Read CHAPTER VIII - AN ATTAINED TO-MORROW of The Tinder-Box, free online book, by Maria Thompson Daviess, on ReadCentral.com.

I’ve changed my mind about a woman’s being like a whirlwind.  The women of now are the attained to-morrow that the world since the beginning has been trying to catch up with.  Jane is that, and then the day after, too, and what she has done to Glendale in these two weeks has stunned the old town into a trance of delight and amazement.  She has recreated us, breathed the breath of modernity into us, and started the machine up the grade of civilization at a pace that makes me hold my breath for fear of something jolting us.

She and Aunt Augusta have organized an Equality League, and that wheel came very near flying loose and being the finish of Uncle Peter.

He came to see me the morning of the first meeting and, when I saw him coming up the front walk, I got an astral vision of the chips on his shoulder enlarged to twice their natural size, and called to Jasper to mix the juleps very long and extra deep.  But deep as they were, to the very top of the longest glasses, he couldn’t drown his wrath in his.

“Women, women,” he exploded from over the very mint sprig itself, “all fools, all fools from the beginning of time; made that way on purpose on purpose hey?  World needs some sort of creature with no better sense than to want to spend their lives fooling with babies and the bread of life.  Human young and religion are the only things in the world men can’t attend to for themselves and that’s what they need women for.  Women with no brains but all heart all heart hey?”

“Why should just a little brain hurt their heart-action.  Uncle Peter?” I asked mildly.  There is nothing in the world that I ever met that I enjoy any more than one of Uncle Peter’s rages, and I always try to be meekly inflammatory.

“They’re never satisfied with using them to run church societies and children’s internal organs, but they want to use ’em on men and civilization in general.  Where’d you get that Yankee school-marm hey?  Why don’t she get a husband and a baby and settle down?  Ten babies, twenty babies if necessary hey?”

“You are entirely mistaken as to the plans that Jane and Aunt Augusta have for the League they are forming this morning, Uncle Peter.”  I began to say with delight as to what was likely to ensue.  “If you would only listen to Jane while she ”

“Don’t want to hear a word she has to say!  All ’as the crackling of thorns under a pot’ all the talk of fools.”

“But surely you are not afraid to listen to her, Uncle Peter,” I dared to say, and then stood away.

“Afraid, afraid never was afraid of anybody in my life, Augusta not excepted!” he exclaimed, as he rose in his wrath.  “The men of this town will show the uprising hussies what we think of ’em, and put ’em back to the heels of men, where they belong belong hey?”

And before I could remonstrate with him he was marching down the street like a whole regiment out on a charge that was to be one of extermination, or complete surrender.

The Crag told me that evening that the Mayor’s office of Glendale had reeked of brimstone, for hours, and the next Sunday Aunt Augusta sat in their pew at church, militantly alone, while he occupied a seat in the farthest limits of the amen corner, with equal militancy.

But Uncle Peter’s attitude during the time of Jane’s campaign for general Equality in Glendale was pathetically like that of an old log, that has been drifting comfortably down the stream of life with the tide that bore its comrades, and suddenly got its end stuck in the mud so that it was forced to stem alone the very tide it had been floating on.

Jane didn’t throw any rocks at anybody’s opinions or break the windows of anybody’s prejudices.  She had the most lovely heart to heart talks with the women separately, collectively, and in both small and large bunches.  I had them in to tea in the combinations that she wanted them, and I must say that she was the loveliest thing with them that could be imagined.  She was just her stiff, ugly self, starchily clad in the most beautifully tailored white linen, and they all went mad about her.  The Pup and the Kit clutched at her skirts until anybody else would have been a mass of wrinkles, and the left breast of her linen blouse did always bear a slight impress of little Ned’s head.  The congeniality of Jane and that baby was a revelation to me and his colic ceased after the first time she kneaded it out of his fat little stomach with her long, slim, powerful hands according to a first-aid method she had learned in her settlement work, with Mamie looking on in fear and adoration.  It may have been bloodless surgery but I suspect it of being partly hypnotism, because the same sort of surgery was used on the minds of all my women friends and with a like result.

The subject of the rally was a fine one for everybody to get together on from the start and, before any of them realized that they were doing anything but plan out the details of a big spread, the like of which they had been doing for hospitable generations, for the railroad Commission, they were organized into a flourishing Equality League, with officers and by-laws and a sinking fund in the treasury.

“Now, Evelina,” said Jane, as she sat on the edge of my bed braiding her heavy, sleek, black braid that is as big as my wrist and that she declares is her one beauty, though she ought to know that her straight, strong-figure, ruddy complexion, aroma of strength and keen, near-sighted eyes are well, if not beauties, something very winning, “we must not allow the men time to get sore over this matter of the League.  We must make them feel immediately that they are needed and wanted intensely in the movement.  They must be asked to take their place, shoulder to shoulder, with us in this fight for better conditions for the world and mankind in general.  True to our theory we must offer them our comradely affection and openly and honestly express our need of them in our lives and in our activities.  I was talking to Mrs. Carruthers and Nell and Mrs. Hall and Caroline, as well as your Cousin Martha, about it this afternoon and they all agreed with me that the men would have cause to be aggrieved at us about seeming thus to be organizing a life for ourselves apart from theirs, with no place in it provided for them.  Mrs. Carruthers said that she had felt that the Reverend Mr. Haley had been deeply hurt already at not being masked to open any of the meetings with prayer, and she volunteered to talk to him and express for herself and us our need of him.”

“That will be easy for Sallie, for she has been expressing need of people in her fife as long as she has been living it,” I answered with a good-natured laugh, though I would have liked to have that interview with the Dominie myself.  He is so enthusiastic that I like to bask in him once in a while.

“I asked young Mr. Hayes to take me fishing with him to-morrow in order to have a whole quiet day with him alone so that we could get closely in touch with each other.  I have had very little opportunity to talk with him, but I have felt his sympathy in several interested glances we have exchanged with each other.  I am looking forward to the establishment of a perfect friendship with him.”

I told myself that I was mistaken in thinking that the expression in Jane’s eyes was softened to the verge of dreaminess and my inmost soul shouted at the idea of Jane and Polk and their day alone in the woods.

Since that night that Polk humiliated me as completely as a man can humiliate a woman, he has looked at me like a whipped child, and I haven’t looked at him at all I have used Jane as a wide-spread fan behind which to hide from him.  How was I to know what was going on on the other side of the fan?

It is a relief to realize that in the world there are at least a few women like Jane that don’t have to be protected from Polk and his kind.  Jane is one of the hunted that has turned and has come back to meet the pursuer with outstretched and disarming hand.  This, I suspect, is to be about her first real tussle; skoal to the victor!

“I advised your Aunt Augusta to ask you to talk again to your Uncle Peter, and Nell is to seek an interview with Mr. Hardin at her earliest opportunity, though I think the only result will be instruction and uplift for Nell, as a more illumined thing I never had said to me on the subject of the relation of men and women than the one he uttered to me last night, as he said good-by to me out on the porch in that glorious moonlight that seems brighter here in Glendale than I have ever seen it out in the world anywhere else.”

“What did he say?” I asked perfectly naturally, though a double-bladed pain was twisted around in my solar plexus as the vision of Jane’s last night interview in the moonlight with the Crag, and Nell’s soon-to-be-one, hit me broadside at the same time.  I haven’t had one by myself with him for a week.

“Why, of course, women are the breath that men draw into their lungs of life to supply eternal combustion,” was what he said when I asked him point-blank what he thought of the League.  “Only let us breathe slowly as we ascend to still greater elevations with their consequent rarefied air,” he added, with the most heavenly thoughtfulness in his fine face.  “Did it ever occur to you, Evelina, that your Cousin James is really a radiantly beautiful man?  How could you be so mistaken, as to both him and his personal appearance, as to apply such a name as Crag to him?”

Glendale is going to Jane’s head!

“Don’t you think he looks scraggy in that long-tailed coat, shocks of taggy hair and a collar big enough to fit Old Harpeth?” I asked deceitfully.

Why shouldn’t I tell Jane what I really thought of Cousin James and discuss him broadly and frankly?  I don’t know!  Lately I don’t want to think about him or have anybody mention him in my presence.  I’ve got a consciousness of him way off in a corner of me somewhere and I’m just brooding over it.  Everybody in town has been in this house since Jane has been here, all the time, and I haven’t seen him alone for ages it seems.  Maybe that’s why I have had to make a desert island inside myself to take him to.

“And I have been thinking since you told me of the situation in which he and Mrs. Carruthers have been placed by this financial catastrophe, how wonderful it will be if love really does come to them, when her grief is healed by time.  He will rear her interesting children into women that will be invaluable to the commonwealth,” Jane continued as she tied a blue bow on the end of her long black plait.

“Do you think that there there are any signs of of such a thing yet?” I asked with pitiful weakness as I wilted down into my pillow.

“Just a bit in his manner to her, though I may be influenced in my judgment by the evident suitability of such a solution of the situation,” she answered as she settled herself back against one of the posts of my high old bed and looked me clean through and through, even unto the shores of that desert island itself.

“I hope you have been noting these different emotional situations and reactions among your friends carefully in your record, Evelina,” she continued in an interested and biological tone of voice and expression of eye.  “In a small community like this it is much easier to get at the real underlying motive of such things than it is in a more complicated civilization.  I have seen you transcribing notes into our book.  Since I have come to Glendale I am more firmly determined than ever that the attitude of emotional equality that we determined upon in the spring is the true solution of most of the complicated man-and-woman problems.  I am anxious to see it tried out in five other different communities that we will select.  I would not seem to be indelicate, dear, but I do not see any signs of your having been especially drawn emotionally towards any of your friends, though your attitude of sisterly comradeship and frankness with them is more beautiful than I thought it was possible for such a thing to be.  You are not being tempted to shirk any of your duties of womanhood because of your interest in your art, are you?  I will confess to you that the thing that brought me down upon you was your news of this commission for the series of station-gardens.  I think you will probably work better after this side of your nature is at rest.  Of course, a union with Mr. Hall would be ideal for you.  You must consider it seriously.”

The “must” in Jane’s voice sounded exactly like that “must” looked in Richard’s telegram, which has been enforced with others just as emphatic ever since.

There are some men who are big enough to take a woman with a wound in her heart and heal both it and her by their love.  Richard is one of that kind.  What could any woman want more than her work and a man like that?

After Jane had laid her strong-minded head on the hard pillow, that I had had to have concocted out of bats of cotton for her, I laid my face against my own made of the soft breast feathers of a white flock of hovering hen-mothers and wept on their softness.

A light was burning down in the lodge at the gate of Widegables.  He hasn’t gone back to his room to sleep, even when I have Jane’s strong-mindedness in the house with me.  I remember that I gave my word of honor to myself that I wouldn’t try any of my modern emotional experiments on him the first night I slept in this house alone, with only him over there to keep me from dying with primitive woman fright.  I shall keep my word to myself and propose to Richard if my contract with Jane and the Five seems to call for it.  In the meantime if I choose to cry myself to sleep it is nobody’s business.

I wonder if a mist rises up to Heaven every night from all the woman-tears in all the world, and if God sees it, as it clings damp around the hem of His garment, and smiles with such warm understanding that it vanishes in a soft glow of sleep that He sends down to us!

Jane has arisen early several mornings and spent an hour before breakfast composing a masterly and Machiavellian letter of invitation from the Equality League to the inhabitants of Glendale and the surrounding countryside to and beyond Bolivar to attend the rally given by them in honor of the C. & G. Railroad Commission on Tuesday next.  It is to come out to-day in the weekly papers of Glendale, Bolivar, Hillsboro, and Providence, and I hope there will not be so many cases of heart-failure from rage that the gloom of many funerals will put out the light of the rally.  I hope no man will beat any woman in the Harpeth Valley for it, and if he does, I hope he will do it so neither Jane nor I will hear of it.

It was Aunt Augusta who thought up the insulting and incendiary plan of having the rally as an offering of hospitality from the League, and I hope if Uncle Peter is going to die over it he will not have the final explosion in my presence.

Privately I spent a dollar and a half sending a night-letter to Richard all about it and asking him if the Commissioners would be willing to stand for this feminist plank in the barbecue deal.  He had sent me the nicest letter of acceptance from the Board when I had written the invitation to them through him, as coming from the perfectly ladylike feminine population of Glendale, and I didn’t like to get them into a woman-whirlwind without their own consent.  I paid the boy at the telegraph office five dollars not to talk about the matter to a human soul, and threatened to have him dismissed if he did, so the bomb-shell was kept in until this afternoon.

Richard replied to the telegram with characteristic directness: 

     Delighted to be in at the fight.  Seven of us rabid suffragists, two
     on the fence, and a half roast pig will convert the other.  Found no
     answer to my question in letter of last Tuesday.  Must!

     RICHARD.

It was nice of Jane to write out and get ready her bomb-shell and then go off with Polk, so as not to see it explode.  But I’m glad she did.  However, I did advise her to take a copy of it along with the reels and the lunch-basket to read to him, as a starter of their day to be devoted to the establishment of a perfect friendship between them.

Polk didn’t look at me even once as I helped pack them and their traps into his Hupp, but Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like Polk in his white flannels, and he and Jane made a picture of perfectly blended tailored smartness as they got ready for the break-away.

There are some men that acquire feminine obligations as rough cheviot does lint and Henrietta is one of Polk’s when it comes to the fishing days.  He takes her so often that she thinks she owns him and all the trout in Little Harpeth, and she landed in the midst of the picnic with her fighting clothes on.

“Where are you and her going at, fishing?” she asked in a calmly controlled voice that both of them had heard before, and which made us quail in our boots and metaphorically duck our heads.

“Yes, we er thought we would,” he answered with an uncertainty of voice and manner that bespoke abject fear.

“I’ll be d if you shall,” came the explosion, hot and loud.  “I want to go fishing with you, Polk, my own self, and she ain’t no good for nothing any way.  You can’t take her!”

“Henrietta!” I both beseeched and commanded in one breath.

“No, she ain’t no good at all,” was reiterated in the stormy young voice as Henrietta caught hold of the nose of the panting Hupp and stood directly in the path of destruction, if Polk had turned the driving wheel a hair’s breadth.  “Uncle Peter says that she is er going to turn the devil loose in Glendale, so they won’t be no more whisky and no more babies borned and men will get they noses rubbed in their plates, if they don’t eat the awful truck she is er going to teach the women to cook for their husbands.  An’ the men won’t marry no more then at all, and I’ll have to be a old maid like her.”

Now, why did I write weeks ago that I would like to witness an encounter between Jane and Henrietta!  I didn’t mean it, but I got it!

Without ruffling a hair or changing color Jane stepped out of the Hupp and faced the foe.  Henrietta is a tiny scrap of a woman, intense in a wild, beautiful, almost hunted kind of way, and she is so thin that it makes my heart ache.  She is being fairly crushed with the beautiful depending weight of her mother and the responsibility of the twins, and somehow she is most pathetic.  I made a motion to step between her and Jane, but one look in Jane’s face stopped me.

“Dear,” she said, in her rich, throaty, strong voice as she looked pleadingly at the militant midget facing her.  Suddenly I was that lonesome, homesick freshman by the waters of Lake Waban, with Jane’s awkward young arm around me, and I stood aside to let Henrietta come into her heritage of Jane.  “Don’t you want to come with us?” was the soft question that followed the commanding word of endearment.

“No!” was the short, but slightly mollified answer as Henrietta dug her toes into the dust and began to look fascinated.

“I’m glad you don’t want to come, because I’ve got some very important business to ask you to attend to for me,” answered Jane, in the brisk tone of voice she uses in doing business with women, and which interests them intensely by its very novelty and flatters them by seeming to endow them with a kind of brain they didn’t know they possessed.  “I want you to go upstairs and get my pocketbook.  Be careful, for there is over a hundred dollars in the roll of bills Evelina will give you the key to the desk and go down to the drug store where they keep nice little clocks and buy me the best one they have.  Then please you wind it up yourself and watch it all day to see if it keeps time with the clock in your hall, and if it varies more than one minute, take it back and get another.  While you are in the drug store, if you have time, won’t you please select me a new tooth-brush and some nice kind of paste that you think is good?  Make them show you all they have.  Pay for it out of one of the bills.”

“Want any good, smelly soap?” I came out of my trance of absolute admiration to hear Henrietta ask in the capable voice of a secretary to a millionaire.  Her thin little face was flushed with excitement and importance, and she edged two feet nearer the charmer.

“It would be a good thing to get about a half dozen cakes, wouldn’t it?” answered Jane, with slight uncertainty in her voice as if leaving the decision of the matter partly to Henrietta.

“Yes, I believe I would,” Henrietta decided judicially.  “The ’New Mown Hay’ is what Jasper got for Petunia because he hit her too hard last week and swelled her eye.  They is a perfumery that goes with it at one quarter a bottle.  That makes it all cheaper.”

“Exactly the thing, and we mustn’t spend money unnecessarily,” Jane agreed.  “But I don’t want to trespass on your time, Henrietta, dear,” she added with the deference she would have used in speaking to the President of the Nation League or the founder of Hull House.

“No, ma’am, I’m glad to do it, and I’ll go quick ’fore it gets any later in the day for me to watch the clock,” answered Henrietta in stately tones that were very like Jane’s and which I had never heard her employ before.

And before any of the three of us got our breath her bare little feet were flashing up my front walk.

“Help!” exclaimed Polk as he leaned back from his wheel and fanned himself with his hat.  “Do you use the same methods with grown beasts that you do with cubs?” he added weakly.

“It’s the same she has always used on me, only this is more dramatic.  Beware!” I said with a laugh as I insisted on just one squeeze of Jane’s white linen arm as she was climbing back into the car.

“That’s a remarkably fine child and she should have good, dependable, business-like habits put in the place of faulty and useless ones.  Her profanity will make no difference for the present and can be easily corrected.  Don’t interfere with her attending to my commissions, Evelina.  Let’s start, Mr. Hayes.”  And Jane settled herself calmly for the spin out Providence Road.

“All the hundred dollars all by herself, Jane?” I called after them.

“Yes,” floated back positively in the wake of the Hupp.

For several hours I attended to the business of my life in a haze of meditation.  If Henrietta ticks off the same number of minutes on the woman-clock from Jane’s standpoint, that Jane has marked off from her own mother’s, high noon is going to strike before we are ready for it.

But it was only an hour or two of high-minded communing with the future that I got the time for, before I was involved in the whirl of dust that swirled around the storm center, to darken and throw a shadow over Glendale about the time of the publication of the Glendale News, which occurs every Thursday near the hour of noon, so that all the subscribers can take that enterprising sheet home to consume while waiting for dinner, and can leave it for the women of their families to enjoy in the afternoon.

I suspect that the digestion of Jane’s Equality rally invitation interfered with the digestion of much fried chicken, corn, and sweet potatoes, under the roof-trees of the town and I spent the afternoon in hearing results and keeping up the spirits of the insurgents.

Caroline came in with her head so high that she had difficulty in seeing over her very slender and aristocratic nose, with a note from Lee Greenfield which had just come to her, asking her to go with him in his car over to Hillsboro to spend the day with Tom Pollard’s wife, a visit he knows she has been dying to make for two months, for she was one of Pet’s bridesmaids.  He made casual and dastardly mention that there would be a moon to come home by, but ignored completely the fact that Tuesday was the day on which he had been invited by the League, of which he knew she was a member, to meet and rally around the C. & G. Commission.

I helped her compose the answer, and I must say we hit Lee only in high spots.  I could see she was scared to death, and so was I, but her dander was up, and I backed mine up along side it for the purpose of support.  Besides I feel in my heart that that note will dynamite the rocky old situation between them into something more easily handled.

She had just gone to dispatch the missive by their negro gardener when Mamie and Sallie came clucking in.  Mamie’s face was pink and high-spirited, but Sallie was in one complete slump of mind and body.

“Mr. Haley has just stopped by to say that he thinks no price is too great to pay for peace, and fellowship, and good-will in a community,” she said, as she dropped into a rocker and looked pensively after the retreating figure of the handsome young Dominie, who had accompanied them to the gate but wisely no farther.  He didn’t know that Jane had gone with Polk.

“And women to pay the price,” answered Mamie, spiritedly.  “I have just told Ned that as yet I do not know enough to argue the question of woman’s wrongs with him, but I have learned a few of her rights.  One of mine is to have him accept any invitation I am responsible for having my friends offer him, and to accompany me to the entertainment if I desire to go.  I reminded him that I had not troubled him often as an escort since my marriage.  He was so scared that he almost let little Ned drop out of his arms, and he got in an awful hurry to go to town, but he asked me to have his gray flannels pressed before Tuesday and to buy him a blue tie to go with a new shirt he has.  I never like to spank Ned or the children, but I must say it does clear the atmosphere.”

“You don’t think we could put it off or or ” Sallie faltered.

“No!” answered Mamie and I together, and as I spoke I called Jasper to set out more rockers and have Petunia get the tea-tray ready, for I saw Aunt Augusta go across the road to collect Cousin Martha and Mrs. Hargrove and the rest, while Nell whirled by in her rakish little car on her way to the Square and called that she would be back.

When Nell used a thousand dollars of her own money, left her by her grandmother, to buy that little Buick, Glendale promptly had a spell of epilepsy that lasted for days.  The whole town still dodges and swears when it sees her coming, for she drives with a combination of feminine recklessness and masculine speed that is to say the least alarming.  To see Aunt Augusta out for a spin with her is a delicious sight.

And it was most interesting to listen to a minute description of the composite fit thrown by the male population of Glendale, at their rally invitation, but as time was limited I finally coaxed the conversation around to the subject of the viands to be offered the lordly creatures in the way of propitiation for the insult that we were forcing them to swallow by taking matters in our own hands, and then we had a really glorious time.

I am glad I have had a year or more in Paris, months in Italy, weeks in Berlin, and a sojourn in England, just so that I can be sure myself and assure the others with authority that there are no such cooks in all the world as the women in the Harpeth Valley of Tennessee, United States of America.

The afternoon wore away on the wings of magic, and the long, purple shadows were falling across the street, a rustle of cool night wind was stirring the tree-tops and the first star was coming timidly out into the gloaming, before they all realized that it was time to hurry and scurry under roof-trees.

Lee Greenfield was waiting at the gate for Caroline.

Just as Henrietta had taken a last peep at the clock on the hall table and gone to answer Sallie’s call to come and help Aunt Dilsie in the bedding of the Kitten and the Pup, Polk’s Hupp stopped at the gate, and he and Jane came up the front walk in the twilight together.

She had on his flannel coat over her linen one and his expression was one of glorified and translucent daze.  I didn’t look at her I felt as if I couldn’t.  I was scared!  For a second she held me in her arms and kissed me, really the first time she had ever done it in all my life and then went on upstairs with a nice, cool good-night and “thank you” to Polk.

“Evelina,” he said, as he handed me the empty lunch-basket and also the empty fish-bucket, the first he had ever in his life brought in from Little Harpeth, “I was right about that Hallelujah chorus being the true definition of the real woman only they are more so.  I have seen a light, and you pointed the way.  Will you forgive me for being what I was and trust me with with good-night!” He was gone!

Jane’s kiss had been one of revelation to me!

For a long time I sat out there in the cool, hazy, windy autumn twilight breeze, that was heavy with the scent of luscious wild grapes and tasseled corn, fanning the flame of loneliness in me until I couldn’t have stood it any longer if a tall gray figure of relief had not come up the street and called me down to my front gate.

“Hail the instigator of a bloodless revolution,” laughed the Crag as I stopped myself with difficulty on the opposite side of the gate from him.  “The city fathers will have to capitulate, and now for the reign of the mothers!”

“And the same old route to subjection chosen, through their stomachs to their civic hearts,” I answered impudently.

Overlooking my pertness he went on: 

“Mayor Shelby was at home with Mrs. Augusta for two hours after dinner and, as I came by the post-office, I heard him telling Polk in remarkably chastened, if not entirely chaste language, that it was ’better to let the women have their kick-up on a feeding proposition than on something worse,’ as he classically put it.”

“I know it is a great victory,” I answered weakly, “but I’m too tired to glory in it.  I wish I was Sallie’s Puppy being trotted across Aunt Dilsie’s knee, or Kit, getting a rocking in Cousin Martha’s arms.”

“Would any other arms do for the rocking?” came in a queer, audacious voice, with a note in it that stilled something in me and made all the world seem to be holding its breath.

“I’m tired of revoluting and it’s it’s tenderness I want,” I faltered in a voice that hardly seemed strong enough to get so far up out of my heart as to reach the ears of the Crag as he bent his head down close over mine.  He had come on my side of the gate at the first weak little cry I had let myself make a minute or two before.

“Is this right?” he asked, as he gently took me in his arms, hollowed his shoulder for a place for my head, and leaning against the old gate he began to swing me gently to and fro, his cheek against my hair and humming Aunt Dilsie’s

“Swing low sweet chariot, fer to carry me home.”

It was.

I know now what I want and I am going to have it.  I’ll fight the whole world with naked hands for him.  And I’m also going to find some way to get him with all his absurd niceties of honor intact, just because that will make him happier.

I’ll begin at the beginning and some way unclasp those gourdy tendrils that Sallie has been strangling him with.  I will bunch all the rest of his feminine collection and take them on my own hands.  I’m going to make a Governor out of him, and then a United States Senator and finally a Supreme Judge.  Help!  Think of the old Mossback being a progressive, but that’s my party and Jane’s.

I know he is going to hate terribly to have me ask him to marry me, and I hate to hurt him so, but it is my duty to get Jane’s fifty thousand dollars so the Five may be as happy as I am to-night; only there aren’t five other Crags.  I know it will be a life-long mortification to him to have me do it, but he lost his chance to-night grand-mothering me.  Still, I did turn my lips away.  I was not quite ready then I am now.

If he wants to go on wearing clothes like that I’m going to let him, even on the Senate floor, but I can’t ever stand for Cousin Jasmine to cut his hair any more.  I want to do it myself, and I’m going to tell her so, and why.  She and I have cried over that miniature of the lost young Confederate cousin of hers and she’ll understand me.

But as I think it over it always is best to be kind, and I believe I’ll let him get through this rally it’s just four days free and happy man.

I don’t know whether to go in and wake up Jane or not.  I would like to go to sleep with that kiss revelation between us, but maybe it is my duty to the Five to extract some data from her while it is fresh, on the foam.  I am afraid it is going to go hard with her, but somehow I have a newborn faith in Polk that makes me feel that he will make it as easy as he can for her.

Isn’t it a glorious thing to realize that neither she nor I will have to sit and be tortured by waiting to see what those men are going to do?