Chapter VI

Madeleine was spared the ordeal of confession; it was six weeks before she saw her husband again. He telegraphed at six o'clock that he had a small-pox patient and could not subject her to the risk of contagion. The disease most dreaded in San Francisco had arrived some time before and the pest house outside the city limits was already crowded. The next day yellow flags appeared before several houses. Before a week passed they had multiplied all over the city. People went about with visible camphor bags suspended from their necks, and Madeleine heard the galloping death wagon at all hours of the night. Howard telegraphed frequently and sent a doctor to revaccinate her, as the virus he had administered himself had not taken. She was not to worry about him as he vaccinated himself every day. Finally he commanded her to leave town, and she made a round of visits.

She spent a fortnight at Rincona, Mrs. Abbott's place at Alta, in the San Mateo valley, and another with the Hathaways near by. Then, after a fortnight at the different "Springs" she settled down for the rest of the summer on the Ballinger ranch in the Santa Clara valley. All her hostesses had house parties, there were picnics by day and dancing or hay-rides at night. For the first time she saw the beautiful California country; the redwood forests on the mountains, the bare brown and golden hills, the great valleys with their forests of oaks and madronas cleared here and there for orchard and vineyard; knowing that Howard was safe she gave herself to pleasure once more. After all there was a certain satisfaction in the assurance that her husband could not be with her if he would. She was not deliberately neglected and it was positive that he never entered the Club. She told no one but Sally Ballinger of her adventure, and although Travers was a favorite of her mother, this devoted friend adroitly managed that the gentleman to whom she applied many excoriating adjectives should not be invited that summer to "the ranch."