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Title: Crisis, the — Volume 01
Author: Churchill, Winston, 1871-1947
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Crisis, the — Volume 01" ***

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THE CRISIS

By Winston Churchill



CONTENTS OF THE ENTIRE SET:

BOOK I

Volume 1.
I.     Which Deals With Origins
II.    The Mole
III.   The Unattainable Simplicity
IV.    Black Cattle
V.     The First Spark Passes
VI.    Silas Whipple
VII.   Callers

Volume 2.
VIII.   Bellegarde
IX.     A Quiet Sunday in Locust Street
X.      The Little House
XI.     The Invitation
XII.    "Miss Jinny"
XIII.   The Party


BOOK II.

Volume 3.
I.     Raw Material.
II.    Abraham Lincoln
III.   In Which Stephen Learns Something
IV.    The Question
V.     The Crisis
VI.    Glencoe

Volume 4.
VII.    An Excursion
VIII.   The Colonel is Warned
IX.     Signs of the Times
X.      Richter's Scar,
XI.     How a Prince Came
XII.    Into Which a Potentate Comes
XIII.   At Mr. Brinsmade's Gate
XIV.    The Breach becomes Too Wide
XV.     Mutterings

Volume 5.
XVI.    The Guns of Sumter
XVII.   Camp Jackson
XVIII.  The Stone that is Rejected
XIX.    The Tenth of May.
XX.     In the Arsenal
XXI.    The Stampede
XXII.   The Straining of Another Friendship
XXIII.  Of Clarence


BOOK III

Volume 6.
I.     Introducing a Capitalist
II.    News from Clarence
III.   The Scourge of War,
IV.    The List of Sixty
V.     The Auction
VI.    Eliphalet Plays his Trumps

Volume 7.
VII.    With the Armies of the West
VIII.   A Strange Meeting
IX.     Bellegarde Once More
X.      In Judge Whipple's Office
XI.     Lead, Kindly Light

Volume 8.
XII.    The Last Card
XIII.   From the Letters of Major Stephen Brice
XIV.    The Same, Continued
XV.     The Man of Sorrows
XVI.    Annapolis



THE CRISIS

BOOK I



CHAPTER I

WHICH DEALS WITH ORIGINS

Faithfully to relate how Eliphalet Hopper came try St. Louis is to betray
no secret. Mr. Hopper is wont to tell the story now, when his
daughter-in-law is not by; and sometimes he tells it in her presence, for
he is a shameless and determined old party who denies the divine right of
Boston, and has taken again to chewing tobacco.

When Eliphalet came to town, his son's wife, Mrs: Samuel D. (or S. Dwyer
as she is beginning to call herself), was not born. Gentlemen of Cavalier
and Puritan descent had not yet begun to arrive at the Planters' House,
to buy hunting shirts and broad rims, belts and bowies, and depart
quietly for Kansas, there to indulge in that; most pleasurable of
Anglo-Saxon pastimes, a free fight. Mr. Douglas had not thrown his bone
of Local Sovereignty to the sleeping dogs of war.

To return to Eliphalet's arrival,--a picture which has much that is
interesting in it. Behold the friendless boy he stands in the prow of the
great steamboat 'Louisiana' of a scorching summer morning, and looks with
something of a nameless disquiet on the chocolate waters of the
Mississippi. There have been other sights, since passing Louisville,
which might have disgusted a Massachusetts lad more. A certain deck on
the 'Paducah', which took him as far as Cairo, was devoted to cattle
--black cattle. Eliphalet possessed a fortunate temperament. The deck was
dark, and the smell of the wretches confined there was worse than it
should have been. And the incessant weeping of some of the women was
annoying, inasmuch as it drowned many of the profane communications of
the overseer who was showing Eliphalet the sights. Then a fine-linened
planter from down river had come in during the conversation, and paying
no attention to the overseer's salute cursed them all into silence, and
left.

Eliphalet had ambition, which is not a wholly undesirable quality. He
began to wonder how it would feel to own a few of these valuable
fellow-creatures. He reached out and touched lightly a young mulatto
woman who sat beside him with an infant in her arms. The peculiar dumb
expression on her face was lost on Eliphalet. The overseer had laughed
coarsely.

"What, skeered on 'em?" said he. And seizing the girl by the cheek, gave
it a cruel twinge that brought a cry out of her.

Eliphalet had reflected upon this incident after he had bid the overseer
good-by at Cairo, and had seen that pitiful coffle piled aboard a steamer
for New Orleans. And the result of his reflections was, that some day he
would like to own slaves.

A dome of smoke like a mushroom hung over the city, visible from far down
the river, motionless in the summer air. A long line of steamboats
--white, patient animals--was tethered along the levee, and the Louisiana
presently swung in her bow toward a gap in this line, where a mass of
people was awaiting her arrival. Some invisible force lifted Eliphalet's
eyes to the upper deck, where they rested, as if by appointment, on the
trim figure of the young man in command of the Louisiana. He was very
young for the captain of a large New Orleans packet. When his lips moved,
something happened. Once he raised his voice, and a negro stevedore
rushed frantically aft, as if he had received the end of a
lightning-bolt. Admiration burst from the passengers, and one man cried
out Captain Brent's age--it was thirty-two.

Eliphalet snapped his teeth together. He was twenty-seven, and his
ambition actually hurt him at such times. After the boat was fast to the
landing stage he remained watching the captain, who was speaking a few
parting words to some passengers of fashion. The body-servants were
taking their luggage to the carriages. Mr. Hopper envied the captain his
free and vigorous speech, his ready jokes, and his hearty laugh. All the
rest he knew for his own--in times to come. The carriages, the trained
servants, the obsequiousness of the humbler passengers. For of such is
the Republic.

Then Eliphalet picked his way across the hot stones of the levee, pushing
hither and thither in the rough crowd of river men; dodging the mules on
the heavy drays, or making way for the carriages of the few people of
importance who arrived on the boat. If any recollections of a cool, white
farmhouse amongst barren New England hills disturbed his thoughts, this
is not recorded. He gained the mouth of a street between the low houses
which crowded on the broad river front. The black mud was thick under his
feet from an overnight shower, and already steaming in the sun. The brick
pavement was lumpy from much travel and near as dirty as the street.
Here, too, were drays blocking the way, and sweaty negro teamsters
swinging cowhides over the mules. The smell of many wares poured through
the open doors, mingling with the perspiration of the porters. On every
side of him were busy clerks, with their suspenders much in evidence, and
Eliphalet paused once or twice to listen to their talk. It was tinged
with that dialect he had heard, since leaving Cincinnati.

Turning a corner, Eliphalet came abruptly upon a prophecy. A great drove
of mules was charging down the gorge of the street, and straight at him.
He dived into an entrance, and stood looking at the animals in startled
wonder as they thundered by, flinging the mud over the pavements.
A cursing lot of drovers on ragged horses made the rear guard.

Eliphalet mopped his brow. The mules seemed to have aroused in him some
sense of his atomity, where the sight of the pillar of smoke and of the
black cattle had failed. The feeling of a stranger in a strange land was
upon him at last. A strange land, indeed! Could it be one with his native
New England? Did Congress assemble from the Antipodes? Wasn't the great,
ugly river and dirty city at the end of the earth, to be written about in
Boston journals?

Turning in the doorway, he saw to his astonishment a great store, with
high ceilings supported by columns. The door was stacked high with bales
of dry goods. Beside him was a sign in gold lettering, "Carvel and
Company, Wholesale Dry Goods." And lastly, looking down upon him with a
quizzical expression, was a gentleman. There was no mistaking the
gentleman. He was cool, which Eliphalet was not. And the fact is the more
remarkable because the gentleman was attired according to the fashion of
the day for men of his age, in a black coat with a teal of ruffled shirt
showing, and a heavy black stock around his collar. He had a white
mustache, and a goatee, and white hair under his black felt hat. His face
was long, his nose straight, and the sweetness of its smile had a strange
effect upon Eliphalet, who stood on one foot.

"Well, sonny, scared of mules, are you?" The speech is a stately drawl
very different from the nasal twang of Eliphalet's bringing up. "Reckon
you don't come from anywhere round here?"

"No, sir," said Eliphalet. "From Willesden, Massachusetts."

"Come in on the 'Louisiana'?"

"Yes, sir." But why this politeness?

The elderly gentleman lighted a cigar. The noise of the rushing mules had
now become a distant roar, like a whirlwind which has swept by. But
Eliphalet did not stir.

"Friends in town?" inquired the gentleman at length.

"No, sir," sighed Mr. Hopper.

At this point of the conversation a crisp step sounded from behind and
wonderful smile came again on the surface.

"Mornin', Colonel," said a voice which made Eliphalet jump. And he swung
around to perceive the young captain of the Louisiana.

"Why, Captain Lige," cried the Colonel, without ceremony, "and how do you
find yourself to-day, suh? A good trip from Orleans? We did not look for
you so soon."

"Tolluble, Colonel, tolluble," said the young man, grasping the Colonel's
hand. "Well, Colonel, I just called to say that I got the seventy bales
of goods you wanted."

"Ephum" cried the Colonel, diving toward a counter where glasses were set
out,--a custom new to Eliphalet,--"Ephum, some of that very particular
Colonel Crittenden sent me over from Kentucky last week."

An old darkey, with hair as white as the Colonel's, appeared from behind
the partition.

"I 'lowed you'd want it, Marse Comyn, when I seed de Cap'n comin'," said
he, with the privilege of an old servant. Indeed, the bottle was beneath
his arm.

The Colonel smiled.

"Hope you'se well, Cap'n," said Ephum, as he drew the cork.

"Tolluble, Ephum," replied the Captain. "But, Ephum--say, Ephum!"

"Yes, sah."

"How's my little sweetheart, Ephum?"

"Bress your soul, sah," said Ephum, his face falling perceptibly, "bress
your soul, sah, Miss Jinny's done gone to Halcyondale, in Kaintuck, to
see her grandma. Ole Ephum ain't de same nigger when she's away."

The young Captain's face showed as much disappointment as the darkey's.

"Cuss it!" said he, strongly, "if that ain't too bad! I brought her a
Creole doll from New Orleans, which Madame Claire said was dressed finer
than any one she'd ever seen. All lace and French gewgaws, Colonel. But
you'll send it to her?"

"That I will, Lige," said the Colonel, heartily. "And she shall write you
the prettiest note of thanks you ever got."

"Bless her pretty face," cried the Captain. "Her health, Colonel! Here's
a long life to Miss Virginia Carvel, and may she rule forever! How old
did you say this was?" he asked, looking into the glass.

"Over half a century," said Colonel Carvel.

"If it came from the ruins of Pompeii," cried Captain Brent, "it might be
worthy of her!"

"What an idiot you are about that child, Lige," said the Colonel, who was
not hiding his pleasure. The Colonel could hide nothing. "You ruin her!"

The bluff young Captain put down his glass to laugh.

"Ruin her!" he exclaimed. "Her pa don't ruin her I eh, Ephum? Her pa
don't ruin her!"

"Lawsy, Marse Lige, I reckon he's wuss'n any."

"Ephum," said the Colonel, pulling his goatee thoughtfully, "you're a
damned impertinent nigger. I vow I'll sell you South one of these days.
Have you taken that letter to Mr. Renault?" He winked at his friend as
the old darkey faded into the darkness of the store, and continued: "Did
I ever tell you about Wilson Peale's portrait of my grandmother, Dorothy
Carvel, that I saw this summer at my brother Daniel's, in Pennsylvania?
Jinny's going to look something like her, sir. Um! She was a fine woman.
Black hair, though. Jinny's is brown, like her Ma's." The Colonel handed
a cigar to Captain Brent, and lit one himself. "Daniel has a book my
grandfather wrote, mostly about her. Lord, I remember her! She was the
queen-bee of the family while she lived. I wish some of us had her
spirit."

"Colonel," remarked Captain Lige, "what's this I heard on the levee just
now about your shootin' at a man named Babcock on the steps here?"

The Colonel became very grave. His face seemed to grow longer as he
pulled his goatee.

"He was standing right where you are, sir," he replied (Captain Lige
moved), "and he proposed that I should buy his influence."

"What did you do?"

Colonel Carvel laughed quietly at the recollection

"Shucks," said he, "I just pushed him into the streets gave him a little
start, and put a bullet past his ear, just to let the trash know the
sound of it. Then Russell went down and bailed me out."

The Captain shook with laughter. But Mr. Eliphalet Hopper's eyes were
glued to the mild-mannered man who told the story, and his hair rose
under his hat.

"By the way, Lige, how's that boy, Tato? Somehow after I let you have him
on the 'Louisiana', I thought I'd made a mistake to let him run the
river. Easter's afraid he'll lose the little religion she taught him."

It was the Captain's turn to be grave.

"I tell you what, Colonel," said he; "we have to have hands, of course.
But somehow I wish this business of slavery had never been started!"

"Sir," said the Colonel, with some force, "God made the sons of Ham the
servants of Japheth's sons forever and forever."

"Well, well, we won't quarrel about that, sir," said Brent, quickly. "If
they all treated slaves as you do, there wouldn't be any cry from
Boston-way. And as for me, I need hands. I shall see you again, Colonel."

"Take supper with me to-night, Lige," said Mr. Carvel. "I reckon you'll
find it rather lonesome without Jinny."

"Awful lonesome," said the Captain. "But you'll show me her letters,
won't you?"

He started out, and ran against Eliphalet.

"Hello!" he cried. "Who's this?"

"A young Yankee you landed here this morning, Lige," said the Colonel.
"What do you think of him?"

"Humph!" exclaimed the Captain.

"He has no friends in town, and he is looking for employment. Isn't that
so, sonny?" asked the Colonels kindly.

"Yes."

"Come, Lige, would you take him?" said Mr. Carvel.

The young Captain looked into Eliphalet's face. The dart that shot from
his eyes was of an aggressive honesty; and Mr. Hopper's, after an attempt
at defiance, were dropped.

"No," said the Captain.

"Why not, Lige?"

"Well, for one thing, he's been listening," said Captain Lige, as he
departed.

Colonel Carvel began to hum softly to himself:--

    "'One said it was an owl, and the other he said nay,
     One said it was a church with the steeple torn away,
     Look a' there now!'

"I reckon you're a rank abolitionist," said he to Eliphalet, abruptly.

"I don't see any particular harm in keepin' slaves," Mr. Hopper replied,
shifting to the other foot.

Whereupon the Colonel stretched his legs apart, seized his goatee, pulled
his head down, and gazed at him for some time from under his eyebrows, so
searchingly that the blood flew to Mr. Hopper's fleshy face. He mopped it
with a dark-red handkerchief, stared at everything in the place save the
gentleman in front of him, and wondered whether he had ever in his life
been so uncomfortable. Then he smiled sheepishly, hated himself, and
began to hate the Colonel.

"Ever hear of the Liberator?"

"No, sir," said Mr. Hopper.

"Where do you come from?" This was downright directness, from which there
was no escape.

"Willesden, Massachusetts."

"Umph! And never heard of Mr. Garrison?"

"I've had to work all my life."

"What can you do, sonny?"

"I cal'late to sweep out a store. I have kept books," Mr. Hopper
vouchsafed.

"Would you like work here?" asked the Colonel, kindly. The green eyes
looked up swiftly, and down again.

"What'll you give me?"

The good man was surprised. "Well," said he, "seven dollars a week."

Many a time in after life had the Colonel reason to think over this
scene. He was a man the singleness of whose motives could not be
questioned. The one and sufficient reason for giving work to a homeless
boy, from the hated state of the Liberator, was charity. The Colonel had
his moods, like many another worthy man.

The small specks on the horizon sometimes grow into the hugest of thunder
clouds. And an act of charity, out of the wisdom of God, may produce on
this earth either good or evil.

Eliphalet closed with the bargain. Ephum was called and told to lead the
recruit to the presence of Mr. Hood, the manager. And he spent the
remainder of a hot day checking invoices in the shipping entrance on
Second Street.

It is not our place here to chronicle Eliphalet's faults. Whatever he may
have been, he was not lazy. But he was an anomaly to the rest of the
young men in the store, for those were days when political sentiments
decided fervent loves or hatreds. In two days was Eliphalet's reputation
for wisdom made. During that period he opened his mouth to speak but
twice. The first was in answer to a pointless question of Mr. Barbo's
(aetat 25), to the effect that he, Eliphalet Hopper, was a Pierce
Democrat, who looked with complacency on the extension of slavery. This
was wholly satisfactory, and saved the owner of these sentiments a broken
head. The other time Eliphalet spoke was to ask Mr. Barbo to direct him
to a boardinghouse.

"I reckon," Mr. Barbo reflected, "that you'll want one of them
Congregational boarding-houses. We've got a heap of Yankees in the town,
and they all flock together and pray together. I reckon you'd ruther go
to Miss Crane's nor anywhere."

Forthwith to Miss Crane's Eliphalet went. And that lady, being a Greek
herself, knew a Greek when she saw one. The kind-hearted Barbo lingered
in the gathering darkness to witness the game which ensued, a game dear
to all New Englanders, comical to Barbo. The two contestants calculated.
Barbo reckoned, and put his money on his new-found fellow-clerk.
Eliphalet, indeed, never showed to better advantage. The shyness he had
used with the Colonel, and the taciturnity practised on his
fellow-clerks, he slipped off like coat and waistcoat for the battle. The
scene was in the front yard of the third house in Dorcas Row. Everybody
knows where Dorcas Row was. Miss Crane, tall, with all the severity of
side curls and bombazine, stood like a stone lioness at the gate. In the
background, by the steps, the boarders sat, an interested group.
Eliphalet girded up his loins, and sharpened his nasal twang to cope with
hers. The preliminary sparring was an exchange of compliments, and
deceived neither party. It seemed rather to heighten mutual respect.

"You be from Willesden, eh?" said Crane. "I calculate you know the
Salters."

If the truth were known, this evidence of an apparent omniscience rather
staggered Eliphalet. But training stood by him, and he showed no dismay.
Yes, he knew the Salters, and had drawed many a load out of Hiram
Salters' wood-lot to help pay for his schooling.

"Let me see," said Miss Crane, innocently; "who was it one of them
Salters girls married, and lived across the way from the meetin'-house?"

"Spauldin'," was the prompt reply.

"Wal, I want t' know!" cried the spinster: "not Ezra Spauldin'?"

Eliphalet nodded. That nod was one of infinite shrewdness which commended
itself to Miss Crane. These courtesies, far from making awkward the
material discussion which followed; did not affect it in the least.

"So you want me to board you?" said she, as if in consternation.

Eliphalet calculated, if they could come to terms. And Mr. Barbo keyed
himself to enjoyment.

"Single gentlemen," said she, "pay as high as twelve dollars." And she
added that they had no cause to complain of her table.

Eliphalet said he guessed he'd have to go somewhere else. Upon this the
lady vouchsafed the explanation that those gentlemen had high positions
and rented her large rooms. Since Mr. Hopper was from Willesden and knew
the Salters, she would be willing to take him for less. Eliphalet said
bluntly he would give three and a half. Barbo gasped. This particular
kind of courage was wholly beyond him.

Half an hour later Eliphalet carried his carpet-bag up three flights and
put it down in a tiny bedroom under the eaves, still pulsing with heat
waves. Here he was to live, and eat at Miss Crane's table for the
consideration of four dollars a week.

Such is the story of the humble beginning of one substantial prop of the
American Nation. And what a hackneyed story it is! How many other young
men from the East have travelled across the mountains and floated down
the rivers to enter those strange cities of the West, the growth of which
was like Jonah's gourd.

Two centuries before, when Charles Stuart walked out of a window in
Whitehall Palace to die; when the great English race was in the throes of
a Civil War; when the Stern and the Gay slew each other at Naseby and
Marston Moor, two currents flowed across the Atlantic to the New World.
Then the Stern men found the stern climate, and the Gay found the smiling
climate.

After many years the streams began to move again, westward, ever
westward. Over the ever blue mountains from the wonderland of Virginia
into the greater wonderland of Kentucky. And through the marvels of the
Inland Seas, and by white conestogas threading flat forests and floating
over wide prairies, until the two tides met in a maelstrom as fierce as
any in the great tawny torrent of the strange Father of Waters. A city
founded by Pierre Laclede, a certain adventurous subject of Louis who
dealt in furs, and who knew not Marly or Versailles, was to be the place
of the mingling of the tides. After cycles of separation, Puritan and
Cavalier united on this clay-bank in the Louisiana Purchase, and swept
westward together--like the struggle of two great rivers when they meet
the waters for a while were dangerous.

So Eliphalet was established, among the Puritans, at Miss Crane's. The
dishes were to his taste. Brown bread and beans and pies were plentiful,
for it was a land of plenty. All kinds of Puritans were there, and they
attended Mr. Davitt's Congregational Church. And may it be added in
justice to Mr. Hopper, that he became not the least devout of the
boarders.



CHAPTER. II

THE MOLE

For some years, while Stephen A. Douglas and Franklin Pierce and other
gentlemen of prominence were playing at bowls on the United States of
America; while Kansas was furnishing excitement free of charge to any
citizen who loved sport, Mr. Eliphalet Hopper was at work like the
industrious mole, underground. It is safe to affirm that Colonel Carvel
forgot his new hand as soon as he had turned him over to Mr. Hood, the
manager. As for Mr. Hopper, he was content. We can ill afford to dissect
motives. Genius is willing to lay the foundations of her structure
unobserved.

At first it was Mr. Barbo alone who perceived Eliphalet's greatness,--Mr.
Barbo, whose opinions were so easily had that they counted for nothing.
The other clerks, to say the least, found the newcomer uncompanionable.
He had no time for skylarking, the heat of the day meant nothing to him,
and he was never sleepy. He learned the stock as if by intuition, and
such was his strict attention to business that Mr. Hood was heard is say,
privately, he did not like the looks of it. A young man should have other
interests. And then, although he would not hold it against him, he had
heard that Mr. Hopper was a teacher in Mr. Davitt's Sunday School.

Because he did not discuss his ambitions at dinner with the other clerks
in the side entry, it must not be thought that Eliphalet was without
other interests. He was likewise too shrewd to be dragged into political
discussions at the boarding-house table. He listened imperturbably to the
outbursts against the Border Ruffian, and smiled when Mr. Abner Reed, in
an angry passion, asked him to declare whether or not he was a friend of
the Divine Institution. After a while they forgot about him (all save
Miss Crane), which was what Mr. Hopper of all things desired.

One other friend besides Miss Crane did Eliphalet take unto himself,
wherein he showed much discrimination. This friend was none other than
Mr. Davitt, minister for many years of the Congregational Church. For Mr.
Davitt was a good man, zealous in his work, unpretentious, and kindly.
More than once Eliphalet went to his home to tea, and was pressed to talk
about himself and his home life. The minister and his wife ware
invariably astonished, after their guest was gone, at the meagre result
of their inquiries.

If Love had ever entered such a discreet soul as that into which we are
prying, he used a back entrance. Even Mr. Barbo's inquiries failed in the
discovery of any young person with whom Eliphalet "kept company."
Whatever the notions abroad concerning him, he was admittedly a model.
There are many kinds of models. With some young ladies at the Sunday
School, indeed, he had a distant bowing acquaintance. They spoke of him
as the young man who knew the Bible as thoroughly as Mr. Davitt himself.
The only time that Mr. Hopper was discovered showing embarrassment was
when Mr. Davitt held his hand before them longer than necessary on the
church steps. Mr. Hopper was not sentimental.

However fascinating the subject, I do not propose to make a whole book
about Eliphalet. Yet sidelights on the life of every great man are
interesting. And there are a few incidents in his early career which have
not gotten into the subscription biographical Encyclopaedias. In several
of these volumes, to be sure, we may see steel engravings of him, true
likenesses all. His was the type of face which is the glory of the steel
engraving,--square and solid, as a corner-stone should be. The very
clothes he wore were made for the steel engraving, stiff and wiry in
texture, with sharp angles at the shoulders, and sombre in hue, as befit
such grave creations.

Let us go back to a certain fine morning in the September of the year
1857, when Mr. Hopper had arrived, all unnoticed, at the age of two and
thirty. Industry had told. He was now the manager's assistant; and, be it
said in passing, knew more about the stock than Mr. Hood himself. On this
particular morning, about nine o'clock, he was stacking bolts of woollen
goods near that delectable counter where the Colonel was wont to regale
his principal customers, when a vision appeared in the door. Visions were
rare at Carvel & Company's. This one was followed by an old negress with
leathery wrinkles, whose smile was joy incarnate. They entered the store,
paused at the entrance to the Colonel's private office, and surveyed it
with dismay.

"Clar t' goodness, Miss Jinny, yo' pa ain't heah! An' whah's Ephum, dat
black good-fo'-nuthin'!"

Miracle number one,--Mr. Hopper stopped work and stared. The vision was
searching the store with her eyes, and pouting.

"How mean of Pa!" she exclaimed, "when I took all this trouble to
surprise him, not to be here! Where are they all? Where's Ephum? Where's
Mr. Hood?"

The eyes lighted on Eliphalet. His blood was sluggish, but it could be
made to beat faster. The ladies he had met at Miss Crane's were not of
this description. As he came forward, embarrassment made him shamble, and
for the first time in his life he was angrily conscious of a poor figure.
Her first question dashed out the spark of his zeal.

"Oh," said she, "are you employed here?"

Thoughtless Virginia! You little know the man you have insulted by your
haughty drawl.

"Yes."

Then find Mr. Carvel, won't you, please? And tell him that his daughter
has come from Kentucky, and is waiting for him."

"I callate Mr. Carvel won't be here this morning," said Eliphalet. He
went back to the pile of dry goods, and began to work. But he was unable
to meet the displeasure in her face.

"What is your name?" Miss Carvel demanded.

"Hopper."

"Then, Mr. Hopper, please find Ephum, or Mr. Hood."

Two more bolts were taken off the truck. Out of the corner of his eye he
watched her, and she seemed very tall, like her father. She was taller
than he, in fact.

"I ain't a servant, Miss Carvel," he said, with a meaning glance at the
negress.

"Laws, Miss Jinny," cried she, "I may's 'ell find Ephum. I knows he's
loafin' somewhar hereabouts. An' I ain't seed him dese five month." And
she started for the back of the store.

"Mammy!"

The old woman stopped short. Eliphalet, electrified, looked up and
instantly down again.

"You say you are employed by Mr. Carvel, and refuse to do what I ask?"

"I ain't a servant," Mr. Hopper repeated doggedly. He felt that he was in
the right,--and perhaps he was.

It was at this critical juncture in the proceedings that a young man
stepped lightly into the store behind Miss Jinny. Mr. Hopper's eye was on
him, and had taken in the details of his costume before realizing the
import of his presence. He was perhaps twenty, and wore a coat that
sprung in at the waist, and trousers of a light buff-color that gathered
at the ankle and were very copious above. His features were of the
straight type which has been called from time immemorial patrician. He
had dark hair which escaped in waves from under his hat, and black eyes
that snapped when they perceived Miss Virginia Carvel. At sight of her,
indeed, the gold-headed cane stopped in its gyrations in midair.

"Why, Jinny!" he cried--"Jinny!"

Mr. Hopper would have sold his soul to have been in the young man's
polished boots, to have worn his clothes, and to have been able to cry
out to the young lady, "Why, Jinny!"

To Mr. Hopper's surprise, the young lady did not turn around. She stood
perfectly still. But a red flush stole upon her cheek, and laughter was
dancing in her eyes yet she did not move. The young man took a step
forward, and then stood staring at her with such a comical expression of
injury on his face as was too much for Miss Jinny's serenity. She
laughed. That laugh also struck minor chords upon Mr. Hopper's
heart-strings.

But the young gentleman very properly grew angry.

"You've no right to treat me the way you do, Virginia," he cried. "Why
didn't you let me know that you were coming home?" His tone was one of
authority. You didn't come from Kentucky alone!"

"I had plenty of attendance, I assure you," said Miss Carvel. "A
governor, and a senator, and two charming young gentlemen from New
Orleans as far as Cairo, where I found Captain Lige's boat. And Mr.
Brinsmade brought me here to the store. I wanted to surprise Pa," she
continued rapidly, to head off the young gentleman's expostulations. "How
mean of him not to be here!"

"Allow me to escort you home," said he, with ceremony:

"Allow me to decline the honah, Mr. Colfax," she cried, imitating him. "I
intend to wait here until Pa comes in."

Then Eliphalet knew that the young gentleman was Miss Virginia's first
cousin. And it seemed to him that he had heard a rumor, amongst the
clerks in the store; that she was to marry him one day.

"Where is Uncle Comyn?" demanded Mr. Colfax, swinging his cane with
impatience.

Virgina looked hard at Mr. Hopper.

"I don't know," she said.

"Ephum!" shouted Mr. Colfax. "Ephum! Easters where the deuce is that
good-for-nothing husband of yours?"

"I dunno, Marse Clarence. 'Spec he whah he oughtn't ter be."

Mr. Colfax spied the stooping figure of Eliphalet.

"Do you work here?" he demanded.

"I callate."

"What?"

"I callate to," responded Mr. Hopper again, without rising.

"Please find Mr. Hood," directed Mr. Colfax, with a wave of his cane,
"and say that Miss Carvel is here--"

Whereupon Miss Carvel seated herself upon the edge of a bale and giggled,
which did not have a soothing effect upon either of the young men. How
abominably you were wont to behave in those days, Virginia.

"Just say that Mr. Colfax sent you," Clarence continued, with a note of
irritation. "There's a good fellow."

Virginia laughed outright. Her cousin did not deign to look at her. His
temper was slipping its leash.

"I wonder whether you hear me," he remarked.

No answer.

"Colonel Carvel hires you, doesn't he? He pays you wages, and the first
time his daughter comes in here you refuse to do her a favor. By thunder,
I'll see that you are dismissed."

Still Eliphalet gave him no manner of attention, but began marking the
tags at the bottom of the pile.

It was at this unpropitious moment that Colonel Carvel walked into the
store, and his daughter flew into his arms.

"Well, well," he said, kissing her, "thought you'd surprise me, eh,
Jinny?"

"Oh, Pa," she cried, looking reproachfully up at his Face. "You knew
--how mean of you!"

"I've been down on the Louisiana, where some inconsiderate man told me,
or I should not have seen you today. I was off to Alton. But what are
these goings-on?" said the Colonel, staring at young Mr. Colfax, rigid as
one of his own gamecocks. He was standing defiantly over the stooping
figure of the assistant manager.

"Oh," said Virginia, indifferently, "it's only Clarence. He's so
tiresome. He's always wanting to fight with somebody."

"What's the matter, Clarence?" asked the Colonel, with the mild unconcern
which deceived so many of the undiscerning.

"This person, sir, refused to do a favor for your daughter. She told him,
and I told him, to notify Mr. Hood that Miss Carvel was here, and he
refused."

Mr. Hopper continued his occupation, which was absorbing. But he was
listening.

Colonel Carvel pulled his goatee, and smiled.

"Clarence," said he, "I reckon I can run this establishment without any
help from you and Jinny. I've been at it now for a good many years."

If Mr. Barbo had not been constitutionally unlucky, he might have
perceived Mr. Hopper, before dark that evening, in conversation with Mr.
Hood about a certain customer who lived up town, and presently leave the
store by the side entrance. He walked as rapidly as his legs would carry
him, for they were a trifle short for his body; and in due time, as the
lamps were flickering, he arrived near Colonel Carvel's large double
residence, on Tenth and Locust streets. Then he walked slowly along
Tenth, his eyes lifted to the tall, curtained windows. Now and anon they
scanned passers-by for a chance acquaintance.

Mr. Hopper walked around the block, arriving again opposite the Carvel
house, and beside Mr. Renault's, which was across from it. Eliphalet had
inherited the principle of mathematical chances. It is a fact that the
discreet sometimes take chances. Towards the back of Mr. Renault's
residence, a wide area was sunk to the depth of a tall man, which was
apparently used for the purpose of getting coal and wood into the cellar.
Mr. Hopper swept the neighborhood with a glance. The coast was clear, and
he dropped into the area.

Although the evening was chill, at first Mr. Hopper perspired very
freely. He crouched in the area while the steps of pedestrians beat above
his head, and took no thought but of escape. At last, however, he grew
cooler, removed his hat, and peeped over the stone coping. Colonel
Carvel's house--her house--was now ablaze with lights, and the shades not
yet drawn. There was the dining room, where the negro butler was moving
about the table; and the pantry, where the butler went occasionally; and
the kitchen, with black figures moving about. But upstairs on the two
streets was the sitting room. The straight figure of the Colonel passed
across the light. He held a newspaper in his hand. Suddenly, full in the
window, he stopped and flung away the paper. A graceful shadow slipped
across the wall. Virginia laid her hands on his shoulders, and he stooped
to kiss her. Now they sat between the curtains, she on the arm of his
chair and leaning on him, together looking out of the window.

How long this lasted Mr. Hopper could not say. Even the wise forget
themselves. But all at once a wagon backed and bumped against the curb in
front of him, and Eliphalet's head dropped as if it had been struck by
the wheel. Above him a sash screamed as it opened, and he heard Mr.
Renault's voice say, to some person below:

"Is that you, Capitaine Grant?"

"The same," was the brief reply.

"I am charmed that you have brought the wood. I thought that you had
forgotten me."

"I try to do what I say, Mr. Renault."

"Attendez--wait!" cried Mr. Renault, and closed the window.

Now was Eliphalet's chance to bolt. The perspiration had come again, and
it was cold. But directly the excitable little man, Renault, had appeared
on the pavement above him. He had been running.

"It is a long voyage from Gravois with a load of wood, Capitaine--I am
very grateful."

"Business is business, Mr. Renault," was the self-contained reply.

"Alphonse!" cried Mr. Renault, "Alphonse!" A door opened in the back
wall. "Du vin pour Monsieur le Capitaine."

"Oui, M'sieu."

Eliphalet was too frightened to wonder why this taciturn handler of wood
was called Captain, and treated with such respect.

"Guess I won't take any wine to-night, Mr. Renault," said he. "You go
inside, or you'll take cold."

Mr. Renault protested, asked about all the residents of Gravois way, and
finally obeyed. Eliphalet's heart was in his mouth. A bolder spirit would
have dashed for liberty. Eliphalet did not possess that kind of bravery.
He was waiting for the Captain to turn toward his wagon.

He looked down the area instead, with the light from the street lamp on
his face. Fear etched an ineffaceable portrait of him on Mr. Hopper's
mind, so that he knew him instantly when he saw him years afterward.
Little did he reckon that the fourth time he was to see him this man was
to be President of the United States. He wore a close-cropped beard, an
old blue army overcoat, and his trousers were tucked into a pair of muddy
cowhide boots.

Swiftly but silently the man reached down and hauled Eliphalet to the
sidewalk by the nape of the neck.

"What were you doing there?" demanded he of the blue overcoat, sternly.

Eliphalet did not answer. With one frantic wrench he freed himself, and
ran down Locust Street. At the corner, turning fearfully, he perceived
the man in the overcoat calmly preparing to unload his wood.



CHAPTER III

THE UNATTAINABLE SIMPLICITY

To Mr. Hopper the being caught was the unpardonable crime. And indeed,
with many of us, it is humiliation and not conscience which makes the
sting. He walked out to the end of the city's growth westward, where the
new houses were going up. He had reflected coolly on consequences, and
found there were none to speak of. Many a moralist, Mr. Davitt included,
would have shaken his head at this. Miss Crane's whole Puritan household
would have raised their hands in horror at such a doctrine.

Some novelists I know of, who are in reality celebrated surgeons in
disguise, would have shown a good part of Mr. Eliphalet Hopper's mental
insides in as many words as I have taken to chronicle his arrival in St.
Louis. They invite us to attend a clinic, and the horrible skill with
which they wield the scalpel holds us spellbound. For God has made all of
us, rogue and saint, burglar and burgomaster, marvellously alike. We read
a patent medicine circular and shudder with seven diseases. We peruse one
of Mr. So and So's intellectual tonics and are sure we are complicated
scandals, fearfully and wonderfully made.

Alas, I have neither the skill nor the scalpel to show the diseases of
Mr. Hopper's mind; if, indeed, he had any. Conscience, when contracted,
is just as troublesome as croup. Mr. Hopper was thoroughly healthy. He
had ambition, as I have said. But he was not morbidly sensitive. He was
calm enough when he got back to the boarding-house, which he found in as
high a pitch of excitement as New Englanders ever reach.

And over what?

Over the prospective arrival that evening of the Brices, mother and son,
from Boston. Miss Crane had received the message in the morning.
Palpitating with the news; she had hurried rustling to Mrs. Abner Reed,
with the paper in her hand.

"I guess you don't mean Mrs. Appleton Brice," said Mrs. Reed.

"That's just who I mean," answered Miss Crane, triumphantly,--nay,
aggressively.

Mrs. Abner shook her curls in a way that made people overwhelm her with
proofs.

"Mirandy, you're cracked," said she. "Ain't you never been to Boston?"

Miss Crane bridled. This was an uncalled-for insult.

"I guess I visited down Boston-way oftener than you, Eliza Reed. You
never had any clothes."

Mrs. Reed's strength was her imperturbability.

"And you never set eyes on the Brice house, opposite the Common, with the
swelled front? I'd like to find out where you were a-visitin'. And you've
never heard tell of the Brice homestead, at Westbury, that was Colonel
Wilton Brice's, who fought in the Revolution? I'm astonished at you,
Mirandy. When I used to be at the Dales', in Mount Vernon Street, in
thirty-seven, Mrs. Charles Atterbury Brice used to come there in her
carriage, a-callin'. She was Appleton's mother. Severe! Save us,"
exclaimed Mrs. Reed, "but she was stiff as starched crepe. His father was
minister to France. The Brices were in the India trade, and they had
money enough to buy the whole of St. Louis."

Miss Crane rattled the letter in her hand. She brought forth her
reserves.

"Yes, and Appleton Brice lost it all, in the panic. And then he died, and
left the widow and son without a cent."

Mrs. Reed took off her spectacles.

"I want to know!" she exclaimed. "The durned fool! Well, Appleton Brice
didn't have the family brains, ands he was kind of soft-hearted. I've
heard Mehitabel Dale say that." She paused to reflect. "So they're coming
here?" she added. "I wonder why."

Miss Crane's triumph was not over.

"Because Silas Whipple was some kin to Appleton Brice, and he has offered
the boy a place in his law office."

Miss Reed laid down her knitting.

"Save us!" she said. "This is a day of wonders, Mirandy. Now Lord help
the boy if he's gain' to work for the Judge."

"The Judge has a soft heart, if he is crabbed," declared the spinster.
"I've heard say of a good bit of charity he's done. He's a soft heart."

"Soft as a green quince!" said Mrs. Abner, scornfully. "How many friends
has he?"

"Those he has are warm enough," Miss Crane retorted. "Look at Colonel
Carvel, who has him to dinner every Sunday."

"That's plain as your nose, Mirandy Crane. They both like quarrellin'
better than anything in this world."

"Well," said Miss Crane, "I must go make ready for the Brices."

Such was the importance of the occasion, however, that she could not
resist calling at Mrs. Merrill's room, and she knocked at Mrs. Chandler's
door to tell that lady and her daughter.

No Burke has as yet arisen in this country of ours to write a Peerage.
Fame awaits him. Indeed, it was even then awaiting him, at the time of
the panic of 1857. With what infinite pains were the pedigree and
possessions of the Brice family pieced together that day by the scattered
residents from Puritan-land in the City of St. Louis. And few buildings
would have borne the wear and tear of many house-cleanings of the kind
Miss Crane indulged in throughout the morning and afternoon.

Mr. Eliphalet Hopper, on his return from business, was met on the steps
and requested to wear his Sunday clothes. Like the good republican that
he was, Mr. Hopper refused. He had ascertained that the golden charm
which made the Brices worthy of tribute had been lost. Commercial
supremacy,--that was Mr. Hopper's creed. Family is a good thing, but of
what use is a crest without the panels on which to paint it? Can a
diamond brooch shine on a calico gown? Mr. Hopper deemed church the place
for worship. He likewise had his own idol in his closet.

Eliphalet at Willesden had heard a great deal of Boston airs and graces
and intellectuality, of the favored few of that city who lived in
mysterious houses, and who crossed the sea in ships. He pictured Mrs.
Brice asking for a spoon, and young Stephen sniffing at Mrs. Crane's
boarding-house. And he resolved with democratic spirit that he would
teach Stephen a lesson, if opportunity offered. His own discrepancy
between the real and the imagined was no greater than that of the rest of
his fellow-boarders.

Barring Eliphalet, there was a dress parade that evening,--silks and
bombazines and broadcloths, and Miss Crane's special preserves on the
tea-table. Alas, that most of the deserved honors of this world should
fall upon barren ground!

The quality which baffled Mr. Hopper, and some other boarders, was
simplicity. None save the truly great possess it (but this is not
generally known). Mrs. Brice was so natural, that first evening at tea,
that all were disappointed. The hero upon the reviewing stand with the
halo of the Unknown behind his head is one thing; the lady of Family who
sits beside you at a boarding-house and discusses the weather and the
journey is quite another. They were prepared to hear Mrs. Brice rail at
the dirt of St. Louis and the crudity of the West. They pictured her
referring with sighs to her Connections, and bewailing that Stephen could
not have finished his course at Harvard.

She did nothing of the sort.

The first shock was so great that Mrs. Abner Reed cried in the privacy of
her chamber, and the Widow Crane confessed her disappointment to the
confiding ear of her bosom friend, Mrs. Merrill. Not many years later a
man named Grant was to be in Springfield, with a carpet bag, despised as
a vagabond. A very homely man named Lincoln went to Cincinnati to try a
case before the Supreme Court, and was snubbed by a man named Stanton.

When we meet the truly great, several things may happen. In the first
place, we begin to believe in their luck, or fate, or whatever we choose
to call it, and to curse our own. We begin to respect ourselves the more,
and to realize that they are merely clay like us, that we are great men
without Opportunity. Sometimes, if we live long enough near the Great, we
begin to have misgivings. Then there is hope for us.

Mrs. Brice, with her simple black gowns, quiet manner, and serene face,
with her interest in others and none in herself, had a wonderful effect
upon the boarders. They were nearly all prepared to be humble. They grew
arrogant and pretentious. They asked Mrs. Brice if she knew this and that
person of consequence in Boston, with whom they claimed relationship or
intimacy. Her answers were amiable and self-contained.

But what shall we say of Stephen Brice? Let us confess at once that it is
he who is the hero of this story, and not Eliphalet Hopper. It would be
so easy to paint Stephen in shining colors, and to make him a first-class
prig (the horror of all novelists), that we must begin with the
drawbacks. First and worst, it must be confessed that Stephen had at that
time what has been called "the Boston manner." This was not Stephen's
fault, but Boston's. Young Mr. Brice possessed that wonderful power of
expressing distance in other terms besides ells and furlongs,--and yet
he was simple enough with it all.

Many a furtive stare he drew from the table that evening. There were one
or two of discernment present, and they noted that his were the generous
features of a marked man,--if he chose to become marked. He inherited his
mother's look; hers was the face of a strong woman, wide of sympathy,
broad of experience, showing peace of mind amid troubles--the touch of
femininity was there to soften it.

Her son had the air of the college-bred. In these surroundings he escaped
arrogance by the wonderful kindliness of his eye, which lighted when his
mother spoke to him. But he was not at home at Miss Crane's table, and he
made no attempt to appear at his ease.

This was an unexpected pleasure for Mr. Eliphalet Hopper. Let it not be
thought that he was the only one at that table to indulge in a little
secret rejoicing. But it was a peculiar satisfaction to him to reflect
that these people, who had held up their heads for so many generations,
were humbled at last. To be humbled meant, in Mr. Hopper's philosophy, to
lose one's money. It was thus he gauged the importance of his
acquaintances; it was thus he hoped some day to be gauged. And he trusted
and believed that the time would come when he could give his fillip to
the upper rim of fortune's wheel, and send it spinning downward.

Mr. Hopper was drinking his tea and silently forming an estimate. He
concluded that young Brice was not the type to acquire the money which
his father had lost. And he reflected that Stephen must feel as strange
in St. Louis as a cod might amongst the cat-fish in the Mississippi. So
the assistant manager of Carvel & Company resolved to indulge in the
pleasure of patronizing the Bostonian.

"Callatin' to go to work?" he asked him, as the boarders walked into the
best room.

"Yes," replied Stephen, taken aback. And it may be said here that, if Mr.
Hopper underestimated him, certainly he underestimated Mr. Hopper.

"It ain't easy to get a job this Fall," said Eliphalet, "St. Louis houses
have felt the panic."

"I am sorry to hear that."

"What business was you callatin' to grapple with?"

"Law," said Stephen.

"Gosh!" exclaimed Mr. Hopper, "I want to know." In reality he was a bit
chagrined, having pictured with some pleasure the Boston aristocrat going
from store to store for a situation. "You didn't come here figurin' on
makin' a pile, I guess."

"A what?"

"A pile."

Stephen looked down and over Mr. Hopper attentively. He took in the
blocky shoulders and the square head, and he pictured the little eyes at
a vanishing-point in lines of a bargain. Then humor blessed humor--came
to his rescue. He had entered the race in the West, where all start
equal. He had come here, like this man who was succeeding, to make his
living. Would he succeed?

Mr. Hopper drew something out of his pocket, eyed Miss Crane, and bit off
a corner.

"What office was you going into?" he asked genially. Mr. Brice decided to
answer that.

"Judge Whipple's--unless he has changed his mind." Eliphalet gave him a
look more eloquent than words.

"Know the Judge?"

Silent laughter.

"If all the Fourth of Julys we've had was piled into one," said Mr.
Hopper, slowly and with conviction, "they wouldn't be a circumstance to
Silas Whipple when he gets mad. My boss, Colonel Carvel, is the only man
in town who'll stand up to him. I've seen 'em begin a quarrel in the
store and carry it all the way up the street. I callate you won't stay
with him a great while."



CHAPTER IV

BLACK CATTLE

Later that evening Stephen Brice was sitting by the open windows in his
mother's room, looking on the street-lights below.

"Well, my dear," asked the lady, at length, "what do you think of it
all?"

"They are kind people," he said.

"Yes, they are kind," she assented, with a sigh. "But they are not--they
are not from among our friends, Stephen."

"I thought that one of our reasons for coming West, mother," answered
Stephen.

His mother looked pained.

"Stephen, how can you! We came West in order that you might have more
chance for the career to which you are entitled. Our friends in Boston
were more than good."

He left the window and came and stood behind her chair, his hands clasped
playfully beneath her chin.

"Have you the exact date about you, mother?"

"What date, Stephen?"

"When I shall leave St. Louis for the United States Senate. And you must
not forget that there is a youth limit in our Constitution for senators."

Then the widow smiled,--a little sadly, perhaps. But still a wonderfully
sweet smile. And it made her strong face akin to all that was human and
helpful.

"I believe that you have the subject of my first speech in that august
assembly. And, by the way, what was it?"

"It was on 'The Status of the Emigrant,'" she responded instantly,
thereby proving that she was his mother.

"And it touched the Rights of Privacy," he added, laughing, "which do not
seem to exist in St. Louis boarding-houses."

"In the eyes of your misguided profession, statesmen and authors and
emigrants and other public charges have no Rights of Privacy," said she.
"Mr. Longfellow told me once that they were to name a brand of flour for
him, and that he had no redress."

"Have you, too, been up before Miss Crane's Commission?" he asked, with
amused interest.

His mother laughed.

"Yes," she said quietly.

"They have some expert members," he continued. "This Mrs. Abner Reed
could be a shining light in any bar. I overheard a part of her
cross-examination. She--she had evidently studied our case--"

"My dear," answered Mrs. Brice, "I suppose they know all about us." She
was silent a moment, I had so hoped that they wouldn't. They lead the
same narrow life in this house that they did in their little New England
towns. They--they pity us, Stephen."

"Mother!"

"I did not expect to find so many New Englanders here--I wish that Mr.
Whipple had directed us elsewhere-"

"He probably thought that we should feel at home among New Englanders. I
hope the Southerners will be more considerate. I believe they will," he
added.

"They are very proud," said his mother. "A wonderful people,--born
aristocrats. You don't remember those Randolphs with whom we travelled
through England. They were with us at Hollingdean, Lord Northwell's
place. You were too small at the time. There was a young girl, Eleanor
Randolph, a beauty. I shall never forget the way she entered those
English drawing-rooms. They visited us once in Beacon Street, afterwards.
And I have heard that there are a great many good Southern families here
in St. Louis."

"You did not glean that from Judge Whipple's letter, mother," said
Stephen, mischievously.

"He was very frank in his letter," sighed Mrs. Brice.

"I imagine he is always frank, to put it delicately."

"Your father always spoke in praise of Silas Whipple, my dear. I have
heard him call him one of the ablest lawyers in the country. He won a
remarkable case for Appleton here, and he once said that the Judge would
have sat on the Supreme Bench if he had not been pursued with such
relentlessness by rascally politicians."

"The Judge indulges in a little relentlessness now and then, himself. He
is not precisely what might be termed a mild man, if what we hear is
correct."

Mrs. Brice started.

"What have you heard?" she asked.

"Well, there was a gentleman on the steamboat who said that it took more
courage to enter the Judge's private office than to fight a Border
Ruffian. And another, a young lawyer, who declared that he would rather
face a wild cat than ask Whipple a question on the new code. And yet he
said that the Judge knew more law than any man in the West. And lastly,
there is a polished gentleman named Hopper here from Massachusetts who
enlightened me a little more."

Stephen paused and bit his tongue. He saw that she was distressed by
these things. Heaven knows that she had borne enough trouble in the last
few months.

"Come, mother," he said gently, "you should know how to take my jokes by
this time. I didn't mean it. I am sure the Judge is a good man,--one of
those aggressive good men who make enemies. I have but a single piece of
guilt to accuse him of."

"And what is that?" asked the widow.

"The cunning forethought which he is showing in wishing to have it said
that a certain Senator and Judge Brice was trained in his office."

"Stephen--you goose!" she said.

Her eye wandered around the room,--Widow Crane's best bedroom. It was
dimly lighted by an extremely ugly lamp. The hideous stuffy bed curtains
and the more hideous imitation marble mantel were the two objects that
held her glance. There was no change in her calm demeanor. But Stephen,
who knew his mother, felt that her little elation over her arrival had
ebbed, Neither would confess dejection to the other.

"I--even I--" said Stephen, tapping his chest, "have at least made the
acquaintance of one prominent citizen, Mr. Eliphalet D. Hopper. According
to Mr. Dickens, he is a true American gentleman, for he chews tobacco. He
has been in St. Louis five years, is now assistant manager of the largest
dry goods house, and still lives in one of Miss Crane's four-dollar
rooms. I think we may safely say that he will be a millionaire before I
am a senator."

He paused.

"And mother?"

"Yes, dear."

He put his hands in his pockets and walked over to the window.

"I think that it would be better if I did the same thing."

"What do you mean, my son--"

"If I went to work,--started sweeping out a store, I mean. See here,
mother, you've sacrificed enough for me already. After paying father's
debts, we've come out here with only a few thousand dollars, and the nine
hundred I saved out of this year's Law School allowance. What shall we do
when that is gone? The honorable legal profession, as my friend reminded
me to-night, is not the swiftest road to millions."

With a mother's discernment she guessed the agitation, he was striving to
hide; she knew that he had been gathering courage for this moment for
months. And she knew that he was renouncing thus lightly, for her sake an
ambition he had had from his school days.

Widow passed her hand over her brow. It was a space before she answered
him.

"My son," she said, let us never speak of this again:

"It was your father's dearest wish that you should become a lawyer and
--and his wishes are sacred God will take care of us."

She rose and kissed him good-night.

"Remember, my dear, when you go to Judge Whipple in the morning, remember
his kindness, and--."

"And keep my temper. I shall, mother."

A while later he stole gently back into her room again. She was on her
knees by the walnut bedstead.

At nine the next manning Stephen left Miss Crane's, girded for the
struggle with the redoubtable Silas Whipple. He was not afraid, but a
poor young man as an applicant to a notorious dragon is not likely to be
bandied with velvet, even though the animal had been a friend of his
father. Dragons as a rule have had a hard rime in their youths, and
believe in others having a hard time.

To a young man, who as his father's heir in Boston had been the subject
of marked consideration by his elders, the situation was keenly
distasteful. But it had to be gone through. So presently, after inquiry,
he came to the open square where the new Court House stood, the dome of
which was indicated by a mass of staging, and one wing still to be
completed. Across from the building, on Market Street, and in the middle
of the block, what had once been a golden hand pointed up a narrow dusty
stairway.

Here was a sign, "Law office of Silas Whipple."

Stephen climbed the stairs, and arrived at a ground glass door, on which
the sign was repeated. Behind that door was the future: so he opened it
fearfully, with an impulse to throw his arm above his head. But he was
struck dumb on beholding, instead of a dragon, a good-natured young man
who smiled a broad welcome. The reaction was as great as though one
entered a dragon's den, armed to the teeth, to find a St. Bernard doing
the honors.

Stephen's heart went out to this young man,--after that organ had jumped
back into its place. This keeper of the dragon looked the part. Even the
long black coat which custom then decreed could not hide the bone and
sinew under it. The young man had a broad forehead, placid Dresden-blue
eyes, flaxen hair, and the German coloring. Across one of his high
cheek-bones was a great jagged scar which seemed to add distinction to
his appearance. That caught Stephen's eye, and held it. He wondered
whether it were the result of an encounter with the Judge.

"You wish to see Mr. Whipple?" he asked, in the accents of an educated
German.

"Yes," said Stephen, "if he isn't busy."

"He is out," said the other, with just a suspicion of a 'd' in the word.
"You know he is much occupied now, fighting election frauds. You read the
papers?"

"I am a stranger here," said Stephen.

"Ach!" exclaimed the German, "now I know you, Mr. Brice. The young one
from Boston the Judge spoke of. But you did not tell him of your
arrival."

"I did not wish to bother him," Stephen replied, smiling.

"My name is Richter--Carl Richter, sir."

The pressure of Mr. Richter's big hands warmed Stephen as nothing else
had since he had come West. He was moved to return it with a little more
fervor than he usually showed. And he felt, whatever the Judge might be,
that he had a powerful friend near at hand--Mr. Richter's welcome came
near being an embrace.

"Sit down, Mr. Brice," he said; "mild weather for November, eh? The Judge
will be here in an hour."

Stephen looked around him: at the dusty books on the shelves, and the
still dustier books heaped on Mr. Richter's big table; at the cuspidors;
at the engravings of Washington and Webster; at the window in the jog
which looked out on the court-house square; and finally at another
ground-glass door on which was printed:

               SILAS WHIPPLE

                PRIVATE

This, then, was the den,--the arena in which was to take place a
memorable interview. But the thought of waiting an hour for the dragon to
appear was disquieting. Stephen remembered that he had something over
nine hundred dollars in his pocket (which he had saved out of his last
year's allowance at the Law School). So he asked Mr. Richter, who was
dusting off a chair, to direct him to the nearest bank.

"Why, certainly," said he; "Mr. Brinsmade's bank on Chestnut Street." He
took Stephen to the window and pointed across the square. "I am sorry I
cannot go with you," he added, "but the Judge's negro, Shadrach, is out,
and I must stay in the office. I will give you a note to Mr. Brinsmade."

"His negro!" exclaimed Stephen. "Why, I thought that Mr. Whipple was an
Abolitionist."

Mr. Richter laughed.

"The man is free," said he. "The Judge pays him wages."

Stephen thanked his new friend for the note to the bank president, and
went slowly down the stairs. To be keyed up to a battle-pitch, and then
to have the battle deferred, is a trial of flesh and spirit.

As he reached the pavement, he saw people gathering in front of the wide
entrance of the Court House opposite, and perched on the copings. He
hesitated, curious. Then he walked slowly toward the place, and buttoning
his coat, pushed through the loafers and passers-by dallying on the
outskirts of the crowd. There, in the bright November sunlight, a sight
met his eyes which turned him sick and dizzy.

Against the walls and pillars of the building, already grimy with soot,
crouched a score of miserable human beings waiting to be sold at auction.
Mr. Lynch's slave pen had been disgorged that morning. Old and young,
husband and wife,--the moment was come for all and each. How hard the
stones and what more pitiless than the gaze of their fellow-creatures in
the crowd below! O friends, we who live in peace and plenty amongst our
families, how little do we realize the terror and the misery and the dumb
heart-aches of those days! Stephen thought with agony of seeing his own
mother sold before his eyes, and the building in front of him was lifted
from its foundation and rocked even as shall the temples on the judgment
day.

The oily auctioneer was inviting the people to pinch the wares. Men came
forward to feel the creatures and look into their mouths, and one brute,
unshaven and with filthy linen, snatched a child from its mother's lap
Stephen shuddered with the sharpest pain he had ever known. An ocean-wide
tempest arose in his breast, Samson's strength to break the pillars of
the temple to slay these men with his bare hands. Seven generations of
stern life and thought had their focus here in him,--from Oliver Cromwell
to John Brown.

Stephen was far from prepared for the storm that raged within him. He had
not been brought up an Abolitionist--far from it. Nor had his father's
friends--who were deemed at that time the best people in Boston--been
Abolitionists. Only three years before, when Boston had been aflame over
the delivery of the fugitive Anthony Burns, Stephen had gone out of
curiosity to the meeting at Faneuil Hall. How well he remembered his
father's indignation when he confessed it, and in his anger Mr. Brice had
called Phillips and Parker "agitators." But his father, nor his father's
friends in Boston had never been brought face to face with this hideous
traffic.

Hark! Was that the sing-song voice of the auctioneer He was selling the
cattle. High and low, caressing an menacing, he teased and exhorted them
to buy. The were bidding, yes, for the possession of souls, bidding in
the currency of the Great Republic. And between the eager shouts came a
moan of sheer despair. What was the attendant doing now? He was tearing
two of then: from a last embrace.

Three--four were sold while Stephen was in a dream

Then came a lull, a hitch, and the crowd began to chatter gayly. But the
misery in front of him held Stephen in a spell. Figures stood out from
the group. A white-haired patriarch, with eyes raised to the sky; a
flat-breasted woman whose child was gone, whose weakness made her
valueless. Then two girls were pushed forth, one a quadroon of great
beauty, to be fingered. Stephen turned his face away,--to behold Mr.
Eliphalet Hopper looking calmly on.

"Wal, Mr. Brice, this is an interesting show now, ain't it? Something we
don't have. I generally stop here to take a look when I'm passing." And
he spat tobacco juice on the coping.

Stephen came to his senses.

"And you are from New England?" he said.

Mr. Hopper laughed.

"Tarnation!" said he, "you get used to it. When I came here, I was a sort
of an Abolitionist. But after you've lived here awhile you get to know
that niggers ain't fit for freedom."

Silence from Stephen.

"Likely gal, that beauty," Eliphalet continued unrepressed. "There's a
well-known New Orleans dealer named Jenkins after her. I callate she'll
go down river."

"I reckon you're right, Mistah," a man with a matted beard chimed in, and
added with a wink: "She'll find it pleasant enough--fer a while. Some of
those other niggers will go too, and they'd rather go to hell. They do
treat 'em nefarious down thah on the wholesale plantations. Household
niggers! there ain't none better off than them. But seven years in a
cotton swamp,--seven years it takes, that's all, Mistah."

Stephen moved away. He felt that to stay near the man was to be tempted
to murder. He moved away, and just then the auctioneer yelled,
"Attention!"

"Gentlemen," he cried, "I have heah two sisters, the prope'ty of the late
Mistah Robe't Benbow, of St. Louis, as fine a pair of wenches as was ever
offe'd to the public from these heah steps--"

"Speak for the handsome gal," cried a wag.

"Sell off the cart hoss fust," said another.

The auctioneer turned to the darker sister:

"Sal ain't much on looks, gentlemen," he said, "but she's the best nigger
for work Mistah Benbow had." He seized her arm and squeezed it, while the
girl flinched and drew back. "She's solid, gentlemen, and sound as a
dollar, and she kin sew and cook. Twenty-two years old. What am I bid?"

Much to the auctioneer's disgust, Sal was bought in for four hundred
dollars, the interest in the beautiful sister having made the crowd
impatient. Stephen, sick at heart, turned to leave. Halfway to the corner
he met a little elderly man who was the color of a dried gourd. And just
as Stephen passed him, this man was overtaken by an old negress, with
tears streaming down her face, who seized the threadbare hem of his coat.
Stephen paused involuntarily.

"Well, Nancy," said the little man, "we had marvellous luck. I was able
to buy your daughter for you with less than the amount of your savings."

"T'ank you, Mistah Cantah," wailed the poor woman, "t'ank you, suh.
Praised be de name ob de Lawd. He gib me Sal again. Oh, Mistah Cantah"
(the agony in that cry), "is you gwineter stan' heah an' see her sister
Hester sol' to--to--oh, ma little Chile! De little Chile dat I nussed,
dat I raised up in God's 'ligion. Mistah Cantah, save her, suh, f'om dat
wicked life o' sin. De Lawd Jesus'll rewa'd you, suh. Dis ole woman'll
wuk fo' you twell de flesh drops off'n her fingers, suh."

And had he not held her, she would have gone down on her knees on the
stone flagging before him. Her suffering was stamped on the little man's
face--and it seemed to Stephen that this was but one trial more which
adversity had brought to Mr. Canter.

"Nancy," he answered (how often, and to how many, must he have had to say
the same thing), "I haven't the money, Nancy. Would to God that I had,
Nancy!"

She had sunk down on the bricks. But she had not fainted. It was not so
merciful as that. It was Stephen who lifted her, and helped her to the
coping, where she sat with her bandanna awry.

Stephen was not of a descent to do things upon impulse. But the tale was
told in after days that one of his first actions in St. Louis was of this
nature. The waters stored for ages in the four great lakes, given the
opportunity, rush over Niagara Falls into Ontario.

"Take the woman away," said Stephen, in a low voice, "and I will buy the
girl,--if I can."

The little man looked up, dazed.

"Give me your card,--your address. I will buy the girl, if I can, and set
her free."

He fumbled in his pocket and drew out a dirty piece of pasteboard. It
read: "R. Canter, Second Hand Furniture, 20 Second Street." And still he
stared at Stephen, as one who gazes upon a mystery. A few curious
pedestrians had stopped in front of them.

"Get her away, if you can, for God's sake," said Stephen again. And he
strode off toward the people at the auction. He was trembling. In his
eagerness to reach a place of vantage before the girl was sold, he pushed
roughly into the crowd.

But suddenly he was brought up short by the blocky body of Mr. Hopper,
who grunted with the force of the impact.

"Gosh," said that gentleman, "but you are inters'ted. They ain't begun to
sell her yet--he's waitin' for somebody. Callatin' to buy her?" asked Mr.
Hopper, with genial humor.

Stephen took a deep breath. If he knocked Mr. Hopper down, he certainly
could not buy her. And it was a relief to know that the sale had not
begun.

As for Eliphalet, he was beginning to like young Brice. He approved of
any man from Boston who was not too squeamish to take pleasure in a
little affair of this kind.

As for Stephen, Mr. Hopper brought him back to earth. He ceased
trembling, and began to think.

"Tarnation!" said Eliphalet. "There's my boss, Colonel Carvel across the
street. Guess I'd better move on. But what d'ye think of him for a real
Southern gentleman?"

"The young dandy is his nephew, Clarence Colfax. He callates to own this
town." Eliphalet was speaking leisurely, as usual, while preparing to
move. "That's Virginia Carvel, in red. Any gals down Boston-way to beat
her? Guess you won't find many as proud."

He departed. And Stephen glanced absently at the group. They were picking
their way over the muddy crossing toward him. Was it possible that these
people were coming to a slave auction? Surely not. And yet here they were
on the pavement at his very side.

She wore a long Talma of crimson cashmere, and her face was in that most
seductive of frames, a scoop bonnet of dark green velvet, For a fleeting
second her eyes met his, and then her lashes fell. But he was aware, when
he had turned away, that she was looking at him again. He grew uneasy. He
wondered whether his appearance betrayed his purpose, or made a question
of his sanity.

Sanity! Yes, probably he was insane from her point of view. A sudden
anger shook him that she should be there calmly watching such a scene.

Just then there was a hush among the crowd. The beautiful slave-girl was
seized roughly by the man in charge and thrust forward, half fainting,
into view. Stephen winced. But unconsciously he turned, to see the effect
upon Virginia Carvel.

Thank God! There were tears upon her lashes.

Here was the rasp of the auctioneer's voice:-- "Gentlemen, I reckon there
ain't never been offered to bidders such an opportunity as this heah.
Look at her well, gentlemen. I ask you, ain't she a splendid creature?"

Colonel Carvel, in annoyance, started to move on. "Come Jinny," he said,
"I had no business to bring you aver."

But Virginia caught his arm. "Pa," she cried, "it's Mr. Benbow's Hester.
Don't go, dear. Buy her for me You know that I always wanted her.
Please!"

The Colonel halted, irresolute, and pulled his goatee Young Colfax
stepped in between them.

"I'll buy her for you, Jinny. Mother promised you a present, you know,
and you shall have her."

Virginia had calmed.

"Do buy her, one of you," was all she said

"You may do the bidding, Clarence," said the Colonel, "and we'll settle
the ownership afterward." Taking Virginia's arm, he escorted her across
the street.

Stephen was left in a quandary. Here was a home for the girl, and a good
one. Why should me spend the money which meant so much to him. He saw the
man Jenkin elbowing to the front. And yet--suppose Mr. Colfax did not get
her? He had promised to buy her if he could, and to set her free:

Stephen had made up his mind: He shouldered his way after Jenkins.



CHAPTER V

THE FIRST SPARK PASSES

"Now, gentlemen," shouted the auctioneer when he had finished his oration
upon the girl's attractions, "what 'tin I bid? Eight hundred?"

Stephen caught his breath. There was a long pause no one cared to start
the bidding.

"Come, gentlemen, come! There's my friend Alf Jenkins. He knows what
she's worth to a cent. What'll you give, Alf? Is it eight hundred?"

Mr. Jenkins winked at the auction joined in the laugh.

"Three hundred!" he said.

The auctioneer was mortally offended. Then some one cried:--"Three
hundred and fifty!"

It was young Colfax. He was recognized at once, by name, evidently as a
person of importance.

"Thank you, Mistah Colfax, suh," said the auctioneer, with a servile wave
of the hand in his direction, while the crowd twisted their necks to see
him. He stood very straight, very haughty, as if entirely oblivious to
his conspicuous position.

"Three seventy-five!"

"That's better, Mistah Jenkins," said the auctioneer, sarcastically. He
turned to the girl, who might have stood to a sculptor for a figure of
despair. Her hands were folded in front of her, her head bowed down. The
auctioneer put his hand under her chin and raised it roughly. "Cheer up,
my gal," he said, "you ain't got nothing to blubber about now."

Hester's breast heaved and from her black eyes there shot a magnificent
look of defiance. He laughed. That was the white blood.

The white blood!

Clarence Colfax had his bid taken from his lips. Above the heads of the
people he had a quick vision of a young man with a determined face, whose
voice rang clear and strong,-- "Four hundred!"

Even the auctioneer, braced two ways, was thrown off his balance by the
sudden appearance of this new force. Stephen grew red over the sensation
he made. Apparently the others present had deemed competition with such
as Jenkins and young Colfax the grossest folly. He was treated to much
liberal staring before the oily salesman arranged his wits to grapple
with the third factor.

Four hundred from--from--from that gentleman. And the chubby index seemed
the finger of scorn.

"Four hundred and fifty!" said Mr. Colfax, defiantly.

Whereupon Mr. Jenkins, the New Orleans dealer, lighted a very long cigar
and sat down on the coping. The auctioneer paid no attention to this
manoeuvre. But Mr. Brice and Mr. Colfax, being very young, fondly
imagined that they had the field to themselves, to fight to a finish.

Here wisdom suggested in a mild whisper to Stephen that there was a last
chance to pull out. And let Colfax have the girl? Never. That was pride,
and most reprehensible. But second he thought of Mr. Canter and of Nancy,
and that was not pride.

"Four seventy-five!" he cried.

"Thank you, suh."

"Now fur it, young uns!" said the wag, and the crowd howled with
merriment.

"Five hundred!" snapped Mr. Colfax.

He was growing angry. But Stephen was from New England, and poor, and he
thought of the size of his purse. A glance at his adversary showed that
his blood was up. Money was plainly no consideration to him, and young
Colfax did not seem to be the kind who would relish returning to a young
lady and acknowledge a defeat.

Stephen raised the bid by ten dollars. The Southerner shot up fifty.
Again Stephen raised it ten. He was in full possession of himself now,
and proof against the thinly veiled irony of the oily man's remarks in
favor of Mr. Colfax. In an incredibly short time the latter's impetuosity
had brought them to eight hundred and ten dollars.

Then several things happened very quickly.

Mr. Jenkins got up from the curb and said, "Eight hundred and
twenty-five," with his cigar in his mouth. Scarcely had the hum of
excitement died when Stephen, glancing at Colfax for the next move, saw
that young gentleman seized from the rear by his uncle, the tall Colonel.
And across the street was bliss Virginia Carvel, tapping her foot on the
pavement.

"What are you about, sir?" the Colonel cried. "The wench isn't worth it."

"Mr. Colfax shook himself free.

"I've got to buy her now, sir," he cried.

"I reckon not," said the Colonel. "You come along with me."

Naturally Mr. Colfax was very angry. He struggled but he went. And so,
protesting, he passed Stephen, at whom he did not deign to glance. The
humiliation of it must have been great for Mr. Colfax. "Jinny wants her;
sir," he said, "and I have a right to buy her."

"Jinny wants everything," was the Colonel's reply. And in a single look
of curiosity and amusement his own gray eyes met Stephen's. They seemed
to regret that this young man, too, had not a guardian. Then uncle and
nephew recrossed the street, and as they walked off the Colonel was seen
to laugh. Virginia had her chin in the air, and Clarence's was in his
collar.

The crowd, of course, indulged in roars of laughter, and even Stephen
could not repress a smile, a smile not without bitterness. Then he
wheeled to face Mr. Jerkins. Out of respect for the personages involved,
the auctioneer had been considerately silent daring the event. It was Mr.
Brice who was now the centre of observation.

Come, gentlemen, come, this here's a joke--eight twenty-five. She's worth
two thousand. I've been in the business twenty yea's, and I neve' seen
her equal. Give me a bid, Mr.--Mr.--you have the advantage of me, suh."

"Eight hundred and thirty-five!" said Stephen.

"Now, Mr. Jerkins, now, suh! we've got twenty me' to sell."

"Eight fifty!" said Mr. Jerkins.

"Eight sixty!" said Stephen, and they cheered him.

Mr. Jenkins took his cigar out of his teeth, and stared.

"Eight seventy-five!" said he.

"Eight eighty-five!" said Stephen.

There was a breathless pause.

"Nine hundred!" said the trader.

"Nine hundred and ten!" cried Stephen.

At that Mr. Jerkins whipped his hat from off his head, and made Stephen a
derisive bow.

"She's youahs, suh," he said. "These here are panic times. I've struck my
limit. I can do bettah in Louisville fo' less. Congratulate you, suh
--reckon you want her wuss'n I do."

At which sally Stephen grew scarlet, and the crowd howled with joy.

"What!" yelled the auctioneer. "Why, gentlemen, this heah's a joke. Nine
hundred and ten dollars, gents, nine hundred and ten. We've just begun,
gents. Come, Mr. Jerkins, that's giving her away."

The trader shook his head, and puffed at his cigar.

"Well," cried the oily man, "this is a slaughter. Going at nine hundred
an' ten--nine ten--going--going--" down came the hammer--"gone at nine
hundred and ten to Mr.--Mr.--you have the advantage of me, suh."

An attendant had seized the girl, who was on the verge of fainting, and
was dragging her back. Stephen did not heed the auctioneer, but thrust
forward regardless of stares.

"Handle her gently, you blackguard," he cried.

The man took his hands off.

"Suttinly, sah," he said.

Hester lifted her eyes, and they were filled with such gratitude and
trust that suddenly he was overcome with embarrassment.

"Can you walk?" he demanded, somewhat harshly.

"Yes, massa."

"Then get up," he said, "and follow me."

She rose obediently. Then a fat man came out of the Court House, with a
quill in his hand, and a merry twinkle in his eye that Stephen resented.

"This way, please, sah," and he led him to a desk, from the drawer of
which he drew forth a blank deed.

"Name, please!"

"Stephen Atterbury Brice."

"Residence, Mr. Brice!"

Stephen gave the number. But instead of writing it clown, the man merely
stared at him, while the fat creases in his face deepened and deepened.
Finally he put down his quill, and indulged in a gale of laughter, hugely
to Mr. Brice's discomfiture.

"Shucks!" said the fat man, as soon as he could.

"What are you givin' us? That the's a Yankee boa'din' house."

"And I suppose that that is part of your business, too," said Stephen,
acidly.

The fat man looked at him, pressed his lips, wrote down the number,
shaken all the while with a disturbance which promised to lead to another
explosion. Finally, after a deal of pantomime, and whispering and
laughter with the notary behind the wire screen, the deed was made out,
signed, attested, and delivered. Stephen counted out the money grimly, in
gold and Boston drafts.

Out in the sunlight on Chestnut Street, with the girl by his side, it all
seemed a nightmare. The son of Appleton Brice of Boston the owner of a
beautiful quadroon girl! And he had bought hex with his last cent.

Miss Crane herself opened the door in answer to his ring. Her keen eyes
instantly darted over his shoulder and dilated, But Stephen, summoning
all his courage, pushed past her to the stairs, and beckoned Hester to
follow.

"I have brought this--this person to see my mother," he said

The spinster bowed from the back of her neck. She stood transfixed on a
great rose in the hall carpet until she heard Mrs. Brice's door open and
slam, and then she strode up the stairs and into the apartment of Mrs.
Abner Reed. As she passed the first landing, the quadroon girl was
waiting in the hall.



CHAPTER VI

SILAS WHIPPLE

The trouble with many narratives is that they tell too much. Stephen's
interview with his mother was a quiet affair, and not historic. Miss
Crane's boarding-house is not an interesting place, and the tempest in
that teapot is better imagined than described. Out of consideration for
Mr. Stephen Brice, we shall skip likewise a most affecting scene at Mr.
Canter's second-hand furniture store.

That afternoon Stephen came again to the dirty flight of steps which led
to Judge Whipple's office. He paused a moment to gather courage, and
then, gripping the rail, he ascended. The ascent required courage now,
certainly. He halted again before the door at the top. But even as he
stood there came to him, in low, rich tones, the notes of a German song.
He entered And Mr. Richter rose in shirt-sleeves from his desk to greet
him, all smiling.

"Ach, my friend!" said he, "but you are late. The Judge has been awaiting
you."

"Has he?" inquired Stephen, with ill-concealed anxiety.

The big young German patted him on the shoulder.

Suddenly a voice roared from out the open transom of the private office,
like a cyclone through a gap.

"Mr. Richter!"

"Sir!"

"Who is that?"

"Mr. Brice, sir."

"Then why in thunder doesn't he come in?"

Mr. Richter opened the private door, and in Stephen walked. The door
closed again, and there he was in the dragon's dens face to face with the
dragon, who was staring him through and through. The first objects that
caught Stephen's attention were the grizzly gray eye brows, which seemed
as so much brush to mark the fire of the deep-set battery of the eyes.
And that battery, when in action, must have been truly terrible.

The Judge was shaven, save for a shaggy fringe of gray beard around his
chin, and the size of his nose was apparent even in the full face.

Stephen felt that no part of him escaped the search of Mr. Whipple's
glance. But it was no code or course of conduct that kept him silent. Nor
was it fear entirely.

"So you are Appleton Brice's son," said the Judge, at last. His tone was
not quite so gruff as it might have been.

"Yes, sir," said Stephen.

"Humph!" said the Judge, with a look that scarcely expressed approval. "I
guess you've been patted on the back too much by your father's friends."
He leaned back in his wooden chair. "How I used to detest people who
patted boys on the back and said with a smirk, 'I know your father.' I
never had a father whom people could say that about. But, sir," cried the
Judge, bringing down his fist on the litter of papers that covered his
desk, "I made up my mind that one day people should know me. That was my
spur. And you'll start fair here, Mr. Brice. They won't know your father
here--"

If Stephen thought the Judge brutal, he did not say so. He glanced around
the little room,--at the bed in the corner, in which the Judge slept, and
which during the day did not escape the flood of books and papers; at the
washstand, with a roll of legal cap beside the pitcher.

"I guess you think this town pretty crude after Boston, Mr. Brice," Mr.
Whipple continued. "From time immemorial it has been the pleasant habit
of old communities to be shocked at newer settlements, built by their own
countrymen. Are you shocked, sir?"

Stephen flushed. Fortunately the Judge did not give him time to answer.

"Why didn't your mother let me know that she was coming?"

"She didn't wish to put you to any trouble, sir."

"Wasn't I a good friend of your father's? Didn't I ask you to come here
and go into my office?"

"But there was a chance, Mr. Whipple--"

"A chance of what?"

"That you would not like me. And there is still a chance of it," added
Stephen, smiling.

For a second it looked as if the Judge might smile, too. He rubbed his
nose with a fearful violence.

"Mr. Richter tells me you were looking for a bank," said he, presently.

Stephen quaked.

"Yes, sir, I was, but--"

But Mr. Whipple merely picked up the 'Counterfeit Bank Note Detector'.

"Beware of Western State Currency as you would the devil," said he.
"That's one thing we don't equal the East in--yet. And so you want to
become a lawyer?"

"I intend to become a lawyer, sir."

"And so you shall, sir," cried the Judge, bringing down his yellow fist
upon the 'Bank Note Detector'. "I'll make you a lawyer, sir. But my
methods ain't Harvard methods, sir."

"I am ready to do anything, Mr. Whipple."

The Judge merely grunted. He scratched among his papers, and produced
some legal cap and a bunch of notes.

"Go out there," he said, "and take off your coat and copy this brief. Mr.
Richter will help you to-day. And tell your mother I shall do myself the
honor to call upon her this evening."

Stephen did as he was told, without a word. But Mr. Richter was not in
the outer office when he returned to it. He tried to compose himself to
write, although the recollection of each act of the morning hung like a
cloud over the back of his head. Therefore the first sheet of legal cap
was spoiled utterly. But Stephen had a deep sense of failure. He had gone
through the ground glass door with the firm intention of making a clean
breast of the ownership of Hester. Now, as he sat still, the trouble grew
upon him. He started a new sheet, and ruined that: Once he got as far as
his feet, and sat down again. But at length he had quieted to the extent
of deciphering ten lines of Mr. Whipple's handwriting when the creak of a
door shattered his nerves completely.

He glanced up from his work to behold--none other than Colonel Comyn
Carvel.

Glancing at Mr. Richter's chair, and seeing it empty, the Colonel's eye
roved about the room until it found Stephen. There it remained, and the
Colonel remained in the middle of the floor, his soft hat on the back of
his head, one hand planted firmly on the gold head of his stick, and the
other tugging at his goatee, pulling down his chin to the quizzical
angle.

"Whoopee!" he cried.

The effect of this was to make one perspire freely. Stephen perspired.
And as there seemed no logical answer, he made none.

Suddenly Mr. Carvel turned, shaking with a laughter he could not control,
and strode into the private office the door slammed behind him. Mr.
Brice's impulse was flight. But he controlled himself.

First of all there was an eloquent silence. Then a ripple of guffaws.
Then the scratch-scratch of a quill pen, and finally the Judge's voice.

"Carvel, what the devil's the matter with you, sir?"

A squall of guffaws blew through the transom, and the Colonel was heard
slapping his knee.

"Judge Whipple," said he, his voice vibrating from suppressed explosions,
"I am happy to see that you have overcome some of your ridiculous
prejudices, sir."

"What prejudices, sir?" the Judge was heard to shout.

"Toward slavery, Judge," said Mr. Carvel, seeming to recover his gravity.
"You are a broader man than I thought, sir."

An unintelligible gurgle came from the Judge. Then he said.

"Carvel, haven't you and I quarrelled enough on that subject?"

"You didn't happen to attend the nigger auction this morning when you
were at the court?" asked the Colonel, blandly.

"Colonel," said the Judge, "I've warned you a hundred times against the
stuff you lay out on your counter for customers."

"You weren't at the auction, then," continued the Colonel, undisturbed.
"You missed it, sir. You missed seeing this young man you've just
employed buy the prettiest quadroon wench I ever set eyes on."

Now indeed was poor Stephen on his feet. But whether to fly in at the one
entrance or out at the other, he was undecided.

"Colonel," said Mr. Whipple, "is that true?"

"Sir!"
"MR. BRICE!"

It did not seem to Stephen as if he was walking when he went toward the
ground glass door. He opened it. There was Colonel Carvel seated on the
bed, his goatee in his hand. And there was the Judge leaning forward from
his hips, straight as a ramrod. Fire was darting from beneath his bushy
eyebrows. "Mr. Brice," said he, "there is one question I always ask of
those whom I employ. I omitted it in your case because I have known your
father and your grandfather before you. What is your opinion, sir, on the
subject of holding human beings in bondage?"

The answer was immediate,--likewise simple.

"I do not believe in it, Mr. Whipple."

The Judge shot out of his chair like a long jack-in-the box, and towered
to his full height.

"Mr. Brice, did you, or did you not, buy a woman at auction to-day?"

"I did, sir."

Mr. Whipple literally staggered. But Stephen caught a glimpse of the
Colonel's hand slipping from his chin cover his mouth.

"Good God, sir!" cried the Judge, and he sat down heavily. "You say that
you are an Abolitionist?"

"No, sir, I do not say that. But it does not need an Abolitionist to
condemn what I saw this morning."

"Are you a slave-owner, sir?" said Mr. Whipple.

"Yes, sir."

"Then get your coat and hat and leave my office, Mr. Brice."

Stephen's coat was on his arm. He slipped it on, and turned to go. He
was, if the truth were told, more amused than angry. It was Colonel
Carvel's voice that stopped him.

"Hold on, Judge," he drawled, "I reckon you haven't got all the packing
out of that case."

Mr. Whipple locked at him in a sort of stupefaction. Then he glanced at
Stephen.

"Come back here, sir," he cried. "I'll give you hearing. No man shall say
that I am not just."

Stephen looked gratefully at the Colonel.

"I did not expect one, sir," he said..

"And you don't deserve one, sir," cried the Judge.

"I think I do," replied Stephen, quietly.

The Judge suppressed something.

"What did you do with this person?" he demanded

"I took her to Miss Crane's boarding-house," said Stephen.

It was the Colonel's turn to explode. The guffaw which came from hire
drowned every other sound.

"Good God!" said the Judge, helplessly. Again he looked at the Colonel,
and this time something very like mirth shivered his lean frame. "And
what do you intend to do with her?" he asked in strange tones.

"To give her freedom, sir, as soon as I can find somebody to go on her
bond."

Again silence. Mr. Whipple rubbed his nose with more than customary
violence, and looked very hard at Mr. Carvel, whose face was inscrutable.
It was a solemn moment.

"Mr. Brice," said the Judge, at length, "take off your coat, sir I will
go her bond."

It was Stephen's turn to be taken aback. He stood regarding the Judge
curiously, wondering what manner of man he was. He did not know that this
question had puzzled many before him.

"Thank you, sir," he said.

His hand was on the knob of the door, when Mr. Whipple called him back
abruptly. His voice had lost some of its gruffness.

"What were your father's ideas about slavery, Mr. Brice?"

The young man thought a moment, as if seeking to be exact.

"I suppose he would have put slavery among the necessary evils, sir," he
said, at length. "But he never could bear to have the liberator mentioned
in his presence. He was not at all in sympathy with Phillips, or Parker,
or Summer. And such was the general feeling among his friends."

"Then," said the Judge, "contrary to popular opinion in the West and
South, Boston is not all Abolition."

Stephen smiled.

"The conservative classes are not at all Abolitionists, sir."

"The conservative classes!" growled the Judge, "the conservative classes!
I am tired of hearing about the conservative classes. Why not come out
with it, sir, and say the moneyed classes, who would rather see souls
held in bondage than risk their worldly goods in an attempt to liberate
them?"

Stephen flushed. It was not at all clear to him then how he was to get
along with Judge Whipple. But he kept his temper.

"I am sure that you do them an injustice, sir," he said, with more
feeling them he had yet shown. "I am not speaking of the rich alone, and
I think that if you knew Boston you would not say that the conservative
class there is wholly composed of wealthy people. Many of may father's
friends were by no means wealthy. And I know that if he had been poor he
would have held the same views."

Stephen did not mark the quick look of approval which Colonel Carvel gave
him. Judge Whipple merely rubbed his nose.

"Well, sir," he said, "what were his views, then?"

"My father regarded slaves as property, sir. And conservative people"
(Stephen stuck to the word) "respect property the world over. My father's
argument was this: If men are deprived by violence of one kind of
property which they hold under the law, all other kinds of property will
be endangered. The result will be anarchy. Furthermore, he recognized
that the economic conditions in the South make slavery necessary to
prosperity. And he regarded the covenant made between the states of the
two sections as sacred."

There was a brief silence, during which the uncompromising expression of
the Judge did not change.

"And do you, sir?" he demanded.

"I am not sure, sir, after what I saw yesterday. I--I must have time to
see more of it."

"Good Lord," said Colonel Carvel, "if the conservative people of the
North act this way when they see a slave sale, what will the
Abolitionists do? Whipple," he added slowly, but with conviction, "this
means war."

Then the Colonel got to his feet, and bowed to Stephen with ceremony.

"Whatever you believe, sir," he said, "permit me to shake your hand. You
are a brave man, sir. And although my own belief is that the black race
is held in subjection by a divine decree, I can admire what you have
done, Mr. Brice. It was a noble act, sir,--a right noble act. And I have
more respect for the people of Boston, now, sir, than I ever had before,
sir."

Having delivered himself of this somewhat dubious compliment (which he
meant well), the Colonel departed.

Judge Whipple said nothing.



CHAPTER VII

CALLERS

If the Brices had created an excitement upon their arrival, it was as
nothing to the mad delirium which raged at Miss Crane's boarding-house.
during the second afternoon of their stay. Twenty times was Miss Crane on
the point of requesting Mrs. Brice to leave, and twenty times, by the
advice of Mrs. Abner Deed, she desisted. The culmination came when the
news leaked out that Mr. Stephen Brice had bought the young woman in
order to give her freedom. Like those who have done noble acts since the
world began, Stephen that night was both a hero and a fool. The cream
from which heroes is made is very apt to turn.

"Phew!" cried Stephen, when they had reached their room after tea,
"wasn't that meal a fearful experience? Let's find a hovel, mother, and
go and live in it. We can't stand it here any longer."

"Not if you persist in your career of reforming an Institution, my son,"
answered the widow, smiling.

"It was beastly hard luck," said he, "that I should have been shouldered
with that experience the first day. But I have tried to think it over
calmly since, and I can see nothing else to have done." He paused in his
pacing up and down, a smile struggling with his serious look. "It was
quite a hot-headed business for one of the staid Brices, wasn't it?"

"The family has never been called impetuous," replied his mother. "It
must be the Western air."

He began his pacing again. His mother had not said one word about the
money. Neither had he. Once more he stopped before her.

"We are at least a year nearer the poor-house," he said; "you haven't
scolded me for that. I should feel so much better if you would."

"Oh, Stephen, don't say that!" she exclaimed. "God has given me no
greater happiness in this life than the sight of the gratitude of that
poor creature, Nancy. I shall never forget the old woman's joy at the
sight of her daughter. It made a palace out of that dingy furniture shop.
Hand me my handkerchief, dear."

Stephen noticed with a pang that the lace of it was frayed and torn at
the corner.

There was a knock at the door.

"Come in," said Mrs. Brice, hastily putting the handkerchief down.

Hester stood on the threshold, and old Nancy beside her.

"Evenin', Mis' Brice. De good Lawd bless you, lady, an' Miste' Brice,"
said the old negress.

"Well, Nancy?"

Nancy pressed into the room. "Mis' Brice!"

"Yes?"

"Ain' you gwineter' low Hester an' me to wuk fo' you?"

"Indeed I should be glad to, Nancy. But we are boarding."

"Yassm, yassm," said Nancy, and relapsed into awkward silence. Then
again, "Mis' Brice!"

"Yes, Nancy?"

"Ef you 'lows us t' come heah an' straighten out you' close, an' mend 'em
--you dunno how happy you mek me an' Hester--des to do dat much, Mis'
Brice."

The note of appeal was irresistible. Mrs. Brice rose and unlocked the
trunks.

"You may unpack them, Nancy," she said.

With what alacrity did the old woman take off her black bonnet and shawl!
"Whaffor you stannin' dere, Hester?" she cried.

"Hester is tired," said Mrs. Brice, compassionately, and tears came to
her eyes again at the thought of what they had both been through that
day.

"Tired!" said Nancy, holding up her hands. "No'm, she ain' tired. She des
kinder stupefied by you' goodness, Mis' Brice."

A scene was saved by the appearance of Miss Crane's hired girl.

"Mr. and Mrs. Cluyme, in the parlor, mum," she said.

If Mr. Jacob Cluyme sniffed a little as he was ushered into Miss Crane's
best parlor, it was perhaps because of she stuffy dampness of that room.
Mr. Cluyme was one of those persons the effusiveness of whose greeting
does not tally with the limpness of their grasp. He was attempting, when
Stephen appeared, to get a little heat into his hands by rubbing them, as
a man who kindles a stick of wood for a visitor. The gentleman had red
chop-whiskers,--to continue to put his worst side foremost, which
demanded a ruddy face. He welcomed Stephen to St. Louis with neighborly
effusion; while his wife, a round little woman, bubbled over to Mrs.
Brice.

"My dear sir," said Mr. Cluyme, "I used often to go to Boston in the
forties. In fact--ahem--I may claim to be a New Englander. Alas, no, I
never met your father. But when I heard of the sad circumstances of his
death, I felt as if I had lost a personal friend. His probity, sir, and
his religious principles were an honor to the Athens of America. I have
listened to my friend, Mr. Atterbury,--Mr. Samuel Atterbury,--eulogize
him by the hour."

Stephen was surprised.

"Why, yes," said he, "Mr. Atterbury was a friend."

"Of course," said Mr. Cluyme, "I knew it. Four years ago, the last
business trip I made to Boston, I met Atterbury on the street. Absence
makes no difference to some men, sir, nor the West, for that matter. They
never change. Atterbury nearly took me in his arms. 'My dear fellow,' he
cried, 'how long are you to be in town?' I was going the next day. 'Sorry
I can't ask you to dinner,' says he, but step into the Tremont House and
have a bite.'--Wasn't that like Atterbury?"

Stephen thought it was. But Mr. Cluyme was evidently expecting no answer.

"Well," said he, "what I was going to say was that we heard you were in
town; 'Friends of Samuel Atterbury, my dear,' I said to my wife. We are
neighbors, Mr. Brace. You must know the girls. You must come to supper.
We live very plainly, sir, very simply. I am afraid that you will miss
the luxury of the East, and some of the refinement, Stephen. I hope I may
call you so, my boy. We have a few cultured citizens, Stephen, but all
are not so. I miss the atmosphere. I seemed to live again when I got to
Boston. But business, sir,--the making of money is a sordid occupation.
You will come to supper?"

"I scarcely think that my mother will go out," said Stephen.

"Oh, be friends! It will cheer her. Not a dinner-party, my boy, only a
plain, comfortable meal, with plenty to eat. Of course she will. Of
course she will. Not a Boston social function, you understand. Boston,
Stephen, I have always looked upon as the centre of the universe. Our
universe, I mean. America for Americans is a motto of mine. Oh, no," he
added quickly, "I don't mean a Know Nothing. Religious freedom, my boy,
is part of our great Constitution. By the way, Stephen--Atterbury always
had such a respect for your father's opinions--"

"My father was not an Abolitionist, sir," said Stephen, smiling.

"Quite right, quite right," said Mr. Cluyme.

"But I am not sure, since I have come here, that I have not some sympathy
and respect for the Abolitionists."

Mr. Cluyme gave a perceptible start. He glanced at the heavy hangings on
the windows and then out of the open door into the hall. For a space his
wife's chatter to Mrs. Brace, on Boston fashions, filled the room.

"My dear Stephen," said the gentleman, dropping his voice, "that is all
very well in Boston. But take a little advice from one who is old enough
to counsel you. You are young, and you must learn to temper yourself to
the tone of the place which you have made your home. St. Louis is full of
excellent people, but they are not precisely Abolitionists. We are
gathering, it is true, a small party who are for gradual emancipation.
But our New England population here is small yet compared to the
Southerners. And they are very violent, sir."

Stephen could not resist saying, "Judge Whipple does not seem to have
tempered himself, sir."

"Silas Whipple is a fanatic, sir," cried Mr. Cluyme.

"His hand is against every man's. He denounces Douglas on the slightest
excuse, and would go to Washington when Congress opens to fight with
Stephens and Toombs and Davis. But what good does it do him? He might
have been in the Senate, or on the Supreme Bench, had he not stirred up
so much hatred. And yet I can't help liking Whipple. Do you know him?"

A resounding ring of the door-bell cut off Stephen's reply, and Mrs.
Cluyme's small talk to Mrs. Brice. In the hall rumbled a familiar voice,
and in stalked none other than Judge Whipple himself. Without noticing
the other occupants of the parlor he strode up to Mrs. Brice, looked at
her for an instant from under the grizzled brows, and held out his large
hand.

"Pray, ma'am," he said, "what have you done with your slave?"

Mrs. Cluyme emitted a muffled shriek, like that of a person frightened in
a dream. Her husband grasped the curved back of his chair. But Stephen
smiled. And his mother smiled a little, too.

"Are you Mr. Whipple?" she asked.

"I am, madam," was the reply.

"My slave is upstairs, I believe, unpacking my trunks," said Mrs. Brice.

Mr. and Mrs. Cluyme exchanged a glance of consternation. Then Mrs. Cluyme
sat down again, rather heavily, as though her legs had refused to hold
her.

"Well, well, ma'am!" The Judge looked again at Mrs. Brice, and a gleam of
mirth lighted the severity of his face. He was plainly pleased with her
--this serene lady in black, whose voice had the sweet ring of women who
are well born and whose manner was so self-contained. To speak truth, the
Judge was prepared to dislike her. He had never laid eyes upon her, and
as he walked hither from his house he seemed to foresee a helpless little
woman who, once he had called, would fling her Boston pride to the winds
and dump her woes upon him. He looked again, and decidedly approved of
Mrs. Brice, and was unaware that his glance embarrassed her.

"Mr. Whipple," she said,--"do you know Mr. and Mrs. Cluyme?"

The Judge looked behind him abruptly, nodded ferociously at Mr. Cluyme,
and took the hand that fluttered out to him from Mrs. Cluyme.

"Know the Judge!" exclaimed that lady, "I reckon we do. And my Belle is
so fond of him. She thinks there is no one equal to Mr. Whipple. Judge,
you must come round to a family supper. Belle will surpass herself."

"Umph!" said the Judge, "I think I like Edith best of your girls, ma'am."

"Edith is a good daughter, if I do say it myself," said Mrs. Cluyme. "I
have tried to do right by my children." She was still greatly flustered,
and curiosity about the matter of the slave burned upon her face. Neither
the Judge nor Mrs. Brice were people one could catechise. Stephen,
scanning the Judge, was wondering how far he regarded the matter as a
joke.

"Well, madam," said Mr. Whipple, as he seated himself on the other end of
the horsehair sofa, "I'll warrant when you left Boston that you did not
expect to own a slave the day after you arrived in St. Louis."

"But I do not own her," said Mrs. Brice. "It is my son who owns her."

This was too much for Mr. Cluyme.

"What!" he cried to Stephen. "You own a slave? You, a mere boy, have
bought a negress?"

"And what is more, sir, I approve of it," the Judge put in, severely. "I
am going to take the young man into my office."

Mr. Cluyme gradually retired into the back of his chair, looking at Mr.
Whipple as though he expected him to touch a match to the window
curtains. But Mr. Cluyme was elastic.

"Pardon me, Judge," said he, "but I trust that I may be allowed to
congratulate you upon the abandonment of principles which I have
considered a clog to your career. They did you honor, sir, but they were
Quixotic. I, sir, am for saving our glorious Union at any cost. And we
have no right to deprive our brethren of their property of their very
means of livelihood."

The Judge grinned diabolically. Mrs. Cluyme was as yet too stunned to
speak. Only Stephen's mother sniffed gunpowder in the air.

"This, Mr. Cluyme," said the Judge, mildly, "is an age of shifting winds.
It was not long ago," he added reflectively, "when you and I met in the
Planters' House, and you declared that every drop of Northern blood
spilled in Kansas was in a holy cause. Do you remember it, sir?"

Mr. Cluyme and Mr. Cluyme's wife alone knew whether he trembled.

"And I repeat that, sir," he cried, with far too much zeal. "I repeat it
here and now. And yet I was for the Omnibus Bill, and I am with Mr.
Douglas in his local sovereignty. I am willing to bury my abhorrence of a
relic of barbarism, for the sake of union and peace."

"Well, sir, I am not," retorted the Judge, like lightning. He rubbed the
red spat on his nose, and pointed a bony finger at Mr. Cluyme. Many a
criminal had grovelled before that finger. "I, too, am for the Union. And
the Union will never be safe until the greatest crime of modern times is
wiped out in blood. Mind what I say, Mr. Cluyme, in blood, sir," he
thundered.

Poor Mrs. Cluyme gasped.

"But the slave, sir? Did I not understand you to approve of Mr. Brice's
ownership?"

"As I never approved of any other. Good night, sir. Good night, madam."
But to Mrs. Brice he crossed over and took her hand. It has been further
claimed that he bowed. This is not certain.

"Good night, madam," he said. "I shall call again to pay my respects when
you are not occupied."





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