DISCOVERY AT ASPEN
by SOPHIE RUSKAY
A WONDERFUL WORLD BOOK
NEW YORK: A. S. BARNES AND COMPANY, INC.
LONDON: THOMAS YOSELOFF LTD.
Copyright © 1960 by A. S. Barnes and Company, Inc.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 60-10204
Printed in the United States of America
All Rights Reserved
A. S. Barnes and Company, Inc.
11 East 36th Street
New York 16, N.Y.
Thomas Yoseloff Ltd.
123 New Bond Street
London, W.1, England
To the memory
of my husband
CECIL B. RUSKAY
whose delightful personality
and creative gifts
made him so beloved
by his children and grandchildren
and a host of young friends.
DISCOVERY AT ASPEN
SO YOU’RE GOING TO ASPEN
Judy Lurie sat cross-legged on the floor of her room surveying the results of her labor. The room was a mess, even by her easy standards. But the box containing her last summer’s meager wardrobe had been thoroughly gone over and everything that could be salvaged was in piles ready for the family trunk. The empty battered suitcase and the books, she decided, could wait, since it was still five days before she and her parents, Minna and John Lurie, were to leave for the summer holiday.
“So you’re going to Aspen!” a familiar voice ejaculated. “How wonderful for you and John!”
Preoccupied as Judy was, the voices from the living room reached her dimly at first. Her room, a tiny alcove separated from the living room by heavy chintz draperies, frequently had its disadvantages. But there were compensations, too. You could hear and see and yet be delightfully invisible.
“I wish I were able to go to Colorado!” another voice remarked with a shade of envy. “How wonderful for you and John…. By the way, where is John? Is he trying to hide from us?”
“Hide?” her mother repeated, a slight flush spread over the lovely pale face. “Of course not. He was so sorry, so much music to pack….”
Judy forgot her invisibility and nearly laughed out loud. When her mother had casually mentioned as they left the lunch table that some of the girls would be dropping in to say good-bye, her father, with a let-me-out-of-this look, took refuge in his studio. Lucky father, probably enjoying a book or a nap or fussing with his viola while she was imprisoned in this alcove, unless she wished to barge into the melee….
The voices of the guests were getting louder. Judy got up, stretched her cramped legs and cautiously pushed a corner of the drapery to one side. Nobody had gone. Instead the room overflowed with new arrivals. Gifts were heaped on the piano, purses on the fine mahogany tables, and a patent-leather bag stood on the mantel, making the Staffordshire dogs look even more foolish.
“Minna,” one woman was saying, “with that glorious voice of yours you ought to be a sensation!”
Her mother, surrounded by her guests, smiled happily.
“Not a sensation, but it is a wonderful opportunity for me to study with Mme. Rousse and to work with some of the advanced pupils. And best of all, to sing in the opera. As for John, it’s just what he wanted. To play in the orchestra, have his own quartet and some teaching. It should be a good summer for all of us, especially since we will have Judy with us.”
At the mention of her name, Judy listened attentively.
“It’s lovely that she’s going with you; but Judy’s only about fifteen and a half. Isn’t that rather young to be attending the Aspen Music School?”
“Oh, she’s not going to attend the school. Fifteen isn’t too young if one is a serious student but, as a matter of fact, Judy has given up the piano.” Minna’s sigh was audible through the chintz.
“But she used to play so beautifully!”
“That’s the pity of it.” Her mother went on retelling what Judy knew. “At the age of ten she was improvising songs and pieces. We thought we had produced another Mozart. Now she plays when the mood is on. She claims practicing dulls inspiration.”
There was a slight titter of amusement, but one woman whom Judy had frequently seen at the house said earnestly, “But what will she do there, then?”
“Oh, I’m not worried about Judy,” her mother said lightly. “She’s very resourceful, very intelligent.”
The girl felt a warm glow of satisfaction.
“She reads everything,” her mother went on. “My father considers her his special vessel for all his accumulated wisdom. Like him, she loves to sketch, preferably in oils. Now the canvases are left to molder in Mother’s attic—fortunately not here. I guess it’s anything but music!” Minna smiled at her questioner, “but Aspen ought to change all that.”
Judy left her listening post trying to stem a feeling of rebellion at her mother’s words. Mechanically she began to straighten up the room and noticed the matching scarf of the new party dress which she had pressured her mother into buying for her. “Very well, for concerts then,” her mother had said as she finally succumbed. Judy hoped that both she and the dress were destined for more exciting occasions than mere concerts! The thought of the dress cheered her. She wished it weren’t already packed in the trunk, so that she could try it on again. The scarf would do. She draped it around her shoulders to suggest the dress and rubbed the dull surface of her mirror.
“A real treasure from Colonial days,” her grandmother had said when she gave it to her. Well, maybe so; the frame was certainly beautiful, but the smoky surface didn’t help her visualize how dazzling she would look, the steel blue bringing out the deep blue of her eyes, the tight bodice and the billowy skirt, making her small waist look smaller still.
She turned her head to one side. Hmmm. The nose was passable. The eyes, well, she knew they were her best feature. But why hadn’t she Mother’s creamy, pale skin instead of this healthy, dusky glow! She touched the thick brown hair held firmly by a rubber band. A pony tail was all right but some day her mother would weaken and she would get that permanent. A long, soft pageboy would hide these bony shoulders.
She folded the scarf and laid it on her day bed. Then she wedged herself into the small Boston rocker, the first of her antique possessions. She rocked gently, repeating the question her mother had not answered. “What would she do in Aspen?” She wasn’t so sure about the blessedness of belonging to a family so entirely dedicated to music. Her growing misgivings had been heightened by her recent visit with her grandparents. Again she thought of what her grandmother had said. “Your father and mother will be busy all day with rehearsals, teaching, concerts, parties night and day. Why not spend the summer with us as you’ve done for years? You love the sea, racing the dog on the beach. I need you in the garden and your cousins will be back again for a visit. The youngsters on the block want you to teach them to swim—fifty cents a lesson.”
Why, then, Judy wondered, had she given up so quickly a summer where she had been so happy in the past? Of course going to Aspen meant a trip to the West, to Colorado, the Rockies. The West was romantic. And her schoolmates were doing exciting things for the summer. One was going to a ranch in Wyoming. Her best friend was going to a work camp in Vermont. But these things cost money and Judy knew there was none to spare.
One thing had influenced her above everything. When her parents received the invitation to join the staff at the Aspen Music School, the first thought of her mother and father had been not of the wonderful opportunity for themselves. No, over and over they had repeated, “At last Judy can spend a whole summer with us.”
But in the weeks that followed they had become more and more immersed in their preparations, selecting music for the Quartet, conferring with the Dean of the Aspen School and as their excitement mounted, Judy felt hers diminish. She felt she didn’t belong in her parents’ world. They didn’t need her.
She walked to the window and stared ahead of her…. The summers of the past took on an even rosier hue. The swims, the companionship of cousins rarely seen, the homey loving household of which she was so much a part. And the long summer evenings…. She saw herself again on the screened porch of the Beach House. A few young neighbors, whom her grandfather called his steady customers, were sitting near her. Her grandfather was reading “Hamlet.” How tender his voice as he spoke the lines of Ophelia. The moths beat their wings against the lamp, a soft droning accompaniment. With hands cupped over his mouth he made the trumpet sound. The King and Queen! The Duel scene… you could almost hear the clash of rapiers…. Hamlet was dying … Laertes … the Queen! What made Grandma leave the room at such a moment! But she returned almost at once carrying a tray of ice-cream covered with oozing red, red strawberries. And Grandfather, outraged at the sight, with an imperious gesture, waved her aside, declaiming as if it were part of the play, “Can’t you wait until they all decently die?” Judy smiled at the remembrance.
She loved her parents. She didn’t want to hurt them, but at this moment she felt she must speak up before it was too late. She heard her father saying jovially, “Well, have the locusts finally gone?”
Judy parted the draperies and peered through the opening.
“Thank goodness, they’re all gone.”
She took a deep breath and strode into the room.
“Father,” she stopped and gulped. “You and mother are going to be so busy at Aspen. What will I do there? I don’t know anyone. I haven’t any friends there.”
Her father looked startled but said nothing.
“Why it’s childish to feel that way,” her mother answered easily. “There are loads of young people at the Aspen Music School. You’ll meet them.”
“How? I’m not going as a music student. You know how things work out. Students all get involved in their school activities. I’ll just be an outsider. I’m worried,” her voice broke. “I want to have fun, but more than that, I want to do something for me—something that matters—if you know what I mean.”
Mrs. Lurie looked distraught. “You don’t want to come with us? It’s the first summer in years that we’ve been able to plan to be together like a normal family. You’re sure to find companions.” She turned to her husband for support, but he had disappeared.
“Judy,” her mother said with a touch of finality in her voice, “there’s no sensible reason why you can’t take up the piano again. Don’t set your mind against it. The whole atmosphere of Aspen engenders the love of music, the desire to study it.”
“But that’s exactly what I don’t want, Mother. Can’t you understand my feelings? Practicing hours on end! I’ll never be a real performer, so why bother?” She hesitated and then went on, her voice almost inaudible. “I’d rather stay with Grandma and Grandpa at the Beach House, hearing poetry and plays that I love.”
Her mother suddenly looked sad, and Judy was overcome with remorse.
“Mother,” she began.
The tired eyes looked at her questioningly, “Yes….”
“I guess I’m just being selfish,” Judy said, then added desperately, “Maybe it’ll work out all right. I’ll go.”
Minna smiled with relief. “I don’t think you’ll regret it. Sometimes new unfamiliar surroundings bring out a potential one didn’t know one possessed. Something good is bound to emerge from the three of us living together in a carefree atmosphere.” She paused, studying her daughter’s face.
“Our careers have often come first—or so it seems, but for a little while we’d like to be just parents. Do you understand? It would have been an unbearable disappointment to your father.”
John Lurie bounded into the room, excited as a schoolboy. “It’s all settled! It’s in the bag!” He grabbed his daughter and waltzed her around.
“Father,” she begged when she could catch her breath, “what’s in the bag? What are you talking about?”
“All right, I’ll tell you. A few weeks ago, the Dean mentioned that my friend Jim Crawley had gone ahead with his scheme and was opening a Little Theater in Aspen. That gave me an idea. It was the day after you were such a knock-out in the class play. I called him on the phone and told him, ‘I have a lovely, gifted daughter, nearly sixteen who’s going with us to Aspen. Do you think you have room for a budding Audrey Hepburn?’ He laughed that he didn’t know at the moment but he would get in touch with me. With all his plans, I guess he forgot about it. I’m ashamed to confess I forgot about it. But when you threatened to desert your music-driven parents for another summer to do something on your own, a flash illuminated this tired old brain. I just finished speaking with Jim. He says, if you’re half as good as I say, if you’ve got decent diction, are willing to cooperate in every way—that means, help paint scenery and fix costumes, and are willing to work for free, since we’ll be feeding and housing you, he’ll take you on. P.S. You’ve got the job.”
“Father, you mean it! It’s not one of your practical jokes?”
He nodded solemnly.
“It’s too good to be true. I’ll be acting! Not in a school play but in a real theater!”
“Oh, it’s only a barn,” her father made haste to explain. “Summer theaters are always in barns. That’s why they’re called the Straw Circuit.”
“Oh, I’m so excited!”
“And we’re just as happy for your sake,” her mother said, “but don’t get too carried away. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a walk-on or maybe a bit part as the little household slavey, in which you dust the stage furniture before the star walks on.”
“It doesn’t matter! Just to smell the grease paint!”
She flung her arms about her father and kissed him. “You’re wonderful. Absolutely the most. I can’t wait until I tell Grandfather.”
Hurrah for the three Luries, professionals all.
ASPEN: FROM SILVER DUST TO MUSIC
Now that the summer in Aspen had acquired so many glamorous possibilities, Judy could scarcely wait for the day of departure. She went over her wardrobe a dozen times to make sure everything was properly packed. With her new responsibilities, clothes became more important than ever. After all, an actress had to dress properly off-stage as well as on. She owed it to her public.
Finally the interminable few days passed. The trunks were packed and shipped off. The suitcases the Luries would carry with them were also stuffed and ready. It was the last night and there was only the final visit from Grandpa and Grandma to say good-bye.
On learning of her summer theater job, Judy’s first impulse had been to phone her grandparents immediately and regale them with the great news. But then she decided it would be more fun to break it to them in person and now she awaited their arrival with eager anticipation.
Despite that, when the elderly couple did arrive, Judy greeted them in her usual affectionate manner. She was going to do this in her own way.
As Mr. Ritchie settled himself in a comfortable chair, John Lurie dug into his pocket and came up with a huge cigar. “I saved this for you, C.B., tin foil and all. I got it from a big shot.”
“Thanks John, but if you don’t mind I’ll smoke one of my own. I have certain misgivings about cigars heavily disguised in tin foil wrappings.” He lit his own and watched the smoke curl around.
“That’s a nice engagement you’ve managed to get. Wonderful country and ideal surroundings.”
Grandmother’s voice reached them. She had been earnestly talking to her daughter and now walked restlessly up and down, glancing at the packed suitcases cluttered in one corner.
“Tanglewood, Minneapolis, now Aspen. Like Gypsies!”
She came over to Judy and lightly touched her hair. “Well, Judy, are you glad you’re going?”
“Of course I am.” The girl tossed it off lightly. “But even if I weren’t I couldn’t back out at this point … not with all my commitments.”
Mrs. Ritchie peered at the girl with a puzzled look. “What commitments?”
“My engagements. I can’t just throw them overboard.”
The grandmother turned to Minna. “What is the girl talking about?”
Minna swallowed a smile and shrugged her shoulders. “You’d better ask her.”
“All right. What are these engagements you’ve mentioned?”
Judy refused to be hurried. “Well, mother is engaged to sing in the opera. Father is engaged to play in the orchestra and string quartet. And I’m engaged to….” She hesitated long enough to permit the suspense to build. Then with a leap, she flung her arms around her grandmother and shouted the rest of it. “I’m booked to act in a summer theater. A real, professional summer theater.”
With a rush of words she poured out the whole story as her grandparents listened with excitement and pleasure.
Grandpa stood up and walked across the room. “Good luck to you, Judy. After watching this little performance you put on for us I know you’ll be the star of that company before the summer’s over.” Mr. Ritchie beamed down at his granddaughter. “You’ll love Colorado, Judy, as we did.” He took his wife’s hand. “Remember when we were there, climbing like goats and weeks later went on to climb Mt. Rainier—”
“I love the mountains. I’ve never seen anything higher than Mt. Washington.”
“Aspen is high. Eight thousand feet and is surrounded by peaks thirteen and fourteen thousand feet.” Mr. Ritchie paused, a faraway look in his eyes. “Those glorious mountains once possessed the greatest silver mines in the world! But that’s a story in itself.”
Judy looked up expectantly. For years her grandfather had told her fascinating tales of American history.
“You know you’re going to tell that story.” Minna smiled at her father.
He looked quizzically at his daughter. “I’m only being persuaded for Judy’s sake.”
“Yes, yes, we know,” his son-in-law added grinning.
“The fascinating thing about Aspen, Judy, is that until about seventy-five or eighty years ago, it was an empty valley in the heart of the Rockies. Colorado was a territory with little to attract settlers until they discovered silver. Then there was a mad rush to get to the camps near Denver. Soon all the claims were staked out. The late comers looked across the jagged peaks and thought of the silver hidden in those mountains.”
“Did they go?” Judy asked impatiently.
Her grandfather continued, unruffled by the interruption. “The settlers were warned that the land beyond the Continental Divide belonged to the Iute Indians. But the rights of the Indians meant little to men hungry for riches. They entered the Indian country, naming it Aspen because of the forests of white-barked aspen trees.”
“Our treatment of the Indians was worse than shabby,” John muttered vehemently.
“Yes, there were cruel and bloody struggles, but finally the Iute Chief made peace with the white man.” Mr. Ritchie paused to relight his cigar. “The rush for silver was on once more—this time at Aspen.”
“Isn’t that what you told me happened when Great Uncle Jake went out to California at the time of the Gold Rush?”
“Perhaps, Judy, except that Uncle Jake never struck gold and came back poorer than when he left—
“In Aspen country, settlers got rich, mining silver or building up the town. They built comfortable homes, not the ugly shacks you see in most mining country. Aspen never became one of those gambling, shooting communities. The settlers were different. Schools, churches, a bank, a newspaper, everything mushroomed into the empty valley. Millions of dollars’ worth of silver ore was taken out of the mines. Then when things were at the brightest, the silver mining towns lost their biggest customer, the United States Government! The final blow came in 1893! Our government decided that gold, not silver, should be used in the United States Mint.
“The mines stopped operating. Miners were thrown out of work—so was everyone else. The people had to leave or starve. Aspen became a ghost town!”
“What do you mean, Grandpa?”
“When people have to leave their homes, everything they’ve labored to build, the town dies. That’s what happened to Aspen! Maybe a hundred settlers stayed on. The houses were empty, their doors swinging in the wind, the streets deserted, Aspen slept.”
Minna’s voice broke the spell. “Music, not a prince, woke this sleeping beauty. The old houses and new ones, too, are filled with music students from all over the country. A great orchestra, like the one in which John will play, gives concerts to thousands of people every week. Even the old opera house has its season, students and professionals singing the roles. Aspen is a paradise for musicians! And great lecturers, too, I’m told.”
“And don’t overlook the skiers in winter,” John added happily. “They come from all over the world to ski and to train for the Olympic matches. I’m afraid, Judy, you’ll find no ghosts in Aspen, summer or winter. So don’t let Grandpa’s tall tales bother you any.”
“Charles, we should be going. These young people will have to get some rest. Besides, we’ll see them off tomorrow morning.”
“No, Mother dear, I won’t hear of your coming to the airport. We’ll say good-bye right here—but don’t hurry away—stay a little longer!”
Mr. Ritchie shook his head. “We’ve got too much sense to stay on.” He extracted a package from his briefcase.
“Judy, I nearly forgot to give you this. There’s a diary, a drawing pad, a box of pastels, and a volume or two of poems. Something for every shining hour, providing your heavy duties with the theater ever permit such trivial occupation—” He laughed as he kissed her.
“Do you like my present?”
“Of course, I do. I was just thinking of last summer. When I told one of the girls at school about your Shakespeare readings, she looked at me pityingly. ‘You listened to Shakespeare of your own free will!’” Judy laughed. “It’s lucky I never told her about my secret ambition,” Judy looked innocently at her grandmother. “Yes, a writer—some day!”
Her grandmother shrugged her shoulders. “Why not choose something easy like digging ditches?”
The sarcasm was lost on her granddaughter. “The trouble is I like so many things—but actually,” she went on, “I don’t see why writing should be so difficult. You get an idea, you write it down, do a line research, maybe—there are enough words in the dictionary—”
“Of course,” her grandmother said wryly.
Mrs. Ritchie put on her coat and she too remembered a parcel. “Minna dear,” she said, handing her daughter an oversized shoebox, “take this with you on the trip. It might come in handy.”
Her daughter eyed the box suspiciously. “Come in handy?” She’d heard that formula before. “Mother! You’d think we were crossing the continent in the covered wagon days. Haven’t we enough to carry?”
“Be thankful, Minna, it isn’t a roast turkey with all the trimmings,” her father said, laughing while Minna shook her head in mock despair.
John cleared his throat and impulsively put his arms around his parents-in-law. “We know how good you’ve been to us, and how patient. But as musicians, we must go where opportunity beckons.”
Judy stood with her mother at the window and watched her grandparents walk slowly to their car. Their shoulders touched, Grandma holding Grandpa’s arm.
“They’re so wonderful,” her mother murmured. “They made our careers possible. It wasn’t easy for us, nor for them.” Her voice was low, as if speaking to herself. “Struggle … to get even this far—”
“What struggle?” Judy wondered. All those exciting trips her parents took to faraway countries? Of course, they were rarely able to get engagements together. Last month her father was in Canada and her mother in Argentina. But in only two weeks they were back. As for herself, she always had her grandparents! They disliked the city and the cramped quarters of their daughter’s apartment. But they came just the same, giving it, even for a week or two, something of the atmosphere of their own home. A corner of the living room was turned into a studio for Grandfather where he painted happily after a busy day at the office. In another corner of the living room Grandmother had her typewriter where she labored, when time permitted, at stories hopefully sent off, but whose return never disheartened her for long! Records were played, but the piano was rarely opened. Yes, it was fun having her grandparents move in. Members of the family dropped in whom Judy otherwise never saw. And the joy of the theater! Once it was “Medea.” When her grandmother protested, Grandfather had said, “What, have the girl miss the chance of seeing Judith Anderson!” They sat in the balcony, Grandmother wearing Grandfather’s glasses. She always insisted her eyes were perfect, except now and then. Her firm, straight back was bent forward, not to miss a single word. Grandfather sat at ease, enjoying himself.
Her mother touched her arm. “What are you thinking about, Judy?”
“Nothing … just remembering some wonderful times with Grandmother and Grandfather.”
Her mother sighed. “It seems only a few years ago that they were climbing mountains! Now they seem old.”
“How can you say that, Mother? They never seem old to me.”
“You’re a strange girl.”
They turned back to the living room. Mrs. Lurie checked over the suitcases for the last time. Judy tidied up the room while her father carefully covered his precious viola with layers of soft cloths.
The last chores were done. In the morning they would start on the first lap of their journey to Aspen.
PLEASURES OF TRAVEL
Flying was no novelty to her parents, but to Judy, whose small journeys had always been by car, this, her first plane trip, was an event. In Aspen they were going to do without a car. Mr. Lurie wouldn’t trust their old bus on those mountain roads.
It was still foggy when they took their seats in the plane. Judy was conscious of the unconcern of everyone but herself. Why, only last week she heard over the radio, “the plane had only just left the ground when—”
The motors started, whirring noisily as they warmed up. Mrs. Lurie noticed the strained expression on her daughter’s face.
“Once we’re in the air, you’ll be thrilled. You’ll see Long Island as a bird might—”
The girl smiled feebly. She closed her eyes. When I open them, she told herself, I’ll be up in the air. She counted slowly to a hundred—they were still in the same spot. Twice she repeated the experiment. The plane was still on the ground, racing along the runway! Then when she least expected it, there was a sudden lift and they were flying. The mist had disappeared. The world below was an intricate design of shining water, green fields, and toy houses. It was more wonderful than anything she had ever imagined and with the wonder, her fears vanished.
Before long they were flying at nineteen thousand feet. All she could see were soft fleecy clouds. The plane seemed like a giant bird skimming over endless banks of snow. Three hours from the time they left the airport they could make out the tall buildings of Chicago, hundreds of miles from home.
“I’ll meet you at the railroad terminal in an hour, two at the most,” John told his wife, taking only his viola with him as he stepped into a taxi to keep his appointment.
Mrs. Lurie and Judy proceeded to the railroad. The porter left them with their five pieces of baggage near the gate marked “Denver and California.” There were no seats nearby and before a half hour passed, it became increasingly difficult to stand. Judy balanced herself on one of the upturned suitcases and her mother soon followed her example. They tried to read. A coke from one machine and salted peanuts from another provided a pleasant interlude. Judy watched people going into a restaurant at the far end of the station. Her mother noticed her fascinated absorption.
“We can’t move these bags and there isn’t a porter in sight. As soon as your father comes, we’ll get something to eat.”
At the word “eat,” Judy remembered her grandmother’s shoebox—such tremendous chicken sandwiches and fruit! This was the emergency her grandmother always managed to foresee.
When another hour passed, Mrs. Lurie, no longer able to conceal her anxiety, went in search of a porter. He tossed their luggage on his truck while they took up their vigil at the gate, scanning every entrance. With less than five minutes to spare, John rushed toward them, mumbling breathlessly, “Sorry, darlings.”
“Sorry nothing,” Judy thought, severely critical. On the contrary, she noticed his eyes sparkled.
“I signed the new contract,” he whispered to Minna as he herded them aboard the train. Mrs. Lurie, too, was now all smiles, the tension of the last hours forgotten.
They entered the car where they would spend the remaining hours of the late afternoon, the night, and most of the following day.
Mr. Lurie cleared the seats of the luggage. His viola, never out of his sight for a moment, he placed conspicuously near the seat he would occupy.
“When we’re ready to retire,” Mrs. Lurie said, “the porter will come and make up our beds. You’re taking the upper berth. Father and I will share the lower one.”
It was seven-thirty before they could get seats in the dining car. They stood with a long queue of people in the narrow corridor of the swaying train. Everyone was friendly and freely gave advice. “Be sure to get up early tomorrow morning so that you can get seats in the Vista Dome—”
At last the Luries were ushered to their seats by an impressive-looking steward. Mr. Lurie was studying the menu card.
“What is?” Judy asked, turning her gaze from the jiggling silver on the table.
“The prices! One has the choice of starving or becoming bankrupt!”
“John,” her mother said quietly, “everyone can hear you. Besides, the railroad can’t help charging so much. I read an article that showed they actually lose money on the dining cars—the cost of food, the waste. They threaten to discontinue them altogether.”
“Well then, let’s eat and be merry,” he replied, his high spirits returning.
By the time they returned to their car, their beds were made up for the night. Using the ladder, Judy climbed into her berth. The curtains were fastened.
“Mother,” Judy called, sticking her head through a tiny opening, “it’s pitch black. I can’t seem to locate the light.”
“It’s overhead, near the pillow,” her mother whispered. “Father and I are going into the club car.”
Judy, on her knees to avoid bumping her head, groped about vaguely, found the small button and pressed it hard. There was a resounding ring. She jumped at the sound and then, quite by accident, found the light switch. Cautiously, still on her knees, she began pulling off her sweater.
“What is it, Miss?” The kindly face of the porter peered at her.
“I’m sorry to have disturbed you,” Judy said thickly, her sweater wedged over her nose and mouth. “I couldn’t find the light. But it’s all right now.”
“Ring whenever you need me.” He quickly withdrew his head. A battery of bells called him.
She finished undressing lying flat on her back, struggled into pajamas, and tossed her jumbled clothes in a heap at the foot of her berth.
“It’s six-thirty, Judy.” It was her mother speaking. “We want to get an early breakfast so that we can get seats in the Vista Dome.” Her mother was already dressed, when she could have slept through the morning, a luxury Minna loved but rarely enjoyed.
When Judy made her appearance, her mother looked at her. “Your hair!—You look as if you fell out of a grab bag.”
In the dressing room, overflowing with crying babies and their mothers, Judy made herself presentable. Once again they went through the lunging cars.
For Judy, the dinner of the night before hadn’t been much of a success. She flushed as she remembered the white rivulet of milk coursing down her new sweater.
“No fluids, thank you—something solid and substantial, like pancakes with syrup. Besides,” she whispered to her father, “imagine, orange juice, forty cents a glass!” His smile and nod commended her for her good sense.
After breakfast they hurried to the last car. It was a comfortable lounge in the center of which was a short flight of steps. They ascended the stairway and entered the Vista Dome, a train above a train, completely glassed in, even the top. The Luries crowded together in the last vacant seat. They were silent, enraptured by the beauty of the scene. Mountains hemmed them in on both sides. “What if there were a landslide?” Judy thought, “and one of those overhanging crags came crashing down on the glass dome!”
The train climbed steadily. As the hours passed, the mountains took on a somber brown and dullish red and assumed the fantastic shapes of turreted castles. Frequently the train disappeared into a tunnel cut through the mountain. One of them, “the Moffat Tunnel,” the loudspeaker announced, “is a great engineering feat and is six miles long.”
Many seats were vacant now. People were getting tired in spite of the glorious views. Judy noticed a girl about her own age sitting alone.
“Why don’t you go over and speak to her,” her mother suggested. “She’ll probably be glad of your company.”
Within a matter of minutes Judy and Audrey were like old friends.
“We’ve lived in so many cities,” Audrey said with a tired shrug. “Now we’re bound for L.A.” At Judy’s look of interrogation, she added, “Los Angeles.”
“We’d only just bought a house in Omaha. Now it’s up for sale! Honestly, my father says his boss moves him around like a piece on a checkerboard!”
Judy was sympathetic. “I thought only musicians move so much.”
“No,” Judy answered quickly. “My mother and father. That’s why we’re going to Aspen. Mother’s a singer and Father plays the viola. And they always practice at home—Mother with her accompanist and Father and his quartet—can you imagine what it’s like sometimes?”
“Awful! How can you stand it?”
“You get used to it. Sometimes, I must admit, it’s very nice.”
“Have you a job or something out in Aspen?”
“Not exactly a job, but I—I—er—expect to act—in one of those little summer theaters,” Judy spoke diffidently, but she couldn’t quite conceal her exultation.
Audrey was impressed. “An actress! But you don’t look like one!”
“Well, you know, Audrey, with grease paint and makeup—besides, I probably will have the most minute role,” she smiled with a deprecating little gesture.
Audrey returned to her own problems. “I don’t mind telling you, it is a tragedy for me to leave Omaha.”
Judy was about to inquire what she meant by those solemn words when a big voice boomed behind them.
“You can see the broken-down, deserted cabins halfway up the mountains.”
The girls turned toward the voice. A short, stocky man was standing near them, a pair of field glasses in one hand and pointing to the mountains with the other.
Judy smiled out of politeness and he returned her smile.
“Like to have a peek?” He handed her the glasses. She too could see the trails and dilapidated shacks that led to the mines.
“Here, Audrey, you look.”
“Oh, yes, I see them,” Audrey said, returning the glasses to the owner.
“And do you know what was in those mines?” the man continued in a stentorian voice. “Gold! That’s what brought them to Colorado, gold!”
“I thought it was silver,” Judy said quietly. “My grandfather told me that silver—”
She got no further. She could hear the subdued chuckling of the passengers.
“You’re right, Miss, but only half right. First they came for gold, then for silver. Tell that to your grandpa!”
He went on talking, explaining…. Judy’s eyes ached from the sun that blazed through the glass dome, and her neck was stiff from looking and straining.
“Attention, please!” The voice of the loudspeaker broke in on the man’s eloquence. “When we reach the next station, there will be a wait of twenty minutes for the automatic car washing. This process will be of interest to our passengers.”
The two girls had only one thought, to get off the train and stretch their legs. Arm in arm they walked down the long platform, soon engrossed in their former conversation.
“The reason I hated to leave Omaha was not because of the new house, but because I was going steady with a boy! Now we’re separated, maybe forever.”
Judy pressed Audrey’s hand to indicate how deeply she understood.
With slow, leisurely steps they walked back, remembering the car washing. They looked down the tracks. The train had vanished.
“What will we do?”
“And we haven’t any money to telegraph or anything,” Judy waved her empty purse. A stone would have been moved by that gesture.
“What’s the matter, girls?” A nice-looking gentleman, standing nearby, having heard their cries of alarm, smilingly faced them.
“The train!” they stammered in one breath. “It’s gone!”
“I wouldn’t worry if I were you,” his mouth twitched as if he wanted to laugh. “The train is down a siding, about a mile, having that grand wash. Remember? It’ll come back.”
The girls were too miserable to talk. They kept staring down the empty tracks, not quite believing, yet hoping the train would return.
At last the train, beautifully clean, slid down the tracks before them. The girls stood together on the train as it began to move. “Be sure to write,” Judy said tensely. “Remember, everything about him.” Addresses were hurriedly exchanged. Feeling almost like sisters who have just met, only to be cruelly torn apart, they kissed fondly and separated, Audrey to her car and Judy to the Vista Dome where she had left her parents peacefully sleeping.
Glenwood Springs, the railroad station for Aspen, was the next stop. The Luries hurried back to their car.
Their berths were made up and the luggage was once again piled on the seats and under them. Mr. Lurie methodically counted them. “One, two, three—where’s the viola? I don’t see it!—” His voice was almost a gasp.
“The porter has probably taken it out with our large case,” Minna said confidently, but her face was as white as his. “I’ll ring for him.”
The porter appeared. “Where’s my viola?” Mr. Lurie asked in a voice that scarcely concealed his rage.
“Your what, Sir?” the porter asked calmly.
“My viola,” Mr. Lurie snapped. “It looks like a violin, only larger. It was in a black case. It’s not here. We’ve looked everywhere.” His voice shook. “Did you take it out with any other baggage?”
The porter shook his head. “I remember that violin thing. Just took the things from the bed, laid them down while I made up the berths.”
“And why did you make up my berth? Didn’t I ask you to leave it alone?”
“But I has to make up the berths,” the porter argued mildly.
“That berth down there isn’t made up,” Mr. Lurie’s eyes flashed as he pointed to the one that still had its curtains drawn.
As if startled by the turmoil, the head of an elderly woman, her hair secured in a pink net, suddenly protruded from the curtains.
“Porter,” she asked querulously, “how many times must I ring? You promised to bring my tray an hour ago.”
“I know, Ma’am, I was just fixing to bring it when this gentleman here got some trouble.”
A slow smile broke over the porter’s face. “I recollect now—everyone leaving at one time to get to the Vista Dome. I piled things everywhere. That lady down there, I couldn’t make up her berth. She was feeling poorly. When she went into the ladies’ lounge, I naturally set a lot of things in her upper berth. It was empty. Then she comes back unexpected and—”
“Instead of all this palaver,” Mr. Lurie interrupted, “will you kindly see if it is there?”
“Pardon me, Ma’am,” and with a practiced hand he reached into the upper berth and drew out the black case of the viola.
“There you are, Sir. No harm done. Never lost a thing in all my—”
“Thank Heaven!” Mr. Lurie said fervently, wiping the beads of perspiration from his face.
“You have no idea, Porter, what the loss of that instrument could mean to me. You were negligent,” Mr. Lurie reiterated, not nearly so belligerently, “but the main thing is that it was found.”
Everybody smiled with relief. The train was slowing down. Judy and her parents said good-bye to their fellow passengers and a few minutes later they were standing on the platform.
Judy watched the long train slowly pull away. It took on speed and was soon lost to sight.
“Come on, Judy,” her mother called impatiently, “stop dreaming. We still have a short bus ride to Aspen.”
FIRST GLIMPSE OF ASPEN
The short ride to Aspen proved to be forty miles!
A tall, ungainly youth, his good-natured face topped by thick red hair, walked unerringly to the man carrying the musical instrument.
Mr. Lurie nodded.
“I’m Fran,” the boy smiled. “I’m to drive you to Aspen.”
“Good,” and with an answering smile, Mr. Lurie introduced him to Mrs. Lurie and Judy. Fran helped with the luggage as well as with the cartons already arrived, and piloted them to the car.
It was a neat little bus, and its name gaily painted in red letters, “Little Percent,” was visible through the film of dust that covered the car like a blanket.
“That’s an odd name,” Mr. Lurie commented.
“Not for Aspen. There was once a mine called ‘Little Percent.’ Now it’s the name of the only taxi business around here. Nearly everything here is named after the silver mines—Little Annie, The Smuggler. Now they’re just fancy eating places.”
As Judy was about to take her seat with her parents, Fran said offhandedly, “Maybe you’d better sit up front with me. No sense all being crowded in there with all that baggage.”
Fran put his foot on the gas and they were soon speeding along a dirt road, the dust almost choking them.
“Sorry about the dust,” Fran said over his shoulder. “We haven’t had a drop of rain in weeks.”
They rounded curves on one wheel and Fran seemed to enjoy Judy’s terrified “Oh’s!” as they edged a precipice with only inches to spare.
“Don’t tell me you’re scared!” he smiled jovially. “This is nothing! Wait until sometime you go up Independence Pass. There you really have to watch your bus.”
“I love mountains. I’ve climbed them since I was a child,” Judy said stiffly. “But racing over ledges is something different. You can trust your feet—that’s more than you can say about a car.”
Barely glancing at the road, Fran gazed obliquely at Judy with new interest. “If you like mountain climbing, you’ll be crazy about Aspen.”
“Really? I thought everyone came here to study music, or play in the orchestra, or sing!”
“We get lots of that kind all summer. And besides them there are the thousands who come to listen and go to lectures every night!”
He maneuvered another hairpin curve, taking no notice of a shuddering “Oh!” this time from Mrs. Lurie. “But the real excitement,” he went on, “the real money spent around here is for skiing. From fall right up to spring! That’s a sport. Skiing!” His face glowed.
“How do you find time to ski?” Judy asked.
“What do you mean? You might as well ask how one finds time to eat!”
Mrs. Lurie leaned forward and tapped her daughter on the shoulder. “Don’t you think you should let Fran concentrate on his driving instead of annoying him with your chatter?”
“I barely opened my mouth!” Judy said indignantly, as she turned around. “Blaming me!—” When she saw the strained look on her mother’s face, she nudged Fran and told him to take it easy. He was making her mother nervous.
The clouds of dust were finally left behind and they approached Aspen over a bumpy, paved road.
“See that enormous white tent?” Fran said, unconsciously assuming the role of a driver of a guided tour. “That’s where all the big concerts are given. The supports inside the tent are a bright orange and the cushions of the seats are blue. Very pretty!”
And the Luries obediently looked, eager to get their first glimpse of the canvas concert hall they were to know so well.
“Cost the music people about ten thousand dollars,” the irrepressible Fran continued.
“Ten thousand dollars,” Mrs. Lurie echoed. “How did they manage to raise such a large sum of money?”
Fran slowed the car, his head turned toward his uneasy passengers behind him. “Well, for one thing, there’s a Mr. Paepcke. He’s the president of a paper container corporation—a millionaire! It was his idea to make Aspen a music center.”
“Yes. I’ve heard of him,” Mr. Lurie replied. “He seems to be quite a person. In fact, I understand that since the Aspen Music Associates—that’s the new name for the Music Festival—” he told his wife, “—since they now can get contributions to cover the deficit, Mr. Paepcke has turned his attention to other projects.”
“That’s right, Mr. Lurie. He’s just crazy about culture! Has paintings and art exhibits, even highbrow lectures!” Fran turned down a side street, stopping the car. “I thought I could show you his latest—but it’s too far out of our way. He’s built a large, plush hotel, just for businessmen when they come here for vacation. He expects them to go to the lectures he’s arranged, highbrow stuff—philosophy and that sort of thing, so they shouldn’t waste their time while on vacation!” Fran shook his head over the strange, inexplicable notions of Mr. Paepcke.
“A very remarkable idea,” Mr. Lurie said thoughtfully. “To be able to use one’s hours of leisure on vacation for the things one never has time for—”
“I bet they’ll still come here just to ski, anyhow, when there’s any snow,” Fran said with a grin.
They were driving through many of the principal streets of Aspen. It was a small town that nestled in a lovely green valley between two great mountains: Aspen and Red, Fran named them. He pointed to some houses high up the mountain, barely visible because of the forests. “Imagine people building big homes up there because the town’s too crowded! The road is so steep only the jeeps can make it. A good car gets used up in no time.”
They continued to drive slowly through the town. Houses of all shapes and styles of architecture were huddled together. Some were old with pointed roofs, gables, and bulging bay windows. Mr. Lurie admired the ones patterned after Swiss chalets, happy reminders of a boyhood vacation in Switzerland. None of the Luries looked with favor on the newer houses, squat, flat-roofed dwellings with large picture windows.
“They are out of place in this lovely mountain setting,” Mrs. Lurie said, but added as an afterthought, “but they’re probably divine to live in.”
Fran, undiscouraged by his passengers’ preoccupation with houses old and new, continued to enlighten them.
“That’s where they print the Aspen Times,” and he pointed out a wooden structure reminiscent of an earlier era. “It comes out once a week, but it’s been right here since the silver boom days.”
Judy had made several attempts to break in on Fran’s monologue. She thought quickly. “By the way,” she said with elaborate nonchalance, “You wouldn’t happen to know where that cute little theater is—I’m surprised you didn’t point that out!”
“Oh, the Isis! We didn’t happen to pass it. But they have movies there—the greatest!” Judy gave up, as Fran continued.
“That big gray stone building next to it is the Jerome Hotel. When they built it in 1881, it was a show place. That’s when silver was all there was in Aspen. It was elegant! It’s still the finest place in Aspen, fixed up modern today with a half dozen or more annexes. And it’s got a swimming pool!” he added impressively.
“Can anyone use the pool?” Judy asked, “or is it just for the hotel guests?”
“It’s mostly for the guests, but the music festival people get in somehow.”
They had now reached the end of town and Fran stopped in front of a plain little cottage with an overhanging veranda. “Here we are,” he said, jumping out to unload the car.
“Is that ours?” Judy asked, considerably let down. But her mother, it was apparent, felt differently.
“Isn’t it lovely, John!” she exclaimed. “Real Victorian. Look at that fine old grille railing on the roof—”
Mrs. Lurie lost no time in entering the house, her husband following. She had to know at once.
There it was, a large, ebony, upright piano that dwarfed the parlor sprinkled liberally with overstuffed chairs and a small sofa, more chairs, tables with artificial flowers, lamps of all kinds. But Mrs. Lurie was radiant.
“They gave us the piano after all!”
“Yes, darling,” her husband said, equally happy. “Perhaps all that letter-writing helped.” Then he frowned as if he suddenly remembered. “It may not prove an unmixed blessing. Remember the conditions? Students must be permitted to practice any hour of the day.” He smiled, “Knowing how pressed they are for practice space, they’ll probably start at dawn!”
But Mrs. Lurie’s enthusiasm remained undampened. She’d have her two hours!
Meanwhile Fran brought up the last of the cartons and luggage and set them on the porch where Judy was gazing raptly at the mountains.
“Any time you want to climb,” he said shyly.
“I’d love to, but I expect to be rather busy—I’m going to act.” She paused for the effect.
Fran looked puzzled. “Where?”
“Right here in Aspen, at the Barn.”
“You mean Mr. Crowley’s summer theater?”
“That’s right. I’m in the company.” Languorously, the girl smoothed back a few wisps of hair in an unmistakably theatrical gesture.
Fran grinned. “I guessed you were kidding.”
“Kidding!” Judy frowned indignantly. “It happens to be true. Mr. Crowley is a friend of my father and he himself arranged for me to join his theater.”
“When was that?”
“A few weeks ago.”
“Oh! That explains it.”
A strange note in the boy’s voice caught Judy’s attention. “Explains what?” she asked cautiously.
“It’s funny you didn’t hear about it,” Fran muttered. He eyed her unhappily. “There isn’t going to be any summer theater. Mr. Crowley couldn’t raise enough money to swing it. He went back to Denver three days ago.”
“Oh!” Judy felt the blood mounting to her face. There were questions she wanted to ask but she didn’t trust herself to speak.
“I’m sorry about it, kid,” Fran murmured. “But don’t let it get you down. Maybe next year Crowley will raise the money and you’ll be back as leading lady.” He edged off the porch back to his bus. “Aspen isn’t a bad place, even without a theater. You’ll have a lot of fun. And don’t forget, whenever you want to climb—” He was at the wheel racing the motor. The bus pulled away, gathered speed, and disappeared around the corner far up the street. Slowly, Judy turned and dragged herself into the house.
“Judy? Judy? Where are you?”
“You haven’t seen the house! How do you like the piano? Ugly, but it has a wonderful tone! From what I just learned about the students coming here to practice, you’ll escape playing without even a struggle,” her mother rattled on.
“Oh, I’ll play sometimes.”
It was not only the voice bordering on despair but her features distorted in pain that made her father eye her keenly.
“Judy, why this face of gloom on this lovely, happy occasion?”
“Fran just told me that the theater is all washed up—that Mr. Crowley went back to Denver—” She couldn’t go on.
A fleeting uncertainty passed over Minna’s face but her father smiled reassuringly.
“I’d like to know one way or the other. Can’t you telephone or telegraph—or something,” the girl pleaded.
“The opening is probably postponed!” her father said convincingly. “That often happens with a new venture. Of course Jim went to Denver—that’s where he has all his connections.” Again he gave her that warm, reassuring smile. “Suppose you don’t get started for a week or two! So much the better. You’ll get a chance to discover Aspen, walking miles in this wonderful, bracing climate and have fun with us.”
“You’re a real cure for the blues, Father. Grandma once called you the incurable optimist.”
Her father raised his eyebrows. “That doesn’t sound particularly complimentary!”
“But it was meant in the nicest way. Grandma said Minna was a worrier and that she was lucky to be married to a man like you.”
By nightfall, basic unpacking was finished and, with no time or opportunity to purchase food, they decided to go out for dinner. They walked aimlessly through several streets trying to discover one of the colorful restaurants Fran had mentioned—Little Nell, Golden Horn, Mario’s. From the latter, as they stood on the sidewalk, voices were heard singing operatic arias! That settled it. They went in.
Judy’s parents were enchanted not only by the atmosphere but even more by the waiters who sang as they served and again at interludes between courses. The food was new and exotic and Judy ate with rapt enjoyment, the problem of Mr. Crowley and the theater temporarily forgotten.
She glanced occasionally at her mother and father. They were incomprehensible! Their food grew cold as they talked to the waiters. Suppose they were studying opera at the Aspen Music School! Her father finally succumbed to the aroma of the good-smelling dinner but her mother, between listening and applauding, found no chance to eat.
“I like opera, Father,” Judy told him, savoring the last mouthful on her plate. “Remember how I adored ‘Pagliacci’ when I heard it at the Metropolitan Opera House with Grandma and Grandpa! There was scenery and costumes, and what a story! That was Opera!”
Her father laughed. “A lover of music doesn’t need trappings of scenery and costume to enjoy opera. Your mother would rather sing or listen to singing than eat.”
Judy shook her head. “After all,” she argued, “when you eat, you should enjoy eating, not have to listen—to applaud.”
“Minna,” John addressed his wife, “I think Judy has a point there. Please eat your dinner before it’s utterly spoiled.”
They returned from Mario’s relaxed and gay, Minna still humming some of the melodies. Opening the screen door, a letter fell on the porch. Judy picked it up, quickly glancing at the name of the sender.
“It’s a special delivery from Mr. Crowley, Father, for you.” Her face paled.
Mr. Lurie read it silently while his daughter watched the pained disappointment deepen on his face.
“Judy dear,” he hesitated for a moment then went on quickly as if wishing to have the unhappy business over as fast as possible. “It seems Fran was right. There will be no summer theater,” and he handed her the letter. She read, tears blurring the words. “The backers faded away…. I’m so sorry about your daughter. I know how these kids are, what a disappointment this must be. Tell her next year, cross my heart….”
Judy was desolate. It wasn’t just the disappointment at not having the opportunity to act: that was bad enough. But what would she do with herself in Aspen for a whole summer? The weeks ahead loomed empty and void.
Her parents tried to cheer her up. “There’s a whole new world for you to discover out here,” her father said. “A girl with your curiosity and interests needn’t have a dull moment.”
“And I’m sure there are young people your age in Aspen,” her mother added. “With a little effort, you won’t have any trouble finding companions.”
Judy didn’t argue with them. What was the use? They had tried their best. It wasn’t their fault that Mr. Crowley’s theater had fallen through. “I have to make the best of it,” she said, and added realistically, “Don’t make them miserable.” Then she further cautioned herself, “Assume a virtue, if you have it not.”
The next few days passed quickly, even for Judy. The house had to be made livable. “The kitchen is as old as Methuselah,” Mrs. Lurie said, “and has the conveniences of the Stone Age.” But once everything was done and food supplies stocked, Judy found her parents still “tearing around like mad,” a phrase she used in her recent letter to her grandparents.
There were faculty meetings, rehearsals to be arranged. John had to set up programs for his newly organized quartet, and Minna was in daily conference with Mme. Rousse and her pupils.
After four days of comparative quiet, the music students of the School began to arrive with clockwork regularity at two-hour intervals. Judy saw them sometimes, deadly serious as they rushed out after practice to some other task or perhaps to a date. They were intent and enthusiastic young people but to Judy they seemed hoary with age and responsibilities.
For want of anything better to do, she threw herself into organizing the household regime. Washing dishes and making beds were her department. Her father used the carpet-sweeper and mopped up the kitchen floor with giant strokes more suitable for a shuffleboard. There was laundry for Minna to iron whenever someone remembered to borrow a car and call for their bundle at the laundromat.
Judy never wondered how her mother managed to prepare their meals. Mrs. Lurie did that and many other things besides with an ease, a sleight of hand that was slightly deceptive. She worked hard to get everything done and yet find time for her arduous profession. She had set herself the task of singing in opera, a dream possible of realization here at Aspen, but she doggedly pursued her domestic tasks. For breakfast she whipped up some wonderful pancakes and for sheer quantity consumption, Judy held the family record. Lunch was tuna fish, an egg, or a salad, usually prepared by Judy for herself. Dinners meant hamburgers or chops broiled over their outside grille, with soup and vegetables frozen or out of a can, milk, and fresh fruit. Once a week she went all out to bake a chicken or something in a casserole, which she optimistically expected to see them through for days. It rarely did.
New friends and some old ones dropped in nearly every night, that is, when there were neither lectures nor concerts scheduled. It was a busy, full life for Judy’s parents.
But to Judy, the prospect of spending an entire summer doing simple household chores and wandering about sightseeing alone was far from cheering.
Each morning her mother left the house, visibly disturbed. “Judy dear, I’m planning to take you to the pool a few afternoons during the week. We’re dying to go ourselves. It’s already past nine. We’ve got to rush. Good-bye, darling.” The door closed. A moment later her mother’s head reappeared at the door.
“Forget anything, Mother?”
“No, dear. I just wanted to tell you that once our schedules are definitely arranged, we won’t be so hectically busy.” There was the impatient honking of a horn from the car picking them up. Her mother hurriedly left.
Another week passed, and there was no change in the absorbing activity in the lives of Minna and John Lurie. There were many famous people in Aspen, artists, musicians, composers, and to Judy it seemed her parents had to meet them all!
Even during dinner in the evening, they were involved in their own interests, often trying to draw Judy into their conversation. Separated during much of the day by their individual activities, they talked with enthusiasm of discovering this one or that one. But Judy was bursting to tell them of her discoveries: the Chairlift where she spent many hours each day, eating her lunch or writing letters. Sometimes she sketched the tourists as they jumped on the moving chairs of the Lift and disappeared among the lofty mountains.
“Yes,” her mother said absently, “we know the Chairlift. We pass it every day.”
“Some day we’ll go up and see that famous sundeck thirteen thousand feet high,” her father casually promised and went on talking of other matters.
“Now this Mr. William Primrose. I’ve spoken of him before, Judy. He’s the greatest viola player in the world!” Her father’s eyes shone with the adulation he felt for this great artist. “He’s to be the soloist at several of the Festival concerts. You’ll be with us, Judy—something you’ll remember all your life!”
Nor was her mother to be outdone. “Judy, you’ll never know how wonderful the clarinet can be until you hear Reginald Kell! When he plays, his tone more nearly resembles the human voice than anything in the world—so delicate, so pure! He’s the greatest, the most celebrated clarinetist!”
They tried to interest her in Darius Milhaud, the greatest living composer of modern music.
“Everyone you and Father mention seems to be the greatest,” Judy had interrupted, a wicked gleam in her eye. She remembered the many reproofs she had received for using just such superlatives.
“But they just happen to be,” her father said, brushing her remark aside. “Darius Milhaud,” he began but stopped, noticing the blank look on Judy’s face.
“You must have heard his music at concerts or on the radio!” her mother interjected.
As Judy shook her head, her father went on patiently.
“He’s a very great composer of modern music, a Frenchman, and teaches conducting and composition to advanced students. It’s a great honor to have such a man on our faculty!”
He looked at his daughter hopefully. She seemed interested at last.
“What I tried to tell you before you interrupted me, this great man is coming to our house next week. He is permitting my quartet and me to play his newest composition in manuscript form. He’s coming with his wife, a former actress, a fine artist in her own right.”
For a week they talked of nothing else. Whom among their friends should they invite? Who would call for the composer and his wife, since it was well known he walked little? What should they serve after the music? The house must shine and, indeed, late in the night John polished floors and furniture until they gleamed.
When the great evening came, the little parlor was crowded with friends long before the honored guests arrived.
As Darius Milhaud walked into the room accompanied by his charming wife, everyone rose. Milhaud walked slowly; his heavy body was crippled by arthritis and he leaned heavily on the arm of his wife.
He greeted Minna and John Lurie warmly and with a few pleasant words to the guests put everyone at ease—that is, everyone except Judy, who stared uncomfortably at the composer’s face, so white and unhealthy-looking.
After some general talk, Milhaud gave the signal and the music began. The composition took nearly an hour and to Judy, accustomed to the more melodic harmonies of an older school, the music was extremely trying. She was convinced that the quartet, including her father, was playing wrong notes! Otherwise how to account for such terrible sounds? She squirmed wretchedly on the small couch, wedged in by former students of Milhaud who, judging by the expression on their faces, were literally in heaven! For a few blissful moments Judy found herself dozing, only to be rudely wakened by a dissonance that shattered her.
But she found compensation at last! She watched the composer. She couldn’t take her eyes off his hands. How beautiful they were as he moved them gently, guiding the players. She no longer tried to listen to music she neither liked nor understood. She glanced at Mrs. Milhaud and was deeply touched. There was something in her face, her eyes, her whole being, fastened upon her husband. As the hour advanced and the room grew chilly, she unobtrusively rose and put a plaid shawl upon her husband’s knees. Seeing them so, husband and wife, Judy somehow thought of her grandparents.
The piece was finished. Everyone clapped and shouted “Bravo!” “It was grand!” “A memorable performance!” “Sure to be an astounding success!”
But the Luries did not have to entertain a celebrity to have music in their home. Friends came to spend a social evening, but invariably brought with them their musical instruments—bass fiddle, cello, violin, clarinet—and stacked them on a bed or on chairs. Everyone cheerfully pushed the parlor furniture about, carried the music stands from the closet under the hall stairs, switched lamps from there to here for better lighting. There was talk, gossip of the great ones, a little politics and world affairs, but mostly music.
Judy went to her room shortly after the first pleasant greetings were over. Sometimes she fell asleep in spite of the music played fortissimo right under her room.
She could always tell when it was eleven o’clock, by the clatter of the teacups. Her mother was serving coffee and cake. Why are musicians always so hungry, she wondered, even as she bit greedily into a large slice of cake her mother had thoughtfully brought her.
She opened her diary. Among its pages lay the letter from Mr. Crowley. She read it again, then briefly wrote in her diary.
“I went to the Theater Barn yesterday, just to see it! It was just as I dreamed it would be, except the heavy padlock on the door and the sign ‘For Rent.’ Poor Mr. Crowley!”
And it seemed to Judy that she had no sooner fallen sound asleep when she was awakened by the crash of chords. The early-bird piano student had arrived for morning practice.
A RUDE YET PLEASANT AWAKENING
By the end of the second week Judy knew every street in Aspen. She had stumbled over the uneven slabs of stone that passed for sidewalks while gazing absently into shop windows displaying curious articles imported from all over the world.
She had even ventured beyond the confines of the town itself and paid her own visit to the Tent, before her official attendance at a concert. How inadequate had been Fran’s “Very pretty!” It was stunning. The sunshine filtering through the open flap bathed the colored sides of the tent and supports in luscious gold.
Not more than a few hundred yards from the Tent was a queer-looking building of octagonal design. Approaching it, she asked one of the bystanders, “What do they do in there?”
“Lectures,” was the terse reply. “It’s the Seminar Building. But don’t try to listen in on them,” he said, apparently amused at the expression on Judy’s keen and inquisitive face.
“I see you’ve got a sketch pad,” he went on. “If you are interested in art, you’ll find the walls lined with paintings—American subjects—very fine.” and with a nod, he was gone.
She went in and remained, examining the paintings long after the students and visitors left.
One day she got up enough courage to go into the Jerome Hotel. Assuming an air of confidence, which she was far from feeling, she followed some ladies entering the lobby and doggedly kept at their heels until they reached the pool.
How blue it looked under the dazzling sun! As fresh and cool as the forests on Aspen Mountain not far in the distance! Guests sat on the lawn beside the pool, their sunburnt bodies shaded by bright, colored umbrellas. They were laughing, talking, eating…. Shouts from the pool. She felt so alone. It was not the first time she recalled her grandmother’s words.
Monday morning came. Would this be another week of half-kept promises?
At breakfast her mother said brightly, “Judy, I have some news for you. I just heard about a camp and I met the girl who runs it. She’s charming and I took such a fancy to her.”
“A camp? Here in Aspen?” Judy asked, interested, but a little cautious. “What kind of a camp?”
“It’s a day camp. The hours are from eight-thirty to one o’clock, and it’s just been a Godsend to the mothers and the children. It’s called the Festival Day Camp.”
Judy’s face was a study. Her mother couldn’t possibly mean those little tots in the station wagon she had frequently passed on the road—the youngsters noisily piping their camp song, “We’re the Festival Day Camp, F-E-S-T-I-V-A-L.”
“How old are the children?”
Mrs. Lurie’s enthusiasm was slightly chilled by the ominous look on her daughter’s face. “Some are quite young, but,” she added hurriedly, “Mrs. Freiborg’s daughter is ten, possibly eleven. I understand they do interesting, creative things.” Mrs. Lurie found it difficult to go on. “It could be fun,” she finished on a note that sounded more like a dirge than a happy conviction.
“What would I be doing at such a camp!” Judy asked scathingly. “Please don’t worry about me, Mother. I am all right as I am.”
“Let’s discuss it later,” her mother pleaded. “This afternoon Mrs. Freiborg is definitely going to pick us up on her way to the pool.”
“Stop scowling, Judy,” her father said, displeased at Judy’s attitude. “Lynne, who runs it, is beautiful and extremely capable. Young as she is, she’s had years of experience. You won’t be just a camper, you’ll get to know Lynne. Her husband is one of the youngest men in our orchestra. They’re a delightful young couple. Mother has practically said you would go. We’re happy to spend the money.” He patted Judy’s shoulder affectionately. “At least you won’t be wandering around Aspen like a lost sheep.”
“But, Father, how can you expect me to go to a camp with such infants?”
“Suppose they are younger than you?” her father asked, trying to see Judy’s point of view. “What of it? While they carry on their activities, you can be doing other things on your own. Differences in age don’t matter as much as you think. We have youngsters and graybeards in our classes. Give it a try.” At the door he paused, “You get out of anything what you put into it.”
Still smarting under the unaccustomed pressure her parents were trying to exert, Judy started making her lunch. In her resentment she forgot the hours, the days of loneliness. She wrapped her sandwich and put it in her bag with pad, pencils, crayons, and change purse. With that awful camp looming on the not too distant horizon, she was determined to have a really good time today. Something exciting! But what? She couldn’t climb mountains by herself. Besides, all the trails were miles away. For a moment she considered Fran and as quickly dismissed him. He was busy all day riding the bus. All he ever did was to wave his hand and smile as he passed her.
With the collapse of her plans to act, other means of retrieving the summer from “total loss” occasionally occurred to her. A job. Audrey, in a letter, described hers with such loving detail as quite to overshadow the meager news about her erstwhile boy friend.
A job? Judy tried, but her disappointing attempts always followed the same pattern.
“Have you any experience?” “None?” “Sorry.” or “We have all the help we need. You must apply early in Aspen, long before the season.”
Judy surrendered. Actually she was enjoying this unexpected leisure. Lonesome sometimes? Yes, but free, free to wander about….
Entering the shop of Berko Studio, she exhausted the patience of the elderly salesman before she selected her two views of Aspen and the mountains nearby. How much there was to see in this wonderful world of the Rockies! A thought flashed through her mind. Why not come back with an article for the The Plow, her high school paper? The October issue was always lavishly devoted to a Vacation Series.
“My Summer in Aspen.” She shook her head. What had she done that was interesting? Precisely nothing—yet.
“Aspen Past and Present.” Decidedly better, she thought. But it had its drawbacks. You must have an encyclopedia or some means to acquire information. She meditated. She had finished every book she owned. The library! She slung her bag over her shoulder, thankful that Aspen had one!
She reached the library in a half-hour’s brisk walk and found to her surprise it was an insignificant corner of a large red brick structure, “The Aspen Bank.” Thinking she must be mistaken, she circled the block only to discover the bank building had still another entrance with an inconspicuous sign, “Wheeler Opera House, 1881.” She stood there puzzled. Could this be the opera house where world-famous singers and actors had appeared in the old mining days? Why, only the other night her father had brought home some colored photographs. Together they had fairly drooled over the plush and gold interior, more than four hundred gilt chairs in the orchestra, stage boxes upholstered in red plush. Her mother had remarked with chilling candor, “It’s nothing like it used to be. It was twice burnt down and twice restored…. We’re going there on Thursday night. The Juillard Quartet is giving a Lecture—Recital. You’ll see it then.”
“It’ll be a wonderful evening,” her father promised, “and I’ll take you on a personally conducted tour of the House.”
Judy retraced her steps. The Opera House could wait.
A single room lined with books—that was the library! A placard prominently placed on the wall cautioned “Silence.” The only person in the room besides herself was the librarian, sitting at her desk and looking rather forbidding in her horn-rimmed eyeglasses.
Judy searched the shelves. Still under the spell of the old mining days, she selected Aspen and the Silver Kings. It was a large, heavy book, its text liberally interwoven with pictures. She sat down at a table to examine it more leisurely. Mule teams with heavy wagons carrying the silver ore over Independence Pass, a road thirteen thousand feet high. A trip over this scenic wonder was, even to the passengers in Kit Carson’s stage coach, a fearsome thing. A hut near one of the mine shafts. Five men playing cards. A snow slide and the five were buried under twenty-five feet of snow.
She turned the pages. The coming of the first railroad, a queer-looking train pulled by two engines, smoke belching from its odd-looking funnels; people rushed down to the depot with flags, yelling themselves hoarse. It was a great day. Ore could now be moved by train!
Judy cheerfully skipped the pages. She still hoped for something more personal, maybe romantic. It was the human element she anxiously sought.
She read on. Under the intriguing title, “Horace Tabor, the man who preferred love and Baby Doe to his silver empire,” Judy recognized romance. This was the sort of pioneer life that appealed to her!
She looked at Tabor’s picture, a tall, well-built man with fine features and a long silky mustache. While not exactly a Don Juan, he was devotedly loved by two women, both of them interesting characters.
Augusta, his wife, came with Horace Tabor from Maine. In Leadville they opened a general store and in a short time Horace became postmaster and then mayor of the seventy shanties that comprised Leadville at that time. Augusta, even as the mayor’s wife, took in boarders to help with the family budget. Tabor generously staked the miners to food, picks, shovels, dynamite, anything they needed to get on with their prospecting. Augusta objected to his easy-going ways. Money was hard to make and they often quarreled.
But Tabor in staking the miners got a share in whatever they found. The mines began to pay off and Tabor became rich. From “Little Pittsburgh” alone he made five hundred thousand dollars in fifteen months. He bought other mines. He was civic-minded, gave Leadville the Opera House and a Grand Opera House to Denver, was spoken of as the future United States Senator. But the Tabors were unhappy and their quarrels increased.
At the age of forty-seven he met the beautiful blonde, Mrs. Harvey Doe, known as Baby Doe. It was love at first sight! Tabor begged Augusta to give him a divorce. She refused. He offered her mines, properties. “Never,” she repeated. After five years of wrangling in court, she gave him the divorce and accepted the mines. “Some day,” she told the newspapers, “Tabor will return to me when that blonde hussy grows tired of him.”
Judy wondered what became of Baby Doe. No doubt, somewhere among the pages of the book something more would be told.
She went over to the desk. “I’d like to take this book home.” The librarian looked at the title and raised her eyebrows. “Don’t you think this is a little technical?” she smiled indulgently. “We have a copy of Lorna Doone, Jane Eyre.”
“Thank you,” Judy smiled, “but I read those.”
“Dickens?” The librarian suggested helpfully.
“This book’s history, isn’t it?” Judy said, holding the book possessively. “I like history and since I’m staying in Aspen, I think I ought to look into—”
“Very well,” the librarian said kindly. “How shall I make out the card? There’s a deposit of one dollar, which will be returned to you when you leave Aspen.”
“A dollar!” Judy exclaimed. To give up so much money even if only temporarily—she emptied the contents of her bag on the librarian’s desk, although she knew all the time that it contained only twenty-five cents.
“May I take the book for a quarter and bring the rest of it tomorrow?”
“No, dear. You come tomorrow and in the meantime I’ll put the book aside for you, although,” she added with a smile, “no one has taken it from the shelf in years.” Her smile was so friendly, Judy wondered how she could have thought her grim and forbidding.
Judy stood there in a quandary. It was much too early to go anywhere for her lunch and she no longer wished to remain in the library. The Wheeler Opera House again obtruded itself upon her thoughts. It was just around the block. Since she was here—
“Miss…” Judy began. “Wilkes,” the librarian finished for her.
“Miss Wilkes,” Judy began again, “would it be all right for me to go into the Opera House now? That is, is one permitted to just go in to look around?”
“Yes, of course. The entrance is at the extreme end of the bank building. There’s a sign, ‘Wheeler Opera House.’”
“Yes, I saw the sign.”
“The Opera House is at the very top of the building. It’s a steep climb and the door may be locked, but you can try.”
Judy felt grateful to the librarian who had assisted her in this happy solution. She could spend an hour “exploring,” her favorite expression for any walk or errand in Aspen. She reached the entrance of the Opera House and ran up the wooden steps that led into the hall. It was dingy, not in the least what she had expected. An enormous, an apparently never-ending flight of stairs appeared ahead of her. Worse than anything was the deafening sound of musical instruments coming at her like waves from every part of the building, like a giant orchestra forever tuning up. As she stood there irresolute a pianist could be heard, the music coming from under the staircase. For a little while it drowned out the din of the other players.
A light now dawned on Judy. This was where the students practiced! She recalled her father speaking of them as the lucky ones who didn’t have to go to private homes such as theirs. He surely must have been joking! Bank, library, practice rooms, and Opera House, all in one old brick building! Her eyes measured the staircase. She began to climb and increased her speed to get there quickly. By the time she reached the landing, she was out of breath. More doors leading to more practice rooms. If anything, the cacophony had increased.
Another staircase stretched ahead, seemingly to go to the roof. She slowly ascended. The sounds of the instruments grew muffled, then almost ceased. On the landing there was only one door, marked “Entrance.” She gently turned the knob, pushed the massive door, and stepped within. There was a prolonged whine as the door closed behind her. She stood there, blinking at the glare of white lights on the stage. Four musicians were sitting before their music stands and were playing with such absorption that her mouselike entrance went unnoticed. A quartet—she recognized the instruments.
She looked about her diffidently. A glow from the windows in the balcony shed a soft light over the auditorium. She saw the walls, papered in deep red embossed with gold medallions. But there were no gold and plush boxes, nor hundreds of gilded chairs!
She couldn’t remain standing there like a statue. If she sat down in one of the orchestra seats, she might be seen. The balcony would be best; besides, from that point of vantage she could see everything better. She moved quietly along the wall, tip-toed up the circular stairs, and gently lowered a seat. The hinge snapped and the seat fell with a bang. The quartet was playing softly, which made matters worse, and only when it began its brilliant finale did she slide into the seat. She looked about her. It was easy to picture the one-time audience, all satin and brocade, glittering with diamonds and jewels. She was jolted out of her pleasant fancies when one of the musicians stepped forward to address the empty auditorium.
“In order to give the student body and our guests some greater insight into the music of Bartok, each member of the quartet will play a solo passage and follow it with his interpretation. In this way, we feel that those unfamiliar with the work of Bartok will learn to understand its profound meaning and—”
The voice of each of the successive players was pleasant. They explained long and difficult passages, preceded by equally long and difficult excerpts from the music. Judy sighed. And this is what her father had promised would be a wonderful evening! She sat there, her lips compressed. If this is what the Juillard Quartet was going to play Thursday night, wild horses wouldn’t drag her here again!
Her eyes ached from the harsh lights on stage. One could hear as well with eyes shut. Her father often did. The musicians’ faces, their voices and their music faded, then melted into an exciting vision….
She recognized immediately the figure of Horace Tabor. His thick, silky mustache was unmistakable. And that was Augusta, his wife, as she upbraided him as she swept the stage, her long, black skirt swishing about her, her eyes flashing, her hair like a tower on her head.
“Is that how you repay me for the many years of hard work, traipsing all the way from Maine to Colorado? And now that you are rich, you think you can desert me for that baby-faced blonde, Baby Doe?” Her voice quivered with anger and disdain.
“Be reasonable, Augusta,” Tabor’s voice was firm, yet sad.
“Reasonable! I will never give you a divorce. Never!”
“But, Augusta, you forget. I have my divorce!”
“One that I will never recognize!” she wildly interrupted.
“Baby Doe is now my wife. I love her!”
And there clinging to Tabor was Baby Doe, her soft curves pressed close to him, her head crowned with golden curls resting on his breast.
“She, that creature, will be your ruin!” Augusta said and pointed her finger derisively. “You’ll never become Senator tied to her! You’ll never be anything! You’re finished!”
“Augusta,” Tabor spoke with sorrowful dignity. “I have made you rich. I’ve given you mines. You want more money, very well! Only I will have Baby Doe….” And he clasped the silent clinging figure closer to him.
Augusta rose to her full height, like an angry prophetess of old. “She’s after your money, your fortune. And when that is gone, she’ll leave you! Some day when you are ragged and poverty-stricken, you will wake up. Wake up!”
Judy felt someone shaking her arm. “Wake up!” the voice repeated. She opened her eyes with difficulty. A boy was bending over her.
“The rehearsal’s over. The quartet will be leaving in a few minutes and lock up.”
Judy looked at him, her mind still hovering between the past and the present. “Who are you?” she asked.
“My name’s Karl. I’m a violin student. I’ve been listening to the rehearsal. Please come along. I don’t want to get locked in here.”
“I just closed my eyes for a minute,” Judy said as she followed him down the balcony steps.
“It was a long minute, closer to thirty,” he laughed. “I saw—or rather heard you—as you lowered that seat—sort of crash landing.”
“I know. I was petrified when it fell. A broken spring, I guess.”
They neared the entrance door. The music stands were folded and the players were talking and laughing among themselves. Judy and Karl left unnoticed and ran swiftly down the two long flights of stairs.
“They’ve stopped practicing!” Judy said, surprised at the silence in the halls.
“Of course, lunch time. Most of the students eat at the houses, you know, the dorms where they live.”
Karl shook his head. “I came weeks before the Music Festival started. I live with my uncle.”
They stood for a moment. The sun felt warm and pleasant after the mustiness of the Opera House. They looked at each other curiously.
“Well,” the boy smiled, about to leave.
“Karl,” Judy said hesitantly. She didn’t want him to go, not just yet. He was nice—didn’t treat her like a child.
“Karl,” she said with a little more confidence, “where are you going to eat your lunch?”
“Anywhere,” and he shrugged his shoulders as he tapped the pocket of his coat bulging with a yellow bag.
“I have my lunch along too. The Chairlift is where I nearly always go. There are benches and one can buy something to drink right there.”
“O.K.,” Karl said. “It’s one of my favorite spots too.” They started walking.
“By the way, what’s your name?”
“Judy,” he repeated. “I once knew a girl who was called Judith.”
“You did? What was she like?”
“It was a long time ago when I lived with a family abroad,” he said quietly and quickly changed the subject.
“How did you like Bartok? Or didn’t you hear any of it?” he said with a good-natured smile.
“Of course I did!” Remembering how little of it she had really heard, she went on carefully choosing her words. “I found it difficult to understand—to—”
“You’re right,” he interrupted, much to Judy’s relief. “I’ve heard it now five times and each time I discover something new in it. It’s great music. Like Milhaud and the other moderns, you’ve got to hear them again and again. I came especially to hear Bartok’s piece because I’m studying it. I can’t wait to hear it again on Thursday night.”
“Oh, yes, Thursday night.”
“Expect to be there?” Karl asked.
“Naturally,” Judy answered. “My parents count on my going.”
Her recent resolution flashed through her mind. “Wild horses wouldn’t drag me here again!” But it was different now. Now there was Karl!
They walked on, Judy matching with ease Karl’s long stride. One block, then another. She gave him a quick sidelong glance. He was much taller than she was. His appearance was all that she could have wished. His eyes—well, she had noticed them from the first, blue and dreamy. Even his chin came in for some scrutiny. Her grandmother had often summed up a person. He’s got a weak chin, vacillating, will never amount to anything—or he’s got a strong chin, shows character. Karl’s, she thankfully noted, was of the strong variety. So absorbed was she in her appraisal of Karl that she was scarcely aware of the silence between them.
When he began to whistle, a sad, plaintive melody, she realized at once that she must say something. Silence could be devastating! How often she and her friends discussed this very problem! What to say to a boy you hardly know, especially when dancing, when it takes all your ingenuity to keep your mind on those intricate steps, or when walking, as at the present moment. She must say something—anything, if only something brilliant or clever came to mind.
“Er—Does your uncle live around here?” she asked brightly.
“No,” Karl said, leaving off his whistling. “If we were walking in the opposite direction, I could have shown you his place on Main Street. He has an apartment over his business. Maybe you’ve seen it? It’s called the Swiss Shop.”
“Yes, I think I have, if it’s the one with the window full of carved peasant figures, gnomes and cuckoo clocks!”
“Yes, that’s it!” Karl interrupted. “I arranged that window display myself,” he added with a touch of pride.
“Really?” Judy tactfully refrained from saying how ugly she had thought it. “I’ve passed it many times. Does the name Swiss Shop mean that your uncle imports these things from Switzerland?”
“Yes, and lots of other articles besides; jewelry and scarves, sweaters for skiers and mountain climbers. Of course, cuckoo clocks are his real hobby.”
“I can’t imagine who would want to buy a cuckoo clock,” Judy ventured to say.
“No, neither could I, at first, but they do. Tourists, lots of them, especially from Texas—they’re our best customers. Personally, I think they’re a nuisance, a mechanical bird popping at you every hour. It can be quite annoying when you practice.”
The jinx of silence was broken for the moment. Judy knew she had to keep the talk flowing. The subject of clocks could be pursued.
“The kind of clocks I like best,” she said, “are the antique ones from our American Colonial days. My grandmother collects them. She has one on every mantel, over every fireplace in her house! They’re really beautiful, usually of mahogany, with delicate pointed spires, like a church steeple. Of course, none of them work. When you really wish to know the time, you have to dash into the kitchen to look at the electric clock fastened to the wall.”
“Well, what’s the good of them—just ornaments?”
“Grandma says they can be made to work if she ever got around to finding a really dependable clockmaker,” Judy finished, rather crestfallen. The subject of clocks was definitely exhausted.
It was while they stood at a crossing, waiting for some cars to pass, that Karl, as if struck by some original idea, said, “How do you like Aspen?”
Judy frowned, summoned up all her dramatic fervor, and in deep, reproachful tones declaimed, “Et tu, Brute!”
Karl turned to her, a puzzled smile on his face, then he laughed outright. “Why do you spout ‘Julius Caesar’? What do you mean?”
“Because that’s all anyone has asked me ever since I came to Aspen! Nor do they ever bother to listen to an answer.”
“So, I’m in their class!” Karl gave her a quick look. “You’re a queer duck!”
His pleasant and forthright manner, above all his acceptance of her as a companion, put her at ease. The ice was broken. They reached the Chairlift, found a bench, and ate their sandwiches. Judy shared her malted milk and consumed most of Karl’s chocolate bar. The empty chairs of the lift went monotonously skyward, unnoticed by the girl and boy.
Judy, now uninhibited by any barrier of self-consciousness, pursued her usual method of satisfying what she termed her inquiring mind. She asked questions and Karl spoke freely.
She learned he would be eighteen in October and would enter his last year at Music and Art High School in New York. That he had private instruction in violin and in theory and practiced three hours a day, week ends longer.
“What will you do after graduation?” the young inquisitor went on.
“I don’t know—I can’t say. College, perhaps? It’s a hope, but a dim one. If I’m to pursue music as a career—things are a bit mixed up just at present.” He paused, as if weighing the matter.
“You see,” he said in a serious voice, “I owe it to my father to become a fine musician, if possible a great one. That’s my mother’s dream. It’s mine also.”
Judy shook her head. It all sounded very dull and depressing.
“Then all your life is just school, music lessons, and practicing. You never have any time for any fun—for sports, for nothing except work!”
“No, perhaps not,” Karl said cheerfully. “But it all depends on what you want to do—to accomplish.” He went on. “But I don’t lack for exercise, if that’s what you mean. I have a bicycle and a newspaper route. I get plenty of fresh air. I even have a pupil. Maybe I’ll get another,” he said hopefully. “The money will be very useful.”
“Money!” For the first time Judy was critical of her new, much-prized friend. Idealists didn’t worry about money. “Is that all that matters? Money?”
“Yes, money is important,” Karl said emphatically. “My mother works at a music shop. She spends two hours and more each day traveling on the subway. When she gets home at night, tired as she is, there’s dinner to prepare, things to do in the house, people to see—a few friends. Concerts, of course. Someone I should hear—always my interests guide her. So it’s up to me to do well in my studies, in my music, and earn a little money to justify her sacrifice. She doesn’t call it sacrifice. She loves what she’s doing and is buoyed up by her ambition, her certainty of my success.” Karl had spoken with considerable heat, but now he added quietly, “So you see how important are the few dollars I earn, to pay part of the cost of my lessons.”
“You didn’t understand me, Karl,” Judy said humbly. “Money is important to us too. But what I meant is that there are other things that don’t cost anything and are important too.” She spoke diffidently, trying to formulate thoughts she had never seriously considered but accepted as the air she breathed.
“There are books—and friends—and art.” Still struggling to express herself, she raised an arm to the mountains. “And nature!”
Karl nodded his head in agreement. “Of course, I like all those things. Who wouldn’t? I love to read, although the only time I have is usually late at night when I should be asleep. As for friends, I would be untruthful if I didn’t admit I miss having close friends, even one. At first, even though I could speak a little English, I was considered a foreigner.”
At Judy’s exclamation, “That’s so narrow-minded!” Karl calmly said, “That all passed in a year or two. I’m friendly with boys in my class and I know a few of the girls. But they’re just as busy as I am, in different ways, perhaps. There are some in the class, of course, who don’t take their future careers seriously and they look down upon those of us who do. They manage to have a good time, sports, girls, movies, everything!” He shrugged his shoulders. “I have to go my own way. Someone has said that to be lonely makes one strong. I’m not so sure. One misses an awful lot.”
For once Judy was at a loss for words. She was touched by Karl’s simple, unaffected words. To think that she had complained of being lonely! Her mother and father led busy lives, but she knew she was never far from their thoughts. They filled the house with gayety. Yes, they worked, her mother and father.
“What about your father, Karl? Doesn’t he….”
“I thought you understood,” Karl interrupted her sharply. “He’s been dead for eight years. He died four months after he was liberated from a concentration camp.”
“Oh!” was all Judy could say.
The floodgates of memory were loosened.
“He was a great violinist.” The boy’s face was transfigured by a passionate devotion. “He had made a great name for himself. My mother told me of his triumphs. And he could have escaped in time as he advised others to do, but he refused to leave until he succeeded in getting my mother and me out of Austria. Then it was too late. He was picked up with others and sent to the Polish border—”
“But you say he was freed, taken from that—that camp—”
“Yes, for three, perhaps it was four wonderful months we were together. But he was a shadow, thin, emaciated, sick. But his spirit was exalted. Something I couldn’t understand, being the child I was. But I felt his excitement, that poured itself out in his love for me. I could feel his eyes bore into me as he talked. His faith was something unbelievable. In spite of all he had gone through, he believed in the goodness of people, the mercy of God. While he was in there, in daily expectation of—you know—he wrote a piece of music—for himself and for the others waiting to die. He sang that piece to me. He played it over and over. ‘Some day,’ he said, ‘it will be the theme of a larger work for the land of our hope—Israel!’ He was only thirty-five when he died.”
“I didn’t mean to bring back all those terrible memories. I’m sorry, Karl,” Judy’s voice trembled.
“There’s nothing to be sorry about any more. What happened to my father was the fate of six million others! Just because they were Jews and other brave ones who dared to risk their own lives to help them!”
He turned to Judy as if to brush away these thoughts. “Even my mother could not dwell on her miseries. When Uncle Yahn asked us to come to America, we were glad. I was even happy.”
He got up, then sat down again. “I never talk about that which has happened. One cannot forget. The present is to be lived—the future lies before us. I believe as my father did that a better world is at hand.” He paused. “I have told you more than I’ve told anyone in the seven years we’ve lived in America. So, enough about me!” He seemed determined to change the subject.
“What are you studying in Aspen, Judy? What instrument do you play?”
“Instrument?” Judy repeated. She found it difficult to make the transition from his tragic story to her own self.
“I’m not a music student. I’m just here because of my parents. I did study the piano for years, but I didn’t enjoy the drudgery of practice.”
Then seeing the disappointment on Karl’s face, she went on, “I love music and I like to play for my own pleasure. But, you see, there’s enough music in our house and some to spare! Father’s a violist and Mother’s a singer. I thought I would round out the picture and try something else.”
“Such as what?” Karl asked smiling, but persistent.
“If you promise not to laugh at me, the fact is I can’t make up my mind! Sometimes I want above everything to become a writer. I love everything about books, biographies, history, poetry, plays and novels, of course. My teacher at school has been very encouraging.” She paused, her brow furrowed in thought. Some instinct warned her not to speak of her more recent passion for acting. “But for the last two years,” she went on, “I’m mad about painting! Last summer and on all vacations I sketch with my grandfather. He says I have talent. Maybe he only says that to make me keep on painting. I asked him for his advice, which shall it be? Do you know what he answered?”
Karl was interested. “What?”
“‘You’ve got a big appetite. Go ahead, do both! There’s no law to prevent an author from illustrating his own stories!’”
Judy shook her head. “You see, darling as he is, he doesn’t take me seriously either.”
Karl laughed. “I like that grandfather of yours. He just wants you to make up your own mind. You still have lots of time to decide. But it’s a long, hard road. A true artist lives only for his art.”
“That’s just the trouble with it. There’s so much I want to see and do, not just be a person dedicated to art! Take my mother and father. They live for their art!” Judy grimaced, “Some day when father’s old, forty-five or fifty, perhaps he’ll get recognition! Everyone says Mother has a wonderful voice. She has engagements all year. But is that enough? No! She has to study languages, acting, and her singing. Lately her manager suggested she take up dancing! Did you ever hear of anything so crazy, at her age!”
“Some fine singers go into operettas and musicals.”
“But she hasn’t time as it is, ever to enjoy herself! At least Father once or twice a year takes off a week end and goes on a ski trip or a mountain climb. But Mother, no! She’s either too tired or must rehearse or the house has been neglected and she wants the chance to catch up on it, or her—well, it’s always something! Even here at Aspen, which she tells everyone is simply idyllic, she works and worries.”
“Worries about you?”
“Me? Of course not! She’s worrying about the concert at which she’s to be the soloist. I couldn’t bear such a life!”
Karl was deep in thought, analyzing, as was his nature, all that Judy so impetuously revealed. “I don’t think you really understand your mother, Judy,” he said. “She possesses that inner fire that drives her on. She’s probably far happier than you think. I’m willing to say, without knowing her, that excepting her family, singing is the biggest thing in her life.” Judy seemed unimpressed. “What are your parents’ names?” he asked.
“Lurie. My father’s John and my mother, Minna.”
“Your father is John Lurie? I’ve heard him play. The students worship him. He’s a wonderful violist! He’ll be a second Primrose, someday.”
“Tell that to Father and he’ll love you. Primrose is his hero,” Judy said airily.
Karl looked at Judy and shook his head. “With such parents, to throw away the chance of being a musician!”
“If everybody did exactly what their parents did, there’d never be any progress or change in the world. Shoemakers would continue to be shoemakers, plumbers would go on plumbing.”
Karl burst out laughing. “Say, little philosopher, how old did you say you were? Sixteen?”
For a moment Judy thought of correcting this slight error. I’m going to be sixteen, but she quickly concluded, one needn’t be too exact! She smoothed her new plaid skirt, looked at it with satisfaction. How lucky that she put it on this morning before her mother had a chance to shorten it. It certainly added distinction—even dignity.
The church bell rang and Karl looked hastily at his watch. One-thirty! “I have to get along.” He got up and threw his coat over his shoulder. “Must be at the Aspen Times by two.”
“Aspen Times?” Judy inquired eagerly, her eyes large with curiosity.
“No, I’m not the music critic,” he said. “I have an easy, pleasant little job there twice a week. Today I distribute posters to hotels, stores, the inns, and nail some on telegraph poles. A boy I know, Fran, is taking me around on the bus.”
“Fran who drives Little Percent?”
“Yes, you know him?”
“Mmmm. Mother says he drives like a madman. He brought us from the Glenwood station to Aspen and he certainly gave us an earful, Aspen—past, present and future.”
Karl was amused. “He knows Aspen all right. Of course, he should, living here all his life.”
“He missed his vocation. He should be driving a large sightseeing bus, a megaphone to his mouth—”
“Nonsense,” Karl said. “I like Fran. He calls himself dumb, but he isn’t. He’s awfully kind and—”
“Oh, you mean he’s got a good heart?” Judy interrupted.
“I mean he’s a good guy generally. You should see him ski! He’s wonderful. He took me on. I hadn’t been on skis since I was nine years old. Before I knew it, he had me doing jumps. A late April day, the snow was perfect, like powder—”
“I’m only joking. I know he’s all right. Remind him for me that I still haven’t climbed any mountains.”
“O.K. I’ll give him the message. By the way, Judy, do you usually eat your lunch here?”
“Yes, I do,” was Judy’s all too prompt answer.
“Then, if I don’t see you at the concert Thursday night, I can find you here sometimes.”
“Not see me at the concert?” she swiftly considered. To listen to Bartok with Karl would be pleasant. Without him….
“Why don’t you come to dinner with us Thursday night?” she said. “Then we can all go together.” She smiled, not a little pleased at her brilliant inspiration.
“I don’t like to barge in on your parents. They don’t know me—”
“That doesn’t matter. Mother adores me to have company. You see, we never fuss.”
“Well, if Uncle Yahn doesn’t feel deserted, it’s a deal. I’d love to know two such artists as John and Minna Lurie!”
When he was long out of sight, Judy recalled she didn’t even know his name or his uncle’s. She thought how she would inform her mother. “I’ve asked Karl whose uncle owns the Swiss Shop to have dinner with us.” “Karl who?” her mother was sure to ask. “Oh, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it,” Judy’s solution to any vexing problem.
She went back to the bench. There was still an hour or more before her mother would arrive home. With considerably less enthusiasm than usual, Judy took out pen and paper to continue the letter to her grandparents begun the day before. She was filling pages, so she imagined, but the pen remained quiet in her hand. Her thoughts were of Karl. What was his life like, living with strangers who took him in out of pity? And his father! She shuddered. She knew something of those vague, unbelievable horrors of the Nazis. But it was all so long ago. Nobody seemed to remember any more. Why?
She folded the still unfinished letter and put it in her bag. Tomorrow, she promised herself, she would write a real letter to them—tell them about Karl. They will understand his sufferings. They will love him.
They will love him! Why only “they”? Why not—“There I go letting my imagination run wild.” And smiling to herself, she collected her possessions and walked leisurely toward her home.
A FAMILY ARGUMENT HAPPILY RESOLVED
Mrs. Lurie mounted the sagging steps of their villa, which she cheerfully if a bit resignedly called her Victorian relic. Elated that she had managed to finish her classes and her teaching ahead of schedule, she was particularly pleased with herself at having resisted the temptation to rehearse her aria.
“No,” she had said with a faint tinge of regret. “I have a date with my daughter. We’re going to the Pool. She’s been looking forward to it for weeks. Tomorrow, perhaps?”
The front door of the house was unlatched as was the trusting custom of all dwellers in Aspen. “Judy!” she called. There was no answer. Even the piano was silent, the warm sunny day having apparently won the battle between the students’ struggle, duty versus pleasure.
Mrs. Lurie was annoyed at not finding Judy at home, but she knew she herself was to blame. In the argument over the camp this morning, she had overlooked telling Judy she would try to be home early. It was only two-thirty. There was ample time, she reflected. She would, in the meanwhile, get ready: put on her yellow sunback cotton, long reserved for this occasion, her yellow and gold sandals. She lightly brushed her brown hair, yellow where the sun had bleached it. She was grateful that nature had provided her with hair that fell in soft, natural waves. Mrs. Lurie was far from vain, but she was pleased at her image reflected in the mirror.
Another trip to the sidewalk and still no sign of Judy! Mrs. Lurie re-entered the house, laid out Judy’s shorts and sleeveless blouse. This was a slight risk she felt impelled to take. Her daughter had for years made a fetish of selecting her own things and rebelled at any infringement of her rights. Mrs. Lurie had encouraged her to do this. But time and again she wished Judy’s taste wasn’t so lurid. That skirt, for example, she wore this morning—not even shortened. Mrs. Lurie glanced at the clock and concluded this was no time to think about such matters. The car that was to fetch them to the Pool would arrive in ten minutes.
She made her third trip to the sidewalk, scanning the street as if by sheer wishing she could conjure up Judy into appearing. At last! There she was, dawdling along at a snail’s pace, walking with an abstracted air as if in another world.
As soon as Judy was within hailing distance, her mother called in a voice that would have roused a Valkyrie from her mountain fastness.
“Hurry, Judy! You’re late!”
Judy looked around, startled at the familiar voice, then seeing her mother, she quickened her steps to a run. There was no thought or remembrance of a visit to the Pool. Her mother was home. She would tell her about Karl. The need to talk was overpowering.
“Mother, I want to tell you something exciting!”
Mrs. Lurie tried not to show her annoyance. “Judy,” she interrupted. “I made such an effort to get home early. Mrs. Freiborg and her daughter will be here in less than ten minutes. Go in and wash up quickly. I’ve laid out your things on the bed. Brush your hair. We can’t keep them waiting.”
But Judy wasn’t listening. Her face was still glowing as she followed her mother into the house. “I’ve got to tell you something quite wonderful that happened. I met the nicest boy—”
“Boy?” Mrs. Lurie turned to her daughter. “What boy? Where?” There was a perceptible note of sharpness in her voice.
“We ate our lunch together at the Chairlift. He’s a music student and studies the violin.”
“That’s nice, dear,” Mrs. Lurie interrupted, giving Judy an indulgent smile. The boy, thank goodness, wasn’t some nondescript. A music student had an open sesame to Mrs. Lurie’s regard.
“But now, hurry, dear,” she said brightly. “You’ll tell me all about him later.”
“Later, always later,” Judy grumbled to herself, her high spirits dashed for the moment. “You know, it only takes me a few minutes to change.”
“And,” Mrs. Lurie added, following her own train of thought, “please don’t wear that skirt again until I’ve taken inches off the hem. It’s bad enough without trailing your ankles.”
Mrs. Lurie gave a noncommittal grunt as she packed bathing suits and caps into a zippered bag. Judy put on the shorts and blouse without any audible objection and stood near the mirror.
“In this sort of thing you’ll have to admit, Mother, everyone looks alike. But a skirt like my plaid gives one a certain air—personality!”
Her mother shrugged her shoulders. She knew it was useless to argue, but she couldn’t resist saying, “I think you’re more appropriately dressed as you are now, for a warm summer day. As for that skirt which you chose against my better judgment, all I can say is that it rivals the crazy quilt on your grandmother’s Colonial bed.”
An impatient honk of the horn ended the argument as Judy and her mother hurried to the walk just as the dusty blue sedan pulled up in front of the door.
Judy sat in the back seat next to a pale, freckled-faced girl with straight honey-colored hair. Her large hazel eyes were continuously fastened on her mother.
“This is Anne,” Mrs. Lurie smiled at both girls. “I know you’re going to like each other.”
Mrs. Freiborg, a slight, distinguished-looking woman whose manner reflected the importance her husband had achieved in the music world, also turned and said affably, “I’m glad, Judy, you and Anne will get acquainted at last.” Immediately both mothers were engaged in an animated conversation and promptly forgot the existence of their daughters.
The girls sat in strained silence. Judy wondered why her mother was so sure she would like this girl. With an effort she broke the silence.
“I’ve never been in the pool as yet, have you?”
“Yes,” Anne said in a flat voice, reluctantly shifting her eyes from her mother’s back to Judy’s face. “I take swimming lessons.”
“I’ve been swimming for ages,” Judy said with a slightly superior air, “but I would love to learn how to dive.”
“I used to be so scared of the water,” Anne confided, “but I’m not anymore. Mother says lots of girls are afraid—”
“Did she? I guess I belong to the foolhardy type. You still scared?”
“No. I find it easy in the pool. I wonder why it’s so different from the lake where I just used to sink.”
“If the pool’s salt water, that would explain it.”
“What difference would that make, being salty or not?” Anne asked with a puzzled look.
“Because in salt water, you’re buoyant, that is light. If you ever tried swimming in the ocean, you would immediately see the difference.”
Anne shook her head still uncomprehending. Judy tried to remember the explanation in her science book. “You—er—that is, the body displaces less water when it’s salty. You sort of float, being so much lighter.”
She tried to elucidate her point more clearly. Science, she knew, wasn’t her strong point. Then she dismissed the subject with a shrug.
There was no further conversation, scientific or otherwise, and the girls seemed unfeignedly delighted to part company at the parking area.
As they walked toward the hotel, Mrs. Freiborg discovered several acquaintances. She stopped with each, just to say a word, but the minutes lengthened and added to Judy’s impatience.
“Mother, must we wait for them? Can’t we go ahead?”
Mrs. Lurie unexpectedly agreed and tactfully informed Mrs. Freiborg they would meet later.
Entering the hotel with her mother, Judy felt considerably more at ease than on her previous visit.
The sunny terrace dotted with tables and gay umbrellas was a lovelier sight too than she remembered. To her surprise everyone seemed to know her mother. Their progress toward the pavilion was a sort of slow triumphal procession. “Come back and sit with us—” “We’ve saved room for you at our table.” Again and again they were stopped and Judy introduced. There followed the kindly inquiries, “And how do you like Aspen, Judy?” And as usual, before the girl could think of a reply, the talk drifted into other channels.
At last they reached the pavilion. Dressed in their bathing suits, they stepped gingerly on the wet, slippery stones of the pool. Instead of the longed-for plunge into the water, Mrs. Lurie suggested they first get a good sunburn. “Besides,” she added mysteriously, “someone’s coming here especially to meet you.”
Judy slumped down on the thick carpet of grass near her mother’s table. She gazed at the water, enchanted by the azure color that was achieved, as she learned later, by the paint on the bottom of the pool.
At an adjoining table, two women were playing Scrabble with fierce concentration, but their absorption in the game didn’t prevent their cross-table conversation with numerous friends.
“How did you like the concert, Minna? I admit there’s no one who can conduct the way Izler Solomon does—”
Judy was left with her own thoughts. She barely noticed her mother leave her seat to meet a young girl coming toward her. But she looked up sharply when she heard her say, “Lynne, I’m so glad you were able to make it. I almost gave up!”
So that was Lynne! Judy watched as they stood talking. She’s pretty, and very young looking, Judy admitted grudgingly. Yes, for once, her parents were right. She was beautiful! Judy admired the slender, graceful figure in the black skin-tight bathing suit. She noticed the coal-black hair and how Lynne wore it in a chignon low on her neck.
Judy saw her mother nodding in her direction. “They’re talking about me. Mother’s probably telling her all my shortcomings and my latest—that I don’t like the idea of going to a camp—that is, her camp. Probably asking her to give me a talking to.” Just as Judy feared, her mother returned to her table and Lynne came directly to where Judy sat scowling.
“Hello!” said Lynne, sitting down next to her on the grass. “I’m Lynne and you’re Judy, the girl who doesn’t want to go to my camp. Is that right?” she asked with a delightfully disarming smile.
Judy found her anger dissolving at Lynne’s unexpected warmth.
“I don’t especially care about a day camp,” Judy said lamely.
“Why? Did you ever go to one?”
“No,” Judy said, surprised at Lynne’s directness. “But I’ve friends who went and were bored.” Judy knew she would have to defend her opinion if she was to escape. “I feel as they do,” she went on. “I like to paint when I feel like painting, swim or read or do any activity when I’m in the mood, not just at certain set periods.”
“I see,” Lynne said, with just a suspicion of a smile on her lips. “You’re afraid of regimentation. But don’t you find that unless one plans to do a certain thing at a definite period, one never gets around to it at all?”
“I do,” Judy said, but even as she spoke, she was conscious of the many things she never managed to get around to doing. “Of course, I’d feel very differently about going to a sleep-away camp,” Judy went on with more confidence. “Sometimes you go on canoe trips and long, exciting hikes, mountain climbs and spending nights in a hut, preparing your own meals—things you can’t possibly do by yourself.”
“That’s true,” Lynne agreed, “but no one could recommend such a program for very young children. Those are the ones we try to reach. They can live at home with their parents and yet for part of each day have companionship of other children and do interesting things.”
“A lecture instead of a swim,” Judy groaned inwardly and yet she couldn’t help being interested in spite of herself.
“You see,” Lynne went on, “children of professional people, musicians especially, frequently have long separations from their parents—tours, long or short, recitals, rehearsals at all sorts of inconvenient times. They miss their mothers and fathers. And I find that it’s just as important for the parents who want their children with them when it’s at all possible. Here at Aspen our camp serves such a purpose.”
“Yes,” Judy said. “I guess it’s wonderful for young children, but I don’t fit into that picture. I’ve always had my grandparents in such emergencies and when I don’t, I manage all right by myself.” Her eyes wandered to the pool.
Lynne touched her shoulder. “Let’s get our swim now. We can finish talking later.”
Lynne gave a few deft twists to hair, tucked it under her cap and went swiftly to the diving board. Judy watched as she ascended the high board. There was a splash as her body, taut and graceful, hit the water. A few seconds later, Lynne coming up from her dive called to Judy to follow.
Judy shook her head. “I can’t dive.”
“Then fall in or use the ladder.”
Obediently Judy went to the ladder, holding the rail firmly as she descended the slippery steps. With her back to the pool, she braced herself for the shock of cold water as she cautiously reached for the last rung. Wildly trying to grasp the receding rail, she fell in, hitting the back of her head with a resounding smack. With a few strokes she came to the surface only to find Lynne laughing.
“That’s what you call a perfect take-off. How’s the head?”
“The head’s all right, but the water! It’s warm! It’s like swimming in a bathtub.” Judy grimaced with keen disappointment. Her eyes were burning and her nose was itching. “And it’s full of chlorine,” she added indignantly.
“You’ll get used to the chlorine and the temperature is divine. We ordinary folks love it. Come on, you polar bear, I’ll race you to the end of the pool.”
They enjoyed the swimming, but Judy soon tired. “I can’t understand it, Lynne,” she said, breathing like a whale, “I usually can swim a half-hour without feeling it. Now after only ten minutes, I’m pooped.”
“So am I,” Lynne said cheerfully. “It’s the altitude in Aspen that makes breathing difficult, especially swimming or mountain climbing. I’m gradually getting used to it, and so will you. Let’s go out. I have a big bath towel and we can stretch out on the grass and dry in the sun.”
“Hi, Lynne!” A man was walking toward them accompanied by Mrs. Lurie, Mrs. Freiborg, and Anne. “Lynne, aren’t you coming in for another swim?”
“I’ll join you later, Allen. Judy and I want to rest for a while.
“Allen’s my husband. Don’t you think he’s handsome? And he’s wonderful!” Lynne’s eyes sparkled. “Don’t think I’m prejudiced. Everyone loves him.”
Judy’s eyes followed the tall, powerful, dark-skinned figure. “He must be very strong,” she said, not knowing what else to say.
“And sweet and considerate and talented! Don’t get me started on the subject of Allen!” However, she went right on. “He helps me at the camp too. Twice a week when rehearsals are over early, he comes over and plays baseball with the little ones. They adore him! Can you imagine those tots hitting the ball with a bat bigger than they are and racing for bases? It’s a riot!”
The sun, even as the afternoon was drawing to a close, was still warm and glowing. Lynne turned on her side, her face close to Judy’s.
“Let’s go back to what we were talking about. No day camp can hope to offer the things you speak of, Judy. Our children are young—”
“That’s my real objection, Lynne. I met Anne today. She’s supposed to be one of the older campers. Maybe she’s eleven or twelve, but she seems so much younger—”
“Yes, I’m surprised you noticed it. Anne’s shy besides being a little immature in some ways. With some children the process of growing up takes longer,” Lynne said thoughtfully. “I won’t go into all the reasons for it, but in Anne’s case, she’s finding herself. She’s very talented in singing and acting. Our little camp has done a lot for her already. She’s going to come through fine.”
“Lynne,” Judy said hesitantly, “I hope you won’t mind my being awfully frank with you. I really can’t see myself as a camper with such youngsters. Now if I could help in some way—I get along with children—”
“What did you say?” Lynne interrupted excitedly. “You’ve given me a terrific idea! I think it was taking shape inside me all afternoon while we was talking.” She stared at Judy appraisingly. “You could become my helper! You’re intelligent and for fifteen—”
“Nearly sixteen,” Judy interrupted.
“So much the better,” Lynne smiled happily, “I don’t expect you to understand these children and their problems. That isn’t necessary.” Lynne paused, expecting Judy to say something. But the girl was so surprised by the sudden turn of the conversation that she wasn’t sure she had understood Lynne correctly.
“As a matter of fact,” Lynne went on, completely captured by her idea, “I’ve been trying to get someone to replace Claire. She has to return home next week. You’ll be perfect. Claire has been responsible for songs and stories, arts and crafts for the younger ones. Your mother told me you’re rather good at that sort of thing. What a blessing for me! Arts and crafts—that’s where you could fit in. What do you say, Judy?”
“I love to paint and make things, but I couldn’t teach anyone, honestly, I couldn’t.”
“There’s no need to teach,” Lynne said reassuringly. “The children create. We only direct them how to use their tools. If you come while Claire is still with us, you could watch how she makes things out of wire and puppets out of papier-mâché. And in the meantime you will get to know the children. I have a feeling you’ll do well.”
Judy was overwhelmed and a little frightened. Yet, she was already seeing herself telling Karl about this new, this fantastic thing, a job!
“You’ve never seen my camp?” Lynne asked.
Judy shook her head, still immersed in an imaginary conversation with Karl.
Lynne took no notice of Judy’s abstraction and lovingly described the camp site, an immense corral that belonged to a farmer who leased it to her for the summer. “There are cows and a few horses who graze at a comfortable distance. The children love the animals.”
Judy was now listening, hanging on every word.
“There are two ponds with ducks and every morning there is a regular ceremony of feeding them with chunks of bread donated by the local bakery. On the sandy beach of the pond the children have their sings, which they grandly call concerts. When the singing is over, Claire tells them a story and encourages them to act it out.”
“That must be fun,” Judy said.
“Twice a week I take a group of the children riding. They love the stables and the horses and the ride over the dirt road into the open country. While I’m away, Claire is in charge.”
“How long are you gone from camp?” Judy asked worriedly. The words “in charge” had serious overtones.
“Just a little over an hour. There’s a shed with tables and benches that we use as an art room, and a hayloft houses our much overworked phonograph and the costumes for our playlets.”
“It sounds like a very busy morning,” Judy said, a little dubious of her ability to carry on such a varied program.
“Not really,” Lynne said. “At twelve-thirty we are all ravenously hungry and we spend the lunch period in our grove of aspen trees. It’s a cool and restful spot, a lovely end to our morning. At one o’clock we drive the children back to their homes.”
“It sounds wonderful,” Judy said breathlessly. “I think I would like to try it.”
“Good. Let’s start tomorrow. And, Judy,” Lynne said with that dazzling smile Judy loved, “I don’t expect to exploit my young helper. While I can’t pay you a salary, your mother will not have to pay any tuition for you—or she can pay and you receive it back as a bonus. That’s the arrangement we have with Claire, except that she lived with us and was able to take advantage of music events—and dates! Judy, you’ll get good experience as a junior councilor-in-training. Do you like the idea?”
“I think it’s absolutely terrific. I never dreamed of anything like that. I can hardly wait to tell Karl.”
Lynne looked a little bewildered. “Karl? Who’s he?”
“He’s a boy I met, a music student. He believes that everyone, I mean boys and girls, should help the family earn money.”
“Oh? And at what tender age does he suggest one starts?”
Before Judy could answer, the swimmers returned, dripping pools of water around them and demanding that Lynne and Judy join them for a last swim.
Lynne got up and addressed the little circle, calling them by name, “Allen, Mrs. Lurie, Mrs. Freiborg, Anne, I have an announcement to make. I want to present a new member of the Festival Day Camp staff, Judy, our new junior councilor.”
There was a faint gasp from Mrs. Lurie. Then everyone applauded and went joyfully to the pool for that last dip.
It was undeniably rewarding, Judy discovered, to be suddenly elevated to the position of junior councilor. She received the congratulations of her mother, still in a mild state of shock, and an enthusiastic pat of assurance from her father.
But one thought clouded Judy’s satisfaction. When would she be able to see Karl? How was she to tell him her news about camp? If she didn’t let him know at once why she could no longer meet him for lunch at the Chairlift, he might think she’d forgotten. Worse still, that she didn’t care!
In a novel she had picked up and eagerly devoured, the word “tryst” was prominent in the story. In fact, all the harrowing events that pursued the unlucky heroine were the result of her not keeping a certain appointment. As Judy sat brooding over this knotty problem, her eyes fell on the telephone—of course. Her mother was busy in the kitchen preparing dinner. Her father was out for the moment. Now was undoubtedly the perfect time. She looked up the number in the directory and called. Karl himself answered the telephone.
“It’s me, Judy.” The great news was conveyed. “Wonderful! Good for you!” Judy hurried on to the crux of the matter. “I can’t ever make it for lunch any more—What’s that? A customer? I should come to the Swiss Shop after camp? Yes, I can. All right, we’ll decide then—”
The next two days of Judy’s apprenticeship were rather a let-down. It wasn’t only that Claire was as beautiful as a Greek goddess, and withal so capable! Judy watched her as she transformed a bit of wire into an amusing figure. With what patience she encouraged the little ones to fingerpaint while at the same time, with exasperating ease, she gave casual direction to those busy with their puppets!
It was small consolation to know Claire was eighteen. But the real hurt was inflicted by the children themselves. They either ignored her or made unflattering remarks.
“Your hair’s not nearly as nice as Claire’s,” one pretty little innocent observed.
“It’s cool this way,” Judy said, apparently unruffled, but she touched the offending pony tail with a mental note to attempt something more sophisticated.
Willie, whose affection she believed she had won by bestowing much labor and many smiles upon his daubs, moved his head closer and closer to hers with fascinated interest. At last he pointed to her teeth, “It comes out at night when you sleep, doesn’t it?”
Judy gave an embarrassed laugh. She had forgotten the existence of the small wire brace she wore over a recalcitrant tooth to keep it from protruding.
“Don’t be silly. When you grow up and one of your teeth is crooked, you’ll have to wear a brace like mine, maybe a much larger one.”
“Does it hurt?” he persisted.
“No, it doesn’t.” She closed her mouth with a snap. Otherwise the words “little brat” might have been audible.
Claire was still there, kind and helpful, but a trifle unconscious of the children’s studied indifference.
“Let me help you,” Judy said time and again, only to be rebuffed.
Less than a week later Claire left amid a scene of tears and heartbreaking farewells. She had scarcely left the camp premises when the children of their own accord turned to Judy, ready to transfer their affection to her. How could they forget their adored Claire so quickly! Judy wondered if she had even been so callous or so lacking in loyalty in that faraway time when she was seven or eight years old.
When she saw Karl at the Swiss Shop, he made light of her complaints. “All kids are like that.”
The shop was empty. Uncle Yahn was taking his siesta. “All Europeans take an afternoon nap. Besides, he gets up at five o’clock every morning.”
They sat down at his improvised desk on which were spread sheets of music.
“I’ve been trying to enlarge that little melody of my father’s. Write it for violin, piano, and oboe, as a start—I want to make something fine out of it. I will—some day! But I don’t know enough yet about other instruments.” He shrugged his shoulders. “Maybe I’m just sentimental.”
“No, it’s a wonderful melody,” Judy said, surprised at her own vehemence. “You can make variations on it, like Paganini did on his beautiful theme. Why don’t you talk to my father about it? He loves composing.”
“Your mother says it’s all right for me to come?” Karl asked.
“Of course,” Judy said, painfully aware she never did get the chance to tell her mother she had invited Karl for dinner.
“Seven o’clock all right?”
“Or before,” Judy said with decision. She felt certain that her mother would put no obstacles in her path now that it was a “fait accompli,” another expression from that same, much-prized novel.
At home that evening she avoided discussing the less happy details of her day at camp and artfully turned the conversation to the Juillard Concert.
“Which reminds me, Minna,” her father said, “I have two extra tickets. I wonder whom we can ask?”
“I—er—asked Karl to come with us,” Judy said haltingly. “He has his own student ticket, but I asked him to have dinner with us so that we could all—”
“Karl?” her father asked. “You know him, Minna?”
Mrs. Lurie shook her head. “And why to dinner?” she asked, her eyebrows raised.
“You remember, Mother. He’s the music student I told you about. Studies the violin. He lives with his uncle who owns the Swiss Shop. I tried to tell you—” Judy said, almost in tears.
“That’s all right. Only I wish you wouldn’t be so impulsive. However, since you’ve asked him,” her mother added with a smile, “there’s nothing more to be said.”
“I’ll bring in the dessert,” Judy volunteered, happy to escape any further discussion.
“I suppose there’s no harm in having him, especially as Judy has already done the inviting. We’ll have the uncle too,” Mrs. Lurie added as an afterthought. “It might be interesting to meet a native Aspenite.”
Judy, standing at the kitchen door, listened breathlessly to this exchange.
She entered immediately carrying the bowl of stewed peaches. “Oh you don’t have to invite the uncle,” she said, forgetting she was not supposed to have been within earshot.
“May as well be hung for a sheep as a fowl,” her father said enigmatically. “Your mother is asking them both.”
“Karl will be glad. He didn’t want to leave his uncle before dinner,” Judy said, suddenly convinced she had the most understanding parents in the world.
On the night of the concert the guests arrived in good time. Karl seemed completely overshadowed by his large, ruddy-faced relative. After the uneasy introductions, Uncle Yahn singled out Judy and handed her a prettily wrapped parcel.
“This is for you, a little present.”
“What is it?” Judy asked, her eyes glistening with anticipation.
“Open it and see for yourself,” Uncle Yahn smilingly ordered.
It was a small cuckoo clock! She swallowed hard to conceal her disappointment, and with a mischievous glance at Karl’s glum face said, “Isn’t it adorable!”
Uncle Yahn beamed. “You see, Karl, I told you she would find it most admirable.”
Mr. Lurie and Uncle Yahn seemed to take to each other at once. There was a lovely sunset, just perfect for their cookout. Both were hovering over the crude stones of the grille, watching the steak but more intent on their talk, skiing and music.
Mrs. Lurie, relaxed and comfortable in a reclining chair, was entertaining Karl.
“There I was, announced in all the papers and posters as the great lyric soprano,” she smiled. “You know the extravagant language of those billings—and my accompanist had broken his wrist an hour after we got off the plane. The manager combed the city for someone to accompany me. We decided to cancel the engagement when at the very last moment a noted pianist, just returned from his tour—”
Judy had heard the story. Her attention wavered as she caught snatches of the conversation between her father and Uncle Yahn. She heard Karl’s name and moved a little closer to them.
“It looks as if Karl will have an unusual opportunity, that is, if he proves himself worthy.” Uncle Yahn wagged his head mysteriously.
“What opportunity?” her father asked.
“It’s a little too early to talk. Nothing is definite, but my sister-in-law’s letters in the last two weeks are filled with this miracle, as she calls it.”
Mr. Lurie was interested and Uncle Yahn went on to explain. “A close friend of my poor brother managed to escape to America before it was too late. It was my brother who insisted that he get out. He was unmarried,” Uncle Yahn went on, “and could take the risks and he did. After many hair-raising experiences, he reached America and because he knew someone in Chicago, he went there. He got a job as a waiter in a restaurant. The rest is like a fairy tale. He met a man, a customer in the restaurant. They became acquainted, drawn together by the love of music. This stranger offered him a job. No, not as a musician but as a worker in his plastic factory. Now comes the fairy tale. After ten years, he is now a partner and rich! A few months ago he came to New York on business. He stopped in at Ditson’s to buy some music. Karl’s mother works there. They met. You can imagine the scene! He insists upon providing for Karl’s musical education. He says it is only justice!”
“And now?” Mr. Lurie asked.
“If Karl will put his music before everything else, put himself in Mr. Werther’s hands, his future is assured! He will have the best teachers, study abroad.”
“But why abroad?” Mr. Lurie interrupted. “We have the finest schools and teachers right in America.”
“That is true,” Uncle Yahn conceded, “but Mr. Werther received his training in Vienna. He feels that with the stamp of European approval, Karl will achieve recognition so much sooner.” He smiled and shrugged his shoulders. “The decision need not be made for a year, perhaps two. Karl finishes high school in a year. Then it will be up to him.”
The steak was finished and placed on a platter. There was laughter and anecdotes and beer. Judy mechanically chewed a piece of steak, her eyes staring at some far-off place. Why did this busybody of a rich man have to come and snatch Karl away just when she was getting to—she hesitated to name her feeling—like him so much.
She glanced at Karl. He looked untroubled and was enjoying himself. So was Uncle Yahn. She was worrying needlessly. It was only talk—Isn’t that what Uncle Yahn said? The decision need not be made for a year or two. So much could happen! Karl might prefer to go to the Curtis Music School in Philadelphia or David Mannes right in New York. Anything was better than having an ocean between them!
If she studied like mad, she could be through with school and college in six years—be equipped to teach—earn money—six interminable years! And why college, she argued with herself. Many clever people never—
“You’ve hardly touched the good meat on your plate,” Uncle Yahn observed, gently nudging her. “Dreaming instead of eating! That’s not what makes a nice, plump young lady.”
Nor did she fall asleep during the two hours of chamber music of the Juillard Quartet. She was too excited. Karl sat next to her, his fists under his chin, his body thrust forward, his eyes glued to the players. An occasional smile and a well-directed poke from his elbow helped her to listen.
During intermission she told Karl she liked Bartok better, hearing the music a second time. “And I love seeing the red and gold opera house again. But,” she added laughing, “the music can’t compare with the thrilling play I dreamed up about Baby Doe and Horace Tabor when you woke me up.”
After the concert, the Luries decided to prolong the evening’s pleasure. They would go to Smuggler’s Café for refreshments and talk. Uncle Yahn excused himself, “No night life for me.” But Lynne and Allen joined the party and Judy’s cup of delight was full. They too would meet Karl.
Candles dimly lit the room. A boy played the guitar and sang. When he left off strumming and singing, someone started the jukebox. Wonderful, exciting jazz! Allen and Karl were discussing the merits of their instruments, where they were bought, how many thousands of dollars it took to own a really good violin or viola—Lynne was talking camp—Judy was filled with a vast content and smiled at everyone.
The sputtering candles in the dimly lit room, the singing and guitar, the jazz still throbbing, waiters hurrying by with ice cream floats dizzily topped with whipped cream—Lynne and Allen, her parents, gay and carefree—above all, Karl! This was Aspen life! At last she was part of it!
A SMALL TRIUMPH
Judy’s days seemed to speed on wings. Since she had joined the camp staff, she was given a wider scope for her talents as Lynne recognized her interest in stories and her flair for translating them into dramatic episodes.
All camp activities now centered upon the coming exhibition for Parents’ Day. Old sketches were reworked. A new one, its selection and production left in Judy’s hands, was now in rehearsal. Examples of the varied arts and crafts ornamented the walls of the shed. Judy made a lively poster of a boy and girl dripping rainbow-hued paint from their attenuated fingers pointing to the words, “See What We Made.” The repertory of songs and dances was played endlessly on the wheezing victrola and rehearsed with zest. Allen came as frequently as possible to coach his diminutive baseball team and then stayed to hammer away, improvising props and sets. It was work but lots of fun, and the children were eager to stay an extra hour to perfect their show.
Yet there was hardly a day that Judy didn’t see Karl. After the children were driven to their homes, the camp bus dropped her at the Swiss Shop. The hour, sometimes two, spent with Karl cemented what was now a close, a tender friendship. They recommended their favorite reading to each other and exchanged books. Sometimes they argued about world affairs, about which neither was too well informed; or religion, a subject that Judy suddenly discovered as being important. Karl knew someone in the Israeli Symphony Orchestra and there was much talk and speculation about that little country. Judy found Karl’s ardor and interest in Israel contagious, and the remembered discussions in her grandparents’ home took on new meaning.
Judy was happy, unspeakably happy, until for four days her well-timed visits to the Swiss Shop had been fruitless! Karl was nowhere in evidence. She was surprised and hurt, but too proud to mention anything to Lynne. Like the heroines in her literary world, she put aside her personal grief and rehearsed her little troupe with fanatical zeal. The words frequently heard in her home, “The show must go on,” were frequently in her thoughts.
At last everything was in readiness. Figures of wire dangled in the breeze over the entrance and the puppets sat on the shelves ready for their part in the show. Behind a screen were the props for Billy the Goat. The set for Peter and Wendy was hauled out of the shed. There were only twenty campers, but all twenty were eager to shine.
It was a perfect day. The parents and guests arrived at ten in the morning and would stay through lunch. They sat on the hard, backless benches in the hot sun of the compound and watched the program with enthralled interest. When it was over, the applause was terrific.
Lunch time was a mad scramble. The children rushed to extract their individual lunches from the heap of lunch boxes, all singularly alike. Drinks and ice cream had to be taken from the coolers and benches carried up the hillock to the grove of aspen trees. Everyone, or nearly everyone, helped. Mrs. Freiborg, assisting Lynne and Judy to carry one of the benches, never ceased to express her enthusiasm.
“And,” she continued as they awkwardly struggled up the path, “I can’t thank you enough, Lynne, for all you’ve done for Anne.”
Lynne gave a pleased smile and Mrs. Freiborg went on. “I don’t say that Anne was the most wonderful Wendy, but that she consented to play the role at all surprised me. It was always Peter she fancied and yet she played Wendy with such feeling.”
“Let’s drop the bench right here,” Lynne said. “I’m too tired to carry it any further.” She sat on it and motioned the others to do the same.
“Don’t thank me for Anne’s performance. Judy is the little wizard who deserves our thanks. I helped occasionally with the direction. Allen and the farmer who owns this property built Wendy’s house out of some discarded plywood. Luckily it didn’t fall apart as it did at one of the rehearsals. But Judy selected the sketch, cast the players, and produced it.”
Mrs. Freiborg smiled, “Judy?”
“Yes,” Lynne answered. “She had the idea that Anne would rid herself of the concept of not wanting to grow up by having her take the part of Wendy, a mother image. A sense of responsibility, a maturity would develop—gradually.”
“Lynne,” Judy interrupted, bewildered by these high-flown words, “you know I didn’t figure it out that way! I just thought it would do Anne good to look after someone else, like the Lost Boys—and after the first try-out, I saw she could do it.”
“And your instinct or whatever you choose to call it was correct.” Lynne put her arm around her young assistant.
Yes, it was a small triumph for Anne and for Judy as well. Mr. Lurie strutted about the camp accepting compliments, he who was so modest about his own work. And Mrs. Lurie, still sitting in the hot sun, smiled with pride whenever she caught her daughter’s eye.
Judy was grateful her mother had come. She knew it entailed her giving up an important rehearsal that morning and that she would have to make it up that afternoon and again in the evening. Her debut with the entire Festival Orchestra was only five days off. It was from Lynne and Allen that Judy learned how much depended on this performance. Success might lead to an engagement at the City Center Opera Company of New York! As Judy mopped her own moist face, she thought more than once that her mother ought to get out of that sun.
At last the picnic, the games, the excitement were over! The parents took the children home. Allen was busy burning rubbish while Lynne and Judy were methodically taking down the exhibits.
Judy was thankful the tension of the last few days was behind her. Now she would have the leisure to think. Why hadn’t she heard from Karl in five days? Had she said anything? Absent-mindedly she fingered a puppet and threw it into the rubbish heap.
“What are you doing?” Lynne asked sharply. “Those puppets are not to be thrown out! The children expect to take them home.”
She glanced at Judy’s troubled face, then said with her usual gentleness, “Why are you scowling? I thought you’d be happy. Everyone praised you—”
“It’s nothing, Lynne. I guess it’s the heat.”
“But it’s much cooler now.” Lynne’s eyes twinkled. She thought of one subject certain to chase the gloom from Judy’s face.
“By the way,” she said with affected nonchalance, “guess who I met this morning at the post office. Karl!”
Judy perked up perceptibly.
“I asked him where he’d been keeping himself, that I hadn’t set eyes on him for a week.”
“What did he say?” Judy mumbled almost inaudibly.
“That he’s been busy, frightfully busy. Imagine, he’s entered a competition, written an original piece based on some theme—he was rather vague about it. But he’s been working on it every spare moment and expects to play it himself. He had to get an accompanist—your father’s idea. Isn’t it exciting?”
“Yes, it is. It’s wonderful! Did you say something about an accompanist? Who is he, Lynne?”
“It’s a she, a very nice girl, one of the students,” Lynne said brightly, too preoccupied with the cleaning up to notice the deep flush that suddenly appeared on Judy’s face. Lynne went on, “He put up a notice on the bulletin board and got an immediate response. The girl volunteered her services and isn’t charging Karl anything.”
“Really?” Judy said, immediately suspicious.
“Yes. You see it works both ways. She’s anxious to perfect herself as an accompanist and is interested in helping Karl at the same time.”
Judy emitted a long, skeptical “Hmmmm.” Interested in Karl, not in helping him, she thought to herself as she tried to shake off her mounting anguish. She tormented the wire figure in her hand. “What’s she like?” Judy asked in a tone elaborately casual.
“I really don’t know much about her, but I gather from what Karl said that she’s an older girl, that is, older than he is. He seems very pleased about her.”
Judy gloomily digested this piece of information while lost in thought. Karl had made no effort to tell her the great news—no. He had a new confidant now, had no need for her. Only her grandfather, voicing Hamlet’s foreboding of evil, would understand. “O my prophetic soul” now found a sympathetic echo in Judy’s heart.
Lynne looked up and eyed Judy keenly. “Why are you looking so tragic? I know what’s the trouble,” she said affectionately. “You’re just overtired. Let’s drop everything and go to the pool. It’ll be cool and refreshing and we can finish up tomorrow. What do you say?”
“I don’t know. I ought to go home.”
“Help me pull this last box of stuff into the shed. There, that’s fine. Allen, don’t burn anything more. We want to leave as soon as possible.”
After everything was carefully stowed away, Lynne walked to the log fence. “Let’s sit up here until Allen’s ready.”
Judy climbed up next to Lynne.
“On Saturday,” Lynne said, “we have a beautiful, free day, no concert, no rehearsal, no camp. For a long time Allen and I have planned to visit Toklat. You’ve heard of the huskies, the wonderful Alaskan dogs that live there, trained and bred by Stuart Mace.”
“I think you’ll love seeing them. Allen’s crazy about dogs and he’s been dying to go there ever since we came to Aspen. And not a stone’s throw from Toklat is a real ghost town, the kind you’ve been babbling about. Ashcroft, once larger than Aspen, is still deserted after seventy years.”
“You mean the silver-mining town?” Judy asked, interested in spite of herself. Karl’s faithlessness receded for the moment.
Lynne nodded. “The same. And maybe we’ll top off the day with a ride up the Chairlift.”
“You mean—you want me to go along?”
“Of course.” Pleased at having roused Judy from her lethargy, Lynne said, “I’m glad you like the idea. It’ll be fun having you with us, almost like having my sister Jane. I miss my family. I haven’t seen them in a year. So you see how much I need you!”
Is Lynne saying that just to cheer me?
“Saturday? I’d love to go. It’s wonderful of you to ask me.” After a pause she sighed, “How I wish Karl could come too—”
“Well, maybe he can—but Saturday is a very busy time at the Swiss Shop—but I can ask him.”
“He’ll probably have other things to do besides the Swiss Shop.” Lynne looked at Judy, understanding the girl’s troubled spirit.
“Karl or no Karl, we’re going to have a good time! Now, what about that swim in the pool?”
“No. I’ll go home. Mother’s rehearsing this afternoon and again tonight. She’ll be tired. I want to help with dinner.”
As they bumped along the stony road that separated the camp from Aspen, Judy was silent. She thought of the sad things she would have to communicate to her diary. Her happiness was forever gone! Her lips twisted into what was intended to be a cynical smile. A broken heart? As a potential writer she was critical of the phrase. No, not broken, but damaged, certainly. Karl had deserted her for another!
A CATASTROPHE WITH A HAPPY ENDING
Dinner was long over. The dishes washed, only the burned pots remained. While preparing the meal, Judy’s thoughts had been engaged on more important matters. Karl’s cruel neglect! She told herself, so what? It isn’t the end of the world! But in her heart she felt it was. Mr. Lurie, perched on the step-ladder, was putting away into the inaccessible closets plates and platters Judy had managed to assemble for this, her first experiment in preparing dinner.
As she scrubbed at the stubborn stains on the aluminum, she was thoughtful. She’d come home early, early enough to see her mother wasn’t feeling well. Minna had sunk into a chair, too tired, she admitted, to move. It was at Judy’s insistence that she went to bed. What mattered that the onions were burnt to a crisp, that the creamed spinach had emerged like green glue? The smiles and pleasantries of her parents were compensation enough.
Minna had sat through the dinner, refreshed by her nap, the color once more back in her cheeks. She ate little. Occasionally she touched her throat, a gesture no one noticed. It was only when pouring coffee that her hand trembled so violently that the cup and saucer fell from her hands.
“What made me do that?” she asked in a troubled whisper.
“It means that you’re going right back to bed for another rest before the boys come to rehearse.” And with a great show of assumed indifference, he persuaded her to lie down once more.
The telephone rang. Judy, struggling with steel wool and pot, paid no heed to the insistent ring. Her father, still perched on the ladder trying to fit a platter into a space several inches too low for its bulk, said, “Take the phone, Judy.”
She dried her hands on her apron and unhurriedly reached the phone. No one ever calls me, she thought with a touch of bitterness as she picked up the receiver.
“Hello. Who’s this? Judy?”
“Yes, it’s me, Karl,” she answered, too surprised to say more.
“Is your father going to be home tonight? There’s something I’d like to talk to him about.”
“Oh, Father?” An unreasoning resentment filled her. So it was her father he wanted to see—not her! Maybe it was always her father, or her mother—
“He’s rehearsing tonight, that is, Mother is,” she said dully. “He’ll be kind of busy.”
There was a long, disappointed, “Oh!” at the other end of the wire. Judy clutched at a straw. With a quick, turnabout gayety, she said, “Other people are available. Maybe—”
“Do you think I could come over and listen in?” Karl asked eagerly. “Your father said I might come sometime but we never made it definite. Then—I could see you too.” His voice rumbled away in silence.
“Hold the wire, Karl, I’ll ask him.”
She made a wild dash to the kitchen and found her father lighting his pipe after his kitchen labors. She asked her question.
“Oh, I guess it’s all right. I did promise—”
She barely allowed him to finish and bounded back to the parlor, knocking over a spindly chair in her marathon.
“Father says it’s all right. Yes, eight o’clock.”
She tore back to the kitchen, picked up a dust cloth, and began to tidy up the place. She was considering her strategy. “I’ll ask him immediately why he didn’t take me into his confidence. And who is this girl, this accompanist? I won’t beat about the bush and I won’t act as if I cared.” She gave the table an extra rub and with a flourish of the cloth she swept some sheets of music to the floor.
“My goodness!” her father exclaimed as he picked up the scattered sheets. “What an eager beaver we’ve become! Is it Aspenitis or Karlitis?” he said grinning.
Judy felt her cheeks grow hot. “Father,” she said, “if that’s the way you appreciate my services, making despicable jokes—”
“Oh, come now, Judy, can’t you take a bit of razzing?” He looked at her flushed face and said with great sweetness, “I’m glad you know Karl. I think a lot of that boy and I don’t mean only in the music field. He has character and a great deal of talent and with hard work, I think his future looks bright. I’m trying to help him in a small way.”
She looked up gratefully. “Karl said he wanted to talk to you.” There was much more she wanted to say but she suddenly remembered her hair, her dress.
When the doorbell rang, a spruced-up Judy greeted the musicians and Karl. The music stands were taken from the hall closet, the lamps moved into place, and the men sat down busily chatting among themselves.
Judy motioned to Karl. “We can sit over here on this little sofa.” An innate delicacy made her refrain from calling it “the Victorian loveseat,” her mother’s term for this small, uncomfortable, but charming little piece. “We can see and hear perfectly,” she said as they seated themselves.
“I hear you’ve entered a competition for original compositions,” Judy said, plunging right in without further preliminaries.
“Yes. I guess Lynne told you, although I did want to keep it a secret,” he said somewhat sheepishly. “For one thing, it hasn’t been accepted as yet. I wanted to surprise you. I’m still working on it.”
“I thought it was finished.”
“No. That’s what I wanted to consult your father about. Maybe I should leave it with just a piano accompaniment since that’s pretty well worked out and the accompanist plays it well.”
For one bleak moment Judy regretted she hadn’t touched the piano all summer. If she had, maybe—Aloud she said brightly, “I hear your accompanist is not only beautiful, but plays like an angel!”
Karl looked puzzled. “I don’t know what you’re driving at. Marie Hoeffer is a fine young lady but she’s no Rubinstein, if that’s what you mean.”
Judy smiled her skepticism.
“She came to Aspen for a summer of music,” Karl went on, “but I guess she’s chiefly concerned with having a good time,” he laughed good-naturedly.
Judy knitted her brows. A serious musician one might respect. But for someone to come to Aspen under the cloak of music deliberately to waylay and ensnare a boy like Karl, that was a more serious matter!
The men were tuning their instruments and in the jangle of sounds she remained silent. But her curiosity was sorely tried. How old was she? Where did she come from? If from California or Maine or Alaska, all was not lost! She would have to go back to those remote places—
“I hear she’s quite ancient,” Judy said at last, her voice drooling sweetness.
Before Karl could gather up his forces to reply, Mrs. Lurie came into the room. She looked beautiful but terribly pale.
“I’m sorry to have kept you waiting. I hope you’ll forgive me,” she said, speaking barely above a whisper.
“You didn’t keep us waiting at all,” Mr. Lurie said. “We had lots to discuss. But now, my dear, we’re ready, if you are.”
Minna took up her position at the piano. Her husband tapped his bow and the opening measures were begun. Minna was given her cue to start. She sang a few bars, then stopped as if displeased with the tone.
Mr. Lurie held up his bow. “We’ll start again. We play five measures, Minna, then you come in.”
The opening bars were repeated. Minna came in at the appropriate beat. She sang three bars, then another. She opened her mouth for the next high note. There was a hoarseness, a thickness, then nothing. Finally a heartbroken whisper broke the strained silence.
“John, I can’t sing—I’ve lost my voice—”
In the confusion that followed, Judy only remembered the terror in her mother’s eyes and her father’s gentleness as he calmed her.
“Karl,” Mr. Lurie said quietly, “Dr. Keene lives down the block. No use telephoning, his wire is usually busy at this hour. Go quickly and tell him to come.”
The musicians left, murmuring their sympathy. Mr. Lurie carried the inert and almost helpless Minna to her bed. She was suffering now from a chill and Judy, without having to be told, fetched the hot water bottle and extra blankets.
She returned to the parlor and stared at the empty chairs, the shining music stands, the blaze of lights. She began pacing the tiny room. All these weeks she hadn’t given a thought to her mother, thought only of Karl. She murmured an inarticulate prayer—“Oh, God, don’t take away her voice. She’ll die if she can’t sing.” Her mother’s words spoken weeks ago beat upon Judy’s memory. “Struggle to get this far—” Judy knew now that it took a great deal to make an artist, hours, days, years of work.
“God,” she murmured again, putting her fist to her mouth to keep it from trembling, “help her!”
She heard the back door open and then close. That must be the doctor. The waiting was intolerable. She put away the stands and the lamps and chairs were back in their accustomed places. Anything to keep busy! Karl tiptoed into the room, “The doctor is with your mother.”
Judy nodded. He made her sit down and clumsily patted her shoulder.
At last Dr. Keene came into the room followed by Mr. Lurie.
The doctor smiled a greeting to Judy and told John to sit down. “I want to talk to you,” he said in his breezy voice.
“If you don’t mind, I’d rather stand. Shall I send the youngsters from the room?”
“No, they can stay. Perhaps Judy can be of some help and, anyhow, it will be necessary for her to understand her mother’s condition.”
“Yes, yes!” John said impatiently. “Go on!”
“You heard me tell Minna,” the doctor proceeded calmly, “there is no visible damage to her throat or her vocal cords.”
“I thought you just said that to prevent her worrying, for psychological reasons,” John interrupted.
“Partially,” Dr. Keene nodded in agreement. “But I am convinced also this will clear up in a matter of days. If it shouldn’t,” he paused a moment, “then other measures will have to be taken. But we’re going on my diagnosis for the present until I see the necessity of changing it.”
John gave an audible sigh of relief.
“I’ve watched Minna all summer. She’s driven herself too hard, particularly as she continues the same pace all winter. She’s overworked and there are other contributing causes. Luckily, she has a fine constitution, otherwise I wouldn’t be so optimistic.”
At last John seemed calm enough to sit down. “You’re right, of course. I should have seen this thing coming. She’s taken this concert too seriously—and her teaching and her own lessons—to say nothing of helping students who should be on their own.” He spoke disjointedly. “She never spares herself.” He shook his head. “Then there’s the house, the meals, and she worries about Judy. I should have put my foot down,” he said reproaching himself.
“No, John. There’s nothing you or anyone can do about a person who has this excessive drive. Without it a great talent often peters out.”
Dr. Keene paused to light his pipe. “John, your wife needs rest, bed rest, and she is absolutely forbidden to use her voice, even to whisper. Whatever she requires or wishes to communicate must be written down. With good, light, and nourishing food, plenty of fluids, and the complete rest of her vocal cords, she will be all right.” He smiled reassuringly at Mr. Lurie. “She’ll sing at the concert. I gave her my promise and I mean to keep it.”
“Doctor, you can really promise—”
Dr. Keene nodded. “Unless something unforeseen—but I don’t anticipate any complications. I’ve come across this condition several times, particularly with pianists and singers. It is aggravated by too much exposure to the sun, later followed by a chill, exactly as was the case with Minna.”
The doctor looked thoughtful. “I would like to suggest you have a nurse except that I know that one is impossible to be had. Our Pitkin County Hospital is understaffed. Who’s going to help you, John? I know you’ve got to teach. Classes must go on—”
“Private lessons can wait or be postponed. It’s the music school that bothers me and—”
“Father,” Judy broke in, “you’re forgetting me. Dr. Keene said I could help.”
“And I’ll take your place at camp,” Karl said eagerly. “It’s only mornings and I can arrange it, if you wish, Judy.”
Dr. Keene got up. “That settles everything nicely. Judy, you and your father will relieve each other. Remember again, absolute silence on your mother’s part in her cure. I’ve given her a sedative and I advise you and your father to go to bed.”
Mr. Lurie accompanied Dr. Keene to the door and Judy followed with Karl. While the two men were exchanging some final words, Judy said, “I can’t thank you enough, Karl, for offering to help at camp. But I’m worried, too. You need every hour of practice.”
“Haven’t you enough on your mind without taking me on too? I’ll manage,” he said cheerfully. “Besides, I want to help. I’m doing very little really and Uncle Yahn won’t mind. He admires your family so much.”
He held Judy’s limp hand. “Don’t you understand how much your family and—you have meant to me this summer?”
Dr. Keene motioned to Karl and said, “Come on, young man, we’ve got to let these people get some rest.”
For four days Minna Lurie’s room was in semidarkness. No one rang the doorbell and no one was permitted to telephone. The music students came quietly, played with unusual softness and left just as unobtrusively. When Judy saw the first one arrive, she was alarmed and hastily inquired, “Shall I send the young Paderewski away?”
Minna wrote with a still unsteady hand, “No. Like hearing piano.”
Preparing three meals a day might have taxed an even older girl than Judy, but her confidence was undaunted. No worker in a scientific laboratory studied instructions with more meticulous care than Judy lavished over the fine print on boxes of jell-o, cream of wheat, or custard puddings.
The doctor smiled and told her a nurse couldn’t have been more efficient. On the following day Minna was permitted to sit in a chair for a few hours, the sun allowed to filter into the room.
Judy stood at the window, enjoying the play of the sunshine on the trees. She turned as she heard the gentle tapping of the pencil. Minna held up her pad. “I want you to go outdoors for a breath of air. Take a long walk.”
“No, Mother. Father won’t be home for hours. I won’t leave until he—”
“I’m staying with Mother and you’re to go out,” Lynne said breezily as she greeted them.
Judy warningly touched her lips. Lynne nodded, “I know the rules. I’ll do all the talking. I’ve so much to tell Minna—Now run along. I only have an hour and a half.”
As she followed Judy into the hall to speed her on her way, Judy asked, “How’s Karl making out at camp?”
“Not badly, but nothing sensational. He has too much on his mind. Three days were quite enough—I can manage for the rest of the time until you get back. Now go! To use your own overworked phrase, ‘tempus fugit!’”
Judy stood on the porch, hesitating. Where? Her feet led her unerringly to the practice room where she knew Karl would be working. She smiled joyfully as she heard his violin. She could recognize that tone no matter how many violins were playing! Hmmm, and that must be the accompanist, Marian. She stepped inside and sat down unnoticed. The playing went on. At a propitious moment of silence, she cleared her throat noisily. Karl turned, saw her, a smile lighting up his face as he waved his bow. The rehearsal went on. Talk—repetition of parts—more talk. Judy sat wondering if she should leave. Then Karl’s voice, “Hold it, Marian—”
He strode over to Judy. “It’s just wonderful to see you! I know your mother’s coming along great. Your father and Lynne told me.” He looked pensively at her, “You look peaked—”
“I’m all right, now that I know Mother’s going to be able to sing—How’s the piece coming along?”
“Slowly. It sounds so wonderful in my head, but when it comes to setting it down—it takes so much time and I feel so pressed for time—”
“I know. Sometimes I think of a story—everything seems so right until I come to writing it down.” She looked at him smiling, “But you have a wonderful basic theme. It has power to move one—nothing can spoil that. Folk tunes could be introduced, you know, the way Dvorak did in his ‘New World Symphony.’”
He shook his head approvingly. “I can clarify things just by talking them out with you. I miss you, Judy—so much!”
“Me too,” the budding author sighed, throwing grammar to the winds.
An impatient chord at the piano—
“I can’t keep Marian waiting. Tomorrow she comes at one o’clock and leaves at three—”
Another chord and the slightly sharp voice, “Work before pleasure—” and Marian smiled with a condescending graciousness, “Hi, Judy!”
Judy smiled back absently. Karl was saying urgently, “Meet me here tomorrow at three.”
Judy nodded, “I’ll arrange it somehow.”
When she reached home, Lynne was ready to leave. Mrs. Lurie’s eyes brightened as she looked at her daughter. She hastily scribbled on her pad and held it aloft, “You’ve color in your cheeks and your eyes have their old luster. You’re one of those who blossom in sun and air.”
“Yes, Mother,” Judy sweetly agreed, but she was deeply aware of the real reason for the glowing cheeks and brightened eyes—and judging from the smile lurking on Lynne’s face, so was she!
That evening Mr. Lurie examined his schedule and announced with great satisfaction, “Yes, I can come home early tomorrow—last session at two-thirty. If I get a ride, should be here ten minutes later.”
By two-thirty Judy was dressed. Her mother was in a comfortable chair, her music in her hands which she could study silently. That morning her pad had pleaded for a rehearsal. The doctor was obdurate. “One hour before you appear at the concert. Not before.”
Judy gave herself another fleeting glance at the mirror. The candy-striped blue and white cotton with its full skirt looks cool, Judy considered, even if I’m melting inside of it. The embroidered collar, stiffly starched, scratched—but then, she smiled, Karl has never seen this dress. Maybe it didn’t have the smart elegance of Marian’s tie silk, but it was fresh looking!
As she glanced at the clock, now two-forty-five, she reviewed the things she must tell her father—the egg nog, ready in the refrigerator, the watercress sandwiches. She tiptoed into the bedroom.
Minna’s eyes opened. A descriptive arm indicated the window saying plainly, “Why wait? Why don’t you leave now?”
“There’s not that much rush. I’ll play something. The P.S. (the family abbreviation for Practice Student) hasn’t arrived. Something sweet and soothing to induce sleep.”
Remembered bits of Chopin Nocturnes, the “Minute Waltz,” and the fingers stumbled exactly at the same tricky places. Another look at the clock—the piano was gladly relinquished to the late and harried P.S.
Judy went to the porch and anxiously scanned the street. She returned, stared at the clock as its hands moved relentlessly. At five minutes to four she heard her father’s leisurely step.
“You’re an hour later than you promised—” she said accusingly.
“Dear old faculty meeting—a special one!” he said apologetically. “You needn’t hurry back. I’ll fix dinner—”
Judy was already at the door, mumbling something incoherently about egg nog, refrigerator, watercress—hearing only her father’s puzzled exclamation, “Where’s the fire?” as she recklessly rushed down the porch steps.
The cool, refreshing wind blew through her hair, but she arrived at the Hall hot and breathless.
Judy blinked. The room seemed dim after the sunlight. Two boys were in the room, one at the piano, the other toying with an oboe or flute—she couldn’t tell which. They stopped talking as she entered. She recognized the colored boy whom she had met with Karl. “A brilliant student,” Karl had told her, “completely at home in what must be a new and strange environment.”
“Aren’t you James Powell?” she asked.
“Yes, of course, and you’re Judy. Hello!”
“Hello,” came in hollow tones from some remote region of Judy’s chest. “You didn’t happen to see Karl here, did you?” she asked diffidently.
“He left with a very cute number some fifteen minutes ago,” the other boy volunteered with an innocent smirk.
As Judy made no comment, James added quickly, “He seemed very put out, Judy, he’d been waiting around so long—”
“Yes, I’m late, but it couldn’t be helped.”
“After supper I’ll stop at his home—I’ll give him a message for you.”
“Don’t bother, James, but thanks just the same.”
On the street, the warm sunshine enveloped her like a cloud. She raged at herself, at her father. Why couldn’t he tell those stuffed shirts—And Karl? Well, he just decided I couldn’t get away—and, of course, nobody could use the phone. She tried not to feel hurt, yet he could have waited a little longer.
Her dress looked squashed, the collar itched, her throat felt parched. She was tired, too. All that useless running and waiting—and hungry. She always felt hungry when she was miserable.
“No, I won’t go home and sit around while Father cynically probes, ‘Why back so soon?’”
She opened her bag, powdered her shiny nose, wiped the perspiration from her neck and face. A look into her change purse fortified her.
“I’m going to get the biggest chocolate fudge whipped cream ice cream soda I can buy!”
She walked on aimlessly until she recognized the Cafe and Snack Bar they’d visited the exciting night of the Juillard Concert. It seemed so long ago! How happy she had been, sitting next to Karl—Lynne and Allen, her mother and father—everyone so gay.
She stepped up to the entrance and looked in at the curtained window. It was empty, except for a waiter. No, there in a far corner a table glittered with silver and glassware, a teapot, cups and saucers. And there—coming to the table was Karl! What heavenly luck! How surprised he’ll be when he sees me! At that moment Marian sat down, some music sheets in her hand. Judy stood there ashamed, unable to move! Their heads were close together. Marian was laughing—and Karl looked, yes, looked adoringly into her eyes, just as he looked at Judy at times. She tore herself away.
She walked woodenly on the familiar and often dearly loved streets and at last stumbled home, bone tired.
As soon as dinner was over and her mother comfortably in bed, Judy pleaded weariness.
“Good idea for us all to get to bed early. Tomorrow is the big day,” her father smiled.
“You’re sure Mother’s going to be able to sing? It’s wonderful, Father—”
Judy picked up her book, an ancient and much worn copy of Les Miserables that she had found in some neglected cabinet. The title appealed to her. With a deprecating little smile at her father, she ascended the staircase, much as Sidney Carton is said to have ascended the gallows.
* * * * * * * *
It was a quarter to four on Wednesday afternoon. The Amphitheater, as the Big Tent was sometimes called, was packed, every seat taken.
Judy, no longer the lonesome stranger of those first weeks in Aspen, knew many people. The children of the camp were there. Even the youngest came to hear his father play in the orchestra. They waved and smiled to her and she waved back. But she was tense and frightened, impatient for the concert to begin, and wishing it were over. Her mother was well, the doctor was more than satisfied. But could that terrible thing happen again—
Mr. Izler Solomon, the conductor, stood on the podium, bowing to acknowledge the applause. Judy sat through Beethoven and Prokofieff, hardly knowing which was which. Her mind was a blank, her heart was pounding.
Minna Lurie stepped on stage, bowed at the ripple of applause. Judy stared open-mouthed. Was that her mother? So poised, so beautiful, in that shimmering green dress? Solomon lifted his baton. The orchestra began.
Minna Lurie’s lovely voice, as if in defiance of the enforced rest, filled the tent. The flute, then the oboe followed her clear notes. The strings came in. Judy sat in a transport of joy. It seemed as if her mother’s voice soared into the orange supports, into the poppy-colored sides of the tent. She felt an ecstasy she had never experienced.
The applause was deafening. “Wonderful!” “Magnificent!”
Judy sat unable to move. Someone gripped her shoulder. It was Lynne. Judy got up dazed. “Wasn’t she marvelous, Judy? I’m so excited!” Lynne said.
People were leaving their seats and the crowd swirled around them. Lynne said something about Saturday.
“What did you say, Lynne?” Judy asked.
“You remember. We’re going to Toklat and Ashcroft on Saturday.”
“But I thought you went last Saturday?”
“No, we wouldn’t go without you.” Lynne was pushed down the aisle. “Saturday,” she repeated. “We’ll call for you at nine o’clock—”
Karl had made his way through the crowd. He pumped Judy’s hand until it ached. The crowd moved toward the exits and Judy and Karl were carried along in its stream. They stood at the tent opening, the large flaps framing them. The field where hundreds of cars had been parked was being emptied swiftly. Many young people, their arms linked, were walking over the rough ground. Now the last stragglers appeared, the men of the orchestra, carrying their instruments. Judy whispered, “Mother and Father will soon be coming too.”
“Judy,” Karl said huskily, “why didn’t you come yesterday?”
“I couldn’t leave Mother,” she said, turning her head so that he shouldn’t see the hurt that was all but forgotten.
The sky was beginning to darken. Something sang in their young hearts. There was no need for words. They just stood there quietly, foolishly smiling at nothing at all.
JUDY, AMATEUR PSYCHOLOGIST
With the exaltation of a young acolyte returning to a sacred task, Judy appeared at camp the morning following the concert.
“Now let’s feed the ducks. Who’s in charge?”
Their white-feathered friends were placidly waiting at the water’s edge and after they were fed, swam out toward the middle of the pond.
The children took their seats at the long wooden table.
“Where’s Willie?” Judy asked. “I saw him just a few minutes ago.”
“Don’t bother about him! He’s a pest!”
“But I must—Oh, there he is under the table.”
On being called and asked to sit with the others, Willie looked up and shook his head. “I don’t want to.”
He seemed so content playing with his little mounds of dirt that Judy didn’t insist. The children were waiting. She set bowls of wet clay and tubes of paint on the table and distributed pipe cleaners.
“See how pliable they are. They bend easily to any shape and with a pair of scissors can be cut any length. I’m going to try to make a man out of this wire and fill in the face with clay.”
The little group became interested. They suggested their own ideas, horses and snakes, violins and trombones. All were soon completely absorbed. Judy, her head bent, was delicately painting the eyes and mouth of her figurine. A stream of icy water descended on her back. Jumping from shock and surprise, she lost her balance and fell from the backless bench, her skirt flying ignominiously over her head. The children were convulsed with laughter as the water continued its steady stream.
Rising clumsily to her feet, she looked around for the cause. There a few feet back of her sat Willie holding the garden hose while the children frantically cried, “Turn it off!”
For one brief moment Judy stared at the little boy’s cherubic face. The words of Gilbert and Sullivan flashed through her mind, “Let the punishment fit the crime.” She grasped the hose and turned it on Willie. “Now you know how it feels to get soaked to the skin with all your clothes on.”
The children shouted their approval. “He deserves worse than that—” “Always tinkering with that hose—”
Judy asked the children to go back and finish their projects. With as much dignity as she could command, she and Willie, both dripping pools as they walked, went toward the barn. Surprisingly enough, Willie hadn’t uttered a sound nor shed a tear! She helped the boy change into a pair of shorts discovered among the costumes and Lynne’s discarded bathrobe did service for her. Together they hung their wet clothes on the fence where the hot sun would soon dry them.
“Willie,” she said, “let’s sit on the grass for a few minutes before we go back to the others.” She studied the boy and wondered what went on in that little head, behind the woebegone little face.
“I thought you liked me—Don’t you?” She pleaded. “I had to punish you for your naughtiness.”
He said nothing for a moment, then unexpectedly, he put his hand in hers. “I didn’t mean to do anything bad.” His large eyes looked at her earnestly.
“But, Willie, you’re not a baby. I’m afraid I’ll have to mention this to your mother.”
“Mommy’s sick. She’s always sick. You mustn’t bother her.”
Judy was perplexed. “Willie,” she said gently, “tell me why you put the hose on me?”
He looked at her as if surprised at her obtuseness. Then he blurted out, “I wanted to water my garden and you were in the way.”
“Your garden? I didn’t see any garden.”
“Oh, yes, there was, right under the table. I just wanted to water it the way I do at home.”
“I see,” Judy said, not really seeing but trying to understand.
“I can water all I like, all afternoon until Daddy gets home. Your hose here is heavy. I couldn’t hold it right—”
While the little boy was talking, Judy vaguely recalled Allen’s speaking about Willie’s parents. His mother had had a breakdown of some sort; mountain air and rest were supposed to help. His father played the drums and timpani in the orchestra and had a part-time job besides. The boy was of necessity much alone. The camp had been such a happy solution. But Judy had forgotten the story and its possible bearing on little Willie.
“The next time you want to water your garden at camp, you must first ask permission,” she said. She put her arms about the boy. “After all, I’m not a tree.” They both laughed gaily. When they returned to the others, Judy couldn’t help noticing an air of pleased expectancy on their faces as if they rather hoped more fireworks were in order.
“Willie didn’t intend to do anything mean,” Judy said offhandedly. “He was trying to water his garden,” and she pointed to the twigs planted in the mud.
Happy to dismiss the subject, she asked, “Let me see, children, what you’ve accomplished?”
She was delighted with their skill and assured them that the Aspen church would want to acquire the animals and assorted instruments for its bazaar. “Then your parents can buy them right back again,” she said laughingly.
“Wouldn’t it be nice to let Willie take charge of feeding the ducks this week? You don’t mind, Paul, do you?”
“But I do mind.”
“Look, Paul, Willie’s only five years old, the youngest in camp. Don’t you think we could show him we don’t bear any grudge, that we trust him enough to give him this responsibility?”
The appeal to Paul’s better nature succeeded and Willie was acclaimed the mascot for the week. In the days that followed Willie followed Judy about camp much as the little lamb is said to have followed Mary.
Several days later a jeep stopped at the camp entrance. Judy was in charge as Lynne had taken a group horseback riding. A man stepped out of the jeep and moved in long, easy strides toward them. She wondered who he could be until she heard Willie joyfully call out, “Daddy! Daddy!”
She stopped the victrola and managed a sickly smile of welcome. Willie’s father! He’s come to complain about the hosing I gave his boy—maybe withdraw him from the camp?
The man gave a brisk, “Hello, kids!” and stopped to rough up his little boy’s hair. He was young and handsome.
“Are you Judy?” he asked, addressing her.
She nodded and murmured, “Yes.”
“I was driving by. I can only stay for a minute. Is Lynne around?”
“No. Is there anything I can do?” she asked weakly.
“Just tell Lynne I wanted her to know how sorry I was to have missed Parents’ Day. I couldn’t get away.”
“Whew!” Judy almost said aloud in relief. “I’ll tell her,” she smiled for the first time.
“But it’s you I really came to see.”
“Me?” She was thankful the children had run off to play. She was beginning to marshal her defenses as to just why she had done what she had—
“Yes, you,” he repeated. “That’s what I wanted to talk to Lynne about. Willie’s mother asked me to give you a present but I don’t know what girls like—I thought Lynne would help me out. But never mind—” and again he smiled.
“But I don’t deserve—I’m very fond of Willie but—” Her words tumbled over each other.
Before she could protest any more, he stuck some bills in her hand. “Get something for yourself, please,” and with a hasty “good-bye,” he was gone.
She had come into a fortune of three dollars. After the first pleased sensation of having money of her own, she pondered on how to spend it. That very afternoon she went to the library to secure the book on Aspen history that had been waiting for her and her dollar deposit for over a month. The rest of the money went for presents; a beautiful linen handkerchief for her grandfather, no trouble about that. He adored fine handkerchiefs! Grandmother’s was more difficult. After much hesitation, examining each case of knickknacks with the greatest care, she finally selected a brooch made of two crossed skis. Still she hesitated. Suppose Grandma doesn’t like it? She never likes any present. Judy heard her say time and again to anyone who gave her a gift, “Now why did you have to spend money on me? You know I don’t need anything!” Judy gave the brooch another admiring look. “Well,” she confided to the all-too-patient shop-owner, “if Grandma doesn’t like it, it certainly won’t be wasted. It’ll look stunning on my sweaters.”
Nor was Willie left out of her calculation. Once her deposit was returned, he too would get a present. That was only fair, she decided, since he was the author, so to speak, of her good fortune.
She reached home tired and hungry.
Her father was sitting at a desk absorbed. He looked up at her with an abstracted air and said, “Mother went out marketing. Got a chance to go in somebody’s car. She’ll be back soon. Have a nice day?”
“Lovely,” and Judy patted the gift-wrapped package. She watched him silently for a while. Writing music out of your head without playing an instrument was something she couldn’t fathom. He continued writing.
“I’ll set the table,” she offered. “Anything else?”
“No—well, yes. There’s the music stands to pull out. I borrowed some extra ones. There’ll be eight of us, I imagine.”
“What, a rehearsal again?” Judy asked. “I thought you and Mother were going to have people over tonight just to have fun.”
Mr. Lurie got up and reluctantly closed his desk. “So we are,” he smiled at her. “Whenever musicians get together, they make music. That’s their fun.”
“Hmmmm,” was all Judy said.
“What’s that book you brought home?” He glanced at the title. It was his turn to say, “Hmmmm.”
“You’ve forgotten, Dad, I’m going with Lynne and Allen to Ashcroft. I thought I’d give Lynne a shock by surprising her with my knowledge of the history of these parts around here. No one seems to know anything about Ashcroft.”
“Very commendable,” her father said seriously. “By the way, if you should uncover any clues to hidden treasures overlooked by the early settlers, let me know. A few silver nuggets would come in very handy.”
“Oh, Father,” Judy said impatiently. It’s no use, she decided.
During dinner Mr. and Mrs. Lurie were discussing the next important event of the concert season. In addition to the regular program, original compositions would be played. The judges would make the award to the composer of the best piece of original music and to the most promising conductor.
“Is Karl’s composition going to be played that day?”
“No,” her father answered, “he’s not satisfied with it.” But added with real conviction, “I’m certain it will be heard later.”
Judy immediately lost interest in their talk and pointing to her book, asked to be excused. “I have work to do too.”
Her mother appeared impressed. But her father said, with that dead-pan expression he loved to assume, “I hope the Beethoven Quintet will provide pleasant background music for your scholarly labors.”
Giving him scarcely a smile, although she was laughing inwardly, she ostentatiously picked up the library book and went to her room.
Propped up in bed, surrounded with well-sharpened pencils, reams of paper and her diary, she turned on her radio tuned to some weird jazz. She began to read.
The idea of writing a story for the Plow, while still nebulous, had not been discarded. If she wrote something that would stun her classmates into admiration—
Facts, dull facts: drilling—pumps—shafts—mining operations. It was disappointing!
Undiscouraged she plodded on, skipping whole pages. At last she was rewarded by a tiny paragraph that she recorded on her note pad.
“Aspen, situated in one of the most beautiful valleys of the world, is surrounded by giant mountains which guard her treasures. Ashcroft, her near neighbor, just as beautifully situated, makes the picture complete. Together, their silvery riches give promise of greater treasure than has yet been found in the marvelous state of Colorado. Who can foretell the future?”
Judy looked blankly at the word “future.” “That rosy future had come and gone,” she sagely commented to herself. But how did it all start? By more diligent searching, she discovered something more of the early beginnings of Aspen and an occasional reference to Ashcroft. Again she faithfully recorded a brief summary of her findings.
“Henry Gillipsie, a man of thirty-one, a graduate of Kansas Agricultural College, left his home to seek his fortune mining gold. When he reached Leadville, the town was in a ferment. Silver had been discovered in the mountains of Colorado! He turned from his dreams of gold to the surer thing—silver. True, there had been news of an Indian uprising; a United States Major had been killed and some soldiers, but Gillipsie made up his mind to go. He got a horse and a pack mule, took his son and persuaded a friend to join him. Some twenty-five other prospectors followed Gillipsie’s trail. All staked out their claims, Gillipsie even buying two mountains. Although a truce had been concluded with the Indians, Gillipsie and the others decided to return to Leadville. Besides the Indians, winter was coming on. But he was no sooner back than he began worrying about his holdings. Once the thaw set in, thousands would go over Independence Pass and might take possession of his claims. He told his fears to a friend who knew all about mines and mine country.
“‘How can we get across the Pass in winter? The reports are terrible. Men and mules bogged down in snow—broken legs—starvation.’
“Together they worked out a plan. They built snow boats of good, strong lumber and loaded them with two hundred pounds of provisions and plenty of blankets. The boats, really giant sleds, would be pulled by miners. All would travel only at night when the snow was hard-packed, making the going easier.
“Still the men objected. ‘How do you expect us to walk over snowdrifts twenty-five feet deep?’
“Undaunted, Gillipsie and his friend had the answer. ‘We’ll need snowshoes. Since we can’t get the webbed kind, we’ll make them out of board, eight feet long, the way the Norwegians do.’
“When Gillipsie and his fourteen men, a strange looking pilgrimage, arrived at their camp, Aspen’s mining history began.
“More settlers arrived, lured on by the tales of fabulous riches. They spread out to Ashcroft, only twelve miles away. The success of Horace Tabor, the owner of the two most famous mines in Ashcroft, stimulated the miners.” (Horace Tabor, the romantic figure who loved Baby Doe) she parenthesized, for the benefit of her grandfather.
“But Ashcroft developed slowly. The mountains were not only high but inaccessible. Progress was slow. In the meantime, Aspen moved on to quicker glory. A one-gauge railroad—buildings went up at terrific speed—churches, schools, a bank, the Aspen Times—living expenses were high—flour cost one dollar a pound.”
The music from her radio egged on Judy’s flagging spirit. Further reading only revealed the names of Tabor’s two mines at Ashcroft. It was in vain she looked for more news of Baby Doe. There was nothing. Only the gloomy recital of the ruined silver kings.
History book and diary fell off the bed. She switched off the lights and turned off the radio. The researcher wearily yawned and slept.
ASHCROFT, THE GHOST TOWN
The weather all summer had been fine. When there was an occasional shower it came, considerately enough, late in the afternoon. It never interfered with the outdoor activities and indeed was only noticed by the concert-goers, who heard the brief but heavy drumming on the canvas of the huge tent.
This Saturday morning was no exception. The sun rose brilliantly and the air was crystal clear, a perfect day for the excursion to Toklat. To Judy there was only one drawback: if only Karl could have come. Yet he might turn up with Fran, late in the afternoon.
She paced the walk outside her home. Lynne and Allen were late. She thought of that silly old adage about the early bird! All those pancakes she’d left uneaten! There’s such a thing as being too prompt! But, she grudgingly remembered, in that not so distant past she had been the one for whom others had waited.
At last their station wagon approached.
“We overslept!” Lynne gaily announced as the car stopped. Judy climbed in.
The winding road to Toklat hugged the mountain and although Allen drove at only a moderate speed, a number of furry animals, feeling much at home in the early morning stillness, flipped across their path to escape only just in time! Once they all breathlessly exclaimed, “There’s a deer,” but it was so fleet of foot as it bounded into the woods that they couldn’t be sure.
At the entrance to Toklat was a handsome wood and stone structure, Toklat Lodge. Early as it was, people were already lined up to make their reservations for the luncheon they hoped to enjoy later. The food at the Lodge was famous. Everyone knew about the gourmet dishes and the perfection of its service. But Lynne, with a shade of regret in her voice said, “That kind of elegance is not for us or our budget. However,” she smiled as she indicated the lunch basket on the back seat, “we’ve come prepared.”
They parked the car in the shade of some trees and beyond a log fence enclosure they could see the heavy wooded area where the dogs lived. Mr. Mace, they were told, would arrive later to take visitors through the gate and see and hear all about the Huskies.
On the other side of the road stretched a vast, treeless meadow abruptly ended by the range of mountains rising sheer from the valley. There were some houses sparsely set in the field.
“Is that part of Toklat, too?” Allen asked the man idly standing guard at the gate.
“Nope,” came the laconic answer. “That’s Ashcroft.”
In the clear sunlight the houses seemed close at hand. They could count eight, maybe ten. Judy recalled the description of Ashcroft described in her library book, “The giant mountains guarding their silvery treasure.” She wondered what there was to guard in that desolate spot now. She was eager to go there at once. The tour could wait. Judging by the crowds already arrived, there would be a number of tours. Besides, if Karl did come, he would expect to meet her at Toklat.
Lynne agreed, but Allen preferred to remain in the hope of having a few words alone with Stuart Mace. They would meet later “over there,” meaning Ashcroft.
“And don’t forget the lunch,” Lynne cautioned.
Crossing the rough fields overgrown with wild, prickly grasses, they soon came close enough to see the houses—large, three stories high, the frames of gray, weather-beaten timber, ageless. Two of them had wooden signs nailed over the entrance, “Groceries,” “Drygoods.” They tried to look in and discover if anything remained of the boasted merchandise. But the windows were barred. They walked down to another house further down the field, but that too had the doors and every window boarded up.
“You’d think from the care with which they closed the houses they expected to return,” Lynne said wonderingly.
All had the sad, forlorn look of houses long empty and deserted. But one house, larger than the others, gaped wide open. Glad of the opportunity at last to satisfy their curiosity as to what the interior might be like, they stepped inside. Had vandals carried away the staircase to the upper chambers, or torn out the partitions that must have once divided this huge room?
The window frames in the upper portion of the house were hung with vines through which no ray of sun could penetrate. From the heavy beams under the roof, wisps of clothes waved weird and ghostlike in the slight wind. The two girls stood huddled together and felt like intruders as they talked of the people who once must have lived there. Judy, her imagination in full flight, pointed to the tattered garments.
“Look, I can make out a miner’s cap—and there’s an old bearskin coat. They probably had to shoot the bear, eat the meat—bear meat is very good, you know—and then use the fur to keep from freez—”
She stopped in the middle of her rhapsody. A pair of small beady eyes looked down on her. She could distinguish a wing—then another. It moved! more wings—more beady eyes. Wings fluttered—began to circle near them.
“Bats! The place is full of them. They can attack us—get into our hair!”
Without a moment’s delay, they flung hands over their heads and rushed to get out, stumbling over the ancient doorsill in their hasty exit.
Once out in the sunny meadow, Lynne laughed at herself. “I feel like a goose running out the way I did. Who ever heard of bats attacking anyone?”
“Is that so?” Judy said warmly. “One night a few summers back a bat got into my bedroom. It flapped around horribly, looking for me. I still get the creeps when I think of it. If Grandpa hadn’t come in—”
“O.K. I’ve heard of bats in the belfry,” Lynne said dryly, “but never mind. Have it your own way.”
They walked on to examine the few remaining houses. Except for the ruins of a fence and an upside-down hut that was probably once an outhouse, nothing remained to indicate that people once lived there.
“Ashcroft is sure a ghost town,” they both agreed.
They started to trudge back. They had gone further than they expected and found the walking hard and tiring. When they stopped once or twice to rest, they thought they heard the unmistakable chop chop of an ax. Following the direction of the sound, they came upon a cabin, no larger than a good-sized woodshed. Near it stood a man swinging his ax with an easy, steady rhythm.
He looked up as they approached and said, in answer to their greeting, “’Tis a fine morning.” He nodded and smiled at them.
They could see at once that he was old, very old. His face was crisscrossed with fine lines, but his blue eyes were bright and he held himself so erect that Judy involuntarily straightened her slumping shoulders.
“Isn’t that pretty strenuous?” Lynne asked, pointing to the huge tree he was splitting.
He smiled again. “I’m eighty-two and never felt better. We’ll need all the wood we can cut.” He spoke with the pride of the very old whom the years have used well.
Judy walked closer to the cabin and the door being ajar, she looked inside—two cots, some shelves sparsely stacked with cans of soup, some other foodstuffs.
“You don’t live here, do you?” she asked, her voice incredulous as she again faced the old man.
“Yes. My pal and I, we live here. We’re the only two natives left in Ashcroft.”
“You are?” Lynne and Judy said in one voice.
“Let’s stay here for a while,” Judy whispered. “The meadow’s so flat, we can’t help seeing Allen when he comes looking for us.”
Lynne nodded. “May we sit here a little while and rest, Mister? We expect to meet someone later.”
He seemed pleased. “I’m glad of your company.” He picked up his ax and placed it against the woodpile.
“Set yourselves down. Make yourselves comfortable—the logs or the grass.”
He sat down on the fallen tree and Judy, on the stiff undergrowth, looked up at him with deep, commiserating eyes.
“I don’t see how you can bear to live in that little cabin all winter. I should think you’d die of lonesomeness or freeze to death!”
“It’s never that cold, Miss. The sun’s good and hot even on the coldest days. And I’m used to it.”
He looked at Lynne. “Came here as a boy when my father worked in the silver mines and I’ve stayed here, off and on, ever since.”
He fished out a pipe from his shirt pocket and the girls watched the gnarled fingers first clean it and then stuff it with some yellowish weed.
“Was Ashcroft ever like Aspen? You know what I mean, well populated, with lots of mines?” Lynne asked, as the old man puffed contentedly on his pipe.
“Well, yes and no. Ashcroft was built up before Aspen, but Aspen got ahead faster.”
“Why?” Judy asked.
“I’ll tell yer. For one thing, the mines out this way were hard to work and new mines weren’t easy to locate. At Aspen things were different. New veins kept on being opened all the time and they weren’t so hard to mine. Nature favored it more, or maybe it was better equipment. Anyhow, prospectors and settlers both got discouraged. They gradually took off. Yep, they just moved away. A lot of them dragged their houses with them by mule team.”
“What about Montezeuma and Tam-o-shanta? They were here. Horace Tabor made a big success of his mines.” Judy wagged her head in the manner of one who had spent her life in the bowels of the earth.
Lynne looked at her in surprise. “How do you know?”
“Oh, I’ve been reading up about it,” she answered with a superior smile.
But the old man saw nothing strange in Judy’s erudition.
“The young lady’s right,” he said. “Montezeuma had plenty of good ore and it did well. Made Tabor a tidy fortune. But it was too high. Nearly thirteen thousand feet. Dragging supplies out there was hard, but only a man like Tabor could make a good thing of it.” He nodded at them and a great smile spread over the wrinkled face, deepening the two well-marked furrows around his jaw.
“Tabor built a mansion out here, real elegant, gold paper on the walls. Built it for Baby Doe. That’s the second Mrs. Tabor that maybe you heard about.”
“Yes. Did you ever see her?” Judy asked, with mounting interest.
“Well, in a manner of speaking. Saw her coming and going. The day she came out to see Montezeuma, Tabor was that happy he declared a twenty-four-hour holiday for everyone working in the mine. He was a real silver king.” The old man shook his head appreciatively. “He treated everyone that day to all the liquor he could drink.”
But his smile quickly faded. “Augusta got that mine too.” He sat thinking for a moment. “Not that you can altogether blame her, the first Mrs. Tabor. She’d helped him when he was—well, nobody. And now that he was rich and famous, she wanted to hold on. Guess she loved him, so she said right out in all the newspapers.”
“Augusta seems to have done very well for herself,” Judy commented sternly.
Again Lynne lifted her eyebrows. She was certain now Judy had been boning up not only on the history but on the gossip column of those days.
“Well, did Horace Tabor and his new love live happily ever after?” Lynne asked lightly.
Judy brushed aside the question. “What happened after the Silver Panic, Mister? Did Baby Doe leave Tabor when he became poor?”
“No, Miss.” The answer was emphatic. “She stuck to him through thick and thin. Nobody expected it of her—she was that young and handsome. When she married Tabor, the biggest people in Washington came to the wedding. Tabor was an important man, not only rich. He’d done a lot for Leadville—the opera house and then at Denver, built a hotel and lots more.
“The State of Colorado was grateful and he become a Senator for a while.” His words came more slowly as if the embers of his excitement had died out like his pipe.
“Well, Augusta made such a scandal of his leaving her that she spoiled his chances in politics. Then comes the Panic—1893! Baby Doe, from being the millionaire darling of a silver king, came down to even taking in washing. She proved herself a good wife and faithful.”
“I knew she would,” Judy said triumphantly. She wanted to know more. “Is that all?” she asked.
“No.” The old man shook his head gravely. “As I was saying, Tabor lost everything and what he didn’t lose, he’d given to Augusta. She was rich and stayed rich. All that remained to Tabor was one mine. He still owned Matchless. It wasn’t paying any but he had great faith in it. When he was on his deathbed, he tells Baby Doe, ‘Hold on to Matchless. It’ll make a fortune yet.’”
“And did it?” Judy asked anxiously.
The old man shook his head. “She held on to it because Tabor told her. She become that poor, she didn’t have a roof over her head. So she moved out to the mine. Lived alone in a one-room cabin.”
He leaned forward, holding his young listeners.
“Gettin’ enough to eat wasn’t all her trouble. Tax collectors came out to the mine and she held them off with a gun. But she had friends who stuck by her, respected her grit, like that Jacob Sands of Aspen and some others, I forget the names. They spent money to clear her title to Matchless so that she could hold on to it, to the very end. She held it for forty years, but it never paid any.” He sighed deeply.
“They found her one day, her body dressed in rags, her feet covered with newspapers to keep out the cold—found her frozen to death.”
For a while no one spoke. Then as if wishing to break the pall of sadness that engulfed him, Lynne asked, “Do you ever get to Aspen?”
“Sometimes. We have friends over there,” and he pointed in the direction of Toklat.
Looking across the field, they saw Allen coming toward them with great long strides. “Had a wonderful time with Mr. Mace,” he said as soon as they were within earshot. Then coming closer he noticed the old man. Allen’s eyes seemed to ask, “Where did you pick up this ancient?”
“Allen,” Lynne said quickly, “this gentleman is one of the two natives of Ashcroft—and still lives here.”
“I’m happy to know you,” Allen said, shaking his hand.
They repeated the Baby Doe story for Allen’s benefit as they spread their lunch, which they insisted the old man share with them. When they left, he stood there waving, a tall spare figure, framed by the deserted houses and the brooding mountains.
Allen hurried them along. “What an extraordinary man Mace is! What skill he uses in handling his dogs!”
“What’s so special about that?” Judy asked, still ruminating about the ups and downs of Baby Doe. “Horses pull wagons and dogs pull sleighs. Why is Mr. Mace so wonderful?”
“For one thing, kid,” Allen said, annoyed at Judy’s lack of enthusiasm, “he was with the ski troops that saw Arctic duty in World War II. He learned about dogs the hard way.”
Allen turned to a more appreciative audience. “Lynne, I guess none of us realized what these mountain troops went through out in that wasteland of snow and ice. The pilots they saved, the planes and cargo they salvaged—”
“What had the dogs to do with the pilots?” Judy asked.
“Fierce storms often forced the planes down,” Allen explained patiently. “Mace was in charge of a division whose job it was to search for and rescue the flyers and, of course, to save the air cargo on which their lives depended. You see, Judy, only dogs and dog-sleighs can travel over that sort of country.”
They moved along at a snail’s pace as Allen became more and more engrossed in his subject. “Mr. Mace had to train the dogs, keep the drivers from fighting each other. Tempers get ugly under such conditions. The war went on. Sleighs wore out. He had to make new ones—new equipment.” Allen shook his head. “Mace is a modest man. You have to drag the story out of him.”
“How did he happen to get to Ashcroft?” Lynne asked.
Allen laughed. “I asked him that myself. It seems that when the war was over, they didn’t know what to do with those wonderful dogs. The top brass ordered them sold. Mace said he’d grown to love working with dogs. The thought of giving it up made him wretched. He saved some money and he bought all the top-strain dogs he could afford. He and his wife decided to take their dogs to Aspen to breed and train them, as a hobby.”
“What did he do before the war?” Lynne asked.
“Some kind of research on flowers that grow on the Rocky Mountain slopes. But when he came back, there was no interest in that sort of thing. And there weren’t any jobs that he could find to do around Aspen. So he decided to move out to Ashcroft. Land was cheap and snow lay on the mountains seven months of the year. Dog-sledding and skiing had become a great national sport. So he decided to turn his hobby into a job! He and Mrs. Mace worked through one summer and a long hard winter to build the log and stone lodge we passed. Guests can stay there and enjoy long trips into the mountains with the dog-sled teams and—”
Lynne, interrupting him with a laugh, said, “You’re so wound up talking about Mr. Mace, you forgot about the tour. I can see from here people crowding through the gate.”
They made the remaining distance on the run. They arrived in time to join the twenty or thirty others all trying to squeeze as close as possible to the owner and guide, while Judy unabashed scrutinized every likely or unlikely person that might be Karl.
Stuart Mace was dressed in well-fitting khaki trousers and a plaid shirt open at the throat. His sturdy bronzed neck suited the finely molded features of his face and his smile was warm and friendly.
“As you see,” he began, “we have a great family of dogs, bred for hard work in the mountains, ice and snow. From our original nine dogs we have eighty, among them some of the finest leaders and teams in the country.”
He motioned the group to follow him. Individual kennels shaded by trees extended in all directions. The dogs, tied by long leashes, had a great deal of freedom. They looked at the visitors unmoved. None barked. Mr. Mace pointed out common characteristics: their large, long-haired bodies, the markings on their bodies, their intelligent faces, their long pointed ears and bushy tails. As Mr. Mace passed the dogs, he fondled them and those who were by chance overlooked snuggled up to him and their eyes begged for his caress.
“Let’s have a look at some of the very young dogs,” Mr. Mace said, the crowd at his heels. He picked up a beautiful furry puppy and held him in his arms like a baby.
“This Alaskan dog is only three months old. We know by this time that she will never do the work our dog teams must do.”
“How do I know?” Mr. Mace smiled at the man who asked the question.
“We have our way of knowing. When I decide that such is the case, we sell them as pets. They make good watch dogs and are gentle and affectionate.”
“What does it cost to buy such a puppy?” Allen asked in a low voice.
“About a hundred dollars, only what it cost us to raise and feed the dog for the three months.”
Judy looked at Allen, who was whispering something to Lynne.
In that momentary lull she could hear Lynne’s answering whisper, “But what would we do with him when you’re away on tour for eight weeks and I’m busy teaching?”
“When do you throw them the meat?” a little boy asked as they went on among the older dogs.
“We’re not in the zoo, my little friend. No lions or tigers here,” Mace replied with a grin. “These dogs are never fed any meat. Up in the Arctic regions, the dogs get walrus and chunks of seal. But here, it’s not necessary. See that box of food next to each kennel? When a dog is hungry, he goes over and eats what he wants of it. It’s a mixture of the best scientific foods these dogs require.” He pointed to the pans of water near each kennel. “They need lots of water during the summer months, but in the winter the snow is enough.”
“Gee, these dogs are kind of lazy—the way they just sit around.” Mr. Mace overheard the little boy’s complaint.
Mr. Mace smiled at the boy. “Don’t you think these dogs deserve a rest after working hard from November through April? This is their vacation, son,” he said kindly. “That’s how we keep them fit and happy.”
They were now among the full-grown dogs selected for their team work. “Eight, ten, sometimes twelve dogs make a team,” Mr. Mace explained, “depending on the distance to be traveled and the load to be pulled. The dogs are harnessed in pairs, but the leader runs in single harness in front. Teams must be well matched, not only for beauty and appearance, but in strength and size. But the leader is the prize of the pack—like this one here.” Mr. Mace bent over to pet him.
“He’s pure Malamute strain. That’s one of the best. See his powerful chest, his long bushy tail, like the others, only longer and bushier. Look at his feet, those powerful nails, the short hair cushioning the toes, the long hair between. He is sure-footed, intelligent, and has a fine sense of smell. Never forgets a road once he’s been over it, never forgets commands once they’ve been mastered. And he has character! Don’t laugh,” he smiled at Judy. “This dog has got character. He demands obedience from his team. Where he goes, the team must follow.”
Mr. Mace turned his attention to a large handsome dog that seemed unresponsive to his petting. “She’s Eskimo, and she’s brooding. We took away her puppies some days ago and she’s still unhappy.”
A little boy, more venturesome than the others, went over to her. “Don’t go near her,” Mr. Mace said. “She’s not vicious, none of them are, but she’s best left alone at present.”
The crowd moved on. The boy who had just been admonished stood in front of the kennel watching the sulky animal. As Judy tried to pass, the boy stood talking to the dog.
“What’s the use of being sore?” He stepped closer. “Come on, let’s shake hands.”
The dog lifted her leg and gave the boy’s chest a shove. He went down as if hit by a load of bricks. The boy lay there, stunned. Judy screamed, “Mr. Mace! Mr. Mace!”
It was her frightened call that brought Mr. Mace loping back. He picked up the frightened boy and said severely, “You’re not hurt, but I warned you to let that dog alone.”
Mr. Mace walked on and the group, a little sobered, followed.
“How much cold can these dogs stand?” Lynne asked.
“In the far north they can take a temperature that goes to sixty or seventy degrees below zero. We, of course, haven’t such extremes of cold here, but it’s plenty cold in the mountains in the winter. When we take people on our sledding trips over snow-covered trails, we stop overnight at a cabin we’ve built. Our riders enjoy a good fire, a comfortable bed and a meal.
“But,” he went on, “the dogs are just unharnessed, fed, and go to sleep in the snow. You’ve noticed these Huskies have thick coats of fur and nature further protects them with a wool matting close to their hide. So you see,” and he smiled at Lynne, “these dogs can stand all kinds of weather.”
“Look at that dog there,” a woman exclaimed. “I’ve never seen such a handsome dog! His black markings on the forehead and nose are so striking against his white coat!” All turned to look. “See how he stands there as if he enjoyed our admiration.”
“Of course, she does,” Mr. Mace said. “She’s our prima donna, one of our famous movie stars. She’s only completely happy when she’s in front of a movie camera.”
“Can she do some tricks for us now, please?”
“I’m afraid not. Our dogs have performed often right out here in these very mountains. You’ve probably seen them on your own TV’s at home, thinking they were made in the Arctic! But most often when Hollywood needs our dogs, we just board a plane and go there.”
There was more, much more. Eighty dogs are a lot of dogs to see and Judy must have looked as she felt, very weary. The tour was over.
As they neared the exit, Mr. Mace turned to the crowd still following him. “Like to hear my dog concert?”
“Sure!” everyone said.
“Kyloo,” Mr. Mace addressed a powerful Husky whose kennel was near, “how about some music for these nice people?”
Kyloo didn’t seem interested.
“Now come on, Kyloo,” Mr. Mace’s voice was coaxing. “Don’t be shy. I’ll start you off.”
Mr. Mace thrust back his head and a loud, prolonged wail came from his throat.
Kyloo didn’t need any more urging. He tilted back his head, opened his wide jaws and the same powerful, prolonged note issued from his throat. It re-echoed through the grove and grew in volume as the wail was taken up by the eighty dogs.
It was a strange, primitive call, high and piercing. Yes, it was a kind of song, the dogs’ farewell to the visitors, farewell in music.
While Allen stayed on to take some snapshots of the dogs, Lynne and Judy followed others into the Arctic Trading Shop, a lovely log cabin displaying rare and unusual things. When at last Allen joined them, they returned to the car to drive back to Aspen.
It was only as they drove through Main Street past the Ski Lodge and Chairlift that Judy suddenly remembered.
“Allen,” she said, putting her hand on the wheel, “aren’t we going up the Chairlift? You promised!”
“Judy, I hate to say it, but the answer is ‘no.’”
“Why?” she asked, unable to hide her disappointment.
“Well,” Allen said slowly as if to lessen the blow, “chiefly because Lynne and I went up last Saturday.”
“You went up?” Judy repeated, reluctant to believe such treachery, going up without her!
Allen nodded. “You see, a lot of Festival people planned the trip, getting some special rate and Lynne and I couldn’t resist a bargain! But, Judy,” Allen smiled sheepishly, “I think we’re sort of glad you weren’t along to witness our disgrace. We got off at Midway!”
“How could you get off when the chairs keep moving all the time? The machinery never stops. I’ve watched it a hundred times.”
“Well, it takes a bit of agility, but everyone has to get off at Midway for a few minutes. The mechanism changes direction at that point. You walk a few feet and leap on again. That’s where the chair immediately swings out over a bottomless chasm! I decided I had enough! Dangling like a clothes hanger from that slender cable was too much for me. I had no stomach to ride over that yawning abyss and then ascend to thirteen thousand feet!”
Judy looked at Lynne. “Is he joking? He gave up just like that?”
“We gave up, just like that,” Lynne said laughing. “Allen shouted to me, ‘I’m getting off at Midway. Not going further. You keep going if you wish, but I don’t think it sensible.’
“Jouncing along, my nerves a bit jittery, I guess I was secretly glad and yelled back, ‘I will too.’ My young campers were below me, swinging along, waving their hands and laughing. I knew we would have to brave their jeers, if not their scorn. But we did.” Lynne and Allen exchanged glances as if there were some reason for their lack of hardihood.
“So like a cautious young couple with good reasons for our caution,” again that special smile for Allen, “we walked down a steep mining road that took us back to Aspen. It was wonderful even if we didn’t get to the top.”
Allen patted Judy’s shoulder. “I guess it isn’t so bad when the mountains and the chasm are blanketed in snow. Leave something for another time or another year. You’ll be coming to Aspen again. Everyone does.”
“I hope so,” Judy said with forced resignation. Then she remembered Ashcroft and the dogs. “It’s been such a perfect day. How can I ever thank you!”
The car pulled up in front of Judy’s house. “I’m sorry we can’t stop in—marketing, and dinner still to get,” Lynne said. “We’ll see Mother and Dad in a few days—we have something very special to tell them.”
Lynne went on, “You know, Allen and I feel flattered. You didn’t mention Karl’s name once all day!”
“But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t think of him. Everytime I looked at those gorgeous Eskimo dogs with their sad, dreamy eyes, I thought of Karl. Isn’t that strange?”
“Truth is stranger than fiction,” Lynne laughed. “I’m afraid you’ve got a real case! Good-bye, dear!”
“Something special to tell them?” Judy repeated to herself as she slowly mounted the porch steps. “Maybe that’s why Allen didn’t want Lynne to go further on the Chairlift. After all, they are married two years—”
“… and so, dear Grandpa, I’ve brought you up on all the latest news. One or two things more. Mother is still hopeful for an early audition for the City Center Opera Company. Father continues to write incomprehensible notes on his music sheets—and literally walks on air when it goes well. Other times he just looks black and frustrated, staring into space as if listening. But his work at the school is fine. And his quartet is making a name for itself in this oasis we call Aspen. There! That’s enough about them!
“I can see you look at me in that way you have and say, ‘What about you?’
“That’s not so easy to answer. Part of me is getting along swimmingly. Lynne says I have a gift with children! Imagine, I who during those first days at camp felt like wringing their individual and collective necks!
“Happy as I am to have that wonderful job, that’s not the important thing in my life. Mother is blind and so is Father! The great change in my life—in me, has come since I’ve known Karl! When I first wrote to you about him, I told you of his looks, his love and knowledge of music, his almost unnatural devotion to his mother! But our friendship, oh so necessary to both of us, has deepened, has matured into something quite wonderful! Please don’t smile. I couldn’t bear it and somehow I know you won’t or I wouldn’t be writing as I do.
“When I see him, his nearness gives me a joy I can’t explain. We see each other nearly every day—if not at his Uncle Yahn’s Swiss Shop, then he drops in here. We never finish all we have to say. I know his character, his thoughts, his dreams. I weep for all his father has been through. Remember the prophets of the Old Testament you used to read to me? I listened with only half an ear. But Karl knows a lot of Jewish history and I’m learning fast. When Grandma hears of this phenomenon, she will be glad that all her efforts to fill the huge gap in my ignorance has at last born fruit. I’m beginning to glimpse what she used to call ‘our great heritage.’
“But Mother sees little of all this greatness in Karl. She treats him like any other music student.
“‘How are things going, Karl?’ Then she’s off to the kitchen or marketing or sometimes, more lately, to rest. Father is more interested, but he too is preoccupied with his own work. So I have become more necessary to Karl as he is to me.
“I love him! There, I have written the word. I dream of what he’ll be some day, how I can help and how I can become that which he seems to see in me. Will our discovery of each other in Aspen flower into something as wonderful as the present? Don’t tell me I’m young! Juliet was only fifteen! Happily for us, there are no Montagues and Capulets with their senseless feuds to try to keep us apart!
“I know my own feelings, but how can I know that Karl loves me? I do know he likes me a lot, but even so, there are complications!
“Karl works with a pianist and she’s fiendishly clever! She’s pretty, very superior, and treats me like a child! She’s old, at least twenty. For all that, she looks so dainty and petite. And I’m awkward, stupid and tongue-tied when I’m with her.
“Karl asked me to meet her. I was terribly curious about her and agreed although I knew in advance I wouldn’t like her. Twice was enough! I’ll not subject myself again to such humiliation. I asked him why he allowed her to order him around and make jokes about the most serious things?
“His only answer was, ‘She knows her piano. I don’t. I’m lucky to get that ribbing. It helps to keep one’s feet on the ground. Besides, she’s fun to be with!’
“He looked at me in surprise. ‘You used to have a sense of humor, Judy. What’s become of it? I hoped you’d enjoy Marian as much as I do.’
“I couldn’t tell him I never want to see her again! She stirs up the ignoble in me. I know, at least I feel, she’s trying to entice Karl, trying to get him in her clutches, away from me. Probably, she recognizes the genius he’ll become some day! I try not to think of her and often I forget her completely, especially when Karl and I are together, alone.
“Good-bye, Grandpa. Keep well and know I love you. This letter is for you only. I won’t mail it until I’ve written another for Grandma with all the concerts, lectures (ugh!), recitals and rehearsals—in short, with all the news that’s fit to print. O.K.?
Lovingly and confidentially yours,
THE MOUNTAIN CLIMB
It was the middle of August and the season in Aspen was drawing to a close. In a little more than two weeks, the students of the Festival would begin to trickle back, some to college, others to jobs. The artists and faculty members were already speaking of their fall engagements to travel all over the United States, Canada, and South America.
But in the meantime, as if the planners of the Music Festival wished to end the Festival in a blaze of glory, life in Aspen increased to a furious tempo. Lectures, recitals, concerts, music in one form or another filled the days and nights. No one seemed to feel the strain except Judy. She wondered sometimes, did the nearby mountains ever tire of this constant paean of music?
One evening Mrs. Lurie casually announced at dinner, “We’re all going tonight to a lecture at the Seminar Building.” She turned to Judy. “You remember that attractive ultramodern building near the Tent? You loved the paintings exhibited there on those circular walls.” She shook her head meditatively, “Those paintings by American artists were given by Mr. Paepcke. He’s certainly been very generous.”
“Allen and Lynne are going to pick us up in their car,” her mother went on cheerfully. “Oh, here they are!”
After the usual greetings, Mrs. Lurie said, “Judy’s coming with us. The lecture will be over by ten.”
“What’s the lecture about?” Judy asked.
Her mother answered, “‘Modern Trends in Disharmony.’ It should be wonderful!”
Judy shuddered. She remembered other “wonderful lectures” through which she had sat bored and rebellious. In that brilliantly lighted hall one had not even the small luxury of being able to fall asleep!
“They’re playing a wonderful Western at the Isis,” Judy said desperately.
“A Western!” her mother and Lynne said. “They’re dreadful!”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Allen said quite unexpectedly. “Daredevil riding on magnificent horses, hairbreadth escapes, mountain scenes like our Rockies—” His eyes flashed. “They’re packed with excitement—loads of it.”
Judy looked at Allen, then shifted her gaze to her father. In his eyes too there was more than a glint of interest.
“Come to think of it,” Allen went on, “it’s funny, we haven’t been to a movie all summer.”
“What’s funny about that?” Lynne asked with marked disappointment at Allen’s bourgeois taste in films. “Of course, we haven’t been to a movie, nor have we seen any television. And we certainly haven’t missed either.” She looked for encouragement to Mr. Lurie as she went on.
“Who wants to see gun-shooting, Hollywood cowboys tearing up and down mountains when one can enjoy a delightful evening listening to ‘Modern Trends’!” She smiled at John certain of his unqualified support.
Instead of an answering smile, he cleared his throat and said with a deprecating air, “I agree with Allen. There’s something to be said for these Westerns. The sight of horses leaping from crag to crag, men hurled from saddles, climbing inch by inch over backbreaking trails—” He laughed and shrugged his shoulders. “It fills me with a nostalgia.”
“But this lecture, John,” Minna said in a quiet, determined voice, “is by one of the foremost musicologists.”
“One of the greatest,” Lynne added.
Allen placed his large, friendly hands on Judy’s shoulders. “Have a heart, Lynne. This kid has listened to music and lectures without let-up for seven long weeks. Sure, it’s been great, but maybe she’d like a change of diet.”
There was a flurried consultation between Lynne and Minna. Then with a martyrlike smile, Lynne said, “Allen, dear, since you feel so strongly about Judy’s state of mind, of course, we’ll go to the Isis.”
Allen brazenly winked at John. Then everyone laughed. Judy was unable to see the joke. As they walked along the quiet streets, seeing her father and Allen in such high spirits, she wondered. Had they made all that fuss on her account or were they satisfying some secret desire of their own?
The very next day John Lurie announced his decision to climb Maroon Peak on Sunday. All summer he had been promising himself one good climb. The movie did it! As Judy phrased it, “The close-up of the mountain trails whetted his ‘blunted purpose,’” something she had culled from her favorite play of Shakespeare. Whatever the reason, John Lurie cleared his calendar and made his plans.
Fran accepted the role of guide, since he knew the trails well. Karl was invited “to please a certain nameless young lady,” he said. “Oh, Father!” came ecstatically from Judy at this bit of news. Minna was invited but refused as she didn’t feel equal to so difficult a climb and might spoil the day for the others.
The final arrangements were discussed. Extra jackets and sweaters were to be taken in their knapsacks as the summit was often bitterly cold, even in summer. Each one was to provide his own sandwiches and a drink of some kind or water in a canteen and heavy socks and shoes were to be worn. The agreed to meet at eight o’clock in the morning at the foot of the trail twelve miles from Aspen. Judy and her father were getting a lift through the kindness of a neighbor, but Fran cheerfully volunteered not only to get Karl and himself to the trail, but also to have a car meet them at seven that night to take them back to Aspen.
The night before the climb Judy lay in bed unable to sleep. A whole day with Karl ahead of her! She felt like a general mapping out her strategy. Her father would race ahead with Fran, but she, affecting an air of languor (lovely thought, she hoped she could bring it off!) would set a slower pace and Karl, with his usual consideration, would be beside her. She sighed luxuriously. There would be hours and hours to talk! And at the summit, resting amid the clouds, they would read poetry! She had slipped a volume of her grandfather’s poems into the knapsack, just in case—although she knew a few of them by heart.
As she tossed on her bed, the thought of Marian crossed her mind. Karl hadn’t mentioned her name in days, yet her pretty face still troubled Judy. Jealous! Of course not! That was over and done with. “Jealousy was degrading,” she muttered into the pillow, turning it for the tenth time. It was good to feel cleansed and serene. But a sweet and consoling thought lulled her to sleep. The words repeated themselves like a lullaby: “Marian would soon return to Chicago. Soon, soon—the sooner, the better!”
“Judy, you’re a fine one to depend on! I thought you’d be up at dawn.” It was her father, fully dressed, ready for their trip.
They reached the trail long ahead of the scheduled time. During the half-hour wait the crystal-clear air gave Judy such an appetite that she consumed a sandwich and was nibbling on a hard boiled egg when her father rescued what remained of her lunch and replaced it in his knapsack.
At the sound of a motor Judy jumped up, “Here they are!”
A beautiful, shiny, black convertible roared toward them, swung into the brush and came to a stop. She stared at it. Every car in Aspen was laden with weeks of dust. No one they knew ever bothered to clean a car that would get just as dusty an hour later.
Fran stepped out of the car and walked toward them. His face was shining, his heavy boots were laced to the knees, and a coil of rope and knapsack were jauntily slung over his shoulder.
“Where’s Karl?” Judy asked as he came nearer.
“He’s here. Like a real gentleman, he’s helping the lady.”
“The lady?” Judy repeated stupidly, her eyes fixed on the car.
Yes! There she was walking with Karl, a hand on his arm, a dainty figure in dark blue jeans, a cap to match and a bright red sweater. It couldn’t be—No!—that was impossible!
They approached slowly. Karl, with a battered old rucksack borrowed from his uncle, heavy-booted and heavy of tongue, smiled feebly, “I hope you won’t mind. Marian begged to come along.”
Marian gave Judy a little nod and held out her pretty manicured hand to Mr. Lurie. “I know I’m just an interloper, but to be in the heart of the Rockies and not able to boast of one little climb—” She gave Mr. Lurie a ravishing smile.
“Little climb,” Judy muttered under her breath, but she noticed that her father looked as pleased as Punch and said, “We’re delighted to have you come along.”
“That’s sweet of you, Mr. Lurie.” Then as if just remembering Judy’s existence, she said, “How are you?” And without waiting for an answer continued, “I bet you’re glad not to be the only girl in the party!”
“Well, let’s get started,” Fran said. “We’ve a novice with us,” he chuckled. “Marian may look like an ad for the ski patrol, but, brother, she’s never climbed a mountain except in a car. Well, there always has to be a first time. Besides, if we hadn’t Marian’s car, we would have had to hike the twelve miles to get here. The guy who was to take us found himself with five passengers for Denver. A break for him, but—”
Judy stood in the circle and except for a hollow “Hello, Marian,” had been too numb to say anything. Her heart was sore with all her useless, foolish planning. As her grandmother remarked when an irrepressible neighbor invaded her privacy with stupid visits and more stupid conversation, “This neighborhood was always so lovely. Now she has to move next door. There’s always a fly in the ointment!”
Mr. Lurie was laughing at something Marian was saying. He turned to Fran, “Maybe you’re right about the stylish outfit, but why didn’t you tell Marian to wear heavy shoes?”
“I did tell her.”
“They both did,” Mirian said with a careless shrug. “But I don’t own a pair of delightfully sensible cowhide boots such as Judy is sporting.”
Only Judy noticed the subtle sarcasm, “delightfully sensible.” She looked at her thick socks, the mud-colored boots inherited from her mother’s climbing era. She clenched her teeth.
“Don’t worry about me,” Marian added lightly. She lifted a trim little foot. “These sneakers are the best—new and strong. I’ll manage.”
Judy said nothing but silently prayed those sneakers of hers would fall apart and expose her bleeding toes on the rocks.
They began to climb in single file. The first half hour was easy, a slow upward grade. Marian’s teasing voice could be heard.
“You call this a climb?”
She talked incessantly until Fran told her brusquely to save her breath. “You’ll need it,” he warned.
The next three or four hours were hard. Fran leaped ahead like a goat while Judy and her father, with set faces and their bodies bent forward, plodded steadily on. Breathing hard and frequently panting, they were glad of the rest periods Fran ordered at fifteen-minute intervals. The trail led over rocks and huge boulders, mud ankle deep from hidden springs. The trees grew more sparse, then disappeared altogether. In spite of herself, Judy was enjoying the climb, the exertion, the clear, exhilarating air, the sudden views of deep chasms that fell away a thousand feet.
Of Karl and Marian they saw nothing after the first hour. Every once in a while Fran would give his weird call, “Halloo,” and on hearing a faint answering “Halloo,” would say briefly, “They’re on the trail. O.K. Let’s keep moving.”
At one-fifteen the three stopped for lunch. They were on a plateau of smooth rock and before eating, they rested, lying down on the hard surface to dry their soaked shirts and perspiring bodies, then turned over on their stomachs, warming their backs in the hot rays of the sun. In five minutes they were completely refreshed and sat up to eat and marvel at the view.
Giant peaks cut into the sky, deep forests of black pine were far below, and in the distance a thread of silver shimmered, a river, perhaps unknown, uncharted on any map. In a craterlike hollow, barely seen at first, lay a lake of dazzling color, like a giant emerald, sparkling in the sun.
Mr. Lurie at last broke the silence. “You know,” he said in a meditative voice, “it’s hard to explain one’s love for mountain climbing to anyone who doesn’t share your enthusiasm. Most people see it as a foolhardy, backbreaking, unnecessary exertion. ‘Knock yourself out! For what?’ they ask with undisguised condescension, sometimes with a sort of incredulous contempt. And we lovers of the sport can’t explain.” He flung out his arms in a sort of ecstasy. “We say it’s the extraordinary view one gets as a reward for the struggle. No,” Mr. Lurie continued, letting his arms drop beside him, “you get an incomparable view from Pike’s Peak driving up in a car or bus. No, it isn’t the view alone.”
“It’s like a dare or a challenge, isn’t it?” Fran said. “You set out to do what you know is hard and tough. Maybe reach a peak no one ever saw before. You don’t go out for the pleasure of the kill as a hunter does. You’re making a new trail of following someone else’s who had dared before you. And when you’ve done it, boy, you feel good!”
“That’s about it, Fran. You’ve conquered one of the difficulties Nature constantly presents. You push yourself ahead, beyond endurance sometimes, but when you reach the summit, you want to shout, ‘Look, I’m here too! I share your lonely grandeur if only for a moment of time.’”
Then in a more matter-of-fact tone he said to Judy, “I guess you haven’t climbed enough to feel that way about it, but it’s that spirit in one form or another that has led to opening up parts of the world that would otherwise have remained unknown.”
“Oh, I agree with you perfectly, Father, but I was only wondering what happened to Karl and Marian.”
“Yes, where are they?” Fran said impatiently. “We’ve been here for half an hour.”
Mr. Lurie looked at his watch. “It’s only one-twenty-five. How long do you figure, Fran, it will take us to reach North Maroon Peak?”
“At least another hour. We ought to leave now.”
Fran gave his call and after repeating it several times, a faint answer could be heard. At last, they caught a glimpse of the two figures slowly toiling upward.
“They’re O.K. Come on, let’s push on,” Fran said, settling his rope and knapsack on his shoulder.
“I think we ought to wait for them,” Mr. Lurie suggested. “Marian looks as if she could use a little encouragement.”
Fran grudgingly agreed. “They’re holding up,” he grumbled, still chafing at the delay. They watched the slow, painful progress of the two climbers and noticed Karl at times pulling Marian by her hands over the large, smooth boulders.
At last they reached the plateau. Their faces were drawn, streaked with dirt and grime. They dropped down wearily and Marian stretched out flat on her back as if she never expected to rise again. Her eyes were closed as she groaned, “I ache in every bone, every muscle of my body. It’s going to be years before I feel human again.”
As for Karl, his weariness soon left him. He rested as the others had and sat up. Wordlessly, he looked at the magnificent range of peaks jutting into the sky. Then he murmured something: “What wonders He has given us this day to behold,” adding the Hebrew words.
“Is that a prayer of thanksgiving?” Judy asked quietly.
Fran, always practical, broke in, “Have you eaten yet?”
“No,” Karl said as if awakened from a dream. “I’m glad you reminded me. I’m hungry as a bear.”
He reached into his rucksack and took out a brown paper bag and a daintily wrapped box.
“Better have something to eat, Marian,” he said, placing the package beside her.
“Thanks. I don’t want anything.”
“Look, folks,” Fran said impatiently, “if we’re to make the top and get down before dark, we have to leave in ten minutes.”
“I’m ready to leave as soon as you say,” Karl answered, “but I can’t speak for Marian. Look at her right sneaker. The sole has been flapping for the last hour. It’ll be off entirely any minute.”
They examined the sneaker and even Judy hadn’t the heart to gloat or to say, “We told you so.”
Marian lifted her head from the stone. “Please, all of you, go ahead without me. You’ll find me here when you get back. I’ll drink in the view. In fact, I’ll do anything but climb another foot of this mountain. Unfortunately, I’ll have to climb down!”
Mr. Lurie laughed. “Marian, you’ll feel better after you’ve eaten and rested a few minutes longer. You’ll get your second wind.”
“Second wind!” She moved uneasily to a different position. “I used that up long ago. What I need is a pair of bellows to keep my lungs going, to say nothing of a relay of fresh, untrodden feet!”
Judy too couldn’t help laughing. She sat down next to Marian and fed her pieces of orange. She put a sandwich in her hand and coaxed her to take a bite, then another, until it was finished.
“You’ll be all right, Marian. I have an idea. Father has some string in his knapsack. Fran can wind it around your sneaker to reinforce it so that it holds.”
“Please,” Marian pleaded, “all of you, go ahead and that includes Karl. I’ll sleep here peacefully with the birds and beasts—and mountains, and dream peacefully of a hotel room with a hot, steaming bath!”
“No,” Karl said firmly, “I’m not leaving you here alone.”
“It’s a darn shame,” Fran protested. “You’re the one, Karl, who wanted to see Maroon Peak most of all.” He turned dejectedly to Mr. Lurie. “What do you say, Professor?”
“I agree with Karl. We can’t leave Marian alone. There’s no actual danger. We don’t expect any landslide or sudden snow flurry.” He looked at the unclouded sky. “But,” he paused as he tried to hide his own disappointment, “maybe we should give up and all of us return together.”
Judy looked heart-broken. “Marian, I know you feel better now. Why don’t you let Fran fix your sneaker?” she urged. “I know it worked with a girl who went up Mt. Washington with me! We’ve gone three quarters of the way. To turn back now is to admit defeat! You’re spoiling everybody’s fun. Don’t you see!”
“No, I don’t see. But I don’t want to be a spoilsport either.” She dragged herself to a sitting position.
“Once I played in a golf tournament,” she went on. “At the end of eighteen holes the score was tied. I’d just gotten over the flu and I shouldn’t have played at all. I was all beat out but I played another nine holes before the match was finished. It didn’t kill me. All right, you win!”
Judy felt a new respect, almost an affection for this girl whom she had secretly called her “hated rival.”
Fran fixed the offending sneaker and then he announced in his best “guided-tour voice,” “Let everyone attend to his needs.” And with that command the boys and Mr. Lurie discreetly retired to a declivity and were quickly out of sight.
“Where are they going?” Marian asked.
“You know. You heard Fran. This gives us our chance too. I’ve learned on other mountain trips,” she said as she led Marian down to a deep cleft among the rocks.
NEAR TRAGEDY AND RESCUE
The last hour was brutal. Mr. Lurie took the lead with Karl and Judy close behind. On hands and knees they crawled over boulders until they secured a foothold. At one spot Judy was left dangling until her father and Karl inched toward her on their stomachs and pulled her to safety.
Marian’s role was more passive. The coil of rope that Judy had skeptically regarded as a showpiece for Fran now proved its usefulness. Tied under Marian’s arms, he hauled her over rocks and boulders she pluckily attempted but could not scale.
At last they reached the summit. Their salute to the mountain peak was brief. A sharp wind blew through their wet and clammy sweaters. Jackets and windbreakers were pulled from knapsacks. They stood awed and shivering, surrounded by the nearby peaks, silent in the vastness of its forbidding grandeur. Only the cairns, little heaps of massed stones, marked the path of retreat to a world of safety. Mr. Lurie put his arm around Judy and held her close. Fran, as moved as the others, relentlessly pointed to the slanting rays of the sun.
Ten minutes later, they began the descent. Fran rushed ahead with Karl and Judy followed him down the dizzying path. It was fun racing down at almost breakneck speed. The boulders that had defied them and were so hard to grip on the upward climb were friendly on the descent. They sat and slid down, the well-padded leather seats of their pants taking the punishment instead of their young, tough bodies.
Looking back at intervals, they saw Mr. Lurie patiently guiding Marian down the trail, supporting her as she slid down the slippery boulders. Still high above them on the trail, they looked unbelievably small silhouetted against a background of rock and sky.
With high spirits and exuberant bursts of laughter, the three forerunners reached the plateau they had left only an hour and a half earlier and were content to rest as they waited for Marian and Mr. Lurie.
“If you’re game, we can take another trail down,” Fran said. “It’s a little tough in places, but much shorter. We’ll see what they say when they get here.”
When Mr. Lurie and Marian approached and were within hailing distance, Fran called, “Hurry, I want to—”
He got no further. He and his companions eyed Marian with amazement. Her jeans were torn. Long strips of fabric hung in ribbons and light pink stuff showed through the rents of the once slick garment. Her cap was gone and Mr. Lurie’s leather jacket hung loosely on her shoulders. With her rumpled curls falling limply over her brow, she looked like a desperate young bandit.
“Well, here I am,” she greeted them, “a thing of rags and patches, minus the patches.” She flopped down beside them with an anguished “Oh!” as her knees crumpled under her.
Fran gave her a sad, appraising glance. “I was just saying, there’s another trail down. We’ll have to slide on some ice, but it’s nothing much and we can save an hour, maybe more.”
Mr. Lurie shook his head. “I don’t know. Maybe we better stick to the same trail even if it’s longer.”
Marian perked up, suddenly alert. “Fran, did you say we can save an hour? That would get us down by six or seven. Golly, what’s keeping us? It can’t be worse than what I’ve been through already!”
“No,” Fran said reassuringly, “in many ways it’s easier. Just a slide or two, nothing to it.”
“Good! I’m ready,” she said, getting up shakily. “The sooner this ghastly trip is over, the better.” She tenderly felt her mud-spattered, torn jeans. “If these rents get any worse, I may be very anxious for night to fall,” she said, still able to smile at herself.
In twenty minutes they reached a gully, crossed it, and came to what looked like an icefield. At one extremity it sloped precipitously and beyond it lay a stretch of flat land with scrub.
“From there on,” Fran gestured, “there’s a trail going straight down. I heard it was once the bed of a river made from centuries of melting snow from the mountain top. Anyhow, the trail’s pretty dry at this time of year. Steep all right, but short.”
He picked up a large, sturdy stick that lay discarded among the stones and walked on the ice, hitting it several times, testing it.
“Couldn’t be better.” He turned and faced his companions. “Each of us will in turn sit on this ledge of ice, getting as close to the very edge as we can. Then let yourself go. Slide down the ice. That’s all there is to it. I’ll go down first. Remember, the main thing is to let yourself go—easy like. There’s some brush that I’ll grab as I hit the bottom and break my speed. Then I roll over. But you don’t have to worry about that. I’ll be there as you come down.”
He threw down the stick, adjusted his rope and knapsack, and sat down on the ice as if on his own toboggan. Without another word, he slid down the ice. It was over. Before they knew it, they saw him roll over, pick himself up, and wave. Mr. Lurie went next, then Karl. There were the three of them waving and smiling, urging Judy and Marian to follow.
Judy turned to Marian, “You want to go next?”
“No, you go. I want to see how you make out.”
Judy sat down as the others had, closed her eyes to block out the steep drop. She shot out like an arrow and before she knew it, she felt her father’s powerful arms grasping her.
She stood up now and waved with the others. “Come on, Marian, it’s nothing.”
“What’s she waiting for?” grumbled Fran.
Marian stood there, Fran’s discarded stick in her hand, looking like a statue contemplating the ice.
All yelled together, “Sit down! Slide! Don’t keep standing there!”
She heard them for her answer came clearly. “No, I can’t sit down on that cake of ice! It’s too cold. I’ll go down standing. I’ve got the stick.”
“You’re crazy,” Fran shouted, cupping his hands around his mouth to make sure his voice carried. “Sit down! Don’t be an idiot! Sit!”
Before he could shout another warning, she stepped firmly on the icy slope, took another step—a terrifying shriek tore the air! They saw the stick fly from her hand. She pitched forward, doubled over, then rolled down the other side of the precipice.
Judy couldn’t look—was afraid to look. Fran’s practiced eye marked the direction and he and Mr. Lurie ran to where she fell. Karl and Judy, panting with fright, followed.
She lay there stunned—or dead. They didn’t know which. They could only hear their own heavy breathing. Fran was bent over her. Mr. Lurie was on his knees with Fran. They touched her hands, her face. She opened her eyes.
“That you, Professor?” She tried to smile but the pain in her badly bruised face made the smile a grimace. “You see, I got here on my own after all.” Her voice was barely a whisper. She tried to turn her head. “I just want to investigate—the damage.”
“Don’t move, Marian!” Mr. Lurie said quickly. His face was pale, his voice tense. “You may be badly hurt. At first one can’t tell … shock, you know—”
“Nothing hurts, except—all of me.” Again, that grimace of a smile. “Ouch! My ankle!”
Fran looked stern. “You’re mighty lucky! If you’d rolled another hundred feet—there’s a sheer drop over there.” He shook his head, the picture of misery. “I’ll never understand why you did it.”
There was no further talk. Mr. Lurie and Fran made a carry out of Fran’s rope, cutting it and weaving it like a basket. They spread their jackets over the rope and carried Marian gently to a spot where shrub and a huge rock gave some shelter from the wind. Her ankle bulged big over the sneaker, which miraculously held together. Extra sweaters were piled on Marian, whose teeth were now clattering like castanets.
“I’ve got something to fix her up,” Karl said as he took a large thermos from his rucksack. “Hot coffee! Uncle Yahn’s idea.”
It was a godsend. Marian sipped it as if it were nectar and immediately felt warmer. Judy and the others had a few good swallows and nothing ever tasted half as good.
Mr. Lurie now took command. “Fran, go down the trail. Make as good time as you can and notify the ski lodge of the accident. They’ll send up relief. They always do. That’s the unwritten code among mountain climbers. Judy will go with you. Karl and I will remain with Marian. After the ski lodge has been notified, try to get Judy home. Her mother will start to worry. Oh, yes,” he said as an afterthought, “have you the keys to Marian’s car?”
“Good! That will help rounding up volunteers.”
Fran stood irresolute. “I think maybe you should go down the trail with me, not Judy. We can make better time and you’re the one who can get a rescue party together.”
“He’s right, Father,” Judy broke in. “Let me stay with Marian and Karl.”
After a moment’s hesitancy, Mr. Lurie agreed that this was the wisest thing to do. Without another word he took off his sweat shirt and made Judy put it on. Fran did the same, giving his to Karl. Neither of them now had any protection against the increasing cold and wind except their thin cotton shirts.
Judy protested but Mr. Lurie said, “Don’t worry about us. At the speed we’ll be going, we’ll keep warm enough.”
He stood there for a moment thinking. “It’ll be four or five hours, if we’re lucky, before anyone can get here. The cold’s going to get worse. Keep close as you can to each other. Your bodies will provide some heat. So long, kids. Keep your chins up!”
With that he and Fran were gone.
It was a long vigil. Judy and Karl sat huddled together close to Marian. Darkness fell quickly. They tried to pass the hours talking of school, their plans for the future. They sang snatches of songs and discovered to their surprise they dozed off while they thought they were still singing, only to wake, cramped and stiff with the cold.
They had no watch by which to measure the passing hours, but when the moon lighted up the dismal, fearsome darkness, they cheered! They knew how much the moonlight could ease it for those who, guided only by lantern, must make the steep, hazardous climb to reach them!
In one of the quiet lulls between sleep and wakefulness, Judy, no longer able to bear the increasing pangs of hunger as well as the weight of silence said, “I know a poem. It’s called ‘The Trail’ and it’s symbolic too. My grandfather wrote it for my grandmother.”
“Good,” Marian drawled from under her heap of jackets. “We’re the helpless victims. We’ll listen.”
“I’m not sure I remember it exactly—”
“So you’ll skip a few lines. We won’t know the difference.”
“Want to hear it, Karl?” Judy asked, suddenly feeling shy.
“Of course I do.”
“You know,” Judy said half defensively, “my grandparents climbed mountains all their lives, even went up Mt. Rainier.”
“Never mind the build-up. Just begin,” Marian ordered, like a stage manager.
Judy cleared her throat.
The rocky trail
Steep-periled cliffs and far below
The deep ravine where mountain torrents flow.
Stay for a moment on this extended ledge.
Look back the way we’ve come.
Far, far below the starting of The Trail
The distant lakes that lie like mirrors
To the Heavens.
The hush of silence, the stillness of the scene,
The circling hawk, the woods, the valleyed hills
A panorama of the world. One seems enchanted in a land of dreams
Come, come away. I ask no better trail than this;
Thy voice, thy love, thy hand in mind, thy kiss.
“It’s beautiful,” Karl whispered. “Do you think I’ll ever meet your grandfather?”
“Yes. He knows all about you.”
“But he left out a lot of things a realist like myself would have included,” Marian said with a sigh. “That’s the trouble with being a poet. What would rhyme with broken ankles or shredded pants!”
“I suppose,” Marian went on, as she cautiously tried to change her position, “you’ve sharpened a carload of pencils to carry on and maybe even snatch the mantle from your grandfather!”
Embarrassed, Judy muttered, “I’ve never been able to write even a jingle!”
She impulsively put her hand on Marian’s. “I know how you must feel, all that pain and probably starving too. Why don’t you lay your head on my lap—you tell her, Karl! That rock must be cutting ridges in her scalp!”
Marian took the proffered hand. “Why stop at the scalp?” she said lightly. “I’m certain it’s penetrated deep below the bony structure. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the brain was in danger! At least it certainly feels addled. No thanks, Judy dear, I’ll stay as I am. Besides, one pain offsets another. I didn’t know I was hungry until you mentioned it.”
It was the first time Marian had displayed any affection for Judy. There was a significant pause. Then Marian went on.
“I have to get something off my chest. For weeks I thought of you as an insufferable brat and,” she went on quickly before Judy could interrupt, “I know what you thought of me—a vampire trying to ensnare Karl! Don’t deny it! You gave yourself away more than once,” she gloated happily.
“Stop talking such rot!” Karl said, bristling with suppressed anger. “Between the two of you—”
But Marian went on serenely. “Now I take it all back. I like you, Judy, and I hope you like me.”
“Marian, you’re just the most,” Judy gulped. “I guess I was—I don’t know—maybe I didn’t take the trouble to understand you. I was awful,” she said, on the verge of tears.
“As for Karl,” Marian continued in a voice as if she had already joined the heavenly choir—“I have a Karl of my own. His name happens to be Charles, which is close enough. He’s very sweet—too much money for his own good—too much of a playboy—but very sweet,” she repeated sleepily. “And now I think I’ll take a little nap.” With that she closed her eyes.
When the rescue party arrived, they found the three fast asleep, fallen on each other, in a state of complete exhaustion. Awakened, they were given hot drinks and food. Marian was lifted onto a stretcher and covered with blankets. There were sweaters and coats for Judy and Karl, and friendly hands helped them down the mountain. By midnight they reached the foot of the trail. An ambulance waited there and in less than an hour Marian was in Pitkin County Hospital. Her mother and the impeccably dressed Charles flew in from Chicago the next day to visit the invalid. They found her holding court with two Appalachian mountain climbers, visitors in Aspen, a reporter from the Aspen Times, a photographer, and others.
For two issues the Aspen Times featured the story as “Dramatic Adventure Up Maroon Peak.” Marian, looking very chic in her elegant lounging robe, was photographed with her broken ankle, chipped knee, lacerations, and bruises under the caption, “Lucky Girl.” Fran, Karl, Mr. Lurie, and Judy also came in for their share of glory.
But the real heroes, the Aspen Times noted in its editorial, were the six volunteers who reacted immediately to the plight of those on the mountain.
“… there are no tangible rewards. No law requires them to undergo the physical hardship and possible danger to aid the injured girl.
“We are proud of the men who answer to an unwritten code, always present in the mountains, to go to the aid of his fellow man when in danger. The men who participated in the rescue are the real heroes and merit the gratitude of all.”
None subscribed more feelingly to this sentiment than did the little band of five who were the principals in this adventure on Maroon Mountain.
CLOUDS ON THE HORIZON
A letter from home! That was what Mrs. Lurie still called the much prized letters from her mother that arrived at regular intervals all through the summer. Minna herself was an indifferent correspondent and John occasionally scrawled a few lines with a program enclosed of past or coming events.
Yet the grandmother’s letters never held any reproach for the long silences. She related family events with gusto, the small or large happenings of her own household … the guest who came for a week end and stayed the week. Frequently Minna was concerned, often annoyed.
“Mother’s incurably hospitable! It’s a shame, she never gets any rest—”
Mrs. Lurie seemed to have forgotten those years when she, her brothers and sisters filled the house with their guests. She never wondered then how her parents bore up under the strain. A feast or a snack, long past midnight, radio blaring, the rug turned back for dancing, late breakfasts and untidy bedrooms, bathing suits drying on antique chairs, dates and parties—and the tired voice, “Everyone in? Thank goodness. Try to keep quiet—Your father needs his rest.”
“Incurably hospitable!” Minna repeated, while John patiently waited to hear the letter so recently arrived and cause of his wife’s outburst.
“Listen to this, John! ‘I finally succeeded in getting Sam Sterling and Jennie Coleman to come down together for a week end. You remember Jennie? She’s been a widow for eight years, but is still hopefully looking over the field. I don’t blame her—she’s lonely.
“‘Sam is as charming as always. He’s still unmarried and lives alone since his sister died. Need I say more? I still believe propinquity is the best matchmaker.
“‘Shortly after dinner, when we were about to sit down to a game of canasta, Jennie whispered to me, “I can’t find my bridge!”
“‘“Your what?” I asked.
“‘“My denture. I couldn’t stand the pressure—that steak, I guess.”
“‘What a night! We were too embarrassed to tell Sam and C.B. why we ransacked the house. Along about midnight, I thought of the garbage! Jennie and I lifted that five-foot can, dragged it down the cellar steps and emptied its contents on the cement floor. There we found it, neatly wrapped in her monogrammed handkerchief, safe and snug among the coffee grounds and tea bags!’”
John was laughing. “Only your mother would think of the garbage!”
“Honestly, John, I don’t see how Father puts up with Mother’s passion for doing good! Think of all those remote cousins, aunts, and uncles, content and accustomed to family indifference, suddenly recalled from oblivion—and the inevitable letter, inviting them to leave the hot city, come down for a week end—”
Minna smiled in spite of her serious misgivings. “But these people must bore Father and her too. She abuses her health. Father ought to put his foot down!”
John merely shook his head. “Your father adores your mother. He thinks these successive waves of self-torture are an endearing weakness and so plays along. It’s a gift—to be so selfless, doing kind and gracious things—actually enjoying doing them.”
When for ten days after the climb up Maroon Peak there was still no letter from “home,” Mrs. Lurie became anxious and put in a long distance call. Her mother tried to sound cheerful but Minna could detect her anxiety. “Father didn’t wish me to write that he was ill…. He’s doing nicely…. Yes, he’d love to see you, but he wouldn’t want you to leave until the Season is over.”
That night the Luries had a conference and made a quick decision. Mrs. Lurie and Judy would leave Aspen as soon as they could get plane reservations for New York. Mr. Lurie, because of his commitments, must wait until the official closing of the Music Festival, then he would follow by train with most of their luggage.
Little Percent Taxi, which had blossomed into a travel bureau, secured the necessary plane tickets from Denver to New York. In two days Minna and Judy would leave, travel over the famous Independence Pass to Denver, conveyed there by a Little Percent Taxi. “The charges for the ride,” John cynically observed, “were far from little.”
Minna began to pack. There were frequent interruptions, last-minute interviews, and conferences about the coveted appearance in New York.
Judy too had things to do—her farewell appearance at camp—the library book to be returned and, with the dollar deposit, purchase the gift for little Willie. She paid a hurried visit to Uncle Yahn with the hope of seeing Karl. It was an almost unbearable disappointment that Karl was nowhere in sight and she had to be content with his uncle’s easy assurance that he would give him her message.
The morning before their departure, Judy and her mother were in the kitchen packing the remaining utensils.
“This pressure cooker weighs a ton, Mother. Why do you always take it with you?”
“I wouldn’t know how to keep house without it, so don’t drop it,” her mother answered, looking up from her own labors. Her eyes rested on her daughter.
“Goodness, I’ll have to get you some new bras as soon as we get home. You’ve developed a bosom in these two months!”
Judy was flattered by this reference to her budding curves, but she looked at her mother, “Is my body the only thing that has developed?” she asked hopefully. “There is such a thing as mind as well as matter.”
Mrs. Lurie tried to repress a smile. “You’ve developed in other ways, matured. Perhaps it was the regular duties at camp and its responsibilities.” She looked thoughtfully at her daughter. “Anyhow, whatever the reason,” she said with unwonted tenderness, “it was good to have you with us this summer. And when I was ill—I don’t know how we’d have managed without you.”
Mrs. Lurie was undemonstrative. She knew herself to be reserved almost to a fault, and she secretly envied the mothers who could display their affection. She now added a little self-consciously, “I hope, Judy, that you liked being with us as much as Father and I loved having you. It’s been our first summer together in years.”
“Yes, it was nice, Mother, much nicer than I expected.” Her mother looked disappointed. Her eyes seemed to say, “Is that all?”
“Let’s sit down and rest for a little while?” Mrs. Lurie suggested. Judy pulled up a stool while her mother sank into a chair.
“Then you are glad you came with us?” her mother asked again.
“Of course,” Judy answered quickly, thankful for the interlude in the drudgery of packing and the chance for a talk with her mother. “It was fun,” she went on, her arms hugging her knees, “to be included in everything, or nearly everything you and Father did. I love Aspen and things here are exciting. You just breathe and music seeps in, like some pleasant, contagious disease! I think I’ll go back to my piano—” There was an imperceptible pause. “Now especially, that—”
“I’m so delighted,” her mother broke in, too pleased at this admission to notice her daughter’s emphasis on the “Now especially,” or the revealing smile that accompanied it.
“Father will be as happy as I am—Go on, dear.”
“What more can I tell you? It was because of you and Father that I came to know Lynne and Allen and I love them dearly. They’ve been so wonderful to me. But, Mother,” she paused and said shyly, “don’t you think that—er—er—Karl had something to do with my maturing, as you call it?”
“Karl?” Her mother raised her eyebrows in surprise. “It was very pleasant to have him around.” Noticing her daughter’s reproachful glance, she went on briskly, “He’s a fine boy, hard-working and very talented.”
Judy nodded vigorously, her eyes glowing with pleasure.
“Yes, he’s wonderful, isn’t he? If only you knew him as well as I do! But surely there’s something unusual … something special you must have noticed—”
“Unusual?” Mrs. Lurie who rarely smoked, lighted a cigarette to gain time before replying. Her face clouded as though she resented Karl’s being introduced into a conversation that concerned only themselves.
“Yes,” she said at last in a quiet, judicious voice, “remarkably dependable. I think you can feel proud, considering how young you are, that Karl has chosen to make you his friend.”
Judy’s face darkened. She resented the calm, dispassionate voice of her mother, her ignorant appraisal of how much Karl meant to her.
She answered heatedly, “Friend! Suppose I was to tell you that I love Karl!”
Minna put down her cigarette. “You’ll be in and out of what you call love a dozen times before you’re much older,” she spoke calmly, but was now thoroughly roused. “What can you know about love or speak of love at your age?” she added more sharply.
“Why not?” Judy asked bristling. “Grandpa was in love with Grandma when he was eighteen and she was only fifteen and they’ve been happy all their—”
“Things were different in those days,” her mother interrupted. “Women had no careers or rarely did. Because your grandmother married so young, she never went beyond her freshman year at college. You certainly want to go to college!”
“Did I ever say I wasn’t going to college? I intend to go, although I’ve heard you say dozens of times that Grandma is better read and better informed than most college graduates you knew. And what about Abe Lincoln?” she hurried on. “What schooling did he have and everyone knows that his speeches are considered—”
“Look, Judy, what are we arguing about?” Mrs. Lurie said wearily. “I’m only saying that you are too young to think of Karl or anyone else seriously. You’re only fifteen!”
“I’m practically sixteen—or will be in a few months.”
“Come, dear, let’s forget the argument. How about a cup of tea?” Mrs. Lurie said, anxious to restore the good feeling between them.
Judy glumly assented. Mrs. Lurie went to the stove and put on the kettle. “I guess people will be coming in droves tonight,” she said pleasantly. “Oh!” she interrupted herself, “I just remembered. Karl phoned last night when you were at the drugstore. I completely forgot to tell you.”
Judy muttered to herself, “Forgot to tell me and I was unable to sleep a wink last night, worrying.”
“Did he leave any message?” she asked tensely.
“Yes, he did. I think I remember his exact words.” Unconsciously Mrs. Lurie mimicked the halting words of the boy. “There will be a moon tomorrow night. I’d like to take Judy for a walk so that we can say good-bye to Aspen together.” She laughed good-naturedly. “It was so deliciously young!”
With an angry cry the girl faced her mother, “You’re heartless! What’s more, you haven’t a shred of feeling—no soul!”
Minna felt outraged. She turned her puzzled gaze upon her daughter. “What did I say to bring that on?” Her lips tightened. “Since you get so wrought up about trifles, so emotional over nothing, I think it will be just as well if you said good-bye to Karl right at home. After all, the moon will be just as visible from our porch.”
“You mean to say that I can’t go out with Karl tonight? Our last night together!”
“That’s exactly what I do mean.”
“I intend to go and you can’t stop me!” Judy’s face was flushed, the tears falling unheeded. She rushed from the room, “I hate your dominating ways!”
Mrs. Lurie’s anguished eyes followed her daughter. “No, she couldn’t mean that—she couldn’t—what’s become of the little girl I adore so?” she asked herself miserably as she paced the floor. “She looks upon me as an enemy! Until a year ago she was so easily managed! So content with her grandparents—It wasn’t our tours! They’re never long. Besides, I’m entitled to live my own life,” she told herself defensively. “I have my career!” She sat down dejectedly, her head in her hands. “It is my fault. I haven’t tried enough. I must find a way to reach her—but I must protect her against her foolish, extravagant ideas of romance—” She went back to the stove, mechanically turned out the light, stood there staring bleakly into the empty cups.
Tempers cannot remain at fever pitch all day. Judy was sorry, ashamed of her outburst. If her mother had only understood how much Karl meant to her! To forbid a last walk together—she would appeal to her father. No, that was useless. She knew her parents always supported each other—family discipline!
Mrs. Lurie too had second thoughts. Why had she been so stern, so unfeeling? Could one experience love at fifteen? or sixteen? If she had met John at that age, would she have felt as Judy did about Karl? These thoughts harassed her all day whenever she paused in her work.
That evening Karl came dressed in his city clothes. Judy watched him as he talked with her father. He’s so handsome! She watched his face light up with a smile, then become serious. The ill-fitting suit couldn’t hide his strong, broad shoulders. Clothes don’t make the man!
Her father beckoned to her. As she joined them, he said, “Karl has some very exciting news—”
“If you don’t mind, I’d like to tell Judy myself,” Karl gently interrupted. “We’re going for a walk—”
“I’m not so sure about the walk,” Judy said uncertainly.
At her father’s look of surprise, she said with an attempt at lightness, “According to Mother, I’m supposed to be doing penance tonight. I’m not to move off the porch while Karl gives me a lecture on astronomy.”
Her father smiled. “Sounds pretty dull. Doing penance for what?”
“Something I said. I was furious about—never mind!” She glanced at Karl, not wishing to go on.
“Let’s go over to speak to Mother. There she is next to the punch bowl.” He piloted them to where Minna was serving refreshments.
“Minna,” he began, as he drew his wife to the comer where Judy and Karl waited, “I understand you’ve forbidden the time-honored custom of two youngsters taking a walk by moonlight.” He smiled, “Any crimes committed of which I am ignorant?”
“No crimes, unless impertinence, defiance—” She stopped and looked at her daughter’s eyes, pleading. Was Judy solely to blame for the scene? As her mother, wasn’t she being a little ridiculous? The girl had asked for sympathy and understanding and all she had given her was logic and cold reasoning! The wisdom and tenderness of her own parents during her adolescence flashed through her mind. Why wasn’t she like them? Instead she was following the pattern of Grandmother Fannie, Judy’s great-grandmother! She recognized herself with a start—she had always admired the grim strength of that remarkable old lady and yet with what delight she had heard her mother tell how she had been brought to terms!
“What was it you asked me, John?” Minna asked, recalled to the present.
“The youngsters want to take a walk. Any valid objection?”
“No, I don’t think so,” she said lamely.
She turned to her daughter. “I guess I was just putting myself in your great-grandmother’s shoes. She had very definite ideas about—life. Sometime I’ll tell you about her. But,” she added with a smile, “I don’t measure up to her, nor do I really wish to.”
Judy looked at her mother. “Thanks awfully. You know I didn’t mean any of—”
“I know, dear,” her mother spoke gently. She turned to Karl. “Only don’t stay out late. Remember, we leave very early tomorrow morning.”
A DREAM IS CRYSTALLIZED
“Cute, aren’t they?” The woman smiled indulgently at the man standing beside her, as she watched Judy and Karl make their way through the maze of guests.
The man nodded. “I’ve seen them together many times—those who’ve forgotten call it ‘puppy love.’ It’s a beautiful time! Wedekind calls it ‘Spring’s Awakening.’” The man looked thoughtful. “It can be desperately serious too. I’ve never forgotten my first—”
The boy and girl couldn’t help hearing the whispered words and tried to look as if they hadn’t heard.
They stood on the porch a moment. The sky was heavy with stars brightened by the crescent moon. It was so wonderful to be together away from the prying eyes of others. They walked arm in arm down the silent street, absorbed in their thoughts.
Judy wondered about her mother; her recent turnabout, her surrender. We love each other. Why do we hurt each other so often? She glanced at Karl. His face was serious. Had it anything to do with the news he wished to tell her?
When they reached the Chairlift, Karl’s face brightened. “Let’s sit here. This is where we ate our first sandwich together.” He smiled. “Remember?”
They sat close, their arms and hands interlocked.
“It’s too bad you have to leave so soon—”
“I know. I just hope Grandfather’s illness isn’t serious. It frightens me!”
“It can’t be so bad, otherwise your grandmother would have telegraphed.”
“I guess you’re right. He was never sick a day until that attack four years ago. A walk with him or a talk was an adventure.” She stopped, embarrassed. “You must be tired hearing me speak of him so much.”
“You know very well that isn’t so. Actually since I’ve known you and have heard you talk about grandparents, aunts and cousins, I’ve had a longing to be part of a big, interesting family.”
Judy nodded. “It is fun when the clan gets together. Grandmother’s house can expand like an accordion. My cousins and I usually beg to sleep overnight. Couches miraculously open into double beds, cots are hauled from the attic. It’s bedlam, really, but we love it. On Thanksgiving Day two turkeys are necessary to feed the hungry mob. The Seder, the Passover Feast, is unforgettable—dignified and joyous. The story of the Passover, the Exodus from Egypt is especially interesting today—the songs are fun and such food—until you could burst!” She smiled at Karl.
“You’ve been to a Seder, haven’t you?”
“Not for a long time. Not since—My mother is sad at such times.”
“Next year you and your mother will come to us,” Judy said with warmth. “We’d love it. After all, a table that seats twenty-five can just as easily have two more.”
After a moment she said, “A big family’s pretty wonderful but when you come down to it, it’s your own parents that matter. You have to live with them!” She smiled, “and they with us! I’ve discovered in the last year or two that parents don’t understand their children, at least in the growing-up stage. I’m not speaking just for myself. Girls at school have talked to me and they admit there’s a sort of undeclared war between them and their parents.”
“What do kids that age have to complain about? I think you exaggerate. Small tensions exist everywhere. Parents are only human.”
“I don’t exaggerate, Karl. Believe me, there’s always something to argue about! If it isn’t clothes, and their taste is awful, then it’s money! You’re either a spendthrift or a miser. If you happen to hate math, they think you should make a special effort and deliver A grades. Your reading is either childish or far beyond your years. They disapprove of your best friend and look aghast when at the age of fourteen you wish to go to a party to which boys are invited!” Judy shook her head solemnly. “I tell you, either they interfere and make your life miserable or ignore you altogether!”
Karl laughed. “You can’t be serious. Your father is terrific and so is your mother. You don’t know how lucky you are to have such parents.”
“Yes, I do,” Judy said, on the defensive at once. “I love them. I’m proud of them, but I don’t understand them. I used to think that Father was always making fun of me. But now I’m beginning to enjoy his brand of humor. This summer at Aspen has really made a big difference. He and I are pals. But Mother is different. It could be funny if it weren’t so irritating. She treats me like a subject in one of those child-study books she used to read.” Judy shook her head. “She hasn’t the faintest idea what goes on in my head, or of my feelings. At least so it appears sometimes—”
For the first time Karl looked sympathetic. “I guess that’s true of all mothers. I’m in that sort of jam myself.”
“You?” Judy said incredulously. “You’ve said your mother lives only for you!”
“Yes, that’s just the trouble,” Karl said gloomily. “It all started since Mr. Werther came into our lives. That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. Your father knows, from what Uncle Yahn told him the night we were at your house and what I’ve told him since.”
“I remember overhearing some things your uncle said—and that your mother met Mr. Werther through some—”
Karl nodded. “Mr. Werther calls it fate … my mother, the hand of God.”
“Tell me the rest,” Judy urged.
“Mr. Werther asked many questions about me. Need I tell you that she plunged into the subject with enthusiasm! She showed him my photograph, the prizes I had won—” He shrugged his shoulders. “In short, she gave it as her unbiased opinion that I was a budding genius! Being pressed for more details, she admitted we were poor and with few friends.”
Karl went on. “Mr. Werther is rich. He’s married, but has no family. Music is still his passion and is bound up in his love and remembrance of my father. He offered almost at once to become my patron. You know what that means, Judy?”
“I guess so. A sort of benefactor?”
“Well, yes, a patron is a lover of arts who has money and wishes to encourage some struggling musician or artist. It’s not a new idea. In medieval times it was the Church that commissioned paintings, allowed the artist to flourish. Sometimes it was the government or a nobleman who provided this encouragement. Today Foundations do the same.
“Anyhow,” Karl went on. “Mr. Werther became fired with this idea. My mother was quite carried away by his generosity. Both agreed I should be consulted. My mother wrote all this in her letters. She was careful to add that after all the offer was made on impulse. He wished to speak to his wife and that we must not count on it too much. I was interested but I gave it little serious thought. It was something for the distant future, if at all.”
Judy’s face was downcast. Karl asked, “Do you really want to hear all this?”
“Of course. Please don’t stop every minute.”
Thus prodded, Karl continued. “Last week Mr. Werther came again, this time with his wife. He had made all the necessary inquiries and had a definite program. He goes to Europe every year on business. Next year, after I graduate in June, he expects me to go with him. No more talk of consulting me. The plan is ready. I go to Europe, study in Paris and so on—”
“And does your mother now object?” Judy asked, suddenly hopeful of an unexpected ally.
“Far from it! Judging from her letters, the sooner, the better!”
Judy’s face was now as gloomy as Karl’s.
Fumbling for words, Karl tried to explain this change in his mother. Loyal as he was, he could not conceal his resentment. “She doesn’t care that I’m to be uprooted again or separated from those I care so much about—” He looked yearningly at Judy. “It’s only my career that matters to her now!”
“But wasn’t that always uppermost with her?” Judy asked, trying to be fair.
“Not the way it is now. Happiness was a goal as well as one’s ambition. We worked hard but we both loved what we were doing—for each other. She’s changed, I tell you. She’s possessed by this—glitter of my success.” He sat there thinking.
“When I wrote to her about the wonderful friends I made in Aspen, your parents, you, Fran and Marian, she wrote with such happiness, grateful that I had such warm friends. But after Mr. Werther came with his golden promises, her letters became enigmas. New words, new phrases—‘single-mindedness of purpose, friends must not be allowed to take time from hours needed for study or practice,’ a whole philosophy on how to become the great and successful musician!”
Judy’s heart ached for Karl. With amazing intuition she understood that his anger was less directed at his mother than at himself and the choice he must make.
“I don’t want to be pushed,” he said finally. “I have my own ideas. Maybe I could get a scholarship and go on as I have, take my chances. I admit that at first I thought it a pleasant thing to have Mr. Werther obligingly in the wings, like a good fairy, until I gave the signal. Now it is he and my mother who give the signals.”
Judy felt crushed. Her beautiful dream of love and romance was disintegrating into thin air. How could she combat the forces against her? Karl’s mother, her own, Mr. Werther—and Karl? Was he so sure of himself? Wasn’t he glad at first? What really mattered was Karl’s future! It was hard to look at the question objectively, as if it were someone else, not one about whom she cared.
Karl took a letter from his pocket. “Maybe I haven’t done justice to my mother or her reasons,” he said, with a tinge of self-reproach in his voice. “She’d gladly keep on working all her life. It’s only my good she wishes.
“This came yesterday. Will you hold this flashlight so I can see.” He turned the pages. “I’ll read part of it to you.
“‘… Karl, my son, there are hundreds of talented boys who may or may not be as gifted as you. Everyone cannot get scholarships. There just aren’t enough. To be able to study with the best teachers, to do this without worries about money or part-time jobs—the freedom from such responsibilities often makes the difference between a mediocre player and a great one. And later one must be heard. Where is the money to come from in order to play before the right audiences? Write to Mr. Werther that you accept his generous offer.
“‘Put away your childish thoughts. Running up and down mountains! Friends are not so important. That can come later when you have the time for it.
“‘The few years ahead may be lonely, for me certainly, but I do not hesitate, nor must you—’”
Judy’s hand shook as she held the light. “Your mother is brave!” she said feelingly, for the first time forgetful of her own unhappiness.
Karl folded the letter, put the flashlight back in his pocket.
“I must write to Mr. Werther. But what? He’s waiting to hear from me. He doesn’t know me. He’s never heard me play. Suppose I don’t live up to his expectations—and all that money wasted!” He touched Judy’s hair, no longer the thick pony tail, but hanging soft and luxuriant on her neck.
“Here I am bothering you with my troubles and uncertainties.” He shook his head. “Although you’re a kid as years go, you’ve lived all your life with musicians. You must have heard some of their problems discussed. Tell me, how does all this strike you?”
“I’m thinking, thinking hard, Karl.” She stared in front of her. She must be honest. Suppose this chance had come to another boy, not to Karl, not to the boy she loved. What would she say? She was remembering her mother and father speaking. Why had this friend not taken the position in the orchestra he had wanted so much? Was it because he didn’t feel good enough? No, it was money! He just couldn’t afford to wait the six months or more before the position came through. His family needed money. He took a job with a musical show instead.
“These men,” her father had said, “never get back to the playing they’ve been trained for and really love.”
But Karl with Mr. Werther’s help can get to the top! She pressed her hands together as if seeking some inner strength. “It’s a wonderful opportunity, Karl!” She was surprised at her voice, its fire and enthusiasm. “You shouldn’t hesitate. Such a chance may never come again!”
The flame in her eyes kindled his. “That’s what your father said to me tonight.”
He took her hands in his, pressing them until they hurt. “I feel as if a stone has been lifted from my shoulders. I didn’t know how much I wanted you to say just that.”
“And you’ll leave in June?” Her voice was small. Her heart, now that it had spoken, felt like lead.
And Karl, in his unexpected feeling of relief, noticed nothing of the effort it had cost Judy to speak so honestly. “We have months before us—fall, winter, spring! And after I leave, long letters to and from each other across the ocean. This is not the end for us, Judy, only the beginning of something wonderful—”
Judy shivered. Karl took off his coat and placed it on her shoulders. His arm tightened, holding her close to him.
“Autumn comes early in the mountains.”
His head was close to hers. “I can’t put into words what you’ve meant to me. I’ve found the sweetest, the most wonderful girl in the world. You’ll wait for me, Judy—You must! You’ll be going to college—” Their lips met.
A burst of harsh laughter made them draw hastily apart. Two boys, not much older than Karl, came from their hiding place and stood before them jeering.
“You call that a kiss? Need any help? Give her a good squeeze—that’s what the kid’s asking for!” They laughed uproariously. There were more jests, unpleasant—the boys came closer.
Judy tried to hide her face on Karl’s shoulder but he got up and advanced toward them.
“Beat it,” he said sternly, “and be quick about it.”
“Look, Romeo’s looking for a fight!”
“Aw, come on,” the other said, “let’s leave the smoochers alone!”
They ambled off, looking back every few steps to laugh, to whistle, until they were out of sight.
“Thank heaven, they’re gone,” Judy whispered. “I was frightened.”
“The movies must be over,” Karl said absently, as he sat down and put his arm protectingly around Judy. “Last year, I went with Uncle Yahn to Hanover, to help him on some business matter. Late in the afternoon we went to a movie. The place was crowded with college students. At every love scene there were catcalls—they pelted the screen with peanuts. I couldn’t understand why they did it.” He shrugged his shoulders. “Nor do I understand them,” and he motioned to the two figures disappearing down the street.
“Don’t think about them,” Judy whispered. She wanted to hear again the words so lovingly spoken, words so full of promise for their future. But the tender mood was gone. Karl stood up.
“Come, Judy, it’s time for us to go.”
They walked back slowly, their bodies pressed close, wishing they could walk on and on. They forgot the inevitable separation, the drive and ambition of the most devoted of mothers. A sweetness enveloped them, a confidence in their future they could neither understand nor explain.
Karl stood before Judy’s home as if he couldn’t bear to break away. “I’ll telephone to you as soon as I return to New York.”
“Mother and I will be staying at my grandparents’ for a week, maybe two. I gave you their address and telephone number, didn’t I?”
“Yes.” He stood there awkwardly. “Good-bye, Judy. Say good-bye to your mother for me. I’ll see your father every day, I guess. Good-bye again—” He bent down and kissed her on the mouth, holding her tight. Without another word he rushed down the path.
As in a trance, Judy walked into the house. The guests were gone. Only the hall was lighted. She climbed the stairs to her room.
“Is that you, Judy?”
“I was just beginning to worry what was keeping you so late.” Her mother spoke evenly but Judy could detect the annoyance in her voice.
“Get to sleep quickly, dear.”
Judy lay huddled on her bed, her clothes negligently tossed on a chair. She murmured to herself, “He loves me—thank Heaven, he loves me—” She closed her eyes to live over again this last wonderful hour.
Between half-consciousness and sleep, she saw Karl bowing before a great audience in Carnegie Hall, a Stradivarius under his arm. She, looking beautiful and elegantly dressed, sat in a stage box. As the wife of the newly acclaimed artist—her lips trembled, overcome with joy.
A hand lightly touched her forehead. “Feel all right?” It was her mother. “I got up to get a blanket and saw the light on in your room—”
“Forgot, I guess,” Judy’s eyelids flickered for a second. She turned on her side to continue dreaming.
Mrs. Lurie, sighed, shook her head, and turned off the light.
FAREWELL TO ASPEN
Pale and apathetic, Judy waited on the porch for the Little Percent to take them to Denver. It was cold. A mist hung over the valley. The elation of the previous night was gone. Through the open door she could hear her parents talking. What can she know of life … hardship … disappointments … give her stability, direction—They mean me, she thought bitterly. Then her father’s comforting words about Grandfather—
The car swung briskly before the house. Fran jumped out, picked up the suitcases from the porch, and hurriedly whispered to Judy as he passed, “Sit up front with me. You don’t want to sit with them,” indicating with a nod the other passengers in the car.
While Fran stowed away the luggage, the Luries stood at the curb. John kissed his wife and helped her into the car. Judy still gazed at the mountains, overhung with low clouds. She sighed heavily. She felt her father’s hand. He started to say something about Karl. Instead he took her in his arms. “Clouds have a way of disappearing,” he said gently, “just as yours will.” He wanted to see her smile. “You’ll soon get a glimpse of the two characters on the back seat. They’re smothered in robes and scarves all set for a polar expedition.” He chuckled. “The ladies may be young and beautiful, but who can tell?” Judy returned his smile.
Mrs. Lurie was already seated with the two characters—caricatures would more aptly describe them, Judy thought. Yet they looked vaguely familiar.
“Would it be all right, Mother, if I sat up front with Fran? This little straight-back seat doesn’t look too—”
“Of course, dear. You’ll be more comfortable.”
The car rushed forward in a cloud of dust with Mr. Lurie’s voice trailing it, “Don’t forget to send me the wire when your plane reaches New York.”
Aspen was soon left behind. From the back seat came a continuous stream of talk. Whenever her mother addressed her, Judy turned with a dull, indifferent glance. It was during one of these fleeting moments that Mrs. Lurie attempted an introduction to their fellow passengers. “This is Miss Simms and Miss Clark—” Judy, wrapped in her own thoughts, couldn’t care less.
The sun broke through the heavy mist and the two ladies peeled off several layers of covering. For all Judy’s abstraction, she couldn’t help identifying them through their formal address of each other.
“Miss Simms, that mountain is Granite.”
“Look at the map, Miss Clark, it’s Mt. Massive.”
The gray, fuzzy ringleted Miss Clark in her mouselike turban was still cheering for Granite. Miss Simms, her hair a shiny black, two spots of rouge giving her an odd, clownlike look, stoutly maintained otherwise. Suddenly Judy remembered: These were the two birdlike visitors whom she had tried to sketch at the Seminar Building.
“I see you lost your job as guide,” Judy remarked to Fran.
He nodded, “Teachers are smart but queer. Imagine, they came to the office yesterday just to find out the exact route so they could be prepared with maps and things.”
“Not music teachers?”
“No, High School. They were in Aspen three weeks and took in every lecture night and day and concerts in between.” Fran shook his head over such incredible industry. “In the fifteen minutes they were in the office they gave me advice as if I were their long lost brother.”
“About learning. ‘You don’t want to be a cab driver all your life? How about studying at night? Or taking correspondence courses. There are some good ones.’” Fran shrugged his shoulders. “I told them I like what I’m doing—making money, helping Mom out with the kids, skiing in winter, and I make money then too, enjoying life. They looked kind of disgusted or maybe just disappointed. ‘Where’s your ambition?’ they asked.”
The car made a turn skirting a deep precipice. Accustomed to Fran’s sadistic pleasure in scaring his passengers, Judy repressed her own impulse to cry out. Besides, there had been enough terrified “Ohs” during the last two hours.
“Will I be thankful when we get to Leadville,” Miss Clark said resignedly. “I understand we can get an excellent meal there—a restaurant famous in the old silver-mining days.”
“I’m hungry too. How much longer will it be before we get there?”
Fran turned around squarely, an old habit of his. “In about an hour or so.”
“Don’t you dare turn around like that!” came the stern rebuke. “Look, another car’s approaching.”
“Don’t worry, Miss Simms, that car’s not moving, waiting for us to pass, I guess.”
They approached the waiting car. It rested precariously on the edge of the road, part of it in the deep gully. A young man stood beside it, an anxious smile on his unshaven face.
“What’s the trouble?” Fran asked, sticking his head out of the window.
“I hit one of those rocks.”
Fran didn’t wait to hear any more. He got out, followed by all his passengers.
“The rocks must have fallen during the night,” the man went on. “I was trying to steer clear of one boulder when I hit the other. The tire blew. I guess we were lucky at that.”
A baby’s wail startled the group. “Is that a baby crying?”
The man pointed to a piece of flat ground partially hidden by scrub and trees. “My wife’s over there. The little feller hasn’t stopped yelling for an hour.”
Mrs. Lurie started toward the clearing, followed by the teachers and Judy.
“Can we be of any help?” Mrs. Lurie timidly inquired.
The young woman looked up, a radiant smile transfiguring her thin face. She was sitting on a rug untidily surrounded by cans, pots, and zippered bags.
“Awfully nice of you folks to stop,” she said, talking over the head of the screaming child. “I was beginning to think ours was the only car on this terrible road. Your driver going to help my Jim?”
“Of course,” Judy said quickly. “He’s getting the tools out of the trunk right now.”
“What a beautiful baby!” cooed Miss Simms.
“Beautiful,” echoed Miss Clark.
“I was just thinking maybe I should warm some milk. He won’t touch the nice bologna sandwich we brought along.”
Miss Simms shuddered visibly. “Maybe it’s just as well the little man refused it. Why don’t you and Mrs. Lurie see about the milk. Miss Clark and I will amuse the baby.” She firmly took hold of the protesting child.
“High-diddle-diddle, the cat and the fiddle—” on and on went the strangely sweet tones, while Miss Clark bounced the baby up and down in what even Judy knew was thoroughly unorthodox fashion. The baby quieted … smiled.
“Judy,” Fran shouted. “Come over here and lend a hand. We’ve got to get the car squarely on the road before we can take off the tire. Lucky she’s light. You, Judy, grab the front with Jim. I’ll take the ditch side. One, two, three, heave—” The car was set on the road.
In half an hour tube and tire were patched, air pumped in, and the spare examined.
“Everything’s O.K. Where’d you say you were heading for, Jim?”
“Los Angeles. I’ve a good job I’m to take over in two weeks. A lucky break. I was laid off back in Detroit for two months.”
Mrs. Jim joined them and placed the sleeping baby into the car bed. Her bundles, neatly packed by the faithful, were beside her.
“Our only worry,” Jim went on, “is where we’re going to live. The company couldn’t promise a thing.” He shrugged his shoulders. “We’ve got to take our chances.”
“Not have a place to live—and with a baby—that’s awful!” Judy exclaimed involuntarily.
Mrs. Jim turned. “No, it’s not awful. Jim’s got a job and we’ve got our health. The rest is in the Lord’s hands. Didn’t He send you good people along?”
A few minutes later they were saying good-bye after having wished each other well. They drove off in opposite directions.
For a while something intangible silenced the energetic teachers. Perhaps they and Mrs. Lurie were weighing the possible hazards that still awaited Jim and his family.
Fran finally found his tongue. “I think it’s putting quite a strain on the Lord to expect Him to send a car along—or find sleeping quarters! Don’t you agree, Judy?”
“Maybe.” She was thinking of her own problems now dwarfed by the recent encounter. “Faith is beautiful,” she said dreamily.
“Beautiful, but not sensible,” Fran answered with a skeptical grin.
An hour later they reached a town. Passing warehouses and unpretentious stores, Fran drove straight to a plain-looking restaurant with an enormous sign, “Welcome to Leadville and Walker’s Cafe and Bar.”
“Here’s where we eat,” Fran told the crestfallen Judy, who had envisaged a gilded palace.
Seated at a longish wooden table, each studied the oversized menu card. Next to such tempting items as sizzled hamburgers with Western trimmings, steak hunter style, and the like were pictures of once famous mines and in fine print, the history of Leadville. Judy, her appetite for the printed word unimpaired, read avidly while munching her food.
“The population of Leadville, once sixty-five thousand, has dwindled to five. Look, here’s a picture of Matchless that Horace Tabor gave to Baby Doe!”
“What, another baby?” Miss Simms innocently inquired.
Judy shrugged her shoulders.
“Why of all things!” Miss Clark eagerly turned to Fran. “Climax is only fifteen miles from here. Any chance of our passing it? It’s the biggest molybdenum mine in the world.”
“No, I’m afraid not. What kind of a mine was that you mentioned?” Fran asked, stumped for once.
“You mean molybdenum? It’s a metal used in steel. You see, being a chemistry teacher, I happen to know about it.”
If there was anything left of the glamour of the old silver-mining days, the Little Percenters got no glimpse of it. On they traveled over the winding road, seven thousand feet high, the ravines dotted with mines worked today for uranium and other strategic metals.
Barely leaving the towering peaks behind them, they drove into the shining city of Denver, as impressive in its setting of modern skyscrapers as Leadville was mean and dingy.
“We’ll soon be getting to the airport, Judy—”
“I just wanted to tell you that Karl promised to write to me. Could you—that is when you have time—would you—”
“Of course, I will. It’ll sort of be a link between us and Karl.”
“Thanks. I want to ask you something else. Do you think I should study the way those teachers said?”
“It would be wonderful if you can manage. Why don’t you speak to them before they go on the train? They’re very nice and kind. They like to help people.”
“I will. One thing more. Books, the kind you and Karl go for—” He paused, then smiling sheepishly, said, “Maybe I’m biting off more than I can chew.”
“No. Books are wonderful. I can send them. We’ve shelves and shelves filled with them. And I’ll get the list from our librarian. You’d be surprised at the wonderful books there are, in the libraries just for the asking.”
“You see, I don’t want Karl to be ashamed of me—when he comes back—maybe famous.”
“When Karl comes back,” Judy’s voice shook a little, “we’ll have a grand reunion in Aspen!”
At the airport, Mrs. Lurie shook hands warmly with the teachers, whom she had gotten to know and like. To Fran she said, “You’re a fine driver and a kind and capable young man.”
Judy too made amends for her early indifference. “We’re like ships that pass in the night,” she told the astonished teachers, “friendly, helpful ships,” and she smiled enigmatically.
The Little Percent with its remaining passengers drove off.
MOTHER AND DAUGHTER
Judy, seated next to her mother, watched as the plane raced along the runway and without a tremor felt it rise skyward. Experience had already dulled the fine edge of wonder.
The girl slumped in her seat, closed her eyes, pretending to sleep. She had to think. Her mother tentatively turned the pages of a book.
Judy’s brows were knitted, her lips moved wordlessly. Think things out—face reality! How often in the months ahead could she see Karl? She knew his demanding schedule: newspaper route … final year at school … homework … violin lessons … practice … practice. The lone pupil anxiously retained … concerts … people to see … Mr. Werther … preparations to leave … when would there be time for her?
She had recoiled from the thought of the vast Atlantic Ocean dividing them. But what of the hour and a half journey from his home in Washington Heights to hers in Washington Square? No more would there be the casual dropping in as at Aspen. No time for soul-searching talks, their dreams and hopes: books, America, Israel, even religion! No, nor hear him play some new, aborted little tune he’d just composed!
She recalled the romantic stories in magazines she affected to despise but frequently enjoyed. “True love never runs smooth!” The magazines, she acknowledged, had cheap, lurid covers but they tell the truth about love! Her shoulders sank even lower nor could she restrain a deep sigh.
Mrs. Lurie let the book slide from her hands. She put an arm around her daughter. Her heart ached for her and she wanted to say something. But what? I can’t tell her she’ll probably get over it like a case of measles! Mrs. Lurie blushed at her own callousness. Her fingers pressed the girl’s shoulders, each finger saying, “I love you. I want to help you. I want you to talk to me.”
Her eyes no longer pretending sleep, Judy responded to the unspoken tenderness. “Mother, did Father tell you that Karl is going away for perhaps years?”
“Yes, he told me last night.”
“And in the months before he goes, how often will I be able to see him? He’s so busy,” she said dejectedly.
“If he wants to see you, he’ll make time somehow. Nothing will stop him.”
“You think so?” A quick smile lighted the girl’s face, only to vanish a moment later.
“He’ll be in a foreign country, meeting students from every part of the world, maybe travel, get to know clever, sophisticated girls like Marian—while I remain a dull schoolgirl. What is there so special to remember about me!”
“You’re far from dull, Judy, and so much humility isn’t exactly becoming to you or in character. Remember all the things you threatened to do! Paint, write—”
She patted her affectionately. “Besides, Karl isn’t going on a picnic exactly or touring Europe in the grand manner. He’ll have to work hard, harder than ever. It isn’t only his violin technique, but studying and understanding the great music of the old masters as well as the moderns. He’ll need every ounce of concentrated effort. Since you love him and he loves you, be content with that! Have faith in each other—”
Judy pondered. Faith—that’s what Mrs. Jim has.
Aloud she said, “A week ago, Mother, you spoke very differently. You dismissed me and Karl as if—”
“I know.” Mrs. Lurie hurriedly broke in. “I didn’t believe you were old enough or capable of feeling so deeply about a boy. I’ve done a lot of thinking since then. Besides, you’re not going to sit idly waiting like a lily in a pond, looking pale and wistful. In your way you’ll be as busy as Karl.”
“You mean college?”
“Yes. Major in English as you so often said, or sociology. You seem to have a curious bent in that direction, a heritage, no doubt, from your grandmother. And you said you wanted to take up your music again—now it’s sort of inevitable,” she laughed, “if only to keep pace with Karl.” Mrs. Lurie paused. “Karl will meet young people and,” she added cautiously, “so will you. You’ll have dates, have fun, and live the life of a normal young girl. With work to do and plans to make for yourself and others, the few years of so-called waiting will pass more quickly than you now think possible.”
“I hope you’re right, Mother.” Judy’s spirits lifted.
In a crisp, matter-of-fact voice Mrs. Lurie went on, “Most young people today have to endure separation before they are ready to make a life together. They go to different colleges, are often compelled to take jobs that take them far from their home moorings, like your Cousin Robbie who got his first opportunity at engineering in South America. And, of course, today young men have to serve in the armed forces, usually overseas, even in peacetime. Yet, most of these early loves endure.”
“I’m glad you say that, Mother,” Judy’s eyes shone.
Mrs. Lurie pressed the girl’s shoulder lovingly. She smiled a little self-consciously. “It wasn’t only your grandparents whose love, as the novels say, overcame all obstacles—”
“You and Father?”
Mrs. Lurie nodded.
“Funny, I never heard you speak about your romance. Why?”
“I don’t know. You never asked and we’ve been busy being happy and enjoying our work. We never think of the past. Maybe when you’re old, memories are more important. But as I look back, the years of waiting didn’t hurt us. I saw many of my friends marry while still at college, the boy and girl graduating together, sometimes with a baby on the campus. Maybe we would have liked that too, but John was studying and playing the viola in Philadelphia and getting his M.A. at the same time. I had school and was studying voice in New York.” She smiled at the recollection. “It only toughened our resolution to marry as soon as we could.”
“I think it’s exciting to know about you and Father. It makes me happy. If you could do it, so can I.”
“Of course, you can. There’s only one little difference. When your father and I went together, what you youngsters call ‘going steady,’ I was nineteen and your father, twenty-two.”
“Oh, Mother, what difference does a few years make! The main thing is that we love each other. Karl is mature, much older than his years. Why wouldn’t he be with all he’s gone through and endured? He’s not like the boys who only live for a football game or having a good time.” She clasped and unclasped her hands, then said quietly, “I want to be perfect, be all that I know Karl admires. Of course, I won’t be able to, not always. Maybe never. But I’m going to try.”
At her mother’s look of slight alarm, Judy laughed. “Don’t worry, I know I can’t live like a hermit. I’ll go places and to parties when I’m invited. But,” and she shook her head emphatically, “every boy will know in advance I’m going steady, at least in spirit!” She laughed gaily at her little joke.
It was now Mrs. Lurie who sighed, but with relief! Judy, for all her acceptance of the role of waiting for her hero to return, would be no princess locked up in her lonely castle. Her self-pity had vanished. She was ready to admit that life wasn’t finished at sixteen.
Mother and daughter leaned back in their seats, relaxed, conscious of a new closeness. Mrs. Lurie was wise enough to know there would not always be clear and easy sailing in the months and years ahead. There would be other storms, other moments of anger or dispute. But the basis for understanding between them was deep and could never be shaken.
DISCOVERY AT ASPEN
By SOPHIE RUSKAY
Illustrated by Janet D’Amato
Judy is a young girl just past her fifteenth year. Her parents are musicians—staff members at the Music School at Aspen—and they are anxious for her to share with them some of the enchantment of the famed music festival in Colorado.
But for Judy other plans and other dreams are more important. A part in the new theatre group? Romance? Adventure? Anything but the dreary routine of piano lessons and practice. In her attempt to escape the discipline of the musician’s life, she explores Aspen and inadvertently finds herself caught up in the lore of the early mining history of that community. Baby Doe, the old Opera House, the ghost town of Ashcroft are mysterious wonders which begin to awaken in her a new interest in her surroundings. Her meeting with Karl, a talented refugee from Nazi Austria, and their adventures together on the snowy mountain cliffs help to fulfill her dreams of romantic love—an experience through which she attains not only the depth and understanding of her parents but her own maturity.
What threatens to be a dismal summer for Judy becomes a time of discovery of herself, of music and of America.
A Wonderful World Book
About the Author
Sophie Ruskay enjoys a family life very much like the one she creates in Discovery at Aspen. Having raised a family of five children, she has now added twelve grandchildren, many of them teenagers who consider her their friend and compassionate advisor. She is the author of Horsecars and Cobblestones, a warmly received novel of immigrant life in New York at the turn of the century. The same understanding which she showed in that work, she now applies to the story of a young teenager whose problems and frustrations she depicts with deep sympathy.
Mrs. Ruskay writes of the world around her with an eager eye and a responsive spirit. The grandeur of Aspen, its natural beauties, its cultural life as well as its historical heritage—all are graphically described. It is in this setting that we see the young generation of today striving for self-realization, often in rebellion against their parents during this trying period of adolescence.
Mrs. Ruskay has been a beloved figure in her community for many years, participating in the cultural, philanthropic and civic activities as a creative and energetic leader. She has written and directed a large number of plays which have been notable for their humor and social awareness. Perhaps the most significant demonstration of Mrs. Ruskay’s life-long devotion to literature and drama is seen in her formation and leadership of a literary class in the Women’s House of Detention in New York City.
Also by Sophie Ruskay:
Horsecars and Cobblestones
Illustrated by Cecil B. Ruskay
PRINTED IN U.S.A.
Other Wonderful World Books
THE PERSIAN DONKEY BEAD
By MARGARET KRAENZEL
Illustrated by Peter Fellin
The rich and moving story of a young Iranian boy who leaves his small farm village to search for his father, with help of an Arab girl, in the crowded squares, the apartment houses and slums, and even the great underground bazaar of Tehran.
FOR LIFE AND LIBERTY
By JANET NEAVLES
Illustrated by Delia Marcel
Nate rides his thoroughbred filly Liberty Maid on a race to save his family’s farm from Joseph Brant’s Indians in this fine historical novel set in upper New York State during the Revolutionary War.
THE SLAVE WHO SAVED THE CITY and Other Hassidic Tales
By HARRY M. RABINOWICZ
Illustrated by Ahron Gelles
The glowing, miraculous legends grown around Rabbi Israel Baal Shem-Tob, the father of Hassidism, lovingly collected and especially adapted for young readers.
By MARISTAN CHAPMAN
Illustrated by Carl T. Herrman
A rousing mystery-adventure story in which four Tennessee boys are plunged by a hurricane into the Florida Everglades, are “rescued” by modern pirates and stranded in the Ten Thousand Islands, and discover pirate gold.
New York: A. S. BARNES and COMPANY, INC.
London: THOMAS YOSELOFF, LTD.
Copyright notice provided as in the original—this e-text is public domain in the country of publication.
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Silently corrected palpable typos; left non-standard spellings and dialect unchanged.