still further astray 
and I wrote again. I drew my English cloak 
from my shoulders and spread it on the ground 
for you to step on. I threw open to you the 
doors of my hospitality, good-fellowship. 

That was last May. Now it is May again. 
And now I know to a certainty what for 
months I have been coming to realise always 
with deeper shame: that you gave me your 
word and did not keep your word; doubtless 
never meant to keep it. 

Why, then, write you about this act of dis 
honour now? How justify a letter to a man 
I feel obliged to describe as I describe you? 

The reason is this, if you can appreciate 
such a reason. My nature refuses to let go a 
half-done deed. I remain annoyed by an 
abandoned, a violated, bond. Once in a wood 
I came upon a partly chopped-down tree, and 
I must needs go far and fetch an axe and 
finish the job. What I have begun to build I 
must build at till the pattern is wrought out. 
Otherwise I should weaken, soften, lose the 
stamina of resolution. The upright moral skel 
eton within me would decay and crumble and 
I should sink down and flop like a human frog. 
& Since, then, you dropped the matter in 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 71 

your way without so much as a thought of 
a man s obligation to himself I dismiss it in 
my way with the few words necessary to 
enable me to rid my mind of it and of such a 
character. 

I wish merely to say, then, that I despise 
as I despise nothing else the ragged edge of a 
man s behaviour. I put your conduct before 
you in this way: do you happen to know of a 
common cabbage in anybody s truck patch? 
Observe that not even a common cabbage 
starts out to do a thing and fails to do it if it 
can. You must have some kind of perception 
of an oak tree. Think what would become of 
human beings in houses if builders were de 
ceived as to the trusty fibre of sound oak? 
Do you ever see a grape-vine? Consider how 
it takes hold and will not be shaken loose by 
the capricious compelling winds. In your 
country have you the plover? Think^what 
would be the plover s fate, if it did not steer 
straight through time and space to a distant 
shore. Why, some day pick up merely a 
piece of common quartz. Study its powers 
of crystallisation. And reflect that a man 
ranks high or low in the scale of character 
according to his possession or his lack of the 



72 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

powers of crystallisation. If the forces of his 
mind can assume fixity around an idea, if 
they can adjust themselves unalterably about 
a plan, expect something of him. If they run 
through his hours like water, if memory is 
a millstream, if remembrance floats forever 
away, expect nothing. 

Simple, primitive folk long ago interpreted 
for themselves the characters of familiar 
plants about them. Do you know what to 
them the fern stood for? The fern stood for 
Fidelity. Those true, constant souls would 
have said that you had been unfaithful even 
with nature s emblems of Fidelity. 

The English sky is clear to-day. The sun 
light falls in a white radiance on my plants. 
I sit at my windows with my grateful eyes on 
honest out-of-doors. There is a shadow on a i 
certain spot in the garden; I dislike to look 
at it. There is a shadow on the place where 
your books once stood on my library shelves, i 
Your specious books! your cleverly manu 
factured books! but there are successful 
scamps in every profession. 

I am, 

Very truly yours, 

EDWARD BLACKTHORNE. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 73 

BEVERLEY SANDS TO EDWARD BLACKTHORNS 

Cathedral Heights, 
May JO, IQII. 
DEAR SIR: 

I wish to inform you that I have just re 
ceived from you a letter in which you attack 
my character. I wish in reply further to in 
form you that I have never felt called upon 
to defend my character. Nor will I, even 
with this letter of yours as evidence, attack 
your character. 
I am, 

Very truly yours, 

BEVERLEY SANDS. 



BEVERLEY SANDS TO BEN DOOLITTLE 

May Jj, IQII. 
DEAR BEN: 

I ask your attention to the enclosed letter 
from Mr. Edward Blackthorne. By way of 
contrast and also of reminder, lest you may 
have forgotten, I send you two other letters 
received from him last year. I shared with 
you at the time the agreeable purport of these 



74 THE EMBLEiMS OF FIDELITY 

earlier letters. This last letter came three 
days ago and for three days I have been try 
ing to quiet down sufficiently even to write 
to you about it. At last I am able to do so. 

You will see that Mr. Blackthorne has 
never received the ferns. Then where have 
they been all this time ? I took it for granted 
that they had been shipped. The order was 
last spring placed with the Louisville firm 
recommended by you. They guaranteed the 
execution of the order. I forwarded to them 
my cheque. They cashed my cheque. The 
voucher was duly returned to me cancelled 
through my bank. I could not suppose they 
would take my cheque unless they had 
shipped the plants. They even wrote me 
again in the Autumn of their own accord, 
stating that the ferns were about to be sent 
on Autumn being the most favourable sea 
son. Then where are the ferns? 

I felt so sure of their having reached Mr. 
Blackthorne that I harboured a certain griev 
ance and confess that I tried to make generous 
allowance for him as a genius in his never 
having acknowledged their arrival. 

I have demanded of Phillips & Faulds an 
immediate explanation. As soon as they reply 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 75 

I shall let you hear further. The fault may 
be with them; in the slipshod Southern way 
they may have been negligent. My cheque 
may even have gone as a bridal present to 
some junior member of the firm or to help 
pay the funeral expenses of the senior member. 

There is trouble somewhere behind and I 
think there is trouble ahead. 

Premonitions are for nervous or over- 
sanguine ladies; but if some lady will kindly 
lend me one of her premonitions, I shall admit 
that I have it and on the strength of it or 
the weakness declare my belief that the 
mystery of the ferns is going to uncover some 
curious and funny things. 

As to the rest of Air. Blackthorne s letter: 
after these days of turbulence, I have come to 
see my way clear to interpret it thus: a great 
man, holding a great place in the world, 
offered his best to a stranger and the stranger, 
as the great man believes, turned his back on 
it. That is the grievance, the insult. If 
anything could be worse, it is my seeming dis 
courtesy to Mrs. Blackthorne, since the in 
vitation came also from her. In a word, here 
is a genius who strove to advance my work 
and me, and he feels himself outraged in his 



76 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

kindness, his hospitality, his friendship and 
his family in all his best. 

But of course that is the hardest of all 
human things to stand. Men who have 
treated each other but fairly well or even 
badly in ordinary matters often in time be 
come friends. But who of us ever forgives 
the person that slights our best? Out of a 
rebuff like that arises such life-long unforgive- 
ness, estrangement, hatred, that Holy Writ 
itself doubtless for this very reason took pains 
to issue its warning no pearls before swine! 
And perhaps of all known pearls a great native 
British pearl is the most prized by its British 
possessor! 

The reaction, then, from Mr. Blackthorne s 
best has been his worst: if I did not merit his 
best, I deserve his worst; hence his last letter. 
God have mercy on the man who deserved 
that letter! You will have observed that his 
leading trait as revealed in all his letters is 
enormous self-love. That s because he is a 
genius. Genius has to have enormous self- 
love. Beware the person who has none! 
Without self-love no one ever wins any other s 
love. 

Thus the mighty English archer with his 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 77 

mighty bow shot his mighty arrow but at 
an innocent person. 

Still the arrow of this letter, though it 
misses me, kills my plans. The first trouble 
will be Tilly. Our marriage had been finally 
fixed for June, and our plans embraced a 
wedding journey to England and the accept 
ance of the invitation of the Blackthornes. 
The prospect of this wonderful English sum 
mer I might as well admit it was one thing 
that finally steadied all her wavering as to 
marriage. 

Now the disappointment: no Blackthornes, 
no English celebrities to greet us as American 
celebrities, no courtesies from critics, no lawns, 
no tea nor toast nor being toasted. Merely 
two unknown, impoverished young Yankee 
tourists, trying to get out of chilly England 
what can be gotten by anybody with a few, 
a very few, dollars. 

But Tilly dreads disappointment as she 
dreads disease. To her disappointment is a 
disease in the character of the person who in 
flicts the disappointment. Once I tried to 
get you to read one of Balzac s masterpieces, 
The Magic Skin. I told you enough about it 
to enable you to understand what I now say: 



78 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

that ever since I became engaged to Tilly I 
have been to her as a magic skin which, as 
she cautiously watches it, has always shrunk 
a little whenever I have encountered a defeat 
or brought her a disappointment. No later 
success, on the contrary, ever re-expands the 
shrunken skin: it remains shrunken where 
each latest disappointment has left it. 

Now when I tell her of my downfall and the 
collapse of the gorgeous summer plans ! 

BEVERLEY 
(the Expanding Scamp and the 

Shrinking Skin). 



BEN DOOLITTLE TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

May 



DEAR BEVERLEY: 

I have duly pondered the letters you send. 

"Fie, fee, fo, fum, 
I smell the blood of an Englishman!" 

If you do not mind, I shall keep these docu 
ments from him in my possession. And sup 
pose you send me all later letters, whether 
from him or from anyone else, that bear on 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 79 

this matter. It begins to grow interesting 
and I believe it will bear watching. Make me, 
then, as your lawyer, the custodian of all per 
tinent and impertinent papers. They can go 
into the locker where I keep your immortal 
but impecunious Will. Some day I might 
have to appear in court, I with my shovel and 
five senses and no imagination, to plead une 
cause celebre (a little more of my scant in 
timate French). 

The explanation I give of this gratuitously 
insulting letter is that at last you have run 
into a hostile human imagination in the per 
son of an old literary polecat, an aged book- 
skunk. Of course if I could decorate my style 
after the manner of your highly creative gen 
tlemen, I might say that you had unwarily 
crossed the nocturnal path of his touchy 
moonlit mephitic highness. 

I am not surprised, of course, that this 
letter has caused you to think still more 
highly of its writer. I tell you that is your 
profession to tinker to turn reality into 
something better than reality. 

Some day I expect to see you emerge from 
your shop with a fish story. Intending buyers 
will find that you have entered deeply into 



8o THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

the ideals and difficulties of the man-eating 
shark: how he could not swim freely for 
whales in his track and could not breathe 
freely for minnows in his mouth; how he got 
pinched from behind by the malice of the 
lobster and got shocked on each side by the 
eccentricities of the eel. The other fish did 
not appreciate him and he grew embittered 
and then only began to bite. You will make 
over the actual shark and exhibit him to your 
reader as the ideal shark a kind of beloved 
disciple of the sea, the St. John of fish. 

Anything imaginative that you might make 
out of a shark would be a minor achievement 
compared with what you have done for this 
Englishman. Might the day come, the aveng 
ing day, when Benjamin Doolittle could get 
a chance to write him just one letter! May 
the god of battles somehow bring about a 
meeting between the middle-aged land-turtle 
and the aged skunk! On that field of Mars 
somebody s fur will have to fly and it will 
not be the turtle s, for he hasn t any. 

You speak of a trouble that looms up in 
your love affair: let it loom. The nearer it 
looms, the better for you. I have repeatedly 
warned you that you have bound your life 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 81 

and happiness to the wrong person, and the 
person is constantly becoming worse. De 
tach your apparatus of dreams at last from 
her. Take off your glorious rainbow world- 
goggles and see the truth before it is too late. 
Do not fail, unless you object, to send me 
all letters incoming about the ferns those 
now celebrated bushes. 

BENJAMIN DOOLITTLE. 



PHILLIPS & FAULDS TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

May J 



DEAR SIR: 

We acknowledge receipt of your letter of 
May 10 relative to an order for ferns. 

It is decidedly rough. The senior member 
of our firm who formerly had charge of this 
branch of our business has been seriously ill 
for several months, and it was only after we 
had communicated with him at home in bed 
that we were able to extract from him any 
thing at all concerning your esteemed order. 

He informs us that he turned the order 
over to Messrs. Burns & Bruce, native fern 



82 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

collectors of Dunkirk, Term., who wrote that 
they would gather the ferns and forward them 
to the designated address. He likewise in 
forms us that inasmuch as the firm of Burns 
& Bruce, as we know only too well, has long 
been indebted to this firm for a considerable 
amount, he calculated that they would will 
ingly ship the ferns in partial liquidation of 
our old claims. 

It seems, as he tells us, that they did 
actually gather the ferns and get them ready 
for shipment, but at the last minute changed 
their mind and called on our firm for pay 
ment. There the matter was unexpectedly 
dropped owing to the sudden illness of the 
aforesaid member of our house, and we knew 
nothing at all of what had transpired until 
your letter led us to obtain from him at his 
bedside the statements above detailed. 

An additional embarrassment to the un 
usually prosperous course of our business was 
occasioned by the marriage of a junior member 
of the firm and his consequent absence for a 
considerable time, which resulted in an aug 
mentation of the expenses of our establish 
ment and an unfortunate diminution of our 
profits. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 83 

In view of the illness of the senior member 
of our house and in view of the marriage of a 
junior member and in view of the losses and 
expenses consequent thereon, and in view of 
the subsequent withdrawal of both from 
active participation in the conduct of the 
affairs of our firm, and in view also of a dis 
agreement which arose between both members 
and the other members as to the financial 
basis of a settlement on which the withdrawal 
could take place, our affairs have of necessity 
been thrown into court in litigation and are 
still in litigation up to this date. 

Regretting that you should have been 
seemingly inconvenienced in the slightest de 
gree by the apparent neglect of a former 
member of our firm, we desire to add that as 
soon as matters can be taken out of court our 
firm will be reorganised and that we shall 
continue to give, as heretofore, the most 
scrupulous attention to all orders received. 

But we repeat that your letter is pretty 
rough. 

Very truly yours, 

PHILLIPS & FAULDS. 



84 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

BURNS & BRUCE TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

Dunkirk, Tenn., 
May 20, IQII. 
DEAR SIR: 

Your letter to hand. Phillips & Faulds 
gave us the order for the ferns. Owing to 
extreme drought last Fall the ferns withered 
earlier than usual and it was unsafe to ship 
at that time; in the Winter the weather was 
so severe that even in February we were 
unable to make any digging, as the frost had 
not disappeared. When at last we got the 
ferns ready, we called on them for payment 
and they wouldn t pay. Phillips & Faulds 
are not good paying bills and we could not 
put ourselves to expense filling their new 
order for ferns, not wishing to take more 
risk, old, old accounts against them unpaid, 
and could not afford to ship more, proved 
very unsatisfactory and had to drop them 
entirely. 

Are already out of pocket the cost of the 
ferns, worthless to us when Phillips & Faulds 
dodged and wouldn t pay, pretending we 
owed them because they won t pay their bills. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 85 

If you do not wish to have any further 
dealings with them you might write to Noah 
Chamberlain at Seminole, North Carolina, 
just over the state line, not far from here, an 
authority on American ferns. We have 
sometimes collected rare ferns for him to 
ship to England and other European coun 
tries. Vouch for him as an honest man. 
Always paid his bills, old accounts against 
Phillips & Faulds unpaid; dropped them 
entirely. 

Very truly yours, 

BURNS & BRUCE. 



BEVERLEY SANDS TO BEN DOOLITTLE 

May 24. 
DEAR BEN: 

You requested me to send you for possible 
future reference all incoming letters upon the 
subject of the ferns. Here are two more that 
have just fluttered down from the blue 
heaven of the unexpected or been thrust up 
from the lower regions through a crack in 
the earth s surface. 

Spare a few minutes to admire the rippling 



86 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

eloquence of Messrs. Phillips & Faulds. When 
the eloquence has ceased to ripple and settles 
down to stay, their letter has the cold purity 
of a whitewashed rotten Kentucky fence. 
They and another firm of florists have a law 
suit as to which owes the other, and they 
meantime compel me, an innocent bystander, 
to deliver to them my pocketbook. 

Will you please immediately bring suit 
against Phillips & Faulds on behalf of my 
valuable twenty-five dollars and invaluable 
indignation? Bring suit against and bring 
your boot against them if you can. My 
ducats! Have my ducats out of them or 
their peace by day and night. 

The other letter seems of an unhewn 
probity that wins my confidence. That is to 
say, Burns & Bruce, whoever they are, assure 
me that I ought to believe, and with all my 
heart I do now believe, in the existence, just 
over the Tennessee state line, of a florist of 
good character and a business head. Thus I 
now press on over the Tennessee state line 
into North Carolina. 

For the ferns must be sent to Mr. Black- 
thorne; more than ever they must go to him 
now. Not the entire British army drawn up 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 87 

on the white cliffs of Dover could keep me 
from landing them on the British Isle. Even 
if I had to cross over to England, travel to 
his home, put the ferns down before him or 
throw them at his head and walk out of his 
house without a word. 

I told you I had a borrowed premonition 
that there would be trouble ahead: now it is 
not a premonition, it is my belief and terror. 
I have grown to stand in dread of all florists, 
and I approach this third one with my hat in 
my hand (also with my other hand on my 
pocketbook). 

BEVERLEY. 



BEVERLEY SANDS TO NOAH CHAMBERLAIN 

Cathedral Heights, New York, 

May 25, jpjj. 
DEAR SIR: 

You have been recommended to me by 
Messrs. Burns & Bruce, of Dunkirk, Ten 
nessee, as a nurseryman who can be relied 
upon to keep his word and to carry out his 
business obligations. 



88 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

Accepting at its face value their high tes 
timonial as to your trustworthiness, I desire 
to place with you the following order: 

Messrs. Burns & Bruce, acting upon my 
request, have forwarded to you a list of rare 
Kentucky ferns. I desire you to collect these 
ferns and to ship them to Mr. Edward Black- 
thorne, Esq., King Alfred s Wood, Warwick 
shire, England. As a guaranty of good faith 
on my part, I enclose in payment my check 
for twenty-five dollars. Will you have the 
kindness to let me know at once whether you 
will undertake this commission and give it 
the strictest attention? 

Very truly yours, 

BEVERLEY SANDS. 



NOAH CHAMBERLAIN TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

Seminole, North Carolina, 
May 29. 
SIR: 

I have received your letter with your check 
in it. 

You are the first person that ever offered 
me money as a florist. I am not a florist, if 
I must take time to inform you. I had sup- 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 89 

posed it to be generally known throughout 
the United States and in Europe that I am 
professor of botany in this college, and have 
been for the past fifteen years. If Burns & 
Bruce really told you I am a florist and I 
doubt it they must be greater ignoramuses 
than I took them to be. I always knew that 
they did not have much sense, but I thought 
they had a little. It is true that they have 
at different times gathered specimens of ferns 
for me, and more than once have shipped 
them to Europe. But I never imagined they 
were fools enough to think this made me a 
florist. My collection of ferns embraces dried 
specimens for study in my classrooms and 
specimens growing on the college grounds. 
The ferns I have shipped to Europe have 
been sent to friends and correspondents. The 
President of the Royal Botanical Society of 
Great Britain is an old friend of mine. I 
have sent him some and I have also sent some 
to friends in Norway and Sweden and to 
other scientific students of botany. 

It only shows that your next-door neigh 
bour may know nothing about you, especially 
if you are a little over your neighbour s head. 

My daughter, who is my secretary, will 



90 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

return your check, but I thought I had better 
write and tell you myself that I am not a 
florist. 

Yours truly, 
NOAH CHAMBERLAIN, A.M., B.S., Litt.D. 



CLARA LOUISE CHAMBERLAIN TO 
BEVERLEY SANDS 

Seminole, North Carolina, 
May 29. 
SIR: 

I can but express my intense indignation, 
as Professor Chamberlain s only daughter, 
that you should send a sum of money to my 
distinguished father to hire his services as a 
nurseryman. I had supposed that my father 
was known to the entire intelligent American 
public as an eminent scientist, to be ranked 
with such men as Dana and Gray and Alex 
ander von Humboldt. 

People of our means and social position in 
the South do not peddle bulbs. We do not 
reside at the entrance to a cemetery and earn 
our bread by making funeral wreaths and 
crosses. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 91 

You must be some kind of nonentity. 
Your cheque is pinned to this letter. 

CLARA LOUISE CHAMBERLAIN. 



BEVERLEY SANDS TO NOAH CHAMBERLAIN 

June 3. 
DEAR SIR: 

I am deeply mortified at having believed 
Messrs. Burns & Bruce to be well-informed 
and truthful Southern gentlemen. I find that 
it is no longer safe for me to believe anybody 
not about nurserymen. I am not sure now 
that I should believe you. You say you are a 
famous botanist, but you may be merely a 
famous liar, known as such to various learned 
bodies in Europe. Proof to the contrary is 
necessary, and you must admit that your 
letter does not furnish me with that proof. 

Still I am going to believe you and I renew 
the assurance of my mortification that I have 
innocently caused you the chagrin of dis 
covering that you are not so well known, at 
least in this country, as you supposed. I 
suffer from the same chagrin: many of us do; 
it is the tie that binds: blest be the tie. 



92 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

I shall be extremely obliged if you will 
have the kindness to return to me the list of 
ferns forwarded to you by Messrs. Burns & 
Bruce, and for that purpose you will please 
to find enclosed an envelope addressed and 
stamped. 

I acknowledge the return of my cheque, 
which occasions me some surprise and not a 
little pleasure. 

Allow me once more to regret that through 
my incurable habit of believing strangers, 
believing everybody, I was misled into taking 
the lower view of you as a florist instead of 
the higher view as a botanist. But you must 
admit that I was right in classification and 
wrong only in elevation. 

Very truly yours, 
BEVERLEY SANDS, A.B. (merely). 



NOAH CHAMBERLAIN TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

June 8. 
SIR: 

I know nothing about any list of ferns. 
Stop writing to me. 

NOAH CHAMBERLAIN. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 93 

CLARA LOUISE CHAMBERLAIN TO 
BEVERLEY SANDS 

June 8. 

SIR: 

It is excruciating the way you continue to 
persecute my great father. What is wrong 
with you? What started you to begin on us 
in this way? We never heard of you. Would 
you let my dear father alone? 

He is a very deep student and it is intoler 
able for me to see his priceless attention 
drawn from his work at critical moments 
when he might be on the point of making 
profound discoveries. My father is a very 
absent-minded man, as great scholars usually 
are, and when he is interrupted he may even 
forget what he has just been thinking about. 

Your letter was a very serious shock to 
him, and after reading it he could not even 
drink his tea at supper or enjoy his cold ham. 
Time and again he put his cup down and said 
to me in a trembling voice: "Think of his 
calling me a famous liar!" Then he got up 
from the table without eating anything and 
left the room. He turned at the door and 
said to me, with a confused expression: "I 



94 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

may, once in my life but he didn t know 
anything about that." 

He shut his door and stayed in his library 
all evening, thinking without nourishment. 

What a viper you are to call my great father 
a liar. 

CLARA LOUISE CHAMBERLAIN. 

v 
/ 

BEVERLEY SANDS TO BEN DOOLITTLE 

June 12. 
DEAR BEN: 

I knew I was in for It! I send another in 
stallment of incredible letters from unbe 
lievable people. 

In my wanderings over the earth after the 
ferns I have innocently brought my foot 
against an ant-hill of Chamberlains. I called 
the head of the hill a florist and he is a botan 
ist, and the whole hill is frantic with fury. 
As far as heard from, there are only two ants 
in the hill, but the two make a lively many 
in their letters. It s a Southern vendetta 
and my end may draw nigh. 

Now, too, the inevitable quarrel with Tilly 
is at hand. She has been out of town for a 
house-party somewhere and is to return to- 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 95 

morrow. When Tilly came to New York a 
few years ago she had not an acquaintance; 
now I marvel at the world of people she knows. 
It is the result of her never declining an in 
vitation. Once I derided her about this, and 
with her almost terrifying honesty she avowed 
the reason: that no one ever knew what an 
acquaintanceship might lead to. This prin 
ciple, or lack of principle, has led her far. 
And wherever she goes, she is welcomed after 
wards. It is her mystery, her charm. I often 
ask myself what is her charm. At least her 
charm, as all charm, is victory. You are de 
feated by her, chained and dragged along. 
Of course, I expect all this to be reversed 
after Tilly marries me. Then I am to have 
my turn she is to be led around, dragged 
helpless by my charm. Magnificent outlook! 

To-morrow she is to return, and I shall 
have to tell her that it is all over our won 
derful summer in England. It is gone, the 
whole vision drifts away like a gorgeous cloud, 
carrying with it the bright raindrops of her 
hopes. 

I have never, by the way, mentioned to 
Tilly this matter of the ferns. My first idea 
was to surprise her: as some day we strolled 



96 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

through the Blackthorne garden he would 
point to the Kentucky specimens flourishing 
there in honour of me. I have always ob 
served that any unexpected pleasure flushes 
her face with a new light, with an effulgence 
of fresh beauty, just as every disappointment 
makes her suddenly look old and rather ugly. 

This was the first reason. Now I do not 
intend to tell her at all. Disappointment will 
bring out her demand to know why she is dis 
appointed naturally. But how am I to tell 
on the threshold of marriage that it is all due 
to a misunderstanding about a handful of 
ferns! It would be ridiculous. She would 
never believe me naturally. She would in 
fer that I was keeping back the real reason, 
as being too serious to be told. 

Here, then, I am. But where am I? 

BEVERLEY (complete and final 
disappearance of the Magic Skin). 

BEN DOOLITTLE TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

June 13. 
DEAR BEVERLEY: 

You are perfectly right not to tell Tilly 
about the ferns. Here I come in: there must 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 97 

always be things that a man must refuse to 
tell a woman. As soon as he tells her every 
thing, she puts her foot on his neck. I have 
always refused even to tell Polly some things, 
not that they might not be told, but that 
Polly must not be told them; not for the 
things sake, but for Polly s good and for a 
man s peaceful control of his own life. 

For whatever else a woman marries in a 
man, one thing in him she must marry: a rock. 
Times will come when she will storm and rage 
around that rock; but the storms cannot last 
forever, and when they are over, the rock will 
be there. By degrees there will be less storm. 
Polly s very loyalty to me inspires her to take 
possession of my whole life; to enter into all 
my affairs. I am to her a house, no closet of 
which must remain locked. Thus there are 
certain closets which she repeatedly tries to 
open. I can tell by her very expression when 
she is going to try once more. Were they 
opened, she would not find much; but it is 
much to be guarded that she shall not open 
them. 

The matter is too trivial to explain to Tilly 
as fact and too important as principle. 

Harbour no fear that Polly knows from me 



98 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

anything about the ferns! When I am with 
Polly, my thoughts are not on the grass of 
the fields. 

Let me hear at once how the trouble turns 
out with Tilly. 

I must not close without making a profound 
obeisance to your new acquaintances the 
Chamberlains. 

BEN. 

TILLY SNOWDEN TO POLLY BOLES 

June 15. 
DEAR POLLY: 

Something extremely disagreeable has come 
up between Beverley and me. He tells me 
we re not to go to England on our wedding 
journey as anyone s guests: we travel as 
ordinary American tourists unknown to all 
England. 

You can well understand what this means 
to me : you have watched all along how I have 
pinched on my small income to get ready for 
this beautiful summer. There has been a 
quarrel of some kind between Mr. Blackthorne 
and Beverley. Beverley refuses to tell me 
the nature of the quarrel. I insisted that it 
was my right to know and he insisted that it 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 99 

is a man s affair with another man and not 
any woman s business. Think of a woman 
marrying a man who lays it down as a law 
that his affairs are none of her business! 

I gave Beverley to understand that our 
marriage was deferred for the summer. He 
broke off the engagement. 

I had not meant to tell you anything, since 
I am coming to-night. I have merely wished 
you to understand how truly anxious I am to 
see you, even forgetting your last letter no, 
not forgetting it, but overlooking it. Remem 
ber you then broke an appointment with me; 
this time keep your appointment being loyal! 
The messenger will wait for your reply, stating 
whether the way is clear for me to come. 

TILLY. 



POLLY BOLES TO TILLY SNOWDEN 

June 15. 
DEAR TILLY: 

Dr. Mullen had an appointment with me 
for to-night, but I have written to excuse 
myself, and I shall be waiting most im 
patiently. The coast will be clear and I hope 
the night will be. 



ioo THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

"The turnip," as you call it, will be empty; 
"the horse-radish" and "the beets" will be 
still the same; "the wilted sunflower" will 
shed its usual ray on our heads. No breeze 
will disturb us, for there will be no fresh air. 
We shall have the long evening to ourselves, 
and you can tell me just how it is that you 
two, not heavy Tilly, not heavy Beverley, 
sat on opposite sides of the room and de 
clared to each other: 

"I will not." 

"I will not." 

Since I have broken an engagement for 
you, be sure not to let any later temptation 
elsewhere keep you away. 

POLLY. 

[Later in the day] 

BEN DOOLITTLE TO POLLY BOLES 

June 15. 
DEAR POLLY: 

Beverley and Tilly have had the long-ex 
pected final flare-up. Yesterday he wrote, 
asking me to come up as soon as I was through 
with business. I spent last night with him. 

We drew our chairs up to his opened win- 



THE EMBLEMS OF Fl^EEl-TY ; ; icn: 

dow, turned out the lights, got our cigars, and 
with our feet on the window-sills and our 
eyes on the stars across the sky talked the 
long, quiet hours through. 

He talked, not I. Little could I have said 
to him about the woman who has played fast 
and loose with him while using him for her 
convenience. He made it known at the out 
set that not a word was to be spoken against 
her. 

He just lay back in his big easy cnair, 
with his feet on his window-sill and his eyes 
on the stars, and built up his defence of Tilly. 
All night he worked to repair wreckage. 

As the grey of morning crept over the city 
his work was well done: Tilly was restored to 
more than she had ever been. Silence fell 
upon him as he sat there with his eyes on the 
reddening east; and it may be that he saw 
her now about to leave him at last as some 
white, angelic shape growing fainter and 
fainter as it vanished in the flush of a new 
day. 

You know what I think of this Tilly-angel. 
If there were any wings anywhere around, it 
was those of an aeroplane leaving its hangar 
with an early start to bring down some other 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

victim: the angel-aeroplane out after more 
prey. I think we both know who the prey 
will be. 

The solemn influence of the night has 
rested on me. Were it possible, I should feel 
even a higher respect for Beverley; there is 
something in him that fills me with awe. He 
suffers. He could mend Tilly but he cannot 
mend himself: in a way she has wrecked him. 

Their quarrel brings me with an aching 
heart closer to you. I must come to-night. 
The messenger will wait for a word that I 
may. And a sudden strange chill of desola 
tion as to life s brittle ties frightens me into 
sending you some roses. 

Your lover through many close and con 
stant years, 

BENJAMIN DOOLITTLE. 

[Still later in the day] 

POLLY BOLES TO TILLY SNOWDEN 

June 75. 
DEAR, DEAR, DEAR TILLY: 

An incredible thing has happened. Ben 
has just written that he wishes to see me 
to-night. Will you, after all, wait until to- 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 103 

morrow evening? My dear, I have to ask this 
of you because there is something very par 
ticular that Ben desires to talk to me about. 

To-morrow night, then, without fail, you 
and I! 

POLLY BOLES. 



POLLY BOLES AND BENJAMIN DOOLITTLE TO 
BEVERLEY SANDS 

[Late at night of the same day] 

June 15. 
DEAR BEVERLEY: 

We have talked the matter over and send 
you our conjoined congratulations that your 
engagement is broken off and your immediate 
peril ended. But our immediate caution is 
that the end of the betrothal will not neces 
sarily mean the end of entanglement: the 
tempter will at once turn away from you in 
pursuit of another man. She will begin to 
weave her web about him. But if possible 
she will still hold you to that web by a single 
thread. Now, more than ever, you will need 
to be on your guard, if such a thing is possible 
to such a nature as yours. 



104 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

Not until obliged will she ever let you go 
completely. She hath a devil perhaps the 
most famous devil in all the world the love 
devil. And all devils, famous or not famous, 
are poor quitters. 

(Signed) 

POLLY BOLES for Ben Doolittle. 
BEN DOOLITTLE for Polly Boles. 
(His handwriting; her ideas 
and language.) 



TILLY SNOWDEN TO DR. MARIGOLD 

MY DEAR DR. MARIGOLD: 

This is the third time within the past 
several months that I have requested you to 
let me have your bill for professional services. 
I shall not suppose that you have relied upon 
my willingness to remain under an obligation 
of this kind; nor do I like to think I have 
counted for so little among your many pa 
tients that you have not cared whether I 
paid you or not. If your motive has been 
kindness, I must plainly tell you that I do 
not desire such kindness; and if there has 
been no motive at all, but simply indifference, 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 105 

I must remind you that this indifference means 
disrespect and that I resent it. 

The things you have indirectly done for 
me in other ways the songs, the books and 
magazines, the flowers these I accept with 
warm responsive hands and a lavish mind. 

And with words not yet uttered, perhaps 
never to be uttered. 

Yours sincerely, 

TILLY SNOWDEN. 
June the Seventeenth. 

TILLY SNOWDEN TO DR. MARIGOLD 

MY DEAR DR. MARIGOLD : 

I have your bill and I make the due remit 
tance with all due thanks. 

Your note pleasantly reassures me how 
greatly you are obliged that I could put you 
in correspondence with some Kentucky cousins 
about the purchase of a Kentucky saddle- 
horse. It was a pleasure; in fact, a matter of 
some pride to do this, and I am delighted that 
they could furnish you a horse you approve. 

While taking my customary walk in the 
Park yesterday morning, I had a chance to 
see you and your new mount making acquaint- 



io6 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

ance with one another. I can pay you no 
higher compliment than to say that you ride 
like a Kentuckian. 

Unconsciously, I suppose, it has become a 
habit of mine to choose the footways through 
the Park which skirt the bridle path, drawn 
to them by my childhood habit and girlish 
love of riding. Even to see from day to day 
what one once had but no longer has is to 
keep alive hope that one may some day have 
it again. 

You should some time go to Kentucky and 
ride there. My cousins will look to that. 
Yours sincerely, 

TILLY SNOWDEN. 

June the Eighteenth. 



TILLY SNOWDEN TO DR. MARIGOLD 

MY DEAR DR. MARIGOLD: 

I was passing this morning and witnessed 
the accident, and I must express my con 
dolences for what might have been and con 
gratulations upon what was. 

You certainly fell well not unlike a Ken 
tuckian ! 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 107 

I feel sure that my cousins could not have 
known the horse was tricky. Any horse is 
tricky to the end of his days and the end of 
his road. He may not show any tricks at 
home, but becomes tricky in new places. 
(Can this be the reason that he is called the 
most human of beasts?) 

You buying a Kentucky horse brings freshly 
to my mind that of late you have expressed 
growing interest in Kentucky. More than 
once, also (since you have begun to visit me), 
you have asked me to tell you about my life 
there. Frankly, this is because I am some 
thing of a mystery and you would like to 
have the mystery cleared up. You wish to 
find out, without letting me know you are 
finding out, whether there is not something 
wrong about me, some risk for you in visiting 
me. That is because you have never known 
anybody like me. I frighten you because I 
am not afraid of people, not afraid of life. 
You are used to people who are afraid, 
especially to women who are afraid. You 
yourself are horribly afraid of nearly every 
thing. 

Suppose I do tell you a little about my life, 
though it may not greatly explain why I am 



io8 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

without fear; still, the land and the people 
might mean something; they ought to mean 
much. 

I was born of not very poor and immensely 
respectable parents in a poor and not very 
respectable county of Kentucky. The first 
thing I remember about life, my first social 
consciousness, was the discovery that I was 
entangled in a series of sisters: there were six 
of us. I was as nearly as possible at the 
middle of the procession with three older 
and two younger, so that I was crowded both 
by what was before and by what was behind. 
I early learned to fight for the present 
against both the past and the future learned 
to seize what I could, lest it be seized either 
by hands reaching backward or by hands 
reaching forward. Literally, I opened my 
eyes upon life s insatiate competition and I 
began to practise at home the game of the 
world. 

Why my mother bore only daughters will 
have to be referred to the new science which 
takes as its field the forces and the mysteries 
that are sovereign between the nuptials and 
the cradle. But the reason, as openly laughed 
about in the family when the family grew old 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 109 

enough to laugh, as laughed about in the 
neighbourhood, was this: 

Even before marriage my father and my 
mother had waged a violent discussion about 
woman s suffrage. You may not know that 
in Kentucky from the first the cause of female 
suffrage has been upheld by a strong minority 
of strong women, a true pioneer movement 
toward the nation s future now near. It 
seems that my father, who was a brilliant 
lawyer, always browbeat my mother in argu 
ment, overwhelmed her, crushed her. Un 
convinced, in resentful silence, she quietly 
rocked on her side of the fireplace and looked 
deep into the coals. But regularly when the 
time came she replied to all his arguments by 
presenting him with another suffragette! 
Throughout her life she declined even to 
bear him a son to continue the argument! 
Her six daughters she would gladly have had 
twelve if she could were her triumphant 
squad for the armies of the great rebellion. 

Does this help to explain me to you? 

What next I relate about my. early life is 
something that you perhaps have never given 
a thought to children s pets and playthings: 
it explains a great deal. Have you ever 



i io THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

thought of a vital difference between country 
children and town children ? Country children 
more quickly throw away their dolls, if they 
have them, and attach their sympathies to 
living objects. A child s love of a doll is at 
best a sham: a little master-drama of the 
child s imagination trying to fill two roles 
its own and the role of something which can 
not respond. But a child s love of a living 
creature, which it chooses as the object of its 
love and play and protection, is stimulating, 
healthful and kicking with reality: because 
it is vitalised by reciprocity in the playmate, 
now affectionate and now hostile, but always 
representing something intensely alive which 
is the whole main thing. 

We are just beginning to find out that the 
dramas of childhood are the playgrounds of 
life s battlefields. The ones prepare for the 
others. A nature that will cling to a rag doll 
without any return, will cling to a rag husband 
without any return. A child s loyalty to an 
automaton prepares a woman for endurance 
of an automaton. Dolls have been the un 
doing and the death of many wives. 

A multitude of dolls would have been needed 
to supply the six destructive little girls of my 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY in 

mother s household. We soon broke our 
china tea sets or, more gladly, smashed one 
another s. For whatever reason, all lifeless 
pets, all shams, were quickly swept out of the 
house and the little scattering herd of us 
turned our restless and insatiate natures loose 
upon life itself. Sooner or later we petted 
nearly everything on the farm. My father 
was a director of the County Fair, and I re 
member that one autumn, about fair-time, we 
roped off a corner of the yard and held a prize 
exhibition of our favourites that year. They 
comprised a kitten, a duck, a pullet, a calf, a 
lamb and a puppy. 

Sooner or later our living playthings out 
grew us or died or were sold or made their 
sacrificial way to the kitchen. Were we dis 
consolate? Not a bit. Did we go down to 
the branch and gather there under an old 
weeping willow? Quite the contrary. Our 
hearts thrived on death and destruction, an 
nihilation released us from old ties, change 
gave us another chance, and we provided sub 
stitutes and continued our devotion. 

And I think this explains a good deal. 
And these two experiences of my childhood, 
taken together, explain me better than any- 



ii2 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

thing else I know. Competition first taught 
me to seize what I wanted before anyone else 
could seize it. Natural changes next taught 
me to be prepared at any moment to give 
that up without vain regret and to seize 
something else. Thus I seemed to learn 
life s lesson as I learned to walk: that what 
you love will not last long, and that long 
love is possible only when you love often. 

So many women know this; how few admit 
it! 

Sincerely yours, 

TILLY SNOWDEN. 

June the Nineteenth. 



TILLY SNOWDEN TO DR. MARIGOLD 

MY DEAR DR. MARIGOLD: 

You sail to-morrow. And to-morrow I go 
away for the summer: first to some friends, 
then further away to other friends, then still 
further away to other friends: a summer 
pageant of brilliant changes. 

There is no reason why I should write to 
you. Your stateroom will be filled with 
flowers; you will have letters and telegrams; 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 113 

friends will wave to you from the pier. My 
letter may be lost among the others, but at 
least it will have been written, and writing it 
is its pleasure to me. 

I was to go to England this summer, was 
to go as a bride. A few nights since I de 
cided not to go because I did not approve of 
the bridegroom. 

We marvel at life s coincidences: one even 
ing, not long ago, while speaking of your ex 
pected summer in England, you mentioned 
that you planned to make a pilgrimage to see 
Edward Blackthorne. You were to join some 
American friends over there and take them 
with you. That is the coincidence: / was to 
visit the Blackthornes this very summer, not 
as a stranger pilgrim, but as an invited guest 
with the groom whom I have rejected. 

It is like scattering words before the obvi 
ous to say that I wish you a pleasant summer. 
Not a forgetful one. To aid memory, as you, 
some night on the passage across, lean far 
over and look down at the phosphorescent 
couch of the sea for its recumbent Venus of 
the deep, remember that the Venus of modern 
life is the American woman. 

Am I to see you when autumn, if nothing 



ii4 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

else, brings you home see you not at all or 
seldom or often? 

At least this will remind you that I merely 
say au revoir. 

Adrift for the. summer rather than be an 
unwilling bride. 

TILLY SNOWDEN. 

June twenty-first. 

TILLY SNOWDEN TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

June 21. 
DEAR BEVERLEY: 

Since life separated us the other night I 
have not heard from you. I have not ex 
pected a letter, nor do you expect one from 
me. But I am going away to-morrow for the 
summer and my heart has a few words for 
you which must be spoken. 

It was not disappointment about the sum 
mer in England, not even your refusal to ex 
plain why you disappointed me, that held the 
main reason of my drawing back. I am in the 
mood to-night to tell you some things very 
frankly : 

Twice before I knew you, I was engaged to 
be married and twice as the wedding drew 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 115 

near I drew away from it. It is an old, old 
feeling of mine, though I am so young, that 
if married I should not long be happy. Of 
course I should be happy for a while. But 
afterwards! The interminable, intolerable 
afterwards! The same person year in and 
year out I should be stifled. Each of the 
men to whom I was engaged had given me 
before marriage all that he had to give: the 
rest I did not care for; after marriage with 
either I foresaw only staleness, his limitations, 
monotony. 

Believe this, then: there are things in you 
that I cling to, other things in you that do 
not draw me at all. And I cling more to life 
than to you, more than to any one person. 
How can any one person ever be all to me, all 
that I am meant for, and / will live! 

Why should we women be forced to spend 
our lives beside the first spring where one 
happened to fill one s cup at life s dawn! 
Why be doomed to die in old age at the same 
spring! With all my soul I believe that the 
world which has slowly thrown off so many 
tyrannies is about to throw off other tyran 
nies. It has been so harsh toward happiness, 
so compassionate toward misery and wrong. 



n6 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

Yet happiness is life s fines t^victory: for ages 
we have been trying to defeat our one best 
victory our natural happiness! 

A brief cup of joy filled at life s morning 
then to go thirsty for the rest of the long, 
hot, weary day! Why not goblet after goblet 
at spring after spring there are so many 
springs! And thirst is so eager for them! 

Come to see me in the autumn. For I will 
not, cannot, give you up. And when you 
come, do not seek to renew the engagement. 
Let that go whither it has gone. But come 
to see me. 

For I love you. 

TILLY. 



TILLY SNOWDEN TO POLLY BOLES 

June 21. 
POLLY BOLES: 

This is good-bye to you for the summer 
and, better than that, it is good-bye to you 
for life. Why not, in parting, face the truth 
that we have long hated each other and have 
used our acquaintanceship and our letters to 
express our hatred? How could there ever 
have been any friendship between you and me? 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 117 

Let me tell you of the detestable little 
signs that I have noticed in you for years. 
Are you aware that all the time you have 
occupied your apartment, you have never 
changed the arrangement of your furniture? 
As soon as your guests are gone, you push 
every chair where it was before. For years 
your one seat has been the same end of the 
same frayed sofa. Many a time I have noted 
your disquietude if any guest happened to 
sit there and forced you to sit elsewhere. 
For years you have worn the same breast-pin, 
though you have several. The idea of your 
being inconstant to a breast-pin! You pride 
yourself in such externals of faithfulness. 

You soul of perfidy! 

I leave you undisturbed to innumerable 
appointments with Ben, and with the same 
particular something to talk about, falsest 
woman I have ever known. 

Have you confided to Ben Doolittle the 
fact that you are secretly receiving almost 
constant attentions from Dr. Mullen? Will 
you tell him? Or shall I? 

TILLY SNOWDEN. 



ii8 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

POLLY BOLES TO BEN DOOLITTLE 

DEAR BEN: June 2 3 rd. 

I am worried. 

I begin to feel doubtful as to what course 
I should pursue with Dr. Claude Mullen. 
Of late he has been coming too often. He 
has been writing to me too often. He appears 
to be losing control of himself. Things cannot 
go on as they are and they must not get worse. 
What I could not foresee is his determination 
to hold me responsible for his being in love 
with me! He insists that 7 encouraged him 
and am now unfair me unfair! Of course I 
have never encouraged his visits; out of simple 
goodness of heart I have tolerated them. Now 
the reward of my kindness is that he holds me 
responsible and guilty. He is trying, in other 
words, to take advantage of my sympathy for 
him. I do feel sorry for him! 

I have not been cruel enough to dismiss 
him. His last letter is enclosed: it will give 
you some idea ! 

Can you advise me what to do? I have 
always relied upon your judgment in every 
thing. 

Faithfully yours, 

POLLY. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 119 

BEN DOOLITTLE TO POLLY BOLES 

[Penciled in Court Room] 

June 24th. 
DEAR POLLY: 

Certainly I can advise you. My advice is: 
tell him to take a cab and drive straight to 
the nearest institution for the weak-minded, 
engage a room, lock himself in and pray God 
to give him some sense. Tell him to stay 
secluded there until that prayer is answered. 
The Almighty himself couldn t answer his 
prayer until after his death, and by that time 
he d be out of the way anyhow and you 
wouldn t mind. 

I return his funeral oration unread, since I 
did not wish to attract attention to myself 
as moved to tears in open court. 

BEN. 

BEN DOOLITTLE TO POLLY BOLES 
[Evening of the same day] 

POLLY, DEAREST, MOST FAITHFUL OF WOMEN: 
This is a night I have long waited for and 

worked for. 
You have understood why during these 



120 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

years I have never asked you to set a day 
for our marriage. It has been a long, hard 
struggle, for me coming here poor, to make a 
living and a practice and a name. You know 
I have had as my goal not a living for one 
but a living for two and for more than two 
for our little ones. When I married you, I 
meant to rescue you from the Franklin Flats, 
all flats. 

But with these two hands of mine I have 
laid hold of the affairs of this world and 
shaken them until they have heeded me and 
my strength. I have won, I am independent, 
I am my own man and my own master, and 
I am ready to be your husband as through it 
all I have been your lover. 

Name the day when I can be both. 

Yet the day must be distant: I am to leave 
this firm and establish my own and I want 
that done first. Some months must yet pass. 
Any day of next Spring, then so far away 
but nearer than any other Spring during these 
impatient years. 

Polly, constant one, I am your constant 
lover, 

BEN DOOLITTLE. 

Roses to you. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 121 

POLLY BOLES TO BEN DOOLITTLE 

June 24.. 
Oh, BEN, BEN, BEN! 

My heart answers you. It leaps forward 
to the day. I have set the day in my heart 
and sealed it on my lips. Come and break 
that seal. To-night I shall tear two of the 
rosebuds apart and mingle their petals on my 
pillow. 

POLLY. 

BEN DOOLITTLE TO POLLY BOLES 

June 26. 

It occurs to me that our engagement might 
furnish you the means of getting rid of your 
prostrated nerve specialist. Write him to 
come to see you : tell him you have some joyful 
news that must be imparted at once. When 
he arrives announce to him that you have 
named the day of your marriage to me. To 
me, tell him! Then let him take himself off. 
You say he complains that all this is getting 
on his nerves. Anything that could sit on 
his nerves would be a mighty small animal. 

BEN. 



122 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 



POLLY BOLES TO BEN DOOLITTLE 

June 27. 

Our engagement has only made him more 
determined. He persists in visiting me. His 
loyalty is touching. Suppose the next time 
he comes I arrange for you to come. Your 
meeting him here might have the desired 
effect. 

POLLY BOLES. 



BEN DOOLITTLE TO POLLY BOLES 

June 28. 

It would certainly have the desired effect, 
but perhaps not exactly the effect he desires. 
Madam, would you wish to see the nerve 
filaments of your fond specialist scattered 
over your carpet as his life s deplorable 
arcana? No, Polly, not that! 

Make this suggestion to him: that in order 
to give him a chance to be near you but not 
too near you do offer him for the first year 
after our marriage only one year, mind you 
you do offer him, with my consent and at a 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 123 

good salary, the position of our furnace-man, 
since he so loves to warm himself with our 
fires. It would enable him to keep up his 
habit of getting down on his knees and puffing 
for you. 

BEN. 

BEN DOOLITTLE TO POLLY BOLES 



DEAR POLLY: ** 

It occurs to me just at the moment that 
not for some days have I heard you speak of 
your racked or wrecked nerve specialist. 
Has he learned to control his microscopic 
attachment? Has he found an antidote for 
the bacillus of his anaemic love? 

Polly, my woman, if he is still bothering 
you, let me know at once. It has been my 
joy hitherto to share your troubles; hence 
forth it is my privilege to take them on two 
uncrushable shoulders. 

At the drop of your hat I ll even meet him 
in your flat any night you say, and we ll all 
compete for the consequences. 

I. s. y. s. r. r. (You have long since learned 
what that means.) 

Your man, 

BEN D. 



i2 4 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

POLLY BOLES TO BEN DOOLITTLE 

July 15. 
DEAREST BEN: 

You need not T give another thought to 
Dr. Mullen. He does not annoy me any 
more. He can drop finally out of our cor 
respondence. 

Not an hour these days but my thoughts 
hover about you. Never so vividly as now 
does there rise before me the whole picture 
of our past of all these years together. And 
I am ever thinking of the day to which we 
both look forward as the one on which our 
paths promise to blend and our lives are 
pledged to meet. 

Your devoted 

POLLY. 



BEVERLEY SANDS TO JUDD & JUDD 

July 16. 
DEAR SIRS: 

Yesterday while walking along the street 
I found my attention most favourably drawn 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 125 

to the appearance of your business establish 
ment: to the tubs of plants at the entrance, 
the vines and flowers in the windows, and 
the classic Italian statuary properly mil 
dewed. Therefore I venture to w r rite. 

Do you know anything about ferns, espe 
cially Kentucky ferns? Do you ever collect 
them and ship them? I wish to place an order 
for some Kentucky ferns to be sent to Eng 
land. I had a list of those I desired, but this 
has been mislaid, and I should have to rely 
upon the shipper to make, out of his knowl 
edge, a collection that would represent the 
best of the Kentucky flora. Could you do 
this ? 

One more question, and you will please 
reply clearly and honestly. I notice that 
your firm speak of themselves as landscape 
architects. This leads me to inquire whether 
you have ever had any connection with 
Botany. You may not understand the ques 
tion and you are not required to understand 
it: I simply request you to answer it. 

Very truly yours, 

BEVERLEY SANDS. 



126 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

JUDD & JUDD TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

July 17. 
DEAR SIR: 

Your esteemed favour to hand. We gather 
and ship ferns and other plants, subject to 
order, to any address, native or foreign, with 
the least possible delay, and we shall be 
pleased to execute any commission which 
you may entrust to us. 

With reference to your other inquiry, we 
ask leave to state that we have never had 
the slightest connection with any other con 
cern doing business in the city under the firm- 
name of Botany. We do not even find them 
in the telephone directory. 

Awaiting your courteous order, we are 
Very truly yours, 

JUDD & JUDD. 

Per Q. 

BEVERLEY SANDS TO "jUDD & JUDD, PER Q." 

July 18. 
DEAR SIRS: 

I am greatly pleased to hear that you have 
no connection with any other house doing 
business under the firm-name of Botany, and I 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 127 

accordingly feel willing to risk giving you the 
following order: That you will make a col 
lection of the most highly prized varieties 
of Kentucky ferns and ship them, expenses 
prepaid, to this address, namely: Mr. Edward 
Blackthorne, King Alfred s Wood, Warwick 
shire, England. 

As a guaranty of good faith and as the 
means to simplify matters without further 
correspondence, I take pleasure in enclosing 
my cheque for $25. 

You will please advise me when the ferns 
are ready to be shipped, as I wish to come 
down and see to it myself that they actually 
do get off. 

Very truly yours, 

BEVERLEY SANDS. 

CLARA LOUISE CHAMBERLAIN TO 
BEVERLEY SANDS 

Seminole, North Carolina, 

July 18. 
DEAR SIR: 

I met with the melancholy misfortune a 
few weeks ago of losing my great father. 
Since his death I have been slowly going over 
his papers. He left a large mass of them in 



128 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

disorder, for his was too active a mind to 
pause long enough to put things in order. 

In a bundle of notes I have come across a 
letter to him from Burns & Bruce with the 
list of ferns in it that they sent him and that 
had been misplaced. My dear father was a 
very absent-minded scholar, as is natural. 
He had penciled a query regarding one of the 
ferns on the list, and I suppose, while looking 
up the doubtful point, he had laid the list 
down to pursue some other idea that suddenly 
attracted him and then forgot what he had 
been doing. My father worked over many 
ideas and moved with perfect ease from one 
to another, being equally at home with every 
thing great a mental giant. 

I send the list back to you that it may re 
mind you what a trouble and affliction you 
have been. Do not acknowledge the receipt 
of it, for I do not wish to hear from you. 

CLARA LOUISE CHAMBERLAIN. 

BEVERLEY SANDS TO JUDD & JUDD 

July 21. 
DEAR SIRS: 

I wish to take up immediately my com 
mission placed a few days ago. I referred in 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 129 

my first letter to a mislaid list of ferns. This 
has just turned up and is herewith enclosed, 
and I now wish you to make a collection of 
the ferns called for on this list. 

Please advise me at once whether you will 
do this. 

Very truly yours, 

BEVERLEY SANDS. 



JUDD & JUDD TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

July 22. 
DEAR SIR: 

Your letter to hand, with the list of ferns 
enclosed. We shall be pleased to cancel the 
original order, part of which we advise you 
had already been filled. It does not comprise 
the plants called for on the list. 

This will involve some slight additional 
expense, and if agreeable, we shall be pleased 
to have you enclose your cheque for the 
slight extra amount as per enclosed bill. 
Very truly yours, 

JUDD & JUDD. 



130 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

BEVERLEY SANDS TO JUDD & JUDD 

July 23. 
DEAR SIRS: 

I have your letter and I take the greatest 
possible pleasure in enclosing my cheque to 
cover the additional expense, as you kindly 
suggest. 

Very truly yours, 

BEVERLEY SANDS. 

BEVERLEY SANDS TO BEN DOOLITTLE 

October 50. 
DEAR BEN: 

They are gone! They re off! They have 
weighed anchor! They have sailed; they have 
departed ! 

I went down and watched the steamer out 
of sight. Packed around me at the end of 
the pier were people, waving hats and hand 
kerchiefs, some laughing, some with tears on 
their cheeks, some with farewells quivering on 
their dumb mouths. But everybody forgot 
his joy or his trouble to look at me: I out- 
waved, out-shouted them all. An old New 
York Harbour gull, which is the last creature 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 131 

in the world to be surprised at anything, 
flew up and glanced at me with a jaded eye. 

I have felt ever since as if the steamer s 
anchor had been taken from around my neck. 
I have become as human cork which no 
storm, no leaden weight, could ever sink. 
Come what will to me now from Nature s 
unkinder powers! Let my next pair of shoes 
be made of briers, my next waistcoat of rag 
weed! Fasten every morning around my 
neck a collar of the scaly-bark hickory! See 
to it that my undershirts be made of the 
honey-locust! For olives serve me green 
persimmons; if I must be poulticed, swab 
me in poultices of pawpaws! But for the rest 
of my days may the Maker of the world in 
His occasional benevolence save me from the 
things on it that look frail and harmless like 
ferns. 

Come up to dinner! Come, all there is of 
you! We ll open the friendly door of some 
friendly place and I ll dine you on everything 
commensurate with your simplicity. I ll open 
a magnum or a magnissimum. I ll open a 
new subway and roll down into it for joy. 

They are gone to him, his emblems of 
fidelity. I don t care what he does with them. 



132 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

They will for the rest of his days admonish 
him that in his letter to me he sinned against 
the highest law of his own gloriously endowed 
nature: 

Le Genie Oblige 

Accept this phrase, framed by me for your 
pilgrim s script of wayside French sayings. 
Accept it and translate it to mean that he 
who has genius, no matter what the world 
may do to him, no matter what ruin Nature 
may work in him, that he who has genius, 
is under obligation so long as he lives to do 
nothing mean and to do nothing meanly. 

BEVERLEY. 



ANNE RAEBURN TO EDWARD BLACKTHORNE IN 
ITALY 

King Alfred s Wood, 
Warwickshire, England, 
November 30. 
MY DEAR MR. BLACKTHORNS: 

I continue my chronicles of an English 
country-place during the absence of its master, 
with the hope that the reading of the chroni 
cles may cause him to hasten his return. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 133 

An amusing, perhaps a rather grave, mat 
ter passed under my observation yesterday. 
The afternoon was clear and mild and I had 
taken my work out into the garden. From 
where I sat I could see Hodge at work with 
his spade some distance away. Quite uncon 
sciously, I suppose, I lifted my eyes at in 
tervals to look toward him, for by degrees I 
became aware that Hodge at intervals was 
looking toward me. I noticed that he was 
red in the face, which is always a sign of his 
anger; apparently he wavered as to whether 
he should or should not do a debatable thing. 
Finally lifting his spade high and bringing 
it down with such force that he sent it deep 
into the mould where it stood upright, he 
started toward me. 

You know how, as he approaches anyone, 
he loosens his cap from his forehead and 
scrapes the back of his neck with the back 
of his thumb. As he stood before me he did 
this now. Then he made the following an 
nouncement in the voice of an aggrieved bully: 

"The Scolopendium vulgar e put up two new 
shoots after he went away, mum. Bishop s 
crooks he calls em, mum." 

I replied that I was glad to hear the ferns 



134 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

were thrifty. He, jerking his thumb toward 
the fern bank, added still more resentfully: 

"The Adiantum nigrum put up some, mum." 

I replied that I should announce to you the 
good news. 

Plainly this was not what he had come to 
tell me, for he stood embarrassed but not 
budging, his eyes blazing with a kind of stupid 
fury. At last he brought out his trouble. 

It seems that one day last week a hamper 
of ferns arrived for you from New York, with 
only the names of the shippers, charges pre 
paid. I was not at home, having that day 
gone to the Vicar s with some marmalade; 
so Hodge took it upon himself to receive the 
hamper. By his confession he unwrapped 
the package and discovering the contents to 
be a collection of fern-roots, with the list of 
the Latin names attached, he re-wrapped them 
and re-shipped them to the forwarding agents 
charges to be collected in New York. 

This is now Hodge s plight: he is uncertain 
whether the plants were some you had ordered, 
or were a gift to you from some friend, or 
merely a gratuitous advertisement by an 
American nurseryman. Whether yours or 
another s, of much value to you or none, he 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 135 

resolved that they should not enter the gar 
den. There was no place for them in the 
garden without there being a place for their 
Latin names in his head, and his head would 
hold no more. At least his temper is the same 
that has incited all English rebellion: human 
nature need not stand for it! 

The skies are wistful some days with blue 
that is always brushed over by clouds: Eng 
land s same still blue beyond her changing 
vapours. The evenings are cosy with lamps 
and November fires and with new books that 
no hand opens. A few late flowers still bloom, 
loyal to youth in a world that asks of them 
now only their old age. The birds sit silent 
with ruffled feathers and look sturdy and 
established on the bare shrubs: liberals in 
spring, conservatives in autumn, wise in 
season. The larger trees strip their summer 
flippancies from them garment by garment 
and stand in their noble nakedness, a challenge 
to the cold. 

The dogs began to wait for you the day 
you left. They wait still, resolved at any cost 
to show that they can be patient; that is, well- 
bred. The one of them -who has the higher 
intelligence! The other evening I filled and 



136 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

lighted your pipe and held it out to him as 
I have often seen you do. He struck the 
floor softly with the tip of his tail and smiled 
with his eyes very tenderly at me, as saying: 
"You want to see whether I remember that 
he did that; of course I remember." Then, 
with a sudden suspicion that he was possibly 
being very stupid, with quick, gruff bark he 
ran out of the room to make sure. Back he 
came, his face in broad silent laughter at 
himself and his eyes announcing to me 
"Not yet." 

Do not all these things touch you with 
homesickness amid the desolation of the 
Grand Canal with the shallow Venetian 
songs that patter upon the ear but do not 
reach down into strong Northern English 
hearts ? 

I have already written this morning to 
Mrs. Blackthorne. As each of you hands my 
letters to the other, these petty chronicles, 
sent out divided here in England, become 
united in a foreign land. 

I am, dear Mr. Blackthorne, 

Respectfully yours, 

ANNE RAEBURN. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 137 

JUDD & JUDD TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

December 27. 

DEAR SIR: 

We have to report that the ferns recently 
shipped to a designated address in England 
in accordance with your instructions have 
been returned with charges for return ship 
ment to be collected at our office. We enclose 
our bill for these charges and ask your atten 
tion to it at your early convenience. The 
ferns are ruined and worthless to us. 
Very truly yours, 

JUDD & JUDD. 

BEVERLEY SANDS TO JUDD & JUDD 

December 30. 
DEAR SIRS: 

I am very much obliged to you for your 
letter and I take the greatest pleasure imagin 
able in enclosing my cheque to cover the 
charges of the return shipment. 
Very truly yours, 

BEVERLEY SANDS. 



138 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

BEVERLEY SANDS TO BEN DOOLITTLE 

DEAR BEN: December 28. 

The ferns have come back to me from England! 

BEVERLEY. 

BEN DOOLITTLE TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

DEAR BEVERLEY: December 29. 

I am with you, brother, to the last root. 
But don t send any more ferns to anybody 
don t try to, for God s sake! I m with you! 
J y suis, / y reste. (French forever! Boutez 
en avant, mon French!) 

By the way, our advice is that you drop 
the suit against Phillips & Faulds. They are 
engaged in a lawsuit and as we look over the 
distant Louisville battlefield, we can see only 
the wounded and the dying and the poor. 
Would you squeeze a druggist s sponge for 
live tadpoles? Whatever you got, you 
wouldn t get tadpoles, not live ones. 

Our fee is $50; hadn t you better stop at 
$50 and think yourself lucky? Monsieur a 
bien tombe. 

Any more fern letters? Don t forget them. 

BEN DOOLITTLE. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 139 

BEVERLEY SANDS TO BEN DOOLITTLE 

December 30. 
DEAR BEN: 

I take your advice, of course, about drop 
ping the suit against Phillips & Faulds, and 
I take pleasure in enclosing you my cheque 
for $50 damn them. That s $75 damn 
them. And if anybody else anywhere around 
hasn t received a cheque from me for nothing, 
let him or her rise, and him or her will get one. 

No more letters yet. But I feel a disturb 
ance in the marrow of my bones and doubt 
less others are on the way, as one more spell 
of bad weather another storm for me. 

BEVERLEY. 



CLARA LOUISE CHAMBERLAIN TO 
BEVERLEY SANDS 

Seminole, North Carolina, 
December 25. 

SIR: 

This is Christmas Day, when every one is 
thinking of peace and good will on earth. 
It makes me think of you. I cannot forget 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

you, my feeling is too bitter for oblivion, for 
it was you who were instrumental in bringing 
about my father s death. One damp night 
I heard him get up and then I heard him fall, 
and rushing to him to see what was the mat 
ter, I found that he had stumbled down the 
three steps which led from his bedroom to his 
library, and had rolled over on the floor, with 
his candle burning on the carpet beside him. 
I lifted him up and asked him what he was 
doing out of bed and he said he had some kind 
of recollection about a list of ferns; it worried 
him and he could not sleep. 

The fall was a great shock to his nervous 
system and to mine, and a few days after that 
he contracted pneumonia from the cold, being 
already troubled with lumbago. 

My father s life-work, which will never be 
finished now, was to be called " Approxima 
tions to Consciousness in Plants." He be 
lieved that bushes knew a great deal of what 
is going on around them, and that trees some 
times have queer notions which cause them 
to grow crooked, and that ferns are most in 
telligent beings. It was while thus engaged, 
in a weakened condition with this work on 
"Consciousness in Plants," that he suddenly 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 141 

lost consciousness himself and did not after 
wards regain it as an earthly creature. 

I shall always remember you for having 
been instrumental in his death. This is the 
kind of Christmas Day you have presented 
to me. 

CLARA LOUISE CHAMBERLAIN. 



CLARA LOUISE CHAMBERLAIN TO 
BEVERLEY SANDS 

Seminole, North Carolina, 
January 7. 
DEAR SIR: 

Necessity knows no law, and I have be 
come a sad victim of necessity, hence this 
appeal to you. 

My wonderful father left me in our proud 
social position without means. I was thrown 
by his death upon my own resources, and I 
have none but my natural faculties and my 
wonderful experience as his secretary. 

With these I had to make my way to a 
livelihood and deep as was the humiliation 
of a proud, sensitive daughter of the South 
and of such a father, I have been forced to 
come down to a position I never expected to 



142 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

occupy. I have accepted a menial engage 
ment in a small florist establishment of young 
Mr. Andy Peters, of this place. 

Mr. Andy Peters was one of my father s 
students of Botany. He sometimes stayed 
to supper, though, of course, my father did 
not look upon him as our social equal, and 
cautioned me against receiving his attentions, 
not that I needed the caution, for I repeatedly 
watched them sitting together and they were 
most uncongenial. My father s acquaintance 
with him made it easier for me to enter his 
establishment. I am to be his secretary and 
aid him with my knowledge of plants and 
especially to bring the influence of my social 
position to bear on his business. 

Since you were the instrument of my father s 
death, you should be willing to aid me in my 
efforts to improve my condition in life. I 
write to say that it would be as little as you 
could do to place your future commissions 
for ferns with Mr. Andy Peters. He has just 
gone into the florist s business and these would 
help him and be a recommendation to me for 
bringing in custom. He might raise my 
salary, which is so small that it is galling. 

While father remained on earth and roved 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 143 

the campus, he filled my life completely. I 
have nothing to fill me now but orders for 
Mr. Andy Peters. 

Hoping for an early reply, 

A proud daughter of the Southland, 

CLARA LOUISE CHAMBERLAIN. 



BEVERLEY SANDS TO BEN DOOLITTLE 

January 10. 

DEAR BEN: 

The tumult in my bones was a well-advised 
monitor. More fern letters were on the way: 
I enclose them. 

You will discover from the earlier of these 
two documents that during a late unconscious 
scrimmage in North Carolina I murdered an 
aged botanist of international reputation. 
At least one wish of my life is gratified: that 
if I ever had to kill anybody, it would be some 
one who was great. You will gather from 
this letter that, all unaware of what I was 
doing, I tripped him up, rolled him down 
stairs, knocked his candle out of his hand and, 
as he lay on his back all learned and amazed, 
I attacked him with pneumonia, while lum 
bago undid him from below. 



144 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

You will likewise observe that his daughter 
seems to be an American relative of Hamlet 
she has a "harp" in her head: she harps on 
the father. 

One thing I cannot get out of my head: 
have you noticed anything wrong at the Club ? 
Two or three evenings, as we have gone in to 
dinner, have you noticed anything wrong? 
Those two charlatans put their heads to 
gether last night: their two heads put together 
do not make one complete head that may 
be the trouble; beware of less than one good 
full-weight head. Something is wrong and I 
believe they are the dark forces: have you 
observed anything? 

BEVERLEY. 



BEN DOOLITTLE TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

January n. 

DEAR BEVERLEY: 

The letters are filed away with their pred 
ecessors. 

If I am any judge of human nature, you 
will receive others from this daughter of the 
South in the same strain. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 145 

If her great father (local meaning, old dad) 
is really dead, he probably sawed his head off 
against a tight clothes-line in the back-yard 
some dark night, while on his way to their 
gooseberry bushes to see if they had any 
sense. 

More likely he hurled himself headlong 
into eternity to get rid of her rolled down 
the steps with sheer delight and reached for 
pneumonia with a glad hand to escape his 
own offspring and her endless society. 

The most terrifying thing to me about this 
new Clara is her Great Desert dryness; no 
drop of humour ever bedewed her mind. I 
believe those eminent gentlemen who call 
themselves biologists have recently discovered 
that the human system, if deprived of water, 
will convert part of its dry food into water. 

I wish these gentlemen would study the 
contrariwise case of Clara: she would convert 
a drink of water into a mouthful of sawdust. 

Humour has long been codified by me as one 
of nature s most solemn gifts. I divide all 
witnesses into two classes: those who, while 
giving testimony or being examined or cross- 
examined, cause laughter in the courtroom at 
others. The second class turn all laughter 



146 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

against themselves. That is why the gift of 
humour is so grave it keeps us from making 
ourselves ridiculous. A Frenchman (still my 
French) has recently pointed out that the 
reason we laugh is to drive things out of the 
world, to jolly them out of existence and have 
a good time as we do it. Therefore not to 
be laughed at is to survive. 

Beware of this new Clara! War breeds two 
kinds of people : heroes and shams the heroic 
and the mock heroic. You and I know the 
Civil War bred two kinds of burlesque 
Southerner: the post-bellum Colonel and the 
spurious proud daughter of the Southland. 
Proud, sensitive Southern people do not go 
around proclaiming that they are proud and 
sensitive. And that word Southland ! Hang 
the word and shoot the man who made it. 
There are no proud daughters of the Westland 
or of the Northland. Beware of this new 
Clara! This breath of the Desert! 

Yes, I have noticed something wrong in the 
Club. I have hesitated about speaking to you 
of it. I do not know what it means, but my 
suspicions lie where yours lie with those two 
wallpaper doctors. 

BEN. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 147 



RUFUS KENT TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

The Great Dipper, 
January 12. 
MY DEAR MR. SANDS: 

I have been President of this Club so long 
they have refused to have any other presi 
dent during my lifetime and call me its Nestor 
that whenever I am present my visits are 
apt to consist of interruptions. To-night it 
is raining and not many members are scat 
tered through the rooms. I shall be at leisure 
to answer your very grave letter. (I see, how 
ever, that I am going to be interrupted.) . . . 

My dear Mr. Sands, you are a compara 
tively new member and much allowance must 
be made for your lack of experience with the 
traditions of this Club. You ask: "What is 
this gossip about? Who started it; what did 
he start it with?" 

My dear Mr. Sands, there is no gossip in 
this Club. It would not be tolerated. We 
have here only the criticism of life. This 
Club is The Great Dipper. The origin of the 
name has now become obscure. It may first 
have been adopted to mean that the members 



i 4 8 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

would constitute a star-system a human con 
stellation; it may be otherwise interpreted as 
the wit of some one of the founders who 
wished to declare in advance that the Club 
would be a big, long-handled spoon; with 
which any member could dip into the ocean 
of human affairs and ladle out what he re 
quired for an evening s conversation. 

No gossip here, then. The criticism of life 
only. What is said in the Club would em 
brace many volumes. In fact I myself have 
perhaps discoursed to the vast extent of whole 
shelves full. Probably had the Club under 
taken to bind its conversation, the clubhouse 
would not hold the books. But not a word 
of gossip. 

I now come to the subject of your letter, 
and this is what I have ascertained: 

During the past summer one of the mem 
bers of the Club (no name, of course, can be 
called) was travelling in England. Three or 
four American tourists joined him at one 
place or another, and these, finding them 
selves in one of those enchanted regions of 
England to which nearly all tourists go and 
which in our time is made more famous by 
the novels of Edward Blackthorne whom I 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 149 

met in England and many of whose works 
are read here in the Club by admirers of his 
genius this group of American tourists natu 
rally went to call on him at his home. They 
were very hospitably received; there was a 
great deal of praise of him and praise every 
where in the world is hospitably received, so 
I hear. It was a pleasant afternoon; the 
American visitors had tea with Mr. and Mrs. 
Blackthorne in their garden. Afterwards Mr. 
Blackthorne took them for a stroll. 

There had been some discussion, as it 
seems, of English and of American fiction, of 
the younger men coming on in the two litera 
tures. One of the visitors innocently in 
quired of Mr. Blackthorne whether he knew 
of your work. Instantly all noticed a change 
in his manner: plainly the subject was dis 
tasteful, and he put it away from him with 
some vague rejoinder in a curt undertone. 
At once some one of the visitors conceived 
the idea of getting at the reason for Mr. 
Blackthorne s unaccountable hostility. But 
his evident resolve was not to be drawn out. 

As they strolled through the garden, they 
paused to admire his collection of ferns, and 
he impulsively turned to the American who 



ISO THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

had been questioning him and pointed to a 
little spot. 

"That," he said, "was once reserved for 
some ferns which your young American novel 
ist promised to send me." 

The whole company gathered curiously 
about the spot and all naturally asked, "But 
where are the ferns?" 

Mr. Blackthorne without a word and with 
an air of regret that even so little had escaped 
him, led the party further away. 

That is all. Perhaps that is what you hear 
in the Club: the hum of the hive that a mem 
ber should have acted in some disagreeable, 
unaccountable way toward a very great man 
whose work so many of us revere. You have 
merely run into the universal instinct of 
human nature to think evil of human nature. 
Emerson had about as good an opinion of it as 
any man that ever lived, and he called it a 
scoundrel. It is one of the greatest of mysteries 
that we are born with a poor opinion of one 
another and begin to show it as babies. If 
you do not think that babies despise one an 
other, put a lot of them together for a few 
hours and see how much good opinion is left. 

I feel bound to say that your letter is most 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 151 

unbridled. There cannot be many things 
with which the people of Kentucky are more 
familiar than the bridle, yet they always im 
press outsiders as the most unbridled of 
Americans. I will add, however, that patri 
cian blood, ancestral blood, is always un 
bridled. Otherwise I might not now be styled 
the Nestor of this Club. Only some kind of 
youthful Hector in this world ever makes one 
of its aged Nestors. I am interrupted 
again. . . . 

I must conclude my letter rather abruptly. 
My advice to you is not to pay the slightest 
attention to all this miserable gossip in the 
Club. I am too used to that sort of thing 
here to notice it myself. And will you not 
at an early date give me the pleasure of your 
company at dinner? 

Faithfully yours, 

RUFUS KENT. 



PART THIRD 



CLARA LOUISE CHAMBERLAIN TO 
BEVERLEY SANDS 

Seminole, North Carolina, 

May i, 1912. 
MY DEAR SIR: 

This small greenhouse of Mr. Andy Peters 
is a stifling, lonesome place. His acquaint 
ances are not the class of people who buy 
flowers unless there is a death in the family. 
He has no social position, and receives very 
few orders in that way. I do what I can for 
him through my social connections. Time 
hangs heavily on my hands and I have little 
to do but think of my lot. 

When Mr. Peters and I are not busy, I do 
not find him companionable. He does not 
possess the requisite attainments. We have 
a small library in this town, and I thought I 
would take up reading. I have always felt so 
much at home with all literature. I asked the 
librarian to suggest something new in fiction 
and she urged me to read a novel by young Mr. 

152 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 153 

Beverley Sands, the Kentucky novelist. I write 
now to inquire whether you are the Mr. Bever 
ley Sands who wrote the novel. If you are, I 
wish to tell you how glad I am that I 
have long had the pleasure of your ac 
quaintance. Your story comes quite close 
to me. You understand what it means to be 
a proud daughter of the Southland who is 
thrown upon her own resources. Your heroine 
and I are most alike. There is a wonderful 
description in your book of a woodland scene 
with ferns in it. 

Would you mind my sending you my own 
copy of your book, to have you write in it 
some little inscription such as the following: 
"For Miss Clara Louise Chamberlain with 
the compliments of Beverley Sands." 

Your story gives me a different feeling from 
what I have hitherto entertained toward you. 
You may not have understood my first letters 
to you. The poor and proud and sensitive 
are so often misunderstood. You have so 
truly appreciated me in drawing the heroine 
of your book that I feel as much attracted to 
you now as I was repelled from you formerly. 

Respectfully yours, 
CLARA LOUISE CHAMBERLAIN. 



154 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 



CLARA LOUISE CHAMBERLAIN TO 
BEVERLEY SANDS 

May 10, 1912. 
MY DEAR MR. SANDS: 

I wish to thank you for putting your name 
in my copy of your story. Your kindness 
encourages me to believe that you are all 
that your readers would naturally think you 
to be. And I feel that I can reach out to you 
for sympathy. 

The longer I remain in this place, the more 
out of place I feel. But my main trouble is 
that I have never been able to meet the 
whole expense of my father s funeral, though 
no one knows this but the undertaker, unless 
he has told it. He is quite capable of doing 
such a thing. The other day he passed me, 
sitting on his hearse, and he gave me a look 
that was meant to remind me of my debt and 
that was most uncomplimentary. 

And yet I was not extravagant. Any ig 
norant observer of the procession would 
never have supposed that my father was a 
thinker of any consequence. The faculty of 
the college attended, but they did not make 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 155 

as much of a show as at Commencement. 
They never do at funerals. 

Far be it from me to place myself under 
obligation to anyone, least of all to a stranger, 
by receiving aid. I do not ask it. I now 
wish that I had never spoken to you of your 
having been instrumental in my father s 
death. 

A proud daughter of the Southland, 

CLARA LOUISE CHAMBERLAIN. 



CLARA LOUISE CHAMBERLAIN TO 
BEVERLEY SANDS 

May 17, igi2. 
MY DEAR MR. SANDS: 

I have received your cheque and I think 
what you have done is most appropriate. 

Since I wrote you last, my position in this 
establishment has become still more em 
barrassing. Mr. Andy Peters has begun to 
offer me his attentions. I have done nothing 
to bring about this infatuation for me and I 
regard it as most inopportune. 

I should like to leave here and take a posi 
tion in New York. If I could find a situation 
there as secretary to some gentleman, my 



156 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

experience as my great father s secretary 
would of course qualify me to succeed as his. 
You may not have cordially responded to my 
first letters, but you cannot deny that they 
were well written. If the gentleman were a 
married man, I could assure the family be 
forehand that there would be no occasion for 
jealousy on his wife s part, as so often hap- ( 
pens with secretaries, I have heard. If he 
should have lost his wife and should have 
little children, I do love little children. 
While not acting as his secretary, I could be 
acting with the children. 

If my grey-haired father, who is now be 
yond the blue skies, were only back in North 
Carolina! 

CLARA LOUISE. 



CLARA LOUISE CHAMBERLAIN TO 
BEVERLEY SANDS 

May 21, 1912. 
MY DEAR MR. SANDS : 

I have been forced to leave forever the 
greenhouse of Mr. Andy Peters and am now 
thrown upon my own resources without 
a roof over my proud head. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 157 

Mr. Andy Peters is a confirmed rascal. 
I almost feel that I shall have to do some 
thing desperate if I am to succeed. 

CLARA LOUISE CHAMBERLAIN. 



BEVERLEY SANDS TO BEN DOOLITTLE 

May 24, 1912. 
DEAR BEN: 

Clara Louise Chamberlain is in New York! 
God Almighty! 

I have been so taken up lately with other 
things that I have forgotten to send you a 
little bundle of letters from her. You will 
discover from one of these that I gave her a 
cheque. I know you will say it was folly, 
perhaps criminal folly; but I was in a way 
"instrumental" in bringing about the great 
botanist s demise. 

If I had described no ferns, there would 
have been no fern trouble, no fern list. The 
old gentleman would not have forgotten the 
list, if I had not had it sent to him; hence he 
would not have gotten up at midnight to 
search for it, would not have fallen down 
stairs, might never have had pneumonia. I 
can never be acquitted of responsibility! 



158 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

Besides, she praised my novel (something 
you have never done!): that alone was worth 
nearly a hundred dollars to me! Now she is 
here and she writes, asking me to help her to 
find employment, as she is without means. 

But I can t have that woman as my secre 
tary! I dictate my novels. Novels are mat 
ters of the emotions. The secretary of a 
novelist must not interfere with the flow of 
his emotions. If I were dictating to this 
woman, she would be like an organ-grinder, 
and I should be nothing but a little hollow- 
eyed monkey, wondering what next to do, 
and too terrified not to do something; my 
poor brain would be unable even to hesitate 
about an idea for fear she would think my 
ideas had given out. Besides she would be 
the living presence of this whole Pharaoh s 
plague of Nile Green ferns. 

Let her be your secretary, will you? In 
your mere lawyer s work, you do not have 
any emotions. Give her a job, for God s 
sake! And remember you have never refused 
me anything in your life. I enclose her ad 
dress and please don t send it back to me. 

For I am sick, just sick! I am going to 
undress and get in bed and send for the 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 159 

doctor and stretch myself out under my 
bolster and die my innocent death. And 
God have mercy on all of you! But I already 
know, when I open my eyes in Eternity, what 
will be the first thing I ll see. O Lord, I 
wonder if there is anything but ferns in heaven 
and hell! 

BEVERLEY. 



BENJAMIN DOOLITTLE TO CLARA LOUISE 
CHAMBERLAIN 

May 2$, IQI2. 

DEAR MADAM: 

Mr. Beverley Sands is very much indis 
posed just at the present time, and has been 
kind enough to write me with the request that 
I interest myself in securing for you a position 
as private secretary. Nothing permanent is 
before me this morning, but I write to say that 
I could give you some work to-morrow for the 
time at least, if you will kindly call at these 
offices at ten o clock. 

Very truly yours, 

BENJAMIN DOOLITTLE. 



160 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

BEN DOOLITTLE TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

May 27, 1912. 
DEAR BEVERLEY: 

If you keep on getting into trouble, some 
day you ll get in and never get out. You 
sent her a cheque! Didn t you know that 
in doing this you had sent her a blank cheque, 
which she could afterwards fill in at any cost 
to your peace? If you are going to distribute 
cheques to young ladies merely because their 
fathers die, I shall take steps to have you 
placed in my legal possession as an adult 
infant. 

Here s what I ve done I wrote to your 
ward, asking her to present herself at this 
office at ten o clock yesterday morning. She 
was here punctually. I had left instructions 
that she should be shown at once into my 
private office. 

When she entered, I said good morning, 
and pointed to a typewriter and to some mat 
ter which I asked her to copy. Meantime I 
finished writing a hypothetical address to a 
hypothetical jury in a hypothetical case, at 
the same time making it as little like an actual 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 161 

address to a jury as possible and as little like 
law as possible. 

Then I asked her to receive the dictation 
of the address, which was as follows : 

"I beg you now to take a good look at this 
young woman young, but old enough to 
know what she is doing. You will not dis 
cover in her appearance, gentlemen, any 
marks of the adventuress. But you are men 
of too much experience not to know that 
the adventuress does not reveal her marks. 
As for my client, he is a perfectly innocent 
man. Worse than innocent; he is, on account 
of a certain inborn weakness, a rather helpless 
human being whenever his sympathies are 
appealed to, or if anyone looks at him pleas 
antly, or but speaks a kind word. In a 
moment of such weakness he yielded to this 
woman s appeal to his sympathies. At once 
she converted his generosity into a claim, and 
now she has begun to press that claim. But 
that is an old story: the greater your kindness 
to certain people, the more certain they be 
come that your kindness is simply their due. 
The better you are, the worse you must have 
been. Your present virtues are your acknowl 
edgment of former shortcomings. It has be- 



162 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

come the design of this adventuress my 
client having once shown her unmerited kind 
ness it has now become her apparent design 
to force upon him the responsibility of her 
support and her welfare. 

"You know how often this is done in New 
York City, which is not only Babylon for the 
adventurer and adventuress, but their Garden 
of Eden, since here they are truly at large 
with the serpent. You are aware that the 
adventuress never operates, except in a large 
city, just as the charlatan of every profession 
operates in the large city. Little towns have 
no adventuresses and no charlatans; they are 
not to be found there because there they 
would be found out. What I ask is that you 
protect my client as you would have my 
client, were he a juryman, help to protect 
innocent men like you. I ask then that this 
woman be sentenced to pay a fine of twenty- 
five dollars and be further sentenced to hard 
labor in the penitentiary for a term of one 
year. 

"No, I do not ask that. For this young 
woman is not yet a bad woman. But unless 
she stops right here in her career, she is likely 
to become a bad woman. I do ask that you 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 163 

sentence her to pay a few tears of penitence 
and to go home, and there be strictly confined 
to wiser, better thoughts." 

When I had dictated this, I asked her to 
read it over to me; she did so in faltering 
tones. Then I bade her good morning, said 
there was no more work for the day, instructed 
her that when she was through with copying 
the work already assigned, the head-clerk 
would receive it and pay for it, and requested 
her to return at ten o clock this morning. 

This morning she did not come. I called 
up her address; she had left there. Nothing 
was known of her. 

If you ever write to her again ! And 
since you, without visible means of support, 
are so fond of sending cheques to everybody, 
why not send one to me! Am I to go on de 
fending you for nothing? 

Your obedient counsel and turtle, 

BENJAMIN DOOLITTLE. 

BEVERLEY SANDS TO BEN DOOLITTLE 

DEAR BEN: M ^ 28 > ^ I2 

What have you done, what have you done, 
what have you done! That green child 



164 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

turned loose in New York, not knowing a 
soul and not having a cent! Suppose any 
thing happens to her how shall I feel then! 
Of course, you meant well, but my dear 
fellow, wasn t it a terrible, an inhuman thing 
to do! Just imagine but then you can t 
imagine, can t imagine, can t imagine! 

BEVERLEY. 



BENJAMIN DOOLITTLE TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

May 29, IQI2. 
MY DEAR BEVERLEY: 

I am sorry that my bungling efforts in your 
behalf should have proved such a miscalcula 
tion. But as you forgive everybody sooner or 
later perhaps you will in time pardon even me. 
Your respectful erring servant, 

BENJAMIN DOOLITTLE. 

TILLY SNOWDEN TO POLLY BOLES 

May 50, IQI2. 
POLLY BOLES: 

The sight of a letter from me will cause a 
violent disturbance of your routine existence. 
Our "friendship" worked itself to an open 
and honourable end about the time I went 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 165 

away last summer and showed itself to be 
honest hatred. Since my return in the au 
tumn I have been absorbed in many delight 
ful ways and you, doubtless, have been loy 
ally imbedded in the end of the same frayed 
sofa, with your furniture arranged as for years 
past, and with the same breastpin on your 
constant heart. Whenever we have met, you 
have let me know that the formidable back 
of Polly Boles was henceforth to be turned 
on me. 

I write because I will not come to see you. 
My only motive is that you will forward my 
letter to Ben Doolittle, whom you have so 
prejudiced against me, that I cannot even 
write to him. 

My letter concerns Beverley. You do not 
know that since our engagement was broken 
last summer he has regularly visited me: we 
have enjoyed one another in ways that are 
not fetters. Your friendship for Beverley of 
course has lasted with the constancy of a 
wooden pulpit curved behind the head and 
shoulders of a minister. Ben Doolittle s 
affection for him is as splendid a thing as one 
ever sees in life. I write for the sake of us all. 

Have you been with Beverley of late? If 



166 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

so, have you noticed anything peculiar? Has 
Ben seen him? Has Ben spoken to you of a 
change? I shall describe as if to you both 
what occurred to-night during Beverley s 
visit: he has just gone. 

As soon as I entered the parlours I dis 
covered that he was not wholly himself and 
instantly recollected that he had not for some 
time seemed perfectly natural. Repeatedly 
within the last few months it has become in 
creasingly plain that something preyed upon 
his mind. When I entered the rooms this 
evening, although he made a quick, clever 
effort to throw it off, he was in this same mood 
of peculiar brooding. 

Someone I shall not say who had sent 
me some flowers during the day. I took them 
down with me, as I often do. I think that 
Beverley, on account of his preoccupation, 
did not at first notice that I had brought any 
flowers; he remained unaware, I feel sure, 
that I placed the vase on the table near which 
we sat. But a few minutes later he caught 
sight of them a handful of roses of the colour 
of the wild-rose, with some white spray and a 
few ferns. 

When his eyes fell upon the ferns our con- 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 167 

versation snapped like a thread. Painful 
silence followed. The look with which one 
recognises some object that persistently an 
noys came into his eyes: it was the identical 
expression I had already remarked when he 
was gazing as on vacancy. He continued 
absorbed, disregardful of my presence, until 
his silence became discourteous. My inquiry 
for the reason of his strange action was 
evaded by a slight laugh. 

This evasion irritated me still more. You 
know I never trust or respect people \vho 
gloss. His rejoinder was gloss. He was tak 
ing it for granted that having exposed to me 
something he preferred to conceal, he would 
receive my aid to cover this up: I was to join 
him in the ceremony of gloss. 

As a sign of my displeasure I carried the 
flowers across the room to the mantelpiece. 

But the gaiety and carelessness of the even 
ing were gone. When two people have known 
each other long and intimately, nothing so 
quickly separates them as the discovery by 
one that just beneath the surface of their 
intercourse the other keeps something hidden. 
The carelessness of the evening was gone, a 
sense of restraint followed which each of us 



168 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

recognised by periods of silence. To escape 
from this I soon afterward for a moment 
went up to my room. 

I now come to the incident which explains 
why I think my letter should be sent to Ben 
Doolittle. 

As I re-entered the parlours Beverley was 
standing before the vase of flowers on the 
mantelpiece. His back was turned toward 
me. He did not see me or hear me. I was 
about to speak when I discovered that he was 
muttering to himself and making gestures at 
the ferns. Fragments of expression straggled 
from him and the names of strange people. 
I shall not undertake to write down his in 
coherent mutterings, yet such was the stimu 
lation of my memory due to shock that I 
recall many of these. 

You ought to know by this time that I am 
by nature fearless; yet something swifter and 
stranger than fear took possession of me and 
I slipped from the parlours and ran half-way 
up the stairs. Then, with a stronger dread 
of what otherwise might happen, I returned. 

Beverley was sitting where I had left him 
when I quitted the parlours first. He had the 
air of merely expecting my re-entrance. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 169 

I think this is what shocked me most: that 
he could play two parts with such ready con 
cealment, successful cunning. 

Now that he is gone and the whole evening 
becomes so vivid a memory, I am urged by a 
feeling of uneasiness to reach Ben Doolittle 
with this letter, since there is no one else to 
whom I can turn. 

Beverley left abruptly; my manner may 
have forced that. Certainly for the first time 
in all these years we separated with a sudden 
feeling of positive anger. If he calls again, I 
shall be excused. 

Act as you think best. And remember, 
please, under what stress of feeling I must be 
1 to write another letter to you. To you! 

TILLY SNOWDEN. 

TILLY SNOWDEN TO POLLY BOLES 
[A second letter enclosed in the preceding one] 

My letter of last night was written from 
impulse. This morning I was so ill that I 
asked Dr. Marigold to come to see me. I 
had to explain. He looked grave and finally 
asked whether he might speak to Dr. Mullen: 
he thought it advisable; Dr. Mullen could 



1 70 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

better counsel what should be done. Later 
he called me up to inquire whether Dr. Mullen 
and he could call together. 

Dr. Mullen asked me to go over what had 
occurred the evening before. Dr. Marigold 
and he went across the room and consulted. 
Dr. Mullen then asked me who Beverley s 
physician was. I said I thought Beverley 
had never been ill in his life. He asked 
whether Ben Doolittle knew or had better 
not be told. 

Again I leave the matter to Ben and you. 

But I have thought it necessary to put 
down on a separate paper the questions which 
Dr. Mullen asked with my reply to each. 
For I do not wish Ben Doolittle to think I 
said anything about Beverley that I would 
be unwilling for him or for anyone else to 
know. 

TILLY SNOWDEN. 



POLLY BOLES TO TILLY SNOWDEN 

June 2, IQI2. 
TILLY SNOWDEN: 

A telegram from Louisville has reached me 
this morning, announcing the dangerous ill- 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 171 

ness of my mother, and I go to her by the 
earliest train. I have merely to say that I 
have sent your letters to Ben. 

I shall add, however, that the formidable 
back of Polly Boles seems to absorb a good 
deal of your attention. At least my for 
midable back is a safe back. It is not an 
uncontrollable back. It may be spoken of, 
but at least it is never publicly talked about. 
It does not lead me into temptation; it is not 
a scandal. On the whole, I console myself 
with the knowledge that very few women 
have gotten into trouble on account of their 
backs. If history speaks truly, quite a few 
notorious ones have come to grief but you 
will understand. 

POLLY BOLES. 



POLLY BOLES TO BEN DOOLITTLE 

June 2, IQI2. 
DEAR BEN: 

I find bad news does not come single. I 
have a telegram from Louisville with the 
news of my mother s illness and start by the 
first train. Just after receiving it I had a 
letter from Tilly, which I enclose. 



172 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

I, too, have noticed for some time that 
Beverley has been troubled. Have you seen 
him of late? Have you noticed anything 
wrong? What do you think of Tilly s letter? 
Write me at once. I should go to see him 
myself but for the news from Louisville. I 
have always thought Beverley health itself. 
Would it be possible for him to have a break 
down? I shall be wretched about him until 
I hear from you. What do you make out of 
the questions Dr. Mullen asked Tilly and 
her replies? 

Are you going to write to me every day 
while I am gone? 

POLLY. 



BEN DOOLITTLE TO PHILLIPS & FAULDS 

June 4, IQI2. 
DEAR SIRS: 

I desire to recall myself to you as a former 
Louisville patron of your flourishing business 
and also as more recently the New York 
lawyer who brought unsuccessful suit against 
you on behalf of one of his clients. 

You will find enclosed my cheque, and you 
are requested to send the value of it in long- 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 173 

stemmed red roses to Miss Boles the same 
address as in former years. 

If the stems of your roses do not happen to 
be long, make them long. (You know the 
wires.) 

Very truly yours, 

BENJAMIN DOOLITTLE. 

BEN DOOLITTLE TO POLLY BOLES 

June 4, 1912. 
DEAR POLLY: 

You will have had my telegram of sympathy 
with you in your mother s illness, and of my 
unspeakable surprise that you could go away 
without letting me see you. 

Have I seen Beverley of late? I have seen 
him early and late. And I have read Tilly s 
much mystified and much-mistaken letters. 
If Beverley is crazy, a Kentucky cornfield is 
crazy, all roast beef is a lunatic, every Irish 
potato has a screw loose and the Atlantic 
Ocean is badly balanced. 

I happen to hold the key to Beverley s 
comic behaviour in Tilly s parlour. 

As to the questions put to Tilly by that 
dilution of all fools, Claude Mullen your 



174 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

favourite nerve specialist and former suitor 
I have just this to say: 

All these mutterings of Beverley during 
one of the gambols in Tilly s parlours, which 
he naturally reserves for me all these frag 
mentary expressions relate to real people and 
to actual things that you and Tilly have never 
known anything about. 

Men must not bother their women by tell 
ing them everything. That, by the way, has 
been an old bone of contention between you 
and me, Polly, my chosen rib a silent bone, 
but still sometimes, I fear, a slightly rheumatic 
bone. But when will a woman learn that her 
heavenly charm to a man lies in the thought 
that he can place her and keep her in a world, 
into which his troubles cannot come. Thus 
he escapes from them himself. Let him once tell 
his troubles to her and she becomes the mirror 
of them and possibly the worst kind of 
mirror. 

Beverley has told Tilly nothing of all this 
entanglement with ferns, I have not told you. 
All four of us have thereby been the happier. 

But through Tilly s misunderstanding those 
two mischief-making charlatans, Marigold and 
Mullen, have now come into the case; and it 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 175 

is of the utmost importance that I deal with 
these two gentlemen at once; to that end I 
cut this letter short and start after them. 

Oh, but why did you go away without 
good-bye ? 

BEN. 



BEN DOOLITTLE TO POLLY BOLES 

June 5, 1912. 
DEAR POLLY: 

I go on where I left off yesterday. 

I did what I thought I should never do dur 
ing my long and memorable life: I called on 
your esteemed ex-acquaintance, Dr. Claude 
Mullen. I explained how I came to do so, 
and I desired of him an opinion as to Beverley. 
He suggested that more evidence would be 
required before an opinion could be given. 
What evidence, I suggested, and how to be 
gotten? He thought the case was one that 
could best be further studied if the person 
were put under secret observation since he 
revealed himself apparently only when alone. 
I urged him to take control of the matter, 
took upon myself, as Beverley s friend, au 
thority to empower him to go on. He ad- 



176 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

vised that a dictograph be installed in Bever- 
ley s room. It would be a good idea to send 
him a good big bunch of ferns also: the ferns, 
the dictograph, Beverley alone with them 
a clear field. 

I explained to T Beverley, and we went out 
and bought a dictograph, and he concealed 
it where, of course, he could not find it! 

In the evening we had a glorious dinner, 
returned to his rooms, and while I smoked in 
silence, he, in great peace of mind and pro 
found satisfaction with the world in general, 
poured into the dictograph his long pent-up 
opinion of our two dear old friends, Marigold 
and Mullen. He roared it into the machine, 
shouted it, raved it, soliloquised it. I had 
in advance requested him to add my opinion 
of your former suitor. Each of us had long 
been waiting for so good a chance and he took 
full advantage of the opportunity. The next 
morning I notified Dr. Mullen that Beverley 
had raved during the night, and that the 
machine was full of his queer things. 

At the appointed hour this morning we 
assembled in Beverley s rooms. I had cleared 
away his big centre table, all the rubbish of 
papers amid which he lives, including some 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 177 

invaluable manuscripts of his worthless novels. 
I had taken the cylinders out of the dictograph 
and had put them in a dictophone, and there 
on the table lay that Pandora s box of infor 
mation with a horn attached to it. 

Dr. Mullen arrived, bringing with him the 
truly great New York nerve specialist and 
scientist whom he relies upon to pilot him in dif 
ficult cases. Dr. Marigold had brought the 
truly great physician and scientist who pilots 
him. At Beverley s request, I had invited the 
president of his Club, and he had brought 
along two Club affinities; three gossips. 

I sent Beverley to Brooklyn for the day. 

We seated ourselves, and on the still air 
of the room that unearthly asthmatic horn 
began to deliver Beverley s opinion. Instant 
ly there was an uproar. There was a scuffle. 
It was almost a general fight. Drs. Mari 
gold and Mullen had jumped to their feet and 
shouted their furious protests. One of them 
started to leave the room. He couldn t, I had 
locked the door. One slammed at the ma 
chine he was restrained everybody else 
wanted to hear Beverley out. And amid the 
riot Beverley kept on his peaceful way, grind 
ing out his healthy vituperation. 



178 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

That will do, Polly, my dear. You will 
never hear anything more of Beverley s being 
in bad health not from those two rear- 
admirals of diagnosis away in the rear. 
Another happy result; it saves him at last 
from Tilly. Her act was one that he will 
never forgive. His act she will never forgive. 
The last tie between them is severed now. 

But all this is nothing, nothing, nothing! 
I am lost without you. 

BEN. 

P. S. Now that I have disposed of two of 
Beverley s detractors, in a day or two I am 
going to demolish the third one an English 
man over on the other side of the Atlantic 
Ocean. I have long waited for the chance to 
write him just one letter: he s the chief 
calumniator. 



POLLY BOLES TO BENJAMIN DOOLITTLE 

Louisville, Kentucky, 
June 9, IQI2. 
DEAR BEN: 

I cannot tell you what a relief it brought 
me to hear that Beverley is well. Of course 
it was all bound to be a mistake. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 179 

At the same time your letters have made 
me very unhappy. Was it quite fair? Was 
it open? Was it quite what anyone would 
have expected of Beverley and you? 

Nothing leaves me so undone as what I 
am not used to in people. I do not like sur 
prises and I do not like changes. I feel help 
less unless I can foresee what my friends will 
do and can know what to expect of them. 
Frankly, your letters have been a painful 
shock to me. 

I foresee one thing: this will bring Tilly 
and Dr. Marigold more closely together. 
She will feel sorry for him, and a woman s 
sense of fair play will carry her over to his 
side. You men do not know what fair play 
is or, if you do, you don t care. Only a 
woman knows and cares. Please don t keep 
after Dr. Mullen on my account. Why 
should you persecute him because he loved 
me? 

Dr. Marigold will want revenge on Bever 
ley, and he will have his revenge in some 
way. 

Your letters have left me wretched. If 
you surprise me in this way, how might you 
not surprise me still further? Oh, if we 



i8o THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

could only understand everybody perfectly, 
and if everything would only settle and stay 
settled ! 

My mother is much improved and she has 
urged me the doctor says her recovery, 
though sure, will be gradual to spend at 
least a month with her. To-day I have de 
cided to do so. It will be of so much interest 
to her if I have my wedding clothes made 
here. You know how few they will be. My 
dresses last so long, and I dislike changes. 
I have found my same dear old mantua-maker 
and she is delighted and proud. But she in 
sists that since I went to New York I have 
dropped behind and that I will not do even 
for Louisville. 

On my way to her I so enjoy looking at old 
Louisville houses, left among the new ones. 
They seem so faithful! My dear old mantua- 
maker and the dear old houses they are the 
real Louisville. 

My mother joins me in love to you. 

Sincerely yours, 

POLLY BOLES. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 181 

BENJAMIN DOOLITTLE TO EDWARD 
BLACKTHORNE 



Wall Street, New York, 
June 10, igi2. 

Edward Blackthorne, Esq., 
King Alfred s Wood, 
Warwickshire, England. 
MY DEAR SIR: 

I am a stranger to you. I should have been 
content to remain a stranger. A grave matter 
which I have had no hand in shaping causes 
me to write you this one letter there being 
no discoverable likelihood that I shall ever 
feel painfully obliged to write you a second. 

You are a stranger to me. But you are, I 
have heard, a great man. That, of course, 
means that you are a famous man, otherwise 
I should never have heard that you are a 
great one. You hold a very distinguished 
place in your country, in the world; people 
go on pilgrimages to you. The thing that has 
made you famous and that attracts pilgrims 
are your novels. 

I do not read novels. They contain, I 
understand, the lives of imaginary people. 



1 82 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

I am satisfied to read the lives of actual 
people and I do read much biography. One 
of the Lives I like to study is that of Samuel 
Johnson, and I recall just here some words 
of his to the effect that he did not feel bound 
to honour a man who clapped a hump on his 
shoulder and another hump on his leg and 
shouted he was Richard the Third. I take 
the liberty of saying that I share Dr. John 
son s opinion as to puppets, either on the 
stage or in fiction. The life of the actual 
Richard interests me, but the life of Shake 
speare s Richard doesn t. I should have liked 
to read the actual life of Hamlet, Prince of 
Denmark. 

I have never been able to get a clear idea 
what a novelist is. The novelists that I 
superficially encounter seem to have no clear 
idea what they are themselves. No two of 
them agree. But each of them agrees that 
his duty and business in life is to imagine 
things and then notify people that those 
things are true and that they people 
should buy those things and be grateful for 
them and look up to the superior person who 
concocted them and wrote them down. 

I have observed that there is danger in 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 183 

many people causing any one person to think 
himself a superior person unless he is a 
superior person. If he really is what is 
thought of him, no harm is done him. But 
if he is widely regarded a superior person 
and is not a superior person, harm may re 
sult to him. For whenever any person is 
praised beyond his deserts, he is not lifted 
up by such praise any more than the stature 
of a man is increased by thickening the heels 
of his shoes. On the contrary, he is apt to 
be lowered by over-praise. For, prodded by 
adulation, he may lay aside his ordinary 
image and assume, as far as he can, the guise 
of some inferior creature which more glar 
ingly expresses what he is as the peacock, 
the owl, the porcupine, the lamb, the bull 
dog, the ass. I have seen all these. I have 
seen the strutting peacock novelist, the solemn, 
speechless owl novelist, the fretful porcupine 
novelist, the spring-lamb novelist, the fero 
cious, jealous bulldog novelist, and the sacred 
ass novelist. And many others. 

You may begin to wonder why I am led 
into these reflections in this letter. The 
reason is, I have been wondering into what 
kind of inferior creature your fame your 



1 84 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

over-praise has lowered you. Frankly, I 
perfectly know; I will not name the animal. 
But I feel sure that he is a highly offensive 
small beast. 

If you feel disposed to read further, I shall 
explain. 

I have in my legal possession three letters 
of yours. They were written to a young gentle 
man whom I have known now for a good many 
years, whose character I know about as well 
as any one man can know another s, and for 
whom increasing knowledge has always led 
me to feel increasing respect. The young 
man is Mr. Beverley Sands. You may now 
realise what I am coming to. 

The first of these letters of yours reveals 
you as a stranger seeking the acquaintance 
of Mr. Sands to a certain limit: you asked 
of him a courtesy and you offered courtesies 
in exchange. That is common enough and 
natural, and fair, and human. But what I 
have noticed is your doing this with the air 
of the superior person. Mr. Sands, being a 
novelist, is of course a superior person. 
Therefore, you felt called upon to introduce 
yourself to him as a more superior person. 
That is, you condescended to be gracious. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 185 

You made it a virtue in you to ask a favour 
of him. You expected him to be delighted 
that you allowed him to serve you. 

In the second letter you go further. He 
wafted some incense toward you and you 
got on your knees to this incense. You get 
up and offer him more courtesies all cour 
tesies. Because he praised you, you even 
wish him to visit you. 

Now the third letter. The favour you 
asked of Mr. Sands was that he send you 
some ferns. By no fault of his except too 
much confidence in the agents he employed 
(he over-trusts everyone and over-trusted 
you), by no other fault of his the ferns were 
not sent. You waited, time passed, you 
grew impatient, you grew suspicious of Mr. 
Sands, you felt slighted, you became piqued 
in your vanity, wounded in your self-love, 
you became resentful, you became furious, 
you became revengeful, you became abusive. 
You told him that he had never meant to 
keep his word, that you had kicked his books 
out of your library, that he might profitably 
study the moral sensitiveness of a head of 
cabbage. 

During the summer American tourists vis- 



1 86 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

ited you pilgrims of your fame. You took 
advantage of their visit to promulgate myste 
riously your hostility to Mr. Sands. Not by 
one explicit word, you understand. Your 
exalted imagination merely lied on him, and 
you entrusted to other imaginations the duty 
of scattering broadcast your noble lie. They 
did this some of them happening not to be 
friends of Mr. Sands and as a result of the 
false light you threw upon his character, he 
now in the minds of many persons rests under 
a cloud. And that cloud is never going to be 
dispelled. 

?! Enclosed you will please find copies of these 
three letters of yours; would you mind read 
ing them over? And you will find also a 
packet of letters which will enable you to 
understand why the ferns never reached you 
and the whole entanglement of the case. 
And finally, you will find enclosed a brief with 
which, were I to appear in Court against you, 
as Mr. Sands s lawyer, I should hold you up 
to public view as what you are. 

I shall merely add that I have often met 
you in the courtroom as the kind of criminal 
who believes without evidence and who dis 
trusts without reason; who is, therefore, ready 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 187 

to blast a character upon suspicion. If he 
dislikes the person, in the absence of evidence 
against him, he draws upon the dark traits 
of his own nature to furnish the evidence. 

I have written because I am a friend of Mr. 
Sands. 

I am, as to you, 

Merely, 

BENJAMIN DOOLITTLE. 



EDWARD BLACKTHORNE TO BENJAMIN 
DOOLITTLE 

King Alfred s Wood, 
Warwickshire, England, 
June 21, IQI2. 

Benjamin Doolittle, 
150 Wall Street, 
New York City. 
MY DEAR SIR: 

You state in your letter, which I have just 
laid down, that you are a stranger to me. 
There is no conceivable reason why I should 
wish to offer you the slightest rudeness even 
that of crossing your word yet may I say, 
that I know you perfectly ? If you had unfortu- 



1 88 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

nately read some of my very despicable novels, 
you might have found, scattered here and 
there, everything that you have said in your 
letter, and almost in your very words. That 
is, I have two or three times drawn your por 
trait, or at least drawn at it; and thus while 
you are indeed a stranger to me in name, I feel 
bound to say that you are an old acquaintance 
in nature. 

You cannot for a moment imagine how 
ever, you despise imagination and I withdraw 
the offensive word you cannot for a moment 
suppose that I can have any motive in being 
discourteous, and I shall, therefore, go on to 
say, but only with your permission, that the 
first time I attempted to sketch you, was in a 
very early piece of work; I was a youthful 
novelist, at the outset of my career. I pro 
jected a story entitled: " The Married Cross- 
Purposes of Ned and Sal Blivvens" I feel 
bound to say that you in your letter pleasantly 
remind me of the Sal Blivvens of my story. 
In Sal s eyes poor Ned s failing was this: as 
twenty-one human shillings he never made an 
exact human guinea his shillings ran a few 
pence over, or they fell a few pence short. 
That is, Ned never did just enough of any- 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 189 

thing, or said just enough, but either too much 
or too little to suit Sal. He never had just one 
idea about any one thing, but two or three 
ideas; he never felt in just one way about any 
one thing, but had mixed feelings, a variety 
of feelings. He was not a yard measure or 
a pint measure or a pound measure; he over 
flowed or he didn t fill, and any one thing in 
him always ran into other things in him. 

Being a young novelist I was not satisfied 
to offer Sal to the world on her own account, 
but I must try to make her more credible and 
formidable by following her into the next 
generation, and giving her a son who inherited 
her traits. Thus I had Tommy Blivvens. 
When Tommy was old enough to receive his 
first allowance of Christmas pudding, he pro 
ceeded to take the pudding to pieces. He 
picked out all the raisins and made a little 
pile of them. And made a little separate pile 
of the currants, and another pile of the al 
monds, and another of the citron, or of what 
ever else there was to separate. Then in pro 
found satisfaction he ate them, pile by pile, 
as a philosopher of the sure. 

Thus and I insist I mean no disrespect 
your letter does revive for me a little innocent 



190 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

laughter at my early literary vision of a 
human baggage friend of my youthful days 
and artistic enthusiasm Sal Blivvens. I ar 
ranged that when Ned died, his neighbours all 
felt sorry and wished him a green turf for his 
grave. Sal, I felt sure, survived him as one 
who all her life walks past every human heart 
and enters none being always dead-sure, 
always dead-right; for the human heart re 
jects perfection in any human being. 

I recognise you as belonging to the large 
tough family of the human cocksures. Sal 
Blivvens belonged to it dead-sure, dead- 
right, every time. We have many of the cock 
sures in England, you must have many of 
them in the United States. The cocksures are 
people who have no dim borderland around 
their minds, no twilight between day and 
darkness. They see everything as they see a 
highly coloured rug on a well-lighted floor. 
There is either rug or no rug, either floor or no 
floor. No part of the floor could possibly be 
rug and no part of the rug could possibly be 
floor. A cocksure, as a lawyer, is the natural 
prosecuting attorney of human nature s natu 
ral misgivings and wiser doubts and nobler 
errors. How the American cocksures of their 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 191 

day despised the man Washington, who often 
prayed for guidance; with what contempt 
they blasted the character of your Abraham 
Lincoln, whose patient soul inhabited the 
border of a divine disquietude and whose 
public life was the patient study of hesitation. 

I have taken notice of the peculiarly Amer 
ican character of your cocksureness : it mag 
nifies and qualifies a man to step by the mile, 
to sit down by the acre, to utter things by the 
ton. Do you happen to know Michael An- 
gelo s Moses? I always think of an American 
cocksure as looking like Michael Angelo s 
Moses colossal law-giver, a hyper-stupendous 
fellow. And I have often thought that a 
regiment of American cocksures would be the 
most terrific spectacle on a battlefield that the 
rest of the human race could ever face. Just 
now it has occurred to me that it was your 
great Emerson who spoke best on the weak 
ness of the superlative the cocksure is the 
human superlative. 

As to your letter: You declare you know 
nothing about novels, but your arraignment 
of the novelist is exact. You are dead-sure 
that you are perfectly right about me. Your 
arraignment of me is exact. You are con- 



192 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

scious of no more moral perturbation as to 
justice than exists in a monkey wrench. But 
that is the nature of the cocksure his con 
clusions have to him the validity of a hard 
ware store. 

This, however, is nothing. I clear it away 
in order to tell you that I am filled with ad 
miration of your loyalty to your friend, and 
of the savage ferocity with which you attack 
me as his enemy. That makes you a friend 
worth having, and I wish you were to be num 
bered among mine; there are none too many 
such in this world. Next, I wish to assure 
you that I have studied your brief against me 
and confess that you have made out the case. 
I fell into a grave mistake, I wronged your 
friend deeply, I hope not irreparably, and it 
was a poor, sorry, shabby business. I am 
about to write to Mr. Sands. If he is what 
you say he is, then in an instant he will forgive 
me though you never may. I shall ask him, 
as I could not have asked him before, whether 
he will not come to visit me. My house, my 
hospitality, all that I have and all that I am, 
shall be his. I shall take every step possible 
to undo what I thoughtlessly, impulsively did. 
I shall write to the President of his Club. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 193 

One exception is filed to a specification in 
your brief: no such things took place in my 
garden upon the visit of the American tour 
ists, as you declare. I did not promulgate 
any mysterious hostility to Mr. Sands. You 
tell me that among those tourists were per 
sons hostile to Mr. Sands. It was these hostile 
persons who misinterpreted and exaggerated 
whatever took place. You knew these per 
sons to be enemies of Mr. Sands s and then 
you accepted their testimony as true being 
a cocksure. 

A final word to you. Your whole char 
acter and happiness rests upon the belief that 
you see life clearly and judge rightly the 
fellow-beings whom you know. Those you 
doubt ought to be doubted and those you 
trust ought to be trusted! Now I have 
travelled far enough on life s road to have 
passed its many human figures perhaps all 
the human types that straggle along it in 
their many ways. No figures on that road 
have been more noticeable to me than here 
and there a man in whom I have discerned a 
broken cocksure. 

You say you like biography: do you like 
to read the Life of Robert Burns? And I 



194 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

wonder whether these words of his have ever 
guided you in your outlook upon life: 

" Then gently scan your brother man 

To step aside is human" 

I thank you again. I wish you well. And 
I hope that no experience, striking at you 
out of life s uncertainties, may ever leave 
you one of those noticeable men a broken 
cocksure. 

Your deeply obliged and very grateful, ** 
EDWARD BLACKTHORNE. 

BENJAMIN DOOLITTLE TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

June 30, IQI2. 
DEAR BEVERLEY: 

About a month ago I took it upon myself 
to write the one letter that had long been 
raging in my mind to Edward Blackthorne. 
And I sent him all the fern letters. And then 
I drew up the whole case and prosecuted him 
as your lawyer. 

Of course I meant my letter to be an in 
fernal machine that would blow him to pieces. 
He merely inspected it, removed the fuse and 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 195 

inserted a crank, and turned it into a music- 
box to grind out his praises. 

And then the kind of music he ground out 
for me. 

All day I have been ashamed to stand up 
and I ve been ashamed to sit down. He told 
me that my letter reminded him of a char 
acter in his first novel a woman called Sal 
Bliwens. ME Sal Bliwens! 

But of what use is it for us poor, common- 
clay, rough, ordinary men who have no 
imagination of what use is it for us to 
attack you superior fellows who have it, have 
imagination? You are the Russians of the 
human mind, and when attacked on your 
frontiers, you merely retreat into a vast, un 
known, uninvadable country. The further 
you retire toward the interior of your mys 
terious kingdom, the nearer you seem to 
approach the fortresses of your strength. 

I am wiser if no better. If ever again I 
feel like attacking any stranger with a letter, 
I shall try to ascertain beforehand whether 
he is an ordinary man like me or a genius. 
If he is a genius, I am going to let him alone. 

Yet, damn me if I, too, wouldn t like to 
see your man Blackthorne now. Ask him 



196 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

some time whether a short visit from Ben 
jamin Doolittle could be arranged on any 
terms of international agreement. 

Now for something on my level of ordinary 
life! A day or two ago I was waiting in front 
of the residence of one of my uptown clients, 
a few doors from the residence of your friend 
Dr. Marigold. While I waited, he came out 
on the front steps with Dr. Mullen. As I 
drove past, I leaned far out and made them 
a magnificent sweeping bow: one can afford 
to be forgiving and magnanimous after he 
settled things to his satisfaction. They did 
not return the bow but exchanged quiet 
smiles. I confess the smiles have rankled. 
They seemed like saying: he bows best who 
bows last. 

You are the best thing in New York to me 
since Polly went away. Without you both 
it would come near to being one vast solitude. 
BEN (alias Sal Blivvens). 

BEVERLEY SANDS TO BENJAMIN DOOLITTLE 



DEAR BEN: 

I wrote you this morning upon receipt of 
your letter telling me of your own terrific 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 197 

letter to Mr. Blackthorne and of your merci 
less arraignment of him. Let me say again 
that I wish to pour out my gratitude to you 
for your motives and also, well, also my regret 
at your action. Somehow I have been re 
minded of Voltaire s saying: he had a brother 
who was such a fool that he started out to be 
perfect; as a consequence the world knows 
nothing of Voltaire s brother: it knows very 
well Voltaire with his faults. 

The mail of yesterday which brought you 
Mr. Blackthorne s reply to your arraignment 
brought me also a letter: he must have written 
to us both instantly. His letter is the only 
one that I cannot send you; you would not 
desire to read it. You are too big and gen 
erous, too warmly human, too exuberantly 
vital, to care to lend ear to a great man s 
chagrin and regret for an impulsive mistake. 
You are not Cassius to carp at Caesar. 

Now this afternoon a second letter comes 
from Mr. Blackthorne and that I enclose: it 
will do you good to read it it is not a black 
passing cloud, it is steady human sunlight. 

BEVERLEY. 



198 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

[Enclosed letter from Edward Blackthorn e] 

MY DEAR MR. SANDS: 

I follow up my letter of yesterday with the 
unexpected tidings of to-day. I am willing 
to believe that these will interest you as 
associated with your coming visit. 

Hodge is dead. His last birthday, his final 
natal eclipse, has bowled him over and left 
him darkened for good. He can trouble us 
no more, but will now do his part as mould 
for the rose of York and the rose of Lancaster. 
He will help to make a mound for some other 
Englishman s ferns. When you come and 
I know you will come we shall drink a cup 
of tea in the garden to his peaceful memory 
and to his troubled memory for Latin. 

I am now waiting for you. Come, out of 
your younger world and with your youth to 
an older world and to an older man. And let 
each of us find in our meeting some presage 
of an alliance which ought to grow always 
closer in the literatures of the two nations. 
Their literatures hold their ideals; and if their 
ideals touch and mingle, then nothing practi 
cal can long keep them far apart. If two oak 
trees reach one another with their branches, 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 199 

they must meet in their roots ; for the branches 
are aerial roots and the roots are underground 
branches. 

Come. In the eagerness of my letter of 
yesterday to put myself not in the right but 
less, if possible, in the wrong, I forgot the 
very matter with which the right and the 
wrong originated. 

Will you, after all, send the ferns? 

The whole garden waits for them; a white 
light falls on the vacant spot; a white light 
falls on your books in my library; a white 
light falls on you., 

I wait for you, both hands outstretched. 
EDWARD BLACKTHORNE. 



(Note penciled on the margin of the letter 
by Beverley Sands to Ben Doolittle: "You 
will see that I am back where the whole thing 
started; I have to begin all over again with 
the ferns. And now the florists will be after 
me again. I feel this in the trembling marrow 
of my bones, and my bones by this time are a 
wireless station on this subject.") 

BEVERLEY. 



200 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

JUDD & JUDD TO BEVERLEY SANDS 



DEAR SIR: July -? 

We take pleasure in enclosing our new 
catalogue for the coming autumn, and should 
be pleased to receive any further commissions 
for the European trade. 

We repeat that we have no connection 
whatever with any house doing business in 
the city under the name of Botany. 
Respectfully yours, 

JUDD & JUDD, 

Per Q. 

PHILLIPS & FAULDS TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

Louisville, Kentucky, 

DEAR SIR: ^ **> ^ I2 

Venturing to recall ourselves to your memory 
for the approaching autumn season, in view of 
having been honoured upon a previous occa 
sion with your flattering patronage, and 
reasoning that our past transactions have 
been mutually satisfactory, we avail ourselves 
of this opportunity of reviving the conjunc 
tion heretofore existing between us as most 
gratifying and thank you sincerely for past 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 201 

favours. We hope to continue our pleasant 
relations and desire to say that if you should 
contemplate arranging for the shipments of 
plants of any description, we could afford you 
surprised satisfaction. 

Respectfully yours, 

PHILLIPS & FAULDS. 

BURNS & BRUCE TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

Dunkirk, Tennessee, 
July 6, 1912. 
DEAR SIR: 

We are prepared to supply you with any 
thing you need. Could ship ferns to any 
country in Europe, having done so for the 
late Noah Chamberlin, the well-known florist 
just across the State line, who was a customer 
of ours. 

old debts of Phillips and Faulds not yet 
paid, had to drop them entirely. 
Very truly yours, 

BURNS & BRUCE. 

If you need any forest trees, we could sup 
ply you with all the forest trees you want, 
plenty of oaks, etc. plenty of elms, plenty 
of walnuts, etc. 



202 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 



ANDY PETERS TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

Seminole, North Carolina, 
July fth, igi2. 

DEAR SIR: 

I have lately enlarged my business and will 
be able to handle any orders you may give me. 
The orders which Miss Clara Louise Chamber 
lain said you were to send have not yet turned 
up. I write to you, because I have heard 
about you a great deal through Miss Clara 
Louise, since her return from her visit to New 
York. She succeeded in getting two or three 
donations of books for our library, and they 
have now given her a place there. I was 
sorry to part with Miss Clara Louise, but I 
had just married, and after the first few weeks 
I expected my wife to become my assistant. 
I am not saying anything against Miss Clara 
Louise, but she was expensive on my sweet 
violets, especially on a Sunday, having the 
run of the flowers. She and Alice didn t get 
along very well together, and I did have a 
bad set-back with my violets while she was 
here. 

Seedlins is one of my specialities. I make 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 203 

a speciality of seedlins. If you want any 
seedlins, will you call on me? I am young 
and just married and anxious to please, and 
I wish you would call on me when you want 
anything green. Nothing dried. 
Yours respectfully, 

ANDY PETERS. 



BENJAMIN DOOLITTLE TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

July ?th, IQI2. 



DEAR BEVERLEY: 

It makes me a little sad to write. I sup 
pose you saw in this morning s paper the 
announcement of Tilly s marriage next week 
to Dr. Marigold. Nevertheless congratula 
tions ! You have lost years of youth and hap 
piness with some lovely woman on account 
of your dalliance with her. 

Now at last, you will let her alone, and 
you will soon find Nature will quickly 
drive you to find the one you deserve to 
marry. 

It looks selfish at such a moment to set my 
happiness over against your unhappiness, 



204 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

but I ve just had news, that at last, after 
lingering so long and a little mysteriously in 
Louisville, Polly is coming. Polly is coming 
with her wedding clothes. We long ago de 
cided to have no wedding. All that we have 
long wished is to marry one another. Mr. 
Blackthorne called me a cocksure. Well, 
Polly is another cocksure. We shall jog along 
as a perfectly satisfied couple of cocksures on 
the cocksure road. (I hope to God Polly 
will never find out that she married Sal 
Blivvens.) 

Dear fellow, truest of comrades among 
men, it is inevitable that I reluctantly leave 
you somewhat behind, desert you a little, as 
the friend who marries. 

One awful thought freezes me to my chair 
this hot July day. You have never said a 
word about Miss Clara Louise Chamberlain, 
since the day of my hypothetical charge to the 
jury. Can it be possible that you followed 
her up ? Did you feed her any more cheques ? 
I have often warned you against Tilly, as in 
constant. But, my dear fellow, remember 
there is a worse extreme than in incon 
stancy Clara Louise would be sealing wax. 
You would merely be marrying 115 pounds of 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 205 

sealing wax. Every time she sputtered in con 
versation, she d seal you the tighter. 

Polly is coming with her wedding clothes. 

BEN. 



BEVERLEY SANDS TO BEN DOOLITTLE 

July 8. 
DEAR BEN: 

I saw the announcement in the morning 
paper about Tilly. 

It wouldn t be worth while to write how I 
feel. 

It is true that I traced Miss Chamberlain, 
homeless in New York. And I saw her. As 
to whether I have been feeding cheques to her, 
that is solely a question of my royalties. 
Royalties are human gratitude; why should 
not the dews of gratitude fall on one so 
parched ? Besides, I don t owe you anything, 
gentleman. 

Yes, I feel you re going you re passing on 
to Polly. I append a trifle \vhich explains 
itself, and am, making the best of everything, 
the same 

BEVERLEY SANDS. 



206 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

A Meditation in Verse 

(Dedicated to Benjamin Doolittle as showing his 
favourite weakness) 

How can I mind the law s delay, 
Or what a jury thinks it knows, 

Or what some fool of a judge may say? 
Polly comes with the wedding clothes. 

Time, who cheated me so long, 
Kept me waiting mid life s snows, 

I forgive and forget your wrong: 

Polly comes with the wedding clothes. 

Winter s lonely sky is gone, 

July blazes with the rose, 
All the world looks smiling on 

At Polly in her wedding clothes. 

BENJAMIN DOOLITTLE TO BEVERLEY SANDS 

[A hurried letter by messenger] 

July 10, IQI2. 

Polly reached New York two days ago. I 
went up that night. She had gone out 
alone. She did not return that night. I 
found this out when I went up yesterday 
morning and asked for her. She has not 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 207 

been there since she left. They know nothing 
about her. I have telegraphed Louisville. 
They have sent me no word. Come down 
at once. 

BEN. 



BEVERLEY SANDS TO BEN DOOLITTLE 

[Hurried letter by messenger] 

July 10, igi2. 
DEAR BEN:- 

Is anything wrong about Polly? 

I met her on the street yesterday. She 
tried to pass without speaking. I called to 
her but she walked on. I called again and 
she turned, hesitatingly, then came back very 
slowly to meet me half-way. You know how 
composed her manner always is. But she 
could not control her emotion : she was deeply, 
visibly troubled. Strange as it may seem, 
while I thought of the mystery of her trouble, 
I could but notice a trifle, as at such moments 
one often does: she was beautifully dressed: a 
new charm, a youthful freshness, was all over 
her as for some impending ceremony. We 
have always thought of Polly as one of the 
women who are above dress. Such disregard 



208 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

was in a way a verification of her character, 
the adornment of her sincerity. Now she was 
beautifully dressed. 

"But what is the meaning of all this?" I 
asked, frankly mystified. ^ 

Something in her manner checked the 
question, forced back my words. 

"You will hear," she said, with quivering 
lips. She looked me searchingly all over 
the face as for the sake of dear old times 
now ended. Then she turned off abruptly. 
I watched her in sheer amazement till she 
disappeared. 

I have been waiting to hear from you, but 
cannot wait any longer. What does it mean? 
Why don t you tell me? 

BEVERLEY. 



BEVERLEY SANDS TO BENJAMIN DOOLITTLE 

July II. 

I have with incredible eyes this instant read 
this cutting from the morning paper: 

Miss Polly Boles married yesterday at the 
City Hall in Jersey City to Dr. Claude Mullen. 

She must have been on her way when I saw 
her. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 209 

I have read the announcement without be 
ing able to believe it with some kind of death 
in life at my heart. 

Oh, Ben, Ben, Ben! So betrayed! I am 
coming at once. 

BEVERLEY. 

DIARY OF BEVERLEY SANDS 

July 18. 

The ferns have had their ironic way with 
us and have wrought out their bitter comedy 
to its end. The little group of us who were 
the unsuspecting players are henceforth scat 
tered, to come together in the human play 
house not again. The stage is empty, the 
curtain waits to descend, and I, who inno 
cently brought the drama on, am left the 
solitary figure to speak the epilogue ere I, too, 
depart to go my separate road. 

This is Tilly s wedding day. How beautiful 
the morning is for her! The whole sky is one 
exquisite blue no sign of any storm-plan far 
or near. The July air blows as cool as early 
May. I sit at my window writing and it 
flows over me in soft waves, the fragrances 
of the green park below my window enter 



210 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

my room and encircle me like living human 
tendernesses. At this moment, I suppose, 
Tilly is dressing for her wedding, and I 
God knows why am thinking of old-time 
Kentucky gardens in one of which she played 
as a child. Tilly, a little girl romping in her 
mother s garden Tilly before she was old 
enough to know anything of the world any 
thing of love now, as she dresses for her 
wedding I cannot shut out that vision of 
early purity. 

Yesterday a note came from her. I had 
had no word since the day I openly ridiculed 
the man she is to marry. But yesterday she 
sent me this message: 

"Come to-night and say good-bye." 
She was not in her rooms to greet me. I 
waited. Moments passed, long moments of 
intense expectancy. She did not enter. I 
fixed my eyes on her door. Once I saw it 
pushed open a little way, then closed. Again 
it was opened and again it was held as though 
for lack of will or through quickly changing 
impulses. Then it was opened and she en 
tered and came toward me, not looking at 
me, but with her face turned aside. She 
advanced a few paces and with some 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 211 

swift, imperious rebellion, she turned and 
passed out of the room and then came quickly 
back. She had caught up her bridal veil. 
She held the wreath in her hand and as she 
approached me, I know not with what sudden 
emotion she threw a corner of the veil over 
her head and face and shoulders. And she 
stood before me with I know not what strug 
gle tearing her heart. Almost in a whisper 
she said: 

" Lift my veil." 

I lifted her veil and laid it back over her 
forehead. She closed her eyes as tears welled 
out of them. 

"Kiss me," she said. 

I would have taken her in my arms as mine 
at that moment for all time, but she stepped 
back and turned away, fading from me 
rather than walking, with her veil pressed 
like a handkerchief to her eyes. The door 
closed on her. 

I waited. She did not come again. 

Now she is dressing for the marriage cere 
mony. A friend gives her a house w r edding. 
The company of guests will be restricted, 
everything will be exquisite, there will be 
youth and beauty and distinction. There 



212 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

will be no love. She marries as one who steps 
through a beautiful arch further along one s 
path. 

Whither that path leads, I do not know; 
from what may lie at the end of it I turn away 
and shudder. 

My thought of Tilly on her wedding morn 
ing is of one exiled from happiness because 
nature withheld from her the one thing needed 
to make her all but perfect: that needful thing 
was just a little more constancy. It is her 
doom, forever to stretch out her hand toward a 
brimming goblet, but ere she can bring it to 
her lips it drops from her hand. Forever her 
hand stretched out toward joy and forever 
joy shattered at her feet. 

American scientists have lately discovered 
or seem about to discover, some new fact in 
Nature the butterfly migrates. What we 
have thought to be the bright-winged inhab 
itant of a single summer in a single zone fol 
lows summer s retreating wave and so dwells 
in a summer that is perpetual. If Tilly is the 
psyche of life s fields, then she seeks perpetual 
summer as the law of her own being. All our 
lives move along old, old paths. There is no 
new path for any of us. If Tilly s fate is the 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 213 

butterfly path, who can judge her harshly? 
Not I. 

They sail away at once on their wedding 
journey. He has wealth and social influence 
of the fashionable sort which overflows into 
the social mirrors of metropolitan journalism: 
the papers found space for their plans of 
travel: England and Scotland, France and 
Switzerland, Austria and Germany, Bohemia 
and Poland, Russia, Italy and Sicily home. 
The great world-path of the human butterfly, 
seeking summer with insatiate quest. 

Home to his practice with that still flutter 
ing psyche! And then the path the domestic 
path stretching straight onward across the 
fields of life what of his psyche then ? Will she 
fold her wings on a bed-post year after year 
slowly opening and unfolding those brilliant 
wings amid the cob-webs of the same bed 
post? . . . 

I cannot write of human life unless I can 
forgive life. How forgive unless I can under 
stand ? I have wrought with all that is within 
me to understand Polly her treachery up to 
the last moment, her betrayal of Ben s devo 
tion. What I have made out dimly, darkly, 
doubtfully, is this: Her whole character seems 



2i 4 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

built upon one trait, one virtue loyalty. 
She was disloyal to Ben because she had come 
to believe that he was disloyal to her sover 
eign excellence. There were things in his life 
which he persistently refused to tell; perhaps 
every day there were mere trifles which he did 
not share with her why should he? On a 
certain memorable morning she discovered 
that for years he had been keeping from her 
some affairs of mine: that was his loyalty to 
me; she thought it was his disloyalty to her. 

I cannot well picture Polly as a lute, but I 
think that was the rift in the lute. Still a 
man must not surrender himself wholly into 
the keeping of the woman he loves; let him, 
and he becomes anything in her life but a 
man. 

Meantime Polly found near by another 
suitor who offered her all he was what 
little there was of him one of those man- 
climbers who must run over the sheltering 
wall of some woman. Thus there was gratified 
in Polly her one passion for marrying that 
she should possess a pet. Now she possesses 
one, owns him, can turn him round and 
round, can turn him inside out, can see all 
there is of him as she sees her pocket-handker- 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 215 

chief, her breast-pin, her coffee cup, or any 
little familiar piece of property which she can 
become more and more attached to as the 
years go by for the reason that it will never 
surprise her, never puzzle her, never change 
except by wearing out. 

This will be the end of the friendship be 
tween Drs. Marigold and Mullen: their wives 
will see to that. So much the better: scattered 
impostors do least harm. , 

I have struggled to understand the mystery 
of her choice as to how she should be married. 
Surely marriage, in the existence of any one, 
is the hour when romance buds on the most 
prosaic stalk. It budded for Polly and she 
eloped ! It was a short troubled flight of her 
heavy mind without the wings of imagination. 
She got as far as the nearest City Hall. In 
stead of a minister she chose to be married 
by a Justice of the Peace: Ben had been un 
just, she would be married by the figure of 
Justice as a penal ceremony executed over 
Ben: she mailed him a paper and left him to 
understand that she had fled from him to 
Justice and Peace! Polly s poetry! 

A line in an evening paper lets me know 
that she and the Doctor have gone for their 



216 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

honeymoon to Ocean Grove. When Polly- 
first came North to live and the first summer 
came round she decided to spend it at Ocean 
Grove, with the idea, I think, that she would 
get a grove and an ocean with one railway 
ticket, without having to change; she could 
settle in a grove with an ocean and in an 
ocean with a grove. What her disappointment 
was I do not know, but every summer she has 
gone back to Ocean Grove the Franklin 
Flats by the sea. . . . 

Yesterday I said good-bye to Ben. I had 
spent part of every evening with him since 
Polly s marriage silent, empty evenings a 
quiet, stunned man. Confidence in himself 
blasted out of him, confidence in human 
nature, in the world. With no imagination 
in him to deal with the reasons of Polly s de 
sertion just a passive acceptance of it as a 
wall accepts a hole in it made by a cannon ball. 

Her name was never called. A stunned, si 
lent man. Clear, joyous steady light in his eyes 
gone an uncertain look in them. Strangest 
of all, a reserve in his voice, hesitation. And 
courtesy for bluff warm confidence courtesy 
as of one who stumblingly reflects that he 
must begin to be careful with everybody. 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 217 

His active nature meantime kept on. Life 
swept him forward nature did whether he 
would or not. I went down late one even 
ing. Evidently he had been working in his 
room all day; the things Polly must have 
sent him during all those years were gone. 
He had on new slippers, a fresh robe, taking 
the place of the slippers and the robe she 
had made for him. Often I have seen him 
tuck the robe in about his neck as a man 
might reach for the arms of a woman to 
draw them about his throat as she leans over 
him from behind. 

During our talk that evening he began 
strangely to speak of things that had taken 
place years before in Kentucky, in his youth, 
on the farm; did I remember this in Ken 
tucky, could I recall that? His mind had 
gone back to old certainties. It was like his 
walking away from present ruins toward 
things still unharmed never to be harmed. 

Early next morning he surprised me by 
coming up, dressed for travel, holding a grip. 

"I am going to Kentucky," he said. 

I went to the train with him. His reserve 
deepened on the way; if he had plans, he did 
not share them with me. 



2i 8 THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 

What I make out of it is that he will come 
back married. No engagement this time, no 
waiting. Swift marriage for what marriage 
will sadly bring him. I think she will be young 
this time. But she will be, as nearly as pos 
sible, like Polly. Any other kind of woman 
now would leave him a desolate, empty-heart 
ed man for life. He thinks he will be getting 
some one to take Polly s place. In reality it 
will be his second attempt to marry Polly. 

I am bidding farewell the little group of us. 
Some one else will have to write of me. How 
can I write of myself? This I will say: that 
I think that I am a sheep whose fate it is to 
leave a little of his wool on every bramble. 

I sail next week for England to make my 
visit to Mr. Blackthorne at last. Another 
letter has come from him. He has thrown 
himself into the generous work of seeing that 
my visit to him shall make me known. He 
tells me there will be a house party, a week 
end; some of the great critics will be there, 
some writers. "You must be found out in 
England widely and at once," he writes. 

My heart swells as one who feels himself 
climbing toward a height. There is kindled 
in me that strangest of all the flames that burn 



THE EMBLEMS OF FIDELITY 219 

in the human heart, the shining thought that 
my life is destined to be more than mine, that 
my work will make its way into other minds 
and mingle with the better, happier impulses 
of other lives. 

The ironic ferns have had their way with 
us. But after all has it not been for the best? 
Have they not even in their irony been the 
emblems of fidelity? 

They have found us out, they have played 
upon our weaknesses, they have exaggerated 
our virtues until these became vices, they have 
separated us and set us going our diverging 
ways. 

But while we human beings are moving 
in every direction over the earth, the earth 
without our being conscious of it is carrying 
us in one same direction. So as we follow the 
different pathways of our lives which appear 
to lead toward unfaithfulness to one another, 
may it not be true that to the Power which 
sets us all in motion and drives us whither it 
will all our lives are the Emblems of Fidelity? 



THE END 




THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS 
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