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Bridging The Years
by [?]

The rain had stopped; and after long days of downpour, there seemed at last to be a definite change. Anne Warriner, standing at one of the dining-room windows, with the tiny Virginia in her arms, could find a decided brightening in the western sky. Roofs–the roofs that made a steep sky-line above the hills of old San Francisco–glinted in the light. The glimpse of the bay that had not yet been lost between the walls of fast-encroaching new buildings, was no longer dull, and beaten level by the rain, but showed cold, and ruffled, and steely-blue; there was even a whitecap or two dancing on the crests out toward Alcatraz. A rising wind made the ivy twinkle cheerfully against the old-fashioned brick wall that bounded the Warriners’ backyard.

“I believe the storm is really over!” Anne said, thankfully, half aloud, “to-morrow will be fair!”

“Out to-morrow?” said Diego, hopefully. He was wedged in between his mother and the window-sill, and studying earth and sky as absorbedly as she.

“Out to-morrow, sweetheart,” his mother promised. And she wondered if it was too late to take the babies out to-day.

But it was nearly four o’clock now; even the briefest airing was out of the question. By the time the baby was dressed, coated, and hooded, and little Diego buttoned into gaiters and reefer, and Anne herself had changed her house gown for street wear, and pinned on her hat and veil, and Helma, summoned from her ironing, had bumped Virginia’s coach down the back porch steps, and around the wet garden path to the front door,–by the time all this was accomplished, the short winter daylight would be almost gone, she knew, and the crowded hour that began with the children’s baths, and that ended their little day with bread-and-milky kisses to Daddy when he came in, and prayers, and cribs, would have arrived.

Anne sighed. She would have been glad to get out into the cool winter afternoon, herself, after a long, quiet day in the warm house. It was just the day and hour for a brisk walk, with one’s hands plunged deep in the pockets of a heavy coat, and one’s hat tied snugly against the wind. Twenty minutes of such walking, she thought longingly, would have shaken her out of the little indefinable mood of depression that had been hanging over her all day. She could have climbed the steep street on which the cottage faced, and caught the freshening ocean breeze full in her face at the corner; she could have looked down on the busy little thoroughfares of the Chinese quarter just below, and the swarming streets of the Italian colony beyond, and beyond that again to the bay, dotted now with the brown sails of returning fishing smacks, and crossed and recrossed by the white wakes of ferry-boats. For the Warriners’ cottage clung to the hill just above the busy, picturesque foreign colonies, and the cheerful unceasing traffic of the piers. It was in a hopelessly unfashionable part of the city now; its old, dignified neighbors–French and Spanish houses of plaster and brick, with deep gardens where willow and pepper trees, and fuchsias, and great clumps of calla lilies had once flourished–were all gone, replaced by modern apartment houses. But it had been one of the city’s show places fifty years before, when its separate parts had been brought whole “around the Horn” from some much older city, and when homesick pioneer wives and mothers had climbed the board-walk that led to its gate, just to see, and perhaps to cry over, the painted china door-knobs, the colored glass fan-light in the hall, the iron-railed balconies, and slender, carved balustrade that took their hungry hearts back to the decorous, dear old world they had left so far behind them.

Jimmy and Anne Warriner had stumbled upon the Jackson Street cottage five years ago, just before their marriage, and after an ecstatic, swift inspection of it, had raced like children to the agent, to crowd into his willing hand a deposit on the first month’s rent. Anne had never kept house before, she had no eyes for obsolete plumbing, uneven floors, for the dark cellar sacred to cats and rubbish. She and Jim chattered rapturously of French windows, of brick garden walks, of how plain little net curtains and Anne’s big brass bowl full of nasturtiums would look on the landing of the absurd little stairway that led from the square hall to two useless little chambers above.