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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Blue-Bird Weather, by Robert W Chambers, IllustratedbyCharlesDanaGibson ThiseBookisfortheuseofanyoneanywhereatnocostandwith almostnorestrictionswhatsoever Youmaycopyit,giveitawayor re-useitunderthetermsoftheProjectGutenbergLicenseincluded withthiseBookoronlineatwww.gutenberg.org Title:Blue-BirdWeather Author:RobertW Chambers ReleaseDate:January21,2008[eBook#24389] Language:English Charactersetencoding:ISO-8859-1 ***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK BLUE-BIRD WEATHER*** E-textpreparedbyS Drawehn,SuzanneShell, andtheProjectGutenbergOnlineDistributedProofreadingTeam (http://www.pgdp.net) BLUE-BIRDWEATHER WorksofRobertW Chambers TheStreetsOfAscalon Blue-BirdWeather Japonette TheAdventuresofaModestMan TheDangerMark SpecialMessenger TheFiringLine TheYoungerSet TheFightingChance SomeLadiesinHaste TheTreeofHeaven TheTracerofLostPersons AYoungManinaHurry Lorraine MaidsofParadise AshesofEmpire TheRedRepublic Outsiders TheCommonLaw AilsaPaige TheGreenMouse Iole TheReckoning TheMaid-at-Arms Cardigan TheHauntsofMen TheMysteryofChoice TheCambricMask TheMakerofMoons TheKinginYellow InSearchoftheUnknown TheConspirators AKingandaFewDukes IntheQuarter ForChildren Garden-Land Forest-Land River-Land Mountain-Land Orchard-Land Outdoor-Land HideandSeekinForest-Land D APPLETONANDCOMPANY,NEW YORK "ShetrottedawaytoMarche'sdoorandtappedsoftly."[Page140] "ShetrottedawaytoMarche'sdoorandtappedsoftly."[Page140] BLUE-BIRD WEATHER ByROBERTW CHAMBERS Decoration WITHILLUSTRATIONSBY CHARLESDANAGIBSON D APPLETONANDCOMPANY NEWYORKANDLONDON::MCMXII COPYRIGHT,1912,BY ROBERTW CHAMBERS Copyright,1911,byInternationalMagazineCompany PublishedOctober,1912 PublishedintheUnitedStatesofAmerica TO JOSEPHLEE OFNEEDWOODFOREST LISTOFILLUSTRATIONS PAGE "ShetrottedawaytoMarche'sdoorand tappedsoftly."Frontispiece "Shesaidgravely:'Iamafraiditwillbe blue-birdweather.'"14 "'Well,'hesaidpleasantly,'whatcomes next,MissHerold?'"26 "'I'msosorry,Jim.'"33 "Theyatetheirluncheontheretogether." 88 "'Jim,'hesaid,'wheredidyoulive?'"99 "'Hetellsyouthathe—heisinlovewith you?'"127 BLUE-BIRDWEATHER I It was now almost too dark to distinguish objects; duskier and vaguer became theflatworldofmarshes,sethereandtherewithcypressandboundedonlyby farhorizons;andatlastlandandwaterdisappearedbehindthegatheredcurtains of the night There was no sound from the waste except the wind among the witheredreedsandthefurrowingsplashofwheelandhoofoverthesubmerged causeway The boy whowasdrivinghadscarcelyspokensincehestrappedMarche'sgun casesandvalisetotherearofthericketywagonattherailroadstation Marche, too,remainedsilent,preoccupiedwithhisownreflections Wrappedinhisfurlined coat, arms folded, he sat doubled forward, feeling the Southern swampchillbusywithhisbones Nowandthenhewasobligedtorelighthispipe,but the cold bit at his fingers, and he hurried to protect himself again with heavy gloves The small, rough hands of the boy who was driving were naked, and finally Marchementionedit,askingthechildifhewerenotcold "No, sir," he said, with a colorless brevity that might have been shyness or merelythedullindifferenceoftheverypoor,accustomedtodiscomfort "Don'tyoufeelcoldatall?"persistedMarchekindly "No,sir." "Isupposeyouarehardenedtothissortofweather?" "Yes,sir." Bythelightofaflamingmatch,Marcheglancedsidewaysathimashedrewhis pipe into a glow once more, and for an instant the boy's gray eyes flickered towardhisintheflaringlight Thendarknessmaskedthembothagain "AreyouMr Herold'sson?"inquiredtheyoungman "Yes,sir,"almostsullenly "Howoldareyou?" "Eleven." "You'reabigboy,allright Ihaveneverseenyourfather Heisattheclubhouse, nodoubt." "Yes,sir,"scarcelyaudible "Andyouandhelivethereallalone,Isuppose?" "Yes,sir."Amomentlatertheboyaddedjerkily,"Andmysister,"asthoughtruth hadgivenhimasuddennudge "Oh,youhaveasister,too?" "Yes,sir." "Thatmakesitveryjollyforyou,Ifancy,"saidMarchepleasantly Therewasno replytotheindirectquestion Hispipehadgoneoutagain,andheknockedtheashesfromitandpocketedit Forawhiletheydroveoninsilence,thenMarchepeeredimpatientlythroughthe darkness,rightandleft,inanefforttosee;andgaveitup "Youmustknowthisroadprettywelltobeabletokeepit,"hesaid "Asforme, Ican'tseeanythingexceptadirtylittlegraystarupaloft." "Thehorseknowstheroad." "I'mgladofthat Haveyouanyideahownearwearetothehouse?" "Halfamile That'sRattlerCreek,yonder." "How the dickens can you tell?" asked Marche curiously "You can't see anythinginthedark,canyou?" "Idon'tknowhowIcantell,"saidtheboyindifferently Marchesmiled "Asixthsense,probably Whatdidyousayyournameis?" "Jim." "And you're eleven? You'll be old enough to have a gun very soon, Jim How wouldyouliketoshootareal,livewildduck?" "Ihaveshotplenty." Marchelaughed "Goodforyou,Jimmy Whatdidthegundotoyou?Kickyou flatonyourback?" Theboysaidgravely:"Father'sgunistoobigforme Ihavetorestitontheedge oftheblindwhenIfire." "Doyoushootfromtheblinds?" "Yes,sir." Marcherelapsedintosmilingsilence Inafewmomentshewasthinkingofother things—of this muddy island which had once been the property of a club consistingoffivecarefullyselectedandwealthymembers,and which,through deathandresignation,hadnowrevertedtohim Whyhehadeverboughtinthe shares,asonebyonetheothermemberseitherdiedordroppedout,hedidnot exactlyknow Hedidn'tcareverymuchforduckshooting Infiveyearshehad notvisitedtheclub;andwhyhehadcomeherethisyearforaweek'ssporthe scarcelyknew,exceptthathehadeithertogosomewhereforarestorultimately becarried,kicking,intowhathisslangydoctorcalledthe"funnyhouse." Soherehewas,onacoldFebruarynight,andalreadynearlyathisdestination; fornowhecouldmakeoutalightacrossthemarsh,andfromdarkandinfinite distancestheeast windbore the solemn rumor of the sea, muttering of wrecks anddeathalongtheAtlanticsandsbeyondtheinlandsounds "Well,Jim,"hesaid,"IneverthoughtI'dsurvivethisdrive,buthereweare,and stillalive Areyoufrozensolid,youpoorboy?" Theboysmiled,shyly,innegation,astheydroveintothebaroflightfromthe kitchen window and stopped Marche got down very stiffly The kitchen door openedatthesamemoment,andawoman'sfigureappearedinthelamplight—a younggirl,slender,barearmed,dryingherfingersasshecamedownthestepsto offerasmall,weather-roughenedhandtoMarche "Mybrotherwillshowyoutoyourroom,"shesaid "Supperwillbereadyina fewminutes." SohethankedherandwentawaywithJim,relievingtheboyofthevaliseand one gun-case, and presently came to the quarters prepared for him The room wasrough,withitsunceiledwallsofyellowpine,achair,washstand,bed,anda nail or two for his wardrobe It had been the affectation of the wealthy men composingtheFoamIslandDuckClubtoexistalmostprimitivelywhenonthe friendshipis,now." Sheclaspedherhandstightlyandsaidsomethingelse,sweetlyincoherent;and, inthestarlight,Marchesawthetearssparklingonherlashes Withthathesprangnervouslytotheshoreandbegantotrampupanddownthe shingle,hismindinawhirl,everysense,commonorthecontrary,clamoringfor finality—urging him to tell her the truth—tell her that he loved her, that he wantedher—heralone,outofalltheworldofwomen—thatitwasforloveand for her, and for love of her, that he offered anything, did anything, thought anythingnowunderthehighstarsorunderthecirclingsun And now, as he tramped savagely to and fro, he realized that he had begun wrong;thatheshouldhavetoldherhelovedherfirstofall,andthenacted,not promised Wouldshelookonhisofferscornfully,now?Wouldshesee,inwhatheaskedof her,abribedesiredfortheofferhehadmadeinherbrother'sbehalf?Shedidnot love him How could she, in a week? Never had there been even a hint of sentiment between them What would she think—this young girl, so tranquilly confidentinherfriendshipforhim—whatwouldshethinkofhimandhislove? Heknewtherewasnothingmercenaryormaterialinhercharacter;heknewshe was young, sweet tempered, reticent concerning herself, clean hearted, and proud Howcouldhecomeblunderingthroughtheboundariesofherfriendship withsuchanavowal,atamoment'snotice? Hereturnedslowlytotheboatandstoodlookingupather;andhesawthatshe wassmilingdownathiminthestarlight "Whydidyoustartoffsoabruptlyandtrampupanddown?"sheasked Helookedupather "Shallwewalkback,now?"hesaid Sheextendedherhandstohim,andheswunghertothebeach Foramomenthe retainedherhands;shelookedathim,smiling,thrillingwithallthathehadsaid, meetinghiseyesfranklyandtenderly "Youarelikesomegloriousmagicprincetome,"shesaid,"appearingamongus heretowinourheartswithaword." "HaveIwonyourswithwhatIhavesaid?" "Mine?Oh,don'tyouknowit?Doyouthink—evenifitdoesn'tcometrue—that IcaneverforgetwhatyouhavewishedtodoforJim?" Still holding her hands, he lifted them, joined her fingers, and laid his lips to them Shebentherheadandcaughtherbreathinsurprise "IamgoingNorthto-morrow,"hesaid For a moment she did not comprehend his words Then, a trifle dazed, she lookedupathim "To-morrow?" "Yes." "Areyoucomingback?" "Perhaps—nextyear." "Next—year!" "Doyou—findit—alongtime?" Herstraightbrowsbentinwardalittle,thestartledgrayeyesbecameclearand steady "OfcourseIknewthatyoumustgo—sometime ButIhadnoideathatit wouldbesosoon Somehow,Ihavethoughtofyouasbeing—here——" "Doyoucare?" Herhonesteyeswidened "Care?"sherepeated "Yes Howgreatlydoyoucare?" Thestraightbrowscontractedstillmoreasshestoodconsideringhim—soclose that the fresh and subtle youth of her freshened the night again with its faint perfume Againhetouchedherhandswithhislips,shewatchinghimpalely,outofclear, grayeyes;then,astheyturnedawaytogether,heencircledherslenderwaistwith hisarm That she was conscious of it, and not disturbed by it, was part of her new mystery to him Only once, as they walked, when his circling clasp tightened, didsherestherownhandoverhiswhereitheldherbodyimprisoned Butshe saidnothing;norhadhespokenwhenthebeltofpinesloomedagainstthestars oncemore Then,thoughneitherhadspoken,theystopped Heturnedtofaceher,drewher into his arms, and the beating of his heart almost suffocated him as he looked into her eyes, clear, unshrinking eyes of gray, with a child's question in their starrydepths And he answered the question as in a dream: "I love you I want you for my wife Iwantyoutoloveme YouarethefirstwomanIhavecaredfor Allthat youareIwant—nomorethanyouare You,asyouarenow,areallthatIcarefor intheworld Lifeisyoungforusboth,yet Letusgrowuptogether—ifyoucan loveme Canyou?" "Idon'tknow." "Canyounotcareformealittle,Molly?" "Ido Iknow—nothingabout—love—reallove." "Canyounotimagineit,dear?" "I—it is what I have imagined—a man—like you—coming this way into my loneliness Irecognizeit Ihavedreamedthatitwaslikethis WhatisitthatI shoulddo—ifthisisreallytocometrue?" "Loveme." "Iwould—ifIknewhow Idon'tknowhow,"shesaidwistfully "Myheartisso full—already—ofyourgoodness—I—andthenthisdreamIhavedreamed—that amanlikeyoushouldcomehereandsaythistome——" "Isitinyoutoloveme?" "I'lltry—ifyou'lltellmewhattodo—howtoshowit—tounderstand——" Hedrewhercloser,unresisting,andlookeddeepintoheryoungeyes,andkissed them,andthenherlips,tilltheygrewwarmerandherbreathcamefragrantand uneven "Canyouloveme?" "Yes,"shewhispered "Areyousure?" "Y-yes." Foramoment'sexquisitesilencesherestedherflushedfaceagainsthisshoulder, then lifted it, averted, and stepped aside, out of the circle of his arms Head lowered,shestoodthere,motionlessinthestarlight,armshangingstraight;then, ashecametoher,sheliftedherproudlittleheadandlaidbothherhandsinhis "Ofthosethings,"shesaid,"thatawomanshouldbetothemansheloves,and saytothatman,Iamignorant Evenhowtospeaktoyou—now—Idonotknow Itisalladreamtome—exceptthat,inmyheart,IknowthatIdoloveyou ButI think that was so from the beginning, and after you have gone away I should haverealizeditsomeday." "You darling!" he whispered Again she surrendered to him, exquisite in her ignorance, passive at first, then tremulously responsive And at last her head droopedandfellonhisshoulder,andheheldherforalittlelonger,thenreleased her Trembling,shecreptupthestairwaytoherroom,treadinglightlyalongthedark entry,dazed,fatigued,withthewonderofitall Then,asshelaidherhandonthe knobofherbedroomdoor,thedoorofherfather'sroomopenedabruptly "Molly?" "Yes,dear,"sheansweredvaguely He stood staring at her on the threshold, fully dressed, and she looked back at him,hereyesslightlyconfusedbythelight "Wherehaveyoubeen?"hesaid "WithMr Marche." "Where?" "Tothedory—andback." "Whatdidhesaytoyou,child?" Shecamesilentlyacrossthethresholdandputherarmsaroundhisneck;andthe manlosteveryatomofhiscolor "Whatdidhesay?"herepeatedharshly "'Hetellsyouthathe—heisinlovewithyou?'" "'Hetellsyouthathe—heisinlovewithyou?'" [Pg127] "Thathelovesme." "What!" "Itistrue,father." Themanheldheratarm'slengthroughly "GoodGod!"hegroaned,"howlong hasthisbeengoingon?" "Onlyto-night Whatdoyoumean,father?" "He tells you that he—he is in love with you? With you?" repeated Herold unsteadily "Yes Itistrue,too." "Youmeanheaskedyoutomarryhim!" "Yes AndIsaidIwould." "Youlovehim!" Theman'spallorfrightenedhersilent Thenhedroppedherarms,whichhehad beenclutching,andstoodstaringatnothing,gnawingathiscolorlesslips Thegirlwatchedhimwithdawningterrorandfinallyventuredtospeak "Dear, whatisthematter?Areyoudispleasedwithme?Doyouthinkthatheisnota manIshouldcarefor?Youdon'tknowhim,dear Youhaveonlytoseehim,to speakwithhim,hearhisvoice,lookintohiseyes——" "GoodGod!"groanedHerold,closinghissunkeneyes Then,almostfeelinghis wayoutandalongthedarkpassageway,hedescendedthestairs,heavily Marche, cleaning his gun in the sitting-room, looked up in surprise, then rose, layingasidestock,fore-end,andbarrel,asHeroldcameintotheroom Thenext instant,steppingnearer,hestaredintoHerold'sfaceinsilence Andsotheymet andconfrontedeachotheraftermanyyears "AreyouHerold?"saidtheyoungman,inalowvoice "Thatismyname—now." "Youhavebeeninmyemployment—forfiveyears?" "Yes JudgeGilkinsgavemethechance Icouldnotsupposethattheclubwould everbecomeyourproperty." The younger man's face hardened "But when it did become my property, why hadyoutheindecencytostay?" "WhereelsecouldIgo?" "Youhadthewholeworldto—operatein." Herold'sthinfaceflushed "ItwasfitterthatIshouldworkforyou,"hesaid "I haveservedyoufaithfullyforfiveyears." "And unfaithfully for ten! Wasn't it enough that Vyse and I let you go without prosecuting you? Wasn't it enough that we pocketed our loss for your wife's sake?" Hecheckedhimselfinaflashofmemory,turned,andlookedatthepictureon the wall Now he knew, now he understood why his former associate's handwritinghadseemedfamiliarafteralltheseyears AndsuddenlyherememberedthatthismanwasJim'sfather—andthefatherof theyounggirlhewasinlovewith;andtheshockdroveeverydropofbloodout of his heart and cheeks Ghastly, staring, he stood confronting Herold; and the latter,leaningheavily,shoulderagainstthewall,staredbackathim "Icouldhavegoneonworkingforyou,"hesaid,"tryingtosaveenoughtomake restitution—someday Ihavealreadysavedpartofit Lookatme—lookatmy children—atthewaywelive,andyou'llunderstandhowIhavesaved ButIhave saved part of what I took I'll give you that much before you go—before I go, too." Hisbreathcameheavily,unevenly;heclearedhiseyeswithawork-stainedhand, fashionedforpensandledgers "You were abroad when I—did what I did Vyse was merciless I told him I could put it back if he'd give me the chance But a thief was a thief to him— particularlywhenhisownpocketwasinvolved Hemeanttosendmetoprison Thejudgeheldhim—hewashisfather-in-law—andhewasanoldmanwitha wifeandchildrenofhisown." Heroldwassilentforamoment,andhisgazebecamevagueandremote,thenhe liftedhisheadsharply: "A man makes one slip like that and the world damns him forever And I tell you, Marche, that I am not dishonest by nature or in my character God alone knowswhyItookthosesecurities,meaning,ofcourse,toreturnthem,asallthe poor, damned fools mean when they what I did But Vyse made it a conditionthatIwastoleavethecountry,andtherewasnochanceofrestitution unlessIcouldremaininNewYorkanddowhatIknewhowtodo—nochance, Marche—and so fortune ebbed, and my wife died, and the old judge saw me workingonthewater-frontinNorfolkoneday,andgavemethisplace Thatis all." "Whydidyoufeignillness?"askedMarche,inanalteredvoice "Youknowwhy." "YouthoughtI'ddischargeyou?" "Ofcourse." Marchesteppednearer "Whydidyoucometomehereto-night?" Herold flushed deeply "It was your right to know—and my daughter's right— beforeshebrokeherheart." "Isee YounaturallysupposethatIwouldscarcelycaretomarrythedaughterof a——"Hestoppedshort,andHeroldsethisteeth "Sayit,"hesaid,"andletthisendmattersforallofus ExceptthatIhavesaved seventhousanddollarstoward—whatItook Iwilldrawyouacheckforitnow." Hewalkedsteadilytothetable,laidoutathincheckbook,andwithhisfountainpenwroteoutacheckforseventhousanddollarsonaNorfolkbank "Thereyouare,Marche,"hesaidwearily "Imademostofitbuyingandselling pinetimberinthisdistrict Itseemedalittlelikeexpiation,too,workingherefor you,unknowntoyou Iwon'tstay,now,ofcourse I'lltrytopaybacktherest— littlebylittle—somehow." "Thewaytopayitback,"saidMarche,"istodotheworkyouarefittedfor." Heroldlookedup "HowcanI?" "Whynot?" "IcouldnotgobacktoNewYork Ihavenomoneytogowith,evenifIcould findaplaceformyselfagain." "Yourplaceisopentoyou." Heroldstaredathim Marcherepeatedtheassertionprofanely "Damnation,"hesaid,"ifyou'dtalked thiswaytomefiveyearsago,I'dneverhavestoodinyourway AllIheardof the matter was what Vyse told me I'm not associated with him any more; I'll standforhismindinghisownaffairs Thethingforyoutodo,Courtney,istoget into the game again and clean up what you owe Vyse Here's seven thousand; youcanborrowtherestfromme Andthenwe'llgointothingsagainandhustle Itwasagoodcombination,Courtney—we'dhavebeenrichmen—exceptforthe slip you made Come on in with me again Or would you rather continue to inhabityourownprivatehell?" "Doyouknowwhatyouaresaying,Marche?"saidtheotherhoarsely "Sure,Ido Iguessyou'vedonefulltimeforafirstoffense Cleanofftheslate, Courtney YouandVyseandIknowit—nobodyelse—Gilkinsisdead Comeon, man!Thatboyofyoursisacorker!Ilovehim—thatlittlebrother,Jim,ofmine; and as for—Molly——" His voice broke and he turned sharply aside, saying: "It's certainly blue-bird weather, Courtney, and we all might as well go North Comeoutunderthestars,andwe'lltalkitover." Itwasalmostdawnwhentheyreturned Marche'shandlaylightlyonCourtney's shoulderforamoment,astheyparted Above,asCourtneystoodfeelingblindlyforhisdoor,Molly'sdoorswungsoftly ajar,andthegirlcameoutinhernight-dress "Father,"shewhispered,"isitallright?" "Allright,thankGod,littledaughter." "And—Imaycareforhim?" "Surely—surely, darling, because he is the finest specimen of manhood that walksthismercilessearth." "Iknewit,"shewhisperedgaily "Ifyou'lllendmeyourwrapperamoment,I'll gotohisdoorandsaygood-nighttohimagain." Herfatherlookedather,pickeduphistattereddressing-gownfromhisbed,and wrappedherinittothechin,thenkissedherforehead SoshetrottedawaytoMarche'sdoorandtappedsoftly;andwhenhecameand openedthedoor,sheputherarmsaroundhisneckandkissedhim "Goodnight,"shewhispered "Idoloveyou,andIshallprayallnightthatImay beeverythingthatyouwouldwishtohaveme Goodnight,oncemore—dearest ofmen—goodnight." ***END OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK BLUE-BIRD WEATHER*** *******Thisfileshouldbenamed24389-h.txtor24389-h.zip******* Thisandallassociatedfilesofvariousformatswillbefoundin: http://www.gutenberg.org/2/4/3/8/24389 Updatededitionswillreplacethepreviousone theoldeditionswillberenamed Creatingtheworksfrompublicdomainprinteditionsmeansthatnooneownsa UnitedStatescopyrightintheseworks,sotheFoundation(andyou!)cancopy and distribute it in the United States without permission and without paying copyrightroyalties Specialrules,setforthintheGeneralTermsofUsepartof this license, apply to copying and distributing Project 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