At dinner that day Alexandra said she
thought they must really manage to go over to
the Shabatas' that afternoon. "It's not often I
let three days go by without seeing Marie. She
will think I have forsaken her, now that my old
friend has come back."
After the men had gone back to work, Alex-
andra put on a white dress and her sun-hat, and
she and Carl set forth across the fields. "You
see we have kept up the old path, Carl. It has
been so nice for me to feel that there was a
friend at the other end of it again."
Carl smiled a little ruefully. "All the same, I
hope it hasn't been QUITE the same."
Alexandra looked at him with surprise.
"Why, no, of course not. Not the same. She
could not very well take your place, if that's
what you mean. I'm friendly with all my
neighbors, I hope. But Marie is really a com-
panion, some one I can talk to quite frankly.
You wouldn't want me to be more lonely than
I have been, would you?"
Carl laughed and pushed back the triangular
lock of hair with the edge of his hat. "Of course
I don't. I ought to be thankful that this path
hasn't been worn by--well, by friends with
more pressing errands than your little Bohe-
mian is likely to have." He paused to give
Alexandra his hand as she stepped over the stile.
"Are you the least bit disappointed in our com-
ing together again?" he asked abruptly. "Is it
the way you hoped it would be?"
Alexandra smiled at this. "Only better.
When I've thought about your coming, I've
sometimes been a little afraid of it. You have
lived where things move so fast, and every-
thing is slow here; the people slowest of all. Our
lives are like the years, all made up of weather
and crops and cows. How you hated cows!"
She shook her head and laughed to herself.
"I didn't when we milked together. I
walked up to the pasture corners this morning.
I wonder whether I shall ever be able to tell you
all that I was thinking about up there. It's a
strange thing, Alexandra; I find it easy to be
frank with you about everything under the sun
"You are afraid of hurting my feelings, per-
haps." Alexandra looked at him thoughtfully.
"No, I'm afraid of giving you a shock.
You've seen yourself for so long in the dull
minds of the people about you, that if I were to
tell you how you seem to me, it would startle
you. But you must see that you astonish me.
You must feel when people admire you."
Alexandra blushed and laughed with some
confusion. "I felt that you were pleased with
me, if you mean that."
"And you've felt when other people were
pleased with you?" he insisted.
"Well, sometimes. The men in town, at the
banks and the county offices, seem glad to see
me. I think, myself, it is more pleasant to
do business with people who are clean and
healthy-looking," she admitted blandly.
Carl gave a little chuckle as he opened the
Shabatas' gate for her. "Oh, do you?" he
There was no sign of life about the Shabatas'
house except a big yellow cat, sunning itself on
the kitchen doorstep.
Alexandra took the path that led to the
orchard. "She often sits there and sews. I
didn't telephone her we were coming, because I
didn't her to go to work and bake cake
and freeze ice-cream. She'll always make a
party if you give her the least excuse. Do you
recognize the apple trees, Carl?"
Linstrum looked about him. "I wish I had a
dollar for every bucket of water I've carried for
those trees. Poor father, he was an easy man,
but he was perfectly merciless when it came to
watering the orchard."
"That's one thing I like about Germans;
they make an orchard grow if they can't make
anything else. I'm so glad these trees belong to
some one who takes comfort in them. When I
rented this place, the tenants never kept the
orchard up, and Emil and I used to come over
and take care of it ourselves. It needs mowing
now. There she is, down in the corner. Ma-
ria-a-a!" she called.
A recumbent figure started up from the grass
and came running toward them through the
flickering screen of light and shade.
"Look at her! Isn't she like a little brown
rabbit?" Alexandra laughed.
Maria ran up panting and threw her arms
about Alexandra. "Oh, I had begun to think
you were not coming at all, maybe. I knew you
were so busy. Yes, Emil told me about Mr.
Linstrum being here. Won't you come up to
"Why not sit down there in your corner?
Carl wants to see the orchard. He kept all
these trees alive for years, watering them with
his own back."
Marie turned to Carl. "Then I'm thankful
to you, Mr. Linstrum. We'd never have bought
the place if it hadn't been for this orchard, and
then I wouldn't have had Alexandra, either."
She gave Alexandra's arm a little squeeze as
she walked beside her. "How nice your dress
smells, Alexandra; you put rosemary leaves in
your chest, like I told you."
She led them to the northwest corner of the
orchard, sheltered on one side by a thick mul-
berry hedge and bordered on the other by a
wheatfield, just beginning to yellow. In this
corner the ground dipped a little, and the blue-
grass, which the weeds had driven out in the
upper part of the orchard, grew thick and luxu-
riant. Wild roses were flaming in the tufts of
bunchgrass along the fence. Under a white
mulberry tree there was an old wagon-seat.
Beside it lay a book and a workbasket.
"You must have the seat, Alexandra. The
grass would stain your dress," the hostess in-
sisted. She dropped down on the ground at
Alexandra's side and tucked her feet under her.
Carl sat at a little distance from the two wo-
men, his back to the wheatfield, and watched
them. Alexandra took off her shade-hat and
threw it on the ground. Marie picked it up and
played with the white ribbons, twisting them
about her brown fingers as she talked. They
made a pretty picture in the strong sunlight,
the leafy pattern surrounding them like a net;
the Swedish woman so white and gold, kindly
and amused, but armored in calm, and the alert
brown one, her full lips parted, points of yel-
low light dancing in her eyes as she laughed
and chattered. Carl had never forgotten little
Marie Tovesky's eyes, and he was glad to have
an opportunity to study them. The brown
iris, he found, was curiously slashed with yel-
low, the color of sunflower honey, or of old
amber. In each eye one of these streaks must
have been larger than the others, for the effect
was that of two dancing points of light, two
little yellow bubbles, such as rise in a glass of
champagne. Sometimes they seemed like the
sparks from a forge. She seemed so easily ex-
cited, to kindle with a fierce little flame if one
but breathed upon her. "What a waste," Carl
reflected. "She ought to be doing all that for
a sweetheart. How awkwardly things come
It was not very long before Marie sprang up
out of the grass again. "Wait a moment. I
want to show you something." She ran away
and disappeared behind the low-growing apple
"What a charming creature," Carl mur-
mured. "I don't wonder that her husband is
jealous. But can't she walk? does she always
Alexandra nodded. "Always. I don't see
many people, but I don't believe there are many
like her, anywhere."
Marie came back with a branch she had
broken from an apricot tree, laden with pale-
yellow, pink-cheeked fruit. She dropped it be-
side Carl. "Did you plant those, too? They are
such beautiful little trees."
Carl fingered the blue-green leaves, porous
like blotting-paper and shaped like birch
leaves, hung on waxen red stems. "Yes, I
think I did. Are these the circus trees, Alex-
"Shall I tell her about them?" Alexandra
asked. "Sit down like a good girl, Marie, and
don't ruin my poor hat, and I'll tell you a story.
A long time ago, when Carl and I were, say,
sixteen and twelve, a circus came to Hanover
and we went to town in our wagon, with Lou
and Oscar, to see the parade. We hadn't
money enough to go to the circus. We followed
the parade out to the circus grounds and hung
around until the show began and the crowd
went inside the tent. Then Lou was afraid we
looked foolish standing outside in the pasture,
so we went back to Hanover feeling very sad.
There was a man in the streets selling apricots,
and we had never seen any before. He had
driven down from somewhere up in the French
country, and he was selling them twenty-five
cents a peck. We had a little money our fathers
had given us for candy, and I bought two pecks
and Carl bought one. They cheered us a good
deal, and we saved all the seeds and planted
them. Up to the time Carl went away, they
hadn't borne at all."
"And now he's come back to eat them,"
cried Marie, nodding at Carl. "That IS a good
story. I can remember you a little, Mr. Lin-
strum. I used to see you in Hanover some-
times, when Uncle Joe took me to town. I re-
member you because you were always buying
pencils and tubes of paint at the drug store.
Once, when my uncle left me at the store, you
drew a lot of little birds and flowers for me on a
piece of wrapping-paper. I kept them for a long
while. I thought you were very romantic be-
cause you could draw and had such black eyes."
Carl smiled. "Yes, I remember that time.
Your uncle bought you some kind of a mechani-
cal toy, a Turkish lady sitting on an ottoman
and smoking a hookah, wasn't it? And she
turned her head backwards and forwards."
"Oh, yes! Wasn't she splendid! I knew well
enough I ought not to tell Uncle Joe I wanted
it, for he had just come back from the saloon
and was feeling good. You remember how he
laughed? She tickled him, too. But when we
got home, my aunt scolded him for buying toys
when she needed so many things. We wound
our lady up every night, and when she began to
move her head my aunt used to laugh as hard as
any of us. It was a music-box, you know, and
the Turkish lady played a tune while she
smoked. That was how she made you feel so
jolly. As I remember her, she was lovely, and
had a gold crescent on her turban."
Half an hour later, as they were leaving the
house, Carl and Alexandra were met in the path
by a strapping fellow in overalls and a blue
shirt. He was breathing hard, as if he had been
running, and was muttering to himself.
Marie ran forward, and, taking him by the
arm, gave him a little push toward her guests.
"Frank, this is Mr. Linstrum."
Frank took off his broad straw hat and nod-
ded to Alexandra. When he spoke to Carl, he
showed a fine set of white teeth. He was
burned a dull red down to his neckband, and
there was a heavy three-days' stubble on his
face. Even in his agitation he was handsome,
but he looked a rash and violent man.
Barely saluting the callers, he turned at once
to his wife and began, in an outraged tone, "I
have to leave my team to drive the old woman
Hiller's hogs out-a my wheat. I go to take dat
old woman to de court if she ain't careful, I tell
His wife spoke soothingly. "But, Frank, she
has only her lame boy to help her. She does the
best she can."
Alexandra looked at the excited man and
offered a suggestion. "Why don't you go over
there some afternoon and hog-tight her fences?
You'd save time for yourself in the end."
Frank's neck stiffened. "Not-a-much, I
won't. I keep my hogs home. Other peoples
can do like me. See? If that Louis can mend
shoes, he can mend fence."
"Maybe," said Alexandra placidly; "but
I've found it sometimes pays to mend other
people's fences. Good-bye, Marie. Come to
see me soon."
Alexandra walked firmly down the path and
Carl followed her.
Frank went into the house and threw himself
on the sofa, his face to the wall, his clenched fist
on his hip. Marie, having seen her guests off,
came in and put her hand coaxingly on his
"Poor Frank! You've run until you've made
your head ache, now haven't you? Let me
make you some coffee."
"What else am I to do?" he cried hotly in
Bohemian. "Am I to let any old woman's hogs
root up my wheat? Is that what I work myself
to death for?"
"Don't worry about it, Frank. I'll speak to
Mrs. Hiller again. But, really, she almost cried
last time they got out, she was so sorry."
Frank bounced over on his other side.
"That's it; you always side with them against
me. They all know it. Anybody here feels free
to borrow the mower and break it, or turn their
hogs in on me. They know you won't care!"
Marie hurried away to make his coffee. When she came back, he was fast asleep. She sat down and looked at him for a long while, very thoughtfully. When the kitchen clock struck six she went out to get supper, closing the door gently behind her. She was always sorry for Frank when he worked himself into one of these rages, and she was sorry to have him rough and quarrelsome with his neighbors. She was perfectly aware that the neighbors had a good deal to put up with, and that they bore with Frank for her sake.