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THE LADY OF THE ROSES
 IT was a new world, indeed, that David created for Joe after
that—a world that had to do with entrancing music where once was
silence; delightful companionship where once was loneliness; and
toothsome cookies and doughnuts where once was hunger.
The Widow Glaspell, Joe's mother, worked out by the day,
scrubbing and washing; and Joe, perforce, was left to the
somewhat erratic and decidedly unskillful ministrations of Betty.
Betty was no worse, and no better, than any other untaught,
irresponsible twelve-year-old girl, and it was not to be
expected, perhaps, that she would care to spend all the bright
sunny hours shut up with her sorely afflicted and somewhat
fretful brother. True, at noon she never failed to appear and
prepare something that passed for a dinner for herself and Joe.
But the Glaspell larder was frequently almost as empty as were
the hungry stomachs that looked to it for refreshment; and it
 taken a far more skillful cook than was the fly-away
Betty to evolve anything from it that was either palatable or
With the coming of David into Joe's life all this was changed.
First, there were the music and the companionship. Joe's father
had "played in the band" in his youth, and (according to the
Widow Glaspell) had been a "powerful hand for music." It was from
him, presumably, that Joe had inherited his passion for melody
and harmony; and it was no wonder that David recognized so soon
in the blind boy the spirit that made them kin. At the first
stroke of David's bow, indeed, the dingy walls about them would
crumble into nothingness, and together the two boys were off in a
fairy world of loveliness and joy.
Nor was listening always Joe's part. From "just touching" the
violin—his first longing plea—he came to drawing a timid bow
across the strings. In an incredibly short time, then, he was
picking out bits of melody; and by the end of a fortnight David
had brought his father's violin for Joe to practice on.
"I can't give it to you—not for keeps," David had explained, a
bit tremulously, "because
 it was daddy's, you know; and when I
see it, it seems almost as if I was seeing him. But you may take
it. Then you can have it here to play on whenever you like."
After that, in Joe's own hands lay the power to transport himself
into another world, for with the violin for company he knew no
Nor was the violin all that David brought to the house. There
were the doughnuts and the cookies. Very early in his visits
David had discovered, much to his surprise, that Joe and Betty
were often hungry.
"But why don't you go down to the store and buy something?" he
had queried at once.
Upon being told that there was no money to buy with, David's
first impulse had been to bring several of the gold-pieces the
next time he came; but upon second thoughts David decided that he
did not dare. He was not wishing to be called a thief a second
time. It would be better, he concluded, to bring some food from
the house instead.
In his mountain home everything the house afforded in the way of
food had always been freely given to the few strangers that found
their way to the cabin door. So now David
 had no hesitation in
going to Mrs. Holly's pantry for supplies, upon the occasion of
his next visit to Joe Glaspell's.
Mrs. Holly, coming into the kitchen, found him emerging from the
pantry with both hands full of cookies and doughnuts.
"Why, David, what in the world does this mean?" she demanded.
"They're for Joe and Betty," smiled David happily.
"For Joe and—But those doughnuts and cookies don't belong to
you. They're mine!"
"Yes, I know they are. I told them you had plenty," nodded David.
"Plenty! What if I have?" remonstrated Mrs. Holly, in growing
indignation. "That does n't mean that you can take—" Something
in David's face stopped the words half-spoken.
"You don't mean that I can't take them to Joe and Betty, do you?
Why, Mrs. Holly, they're hungry! Joe and Betty are. They don't
have half enough to eat. Betty said so. And we've got more than
we want. There's food left on the table every day. Why, if you
were hungry, would n't you want somebody to bring—"
 But Mrs. Holly stopped him with a despairing gesture.
"There, there, never mind. Run along. Of course you can take
them. I'm—I'm glad to have you," she finished, in a desperate
attempt to drive from David's face that look of shocked
incredulity with which he was still regarding her.
Never again did Mrs. Holly attempt to thwart David's generosity
to the Glaspells; but she did try to regulate it. She saw to it
that thereafter, upon his visits to the house, he took only
certain things and a certain amount, and invariably things of her
But not always toward the Glaspell shanty did David turn his
steps. Very frequently it was in quite another direction. He had
been at the Holly farmhouse three weeks when he found his Lady of
He had passed quite through the village that day, and had come to
a road that was new to him. It was a beautiful road, smooth,
white, and firm. Two huge granite posts topped with flaming
nasturtiums marked the point where it turned off from the main
highway. Beyond these, as David soon found, it ran between
 wide-spreading lawns and flowering shrubs, leading up the gentle
slope of a hill. Where it led to, David did not know, but he
proceeded unhesitatingly to try to find out. For some time he
climbed the slope in silence, his violin, mute, under his arm;
but the white road still lay in tantalizing mystery before him
when a by-path offered the greater temptation, and lured him to
explore its cool shadowy depths instead.
Had David but known it, he was at Sunnycrest, Hinsdale's one
"show place," the country home of its one really rich resident,
Miss Barbara Holbrook. Had he also but known it, Miss Holbrook
was not celebrated for her graciousness to any visitors,
certainly not to those who ventured to approach her otherwise
than by a conventional ring at her front doorbell. But David did
not know all this; and he therefore very happily followed the
shady path until he came to the Wonder at the end of it.
The Wonder, in Hinsdale parlance, was only Miss Holbrook's
garden, but in David's eyes it was fairyland come true. For one
whole minute he could only stand like a very ordinary little boy
and stare. At the end of the minute he became himself once more;
and being himself,
 he expressed his delight at once in the only
way he knew how to do—by raising his violin and beginning to
He had meant to tell of the limpid pool and of the arch of the
bridge it reflected; of the terraced lawns and marble steps, and
of the gleaming white of the sculptured nymphs and fauns; of the
splashes of glorious crimson, yellow, blush-pink, and snowy white
against the green, where the roses rioted in luxurious bloom. He
had meant, also, to tell of the Queen Rose of them all—the
beauteous lady with hair like the gold of sunrise, and a gown
like the shimmer of the moon on water—of all this he had meant
to tell; but he had scarcely begun to tell it at all when the
Beauteous Lady of the Roses sprang to her feet and became so very
much like an angry young woman who is seriously displeased that
David could only lower his violin in dismay.
"Why, boy, what does this mean?" she demanded.
David sighed a little impatiently as he came forward into the
"But I was just telling you," he remonstrated, "and you would not
let me finish."
 "Telling me!"
"Yes, with my violin. Could n't you understand?" appealed the boy
wistfully. "You looked as if you could!"
"Looked as if I could!"
"Yes. Joe understood, you see, and I was surprised when he did.
But I was just sure you could—with all this to look at."
The lady frowned. Half-unconsciously she glanced about her as if
contemplating flight. Then she turned back to the boy.
"But how came you here? Who are you?" she cried.
"I'm David. I walked here through the little path back there. I
did n't know where it went to, but I'm so glad now I found out!"
"Oh, are you!" murmured the lady, with slightly uplifted brows.
She was about to tell him very coldly that now that he had found
his way there he might occupy himself in finding it home again,
when the boy interposed rapturously, his eyes sweeping the scene
"Yes. I did n't suppose, anywhere, down here, there was a place
one half so beautiful!"
 An odd feeling of uncanniness sent a swift exclamation to the
" 'Down here'! What do you mean by that? You speak as if you came
from—above," she almost laughed.
"I did," returned David simply. "But even up there I never found
anything quite like this,"—with a sweep of his hands,—"nor like
you, O Lady of the Roses," he finished with an admiration that
was as open as it was ardent.
This time the lady laughed outright. She even blushed a little.
"Very prettily put, Sir Flatterer," she retorted; "but when you
are older, young man, you won't make your compliments quite so
broad. I am no Lady of the Roses. I am Miss Holbrook; and—and I
am not in the habit of receiving gentlemen callers who are
uninvited and—unannounced," she concluded, a little sharply.
Pointless the shaft fell at David's feet. He had turned again to
the beauties about him, and at that moment he spied the
sundial—something he had never seen before.
"What is it?" he cried eagerly, hurrying
 forward. "It isn 't
exactly pretty, and yet it looks as if 't were meant
"It is. It is a sundial. It marks the time by the sun."
Even as she spoke, Miss Holbrook wondered why she answered the
question at all; why she did not send this small piece of
nonchalant impertinence about his business, as he so richly
deserved. The next instant she found herself staring at the boy
in amazement. With unmistakable ease, and with the trained accent
of the scholar, he was reading aloud the Latin inscription on the
dial: " 'Horas non numero nisi serenas,' 'I count—no—hours
but—unclouded ones,' " he translated then, slowly, though with
confidence. "That's pretty; but what does it mean—about
Miss Holbrook rose to her feet.
"For Heaven's sake, boy, who, and what are you?" she demanded.
"Can you read Latin?"
"Why, of course! Can't you?"
With a disdainful gesture Miss
Holbrook swept this aside.
"Boy, who are you?" she demanded again imperatively.
"I'm David. I told you."
 "But David who? Where do you live?"
The boy's face clouded.
"I'm David—just David. I live at Farmer Holly's now; but I did
live on the mountain with—father, you know."
A great light of understanding broke over Miss Holbrook's face.
She dropped back into her seat.
"Oh, I remember," she murmured. "You're the little—er—boy whom
he took. I have heard the story. So that is who you are," she
added, the old look of aversion coming back to her eyes. She had
almost said "the little tramp boy"—but she had stopped in time.
"Yes. And now what do they mean, please,—those words,— 'I count
no hours but unclouded ones'?"
Miss Holbrook stirred in her seat and frowned.
"Why, it means what it says, of course, boy. A sundial counts its
hours by the shadow the sun throws, and when there is no sun
there is no shadow; hence it's only the sunny hours that are
counted by the dial," she explained a little fretfully.
David's face radiated delight.
 "Oh, but I like that!" he exclaimed.
"You like it!"
"Yes. I should like to be one myself, you know."
"Well, really! And how, pray?" In spite of herself a faint gleam
of interest came into Miss Holbrook's eyes.
David laughed and dropped himself easily to the ground at her
feet. He was holding his violin on his knees now.
"Why, it would be such fun," he chuckled, "to just forget all
about the hours when the sun did n't shine, and remember only the
nice, pleasant ones. Now for me, there would n't be any hours,
really, until after four o'clock, except little specks of minutes
that I'd get in between when I did see something interesting."
Miss Holbrook stared frankly.
"What an extraordinary boy you are, to be sure," she murmured.
"And what, may I ask, is it that you do every day until four
o'clock, that you wish to forget?"
"Well, there are lots of things. I hoed potatoes and corn, first,
but they're too big now, mostly; and I pulled up weeds, too, till
 were gone. I've been picking up stones, lately, and clearing
up the yard. Then, of course, there's always the woodbox to fill,
and the eggs to hunt, besides the chickens to feed,—though I
don't mind them so much; but I do the other things, 'specially
the weeds. They were so much prettier than the things I had to
let grow, 'most always."
Miss Holbrook laughed.
"Well, they were; and, really," persisted the boy, in answer to the
merriment in her eyes; "now would n't it be nice to be like the
sundial, and forget everything the sun did n't shine on? Would
n't you like it? Is n't there anything you want to forget?"
Miss Holbrook sobered instantly. The change in her face was so
very marked, indeed, that involuntarily David looked about for
something that might have cast upon it so great a shadow. For a
long minute she did not speak; then very slowly, very bitterly,
she said aloud—yet as if to herself:—
"Yes. If I had my way I'd forget them every one—these hours;
every single one!"
"Oh, Lady of the Roses!" expostulated David in a voice quivering
 dismay. "You don't mean—you can't mean that you
don't have any—sun!"
"I mean just that," bowed Miss Holbrook wearily, her eyes on the
somber shadows of the pool; "just that!"
David sat stunned, confounded. Across the marble steps and the
terraces the shadows lengthened, and David watched them as the
sun dipped behind the tree-tops. They seemed to make more vivid
the chill and the gloom of the lady's words—more real the day
that had no sun. After a time the boy picked up his violin and
began to play, softly, and at first with evident hesitation. Even
when his touch became more confident, there was still in the
music a questioning appeal that seemed to find no answer—an
appeal that even the player himself could not have explained.
For long minutes the young woman and the boy sat thus in the
twilight. Then suddenly the woman got to her feet.
"Come, come, boy, what can I be thinking of?" she cried sharply.
"I must go in and you must go home. Good-night." And she swept
across the grass to the path that led toward the house.