Read CHAPTER XXVII of The Wall Street Girl , free online book, by Frederick Orin Bartlett, on ReadCentral.com.

THE STARS AGAIN

Don went to the nearest telephone and rang up Frances.

“Your father lost his temper,” he explained. “He ordered me not to call again; so will you please to meet me on the corner right away?”

“I’ve just seen him,” she answered. “Oh, Don, it was awful!”

“It is the best thing that could have happened,” he said. “We have to meet in the park now. It’s the only place left.”

“Don, dear, he told me not to meet you anywhere again. He he was quite savage about it.”

“He had no right to tell you that,” Don answered. “Anyhow, I must see you. We’ll talk it over under the stars.”

“But, Don ”

“Please to hurry,” he said.

She slipped a scarf over her hair and a cape over her shoulders, and walked to the corner, looking about fearfully. He gripped her arm and led her confidently away from the house and toward the park. The sky was clear, and just beyond the Big Dipper he saw shining steadily the star he had given Sally Winthrop. He smiled. It was as if she reassured him.

“What did you say to him, Don?” she panted.

“I told him I wished to marry you to-morrow,” he answered.

“And he ”

“He said I shouldn’t. He said he could give you more with his ten thousand than I could give you with my twelve hundred. I told him I could give you more with my twelve hundred than he could with his ten thousand.”

“I’ve never seen him so angry,” she trembled.

“I’d never before seen him angry at all,” he admitted. “But, after all, that isn’t important, is it? The important thing is whether or not he’s right. That’s what you and I must decide for ourselves.”

She did not quite understand. She thought her father had already decided this question. However, she said nothing. In something of a daze, she allowed herself to be led on toward the park at night a big, shadowy region with a star-pricked sky overhead. Like one led in a dream she went, her thoughts quite confused, but with the firm grip of his hand upon her arm steadying her. He did not speak again until the paved street and the stone buildings were behind them until they were among the trees and low bushes and gravel paths. He led her to a bench.

“See those stars?” he asked, pointing.

“Yes, Don.”

“I want you to keep looking at them while I’m talking to you,” he said.

Just beyond the Big Dipper he saw the star he had given Sally Winthrop. It smiled reassuringly at him.

“What I’ve learned this summer,” he said, “is that, after all, the clear sky and those stars are as much a part of New York as the streets and high buildings below them. And when you live up there a little while you forget about the twelve hundred or the ten thousand. Those details don’t count up there. Do you see that?”

“Yes, Don.”

“The trouble with your father, and the trouble with you, and the trouble with me, until a little while ago, is that we didn’t get out here in the park enough where the stars can be seen. I’m pretty sure, if I’d been sitting here with your father, he’d have felt different.”

She was doing as he bade her and keeping her eyes raised. She saw the steady stars and the twinkling stars and the vast purple depths. So, when she felt his arm about her, that did not seem strange.

“It’s up there we’ll be living most of the time,” he was saying.

“Yes, Don.”

“And that’s all free. The poorer you are, the freer it is. That’s true of a lot of things. You’ve no idea the things you can get here in New York if you haven’t too much money. Your father said that if you don’t have cash you go without, when as a matter of fact it’s when you have cash you go without.”

She lowered her eyes to his. What he was saying sounded topsy-turvy.

“It’s a fact,” he ran on. “Why, you can get hungry if you don’t have too much money; and, honest, I’ve had better things to eat this summer, because of that, than I ever had in my life. Then, if you don’t have too much money, you can work. It sounds strange to say there’s any fun in that, but there is. I want to get you into the game, Frances. You’re going to like it. Farnsworth is going to let me sell next month. It’s like making the ’Varsity. I’m going to have a salary and commission, so you see it will be partly a personal fight. You can help me. Why, the very things we were planning to get done with before we married are the very things that are worth while. We can stand shoulder to shoulder now and play the game together. You can have part of the fun.”

She thrilled with the magic of his voice, but his words were quite meaningless.

“You aren’t looking at the stars,” he reminded her. She looked up again.

“So,” he said, “there’s no sense in waiting any longer, is there? The sooner we’re married, the sooner we can begin. If we’re married to-morrow, we’ll have almost two weeks in the mountains. And then ”

She appeared frightened.

“Oh, Don, we we couldn’t get married like that, anyway.”

“Why not?” he demanded.

“It it isn’t possible.”

“Certainly it’s possible.”

She shook her head.

“No, no. I I couldn’t. Oh, Don, you’ll have to give me time to think.”

“There isn’t time,” he frowned.

“We must take time. I’m I’m afraid.”

“Afraid of what?”

“Afraid of myself,” she answered quickly. “Afraid of Dad. Oh, I’m afraid of every one.”

“Of me?” He took her hand.

“When you speak of to-morrow I am,” she admitted. “While you were talking, there were moments when when I could do as you wish. But they didn’t last.”

“That’s because you didn’t keep your eyes on the stars,” he assured her gently.

“That’s what I’m afraid of that I shouldn’t be able to keep them there. Don, dear, you don’t know how selfish I am and and how many things I want.”

She was seeing herself clearly now and speaking from the depths of her soul.

“Maybe it isn’t all my fault. And you’re wonderful, Don. It’s that which makes me see myself.”

He kissed her hand. “Dear you,” he whispered, “I know the woman ’way down deep in you, and it’s she I want.”

She shook her head.

“No,” she answered. “It’s some woman you’ve placed there some woman who might have been there that you see. But she isn’t there, because because I can’t go with you.”

Some woman he had put there. He looked at the stars, and the little star by the Big Dipper was shining steadily at him. He passed his hand over his forehead.

“If she were really in me, she’d go with you to-morrow,” Frances ran on excitedly. “She’d want to get into the game. She’d want to be hungry with you, and she wouldn’t care about anything else in the world but you. She she’d want to suffer, Don. She’d be almost glad that you had no money. Her father wouldn’t count, because she’d care so much.”

She drew her cape about her shoulders.

“Yes,” he answered in a hoarse whisper; “she’s like that.”

“So, don’t you see ”

“Good Lord, I do see!” he exclaimed.

Now he saw.

With his head swimming, with his breath coming short, he saw. But he was as dazed as a man suddenly given sight in the glare of the blazing sun.

Frances was frightened by his silence.

“I I think we’d better go back now,” she said gently.

He escorted her to the house without quite knowing how he found the way. At the door she said:

“Don’t you understand, Don?”

“Yes,” he answered; “for the first time.”

“And you’ll not think too badly of me?”

“It isn’t anything you can help,” he answered. “It isn’t anything I can help, either.”

“Don’t think too badly of Dad,” she pleaded. “He’ll cool down soon, and then you must come and see me again.”

She held out her hand, and he took it. Then swiftly she turned and went into the house. He hurried back to the path to the path where on Saturday afternoons he had walked with Sally Winthrop.