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- A Fool There Was - 1/30 -


A FOOL THERE WAS

BY

PORTER EMERSON BROWNE

"A Fool there was and he made his prayer-- (Even as you and I.) To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair-- ( We called her the woman who did not care) But the fool he called her his lady fair-- (Even as you and I.)"

ILLUSTRATED BY EDMUND MAGRATH AND W. W. FAWCETT

1909

TO ROBERT HILLIARD.

CONTENTS

Chapter.

I. Of Certain People II. Of Certain Other People III. Two Boys and a Girl IV. The Child and the Stranger V. As Time Passes VI. An Accident VII. An Incident VIII. Of Certain Goings IX. Of Certain Other Goings X. Two Boys and a Doctor XI. A Proposal XII. A Foreign Mission XIII. The Going XIV. Parmalee--and The Woman XV. A Warning XVI. The Beginning XVII. In The Night XVIII. White Roses XIX. Shadows XX. A Fairy Story XXI. A Letter XXII. Again The Fairy Story XXIII. Aid XXIV. The Rescue XXV. The Return XXVI. The Red Rose XXVII. The Red Road XXVIII. The Battle XXIX. Defeat XXX. And Its Consequences XXXI. That Which Men Said XXXII. In the Garden XXXIII. Temptation XXXIV. The Shroud of a Soul XXXV. The Thing that was a Man XXXVI. Again the Battle XXXVII. The Pity of It All

ILLUSTRATIONS.

"Beautiful, gloriously beautiful in her strange, weird dark beauty"

"Bye little sweetheart"

"I do forgive--forgive and understand"

"Can't you find in that dead thing you call a heart just one shred of pity?"

CHAPTER ONE.

OF CERTAIN PEOPLE.

To begin a story of this kind at the beginning is hard; for when the beginning may have been, no man knows. Perhaps it was a hundred years ago--perhaps a thousand--perhaps ten thousand; and it may well be, yet longer ago, even, than that. Yet it can be told that John Schuyler came from a long line of clean-bodied, clean-souled, clear-eyed, clear-headed ancestors; and from these he had inherited cleanness of body and of soul, clearness of eye and of head. They had given him all that lay in their power to give, had these honest, impassive Dutchmen and--women--these broad-shouldered, narrow-hipped English; they had amalgamated for him their virtues, and they had eradicated for him their vices; they had cultivated for him those things of theirs that it were well to cultivate; and they had plucked ruthlessly from the gardens of heredity the weeds and tares that might have grown to check his growth. And, doing this, they had died, one after another, knowing not what they had done--knowing not why they had done it--knowing not what the result would be--doing that which they did because it was in them to do it; and for no other reason save that. For so it is of this world.

First, then, it is for you to know these things that I have told. Secondly, it is for you to realize that there are things in this world of which we know but little; that there are other things of which we may sometime learn; that there are infinitely more things that not even the wisest of us may ever begin to understand. God chooses to tell us nothing of that which comes after; and of that which comes therein He lets us learn just enough that we may know how much more there is.

And knowing and realizing these things, we may but go back as far toward the beginning as it is in our power to see.

* * * * *

Before the restless, never-ebbing of the tides of business had overwhelmed it with a seething flood of watered stocks and liquid dollars, there stood on a corner of Fifth Avenue and one of its lower tributaries, a stern, heavy-portalled mansion of brownstone. It was a house not forbidding, but dignified. Its broad, plate-glass windows gazed out in silent, impassive tolerance upon the streams of social life that passed it of pleasant afternoons in Spring and Fall--on sleet-swept nights of winter when 'bus and brougham brought from theatre and opera their little groups and pairs of fur-clad women and high-hatted men. It was a big house--big in size--big in atmosphere--big in manner.

At its left there was another big house, much like the one that I have already described. It was possibly a bit more homelike--a bit less dignified; for, possibly, its windows were a trifle more narrow, and its portal a little less imposing. And across from that there lay a smaller house--a house of brick; and this was much more inviting than either of the others; for one might step from the very sidewalk within the broad hall, hung with two very, very old portraits and lighted warmly with shades of dull yellow, and of pink.

In the first of the big houses there lived a boy; and in the second there lived another boy; and across, in the little house of brick, there lived a girl. Of course, in these houses there dwelt, as well, other people.

Of these was John Stuyvesant Schuyler, who, with his wife Gretchen, lived in the big house on the corner, was a man silent, serious. He lived intent, honest, upright. He seldom laughed; though when he did, there came at the corners of mouth and eye, tiny, tell-tale lines which showed that beneath seriousness and silence, lay a fund of humor unharmed by continual drain. He was a tall man, broad-shouldered, straight-backed. And to that which had been left him, he added, in health, in mind, and in money, and he added wisely and well, and never at unjust expense to anyone.

His wife was much as he in trait and habit. She, too, was silent, serious, intent. Of her time, of her effort, of herself, she gave freely wherein it were well to give. In her youth, she had been a beautiful girl; as a woman, she was still beautiful; and her husband and her son were very proud of her, though the one was fifty-five, and the other but twelve.

In the big house next door, there lived Thomas Cathcart Blake. He, too, had a wife, and one child--a boy. And of John Stuyvesant Schuyler he was very fond--even as Mrs. Thomas Cathcart Blake was fond of Mrs. John Stuyvesant Schuyler; and even as Tom Blake, the son of the one, was fond of Jack Schuyler, the son of the other. Blake, the elder, was a man rotund of figure, ruddy of complexion, great of heart. He laughed much; for he enjoyed much. He gave away much more than he could make; and he laughed about it. His wife laughed with him. And really it made no difference; for they had more for themselves than they could ever use. Of course, you know, it is true that many people have more than they can ever use; but few ever think so.

In the little, warm house of red brick, across the street, lived Kathryn Blair, and with her another Kathryn Blair, who was as much like the other as it is possible for six to be like thirty. They both had wide, violet eyes and sensitive, red lips, and very white teeth and lithe, slender bodies. And they were both loved very much by everyone; and everyone said what a shame it was that he or she hadn't put his or her foot down _hard_ and made Jimmy Blair stay at home instead of letting him go down into that unpronounceable Central American place and get killed in an opera bouffe revolution with which he had absolutely nothing to do except that he couldn't stand idly by and see women and little children shot. Still, it was such a blessing to Kate that she had little Kate to help her bear it all. And she had enough money, too; no one seemed to know how; for Jimmy Blair was a reckless giver and a poor business men. But John Stuyvesant Schuyler and Thomas Cathcart Blake had been executors. And that explained much to those who knew; for once every two or three months, these two men, so different and yet so alike, would


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