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"He told me with his mother-in-law," I put in. My wife looked at me with a serious expression. Men may not remember much of what they are told about children; but any man knows the difference between an aunt and a mother-in-law. “But don't you think they're nice people ?” asked my wife.
Oh, certainly," I replied ; "only they seem to be a little mixed up about their children.”
“That isn't a nice thing to say,” returned my wife. I could not deny it.
And yet the next morning, when the Bredes came down and seated themselves opposite us at table, beaming and smiling in their natural, pleasant, well-bred fashion, I knew, to a social certainty, that they were “nice” people. He was a fine-looking fellow in his neat tennis-flannels, slim, graceful, twenty-eight or thirty years old, with a Frenchy-pointed beard. She was “nice" in all her pretty clothes, and she herself was pretty with that type of prettiness which outwears most other types—the prettiness that lies in a rounded figure, a dusky skin, plump, rosy cheeks, white teeth, and black eyes. She might have been twenty-five; you guessed that she was prettier than she was at twenty, and that she would be prettier still at forty.
And nice people were all we wanted to make us happy in Mr. Jacobus's summer boarding-house on the top of Orange Mountain. For a week we had come down to breakfast each morning, wondering why we wasted the precious days of idleness with the company gathered around the Jacobus board. What joy of human companionship was to be had out of Mrs. Tabb and Miss Hoogencamp, the two middle-aged gossips from Scranton, Pa.,-out of Mr. and Mrs. Biggle, an indurated head-bookkeeper and his prim and censorious wife,-out of old Major Halkit, a retired business man, who, having once sold a few shares on commission, wrote for circulars of every stock company that was started, and tried to induce every one to invest who would listen to him? We looked around at those dull faces, the truthful indices of mean and barren minds, and decided that we would leave that morning. Then we ate Mrs. Jacobus's biscuits, light as Aurora's cloudlets, drank her honest coffee, inhaled the perfume of the late azaleas with which she decked her table, and decided to postpone our departure one more day. And then we wandered out to take our morning glance at what we called “our view"; and it seemed to us as if Tabb and Hoogencamp, and Halkit and the Biggles could not drive us away in a year.
I was not surprised when, after breakfast, my wife invited the Bredes to walk with us to “our view.” The Hoogencamp - Biggle - Tabb - Halkit contingent never stirred off Jacobus's verandah; but we both felt that the Bredes would sunlit green.
not profane that sacred scene. We strolled slowly across the fields, passed through the little belt of wood, and as I heard Mrs. Brede's little cry of startled rapture, I motioned to Brede to look up.
“By Jove!” he cried ; "heavenly!”
We looked off from the brow of the mountain over fifteen miles of billowing green, to where, far across a far stretch of pale blue, lay a dim purple line that we knew was Staten Island. Towns and villages lay before us and under us ; there were ridges and hills, uplands and lowlands, woods and plains, all massed and mingled in that great silent sea of
For silent it was to us, standing in the silence of a high place—silent with a Sunday stillness that made us listen, without taking thought, for the sound of bells coming up from the spires that rose above the tree-tops—the treetops that lay as far beneath us as the light clouds were above us that dropped great shadows upon our heads and faint specks of shade upon the broad sweep of land at the mountain's foot.
“And so that is your view ? ” asked Mrs. Brede, after a moment; "you are very generous to make it ours too."
Then we lay down on the grass, and Brede began to talk in a gentle voice, as if he felt the influence of the place. He had paddled a canoe, in his earlier days, he said, and he knew every
river and creek in that vast stretch of landscape. He found his landmarks, and pointed out to us where the Passaic and the Hackensack flowed, invisible to us, hidden behind great ridges that in our sight were but combings of the green waves upon which we looked down, and yet on the further side of those broad ridges and rises were scores of villages-a little world of country life, lying unseen under our eyes.
“A good deal like looking at humanity," he said ; "there is such a thing as getting so far above our fellow-men that we see only one side of them.”
Ah, how much better was this sort of talk than the chatter and gossip of the Tabb and the Hoogencamp—than the Major's dissertations upon his everlasting circulars ! My wife and I exchanged glances.
“Now, when I went up the Matterhorn,” Mr. Brede began.
“Why, dear," interrupted his wife ; "I didn't know you ever went up the Matterhorn.”
“It-it was five years ago," said Mr. Brede hurriedly ; “I - I didn't tell you—when I was on the other side, you know -it was rather dangerous—well, as I was saying—it looked -oh, it didn't look at all like this."
A cloud floated overhead, throwing its great shadow over the field where we lay. The shadow passed over the mountain's brow, and reappeared far below, a rapidly decreasing blot; flying eastward over the golden green. My wife and I exchanged glances once more.
Somehow the shadow lingered over us all. As we went home, the Bredes went side by side along the narrow path, and my wife and I walked together.
“ Should you think,” she asked me, " that a man would climb the Matterhorn the
he was married ?” "I don't know, my dear," I answered evasively; "this isn't the first year I have been married, not by a good many, and I wouldn't climb it--for a farm.”
" You know what I mean?” she said. I did.
When we reached the boarding-house, Mr. Jacobus took me aside.
“You know," he began his discourse, "my wife, she used to live in N' York !”
I didn't know; but I said, “Yes.
“She says the numbers on the streets runs criss-cross like. Thirty-four’s on one side o' the street, an' thirtyfive's on t'other. How's that?"
“ That is the invariable rule, I believe.”
wife seems so mighty taken up with—d'ye know anything about 'em?"
“I know nothing about the character of your boarders, Mr. Jacobus," I replied, conscious of some irritability. “If I choose to associate with any of them
"Jess so-jess so !” broke in Jacobus. “I hain't nothin' to say ag'inst yer sosherbil'ty. But do ye know them?”
“Why, certainly not,” I replied.
ye. Ye see, when he come here to take the rooms-you wasn't here then-he told my wife that he lived at number thirty-four in his street. An' yistiddy she told her that they lived at number thirty-five. He said he lived in an apartment-house. Now, there can't be no apartment-house on two sides of the same street, kin they?"
“What street was it ? ” I inquired wearily. “Hunderd 'n' twenty-first street.”
“Maybe," I replied, still more wearily. “That's Harlem. Nobody knows what people will do in Harlem.”
I went up to my wife's room.
“I think I'll have a talk with that young man to-night,” I said, “and see if he can give some account of himself.”
“But, my dear," my wife said gravely, “she doesn't know whether they've had the measles or not.”
"Why, Great Scott !” I exclaimed, "they must have had them when they were children.”
“Please don't be stupid,” said my wife. I meant their children.”
After dinner that night—or rather after supper, for we had dinner in the middle of the day at Jacobus's--I walked down the long verandah to ask Brede, who was placidly