THE morning dawned, and still no word
from the missing bride. But the brief guarded
sentences which Herbert Hutton had telephoned to the
newspapers had been somehow sidetracked, and in their
place a ghastly story had leaked out which some poor,
hard-pressed reporter had gleaned from the gossip
in the church and hurried off to put into type before
there was time for it to be denied. Hot foot the
story had run, and great headlines proclaimed the
escape of Betty even while the family were carefully
paving the way for the report of a protracted illness
and absence, if need be, till they could find trace
of her. The sun rose brightly and made weird
gleaming of the silver wire on which the dying roses
hung. The air was heavy with their breath, and
the rooms in the early garish light looked out of
place as if some fairy wand had failed to break the
incantation at the right hour and left a piece of Magicland
behind. The parlor maid went about uncertainly,
scarcely knowing what to do and what to leave undone,
and the milk cars, and newsboys, and early laborers
began to make a clatter of every day on the streets.
The morning paper, flung across the steps with Betty’s
picture, where Betty’s reluctant feet had gone
a few hours before, seemed to mock at life, and upstairs
the man that Betty thought she went out to marry, lay
in a heavy stupor of sleep. Happy Betty, to be
resting beneath the coarse sheet of the kindly working
girl, sleeping the sleep of exhaustion and youth in
safety, two miles from the rose-bowered rooms!
Long before day had really started
in the great city Jane Carson was up and at work.
She dressed swiftly and silently, then went to her
little trunk, and from it selected a simple wardrobe
of coarse clean garments. One needed mending
and two buttons were off. She sat by the dingy
window and strained her eyes in the dawn to make the
necessary repairs. She hesitated long over the
pasteboard suit-box that she drew from under the bed.
It contained a new dark blue serge dress for which
she had saved a long time and in which she had intended
to appear at church next Sabbath. She was divided
between her desire to robe the exquisite little guest
in its pristine folds and her longing to wear it herself.
There was a sense of justice also which entered into
the matter. If that elegant wedding dress was
to be hers, and all those wonderful silk underclothes,
which very likely she would never allow herself to
wear, for they would be out of place on a poor working
girl, it was not fair to repay their donor in old
clothes. She decided to give the runaway bride
her new blue serge. With just a regretful bit
of a sigh she laid it out on the foot of the bed,
and carefully spread out the tissue papers and folded
the white satin garments away out of sight, finishing
the bundle with a thick wrapping of old newspapers
from a pile behind the door and tying it securely.
She added a few pins to make the matter more sure,
and got out a stub of a pencil and labeled it in large
letters, “My summer dresses,” then shoved
it far back under the bed. If any seeking detective
came he would not be likely to bother with that, and
he might search her trunk in vain for white satin slippers
and wedding veils.
Breakfast was next, and she put on
her cloak and hurried out for supplies for the larder
had been heavily depleted the night before to provide
for her guest. With a tender glance toward the
sleeper she slipped the key from the lock and placed
it in the outside of the door, silently locking her
guest within. Now there would be no danger of
any one spiriting her away while she was gone, and
no danger that the girl might wake up and depart in
She stopped a newsboy on his way to
the subway and bought a paper, thrilling at the thought
that there might be something in it about the girl
who lay asleep in her little hall bedroom.
While she waited for her bundles she
stole a glance at her paper, and there on the front
page in big letters ran the heading:
HELD UP AT ALTAR BY
Relatives Seek Runaway
Girl Who is
Thought to be Insane
She caught her breath and rolled the
paper in a little wad, stuffing it carelessly into
her pocket. She could not read any more of that
in public. She hastened back to her room.
Betty was still sleeping. Jane
stood watching her for a full minute with awe in her
face. She could not but recognize the difference
between herself and this fine sweet product of civilization
and wealth. With the gold curls tossed back like
a ripple of sunshine, and a pathetic little droop
at the corners of her sweet mouth, nothing lovelier
could be. Jane hurried to the window and turned
her back on the bed while she perused the paper, her
rage rising at the theories put forth. It was
even hinted that her mother had been insane.
Jane turned again and looked hard at the young sleeper,
and the idea crossed her mind that even she might
be deceived. Still, she was willing to trust her
judgment that this girl was entirely sane, and anyhow
she meant to help her! She stuffed the paper
down behind the trunk and began to get breakfast.
When it was almost ready she gently awoke the sleeper.
Betty started at the light touch on
her shoulder and looked wildly around at the strange
room and stranger face of the other girl. In the
dim light of the evening she had scarcely got to know
Jane’s face. But in a moment all the happenings
of the day before came back, and she sat up excitedly.
“I ought to have got away before
it was light,” she said gripping her hands together.
“I wonder where I could go, Jane?” It was
pleasant to call this girl by her first name.
Betty felt that she was a tower of strength, and so
“I have this ring,” she
said, slipping off an exquisite diamond and holding
it out. “Do you suppose there would be any
way I could get money enough to travel somewhere with
this? If I can’t I’ll have to walk,
and I can’t get far in a day that way.”
Betty was almost light-hearted, and
smiling. The night had passed and no one had
come. Perhaps after all she was going to get away
without being stopped.
Jane’s face set grimly.
“I guess there won’t be
any walking for you. You’ll have to travel
regular. It wouldn’t be safe. And you
don’t want no rich jewelry along either.
Was that your wedding ring?”
“Oh, no; father gave it to me.
It was mother’s, but I guess they’d want
me to use it now. I haven’t anything else.”
“Of course,” said Jane
shortly to hide the emotion in her voice. “Now
eat this while I talk,” thrusting a plate of
buttered toast and a glass of orange marmalade at
her, and hastening to pour an inviting cup of coffee.
“Now, I been thinking,”
she said sitting down on the edge of the bed and eating
bits of the piece of toast she had burned-Betty’s
was toasted beautifully-“I got a
plan. I think you better go to Ma. She’s
got room enough for you for a while, and I want my
sister to come over and take a place I can get fer
her. If you was there she could leave. Mebbe
you could help Ma with the kids. Of course we’re
poor and you ain’t used to common things like
we have them, but I guess you ain’t got much
choice in your fix. I got a paper this morning.
They’re huntin’ fer you hot foot.
They say you was temperary insane, an’ ’f
I was you I’d keep out o’ their way a
while. You lay low an’ I’ll keep my
eye out and let you know, I’ve got a little
money under the mattrass I can let you have till that
ring gets sold. You can leave it with me an’
I’ll do the best I can if you think you can
trust me. Of course I’m a stranger, but
then, land! So are you! We just gotta
trust each other. And I’m sending you to
my mother if you’ll go!”
“Oh!” said Betty, springing
up and hugging her impulsively, “you’re
so good! To think I should find somebody just
like that right in the street when I needed you so.
I almost think God did it!”
“Well, mebbe!” said Jane,
in her embarrassment turning to hang up a skirt that
had fallen from its hook. “That’s
what they say sometimes in Chrishun Deavor meetin’.
Ever go to Chrishun Deavor? Better go when you
get out home. They have awful good socials
an’ ice cream, and you’ll meet some real
nice folks. We’ve got a peach of a minister,
and his wife is perfec’ly dandy. I tell
you I missed ’em when I came to the city!
They was always doing something nice fer the young
“How interesting!” said
Betty, wondering if she might really be going to live
like other girls. Then the shadow of her danger
fell over her once more, and her cheek paled.
“If I can only get there safely,”
she shuddered. “Oh, Jane! You can’t
understand what it would be to have to go back!”
“Well, you’re not going
back. You’re going to Tinsdale, and nobody’s
going to find you ever, unless you want ’em to!
See? Now, listen! We haven’t any time
to waste. You oughtta get off on the ten o’clock
train. I put out some clothes there for yeh.
They ain’t like yours, but it won’t do
fer you to go dressed like a millionairess.
Folks out to Tinsdale would suspect yeh right off
the bat. You gotta go plain like me, and it’s
this way: You’re a friend I picked up in
the city whose mother is dead and you need country
air a while, see? So I sent you home to stay
with Ma till you got strong again. I’m wirin’
Ma. She’ll understand. She always
does. I kinda run Ma anyhow. She thinks the
sun rises an’ sets in me, so she’ll do
just what I say.”
“I’m afraid I oughtn’t
to intrude,” said Betty soberly, taking up the
coarse, elaborately trimmed lingerie with a curious
look, and trying not to seem to notice that it was
different from any she had ever worn before.
“Say! Looka here!”
said Jane Carson, facing round from her coffee cup
on the washstand. “I’m sorry to criticize,
but if you could just talk a little slang or something.
Folks’ll never think you belong to me. ’Intrude!’
Now, that sounds stuck up! You oughtta say ‘be
in the way,’ or something natural like that.
“I’m afraid I don’t,”
said Betty dubiously, “but I’ll try.”
“You’re all right, Kid,”
said Jane with compunction in her voice. “Just
let yourself down a little like I do, and remember
you don’t wear silk onderclothes now. I’m
afraid those stockings won’t feel very good after
yours, but you gotta be careful. An’ ’f
I was you I’d cut my hair off, I really would.
It’s an awful pity, it’s so pretty, but
it’ll grow again. How old are you?”
“Almost twenty-one,” said
Betty thoughtfully. “Just three months more
and I’ll be twenty-one.”
“H’m! Of age!”
said Jane with a sharp significant look at her, as
if a new thought had occurred. “Well, you
don’t look it! You could pass for fifteen,
especially if you had your hair bobbed. I can
do it for you if you say so.”
“All right,” said Betty
promptly without a qualm. “I always wanted
it short. It’s an awful nuisance to comb.”
“That’s the talk!”
said Jane. “Say ‘awful’ a lot,
and you’ll kinda get into the hang of it.
It sounds more-well, natural, you
know; not like society talk. Here, sit down and
I’ll do it quick before you get cold feet.
I sure do hate to drop them curls, but I guess it’s
The scissors snipped, snipped, and
the lovely strands of bright hair fell on the paper
Jane had spread for them. Betty sat cropped like
a sweet young boy. Jane stood back and surveyed
the effect through her lashes approvingly. She
knew the exact angle at which the hair should splash
out on the cheek to be stylish. She had often
contemplated cutting her own, only that her mother
had begged her not to, and she realized that her hair
was straight as a die and would never submit to being
tortured into that alluring wave over the ear and out
toward the cheekbone. But this sweet young thing
was a darling! She felt that the daring deed
had been a success.
“I got a bottle of stuff to
make your hair dark,” she remarked. “I
guess we better put it on. That hair of yours
is kinda conspicuous, you know, even when it’s
cut off. It won’t do you any harm.
It washes off soon.” And she dashed something
on the yellow hair. Betty sat with closed eyes
and submitted. Then her mentor burnt a cork and
put a touch to the eyebrows that made a different
Betty out of her. A soft smudge of dark under
her eyes and a touch of talcum powder gave her a sickly
complexion and when Betty stood up and looked in the
glass she did not know herself. Jane finished
the toilet by a smart though somewhat shabby black
hat pulled well down over Betty’s eyes, and a
pair of gray cotton gloves, somewhat worn at the fingers.
The high-laced boots she put upon the girl’s
feet were two sizes too large, and wobbled frightfully,
but they did well enough, and there seemed nothing
more to be desired.
“Now,” said Jane as she
pinned on her own hat, “you’ve gotta have
a name to go by. I guess you better be Lizzie
Hope. It kinda belongs to yeh, and yet nobody’d
recognize it. You don’t need to tell Ma
anything you don’t want to, and you can tell
her I’ll write a letter to-night all about it.
Now come on! We gotta go on the trolley a piece.
I don’t see havin’ you leave from the
General Station. We’ll go up to the Junction
and get the train there.”
With an odd feeling that she was bidding
good-by to herself forever and was about to become
somebody else, Betty gave one more glance at the slim
boylike creature in the little mirror over the washstand
and followed Jane out of the room, shuffling along
in the big high-heeled boots, quite unlike the Betty
that she was.