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Arms and the Woman   By: (1871-1932)

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E text prepared by Al Haines


A Romance



New York Doubleday Page & Company 1905 Copyright, 1899, by S. S. Mcclure Co. Copyright, 1899, by Doubleday and Mcclure Co.

To her, that is to say, to the hand that rocked the cradle.



The first time I met her I was a reporter in the embryonic state and she was a girl in short dresses. It was in a garden, surrounded by high red brick walls which were half hidden by clusters of green vines, and at the base of which nestled earth beds, radiant with roses and poppies and peonies and bushes of lavender lilacs, all spilling their delicate ambrosia on the mild air of passing May. I stood, straw hat in hand, wondering if I had not stumbled into some sweet prison of flowers which, having run disobedient ways in the past, had been placed here by Flora, and forever denied their native meadows and wildernesses. And this vision of fresh youth in my path, perhaps she was some guardian nymph. I was only twenty two a most impressionable age. Her hair was like that rare October brown, half dun, half gold; her eyes were cool and restful, like the brown pools one sees in the heart of the forests, and her lips and cheeks cozened the warm vermilion of the rose which lay ever so lightly on the bosom of her white dress. Close at hand was a table upon which stood a pitcher of lemonade. She was holding in her hand an empty glass. As my eyes encountered her calm, inquiring gaze, my courage fled precipitately, likewise the object of my errand. There was a pause; diffidence and embarrassment on my side, placidity on hers.

"Well, sir?" said she, in a voice the tone of which implied that she could readily understand her presence in the garden, but not mine.

As I remember it, I was suddenly seized with a great thirst.

"I should like a glass of your lemonade," I answered, bravely laying down the only piece of money I possessed.

Her stern lips parted in a smile, and my courage came back cautiously, that is to say, by degrees. She filled a glass for me, and as I gulped it down I could almost detect the flavor of lemon and sugar.

"It is very good," I volunteered, passing back the glass. I held out my hand, smiling.

"There isn't any change," coolly.

I flushed painfully. It was fully four miles to Newspaper Row. I was conscious of a sullen pride. Presently the object of my errand returned. Somewhat down the path I saw a gentleman reclining in a canvas swing.

"Is that Mr. Wentworth?" I asked.

"Yes. Do you wish to speak to him? Uncle Bob, here is a gentleman who desires to speak to you."

I approached. "Mr. Wentworth," I began, cracking the straw in my hat, "my name is John Winthrop. I am a reporter. I have called to see if it is true that you have declined the Italian portfolio."

"It is true," he replied kindly. "There are any number of reasons for my declining it, but I cannot make them public. Is that all?"

"Yes, sir; thank you;" and I backed away.

"Are you a reporter?" asked the girl, as I was about to pass by her.

"Yes, I am."

"Do you draw pictures?"

"No, I do not."

"Do you write novels?"

"No," with a nervous laugh.

There is nothing like the process of interrogation to make one person lose interest in another.

"Oh; I thought perhaps you did," she said, and turned her back to me.

I passed through the darkened halls of the house and into the street.

I never expected to see her again, but it was otherwise ordained. We came together three years later at Block Island. She was eighteen now, gathering the rosy flowers of her first season. She remembered the incident in the garden, and we laughed over it. A few dances, two or three evenings on the verandas, watching the sea, moon lit, as it sprawled among the rocks below us, and the even tenor of my way ceased to be. I appreciated how far she was above me; so I worshipped her silently and from afar... Continue reading book >>

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