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Title: A Little Girl of Long Ago
Author: Douglas, Amanda Minnie, 1831-1916
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 "A Little Girl of Long Ago" ***

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                      A LITTLE GIRL OF LONG AGO


              A SEQUEL TO A LITTLE GIRL IN OLD NEW YORK

                         By AMANDA M. DOUGLAS



A. L. BURT COMPANY
PUBLISHERS NEW YORK

COPYRIGHT, 1897, BY
DODD, MEAD & COMPANY

_All rights reserved_



    TO
    EDNA ESTELLE CORNER.

    THE LITTLE GIRLS OF LONG AGO ARE GROWING OLD WITH
    THE CENTURY, BUT GIRLHOOD BLOSSOMS AFRESH
    WITH SPRING AND REMAINS
    FOREVER A JOY.

    A. M. D.
    NEWARK, 1897.



CONTENTS


        I. 1846

       II. AN INTERVIEW WITH A TIGER

      III. CHANCES AND CHANGES

       IV. A WEDDING

        V. WINTER HAPPENINGS

       VI. THE LAND OF OPHIR

      VII. THROUGH THE EYES OF YOUTH

     VIII. GOING VISITING

       IX. ANNABEL LEE

        X. WITH A POET

       XI. THE KING OF TERRORS

      XII. UP-TOWN

     XIII. OUT-OF-THE-WAY CORNERS

      XIV. AMONG GREAT THINGS

       XV. THE BEGINNINGS OF ROMANCE

      XVI. COUNTING UP THE COST

     XVII. A GLAD SURPRISE

    XVIII. THE LITTLE GIRL GROWN UP

      XIX. THE COURSE OF TRUE LOVE

       XX. MISS NAN UNDERHILL

      XXI. THE OLD, OLD STORY, EVER NEW

     XXII. 1897



HANNAH ANN



CHAPTER I

1846


New Year's came in with a ringing of bells and firing of pistols. Four
years more, and the world would reach the half-century mark. That seemed
very ancient to the little girl in Old New York. They talked about it at
the breakfast-table.

"Do you suppose any one could live to see nineteen hundred?" asked the
little girl, with wondering eyes.

Father Underhill laughed.

"Count up and see how old you would be, Hanny," he replied.

"Why, I should be--sixty-five."

"Not as old as either grandmother," said John.

"If the world doesn't come to an end," suggested Hanny, cautiously. She
remembered the fright she had when she was afraid it would come to an
end.

"It isn't half developed," interposed Benny Frank. "And we haven't half
discovered it. What do we know about the heart of Africa or the
interior of China--"

"The great Chinese wall will shut us out of that," interrupted the
little girl. "But it can't go all around China, for the missionaries get
in, and some Chinese get out, like the two little girls."

"There is some outside to China," laughed Benny Frank. "And India is a
wonderful country. There is all of Siberia, too, and British America,
and, beyond the Rocky Mountains, a great country belonging to us that we
know very little about. I believe the world is going to stand long
enough for us to learn all about it. Some day I hope to go around a good
bit and see for myself."

"Some people," began Mrs. Underhill, "reason that, as it was two
thousand years from the Creation to the Deluge, and two thousand years
more to the birth of Christ, that the next two thousand will see the end
of the world."

"They are beginning to think the world more than four or five thousand
years old," said Benny Frank. He had quite a taste for science.

"It'll last my time out, I guess," and there was a shrewd twinkle in
Father Underhill's eye. "And I think there'll be a big piece left for
Hanny."

The little girl of eleven mused over it. She had a great many things to
think about, and her mother suggested presently that there were some
things to do. Margaret went upstairs to straighten the parlor and
arrange a table in the end of the back room for callers. Hanny found
plenty of work, but her small brain kept in a curious confusion, as if
it was running back and forth from the past to the future. Events were
happening so rapidly. And the whole world seemed changed since her
brother Stephen's little boy had been born on Christmas morning.

It was curious, too, to grow older, and to understand books and lessons
so much better, to feel interested in daily events. There was a new
revolution in Mexico; there was a talk of war. But everything went on
happily at home. New York was stretching out like a big boy, showing
rents and patches in his attire, but up-town he was getting into a new
suit, and people exclaimed about the extravagance.

As for Stephen's baby, there wasn't any word in Webster's Dictionary to
do him justice. He grew fat and fair, his nose became shapely, his
dimple was deeper, his chin double, and his pretty hands began to grasp
at everything. Stephen said the only drawback was that his hair would be
red. Hanny felt curiously teased about it. She couldn't be sure that it
was quite a subject for prayer; but she took great comfort in two lines
of the old hymn--

    "Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,
    Uttered or unexpressed,"

and she hoped God would listen to the sincere desire of her heart.

Early in February the children were all excitement about Mr. Bradbury's
concert. The Dean children were among the chorus singers, and Charles
Reed had a prominent part. Would his mother let him go?--the children
all wondered.

"Mr. Reed can manage it," said Josie Dean, confidently. "Wives have to
mind their husbands about boys, because the men know best, and the boys
are to grow up into men."

Hanny's interest was divided by Margaret being made ready for the
Valentine ball. Everybody was to go in a fancy dress. Dr. Hoffman chose
Margaret's, which was to be a lady of 1790. Miss Cynthia came and looked
over the old green-and-white brocade that had descended from Miss Lois.
It had a low square neck, and a bodice with deep points back and front,
laced with a silver cord. The front breadth, "petticoat," as it was
called, was white satin, creamy now with age, embroidered with pink and
yellow roses and mossy green leaves. The brocade fell away in a long
train, and at the joining was a cascade of fine old lace called Mechlin.
The elbow-sleeves were edged with it, and at the neck, the lace had a
fine wire run through it at the back that made it stand up, while in
front, it fell to a pretty point, and was clasped with a brooch. It had
been made for Miss Lois' wedding outfit when she was a happy young girl,
dreaming over a joyous future that had never come to pass.

But Margaret's hair they all thought the crowning glory. Miss Cynthia
was very fond of adorning people for parties, and so deft that she was
in frequent demand. She had brought a great high comb of beautiful,
clear shell that had belonged to her mother. There was a loose twist
made like the figure eight at the back, and in front, rows of dainty
puffs and ends of curls, that dropped down on her white forehead.

The brooch, too, was curious. It was a portrait painted on ivory of the
Marquis de Lafayette, and set round with beautiful pearls, one of Miss
Cynthia's precious belongings also.

When Margaret looked at herself in her mother's tall glass, she was so
mystified that she felt for a moment as if she was Miss Lois come back.
For when the gown fitted her, she must have been tall and slim and
young.

Hanny had begged to ask in all the girls, and was delighted to have
Daisy Jasper and her mother.

But when Dr. Hoffman came in Continental costume, with buff
small-clothes and black velvet coat, great buckles of brilliants at his
knees and lace ruffles at his wrists and shirt front, and his hair
powdered, they all exclaimed. He carried his three-cornered hat under
his arm as he bowed to the ladies.

John Underhill declared laughingly that he felt honoured by being the
footman to such a grand couple, as he helped them into the carriage.

"Why don't people dress as beautifully now?" said Daisy Jasper, with a
sigh. "Everything looks so plain."

Then the elders began to talk of past fashions. Miss Cynthia said her
mother's wedding gown was made with a full straight skirt six yards
around, and had one little hoop at the hips to hold it out. When Miss
Cynthia's elder sisters were grown, she cut it up and made them each a
frock, with skirts two and a quarter yards wide, short full waists, and
puffed sleeves. Big poke bonnets were worn with great bunches of flowers
inside, and an immense bow at the top, where the strings were really
tied. If you wanted to be very coquettish, you had the bow rather on one
side. The skirts barely reached the ankles, and black satin slippers
were to be worn on fine occasions; white or sometimes pale colours to
parties.

"And now we have come back to wide full skirts," said Miss Cynthia.
"We're putting stiffening in to hold them out. And there's talk of
hoops."

Another odd custom was coming into vogue. It was considered much more
genteel to say "dress." Frock had a sort of common country sound,
because the farmers wore tow frocks at their work. The little girl had
been laughed at for saying it, and she was trying very hard to always
call the garment a "dress." Gown was considered rather reprehensible, as
it savoured of old ladies' bed-gowns. Now we have gone back to frocks
and gowns.

"The Continental fashions were extremely picturesque," said Mrs. Jasper.
"And the men were strong and earnest, and equal to the emergencies of
the day, if they did indulge in adornments considered rather feminine
now. But I like the variety. The newly-arrived emigrants in their
native garb interest me."

"There are some around in Houston Street," laughed Ben. "Dutch girls
with flaxen hair and little caps, and those queer waists with shoulder
straps, and thick woollen stockings. Some of them wear wooden shoes. And
Irish women with great plaid cloaks and little shawls tied over their
heads, short skirts and nailed shoes that clatter on the sidewalk."

"I should like to see them," said Daisy.

"Joe ought to take you out on St. Patrick's day," returned Ben. "But
they soon reach the dead level of uniformity."

"Fancy an Indian in coat and trousers instead of blanket, war-paint, and
feathers," and Jim laughed at the idea.

"I think we shall hardly be able to reduce him to modern costumes. He
does not take kindly to civilisation."

"He's shamefully treated anyway."

"Oh, Jim, it won't do to take your noble red men from romance. The
heroes of King Philip's time have vanished."

Jim was reading Cooper, and had large faith in the children of the
forest. The next generation of school-boys called them "sneaking red
dogs," and planned to go out on the plains and shoot them.

"If we absorb all these people, we shall be a curiously conglomerate
nation by and by," exclaimed Mrs. Jasper.

"As we were in the beginning," returned Father Underhill. "We started
from most of the nations of Europe. We have had a French state, Dutch
and German, English and Scotch, but the one language seems a great
leveler."

The little girls talked about the concert. Doctor Joe said he thought
Daisy might venture. She was beginning to grow quite courageous, though
the comments on her lameness always brought a flush to her cheek.
Sometimes he stopped at school for both girls, and the wheeling-chair
went home empty. His strong, tender arm was help enough.

Mr. Reed had quite a battle to win the day for his son. "The
singing-school was foolishness and a waste of time; and there was not a
moment to waste in this world, when you had to give a strict account of
it in the next." Mrs. Reed had never considered whether so much scouring
and scrubbing was not a waste of time, when everything was as clean as a
pin. When a very polite note from Mr. Bradbury reached Mr. Reed, begging
that Charles might be allowed to take a prominent part in the concert,
there was war, a more dreadful time than going to the barber had caused.

"Charles"--she occasionally left off the John Robert--"was too big a boy
for such nonsense! It spoiled children to put them forward. He ought to
be thinking of his lessons and forming his character, instead of
spending his time over silly songs. And to sing on a public stage!"

"Some of the best families are to let their children participate in it.
I don't think it will hurt them," her husband said decisively.

Then she actually sobbed.

"You will ruin that child, after all the trouble I've taken. I've worked
and slaved from morning till night, made him get his lessons and be
careful of his clothes, and kept him out of bad company; and now I'm
not allowed to say a word, but just stand by while you let him go to
ruin. The next thing we'll have him in a nigger minstrel band, or
playing on a fiddle!"

"I've known some very worthy men who played on a fiddle. And all the
children growing up can't be minstrels, so perhaps our boy will be
compelled to find some other employment. I am going to have him like
other boys; and if it can't be so at home, I'll send him away to
school."

That was a terrible threat. To be gone months at a time, with no one to
look after his clothes!

Mrs. Reed went about the house sighing, and scrubbed harder than ever.
She made Charles feel as if he brought in dirt by the bushel, and
scattered it about in pure spite. She even refused his help in clearing
away the dishes; and she tried to make him wear his second-best clothes
that eventful evening.

Oh, what an evening it was! The hall was crowded. The stage was full of
children, one tier of seats rising above another. The girls were dressed
in white, and most of them had their hair curled. The boys had a white
ribbon tied in the buttonhole of their jackets. How eager and pretty
they looked! Hanny thought of the day at Castle Garden when the
Sunday-schools had walked.

It was a simple cantata, but a great success. Charles Reed sang
charmingly. His father had said, "Don't get frightened, my boy, and do
your very best;" and he was just as desirous of pleasing his father as
any one, even Mr. Bradbury.

Daisy Jasper could have listened all night, entranced. Tall Doctor Joe
sat beside her, easing her position now and then, while Hanny smiled and
made joyful comments of approval in so soft a tone they disturbed no
one.

"I've never been so happy in all my life," Daisy Jasper said to Doctor
Joe. "It seems as if I could never feel miserable again. There are so
many splendid things in the world that I am glad to live and be among
them, if I can't ever be quite straight and strong."

"My dear child!" Doctor Joe's eyes said the rest.

They waited for the crowd to get out. Charles came down the aisle with
his father and Mr. Bradbury, and Mr. Dean was escorting his little
girls. They had a very delightful chat, and were charmed with the leader
of the children's concert.

"Charles must take good care of his voice," said Mr. Bradbury. "It may
sometime prove a fortune to him. He is a fine boy, and any father might
well be proud of him."

"I just wish mother had wanted to be there," Charles said, as his
father was opening the door with his latch-key. The light was turned low
in the hall, and Mrs. Reed had gone to bed, an unprecedented step with
her.

Hanny found that she couldn't spend all the Saturdays with little
Stevie. She wished they were twice as long; but they always seemed
shorter than any other day. Dolly came down now and then, and was just
as bright and merry as ever.

But old Mr. Beekman grew more feeble, and was confined to the house most
of the time. Hanny had to go down-town and visit him and Katschina. He
was delighted to have her come, and Katschina purred her tenderest
welcome. She was like a bit of sunshine, with her cheerful smile and her
sweet, merry wisdom. She told him about the school and Daisy, their
plays and songs; and they were never tired of talking about Stephen's
baby. It could laugh aloud now; the reddish fuzz was falling out, and
the new soft hair shone like pale gold on his pink scalp.

There were so many other friends, the Bounett cousins, and Dele Whitney,
who was just as jolly as ever, with the old aunts down in Beach Street,
and who declared the little girl was the sweetest thing in the world,
and that some day she should just steal her, and carry her off to
fairyland.



CHAPTER II

AN INTERVIEW WITH A TIGER


There came to New York in May a menagerie. A chance like this roused the
children to a pitch of the wildest enthusiasm. Wonderful posters were
put up. It was not considered a circus at all, but a moral and
instructive show, if it did not have delightful Artemas Ward to
expatiate upon it. There were a great many children who had never seen
an elephant. Hanny Underhill had not.

Jim said, "There was a live lion stuffed with straw; a zebra that had
fifty stripes from the tip of his nose to his tail, nary stripe alike; a
laughing hyena of the desert, who could cry like a child when he was
hungry, and who devoured the people who came to his assistance, thereby
showing the total depravity of human nature; an elephant that could
dance; and monkeys who climbed the highest trees and swung in the gentle
zephyrs by the tail." The crowning point was that he had money enough
saved up to go.

The celebrated lion-tamer, a Mr. Van Amburgh, was to perform with some
trained animals. Oh, what a crowd there was!--most people going early
so they could walk around and view the animals in their cages. There
were two beautiful striped hyenas, lithe as cats, and so restless you
were almost afraid they would find some loose bar and spring out at you.
The two lions roared tremendously when disturbed. A great cage full of
the funniest chattering monkeys, ready for nuts or cake or bits of
apples, and who could swing with their heads downward and turn
astonishing somersaults. Many other curious animals that we see nowadays
in Central Park; but, alas! there was no Park then, and such indulgences
had to be paid for.

The big elephant was very gentle, or in a gentle mood, which answered
the same purpose. The keeper had to have eyes everywhere to see that the
boys did not torment him. How he could take a peanut or a bit of candy
in his trunk, and carry it up to his mouth without dropping it, puzzled
Hanny. For of course all the First Street children went. Mr. Underhill
and Margaret and Mrs. Dean were to keep them safe and in order.

It seemed so hard to leave Daisy Jasper out. But her father could not
go, and her mother was much too timid.

"I'll be her knight," said Doctor Joe. "I will take her up in the buggy,
and we'll squeeze through the crowd."

That settled it. Seeing real live animals was so different from the
stuffed and moth-eaten ones at Barnum's.

There was a great tent and some temporary sheds, with one or two
side-shows. They went quite early, and Doctor Joe paid a man to stand
guard over some seats while they walked around and inspected the cages.
There was a smaller trick elephant, but even Columbus was not as big as
the famous Jumbo.

One of the great pleasures or curiosities was a ride on his back in a
howdah. This was ten cents extra, and only for children. Most of the
boys had spent their money for refreshments at the booths, so they could
only look longingly. The little girls were afraid at first.

"I am going," declared Charles Reed. "Oh, you will not be afraid!"--to
the Deans.

"Don't you want to?" asked Mr. Underhill of his little girl.

Hanny drew a long breath and her eyes dilated. The howdah filled up, and
the ponderous creature moved slowly down to the end of the space and up
again, amid childish exclamations and laughter.

"Yes--I would like to go," said Hanny, when she realised the safety of
the proceeding.

"Oh, Doctor Joe, couldn't you help me up? It would be such a wonderful
thing to ride on an elephant that I should be glad all my life."

Daisy Jasper looked so eager and pleading out of her beseeching blue
eyes. So many pleasures must be foregone that he had not the heart to
deny this.

"Are you quite sure you will not be afraid up there?" he asked
earnestly.

"Oh, no, not with Hanny, dear Doctor Joe!"

He looked at Hanny. The little girl could climb trees and walk out to
the ends of the limbs and jump; she had swung her arms and said one,
two, three, and gone flying over the creek without falling in; she could
do "vinegar" with a skipping rope; she could walk the edge of the
curb-stone without tilting over; she could swing ever so high and not
wink; she wasn't afraid to go up stairs in the dark; but when the
elephant took the first long, rocking step, she felt something as she
had when Luella Bounett had run downstairs with her in her arms. She
grasped Daisy's hand on the one side and Charlie's arm on the other.

"Oh, Hanny, you're not afraid?"

"It's like being out at sea," and Daisy laughed.

But the back of the huge creature seemed up so high and his steps so
long. Then she summoned all her courage, and resolved that she would not
be a "little 'fraid cat."

The keeper interspersed the rides with stories of elephants in India
taking care of babies, fanning flies away from them, watching over sick
masters, and moving great timbers. Even if his eyes were small, he could
see any danger. You could trust him when he was once your friend; but he
never forgave an injury.

The big india-rubber feet came down with scarcely a sound. He flapped
his ears lazily, he turned around without spilling them out, and marched
up the line as if it was just nothing at all.

Daisy was thrilling with enjoyment. Her eyes shone and her cheeks were
like roses. She even put her hand on the elephant's crumply back, as
they came down the steps, and smiled in Doctor Joe's face, as he held
her by the arm.

"You were so good to let me go. Thank you a thousand times. It was just
splendid!"

They were all in a burst of enthusiasm with "ohs and ahs." But Hanny was
very glad to get back to her father's protecting hand. She felt as if
she had been on a long and perilous journey.

They took their seats, and after one more caravan the performances
began. The trick elephant did several odd things rather clumsily. Then
he stood on his head, and the boys clapped their hands with delight. He
trumpeted, and the very ground seemed to shake. Then he looked around in
a queer sort of fashion, as if he was sure he had frightened everybody.

But what would they have said to the later acrobatic feats and going
through the figures of a quadrille! Half-a-dozen elephants would have
startled any audience.

Presently a big cage was uncovered, and Mr. Van Amburgh went into the
lions' den. Everybody shuddered a little. Hanny thought of the story of
Daniel--perhaps other people did. He shook hands and rubbed shoulders
with them; and they put their paws on his shoulders and shook their
shaggy heads.

Charles said they ought to have finer bodies for such magnificent heads.

Then the lion-tamer told them to lie down. He made a bed of one and a
pillow of the other, and threw himself upon them, hugging them up. He
made them open their mouths, and he thrust in his hand. They pranced up
and down, sprang over the stick he held in his hand, jumped over him;
and it really seemed as if they had a tender regard for him. But Doctor
Joe observed that he always faced them, and kept his eyes steadily upon
them. The applause was tremendous.

Then an incident occurred that was not down in the programme. A handsome
tiger walked out from between two of the cages as if he had a part to
play. He scanned the audience in a deliberate manner; he gave his lithe
body a twist, and switched his tail in a graceful fashion, while his
yellow eyes illumined the space about him. The attention of the audience
was concentrated upon him, while he appeared to be considering what to
do next.

Two keepers came out, while a man in the space between the cages shook
something in his hand. The tiger turned and followed him, and the men
watched until a bar snapped.

Then one of them faced the audience.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he began, "I wish to announce that there is not
the slightest danger. The tiger is securely caged. The animals are under
perfect control."

Two or three women screamed, and one fainted. Several hurried to the
entrance; but the keeper begged them to be tranquil. There had not been
the slightest danger.

Doctor Joe motioned to his party to remain seated while he went to
attend to the women. The performance was mostly over, and the audience
began to disperse, from a sense of insecurity.

"Was he really loose?" asked Tudie Dean, in a little fright.

"Of course he was," replied Charles. "I'm not sure but it was done
purposely after all."

Doctor Joe returned, and they appealed to him.

"Well,"--with a gay air,--"the tiger was quite obedient, wasn't he? You
were not frightened, Daisy?"

"But you stood right there,"--Doctor Joe had given his seat to a lady
just as the performance began. "Why, he looked at you," and Daisy's
nerves gave a little quiver.

"I supposed Mr. Van Amburgh would come and put him through some paces,"
returned Joe.

"It was immense, wasn't it?" exclaimed Jim. "But why did the woman
squeal when it was all over?"

Doctor Joe laughed.

To make amends, a pretty trick pony came out, who really could dance,
and he looked as if he laughed, too. He did a number of amusing things,
and the audience stopped going out. Then the monkeys set up such a
shrill chatter that the people began to laugh. The lion started to roar;
and it seemed as if the tigers joined the chorus. For a few moments it
was a forest concert.

"If only the hyena would laugh," said Jim. The girls were a little
nervous. Joe had gone to get Prince. "Oh, you needn't be a mite afraid.
Mr. Van Amburgh would just have thrown a cloth over his head; and in his
surprise they would have had him all right in a moment. I would not have
missed it for a dollar; though I wouldn't care to encounter him in his
native wilds."

"He did look grand surveying the audience," said Daisy. "I am so glad I
could come--for everything."

The Doctor put Hanny and Daisy in the buggy, as they were both so slim.
Hanny hugged his arm, and said in a voice still a trifle shaky,--

"Weren't you the least bit frightened, Joe?"

"Why, I never imagined there was any danger until it was over. I think
so many people rather dazed Mr. Tiger."

"Oh, if anything had happened to you, what should I do?" asked Daisy,
with lustrous eyes.

"Nothing is going to happen to me. You have been a brave girl this
afternoon, and it is not the first time either."

Her cheek flushed with pleasure.

It was a great thing to talk over, that and the ride on the elephant.
Hanny found her natural history, and she and her father read about
elephants most of the evening.

The days were so pleasant that the children often took Daisy out in her
chair to see them at their plays. They went around to Houston Street, to
the German settlement, as it was beginning to be called. Lena and
Gretchen were out on their stoop with their knitting, and the baby
between them. They were Lutherans, and they looked quite different from
the Jews.

There were still quaint old houses in Ludlow and Orchard streets,--two
stories with dormer windows in the roof, and some frame cottages with
struggling grass-plots. No one dreamed of the tall tenements that were
to take their places, the sewing-machines that were to hum while the
workers earned their scanty pittance, and swarms of children crowded the
streets.

Everybody had more leisure then. Some of the women sat and chatted while
their little ones played about.

A little girl came out of an alley way with a peculiar jerky movement,
like a hop and a skip, while she kept one hand on her knee. Her hip was
large, her shoulder pushed up and apparently bent over.

"Hello!" she said to Hanny. "What's the matter with her?" nodding her
head. "Wish't I had a cheer like that. I'd cut a great swell. My! ain't
she pritty?"

"She's been ill," returned Hanny.

The child stared a moment and then hopped on.

"Her father works about the stable," explained Hanny, with rising
colour. "She comes up sometimes. They're very poor. Mother gives them
ever so many things. She can't stand up straight; but she doesn't seem
to mind. And one leg is so much shorter. The boys call her Cricket, and
Limpy Dick."

"Oh, Hanny, if I were poor and like that!" The tears came in Daisy's
eyes. "I can stand up straight, and I am getting to walk quite well. I
have so much that is lovely and comforting; and oughtn't one be thankful
not to be real poor?"

The little lameter went hopping across the street, and called to some
children "to look at the style!"

Down by the corner there was a candy and notion store, kept by an old
woman with a queer wrinkled face framed in with a wide cap-ruffle. She
had a funny turned-up nose, as if it had hardly known which way to grow,
and such round red-apple cheeks. When it was pleasant, she sat in the
doorway, regardless of the fate of the heroic young woman of Norway.

"Good day!" she ejaculated. "The Lord bless ye. Yon's got a pretty face,
an' I hope it will bring her good fortune." She nodded, and her
cap-ruffle flapped over her face.

"If ye see that omadhawn of a Biddy Brady in yer travels, jist send her
home. The babby's screamin' himself into fits. Won't her mother give it
to her whin she comes in!"

Down below the next corner, there was a throng of children. One big boy
was whistling a jig tune, and clapping on his knee.

"That's old Mrs. McGiven," explained Hanny. "The school-children go
there for cake and candy and slate pencils, because hers have such nice
sharp points. And--Biddy Brady!"

Jim was with the boys. He gave Hanny a nod and laughed and joined the
whistling.

"Oh, Jim--Biddy's baby is crying--"

"Come, start up again, Biddy. You haven't given us half a cent's worth!
You don't dance as good as the little Jew girl on the next block."

"Arrah now--"

"Go on wid yer dancin'."

Biddy was a thin, lanky girl with straight dark hair that hung in her
eyes and over her shoulders. A faded checked pinafore, with just plain
arm-holes, covered her nearly all up. To her spindle legs were attached
mismatched shoes, twice too large, tied around the ankles. One had a
loose sole that flapped up and down. It really wasn't any dancing, for
she just kicked out one foot and then the other, with such vigor that
you wondered she didn't go over backward. Her very earnestness rendered
it irresistibly funny. She certainly danced by main strength.

Hanny began again. "Jim, her baby is crying--"

"He gets his living by crying. I've never heard of his doing anything
else."

Biddy brought her foot down with an emphatic thump.

"There now, not another step do yees get out o' me fur that cint. I've
give ye good measure and fancy steps throwed in. An' me shoe is danced
off me fut, an' me mammy'll lick me. See that now!" and she held up her
flapping sole.

They had to yield to necessity, for none of the crowd had another penny.
When Biddy realised the fact, she ran off home and bought a stick of
candy to solace herself and the baby. Mrs. Brady went out washing, and
Biddy cared for the baby when she wasn't in the street. It must be
admitted the babies languished under her care.

The school-children had a good deal of fun hiring her to dance. Biddy
was shrewd enough about the pennies.

Jim joined the cavalcade as the boys went their way.

"Why, she likes the money," he said in answer to an upbraiding remark
from Hanny. "That's what she does it for."

"It was very funny," declared Daisy. "She's such a straight, slim child
in that long narrow apron. If it hadn't been for the baby, I would have
given her a penny."

They went on down the street. There were several fancy-goods stores and
some pretty black-eyed Jewish children with the curliest hair
imaginable. There was the big school across the way, and a great lock
factory, then a row of comparatively nice dwellings. They turned into
Avenue A., and were in a crowd of Germans. The children and babies all
had flaxen or yellow hair and roundish blue eyes. The mothers were
knitting and sewing and chattering in their queer language. Even the
little girls were knitting lace and stockings. The boys seemed fat and
pudgy. They stared at the chair and its inmate, but Sam went quietly
along. Here were German costumes sure enough.

They turned up Second Street, and so around First Avenue, home.

"Why, it's like going to foreign countries," Daisy said. "Some of the
children were very pretty. But that Biddy Brady--I can see her yet."

The very next day Daisy drew two pictures, and held them before Hanny.

"Why, that's Biddy Brady!" the little girl said, with a bright wondering
laugh. "And that's old Mrs. McGiven! They're splendid! How could you do
it?"

"I don't know. It came to me."

Mrs. Craven said the old lady was excellent. And she laughed about Biddy
Brady's dancing.

Sometimes they went up to Tompkins' Square. They would study their
lessons or do a bit of crocheting. Daisy was learning a great many
things. Or they went a little farther up and over to the river, which
was much wider at that time. The old farms had been cut up into blocks;
but while they were waiting for some one to come along and build them
up, the thrifty Germans had turned them into market gardens, and they
presented a very pretty appearance.

They could see the small clusters of houses on Long Island, and the end
of Blackwell's Island,--a terrible place to them. The boys had seen the
"Black Maria," which the little girl thought must be some formidable
giant negress capable of driving the criminals along as one would a
flock of sheep, and she was quite surprised when she learned it was a
wagon merely. The East River was quite pretty up here, and the
ferry-boats made a line of foam that sparkled in the sun.

Occasionally Doctor Joe joined the party, and took them in other
directions. He had accepted the offer of an old physician on East
Broadway, which was then considered very aristocratic. The basement
windows had pretty lace curtains, and the dining-rooms had beaufets in
the corners, on which the glass and silver were arranged. The brass
doorknobs and the name-plate shone like gold, and the iron railings of
the stoops were finished with quite pretentious newels, that the
children called sentry boxes.

Grand Street, at the eastern end, had many private dwellings. Ridge and
Pitt and Willet streets were quite steep and made splendid coasting
places in winter. There was the Methodist church, in which many famous
worthies had preached, and even at the end of the century the old place
keeps its brave and undaunted front.

Strawberries did not come until June; and the girls took them round the
streets in tiny deep baskets. There were no such mammoth berries as we
have now; but, oh, how sweet and luscious they were! Little girls
carried baskets of radishes from door to door, and first you heard
"strawbrees," then something that sounded like "ask arishee," which I
suppose was brief for "ask any radishes."

The fish and clam men were a great delight to the children. One curious,
weather-beaten old fellow who went through First Street had quite a
musical horn, and a regular song.

    "Fine clams, fine clams, fine clams, to-day,
    That have just arrived from Rockaway.
    They're good to boil, and they're good to fry,
    And they're good to make a clam pot-pie.
    My horse is hired, and my waggon isn't mine.
    Look out, little boys, don't cut behind!"

Where the rhyme was lame, he made up with an extra flourish and trill to
the notes. The cats used to watch out for him. They seemed to know when
Friday came, and they would be sitting on the front stoops, dozing until
they heard the welcome sound of the horn. There were huckster waggons
with vegetables, and a buttermilk man.

An old coloured woman used to come round with brewer's yeast, and one
morning she had a great piece of black cambric twisted about her bonnet.

"Who are you in mourning for, auntie?" asked Margaret.

"My ol' man, Miss Margret. Happened so lucky! He jest died Sat'day
night, an' we buried him on Sunday, an' here I am goin' round on
Monday,--not losin' any time. Happened so lucky!"

Jim went into spasms of merriment over the economy of the incident.



CHAPTER III

CHANCES AND CHANGES


The Whitneys had moved in May, to the great regret of everybody. Their
family had changed considerably through the winter. Archibald, the
younger son, was married, and Mr. Theodore had an opportunity to go
abroad for a year.

The widowed cousin in Beach Street was married and went to Baltimore
with her two children. That left the two old aunts who owned the house
quite alone. Mrs. Whitney and Delia had taken turns staying with them.

The children were all sorry to lose Nora and Pussy Gray.

"People say it's bad luck to move a cat," said Nora, in her sententious
fashion; "but we don't believe in it. We've moved him twice already. And
you just put a little butter on his feet--"

"Butter!" interrupted the children, amazed.

"Why, yes. That's to make him wash his paws. If you can make him wash
and purr in a new place, he will stay. And then you must take him round
and show him every room and every closet. And you must come down real
often, Hanny. There's the lovely little park, you know. Aunt Boudinot
has a key. They're such nice queer old ladies, you'll be sure to like
them."

"I don't always like queer people," said Hanny, rather affronted.

"I don't mean cross or ugly. Aunt Clem has soft down all over her
cheeks, and such curly white hair. She's awful old and wrinkled and
deaf; but Dele can make her hear splendid. Aunt Patty isn't so old. Her
real name is Patricia. And Aunt Clem's is Clementine."

The children were not alone in regret. Ben was almost broken-hearted to
lose Mr. Theodore. The boy and the man had been such good friends. And
Ben was quite resolved, when he had served his apprenticeship, and was
twenty-one, to be a newspaper man and travel about the world.

Delia had told them quite a wonderful secret the day she came up after
some articles her mother had left. She had written some verses, and had
them printed unknown to any one. The. had said they were very fair. And
she had actually been paid for a story; and the editor of the paper
offered to take others, if they were just as good. She had changed her
check for a five-dollar goldpiece, which she carried about with her for
luck. She showed it to them; and they felt as if they had seen a
mysterious object.

Hanny was greatly amazed, puzzled as well. That a grown man like Mr.
Theodore should write grave columns of business matters for a newspaper
had not surprised her; she had a vague idea that people who wrote
verses and stories must needs be lovely. She pictured them with floating
curls and eyes turned heavenward for inspiration. It seemed to her that
beautiful thoughts must come from the clouds. Then their voices should
be soft, their hands delicate. And the divine something that no
dictionary has ever yet found a word to describe must surround them.
There was a fair-haired girl at school who had such an exquisite smile.
And Daisy Jasper! For her to write verses would be the supreme fitness
of things.

But careless, laughing, untidy Dele Whitney, neither fair nor dark
and--yes, freckled, though her hair was more brown than red now. And to
laugh about it, and toss up her goldpiece and catch it with her other
hand!

"Handsome!" Ben ejaculated when Hanny confided some of her difficulties
to him in a very timid fashion. "Great people don't need to run to
beauty. Still, Mr. Audubon had a lovely face, to my thinking," he added,
when he saw how disappointed the little girl looked. "And, oh! see here,
Mr. Willis is handsome and Gaylord Clark, and there is that picture of
Mrs. Hemans--"

The little girl smiled. Dr. Hoffman had given Margaret a beautifully
bound copy of Mrs. Hemans's poems, and the steel engraving in the front
_was_ handsome. She had already learned two of the poems, and recited
them at school.

"And I don't think Delia so very plain," continued Ben. "You just watch
what beautiful curves there are to her lips, and her brown eyes lighten
up like morning; and when they are a little sad, you can think that
twilight overshadows her. I like to watch them change so. I'm awfully
sorry they're gone away. If we _could_ have another big brother, I'd
like it to be Mr. Theodore."

Hanny used to hope when she was as big as Margaret she would be as
pretty. She didn't think very much about it, only now and then some of
the cousins said,--

"Hanny doesn't seem to grow a bit. And how very light her hair keeps!
You'd hardly think she and Margaret were sisters."

The little girls drew mysteriously closer after Nora went away. They all
kept on at the same school, and played together. But dolls and tea
parties didn't appear to have quite the zest of a year ago.

One Saturday, Mr. Underhill took Hanny down to Beach Street. They were
all delighted to see her, even to Pussy Gray, who came and rubbed
against her, and stretched up until he reached her waist, and, oh, how
he did purr!

"I think he's been kind of homesick for the children," remarked Nora,
gravely, as if she might be quite grown up. "You see he _was_ spoiled
among you all. I was a little afraid at first that he would run away."

"Did you put butter on his paws?"

"Oh, yes. He licked them, and then washed his face; but he kept looking
around and listening to strange noises. He'd sit on the window-sill and
watch the children, and cry to go out. But he doesn't mind now."

He had a chair and a cushion to himself, and looked very contented.

They went upstairs to see the old ladies. Aunt Clem had a round, full,
baby-face, for all she was so old. Nora said she was almost ninety. Aunt
Patty was twenty years younger, quite brisk and bright, with wonderful
blue eyes. They had the front room upstairs, and their bed stood in the
alcove. The furnishing looked like some of the country houses. Mrs.
Whitney had the back room, and Nora shared it with her. There were great
pantries between with shelves and drawers, and in one a large chest,
painted green, that Nora said was full of curiosities.

Delia's room was up on the top floor. She had made it oddly pretty.
There was a book-case and the small desk. They had used, ever so many
pictures, and a pot of flowers on a little table. It had quite an
orderly aspect.

"And I have another five-dollar goldpiece," laughed the girl. "I shall
be a nabob presently. I ought to invest my money; but it is so
comforting to look at, that I hate to let it go."

Then Hanny had to tell them about the new neighbours. They were
foreigners, by the name of Levy; and there were four grown people, five
little children, and two servants. Mr. Levy was an importer, and they
all seemed jolly and noisy, but did not talk English, so there could
not be any friendliness, even if they cared.

"We shall soon be a foreign city," declared Mrs. Whitney. "It's
astonishing how the foreigners do come in! No wonder people have to move
up-town."

Nora and Hanny went over in the Park after dinner. But it wasn't much
fun to be alone; so they walked up and down the street, and then Delia
took them in the stage down to the Battery. People were promenading in
gala attire. Saturday afternoon had quite a holiday aspect. There was a
big steamer coming up the bay. The Whitneys had heard twice from Mr.
Theodore, who was now going over to Ireland.

"Tell Ben that The. is going to write to him," remarked Dele. "He said
so in his last letter."

When they returned to Beach Street, they found Doctor Joe waiting for
Hanny. But Ben said afterward he wished he had gone instead, he was
quite longing to see them all. And he was delighted with the prospect of
a letter.

Whether they would have liked their new neighbours or not, if they could
have talked to them, made little difference to Mrs. Underhill. Margaret
was to be married in the early autumn. Dr. Hoffman had bought a house
not very far from Stephen's, in a new row that was just being finished.
He wouldn't like it to stand empty, and he did not want to rent it for a
year, and perhaps have the pretty fresh aspect spoiled. And then it was
better for a doctor to be married and settled.

Father Underhill sighed. Mrs. Underhill said sharply that she couldn't
get ready; but for all that, pieces of muslin came into the house for
sheets and pillow-cases, and Margaret was busy as a bee.

Another trouble loomed up before the anxious housekeeper. A sprightly
widower belonging to the same church as Martha, came home with her every
Sunday night, and class-meeting night, which was Thursday.

"You ought to consider well," counseled Mrs. Underhill. "A stepmother is
a sort of thankless office. And two big boys!"

"Well--I'm used to boys. They're not so bad when you know how to take
them, and they'll soon be grown up. Then he's quite forehanded. He owns
a house in Stanton Street, and has a good business, carting leather in
the Swamp."

The Swamp was the centre for tanneries and leather importers and
dealers, and it still keeps its name and location.

"I don't know what I shall do!" with a heavy sigh.

"You'll have good long warning. I wouldn't be mean enough to go off and
leave you with all this fuss and worry on your hands. And, land sakes!
his wife hasn't been dead a year yet. I told him I couldn't think of
such a thing before Christmas, anyhow. But he has such a hard time with
both grandmothers. One comes and fixes things her way, and gets tired
and goes off, and then the other one comes and upsets them. It's just
dreadful! I do believe a man needs a second wife more than he did the
first. They're poor sticks to get along alone when they've had some one
to look after things. And when this affair is over, you'll kind of
settle down, and the family seem smaller. Just don't fret a bit, for the
whole thing may fall through."

"I shouldn't want you to give up the prospect of a good home," rather
reluctantly.

"Well, that's what I've thought about. And I ain't a young girl with
years of chances before me. But I'm not going to be caught too easy,"
and Martha tossed her head.

Ben was very much interested in the war that was going on now in good
earnest. The Americans had taken Fort Brown, crossed to the Rio Grande
and driven the Mexicans from Matamoras. A plan had been laid to attack
Mexico on the Pacific side, and to invade both Old and New Mexico. Santa
Anna had escaped from his exile in Cuba, and was longing to reconquer
Texas. The whole question seemed in great confusion; but there was a
great deal of enthusiasm among some of the younger men, who thought war
a rather heroic thing, and they were hurrying off to the scene of
action. There was a spirit of adventure and curiosity about the
wonderful western coast.

George Horton used to talk all these matters over with Ben, when he came
down on his occasional visits. He was a fine big fellow now, but he was
getting tired of farming. It was quite lonely. Uncle Faid read the
county paper, but was not specially interested in the questions of the
day; and Retty and her husband never went beyond stock, and the crops,
and the baby. Ben kept his brother supplied with books that opened a
wider outlook for him, and made him a little discontented with the
humdrum round.

"I wouldn't mind it if you were all there," he would say. "After all the
city is the only real live place! I've half a mind to come down and
learn a trade. Only I _do_ like the wide out of doors. I couldn't stand
being cooped up."

"And I'm going round the world some day," returned Ben.

"I'd like to go out with Frémont. The other side of our country seems so
curious to me, I want to see what it is like. The other side of the
Rocky Mountains! It's almost like saying the Desert of Sahara," and the
young fellow laughed.

There was the usual spring and summer dress-making for the ladies. Even
Miss Cynthia, looking sharply at Hanny, said:--

"I don't see what's the matter with that child! I supposed she'd have
everything outgrown, and some of her last summer's skirts won't need any
letting down. They're wearing them shorter now; and you know, Cousin
Underhill, you would have them made rather long last summer."

The little girl sometimes felt quite sore on the point. The Deans were
getting to be tall girls, and even Daisy Jasper had taken to growing.
And her lovely curls were quite long again. She certainly was very
pretty.

But when Hanny took this trouble to her father, he only laughed and
squeezed her in his arms, and sometimes rubbed her soft cheeks with his
beard, his old trick, as he said:--

"But I want to keep you my little girl. I don't want you to grow big
like Margaret. For if you should, some nice fellow will come along and
insist upon carrying you off, and then I should lose you. Whatever would
I do?"

That view of the matter was alarming to contemplate. She clung closer to
her father, and said, in a half-frightened tone, that she never would be
carried off. It quite reconciled her to the fact of not growing rapidly.

The girls all went down to see Nora Whitney one Saturday in June. It
looked rather threatening in the morning, but a yard or two of blue sky
gave them hope. Mr. Underhill took them all in the family carriage. Oh,
how lovely the little park looked with its soft grass and waving trees!
And in the area windows there were pots of flowers: ten-weeks' stock,
and spice pinks, and geraniums that were considered quite a rarity.

Nora was out on the front stoop with Pussy Gray, who arched his back and
waved his tail with an air of grandeur, and then sat down on the top
step and began to wash his face, while Father Underhill was planning to
take them all for a drive late in the afternoon.

Pussy Gray watched his little mistress out of one green eye, and washed
over one ear. He was just going over the other when Nora caught him,
"Why do you stop him?" asked Daisy.

"Because he wants to make it rain and spoil our day. Pussy Gray--if you
do!"

"But it wouldn't really?"

"Well, it's a sure sign when he goes over both ears. When I don't want
it to rain, I stop him."

"But suppose he does it when he is by himself?"

"I think sometimes he runs away and does it on the sly. Aunt Patty says
it is as sure as sure can be."

Pussy Gray winked at Hanny, as if he said he didn't believe in signs,
and that he should wash over both ears when he found a chance.

Dele was bright and merry. She "bossed" the house, for Mrs. Whitney had
subsided into novel-reading again, and now took books out of the
Mercantile Library. A woman was doing the Saturday morning's work, and
scrubbing the areas. After that she went over the front one with a red
wash that looked like paint, and freshened it. The girls took a run in
the yard. There was a long flower-bed down the side of the fence, and at
one end all manner of sweet herbs, lavender, thyme, and rosemary, sweet
verbena, and then tansy and camomile, and various useful things.

"Camomile tea is good for you when you lose your appetite," said Nora;
"but it's awful bitter. Aunt Patty cuts off the leaves and blossoms of
the sweet herbs, and sews them up in little bags of fine muslin, and
lays them among the clothes and the nice towels and pillow-cases. And
it makes them all smell just delicious."

The air was full of fragrance now. They played tag around the
grass-plot. Daisy sat on the stoop and said she didn't mind, though she
gave a little sigh, and wondered how it would feel to run about. The
little lame girl in Houston Street could get over the ground pretty
rapidly. She had interested Doctor Joe in her, and he had hunted up the
child's mother, who wouldn't listen to anything being done for her.

"Sure," said she, "if it's the Lord's will to send this affliction to
her, I'll not be flying in the face of Providence. She can manage, and
she's impident enough now. There'd be no livin' with her if she had two
good legs. And I'll not have any doctor cuttin' her up into mince-meat."

Pussy Gray came and sat beside Daisy with a flick of the ear and turn of
the tail, as if he said: "We'll let those foolish girls fly about and
squeal and laugh and get half roasted, while we sit here at leisure and
enjoy ourselves."

Afterward they swung, and then went up to Nora's play-house. Aunt Patty
had given her a rag doll that she had when she was a little girl, and it
was over fifty years old. It was undeniably sweet, because it had been
steeped in lavender, but it was not very pretty. There was a curious
little wooden cradle Aunt Patty's brother had made. All the children's
story-books were up here in a case Dele had made out of a packing box.

They thought after a little they would rather go over in the Park. Nora
took the key. It was very pleasant; and they watched the carts and
waggons going by, and the pedestrians. Presently a young woman unlocked
the gate at the lower end, and came in with two little children rather
queerly dressed. She had a white muslin cap on her head, very high in
front. We often see them now, but then they were a rarity. The little
children had very black eyes and curly black hair, and stared curiously
at the group of girls.

"They're French," explained Nora. "They live a few doors down below. And
they can't speak a word of English, nor the maid either, though we do
sometimes talk a little. There are two quite big boys, then the mother
and father, and the grandmother and grandfather. The old people come out
and sit on the stoop, now that it is warm. He reads French books to her,
and she makes lace. About four o'clock, the servant brings out a
tea-table, and they have some tea and little bits of cake. They do it
all summer long, Aunt Patty says, and the old lady is beautiful,--just
like a picture."

The girls walked down a little. The maid smiled and nodded. The children
made queer stiff bows, both alike, though they were girl and boy; but
they looked half afraid. The maid said "Bon jour" to Nora, who replied
with a longer sentence. And then she began to explain in English and her
scanty French that these were her friends, and that they were studying
French in school. The Deans talked a little; but Hanny was too shy, and
the conversation would have been very amusing to a spectator. But just
when it was getting quite exciting, and they couldn't make each other
understand at all, Hanny caught sight of Delia waving her handkerchief
from the front stoop, which was a signal that dinner was ready, so they
all curtsied and said good-bye.

Afterward Aunt Patty showed them her "treasures," some very odd dishes
and pitchers that were more than a hundred years old, and some jewels,
and the gown Aunt Clem had worn to Washington's Inauguration, and told
them about Mrs. Washington and going to the old theatre in John Street.
She had some beautiful combs, and buckles that her father used to wear,
and kid-gloves that had long arms and came most up to her shoulders. She
told the children so many entertaining stories that before the afternoon
seemed half gone Mr. Underhill came for them. Nora wanted to go also.

"You can take her home with you," said Dele; "and I'll come up for her
this evening. I'm just wild to see Mrs. Underhill and the boys. I hope
the children have had a good time. I've hardly had a glimpse of them
except at dinner."

They crossed the ferry and went over to Jersey. It was still pretty wild
and country-like, but the trees and shrubs and bloom everywhere lent it
a glory. The children chatted merrily, and all agreed the day was too
short.

"But you can come again," said Nora.

When the Deans sprang out, Charles Reed stood by the stoop talking to
Mr. Dean. Nora said the place hadn't changed a bit, and she wished she
was back again. There were nothing but old people in Beach Street, and
she had no little girls to play with. She didn't know what she should do
when vacation came.

They were just through supper when Delia arrived, and she insisted upon
sitting down at the table and having a cup of Mrs. Underhill's good tea.
She was her olden jolly self, and had her brother's letters almost by
heart. She thought them a great deal brighter and more amusing than
those published in the "Tribune."

"But I like those," exclaimed Ben; "I'm cutting them out for a
scrap-book. I just wish I was with him!"

"And he would like to have you," returned Dele. "I don't believe he ever
took so much of a fancy to any one as he did to you."

They talked books a little. No, Dele had not written any more stories.
The old ladies took a good deal of her time. And she had been studying.
She wished she were going to school again; she should appreciate it so
much more. She was reading the English essayists and Wordsworth, and
learning about the great men and women.

Ben walked out to the Bowery to put them in the stage; and Dele said,
rather ruefully:--

"I just wish we could study and read together. I miss The. so much, I
could always ask him questions; but now I have to look up everything
myself, and it's slow work."

"Dele has quite a family on her hands," said John, when she had gone.
"She's getting to be rather good-looking, too. Her eyes are very fine."

"But she doesn't grow much tidier," returned his mother.

"Her hair is curly and always looks tumbled," was the half-apologising
rejoinder. "But she is very bright, and she'll do something with
herself."

Mrs. Underhill glanced sharply at her son. There was no danger in Ben
being a little soft about Delia Whitney; but she was surprised at John's
commendation.

Doctor Joe walked down to see how his patient had stood the day. Her
mother had been almost afraid to have her go, lest "something might
happen." She was very tired, of course, and glad to take to the
reclining chair with all the pillows; but her eyes were in a glow, and
her cheeks a pretty pink that Mrs. Jasper was quite sure was undue
excitement.

"It was just splendid," Daisy declared; "Mamma, I do want to be like
other girls, and see what is going on in the world. The old ladies were
so quaint; and it was wonderful to have seen President Washington and so
many famous people. And what interested me, was her talking about them
just like ordinary persons. And Nora is so amusing. I want to learn
French so that I can really talk it. You can't imagine how funny it was
in the Park, trying to make each other understand. Oh, there are so many
things I want to learn."

"There will be time enough," said her mother.

When Doctor Joe took her hand and bent over her to say good-night, she
whispered softly,--

"I _did_ try to forget my own misfortune, and I was very happy. I am
going to be brave. It is such a lovely world; and it is such a splendid
thing to be happy. Doctor Joe, you are my Mr. Greatheart."



CHAPTER IV

A WEDDING


There was a very fine noisy Fourth of July, and shortly after that came
vacation. The Jaspers were going to Lebanon Springs, and then to
Saratoga. Hanny came near to envying Daisy. She and Margaret had to
visit both grandmothers, and go over to Tarrytown, for the Morgans had
insisted upon it.

Hanny and her father had been reading some of Washington Irving's
stories, beside his famous history. He was abroad now; he had been sent
as Minister to the Court of Madrid, that wonderful Spanish city with its
Court so full of interest and beauty. She had been learning about it in
her history. But this old house was not grand, only in its splendid elms
and maples and lindens and tall arbor-vitæs. Wolfert's Roost was almost
hidden by them; but you could catch glimpses of its curious roof, full
of quaint corners and projections, and the old-fashioned stone mansion
said to be modelled after the cocked hat of Peter the Headstrong. Its
low stories were full of nooks and angles. There were roses and
hollyhocks like rows of sentinels, and sweet brier clambering about.
The little girl thought of it many a time afterward, when it had become
much more famous, as Sunnyside. Indeed, she was to sit on the old piazza
overlooking the river and listen to the pleasant voice that had charmed
so many people, and study the drawings of Rip Van Winkle and Sleepy
Hollow, to hear about Katrina Van Tassel, and the churn full of water
that Fammetie Van Blarcom brought over from Holland because she was sure
there could be no water good to drink in the new country.

Already she was coming to have a great interest in people who wrote
books and stories. It seemed such a wonderful gift.

Dr. Hoffman paid the cousins the compliment of a visit. Afterward there
were mysterious communings between the sisters.

Wedding presents were gifts of real preference and affection in those
days. A girl had her "setting out" from home, and perhaps some one gave
her an heirloom for her name, or because she was an especial favourite.

"Dr. Hoffman's well-to-do," said Joanna; "and Margaret's folks won't let
her go empty-handed. But I'd like to have some of our things go where
they would be appreciated. We've no one of our very own to leave them
to," and Miss Morgan sighed. "Margaret doesn't consider store articles
so much better than those made long ago. Let's each give her a pair of
linen sheets. I've a dozen good ones now, and, land sakes! we sha'n't
wear out half our bedding. And my tablecloth of the basket pattern, and
two towels. And--let me see--that white wool blanket of Aunt Hetty's. It
was spun and woven in 1800; and the sheep were raised here on the old
farm. Some peculiar kind they were, with long, soft fleece."

"Well," said Famie, slowly, "there's my snowball tablecloth and two
towels. 'Rastus's wife won't ever care for them with her fine Paris
things. But we won't give away the silver, nor the old pewter flagon,
nor the basin and cups. They've the crown mark on them, 1710 for a date.
Deary me, they'll outlast us," and she sighed also.

Roseann agreed. Six sheets and pillow-cases, three tablecloths and
half-a-dozen towels, and two blankets, one spun and woven by their own
mother. The initials and date were marked on them in old-fashioned
cross-stitch, which was a little more ornate than regular
sampler-stitch.

Aunt Hetty's blanket had been made from the wool of an especial cosset
lamb that had lost its mother and been brought up by hand. The little
girl was very much interested.

"Did it follow her about?" she asked.

"Dear sakes!" and Aunt Famie laughed. "I just guess it did. It grew very
troublesome, I've heard tell, and was quite quality, always wanting to
come into the sitting-room. And it would curl down at Aunt Hetty's feet
like a dog. She saved the wool every year, and spun it, and laid it away
until she had enough. But I don't believe it went to school, although
it could spell one word."

"One word!" cried the little girl, in amaze. "What was that?"

"Why b-a ba, of course. They said it could spell through the whole
lesson, and I don't see why not. I've heard lambs make a dozen different
sounds."

The little girl laughed. She was very fond of listening to what Aunt
Famie did when she was little; and they went to call upon some curious
old people who kept to the Dutch ways and wore the old costume. Some of
them had wooden clogs for rainy weather. When they talked real Dutch,
Hanny found it was quite different from German. They had a picture of
some old ancestor's house with the windmill in the front yard.

The drives about were beautiful then, and so many places had queer old
legends. Dr. Hoffman was very much interested, and it seemed to Hanny as
if she had strayed over into Holland. She resolved when she went home to
ask Ben to get her a history of Holland, so she and her father might
read it together. Her mother never had any time.

Margaret was much surprised at her gifts, and thanked the cousins with
warmest gratitude. Even Grandmother Van Kortlandt had hinted "that she
wasn't going to save up everything for Haneran." But the elder people in
those days were fond of holding on to their possessions until the very
last.

Uncle David came up for them and took them to White Plains, where they
had a nice visit; and grandmother selected some articles from her store
for the prospective bride.

Hanny remembered what Cousin Archer had said about the mittens, and
asked Uncle David. He found his hook, and, sure enough, it was something
like a crochet-needle. He took what the little girls called single
stitch. But he admitted that Hanny's pretty edgings and tidies were
quite wonderful.

"I thought the Germans must have brought the knowledge to the country,"
she said. "How long have you known it?"

"Oh, since my boyhood," and he gave a smile. "I heard a very old man say
once that Noah set his sons to work in the Ark making fishing-nets.
Perhaps Mrs. Noah set her daughter-in-laws to crocheting, as you call
it. Forty days was a pretty long spell of rainy weather, when they had
no books or papers to read, and couldn't go out to work in the garden."

"Didn't they have any books?" Hanny's eyes opened wide.

"All their writing was done on stone tablets, and very little of that."

"I think I wouldn't have liked living then. Books are so splendid. And
you get to know about so many people. But there was the Bible," and the
child's voice dropped to a reverent tone.

"Still, if Moses wrote the first books, that was a long while after the
Flood."

Hanny's vague idea was that the Bible had been created in the beginning,
like Adam and Eve.

Cousin Ann and Aunt Eunice were as much in love with the little girl as
ever, but were tremendously surprised at her stock of knowledge. It
didn't seem possible that one little girl could know so much. That she
could play tunes on the piano, and repeat ever so many French words,
then explain what they meant in English, was a marvel. But the child
never seemed spoiled by the admiration.

They had to come down to Yonkers, for Uncle Faid and Aunt Crete would
have been hurt and jealous. Only it did not seem now to Hanny as if she
had ever lived there. The old kitchen, the creek that went purling
along, bearing fleets of ducks and geese, and the wide old porch looked
natural, but the daily living was so changed! Old black Aunt Mary was
dead. Some of the neighbours had gone away. Cousin Retty had a new baby,
a little girl; but she said it was the crossest thing alive, and it did
seem to cry a good deal. It couldn't compare with Stephen's baby, who
was always laughing and jolly.

They had to stop at Fordham to see some cousins. When people live a
century or so in one place and intermarry, they get related to a good
many people. And there was a sweet little grandmother here, who, in her
girlhood, had the same name as the little visitor--Hannah Underhill.
There was no Ann in it to be sure. And now her name was Hannah Horton.

There were lots of gay, rollicking cousins. The little girl felt almost
afraid of the big boys, and she was used to boys, too.

Her mother had said she might make a visit with the Odell girls. They
had grown and changed; and Hanny felt quite as if she were undersized.
Mr. Odell had been building a new part to the house; and oh, what a
lovely garden they had! It made the little girl almost envious.

Margaret left her there for several days. At least, Dr. Hoffman drove up
one afternoon and took Margaret home, as Hanny's visit wasn't near
finished. They had to talk about their schools and the girls they knew.
Polly and Janey wanted to hear about the First Street girls and Daisy
Jasper, who was getting well, and Nora, who had moved away, and the
quaint old ladies in Beach Street.

There was a splendid big cat at the Odell's who liked nothing better
than being nursed, and two kittens that Hanny never tired of watching,
they were so utterly funny in their antics, and seemed to do so much
actual reasoning, as to cause and effect, that it amazed her. And, oh,
the beautiful country ways and wild flowers on every hand!

It does not look so now. One wonders where all the people have come from
to fill the rows and rows of houses, and to keep busy about the mills
and factories. But then the great city had only about five hundred
thousand inhabitants, and did not need to overflow into suburban
districts.

It seemed strange for the little girl to come home to a city street. It
looked narrow and bare, with its cobblestones and paved sidewalks. And,
oh, what a racket the waggons made! and she was amazed at the crowds of
people, as she thought there were then.

But inside everything was homelike and delightful. She was so glad to
see her mother and father and the boys. Ben looked like a young man. Jim
was to go to a preparatory school for a year, and then enter Columbia
College. Mrs. Craven had sold her house, and gone up to Seventh Street,
and was to have quite a young ladies' school. Josie Dean had decided to
study for a teacher. That made her seem quite grown up.

Old Mr. Beekman had died while the little girl was away; and Katschina
had grieved herself to death, and followed her master. Annette had a
lover, but of course she could not marry in some time. The old farm was
to be sold--at least, streets were to be cut through it, and the
outlying lots sold off. Mrs. Beekman was to keep the down-town house for
her part.

And now it was considered that Stephen Underhill had done a grand thing
for himself in marrying Dolly Beekman. Mr. Beekman owned no end of real
estate, was indeed much richer than people imagined. The girls would
each have a big slice. But Dolly was just as sweet and plain, and as
much interested in everybody as before. She was so ready to help and
advise Margaret, and go out shopping with her. For was she not very
wise and experienced, having been married two whole years!

Dr. Hoffman had bought his house up-town as well. Some people scouted
the idea that the city could be crowded even in fifty years. But the
long-headed ones reasoned that it must go up, as it could not expand in
breadth, and "down-town" must be given over to business.

Hanny went up to see the new house one Saturday. The front basement was
to be the office, and was being fitted up with some shelves and
cabinets. The back basement was the kitchen. There were two large
parlors and a third room, that was the dining-room. And one thing
interested the little girl greatly,--this was the "dumb waiter."

"Of course it can't talk," said she, laughingly. "And it can't hear; but
you can make it obey."

"It can creak and groan when it gets dry for a little oil. And it will
be like a camel if you put too heavy a load on it," returned the Doctor.

"Does the camel groan?"

"Horribly! And he won't stir an inch toward getting up until you lighten
his load."

There was a pretty pantry across the corner, with a basin to wash china
and silver, so it would not need to go downstairs. Hanny thought she
would like to come sometime and wash the pretty dishes.

Upstairs there were three rooms and a bath, and beautiful closets, and
on the third floor three rooms again.

"But what will you do with all of them?" asked Hanny.

Margaret had said the same thing to her lover. And Mrs. Underhill said
it was an awful extravagance to have such a great house for two people.
But John Underhill declared Dr. Hoffman had done just the right thing,
buying up-town. He would settle himself in a first-class practice
presently, as the well-to-do people kept moving thither.

There had been a good deal of discussion about the wedding. Dr. Hoffman
wanted to take Margaret to Baltimore, where his married sister resided,
and an aunt, his mother's sister, who was too feeble to undertake a
journey. They would go on to Washington as well. Wedding journeys were
not imperative, but often taken. An evening party at home seemed too
much for Mrs. Underhill; and Dolly, being in mourning, could not lead
any gaieties.

She cut the Gordian knot, however,--a church wedding, with cards for all
the friends, and a reception at home. They would take the train at six
from Jersey City. Mr. Underhill was rather sorry not to have an
old-fashioned festivity. But Miss Cynthia said this was just the thing.

So the marriage was at St. Thomas' church at two o'clock. A cousin of
Dolly's and a school friend were bridesmaids, though Annette Beekman had
been chosen. The bride wore a fine India mull that flowed around her
like a fleecy cloud, Dolly's veil, and orange blossoms, for it was good
luck to be married in something borrowed. The little girl headed the
procession, carrying a basket of flowers, and looked daintily sweet.

The "Home Journal," the society paper of that day, spoke of the
beautiful young couple in quite extravagant terms. Mrs. Underhill said
rather tartly afterward, "That Margaret was well enough looking; but she
had never thought of setting her up for a beauty." Yet down in the
depths of her heart her mother love had a little ache because her last
born would never be as beautiful. But Mr. Underhill considered they had
not been praised a bit too much, and sent in a year's subscription to
the paper.

Miss Cynthia was in her glory. She seemed one of the people who never
grow old, and though a great talker, was seldom sharp or severe.
Everybody knew she could get married if she desired to, so she rather
gloried in staying single.

Margaret cut her wedding-cake, and the piece with the ring fell to
Dolly's cousin, who turned scarlet, which brought out a general laugh.
There was much wishing of joy, and presently Margaret went upstairs and
put on her pretty grey silk with the "drawn" bonnet to match, and the
grey cloth _visite_, looking as handsome as she had in her wedding gown.

They left so many people behind no one had a chance to feel lonesome.
There were ever so many relations who were going to stay for a visit,
and shop a little. People were given to hospitality in those days. The
constricted living of flats had not come into existence. And your friend
would have felt insulted to be taken to a restaurant for dinner, instead
of at your own house.

Hanny had quite a girls' tea-party afterward. Martha spread a table for
them upstairs. And the funny thing was, that her father and the boys
teased to come, and her mother really had to rush to the rescue. But
they did let Doctor Joe remain, and they had a delightful time.

Josie and Tudie and Nora told how they would do when they were married.

"Now, Hanny!" Daisy Jasper had not spoken. It was not likely any one
would want to marry a lame girl, and the others were too kind to make it
a matter of embarrassment.

"I don't believe I _can_ get married," said Hanny, with sweet
seriousness. "I shouldn't like to leave father, and mother will want
somebody, for the boys will be away."

Daisy stretched out her hand. "We'll just have a good time together,"
she rejoined, smilingly. "And if Doctor Joe doesn't get married, we'll
work slippers for him and cigar cases, and if we could learn how, we
might make him a dressing-gown."

"If you will be as good as that, I don't think I will get married. And
when I drop in, you can give me a cup of tea, and we'll have the best of
times. I hope I won't be very queer."

He said it so seriously, they all laughed.

Afterward he declared he was going to take all the girls home. That was
a bachelor's prerogative, and he would begin at once. He took the Deans
first, then Nora, whom he put in the Bowery stage. Daisy and Hanny spent
that leisure admiring baby Stephen, who had six cunning white teeth and
curly hair, which the little girl doted on.

Daisy told the tea-party over to her aunt and her mother, and was very
happy. And she felt someway as if she had settled her life, and
shouldn't mind it very much. But husbands who were as tender as Dr.
Hoffman, and babies like laughing, dimpled Stevie!

Were there some childish tears in her eyes? But the main thing for her
was to get strong and be courageous, and take her share of the world's
knowledges and beautiful things. She wondered sometimes why the Lord
Jesus, who was so wise and good and pitiful, should have let this
misfortune come upon her, or why, when all the doctors were so in
earnest, they could not have made her straight and well. And when people
said, "Oh, what a pity, with that lovely face!" she thought she could
have borne it better if she had been plainer.

When the great love that thinks for its neighbour imbues us all, we
shall cease to make personal comments, and endeavour to bear each others
burdens with silent, tender grace.

Doctor Joe was her comfort and inspiration. No one could ever estimate
what his kindly interest had done for her. He was so cheerful and full
of fun and sunshine. Elderly women had begun to pet up the young doctor,
in spite of his youth.

In fact there were many virtues ascribed to experience in those days;
and now we have learned the truth is in the application, that living
through a great deal doesn't always bring wisdom.

Grandmother Van Kortlandt and Aunt Katrina had a fine time visiting
Stephen. They were quite stylish, old-fashioned style, that wore fine
English thread-laces with the scent of lavender, and had their silvery
hair done up in puffs with side-combs. They were a little precise and
formal, and would have been horrified if the children had not said "Yes,
ma'am," and "No, ma'am." No free and easy manners for them!

The little girl was quite sure she loved Grandmother Underhill the best.
Both called her Haneran, as if they were a little jealous of a full
share in her name. Grandmother made quite a long visit, for she said,
"She might never come again, she was getting rather feeble. She didn't
expect to live to see the little girl married."

Hanny's father declared, "She couldn't be married until she was
twenty-five, just in time to save her from being an old maid."

"But I won't be very old at twenty-five," she replied, smiling out of
her big innocent eyes. "And I thought I wouldn't get married at all."

They _did_ miss Margaret. But the little girl had to study hard, and
wait on her mother, and practise her music, and visit. There were so
many places clamouring for her.

The boys at Houston Street missed Jim Underhill also, though he often
came up that way when he could get off, which meant when he did not have
to stay for a recitation. Though they were up to pranks, they were not
cruel or malicious. If they could "make fun," and rhyme a fellow's name
ridiculously, and ring door-bells now and then, or leave a nicely
done-up parcel on some one's stoop, wrapped and tied and directed,
containing a box of ashes, or a brick, they were satisfied. They still
considered it fun to have Biddy Brady dance, and Limpy Dick, as they
called the lame girl, run a race. She hopped along with her hand on her
lame knee with surprising rapidity.



CHAPTER V

WINTER HAPPENINGS


Margaret came home and had a party at her house, "Infair" the older
people called it. Then a family tea at home, and another at Stephen's.
Mrs. Verplank, the Doctor's half-sister, gave her a very elegant
reception.

She was oddly changed, somehow, just as sweet, but with more dignity and
composure; and Jim couldn't make her turn red by teasing her. The little
girl noticed that her mother treated Margaret with a peculiar deference
and never scolded her; and she said Philip to Dr. Hoffman.

He had some serious talks with the little girl, for he pretended to be
afraid she would love Dolly and Stephen the best. Everybody had a desire
to hold her, because she was so little and light. She was not to make
the baby an excuse to go the oftenest to Dolly's.

"Oh, dear," she rejoined, with a sigh, "and if John should get married,
and the rest of them, as they grow up, I wouldn't have any time left for
myself. But Joe isn't going to be married."

Dr. Hoffman laughed at that.

John had a sweetheart. He always dressed up in his best on Wednesday
night. Young men in those days thought of homes and families of their
own. There were no clubs to take them in.

An odd little incident happened to Margaret's _menage_. Stephen had one
of Aunt Mary's grandsons as porter in the store. Another, who had been
brought up as a sort of house-servant to some elderly people that death
had visited, came to the city, and Stephen sent him to Dr. Hoffman, who
was inquiring about a factotum. He was a very well-looking and
well-mannered young coloured lad, and knew how to drive and care for a
horse. He was quite a cook also, and soon learned to do the marketing.

Margaret kept house for herself, and enjoyed her pretty new china and
beautiful cut-glass. And after a month or two Dolly persuaded her to
rent two rooms to two ladies, the back room on the second floor, and one
on the third. She was glad to have some company when the Doctor had to
be out. One of the ladies coloured plates for magazines and illustrated
books. This was done by hand then, and was considered quite artistic
work. We had not printed in colours yet. The ladies were very refined,
and had a small income beside the work.

The Doctor took Margaret out every pleasant afternoon. His practice was
not large enough to work him very severely. In the evening they read or
sang, as she played very nicely now. But she missed the breezy boys and
their doings, and her mother's cheery voice ordering every one about,
and, oh, she missed the little girl who didn't come half often enough.

She began a choice piece of work for her, a silk quilt. No one had gone
insane over crazy work then. This was shapely, decorous diamonds, with
the name of the wearer, or a date, embroidered on each block. The
Morgans had given her pieces from Paris and Venice and Holland, and even
Hong Kong. Some were a hundred and more years old, and were gowns of
quite famous people.

This fall the American Institute Fair was held at Niblo's Garden. There
were many curious things. Both telegraphs had been put up,--House's with
its letter printing, Morse's with its cabalistic signs. How words could
travel through a bit of wire puzzled most people. Uncle Faid went with
them one afternoon.

"No use to tell me," he declared. "The fellow at one end knows just what
the fellow at the other end is going to say. Now if they sent it in a
box, or a letter, it would look reasonable."

"I'll send you a message," said Ben; "you go down at the end, and see if
this doesn't come to you."

He wrote on a slip of paper, and gave it to Uncle Faid, who went to the
other end with a disbelieving shake of the head. And when the receiver
wrote it out, and Uncle Faid compared it, the astonishment was
indescribable.

"There's some jugglery about it," he still insisted. "Stands to reason a
bit of wire can't really know what you say."

Hanny brought home her telegraph message; and when she showed it to Nora
Whitney, the child declared it was like the queer things in some books
her papa had, called hieroglyphics. But Doctor Joe told her a stranger
thing than that. He found the verses in the Psalms that were supposed to
prefigure the telegraph:--

     "There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

     "Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to
     the end of the world."

"But they can't go across the ocean," said the little girl, confidently.

"Why, they are discussing the feasibility of crossing the Hudson with
some kind of sunken cable. What we shall be doing fifty years from
now--and I shall not be such a dreadfully old man! We are learning how
to live longer as well."

Fifty years! and she would be as old as the grandmothers!

The other wonderful thing was the sewing-machine. Elias Howe had learned
how to thread the needle, the opposite way, by putting the eye in the
point. There was a little bent piece underneath that caught the loop
while a thread ran through it. They gave away samples, and everybody
admitted that it _was_ wonderful.

The little girl said she could sew a great deal better. And her mother
declared such sewing was hardly good enough for a feed-bag. Her father
laughed, and told her rosy fingers were good enough sewing-machine for
him.

Artificial legs and feet interested Doctor Joe very much. They had
curious springs and wires, and the outside was pink, like real
flesh,--in fact, they looked uncanny, they were so real. Hanny had seen
several old men stumping around on cork or wooden legs about which there
could be no deception. But when any one met with a mishap now, they
could fix him up "limber as an eel," Doctor Joe said.

There was a deal of curious machinery and implements that some people
smiled over, which, like the sewing-machines, made fortunes for their
inventors presently; beautiful articles and jewelry; a great vegetable
and flower exhibit; a small loom; weaving; carving of all kinds; and
cloths and silks. Indeed, the Fair was considered a very great thing,
and the country people who came in to visit it felt almost as if they
had been to a strange country. Every afternoon and evening it was
crowded.

Jim liked his new school very much, and soon flung his Latin words at
his little sister in perfect broadsides. Then he found that Ben had
somehow picked up a good deal of Latin, and knew all the Greek alphabet;
and instead of laughing at Charles Reed, as a Miss Nancy, he became
quite friendly with him.

All the children came home for a Christmas dinner, and had a delightful
time. Then Martha was married, and went to her own housekeeping, and a
cousin of the little German girls who lived in Houston Street, who had
just come from Germany, petitioned for a trial. She was so bright and
clean and ambitious to learn American ways that after a fortnight, Mrs.
Underhill decided to keep her.

When all the visitors had gone, Hanny found it very lonely sleeping in a
big room by herself. And as they couldn't move her downstairs, Mr. and
Mrs. Underhill went upstairs and changed their room to the
guest-chamber. Hanny missed her sister very much when night came. But
then she had so many lessons to study; and after the history of Holland,
they took up that of Spain, which was as fascinating as any romance.

Everybody was a good deal excited this winter about a curious
phenomenon. At a small town in Western New York two sisters had
announced that they could hold communication with the spirit-world, and
receive messages from the dead. Little raps announced the spirit of your
friend or relative. To imaginative people, it was simply wonderful. And
now the Misses Fox were giving exhibitions and making converts.

People recalled the old Salem witchcraft, and not a few considered it
direct dealing with the Evil One. Ben was deeply interested. He and Joe
talked over clairvoyance and mesmerism,--a curious power developed by a
learned German, Dr. Mesmer, akin to that of some of the old magicians.
Ben was very fond of abnormal things; but Joe set down communication
with another world as an impossibility. Still, a good many people
believed it.

The children joined the singing-school again, and Charles Reed sang at
several concerts. He went quite often to the Deans, and occasionally
came over to the Underhills. Both houses were so delightful! If he only
had a sister, or a brother! Or if his mother would do something beside
scrub and clean the house! Social life was so attractive to him.

One day she did do something else. It was February, and the snow and ice
had melted rapidly. All the air was full of the sort of chill that goes
through one. She wanted some windows washed, and the yard cleared up,
and was out in the damp a long while. That night she was seized with a
sudden attack of pleurisy. Mr. Reed sprang up and made a mustard
draught; but the pain grew so severe that he called Charles, and sent
him over for Doctor Joe. By daylight, fever set in, and it was so severe
a case that Doctor Joe called a more experienced doctor in consultation,
and said they must have a nurse at once.

Charles had never seen her ill before. And when the doctors looked so
grave, and the nurse spoke in such low tones, he was certain she could
not live. He was so nervous that he could not get his lessons, and
roamed about the house in a frightened sort of way. The nurse was used
to housekeeping as well, and when she was needed downstairs Charles
stayed in the sick-room. His mother did not know him or any one, but
wandered in her mind, and was haunted by the ghosts of work in a manner
that was pitiful to listen to. The nurse said she had made work her
idol. There were two days when Mr. Reed stayed at home, though he sent
Charles off to school. They had a woman in the kitchen now, a relative
he had written for, Cousin Jane that Charles had once met in the
country. She was extremely tidy; but she put on an afternoon gown, and a
white apron, and found time in the evening to read the paper.

On the second afternoon both doctors went away just as Charles came
home. His father was standing on the stoop with them, and Doctor Joe
looked down and smiled. The boy's heart beat with a sudden warmth, as he
went down the area steps, wiped his feet, and hung up his cap and
overcoat with as much care as if his mother's sharp eyes were on him.
There was no one in the room; but he sat down at once to his lessons.

Presently his father entered. His eyes had a pathetic look, as if they
were flooded with tears.

"The doctor gives us a little hope, Charles," he said, in a rather
tremulous voice. "It's been a hard pull. The fever was broken yesterday;
but she was so awful weak; indeed, it seemed two or three times in the
night as if she was quite gone. Since noon there has been a decided
change; and, if nothing new happens, she will come around all right. It
will be a long while though. She's worked too hard and steady; but it
has not been my fault. At all events, we'll keep Cousin Jane just as
long as we can. And now I must run down-town for a few hours. Tell
Cousin Jane not to keep tea waiting."

Charles sat in deep thought many minutes. His father's unwonted emotion
had touched him keenly. Of course he would have been very sorry to have
his mother die, yet how often he had wished for another mother. The
thought shocked him now; and yet he could see so many places where it
would be delightful to have her different. Careful as she was of him, he
had no inner consciousness that she loved him, and he did so want to
have some one he could love and caress, and who would make herself
pretty. Hanny loved her father and mother so much. She "hung around"
them. She sat in her father's lap and threaded his hair with her soft
little fingers. She had such pretty ways with her mother. She didn't
seem ever to feel afraid.

Neither did the Deans. Of course they were all girls; but there were Ben
and Jim and, oh, Doctor Joe teased his mother, and was sweet to her, and
even kissed her, grown man that he was!

Charles could hardly decide which mother he liked the most, but he
thought Mrs. Dean. Mrs. Underhill sometimes scolded, though it never
seemed real earnest.

He felt more at home with the Deans. Perhaps this was because Mrs. Dean
had always coveted a boy, and, like a good many mothers, she wanted a
real nice, smart, refined boy. Charles was obedient and truthful, neat
and orderly, and always had his lessons "by heart." He was very proud
of his standing in school. He could talk lessons over with more freedom
to Mr. Dean than with his own father. And Josie was always so proud of
him. Perhaps the reason he liked the Deans so well was because he was
such a favourite with them, and appreciation seemed very sweet to the
boy who had so little in his life.

Mr. Dean seemed to think there was great danger of his growing up a
prig; but Mrs. Dean always took his part in any discussion. Mr. Dean was
very fond of having him over to sing; and Josie gave him her piano
lessons, only she kept a long way ahead.

Oh, how many, many times Charles had wished he was their son! There were
so many boys in the Underhill family, he was quite sure they couldn't
want any more.

But just now he felt curiously conscience-stricken, though greatly
confused. He supposed his mother _did_ want him, though she always
considered him so much trouble, and talked about her "working from
morning to night and getting no thanks for it." He had felt he would
like to thank her specially for some things, but ought he, _must_ he, be
grateful for the things he did not want and were only a trouble and
mortification to him? And was it wicked to wish for some other mother?

He would try not to do it again. He might think of Mrs. Dean as his
aunt, and the girls his cousins. And he would endeavour with all his
might to love his own mother.

Years afterward, he came to know how great an influence this hour had on
him in moulding his character. But he did not realise how long he had
dreamed until he heard Cousin Jane's brisk voice,--it was not a cross or
complaining voice,--saying:--

"Why, Charles, here in the dark! Well, we have had a pretty severe time;
but your mother's good constitution has pulled her through. And that
young doctor's just splendid! I haven't had much opinion of young
doctors heretofore. To be sure, there has been Dr. Fitch; but I think
Dr. Underhill works more as if his life depended on it. And if you
weren't very hungry, Charles, we might wait until your father comes
home. About seven, he said. I must confess that Cousin Maria has one of
the best and most faithful of husbands. He isn't sparing any expense,
either."

Charles flushed with delight to hear his father praised for his devotion
to his mother.

"I'd like to wait, Cousin Jane," he replied in an eager tone.

"I'll make a cup of tea and take a bit of bread and cold meat up to Mrs.
Bond. Then I'll come back and set the table."

She had lighted the lamps while she was talking, and Charles hurried up
with his neglected lessons, studying in earnest.

It was half-past seven when his father came in. No one fretted, however.
His brisk walk had given him a good colour, and his eyes had brightened.
He seemed so pleased that they had waited for him. Cousin Jane did make
events go on smoothly. The tea was hot, as he liked it; and there was a
plate of toast, of which he was very fond.

When he took out his paper, he said to Charles:--

"You might run over to the Deans and tell them the good news. They have
been so kind about inquiring. I wouldn't stay more than ten or fifteen
minutes."

He had not been over in a week, and they were glad to see him, as well
as to hear the hopeful tidings. But the girls had quite a bit of
casuistry in their talk that night as they were going to bed, partly as
to how Charles could be so glad, and partly whether one ought to be glad
under all circumstances, when events happened that did not really tend
to one's comfort.

"But Mary Dawson said she wasn't sorry when her stepmother died, and she
wouldn't tell a story about it. Her stepmother wasn't much crosser than
Mrs. Reed. You know Mrs. Dawson wouldn't let the girls go to
singing-school, and she made them wear their outgrown dresses, and she
did whip them dreadfully. I couldn't have been sorry either."

"But it would be awful not to have any one sorry when you were dead."

"I think," began Josie, gravely, "we ought to act so people _will_ be
sorry. If you are good and kind, and do things pleasantly--Mrs. Reed is
always doing; but I guess it is a good deal the _way_ you do. You see
mother and father do think of the things we like, when they are right
and proper. They show they love us and like to have us love them in
return."

"Oh, I just couldn't live without mother!" and the tears overflowed
Tudie's eyes.

"And I know it would break her heart, and father's, too, if they lost
us. And so we ought to try and make each other happy. I mean to think
more about it. And, oh, Tudie, if Mrs. Reed could be converted! People
are sometimes when they've been very ill. Suppose we pray for that."

They did heartily; and Josie resolved not to miss one night. It would
make bonny Prince Charlie so happy to have his mother changed into a
sweet, tender woman.

Charles didn't dare pray for that. God knew what was best for any one,
and He _did_ have the power. He wondered what things were right to put
in one's prayers. Some years after he came to know it was "all things,"
just as one might ask of a human father, knowing that sometimes even the
father after the flesh, in his larger wisdom, saw that it was best to
deny.

"Don't you want to look in on your mother?" Cousin Jane said the next
morning. He had not seen her in several days.

"Oh, yes," answered Charles.

Mrs. Reed had been thin before; but now she looked ghostly, with her
sunken eyes and sharpened nose and chin. Charles had a great desire to
kiss her; but she did not approve of such "foolishness." Her poor
skeleton hand, that had done so much hard and useless work, lay on the
spread in a limp fashion, as if it would never do anything again.

Charles took it up and pressed it to his cheek. Mrs. Reed opened her
eyes, and a wavering light, hardly a smile, crossed her face.

"I've been very sick," and, oh, how faint the sound was, quivering, too,
as if it had not the strength to steady itself! And then the thin lids
fell. The death-like pallor startled him.

"But you're going to get well again."

The boy's sweet, confident tone touched her. She did not dare open her
eyes, lest she should cry, she was so weak. Then he said,
"Good-morning," and went softly out of the room, feeling that he was
glad in every pulse of his being that God had given her back to them.

Doctor Joe had a good deal of credit for the case. Dr. Fitch admitted
that it had been very severe, and required the utmost watchfulness. Mrs.
Underhill was very proud of her son's success "in his own country," as
she termed it. And she said when Mrs. Reed was well enough to see
visitors, she would go over and call. Indeed, it had created a good deal
of interest in the neighbourhood, and Charles found himself treated with
a peculiar deference among the children.

Mrs. Reed's recovery was very slow, however. Mrs. Bond went away when
she could begin to go about the room and help herself. Cousin Jane was a
good nurse, and she declared, "There wasn't work enough to keep her
half busy." She did the mending and the ironing; Mr. Reed insisted they
should have a washerwoman. Mrs. Reed sighed when she thought of the
expense. It had been the pride of her life that she never had a fit of
illness, and had never hired a day's work done except when Charles was
born.

She was sure now that the house must be in an awful plight. She never
found time to sit down in the morning and read a book or paper. Cousin
Jane changed her gown every afternoon, and wore lace ruffles at the
neck, just plain strips of what was called footing, that she pleated up
herself. Then, too, she wore white muslin aprons,--a very old fashion
that was coming back. And though Mrs. Reed couldn't find fault when she
saw Charles and his father always as neat as a pin, still she was sure
there must be a great need of thoroughness somewhere. She prided herself
upon being "thorough."

Mrs. Underhill came over one day with the Doctor, and they had a really
nice call. Of course Mrs. Reed couldn't understand how she ever managed
with such a houseful of boys. Yet she was fresh and fair, and seemed to
take life very comfortably. Then they were always having so much company
at the Underhills.

"Yes," said Mrs. Underhill, with a mellow sort of laugh that agreed
capitally with her ample person,--"yes, we have such a host of
cousins,--not all own ones, but second and third. And since my daughter
was married, the house seems lonesome at times. All the boys are away
at work but Jim; and Hanny has so many places to go, that, what with
lessons and all, I don't seem to get much good of her. But I've a nice
kitchen-girl. She was a great trial when she first came, with her not
knowing much English, and her German ways of cooking. But she's quite
like folks now, and very trusty. How fortunate you found a relative to
come in and do for you! And the Doctor says you must give up hard work
for a long while to come."

Mrs. Reed sighed, and said she should be glad enough to get about again.

The Deans came over, and some of the other neighbours; and Mrs. Reed
found it very pleasant. One afternoon late in March, Mr. Reed came home
quite early, and carried his wife down into the dining-room. He had
asked the Deans over to tea, and Doctor Joe. And there was the table,
spick and span, the silver shining, the windows so clean you couldn't
see there was any glass in them, the curtains fresh, the tablecloth
ironed so that every flower and leaf in it stood out. There wasn't a
speck of dust anywhere!

The kitchen was in nice order; the range black and speckless, the
closets sweet with their fresh white paper. And Cousin Jane's bread and
biscuit were as good as anybody's, her ham tender and a luscious pink,
her two kinds of cake perfection.

Charles sat next to his mother, a tall, smiling boy with a clean collar
and his best roundabout. It was the first tea-party he ever remembered,
and he was delighted. He was so polite and watchful of his mother that
it really went to her heart.

For seven weeks the house had gone on without her, and she couldn't see
any change for the worse. Mr. Reed looked uncommonly well, and was a
very agreeable host. The Doctor complimented her, and said next week he
should come and take her out driving; and that, to do him real credit,
she must get some flesh on her bones.

It was a very pleasant time; and Charles was so happy that his mother
wondered if there wasn't something better in the world than work and
care.



CHAPTER VI

THE LAND OF OPHIR


Spring came on apace, and spring in New York had many beautiful features
then. The Battery, the Bowling Green, City Hall Park, with its fountain,
the College grounds, Trinity and St. Paul's churchyards, and the squares
coming into existence farther up-town. Trees and grass and flowers
delighted the eye, and lilacs made the air fragrant. All up the country
ways there were patches of wild honeysuckle,--pinxter flowers, as it was
called.

The little girl had so many things to distract her attention that she
wondered how grown-up people could be so tranquil with all their
knowledges and their cares. She began to realise the great difference in
tastes and characteristics, though she would not have quite comprehended
that long word. Perhaps Ben, being in the midst of stories and books,
and hearing so much talk about the great men of the day, roused the same
train of thought in her, though I think hero-worship came natural to
her. The Dean girls read the sweet pretty domestic stories with great
relish. Miss Macintosh, Mary Howitt, and even Jane Austin were their
delight. Hanny and Daisy were deeply interested in history. And during
the last year some very spirited stories had been written on the Mexican
war, and all the struggles of a few years before. The wealth and
splendour of Montezuma and his sad ending, the wonders of that land of
ancient romance, were rendered more real on account of the present
struggle that Hanny and her father had followed closely. She kept in
touch with all the generals. The hero of Monterey, General Worth,
General Scott's entry into the city of Montezuma, General Watts Kearny,
who led his men a thousand miles through the desert to seize Santa Fé,
and hold New Mexico, and his brilliant young nephew, Philip, who was the
first man to enter the gate of San Antonio, and who lost his left arm at
the battle of Churubusco. Little did she dream, indeed, who could have
dreamed then, that he was to be one of the heroes of another war, nearer
and more dreadful to us!

Then there was a great celebration over the final victory. City Hall was
crowded. There were some magnificent fireworks and much rejoicing. And
though there were questions for diplomacy to adjust, we had gained
California and New Mexico; and both were destined to have a great
bearing on the future of the country.

When Hanny could spare time from this exciting topic and her lessons,
there was little Stevie, who was the sweetest and most cunning baby
alive, she was quite sure. He could run all over, and say ever so many
words. The hard ones he had to shorten, so he called the little girl
Nan, and Dolly and Stephen caught it up as well. When they came over to
First Street, the neighbourhood paid him the highest honours. All the
children wanted to see him, and walk up and down with him. He was so
merry, laughing at the least little thing, and chattering away in his
baby language, with a few words now and then in good English. And, oh,
delight! his hair curled all over his head, and had a golden gleam to
it. Certainly, as a baby, he was a tremendous success.

But the crowning point of this May was Hanny's birthday party. She was
twelve years old. Dolly and Margaret came down to spend the day and
help. Oddly enough, Hanny knew very few boys. First, she thought she
would only have a girls' party. But there was Charlie, and some of her
schoolmates had brothers; and Jim said he knew two splendid boys in
school that he would like to ask; and when they counted them up, they
found there were plenty enough.

They played games, of course,--pretty laughable things that had not gone
out of fashion. And the supper-table was a feast to the eye as well as
to the appetite. Toward the last, there were mottoes, and they had a
good deal of fun in exchanging. Doctor Joe was as merry as any boy, in
fact, he laid himself out, as people say, to make the party a success,
for Hanny would have been a timid little hostess. Dolly and Margaret
were not much behind.

After they went upstairs some one proposed the Virginia Reel. The older
ones were not long in taking their places.

"Come," said Doctor Joe to Daisy Jasper. "It's very easy. You will have
to learn some time."

"Will I surely have to?" and she gave an arch little smile.

"Yes. You are to learn all the things girls do, even if you can draw
portraits, which every girl can't do."

"Oh, no," when she saw that he was in earnest; "I am afraid. And then,
I--"

"You are not to be afraid." He put his arm about her and gently drew her
out. "You are to be my partner."

Hanny stood second in the row, looking so bright and eager that she was
absolutely pretty. And Jim's chum, the handsomest lad in the room, had
chosen her. When she saw Daisy, she wanted to run down and kiss her, she
was so delighted.

What with braces, and several appliances, Daisy now had only one
shoulder that was a little high; and as she had grown stronger, she
could get about without much of a limp. She was quite tall for her age,
and every gesture and motion was very graceful, in spite of the
misfortune. She sometimes danced at school.

Dolly struck up some merry music, and Stephen called off. How prettily
they balanced and turned, and joined hands left and right, and marched
down and up again, and then the first couple chasséd down the middle!
When it was Hanny's turn, she came down looking like a fairy, and smiled
over to her friend.

Daisy was a good deal frightened at first, and would have run away but
for Doctor Joe's encouraging eyes. However, when her turn came, she did
very well. By this time they were all so intent upon their own pleasure
no one really noticed her. Oh, how jolly it was!

After that some of the children tried the three-step polka, and found it
very fascinating. A little after ten, the plates of cream came in, and
at half-past, they began to disperse.

Stevie was asleep upstairs on Nan's bed. All the girls had to go and
look at him; and when Dolly picked him up, and bundled his cloak about
him, and put on his cap, he only stretched a little and settled himself,
being as famous a sleeper as some of his Dutch ancestors. But the girls
had to kiss him; and then he did wake up and laugh and rub his eyes with
his fat fist. Before Stephen had him settled on his shoulder, he was
asleep again.

"Oh!" cried Hanny, "it's _his_ first party as well as mine. And when he
gets old enough, I'll have to tell him all about it."

"Yes," laughed his father. "His memory can hardly he depended upon now."

Jim's friend came to wish Hanny good-night, and say that he had enjoyed
himself first rate,--quite a boy's word then. And he added, "I think
your doctor-brother is the nicest man I ever met. If my mother is ever
ill, I mean she shall have him. He is so sweet and kindly. And that
Miss Jasper is a beautiful girl!"

Hanny flushed with delight.

One day, not long afterwards, Mrs. Jasper took both little girls down to
Stewart's beautiful store at the corner of Chambers Street and Broadway.
When the ladies were out for a promenade, they used to drop in and see
the pretty articles. It was the finest store in New York; kid-gloves and
laces were specialties, but there were no end of elegant silks and India
shawls, which were considered family heir-looms when you became the
owner of one.

Some of the more careful business-men shook their heads doubtfully over
the young merchant's extravagance, and predicted a collapse presently.
But he went on prospering, and even built another marble palace, and a
marble dwelling-place for himself.

Then the Reeds and the Underhills were full of interest in their boys
who were to pass examinations for Columbia College. Charles stood high,
but he was rather nervous about it; and Jim never studied so hard in all
his life as the last three months. When there was any doubt, or even
when there wasn't, he pressed Joe into service. However, they both came
off with flying colours. Charles was the best scholar, undoubtedly; but
Jim had a way of making everything tell in his favour.

Miss Lily Ludlow had quite given Jim the cold shoulder; but now she
smiled upon him again. Her sister had married very well; but Lily had
quite resolved upon a rich husband. Still it would be something to have
the young and good-looking collegian in her train.

Mrs. Jasper pleaded to take Hanny with them to Saratoga for a little
while; and Margaret said she and her husband would go up and spend a
week and bring her home. The Jaspers were to stay at a quiet cottage;
and, after much persuasion, Mrs. Underhill consented, though she had an
idea a fashionable watering-place was hardly proper for little girls;
and her father was very loath to give her up even for a few weeks.

To tell the truth, the little girl was rather homesick for a night or
two. There was so much to see, so many drives and all; but she had never
been away alone before. And she did so miss sitting in her father's lap,
and kissing him good-night. She was too big a girl of course; and one
time her mother asked her if she meant to keep up the habit when she was
a woman grown!

She had not thought of being grown-up. And she wished she could stay a
little girl forever. Josie Dean was quite womanly already, and didn't
want to wear her hair in "pigtails" any more--indeed, quite fretted
because her mother wouldn't let her put it up. But Tudie confessed to
Hanny "that she should be awful sorry when she was too big to play with
dolls."

"I put my beautiful doll away the Christmas Stevie was born," said
Hanny.

"Oh, well, if we had a big brother married, and a lovely little baby
like that, I wouldn't mind so much. But Josie is going to study and
teach, and--oh, dear! Hanny Underhill, you're just the luckiest girl I
know."

And the Deans thought it another piece of luck that she should go to
Saratoga.

They went to Congress Hall, and drank some of the water that Hanny
thought just horrid. Daisy didn't like it very much; but it had proved
beneficial the summer before. And they used to watch the beautifully
attired ladies promenade the long piazza. Such lovely lawns and
organdies and embroidered white gowns; such laces and sashes and
ribbons! Every afternoon they were out in force. They promenaded up and
down the street too, with dainty parasols, and often times no bonnet,
but a little square of lace with long lappets.

One evening after Margaret and the Doctor came, they all went in to the
hop to look on. Hanny thought the dancing a bewitching sight, and could
have stayed up until midnight watching it. There were a good many quite
famous people whom Dr. Hoffman knew, and Hanny had seen on Broadway or
up at Washington Square.

Daisy was almost in despair at the thought of Hanny's return. Dr.
Hoffman had promised to take a brother physician's practice when he went
away to recuperate, so he felt that he really could not extend his stay
beyond the week.

"Oh, I do wish I had a sister!" groaned Daisy. "Auntie is very nice, and
mamma is the sweetest mother in the world; but I like to have some one
who thinks real young thoughts. I don't want to be grown up and
sensible, and take an interest in tiresome things."

"Let's just stay little," laughed Hanny. "Twelve isn't so very old."

"But being in your 'teens' seems on the way to it. _You_ may stay
little; but see how tall I am getting. I grow like a weed."

Hanny gave a soft sigh. How curious to want to stay little, and feel
sorry you were not getting big at the same time!

When they returned to the city, Hanny found that Charles and his mother
had gone to the sea-side, out on Long Island. Mrs. Reed didn't seem to
get strong. She had thought all along first she could soon do without
Cousin Jane; and to give her the opportunity Cousin Jane went away on a
little visit. But Mr. Reed sent for her ten days later.

"I'm never going to be good for anything again!" Mrs. Reed said
fretfully.

"Oh, yes, there are a good many useful things in the world beside work,"
replied Mr. Reed. "You've done your share. Cousin Jane is splendid to
have around. Anyhow, I think we will keep her for awhile."

"You just go down on Great South Bay, and eat fish and clams, and have
the sea-breeze," advised Cousin Jane. "The Seamens will board you very
reasonably. And Charles looks as if something of the kind wouldn't hurt
him. He will have a pretty hard pull in college the first year, and he
ought to have some good backbone to start on."

It was very extravagant to go away to board when they were paying
house-rent. And there had been a doctor's bill, and a nurse for three
weeks, and Cousin Jane--

"Never you mind," said Mr. Reed, "I'm not anywhere near the poor-house.
I've only you and Charles. He is going to be a credit to us if he keeps
his health; but he does look rather pale and thin. You ought to go for
his sake."

The Reeds seemed insensibly to have changed places. It was Mr. Reed who
gave the orders and suggested the plans, and Mrs. Reed who acquiesced.

"You've worked steadily all your life, harder than I ever wanted you
to," continued her husband. "We had better take the good of what we
have, and let Charles earn his own money when it comes his time to work.
And if you could improve a little,--at least I think it is your duty to
try for both our sakes. It will be a sad thing if, when Charles takes
his degree, you are not here to congratulate him."

She was not anxious to die; very few people are. So she listened, and
allowed herself to be over-ruled. She was really proud of her son's
manliness, though she would not have admitted it. They went off to stay
a fortnight, and both improved so much they remained a whole month.

Janey and Polly Odell and another cousin came to visit Hanny, and had a
fine time seeing the city sights. Then Daisy came home, school began,
and wonderful events were happening all the time.

The old story of Eldorado repeated itself. Strange rumours ran about
like wildfire in meadow grass. A Captain Sutter was having his mill-race
on one of the forks of the Sacramento River deepened and repaired, when
a workman accidently discovered a shining nugget that proved to be gold.
Crowds flocked to the spot: men who had been in the army, adventurers
who had followed Frémont in his prospecting journeys; and they found
gold on every hand.

When Congress opened, President Polk proudly announced the wealth of our
new possessions. It was Mexico and Peru over again. The Spaniards had
not despoiled the whole earth.

Men talked themselves up to fever-heat. Why plod along years making a
fortune, when here you could dig it out of the ground in a few months!
As if wealth was the great and only good to mankind.

Now, when one flies across the continent in a palace-car, it seems
strange indeed to think of the long journey of these pilgrims to the
land of Ophir, as it was called. The overland route, that across Mexico,
or the isthmus, comprised the sail to Vera Cruz, and then up the Pacific
coast, and was costly. That around Cape Horn took five months. Yet men
were selling their property or business that they had been years in
building up, leaving their families, and hurrying off, promising to be
back in a few years, millionaires perhaps.

The Underhills were not seized with the mania. There were several other
matters that occupied their attention. John was to be married in
January, and to go in business with his employer, who would be his
father-in-law. And in December, two granddaughters were added to the
family.

Hanny was quite dazed with the conflicting claims. Margaret's little
girl had large dark eyes like Dr. Hoffman, and dark, silky hair; while
Dolly's daughter was fair. Margaret's baby was really beautiful.

But in her secret heart the little girl thought no baby in the world
could ever be the sweet and joyful surprise that Stevie had been,--the
Christmas gift to them all. Dr. Hoffman declared that he was really
jealous that she should not transfer all her affections to his little
daughter. "He should not call her Haneran now."

"I should hope you wouldn't," declared Hanny, mirthfully. "You ought to
name her Margaret, and we could all call her Daisy. That's such a
cheerful, pretty name!"

"But she won't be white and gold. She would have to be a Michaelmas
daisy. And we couldn't call her Pearl, with her dark eyes and hair.
Still, I think Margaret one of the noblest and sweetest of names."

"I don't suppose any one will think Hannah a sweet name," said the
little girl, rather ruefully. "They all say--it's a _good_ name. But I
don't want to be just like Grandmother Van Kortlandt. When I am real old
I would rather be like Grandmother Underhill."

"Luckily, the names do not endow us with the natures."

In the end, it _was_ Margaret; and they called her Daisy, much to the
little girl's delight. When Mrs. Jasper heard of the name, she sent her
a beautiful pair of sleeve-pins. They were used to pin through the
shoulders and sleeves of babies' dresses. It seemed then as if all
babies had beautiful fat necks, and pretty dimpled arms.

Dolly's little girl was called Annette Dorothea; but her household name
was Annie.

Little Stevie had come to grandmother's to stay a week or so. He cried a
little the first night for mamma. Hanny begged to have him put in her
bed; and she sat and told him Mother Goose Melodies until he dropped
asleep. He was such a sweet, cunning roly-poly, that she couldn't help
kissing him when she came to bed; and she longed to take him in her arms
and hug him up; but she was afraid he might wake and cry.

The next night he was quite ready to go to Nan's bed, and didn't cry a
bit.

Hanny had a delightful time taking him round among the girls. Her mother
said, "You and your father will have that child spoiled." But Hanny
might have turned the tables, if she had seen grandmother when she had
to be in school.

As for Grandfather Underhill, he thought with Hanny there never had been
such a smart and wonderful baby. Jim taught him some rather
reprehensible tricks. He was still full of fun and mischief, and already
had a crowd of admirers in college.

And, oh, how they missed the baby when he was gone! It didn't seem as
if one little mite could fill the house; but it was big and empty now.

John's courtship had not been so engrossing as Stephen's. They had met
Miss Bradley, to be sure; and Mr. Bradley was a well-to-do man with two
sons and one daughter who had been named Cleanthe, after the heroine of
a story Mrs. Bradley had read in her girlhood. Mr. Bradley had wanted
his daughter called Priscilla, after his mother; and Mrs. Bradley's
mother's name was Jemima.

"I did think Mimy and Silly two of the worst names in the world. And
there isn't any nickname for Cleanthe," was Mrs. Bradley's explanation
when any one wondered at the name.

Miss Cleanthe was a very nice, well-bred, rather conventional girl, with
none of Dolly's dash and spirit. She was a good housekeeper, and could
make all but her best dresses. They were to take the second floor of Mr.
Bradley's house, and set up their own home, until they felt rich enough
to indulge in a house owned by themselves.

George came down about this time to spend a month. He was decidedly
tired of farming.

"Of course, if I wanted to marry and build on the old place, it wouldn't
be so bad. Uncle Faid keeps in the same rut, and you can't shake him out
of it. Barton Finch is the kind of man who begins with a great flourish,
but flats out towards the end. I'm tired of them all!"

"It will be your turn to marry next," said his mother. "And then I'll
seem quite a young woman with only three children. I _do_ suppose we'll
go up to Yonkers some time and spend our old age there; though I begin
to think your father is weaned away."

George laughed. "Father seems about half Uncle Faid's age. And at
eighty, you won't be as old as Aunt Crete. If I had lots of money, to do
as I liked--but farming so near by doesn't amount to much."

The Germans and Swiss had to come in and show us about market-gardening
and floriculture.

George went down-town with Stephen, and talked with Ben, and listened to
the groups on every corner discussing the golden land. He was young and
strong; why shouldn't he go and seek his fortune?

Miss Bradley had a very nice evening wedding, with dancing and a supper.
She was very well looking, but not as handsome as Margaret, or as pretty
and piquant as Dolly. She did not seem to come close to their hearts, as
Dolly had; though Mrs. Underhill was very well satisfied, and knew she
would make John happy. John was a sort of solid, sober-going fellow,
quite different from Steve and Joe.



CHAPTER VII

THROUGH THE EYES OF YOUTH


Then George surprised everybody by his determination to go to
California.

"There are chances to make fortunes here," declared Stephen. "With the
crowds going out there, and no homes and no provision made for them,
there must be a good deal of suffering. The stories of gold are too
fabulous for belief."

"I want to see something of the world. And all the countries on the
Pacific Coast are rich in gold and treasures. I wonder what the history
of the world would have been if that side had been settled first?"

"The history of Mexico and Peru. Wealth and indolence and degeneration.
And the East is nearer the commerce of the world. Oh, the old Pilgrim
fathers didn't go so far out of the way!" laughingly.

"And they went in the face of almost everything. We have a little of
their love of adventure. I don't know as my heart is so set upon a
fortune. You wouldn't believe it; but I've wished myself that intrepid
explorer Frémont dozens of times. There is such a splendid excuse for
going now."

At first, they were all strongly opposed. John told him to come and join
them, and keep turning his money over in up-town real estate. Mrs.
Underhill pleaded. She was very fond of having her children about her.
But when he went down-town, and heard the exciting talk, and saw the
vessels of every kind fitting out, he came home more resolved than ever.

"And then we will build the house on that beautiful knoll,--a large,
rambling, commodious place, big enough to take us all in, a refuge for
our old age," laughed George.

They found he was not to be talked out of it. Ben was on his side, and
not only gave him encouragement, but offered to lend him a little money
he had saved up, and proposed to go shares with him.

Indeed, it was a time of great excitement. The ship-yards on the East
River were veritable bee-hives; and morning, noon, and night the streets
were thronged with workmen. The clipper-ships began to astonish the
world, and the steamers to compete with those of England. The new treaty
with China was opening possibilities of trade to that country.

George decided to go by water to Vera Cruz. Round the Horn seemed too
long a journey for impatient youth. If he shouldn't like it, and should
not see any special prospect, he could come back the richer by his
experience, if nothing else. People went to China. They often stayed two
years in Europe.

"Yes," said Ben; "there's Mr. Theodore Whitney. He has had no end of a
good time, and is in much better health then when he went away."

"And Frémont has gone through a great many hardships, and been in some
battles, and still lives," added George, laughingly. "And some of the
people in Yonkers died who had never been more than ten miles away from
home."

Mrs. Underhill gave in, as mothers of big sons are often forced to do.
Mr. Underhill was rather pleased with the boy's spirit. Doctor Joe felt
that it wasn't a bad thing altogether, and that it would be nice to have
an authentic account of that wonderful country.

So the last of March, George said good-bye to everybody. His father,
Stephen, and Joe went down to see him off. It looked as if half the
sailing-craft in the world were gathered in New York harbour.

Right on the top of this, something happened that engrossed the
attention of the younger members of the family. There had been a
disturbance in Paris; the old Bonaparte faction coming to the fore, and
Louis Philippe had fled from the throne to England. Napoleon Bonaparte
had shattered the divine right of kings nearly forty years earlier.

But the most startling link in the chain of events, was that Louis
Napoleon, the son of Hortense Beauharnais and the once King of Holland,
who, for fomenting one revolution, had been confined in the Fortress of
Ham for life. He had escaped, and, with the prestige of the family
name, had roused the enthusiasm of France, and helped to form a
Republic. He was elected as one of the Deputies. Everybody was saying
then the French were too volatile, and too fond of grandeur, to accept
the democratic tendencies of a republic for any length of time. And they
wondered if he would not follow in the steps of his famous uncle, and
one day aim at a throne and an empire. Others hailed the step as a great
advancement in the rights of the people, and thought it prefigured that
Europe would be republican rather than Cossack, recalling the elder
Emperor's prediction.

And Hanny learned that this young man, who was before long to be Emperor
of the French, had lived in New York, as well as Louis Philippe. Joe
took her down-town to the old Delmonico Restaurant, which was considered
quite elegant in its day, and had entertained many famous people. Here,
the young fellow who had been the son of a king, and was now an exile,
used to dine, and gather about him the flower of the fashionable world,
as it was called. And Lorenzo Delmonico, who rarely went into his
kitchen now, would go and cook a dinner for this guest, who had the high
art of persuasion in an eminent degree, it would seem. Afterward the
Prince would entertain the other guests with curious tricks with cards,
and conversation. Now his life bid fair to be almost as eventful as his
uncle's; and, like him, he was doomed to die an exile on English soil.

Joe and Hanny took their dinner in the old place, though now the
Delmonicos were fitting up a hotel at the lower end of Broadway which
was destined to become quite as famous, and to house many notable
people.

She was so engrossed with reading and studying that sometimes she hardly
found an hour for the babies. She and Daisy, like most very young girls,
had a passion for poetry. Mrs. Sigourney they thought rather grave and
dry; but Mrs. Hemans, with her soft flowing numbers and beautiful face,
was a great favourite. Longfellow was beginning to be appreciated, and
several other poets that one saw now and then on Broadway. There were
some pathetic poems by a Western writer, Alice Cary, that used to go
quite to the little girl's tender heart. She had a wonderful memory for
any rhythmic production, and used to say them over to her father. If she
didn't sit on his lap,--and her mother had almost laughed her out of
it,--she leaned her arms on his knee, or rested her head against his
shoulder, while her soft, sweet voice went purling along like,--

      "A hidden brook
    In the leafly month of June."

The Dean girls did not care so much for poetry. They wanted stories; and
stories and books were beginning to spring up on every hand. Miss Delia
Whitney was writing a novel. She had accomplished some successful
stories, and had one in "The Ladies' Book," the pretty fashion magazine
of the day.

Poor deaf Aunt Clem had dropped out of life like a child going to sleep.
Aunt Patty kept well and bright. Nora was growing up into a tall girl,
and went to Rutger's Institute, though she confessed to Hanny, "She just
hated all schools, and wouldn't go a day longer, only it was not quite
the thing to grow up an ignoramus."

And there was Frederica Bremer, a Swedish novelist, whose "Home or
Family Cares and Family Joys" was Hanny's delight. And Irving was ever
new and bright. "Salmagundi" always amused her father so much. The
recent and delightful stories were the talk of every one.

Daisy was not such a ravenous reader. She was quite taken up with
painting, and had done some very nice work in water-colours. She had a
decided gift for catching resemblances, and had sketched some excellent
likenesses. She confided to Hanny that her ambition was to paint
portraits on ivory.

This spring a plan was mooted that almost rendered Hanny speechless. Mr.
Jasper had some business connections abroad that needed his personal
supervision, and he proposed to take his family. Tours to Europe were
not a common occurrence then, and one could hardly run over for a six
weeks' trip. Daisy had improved so much that she was sure to enjoy it;
and there were some German baths Doctor Joe thought he would like her to
try.

Italy had been the children's land of romance. But the Deans never
expected to go; and Hanny was quite sure she should feel awfully afraid
on the ocean. But Joe said some time when he had grown quite rich, and
needed a rest for his tired-out body and nerves, he and Hanny might
go,--ten years hence, perhaps. It wasn't nearly so formidable when you
looked at it through the telescope of ten years; and Hanny could be
learning French and German, and may be Italian. She had picked up a good
deal of German already from Barbara, who had proved an excellent servant
after she had acquired American ways.

The Jaspers would give up their house and store their choicest
furniture. Opposite, a great many foreigners were crowding in; and down
below, Houston Street and Avenue A. were filling up with them. We felt
so large and grand then, with our great stretches of unoccupied land,
that we invited the oppressed from everywhere. It was our boast that,--

    "Uncle Sam was rich enough to give us all a farm."

Very good thrifty citizens many of them made; but some of the early
experiences were not so agreeable. And people were beginning to think
"up-town" would be the choice for residences. Even Mr. Dean had a vague
idea of buying up there while property was cheap. Stephen and Margaret
were trying to persuade their parents to do the same thing.

It would be dreadful to have Daisy go away for a whole year. When Daisy
considered the point, it didn't seem as if she could leave all her girl
friends and her dear Doctor Joe. But the days passed on, and the passage
was taken. Mrs. Jasper asked the children in to a supper, which would
have been delightful, except for the thought that it was a farewell
supper. The table was spread in most artistic array; and Sam waited upon
the company. They tried very hard to be merry; but every little while
they would all subside and glance at each other with apprehensive eyes.

The grown people came in the evening. The most wonderful thing was that
Mr. and Mrs. Reed were among the parents. Cousin Jane was still at the
Reeds'; and, as she was "handy" about sewing, she had altered Mrs.
Reed's old-fashioned gowns, and made her some new ones.

Mrs. Reed did not get real strong, and was troubled somewhat with a
cough when cold weather came on. But she lost her weather-beaten look,
and did gain a little flesh. She was very presentable in her black-silk
dress, with some lace at the throat and wrists that she had bought at
her marriage. She wore a little black-lace head-dress with a few purple
bows; and she admitted to Charles that the Jaspers were very fine
people, and she was sorry they were going away; but it would take a mint
of money for a whole family to travel around like that.

The Jaspers' house was then dismantled; but they were going to board for
about ten days. Hanny and Josie Dean went down to see the state-room and
wish them _bon voyage_. Doctor Joe had given Mrs. Jasper counsel about
everything that might happen to Daisy.

Then the signal was given for all who were not going to return on shore.
There were some tender kisses and tears; and Doctor Joe took both girls
by the arm and steadied them down the gang-plank. What a huge thing the
steamer looked! But it was nothing compared to the later ones.

It was very lonesome. The night was pleasant, and Hanny sat out on the
stoop with her father; but, whenever she tried to talk, something
swelled up in her throat and made her feel like crying. But her father
hugged her up close. She would always have him.

It had not seemed so sad to have Nora go away; in fact they could see
her any time. And she had not loved Nora quite so well. She didn't love
any girl as she loved Daisy, and it seemed as if she could not live a
whole year without her.

They talked about it at school, and most of the girls envied her the
splendid journey. "I don't know as I would mind being a little lame, if
I could have such a beautiful face, and be taken everywhere," said one
of the girls.

But Hanny didn't want to be anybody else, if she had to give up her own
mother and father, and dear Joe and Ben and, oh, little darling Stevie.

Just after this a black-bordered envelope came up from Hammersley
Street. Grandfather Bounett, who had been very feeble of late, had died.
Hanny had seen him a number of times since her memorable introductory
visit. Luella had been sent to boarding-school, and was quite toned
down, was indeed a young lady.

Doctor Joe had made frequent visits, and the old gentleman had told him
many striking incidents of his life. Hanny used to think how queer the
city must have been in seventeen hundred, when people had a black
servant to carry the lantern so one could see to get about. She knew so
much of the early history now,--the Dutch reign and the British reign
and the close of the war.

Old Mr. Bounett looked like a picture in his handsome, old-fashioned
attire; and he just seemed asleep. The large rooms and the hall were
full, and men were standing out on the sidewalk. He had rounded out the
century. A hundred years was a long while to live. There were a number
of French people, and a chapter was read out of grandfather's well-worn
French Bible.

Somehow it was not a sorrowful funeral. It was indeed bidding him a
reverent God speed on his journey to the better land.

About ten days afterward, they were surprised by a visit from the eldest
married daughter, Mrs. French, whom Hanny had taken such a fancy to
years before.

"I've come of a queer errand," she explained, when they had talked over
the ordinary matters. "I want a visit from little Miss Hanny. I have
been away with my husband a good many times since we first met, and now
he has gone to China, and will be absent still a year longer. I am
keeping house alone, except as I have some nieces now and then staying
with me. I want to take Hanny over on Friday, if I may, and she shall
come back in time for school on Monday morning. I have a great many
curiosities to show her. And perhaps some of her brothers will come over
and take tea with us Sunday evening."

Hanny was a little shy and undecided. But her mother assented readily.
She thought a change would do her good, as she had moped since Daisy's
departure.

So it was arranged that Mrs. French should come on the ensuing Friday.
Hanny almost gave out; but when the carriage drove up to the door, and
Mrs. French looked so winsome and smiling, she said good-bye to her
mother with a sudden accession of spirits.

They drove to Grand Street Ferry and crossed over on the boat.
Williamsburg was a rather straggling place then. It was quite a distance
from the ferry, not closely built up, though the street was long and
straight. At the south side of the house was an extra lot in a flower
and vegetable garden. The house was quite pretty, two stories with a
peaked roof, and a wisteria going up to the top. There was a wide porch
with a hammock hung already. All the air was sweet with a great bed of
lilies of the valley,--quite a rarity then.

There was a long parlor, and then a music-room; in a sort of an ell, a
dining-room and kitchen; upstairs, two beautiful sleeping chambers and a
small sewing-room with a writing-desk and some book-shelves.

Hanny felt as if she were entering an Oriental palace. The doorways and
windows were hung with glistening silk that had flecks of gold and
silver in it; and there were such soft rugs on the floor your feet were
buried in them. It was almost like a museum, with the queer tables and
cabinets, and the curious fragrance pervading every corner.

They went upstairs and took off their hats and capes, which were one of
this spring's fashions.

"This is my room," explained Mrs. French. "And with the door open you
won't feel afraid in the guest-chamber."

"I have had to sleep alone since Margaret was married," returned the
little girl. "No, I am not afraid."

"I thought I would not ask any one else. I wanted you all to myself,"
and Mrs. French smiled. "I have hosts of nieces and nephews. There was
such a large family of us."

Hanny thought she would rather be the only guest now. She was quite
fascinated with Mrs. French.

She bathed her face and brushed her hair. She had brought a pretty white
ruffled apron. The little girls didn't wear black-silk aprons now; but
they were taught to be careful of their clothes, and I think they were
quite proud of their pretty aprons. Hanny's had dainty little pockets
and a pink bow on each one.

The frocks were made shorter, and the pantalets kept them company. All
that was really proper now, was a row of fine tucks and a ruffle, or an
edge of needlework. There was some fine imported French needlework, much
of it done in convents; but nearly every lady did it herself, and it was
quite a great thing for a little girl to bring out her work and show it
to aunts and cousins. No one dreamed then that there would be machines
to make the finest and most exquisite work, and save time and eyesight.

Hanny looked very sweet and pretty in her pink lawn and white apron. Her
hair was braided in the two tails that every little girl wore who had
not curly hair. On grand occasions, Hanny's was put in curl-papers, and
it made very nice ringlets, though it was still a sort of flaxen brown.
But then she was fair, rather pale a good deal of the time. She flushed
very easily though. There was an expression of trustful innocence that
rendered her very attractive, without being beautiful like Margaret.

"Come and let us walk about the garden," said Mrs. French. "It is light
enough to see the roses. They are my especial pride."

Hanny took the outstretched hand. She could not have explained it, but
she did feel happy and at home with Mrs. French. There was a
graciousness about her that set one at ease.

At the side was a long porch with curtains that rolled up when they were
not needed for shade. At the front of the garden, there was considerable
young shrubbery, then an arrangement of beds; the centre one, which was
a circle, was filled with the most beautiful roses. The middle was
raised somewhat, mound shape, with the dark red roses, then growing a
little paler to pure rose-colour and pink, tea-rose with the salmon
tint, and a border of white. And, oh, how fragrant!

Beside this bed there were others in clusters, and one clump in an
exquisite yellow.

"Some of them have been great travellers," said Mrs. French. "There are
roses from Spain, from France and Italy."

Hanny opened her eyes very wide, and then she looked at them again in
surprise.

"Oh, how could you get them?" she asked.

"I brought them from their homes. You see I have been quite a traveller,
also."

The child drew a long breath. "Did you go with Captain French?" she
inquired.

"Yes. When we were first married, his vessel traded in the Levant, and
brought back fruits and silks and shawls and nuts, and ever so many
things. After that we went to India, Calcutta. We took one of my
sisters, and she married an English merchant, and has been home only
once since then."

"Oh, I shouldn't like Margaret to live in Calcutta," the little girl
said, startled.

Mrs. French smiled. "Then we were away almost four years. We went to the
Chinese ports as well, and to some of the curious islands. We took a
cargo of tea to London."

"I know a little girl who has just gone to London, and who is to go on
to Germany to take some special kind of baths. She is my very dear
friend."

"Is she ill?"

"She is a great deal better now. When we first knew her, she couldn't
walk but a few steps. She was in the hospital where my brother used to
go when he was first a doctor. Then she came to live in our street."

"With her parents?"

"Oh, yes. She has one aunt, but no brothers or sisters. It must seem
strange not to have any," and Hanny glanced up.

"It would be strange to me. I had ten in all, and there is only one
dead. Eugene is the oldest of the second family. One married brother
lives in Baltimore, one only a short distance from here. And you have
six brothers,--a good supply for one little girl."

"I suppose some of them belong to Margaret," and she gave a soft,
rippling laugh. "We haven't ever divided them up. But Joe belongs to me.
When I get to be a woman, and he has a good big practice, I am going to
keep house for him."

"But what will your father do?"

"Why--" Hanny had not considered that point. "Oh, it won't be in a long
while! And then father will be old, and he will come and live with us, I
think. Dolly says she is going to have mother."

Mrs. French thought the division rather amusing.

"Where is Captain French gone now?"

"To China again. He has been going back and forth to Liverpool; but he
had an excellent offer for the long trip. I concluded not to go,
grandpa was so old and feeble. And my sister is coming to England to
live. Her husband is heir now to a fine estate and a title; and they
have quite a family of children."

"Then you will want to go to England to see her," said Hanny.

"Indeed, I shall. I have not seen her in seven years; since the time she
was here."

"We all liked Mr. Eugene so much," Hanny remarked. "And Luella has grown
so, I hardly knew her."

"They have a trick of growing up. I hope you won't be in any hurry."

"I am small of my age," and Hanny gave a soft sigh.

"It will take you a long time to get as large as your mother."

Hanny wasn't sure that she wanted to be quite so large. Yet she didn't
really want her mother changed. And, oh, she wouldn't have her as thin
as Mrs. Reed for all the world!

They had been walking around the paths that were clean and solid as a
floor. What beautiful plants and flowers there were! Strange things,
too, that Hanny had never seen before. Then the tea-bell rang, and they
came up to the rose garden, where Mrs. French broke off several partly
opened buds and pinned them on the little girl's bodice.

The dining-room windows opened on the porch, and they walked in that
way. It had a great beaufet with carved shelves and brackets going
nearly up to the ceiling, and full of the most curious articles Hanny
had ever seen. Then there was a cabinet in the corner containing rare
and beautiful china. The table was small and dainty, oval, with a vase
of flowers at the ends; and the two sat opposite each other, while a
tidy young coloured girl waited upon them.

Hanny felt as if she was part of a story; and she tried to recall
several of her heroines who went visiting in some curiously elegant
house. It was different from the Jaspers, from anything she had ever
seen, and there was a subtle fragrance about it that made her feel
dreamy.



CHAPTER VIII

GOING VISITING


"Don't you want to tell me about your little friend?" Mrs. French said
when she had put Hanny in the hammock, and hedged her about with silken
cushions. She sat in a willow rocker that Hanny thought quite as
fascinating as the hammock.

"Oh, yes," and Hanny smiled brightly, and, like a true biographer began
at the beginning, the first time the children had seen Daisy, with her
long golden curls and pallid face, like a snow-drift. And how Doctor Joe
had been in the hospital when she had the operation performed.

"Poor little thing!" exclaimed Mrs. French. "And now there is something
they can use that gives a blessed unconsciousness, and when you wake up
the worst of the pain is over. I do not know how any one could endure
such torture."

"Joe said she was very brave, though she fainted several times. And
she's growing straight and tall, and her hair curls lovely again. I have
always wished my hair curled naturally. It just twists a little at the
ends, but won't make ringlets."

People in those days curled their hair a great deal; but they had to put
it in papers. Patent curlers, like a great many other things, had not
been invented. When you wanted to be very fine, you went to the
hair-dresser's. The real society ladies had some one come to the house
to "do" their hair; and sometimes it was very elaborate.

Mrs. French thought curly hair would not improve the little girl. There
was something charming in her very simplicity, and her hair was like
floss silk.

As she told about Daisy she detailed bits of neighbourhood life, and
descriptions of the other children. Mrs. French heard about John Robert
Charles and his mother.

"But she's so different now. She is not real strong any more; and then
Charles is such a big boy, and goes out with his father. It's queer, but
Jim and he are great friends, and Jim goes over there to study with
Charles. Mrs. Reed did not use to like boys; and Jim is so full of fun
and pranks, mother calls them, and he knows so many funny stories!
Mother tries very hard not to laugh at them; but she can't always help
it."

The evening passed so quickly that it was bed-time before either of them
realised it. Mrs. French took the large square pillows off the bed, and
laid one of the silken spreads over the footboard. How beautiful and
soft they were, with great flowers so natural it seemed as if you could
pick them up! And the fragrance was so delicate and puzzling: one moment
you thought it violets, then it suggested roses and lilies and the smell
of newly cut grass.

Mrs. French kissed her, and said if she felt strange in the night to
call her; but she was asleep in five minutes, and never woke until quite
in the morning, it was so much more quiet than in First Street.

When she did sit up in the bed and glance around, she had a queer
feeling that she was a part of a fairy story, like the white cat in her
enchanted palace, waiting for the Prince, or perhaps Psyche, blown from
the hill-top to her beautiful place of refuge, where she found and lost
Love, and had to do many hard tasks before she could regain him.

She was quite sure, an hour or two later, that she _was_ in some
enchanted realm. There were such queer things,--some beautiful, and some
she thought very ugly, especially the grotesque idols.

"I couldn't believe a god like that had any power. And I am sure I
couldn't worship him," Hanny said emphatically.

"They beat their gods sometimes and break them to pieces, and go off and
get new ones. It seems very singular to us."

The little girl had been deeply interested in Judson, the missionary to
Burmah. There had been a good deal of romance about his last marriage,
to "Fanny Forester," who wrote tales and sketches and poems, and had
made herself quite a name for brightness and gay humour, and then had
surprised her friends by going to India as a missionary's wife. And she
knew Bishop Heber's beautiful poem to his wife all by heart, and often
sang "From Greenland's icy mountains." So she had a feeling that she did
know something about India.

But Mrs. French had really been there, and spent two months at Bombay,
and almost six months at Calcutta. There were so many gorgeous
things,--silks, and bright stuffs with threads of gold, jackets all
embroidery, and queer Eastern dresses, two made of pineapple cloth,--a
sheer, beautiful fabric,--and one had delicate flowers embroidered in
silk.

But the oddest of all, Hanny thought, was burning incense. Mrs. French
had several curious incense bowls and jars. She lighted one, and in a
little while the room was filled with an indescribable fragrance and a
hazy purplish air.

"They burn incense in the Roman Catholic churches. Joe took us one
Easter Sunday. It was very strange, I thought. And a little boy swung
the--something--"

"Censer."

"Oh, yes, censer. And the singing was beautiful. But we couldn't
understand the prayers; Joe said they were Latin. I suppose he could
follow them."

"No doubt; I have attended some very grand services in churches abroad
and in England."

The incense burned out presently, and they went downstairs to dinner.
Afterward, a niece and nephew, her brother's children, came. The girl
was not quite twelve, but most a head taller than Hanny, who felt rather
shy with her. The boy was older still, and his name was Harold, which
suggested to Hanny the last of the Saxon kings. But he was very dark,
and didn't look like a Saxon, she thought.

Mrs. French sent to the livery and ordered a carriage, and they all went
to drive. Hanny was quite conversant with upper New York and Westchester
County; but she had only been once to Brooklyn. It had quite a country
aspect then; but there were beautiful drives, and Greenwood Cemetery had
already some extremely handsome monuments.

There was something about Eva Bounett that suggested Lily Ludlow, and
kept Hanny from liking her cordially. She laughed at so many things,
made fun of them; and Hanny wondered if she was criticising her, and
would laugh at her when she returned home.

Now and then, Mrs. French would remark, "Don't, Eva, that is not a nice
thing to say." Still she was bright, and at times Hanny had to laugh.
She found so many Dickens' people along the streets; and really they did
look like the pictures by Cruikshank. And one tall fierce old woman,
with wisps of hair hanging about her neck, and an old torn shawl, who
was brandishing her arms and talking wildly, she said was Meg Merrilies.

The children remained to tea, and Harold played and sang some very
pretty songs afterward.

"But you ought to hear our sister Helen," declared Eva. "She sings in
church, and sometimes at concerts; she's just magnificent. She's
nineteen now. And Mary has a good voice; while I sing like a crow! Do
you do any of the fine things,--draw or paint? I take music lessons; but
I make my teacher's hour vexation of spirit, not vanity," and she gave a
satisfied kind of laugh.

"I study music and French. I embroider and crochet--"

"I hate sewing; I'd like to be a man and a sea-captain. Uncle French is
just magnificent; I hope he will take me to sea sometime; I'm not a bit
sick; are you?"

"I have never been to sea," replied Hanny.

"Well, just a little ways; I've been down to the Fishing Banks; and it's
awful rough. And last summer we were at Great South Bay, and went out in
a yacht; and I learned to row. At all events, I mean to marry a
sea-captain; and I'll just go with him every time."

One of the older brothers dropped in for the children. Eva was very
effusive in her good-bye, and kissed Hanny, and said she must surely
come to see her.

Hanny felt quite relieved when she was alone again with Mrs. French, who
talked of Helen and Mary, and seemed to admire them very much. "But I
don't know what they will do with Eva. My half-sister, Luella, was just
such a noisy harum-scarum; but she had only boys to play with. Now, she
is getting to be a nice lady-like girl."

Hanny recalled two visits in Hammersley Street when Luella had kept her
in a fright all the time.

They went to church Sunday morning, and heard Helen Bounett sing. It was
very fine and moving. Hanny wished Charles could hear her.

About mid-afternoon, as they were sitting on the front piazza, which was
shady now, Hanny espied her two brothers. Why, Ben was quite as tall as
Joe! He looked more like Stephen; but Joe was _very_ good-looking.

She flew down to meet them, and gave one hand to each brother.

"Oh," she cried joyfully, "I've had a lovely time! I've been to India
and China; and I've had incense and ginger preserve, and some beautiful
silks to take home, and a pineapple handkerchief, and a ginger-jar; and
I haven't been a bit homesick."

Mrs. French was watching the eager little face that looked so pretty in
its enthusiasm of love. Doctor Joe stooped and kissed her; Ben waited
until he was up on the porch.

They were very cordially welcomed. Mrs. French said she was afraid a
patient would come to hand at an inopportune moment.

"The city is desperately healthy," returned Joe, laughingly. "That's a
young doctor's experience. When I am wrinkled and grey-haired, I shall
probably tell a different story."

"What do you think I have?" turning to Hanny. "A letter from Mr. Jasper.
A steamer was just going out, so he sent a few lines."

He handed it to her while he resumed his conversation with Mrs. French.

Hanny devoured it with a thrill. A letter from across the ocean!

They had a very pleasant journey, with only one storm worth mentioning.
Mrs. Jasper, who had dreaded sea-sickness, had only a slight attack.
Aunt Ellen was ill four days, and Daisy a whole week. Once they were
quite alarmed about her. But her recovery was more rapid than they had
expected; and now they were all well, and the ladies would write more at
length.

An ocean voyage was quite an undertaking then. Some people of leisure
went by a packet, which took three weeks, occasionally longer.

It was very odd to think of Daisy Jasper in England. But how many times
Mrs. French had come home safely.

Of course they must go out and see the flowers: the beautiful red rose
whose mother, or grandmother, had come from the Escurial at Madrid; and
a real English hawthorn, from Windermere, just out of bloom now; and
several valuable and curious foreign plants, quite common at this day.
At the southern end there was a conservatory for the housing of the more
delicate ones.

Ben was wonderfully interested with the indoor curiosities, and a case
of stuffed birds, the like of which he had never seen. They had a little
more incense too, and opened jars of rare perfume that was nobody knew
how many years old. There were some Chinese paintings on fine
transparent silk, and ivory carvings that were enough to puzzle the
most astute brain. Ben thought he would like to spend at least a month
over them.

Supper-time came too soon. Mrs. French said she had enjoyed every moment
of Hanny's visit, and hoped to have her a whole week in the summer
vacation, and the young men must feel they would be welcome any time.

"I've just been crowded full of delight," exclaimed Hanny, with her
good-bye kiss.

It was quite a walk down to the ferry; then they had their sail across.
How still and tranquil everything seemed! When they reached the city,
people were going to church, and a few last bells were ringing. They
walked leisurely up Grand Street; and, at the junction of East Broadway,
Joe said he would run up to the office to see if he was needed for
anything. Then Ben and Hanny kept on. There were a good many private
residences in Grand Street, but the stores were creeping along. Already
they began to show foreign names, and on some stoops a whole Jewish
family would be sitting with their black-eyed children. And so many of
them had such beautiful curling hair that it made Hanny sigh.

Across Norfolk Street to Houston, and a turn in their own First Street.
Mr. Underhill had walked down to the corner, and was sauntering about.
He was very glad to get his little girl home and hear about the good
time.

A fortnight later, the little girl had a letter from Daisy Jasper, all
to herself. They had gone straight up to London on account of business,
and were at a hotel; but it was all so queer and unlike New York. She
certainly did like her own city best. But there would be so many things
to see; not the least among them would be the Queen and Prince Albert,
and the royal children, who were often out driving, and the Mall and the
Row, and the palaces, and the Tower, and the great British Museum! Daisy
thought, if she went everywhere, it would take a whole lifetime. She was
beginning to feel very well; but she admitted that she was awfully
seasick, and that it was "horrid." She wanted Hanny, and dear Doctor
Joe. And Hanny must tell her about everybody in the street. She must get
some thin foreign paper, so the postage wouldn't cost so much.

For then postage was regulated by the distance, and we had no
international union. I think we were doing without a good many useful
things; yet the older generation professed to believe there was so much
luxury and ease that people would be soon demoralised.

Jim had rather fallen behind, with all his fun and nonsense, and was
studying day and night. He wasn't going to have Charley Reed get so far
ahead of him! Examinations were coming on, and he didn't want any one to
be ashamed of him, neither did he want to be conditioned.

The little girl was studying very hard also, and reading a great deal.
She had taken up the wonderful things of London that had been
accumulating year by year. She had thought New York was getting quite
ancient, but, oh, dear! England had been colonised by Julius Cæsar, and
was a country with a government even before that.

There was no one to go out with, and she was too old to play. Last
summer, they had gone around with Daisy in her wheeling-chair, and found
so many amusing incidents, beside being out of doors in the vivifying
air and sunshine. Josie Dean was almost a young lady, so tall that she
wore her hair in a French twist, with a pretty silver comb, which was as
much a girl's ambition as the big shell comb had been her mother's. And
Tudie was just crazy over worsted work. She was doing a pair of covers
for large ottomans, and then meant to go at the back and seat for a
daintily carved reception-chair. There were some nice schoolmates who
lived up above Mrs. Craven's; but they seldom came down to First Street.
And as the little girl never complained, no one seemed to notice that
she grew pale and thin, until one day Mrs. Underhill exclaimed:--

"Mercy me! What is the matter with that child! She looks like a ghost."

"She never does have red cheeks except when she is excited," said her
father. "But she has fallen away."

"Too hard study and too much staying in the house," said Doctor Joe.

"But I _must_ study one week more," declared the little girl. "I'm going
to have a beautiful French exercise,"--they didn't always adapt their
adjectives to the fine shades of meaning,--"and I'm at the head in
history. I want to get in the senior grade. I feel well, only tired, and
my head aches sometimes."

Doctor Joe examined her pulse and nodded.

"I'll give you the week," he said; but her heart went up to her throat.
What if he had _not_ given her the week!

They all came off with flying colours. Charles's Latin was the finest;
but he had been studying it several years. Jim's essay won him much
praise. And the little girl achieved her heart's desire. She was in the
second grade of the seniors, and would graduate in two years.

They had hardly decided what to do with her; but one day Mrs. Odell came
down with Polly, who had cheeks like roses and was fat as a seal, her
mother said.

"You just let her come up and stay awhile with us, and drink buttermilk,
and run out of doors and play in the hay. She's lived in the city long
enough for a country girl, and she wants a change to freshen up her
blood. She's fairly blue, she's so white."

"That wouldn't be a bad idea," rejoined Mr. Underhill. "We could drive
up every few days and see her."

Mrs. Underhill looked up much interested.

Margaret was engrossed with her baby, and then she went out driving
every day, though they did talk of going away for a week the last of the
summer. She was very fond of having her little sister visit her, and
Hanny enjoyed the talks about books and the delightful people the
Hoffmans were always meeting.

All the Beekman daughters were going to stay awhile at the farm and
discuss the settlement of the estate. The city authorities were to cut
two streets through it in the early autumn. They had a very fair offer
for the house, from a second or third cousin who fancied he wanted a
part of the old family estate. The ground, of course, was too valuable
for farming purposes. Annette's husband, who was in a shipping firm then
on Water Street, preferred living down-town. So Mrs. Beekman would keep
the old city house, and they would live together.

Dolly proposed to take the little girl, for there would be a large
out-of-doors.

"There are too many grown people," declared Doctor Joe. "She's too old
herself, and too anxious for knowledge of all kinds. She wants to run
and play with children. We must keep her a little girl as long as
possible, and not bother her brains with the wisdom of the ages. Send
her up to West Farms. As Father says, we can see her every few days."

That settled the matter. Father Underhill did not care to give her up
anyhow, and he was best pleased with this plan. Mrs. Underhill imagined
she had so many things to do, as mothers of households did in those
days, and somehow she did not like to hurry Hanny about as she had
Margaret. There really was not so much sewing. Joe insisted upon
ordering his shirts made; and Margaret had sent Ben half-a-dozen for
Christmas. Then Barbara was very efficient, and, with true German
thrift, improved every moment. She insisted on darning the stockings and
knitting the woollen ones for winter. She was also a very neat hand at
sewing.

Mrs. Underhill had learned another lesson in her city life. There were a
good many poor people who really needed work, and she found it a much
wiser plan to give them employment and pay them for it, and advise them
to lay in coal and various other matters for winter. She was not a
stingy woman; but she did not believe in confirming people in indolent
habits.

Martha came often to see them; and at times she felt almost jealous of
Barbara. But she had a very pleasant home, and her stepchildren proved
tractable. She did a good deal of church work, and through her Mrs.
Underhill heard of really worthy poor people.

Hanny wasn't a bit enthusiastic about going to West Farms.

"Janey and Polly seem so childish," she said to her brother Joe.

"And you are getting to be a little old woman. We don't want you to turn
old and grey before your time, and have to wear spectacles and all
that."

"But I can see the least little thing," protested the child, earnestly.
"And if I do go, can't I take my 'Queens of England' with me? I had so
many lessons that I couldn't read them as I wanted to."

Margaret had sent the volumes to her for a birthday gift. She had just
skimmed through them, and was saving them up for her leisure time.
Everybody was talking about them, and recommending them to girls. Miss
Strickland certainly knew how to interest readers.

Doctor Joe shook his head, with a sort of mirthful regret which couldn't
help but soothe the disappointment a little.

"I don't want you to read or to study, but just run out in the sunshine
and get fat. If we have such a poor pale little thing in our family,
people will wonder if I really am a good physician."

He looked so grave, not a bit as if he was "making fun," that she gave a
sort of sighing assent.

"If you get real homesick, you need not stay more than a fortnight. But
there is a good deal to learn out of doors. There are trees and wild
flowers and birds. I'll come up now and then and take you out driving."

"I shall like that. I suppose I may write to Daisy Jasper?" she returned
with a flash of spirit. "You see I want to know about London, and
Berlin, and ever so many places, so that I won't seem like an ignoramus
when she comes back."

"You will have all winter to learn about them." Then he kissed her and
went off about his own business.

She had to go and say good-bye to Stevie, who was just too sweet for
anything, and Annie, and dark-eyed Daisy Hoffman.



CHAPTER IX

ANNABEL LEE


It was queer up at West Farms, delightful, too. The house was old, with
a hall through the middle, and a Dutch door just as there was up at
Yonkers. The top part was opened in the morning, sometimes the whole
door. The front room was the parlour, and it had not been refurnished
since Mrs. Odell came there as a bride; so it looked rather antiquated
to modern eyes. The back room was the sleeping chamber; on the other
side, a living room with rag carpet on the floor; then a kitchen and a
great shed-kitchen, one side of which was piled up with wood. There was
a big back stoop that looked on the vegetable garden; there was an
orchard down below, and then cornfields and meadows.

The old house was what was called a story and a half. The pointed roof
had windows in the end, but none in the front. There were two nice big
chambers upstairs, and a garret. Mr. Odell began to talk about building
a new house; and Mrs. Odell said the things--by which she meant the
carpets and furniture--were good enough for the old place, but they'd
have all new by the time the girls grew up, to fit the new house.

Mr. Odell had a peach-orchard and a quince-orchard, and two long rows of
cherry-trees. Then he kept quite a herd of cows, and sold milk. He had a
splendid new barn, with two finished rooms in that, where the hands
slept in summer. The old barn was devoted to the hay and the horses.
There were chickens and ducks and geese, and a pen of pigs. This summer,
they were raising three pretty calves and one little colt, who was
desperately shy. But the calves would come up to be patted, and eat out
of your hand.

Both of the girls were what their mother called regular tomboys. Polly
was a few months older than the little girl, and Janey two years her
senior. They were smart too. They could wash dishes and make beds and
sweep, weed in the garden, look after the poultry; and Janey could iron
almost as well as her mother. But they did love to run and whoop, and
tumble in the hay, and they laughed over almost everything. They were
not great students, though they went to school regularly.

A second or third cousin lived with the Odells, and did a great deal of
the housework. She was not "real bright," and had some queer ways. Her
immediate relatives were dead; and the Odells had taken her from a
feeling of pity, and a fear lest at last she would be sent to the
poor-house. She had an odd way of talking incoherently to herself, and
nodding her head at almost everything; yet she was good-tempered and
always ready to do as she was told. But the worst was her lack of
memory; you had to tell her the same things everyday,--"get her started
in the traces," Mr. Odell said.

Mrs. Odell put a cot in the girls' room for Hanny, since there was
plenty of space. And Polly seemed to find so many funny stories to tell
over that Hanny fell asleep in the midst of them, and woke up in the
morning without a bit of homesick feeling. Then Mr. Odell was going to
the mill, and he took Polly and Hanny along, and they had a rather
amusing time.

Hanny was very much interested in the process, and amazed when she found
how they made the different things out of the same wheat. They used
"middlings" for pancakes at home, when her mother was tired of
buckwheat. Not to have had griddle-cakes for breakfast would have been
one of the hardest trials of life for men and boys through the winter.
It warmed them up of a cold morning, and they seemed to thrive on it.

Mr. Odell was very willing to explain the processes to Hanny. Polly
wanted to know if she thought of going into the milling business, and
suggested that she never would be big enough. Then they ran round to
look at the water-wheel and the little pond where the stream was dammed
so there would be no lack of water in a dry time.

They had a drawing pattern in school just like it, except that it lacked
the broken rustic bridge a little higher up. She would take a new
interest in drawing it now.

It was noon when they reached home, and Hanny felt real hungry, though
Mrs. Odell declared she didn't eat more than a bird. She was glad her
girls were not such delicate little things.

They went out on the shady back stoop afterward. Janey was sewing the
over-seam in a sheet that her mother wanted turned. When she had
finished, and picked out the old sewing, she was free. Then she said
they would go down to the Bristows' and have a good game of hide and
seek. They always had such fun at the Bristows'.

Polly brought out her basket of carpet-rags,--a peach basket nearly
full.

"I just hate to sew carpet-rags!" she declared.

"Couldn't I help you?" asked Hanny.

"Why, to be sure you _could_, if you would, and knew how to sew."

"Of course I know how to sew," said Hanny, rather affronted.

"Oh, I was only in fun! I'll find you a thimble. It's in my work-box
that was given me on Christmas. It's real silver, too. Mother's going to
change it when she goes to New York, only she never remembers. My
fingers are so fat. Oh, Hanny, what a little mite of a hand! It'll never
be good for anything."

"I have made a whole shirt myself, and I have hemstitched, and done
embroidery, and I wipe dishes when I haven't too many lessons,"
interposed the little girl.

"You can't make your own frocks," in a tone of triumph.

"No. Miss Cynthia Blackfan comes and does it. Can you?"

"No, she can't," said Janey, while Polly threw her head back and
laughed, showing her strong white teeth. "And she could no more make a
shirt than she could fly. You're real smart, Hanny. I'm two years older,
and I've never made a whole one. I'm going to try though, and father's
promised me a dollar when I do it all by myself."

Polly had found the thimble. It wasn't any prettier than Hanny's, though
Polly begged her "to be real careful and not lose it."

"Now you can just sew hit or miss; and then you can put in a long strip
of black, 'cause there's more black than anything else. Oh, dear, I do
hate to sew rags!"

"What kind of sewing do you like?" asked Janey, in a tone that would
have been sarcastic in an older person.

"I just don't like any kind. Hanny, do _you_ know that some one has
invented a sewing-machine?" and Polly looked up with the triumph of
superior wisdom.

"Oh, yes, I saw it at the Institute Fair. And there's a place on
Broadway where a woman sits in the window and sews. It's very queer; but
we think it doesn't sew real nice."

Polly was for the moment nonplussed. Hanny _did_ seem to know almost
everything. Then curiosity overcame her.

"Does it do really and truly sewing?"

"Why, yes. When you come down, I'll ask Joe to take us over to see it."

"Carpet-rags?"

"Well--I don't know. Long straight seams, and hems and stitching."

"Well, I'm going to have one when I'm married. I wonder if they cost
very much!"

"There'll be lots of things for you to do before you are married. And
some girls don't have any chance. You'll want to know how to keep
house--"

"I like housekeeping. You just go from one thing to another. I'll have
some one to cook and peel potatoes and all that. And we'll keep a horse
and waggon, and I shall go to ride every day."

Janey laughed. "Just now, you had better sew carpet-rags."

"And I'll never have any rag carpets. I will give away all the old
clothes."

"I'm afraid you'll never have much of anything, nor a husband either,
Polly Odell," said her mother. "You talk, and leave the rags for Hanny
to sew."

Polly turned scarlet, and sewed very industriously.

"I'd like to see a sewing-machine," began Janey, presently. "How does it
go?"

"There is a strap around a wheel that is fast to a frame. You put your
feet on, so, and just make them go up and down after you have started
the wheel with your hand. The needle goes through, and something catches
the thread, then it goes through again, and that makes the stitch. It is
very curious."

"You know a good many things, don't you, Hanny?" said Janey, admiringly.

Hanny coloured.

"I can beat her all out running, I know; and I'll bet a penny she can't
jump over the creek."

"And don't you dare her to, Polly. Remember how you fell in. Oh, Hanny,
she was a sight to behold!"

"Well--it had been raining, and the ground was soft, so I slipped a
little on the start. But I've done it time and again."

"And you're a regular tomboy. Girls don't train around that way in the
city."

Janey had begun to rip out the old seam. She sighed a little, and wished
she was sewing carpet-rags. That was such easy work.

"Hanny sews a great deal faster than you," she said to Polly. "See what
a pile she has. I will wind them up."

It made quite a ball, and was a little rest from the ripping, that
sounded so easy and yet was tedious. But Janey persevered, and finally,
after turning about a time or two, came to the middle with a sigh of
relief. Polly had been working like a steam-engine for ten minutes, and
picked out a good many long pieces, so she had a ball as large as
Hanny's.

Then they put on their sun-bonnets, and ran down to the Bristows', which
was in the turn of the road. There were three girls,--one of nine who
was almost as big as Hanny, and the one of eleven, much taller.

They all had a good drink of buttermilk: Mrs. Bristow had just been
churning. Then they went out to the barn and played "hide-and-seek," and
had a noisy, jolly time. They sat down and fanned themselves with their
aprons, and presently started out for some blackberries.

"There's a German settlement down below, and the children are up here
every day picking berries. You can't have anything now, unless it is
planted in your own garden. We have some lovely big blackberries, when
they get ripe."

Then the girls ran a race. Hanny was out of breath presently, and
stopped, so did little Kitty Bristow. But Julie Bristow beat in the
race. Polly wanted to run again; but the others were tired.

Mrs. Bristow gave Janey a beautiful, big pot-cheese to take home; and it
was just delicious.

One of the cousins from Fordham had been down. The children were all to
come up and spend the day to-morrow, and Mrs. Odell was invited to
supper.

Hanny felt a little lonely. If she could just see her father and Joe,
and her mother and the boys. But she slept very soundly; and truly she
wasn't homesick when they all came to breakfast in the morning. Janey
hurried around and did her work, and they were soon ready to be off. A
day meant all day, then.

It was a pretty country walk, with here and there a house, and one
little nest of Irish emigrants. Some of the women had their wash-tubs
out of doors, and were working and gossiping. Then there was St. John's
College, with its pretty, shady grounds, and on the other side a hotel
where the trains stopped as they went up and down. After that, you
climbed a long hill that wound a little, and on one side there was a row
of beautiful, stately cherry-trees that were a sight to behold in their
early bloom and in the rich harvest of fruiting.

Just at the brow of the hill stood a rather quaint house, with the end
to the street. It was built against the side of the hill. You ascended a
row of stone steps, and reached the lower floor, which was a dining-room
with a wide stone-paved area, then you went up several more steps to a
cheerful sunny room, and this was the kitchen. When you went upstairs
again, one side of the house was just even with the ground, and the
other up a whole story. Here was a parlour, a sitting-room, several
sleeping chambers; but what the little girl came to love most of all was
a great piazza built over the area downstairs, with a row of wide steps.
When you were up there, you were two stories above the street, and you
could look down the long hill and all about. It was a beautiful
prospect. Afterward, the little girl found some chalets in Switzerland
that made her think of this odd house that had been added to since the
first cottage was built.

There was always a host of people in the old house. Hospitality must
have been written on its very gates, for relatives, unto the third and
fourth generation, were continually made welcome: a sweet, placid
grandmother who had seen her daughter, the housemother, laid away to her
silent resting-place, and who had tried to supply her place to the
children; the father; the aunt who took part of the care; the sons and
daughters, some of whom had grown up and married, and whose children
made glad the old home.

There was a houseful of them now; but there was a wide out-of-doors for
them to play in. A few hundred feet farther up, where the road turned
and ran off to Kingsbridge, as well as to the Harlem River, stood the
village smithy; and the Major, who had been in the War of 1812, had
relegated the business mostly to his sons. He enjoyed the coming and
going, the bright young faces, and had a hearty welcome for the
children, though he sometimes pretended to scold them.

A queer tract of land it was, with a great rift of rock running through
it where the children played house, and had parties, and occasionally
took their dinner out to eat in picnic fashion. Just beyond the strata
of rock, on the good ground, stood two splendid apple-trees called
"Jersey Sweetings," and for nearly two summer months their bounty was
the delight of the children. Farther down, the ground sloped abruptly
and settled into a pleasant orchard; then another sudden decline, and
here a pretty stream came purling through, making a tiny cascade as it
tumbled over the rocks.

The little girl was deeply touched by beauty; and as they ran around she
stopped now and then to drink in the shady vistas and wild nooks that
seemed fairy-haunted. She had been reading a little mythology, and she
could believe in a great many things. There were places where she looked
to see Pan piping on his reed, and dryads and nymphs coming out of the
groves.

How they did run and play! The air was merry with shouts and laughter.
Some of them took off their shoes and stockings, and waded in the brook.
And one of the big boys proposed that on Saturday afternoon they should
go down to the Harlem River and get some crabs and clams.

There were enough children for a second table, and that was laid in the
upper kitchen. Auntie thought they must be starved; but instead they had
been stuffed with sweet apples. Still most of them did justice to the
bountiful dinner.

"This little girl looks tired out," said grandmother. "I think she had
better stay in and rest a while."

Hanny was very glad to do this. While grandmother took her nap, she went
upstairs where the grown-up people were talking and sewing. She wished
she had brought her crocheting; but Polly had laughed her out of it.
Then she took up a book, and was soon lost in that. It was an English
novel, as most of our novels were then, "Time the Avenger."

"That is a rather sad book for a little girl," said Cousin Jennie. "I'll
see if I can't find you something better. You look as if you were fond
of reading. You are Vermilye Underbill's little girl. And your brother
George has gone to California. I know him quite well, and the Yonkers
family. I suppose he hasn't found his nugget of gold yet?"

The little girl smiled, and said she did not think he had yet. His
letters had been full of the wonderful country; and it took so long to
get a letter.

"Here are some magazines with pictures and verses. Are you fond of
poetry? Maybe you are a poet. You have a delicate, ethereal look."

"Do poets have that?" asked Hanny. "I know a girl who writes verses and
stories; but she isn't at all ethereal. I'm quite sure I couldn't write
verses or anything," and she gave a soft laugh.

"Well, I think geniuses look quite like other people. I've seen a number
of them lately. We have a genius living up the road, and ever so many
people come to see him. Some quite famous ladies."

Hanny opened her eyes very wide.

"Let me see--I think I can find one of his poems." She took a pile of
magazines from the top of the high old-fashioned bureau. "Oh,
yes,--though, like 'Time the Avenger,' I think it's too old for you. I
'm not very fond of poetry. Here is 'Annabel Lee.'"

Then Cousin Jennie was called into the other room, where some one wanted
to talk about the best way to ruffle a lawn skirt. Should the ruffles be
on the straight or bias?

Hanny read the verses over and over, and saw the city by the sea where
dwelt beautiful Annabel Lee, and how her high-born kinsman, who came in
great state in a chariot, carried her away from the one who loved her so
dearly. But when, later on, she came to know and understand the poem,
and the high-born kinsman had come for some of those she held most dear,
she could always go back to the vague mysterious awe that filled and
thrilled her then. She sat as if in a trance until grandmother, who had
taken her nap, came and took the arm-chair beside the open window.

"Well, are you rested?" said grandmother, cheerfully. "I should think
Janey and Polly would wear you out. It isn't a good thing for little
girls to run too much. But everything has changed since my day. Although
I think they ran and played then; but they had to help work, there was
so much out-of-doors work. Everything is easier now. There are so many
improvements. And, oh, how much there is to read! I'm not sure that is
so good for them."

"But it is very delightful," returned the little girl.

"If it only made people wiser!"

"But they are growing curiously wise," said Hanny. "There is the
telegraph. It seemed so queer that you could make a bit of wire talk,
that at first people didn't believe it. Uncle Faid did not when he saw
it at the Fair."

"And people laughed about the steamboat, I remember, and the idea of
railroad trains drawn by an engine. Yes, there are a good many strange
things. And steamships crossing the ocean. There used to be
sailing-vessels, and it took such a long while."

Hanny told grandmother about her friend who had gone abroad; and
grandmother, in return, told her about some Welsh ancestors who had to
fly for their lives on account of being mixed up with some insurrection
about a young prince, and the stormy time they had coming over,--how
they were driven up and down the coast, and their voyage consumed two
months. They were almost out of provisions, and suffered many hardships.
So the wisdom of the world had amounted to something.

The children came in. They were going up the road, and didn't Hanny want
to join them? Mrs. Odell said they must not stay very long, she was
going home before supper.

There was a protest about this; but Mrs. Odell said there were people
and children enough without them, and she had told her husband they
would be home to supper.

"Do we go by the poet's house?" Hanny asked as they passed the
cross-road.

"The poet?" Two or three of the children stared blankly.

"Oh, Hanny means that Mr. Poe. Why, yes; it's the old Cromwell house. It
isn't much to see. There, that little cottage."

No, it was not much to see,--a very bird's nest house with a great tree
shading it, and a little porch at the side. A rather thin elderly woman
sat sewing in a rocking-chair. She did not even look up at the children.

They were full of fun and nonsense, and presently were joined by two
neighbouring girls. They went up by the old church, and then they
wandered to the graveyard. It was a rather neglected place, as country
graveyards were wont to be at that time. Some red clovers were in bloom,
and a few belated buttercups. The trees were rather straggling, a few
magnificent in their age. There were long-armed rose-trees that had done
their best in the earlier season, a few wild roses, pale from growing in
the shade, and the long slender blades of grass fell about in very
weakness. There were some curious inscriptions; there were places where
relatives of several of the children were buried.

"Oh, Hanny, come here," said Cousin Ann. "That Mr. Poe's wife is buried
here. It's the Valentine plot. They're going to take her away sometime.
They're all very poor, you know. She died in the winter. People said she
was beautiful; but,"--Ann lowered her voice,--"they were awful poor, and
it is said she didn't have comfortable things. I should hate to be so
poor; shouldn't you?"

Hanny shuddered. She was glad to get out in the sunshine again with her
few wild flowers in her hand.

Bessie Valentine made them come in and have a chunk of cake, and it was
a chunk indeed. Those who liked had a glass of buttermilk.

Cousin Jennie had gone up to the corner to look for them. Hanny espied
her, and ran forward.

"Oh," she cried, "I've seen the house where Mr. Poe lives. And we went
in the graveyard. Who was the other lady sitting on the porch?"

"That was Mrs. Clemm. I go up there to borrow books; and I like Mr. Poe,
only--well, he is rather unfortunate."

"Was she so beautiful?" asked the child, irrelevantly.

"Mrs. Poe? Yes; I think she must have been. She looked like a small
white wraith--do you know what a wraith is?" smilingly.

"A kind of ghost. And were they very poor?"

"It's a sad story. I think they were proud as well, for any one would
have come in and done any needed thing. They had friends in the city who
used to visit them. Mrs. Clemm was Mrs. Poe's mother and the poet's
aunt; and it is said Annabel Lee means his wife. It's a wild, musical
thing. Every story or poem of his has a curious ghostly sound."

"But--the high-born kinsman--"

The little girl's eyes were vague and puzzled.

"You can't understand it. Poets say queer things. I'm not fond of
poetry, only here and there. And the stories make you shiver. You
wouldn't like them. He has all sorts of books, and he is very generous
with them. We've planned that you are to come up and stay a week with
us. Some of the folks are going away, and there will be plenty of room."

Hanny squeezed her hand. The throng of children ran over the grassy path
from the shop; and they all began to clamour that Polly and Janey
should come up Saturday and go crabbing with them.

Mrs. Odell said she'd see, if they could get their work done in time.

There was a hubbub of good-byes, and the small cavalcade started down
the road.



CHAPTER X

WITH A POET


The city by the sea sung itself in Hanny's brain. The sweet, young,
beautiful wife, ruthlessly torn away, was somewhere in space, among the
stars perhaps, and not in the old graveyard. She was floating on and on
amidst all lovely things and divine fragrances. She could never grow
old; she would never want for anything. Ah, would she not want for the
mother and the poet who loved her?

An incident that had moved her strongly only a few weeks before, was a
strange bit of reminiscence that could hardly be called a story. Ben had
brought home a volume of De Quincey, and "Suspiria de Profundis" was
among the papers. The others were too intellectual to interest her; but
the touching, tender, immeasurable longing for the little sister gone
out of life, filled her inmost soul with an emotion so sacred she could
not talk it over with any one. This was akin to it.

Yet Hanny did not live in the clouds or in vague memories all the time.
Her father drove up the next day, and found she was not homesick; and
her mother was coming up the next week to spend the day; and everybody
was well. She had a great deal to tell him; and she seemed very merry.
He wasn't quite sure about the crabbing expedition; but Mrs. Odell said
there wasn't a mite of danger, for some of the big boys always went
along; and that it was a regular frolic for the children.

So Saturday they put on their oldest clothes. Hanny wore an outgrown
frock of Polly's. Mr. Odell said he would drive them down to the river,
which would save half the walk. He had some business in that direction.

He had the farm-waggon, and put some hay in the bottom, though he
insisted Hanny should sit on the seat with him. They stopped at Fordham,
and took in another relay; and the children were wild with the
unreasoning gladness of youth. Mr. Odell was in an uncommon good-humour,
and took them down the river quite a distance, to High Bridge, and then
up again, when they espied the boys and baskets and the net, which had a
long handle and looked to Hanny like a butterfly-net, only larger.

A motley crew they were. The boys had their trousers rolled above their
knees, and some of the girls took off their shoes and stockings and
waded about in the wet, sedgy grass. There was a little dock where the
boats were tied; and soon two of them were loosened and filled up with a
jolly crew. Big, cheerful Cousin Ben took charge of the little girl, and
would not allow the others to frighten her. Ann was quite a famous hand
on these expeditions.

They rowed out a short distance, and then began business. Oh, the
shrieks and laughter that came from the other boat, when some one dipped
up two hands full of water and dashed it over the others. And it is
strange how much you can make your hands hold at such a time. Hanny was
glad she was not in that boat, when they rocked it up and down. But most
of the children could swim, and they were not in the channel.

"Quick!" exclaimed Cousin Ann, and the net was held out in a twinkling,
Ann drew up a great green fellow with a frightful lot of legs, and he
dropped in the net. They dumped him into a basket, and covered him with
a piece of old fish-net; and the more he struggled to get out, the more
he entangled himself. Hanny felt rather glad he was not down her end of
the boat.

They had brilliant luck for a little while. Then the other boat shifted
about; they had not caught a single crab, and there were loud murmurs of
discontent. The others had the best place.

"You make such a racket you frighten them away," said Ben.

"Can they hear?" asked Hanny.

"I think about everything in this world can see and hear in some
fashion."

They certainly were dreadful looking. The laughter and the exclamations,
the disappointment at losing one, the funny conundrums the children
propounded to one another, and the limp appearance of the voyagers,
partly made amends for the sudden fright every time the great sprawling
things came up. Hanny would not even undertake the capture of one.

The crabs grew wise presently. Not one of them could be aroused to the
faintest curiosity concerning bait. Ben's boat had nineteen, the other
eleven. They rowed up to the little dock, and managed to get them all in
one basket. Jack showed Hanny how you could take hold of a crab, and
render him helpless. It certainly did look funny to see him struggling
with all his might and main, and his numerous legs. The two front ones
were very fierce.

"He could give you an awful pinch with them," said Jack; and he made
believe fling him at a group of girls, who scattered pellmell.

"I suppose the legs are oars, and help him swim," said Hanny.

"And help him grab his prey. He's a sort of savage fellow, and lives on
smaller folks."

Then Ben and Jack went to dig for clams. There were very nice clam and
oyster beds along the river then. There were not many people to disturb
them, and no sewage to starve them out.

Hanny thought planting oysters a very funny idea. They were put in their
beds like other babies.

The boys, and some of the girls, picked up the clams, until they had a
half-bushel basket full. Tony Creese, the black man who did odd jobs,
was to drive down for the "freight;" but he seemed in no hurry. Some of
the boys went in swimming; and Janey Odell did wish she had brought
another frock along. She could swim very well. They waded instead. Ben
walked up to a little bank that, having lain in the sun all day, was
warm and dry, and stretched himself out. Ann was too big to go "larking"
about with the girls, so she and Hanny, and one or two others, sat down
on the soft, sunburned turf.

How beautiful it all was! The sun was going down behind the New Jersey
hills. The little rise of ground between this and the Hudson shut out
the river; but it could not shut out the amethystine splendour. Back of
it all was heaven, to the child's faith. Miss Lois and her sister were
there, and old Mr. Bounett, and the poet's young wife, and ever so many
others. It was only the other side of the clouds, with their scarlet and
gold and green battlements. She could see the ships sailing into port.
She recalled "Pilgrim's Progress," and Christiana going across. In that
moment of ecstasy she could have gone herself.

Tony came down the road singing "Oh, Susannah;" Ben answered "Hillo!"
and shook himself like a great bear. The two baskets were put into the
waggon.

"Now you girls who are too delicate for a long walk, or too much worn
out by your day's toil, had better hop in. Ann, you go and keep an eye
on Hanny. Now who else?"

They were all pretty tired with their racing about, and the three
smallest ones were picked out, as there was but one horse. The others
formed the rear-guard, and marched on behind, with their arms about
each other. They were too tired for even the tempting game of "tag," or
the ambition of running races.

Mr. Odell was waiting at the uncle's, having come around the other way.
Supper was ready; but he thought they had better be "gettin' on," as
mother would wait supper for them.

Hanny was very tired, and went to bed immediately after the meal.

They had some splendid clam-fritters for breakfast. Ben had proposed to
divide the crabs; but Mr. Odell reckoned, "He'd go crabbing the first
leisure day," and was satisfied with part of the clams.

And then, unexpected delight, Stephen and Dolly and the two babies came
up to dinner. Little Stevie captured everybody, he was so merry and
cunning; and Polly wished they could keep him.

"When he gets to be a big boy, and has a school vacation, I'll be very
glad to send him up, I dare say," was the response.

"But, dear me, we'll be big too," said Polly; "and it won't be any fun."

Dolly told her little sister-in-law all the news, and what everybody was
doing. It seemed as if she had been away so long. Mother had spent a day
with Martha, which she had been promising to do ever since Martha was
married.

The little girl almost wanted to go home with them; but no one invited
her, and she would not have been so silly or ungracious as to plead
homesickness, for she really wasn't homesick a bit.

Then, on Tuesday, Joe came up with a letter from Daisy, who had gone to
some German baths, and was drinking water twice as horrid as that at
Saratoga. The things you had to eat were so very queer; but the music
everywhere was perfectly bewitching. Everything was so different. She
was taking lessons of a Fräulein, and had to talk German at the table.
They had been through several churches, and one picture gallery that was
magnificent. A little withered-up old German was giving her some
painting lessons. If Hanny could only be there, she would be quite
content; yet she did think she loved America best.

Hanny was so delighted that her eyes shone, and her cheeks were pink as
a rose-leaf.

But Mrs. Odell said she could notice that her appetite was better, and
she was doing her best to fat her up a little, and make her look like a
country girl.

Mr. Odell took her about with him when he could. There were so many
beautiful places up and down the valley of the Bronx. They went up to
White Plains, and took everybody by surprise. Grandmother up there was
quite feeble now.

Then it happened, rather oddly, that when Cousin Jennie came down for
her, as there was no one scarcely at Fordham but the regular family,
Mrs. Odell was going to have a houseful of relatives from the West. She
just wished they had their new house at such times as these. She could
make a bed on the floor for Janey and Polly, and that would give her two
spare rooms.

The girls didn't feel so badly, as there were two Western cousins of
their age, and they would bring them up to Fordham.

The little girl was not at all tired of her pleasant hosts; but there
was a romantic side to the coming visit that she could not talk over
with Polly and Janey; and she was most famished for reading, as the
Odells were not of the intellectual sort. Mrs. Odell didn't like the
children to handle her parlour books, in their red morocco bindings,
that were spread around on the centre-table.

Hanny's favourite place at the Fordham house was up on the high piazza.
To be sure, it was sunny in the morning; but then Doctor Joe said
sunshine was good for her, and one corner soon grew shady. There was
some one passing up and down continually: the priests from St. John's
College, in their long black coats and queer hats, generally reading as
they walked; the labourers who worked on the railroad; the people going
to the station; and the girls out calling in the afternoons in their
pretty white gowns. There was no Jerome Park for stylish driving.
Indeed, it was a plain little country village, and most of the life
centred about the corner grocery and the blacksmith shop, where men
talked politics and the discovery of California, and discussed the
merits of the heroes of the Mexican War.

She sewed some patchwork for Cousin Jennie, who was making several
bed-quilts, and who had a lover,--a tall, bright-eyed young man who
drove a very handsome horse. Hanny felt quite wise on the subject of
lovers; and though no one said anything special, she understood what the
preparations meant.

"Now," Cousin Jennie said the next afternoon, "I am going up to Mr.
Poe's, to return some books and get others. Will you go along?"

Hanny was very glad. She had seen Mr. N. P. Willis and General Morris,
and some others, on the street; but that wasn't like going to their
houses. The dead young wife lent him a glamour of romance, to her
girlish imagination.

Mrs. Clemm sat on the farther end of the porch. It almost seemed as if
she had not stirred since Hanny caught the first glimpse of her. She
rose, a tall, rather thin woman with a sad, quiet face and a grave
smile; and the two had a little chat.

There was no hall to the house, at least the door opened into the front
room. A half closet stood at one side of the chimney, piled with books
and papers, an old sofa and some chairs, a table in the centre, strewn
with pamphlets and writing-materials, and the poet sitting beside it in
a melancholy pose, marking passages in a book.

He glanced up and spoke. The little girl had an impression of a pallid
face framed in dark, tumbled hair, and luminous eyes that seemed to be
of some other world in their abstracted light.

"You are quite welcome to any of the books, as you well know," said the
poet. "I am glad to have some one interested in them."

Then the white hand went on turning pages and making notes. The little
girl stood by the window, almost expecting the frail ghost to walk down
from the graveyard and enter the door again. Later on, she understood
the impression of weirdness, the almost ghostly stillness of the room;
and she found herself thinking over the poem that had so impressed her.

Fordham, in those days, was neither poetical nor intellectual. That a
man should starve on writing poetry, when there was other work to be
done in the world, seemed rather absurd. In some of the centres,
literature was becoming an honourable employment; but country places had
not emerged from the twilight of respect for brawn rather than brain.

Jennie made her selections, and expressed her obligation. The poet
nodded absently.

Mrs. Clemm rose, as they emerged from the door, and walked to the end of
the porch with them. There was something wonderfully pathetic in the
care-worn face, the reticent air, and gentle voice.

"I wonder if you have a few eggs to spare," she asked, in a hesitating
manner. "My poor Edgar's appetite is so wretched. He has had a bad
spell, and eats next to nothing."

"Yes, I can find you half-a-dozen, I know. Our hens are afflicted a
little with summer laziness," and Jennie smiled. "We have been baking
to-day, and I wish you would accept a loaf of bread. I'll send this
little cousin up with them."

"Oh, don't trouble! I will come down."

"I shall be glad to do it," said Hanny, with a gentle eagerness.

Cousin Jennie put the bread and the eggs,--she found seven,--and part of
a cake, in a little basket, and said, "Run along, Little Red Riding
Hood. There are no wolves to catch you."

They teased Cousin Jennie a little because the tall young man with
bright eyes was named Woolf.

Mrs. Clemm received the little girl's parcel with her usual quiet air,
and thanked her for coming. And before she could hunt up her ever-scanty
purse the child had said Good-evening, and vanished.

Hanny heard the "spells" rather rudely explained a day or two after, and
understood the melancholy shadow that hung about the house. People were
not any more delicate in gossiping about their neighbour's short-comings
then than now, when all the little faults and frailties of heroes are
paraded to the public gaze and comment.

But the exquisite care with which the mother watched over the son of her
heart, made her one of the little girl's heroines later on, when she
could fully appreciate the tender solicitude that tried to shield him
and save him from temptation, when possible, bearing her burthen with
such heroic dignity that she was fain to persuade her own soul that she
covered it from critical eyes. When one woman suffers bravely to the
death, amid untold privation, and another takes up the dropped burthen
with a devotion no anxiety can wear out, is it not proof that there must
have been some charm in the poet seen more clearly by those who loved
him?

There was a new book by Miss Macintosh among those they had brought
home; and this Hanny devoured eagerly, sitting on her high perch, while
the rest were busy in the household routine. In the afternoon, she read
aloud while the others sewed. Sometimes the Major came in to listen; but
he thought there were no novels written nowadays like "The Mysteries of
Udolpho," "The Children of the Abbey," and "The Vicar of Wakefield."

"Oh," said the little girl, "isn't this funny! We have the first volume
of 'The Grumbler' and the second of 'The Grandfather.' I don't believe I
can piece them together," with a bright, mirthful expression.

"And I picked those up myself. No; we are interested in the 'Grumbler'
now and must know what became of him."

They were English novels by a Miss Pickering, long since forgotten,
while less worthy ones are remembered.

"We'll walk up after supper and change them," continued Cousin Jennie.

But visitors came in shortly afterward to stay to supper. People were
not specially invited then; and the hostess did not expect to prepare a
feast on ordinary occasions. So Jennie said Hanny might go up alone, if
she didn't mind.

She started gladly, yet a sense of diffidence oppressed her as she stood
at the door, a half guilty consciousness, as if she had no right to the
secret Mrs. Clemm was trying so assiduously to hide.

The poet was pacing up and down the room; but his pallid face and
strange, shining eyes seemed looking out from some other world. Mrs.
Clemm sat by the window with a magazine in her hand.

Hanny preferred her request timidly.

"Oh, come in and hunt them up. Your cousin is quite welcome to anything.
Then there are some upstairs, though I brought down that pile over in
the corner this very morning."

The corner looked attractive. Hanny went thither, and knelt down on the
checked matting. There were two books of engravings containing portraits
of famous people, some old volumes of verse, some new ones, and
magazines.

The volumes she wanted were not among them. But she exhumed something
else that made her forget the slight, nervous man pacing up and down,
and the woman at the window. Turning the leaves of an old novel that had
lost one cover, she came across the name of one of her heroes, "Richard
of the Lion Heart." She had a passion, just then, for English history.
And there was Bulwer's "White Rose of England," in paper covers with a
Harper imprint.

"Could I take these beside?" she asked, with some hesitation.

He glanced over at them as he came to that end of the room.

"Those old novels? Yes. Do they let you read novels?"

"I read almost anything," and Hanny glanced up with rising colour. "But
there are not so many books up here--I live in New York," she added, by
way of explanation.

A half smile crossed his face, but its melancholy haunted the little
girl long afterward.

Then she went over to the closet, and soon found her missing volumes,
and uttered her gentle Good-afternoon. Mrs. Clemm had folded her sewing,
and came out on the porch where the water-pail stood empty, so she
started to the well.

"Please thank your cousin for her kindness," she said in a soft tone. "I
am glad she is fond of books."

The modern realistic school, or even the analytic school, would flout
Madame Cottin's old novel of "The Saracen" to-day. Perhaps in the year
two thousand the novels of to-day will be wondered at. The next morning,
the little girl was up in her eyrie in the corner of the porch, and
began her story. She was deeply interested in the Crusaders as well.
Richard, Saladin, and his noble and knightly brother Melek held her
spell-bound. She let the patchwork lie unheeded.

Queen Joan, Richard's sister, beautiful and unfortunate in her marriage,
almost a prisoner for years, rescued and taken to the Holy Land in
company with Berengaria, and treated with Oriental suavity and honour,
and loved by Melek Adel, indeed, almost married to him, though history
considers it only as one of the many feints of Eastern diplomacy, roused
all Hanny's youthful ardour. And Saladin's young nephew, taking
knighthood at Richard's hands on Easter morning, was so striking a
picture that the child could not understand why Turks and Christians
should be bitter enemies, when friendships like this could be cemented,
and apparently appreciated by men of such qualities.

She lost interest in the "Grumbler," and I am afraid her mind wandered
as she read aloud. She was really glad that for several days there were
no children to play with. She sat out of doors, and was pretty sure that
would answer Doctor Joe's requirements; and the Major took her out
driving, but she smuggled in her book. She was not quite so pale, though
that might have been due to sun-burn.

She had just finished her enchanting story one morning, and was glancing
idly down the hill, watching the toilers who bent over as if they were
carrying heavy loads, or drawing something behind them. Physical culture
had not yet been applied to the fine art of walking.

A barouche, drawn by two nodding horses, came slowly along. There were
four ladies in it; but one especially attracted the child. She wore a
gown of softest cerulean blue, a bonnet of blue crape with delicate pink
roses, and a large bow of airy tulle tied under her chin. Her long
ringlets, the fashion of the day, drooped about her lovely face, that
smiled and dimpled as she talked. Her hands were daintily gloved, and
one held her parasol up high so she could glance about. Hanny was quite
sure she espied her, for her companion leaned out and looked also.

She left the child in a daze as she went by. Hanny had a secret,
exultant consciousness that she had seen her ideal poet; then she smiled
and wondered if she could write poems. Dolly was quite as pretty, but
she couldn't; and Margaret was handsomer. She could not quite associate
the sad, abstracted man up the road with "Annabel Lee." What a puzzle it
all was!

She went downstairs presently, and was sitting on the area steps
watching Cousin Jennie iron, when the tall figure in her shabby black
hat and veil, which she invariably wore, came up the outer steps. Hanny
ran to open the gate.

Mrs. Clemm was always quietly dignified. It was the intangible good
breeding that distinguished her from the ordinary country-folk. She had
a small tin kettle in her hand, and her manner was apologetic.

"They had some unexpected visitors from the city, dear friends of
Eddie's" (she oftener called him that than any other name, and she often
said "My poor dear Eddie!"). "Could they spare her some milk, and a few
eggs? They had no milk at the store."

"With pleasure," said Jennie, who went to the milk-room, and cast a
glance around to see if there was not something else that would help out
the feast.

The little girl wanted to ask some questions, but she hesitated from
diffidence.

She wondered afterward how the quiet, almost listless woman could
concoct dainty feasts for these illustrious people out of her poverty;
for they were illustrious in their day. Were the wit and poesy and
knowledge the successive desserts, and bright gossip the sparkle of the
Barmecide wine? She thought of the little cottage, when she read of
Madame Scarron among the French wits.

She described them to Cousin Jennie when the tall black figure was going
slowly up the road.

"Yes, they have a good many visitors," said Jennie. "They did last
summer, when poor Mrs. Poe was alive."

"Was _she_ very beautiful?"

"Oh, child, beauty isn't everything!" and Jennie smiled. "Yes; it was
said she was. But she was so thin and pale. She used to sit out there on
the porch, wrapped in a white shawl, with his arm about her, or her head
resting on his shoulder. You see no one knew much about them then, and
they kept so to themselves. Then there is his unfortunate habit, that
you cannot help feeling ought not to belong to a person of his
intelligence. It is a great pity."

Hanny sighed. She was to know a great deal more about the world later
on, and the appreciation that was spread as a garment about the poet
when his life's fitful fever ended.

There was an influx of quite elderly people one afternoon; and Hanny,
gathering up some books, stole up to the little cottage, quite assured
no one would need her, or even miss her.

The corner of books had been "cleared up." In the wide fireplace, there
was a jar of feathery asparagus, and on the table a vase of flowers.
There were a number of pictures, Hanny noticed. She had hardly glanced
about the room before,--the plain, low-ceiled room to which people were
to make pilgrimages as time went on.

The poet sat by the table in a dreamy, indolent mood.

"Did you find what you wanted the other day?" he asked gently.

"Oh, yes! And I have read 'The Saracen.' It interested me so, I couldn't
leave it a moment. I didn't want to like Saladin so much; but I had to.
But I shall never give up Richard."

He smiled a little at that, kindly, cordially, and her heart warmed to
him. The pervasive eyes were so deep and beautiful! In spite of the
pallor and attenuation, the face had a rare charm.

"So Richard is your hero? Well, you will doubtless change your heroes a
good many times before you get through with life. I think I had a boy's
fancy for Saladin once. Yet heroes come to be quite common-place people
after all. I wonder if I have any more that you would like?"

Hanny said they had several books yet, and she was going down to West
Farms in a few days. She wanted to finish "The White Rose of England."

"History in romance,--I dare say that suits young people best."

She stood in a sort of vague uncertainty.

"Well?" in a voice of suggestive inquiry, as if she might ask him
anything.

"Oh!" she cried, summoning all her courage, and flushing as she did so,
"will you please tell me who the pretty lady in blue was, who came up
the other day in the carriage? She looked like a poet!"

He did laugh then, softly, as if laughing was a little strange.

"Is that your idea of a poet? Well, she _is_ one,--an airy, light-winged
poet with dainty conceits, and a charming woman, too. I must tell her
she captured you at sight. That is Frances Sargent Osgood. And beside
her sat Mrs. Gove Nichols, one of the new lights. Stay, I think I can
find a poem or two of Fanny Osgood's for you."

He hunted up two or three magazines. Hanny sat down on the door-sill; it
was so softly, so enchantingly bright out-of-doors, and the room a
little gloomy. She wanted to have a glimpse of sunshine, for Mrs. Osgood
looked as if she belonged to the brighter world.

They were dainty and bright. One was set to music afterward; and the
little girl learned to sing it very prettily:--

    "I've something sweet to tell you,
      And the secret you must keep,
    For remember, if it isn't night,
      I'm talking in my sleep."

Then they talked about poetry. I dare say he was amused at a little girl
whose ideal poem was "Genevieve," by Coleridge, and who knew
"Christobel," "The Ancient Mariner," and "The Lady of the Lake" half by
heart. When, in her young womanhood, she read some of his sharp,
scathing criticisms, she wondered at his sweetness that afternoon. With
a little more courage, she would have asked him what was really meant by
"the high-born kinsman;" but she did not know as it was quite proper to
talk to him about his own verses.

The wood-robins were singing in the tall trees, and the sun made dancing
shadows on the stoop that was always clean as a floor. Mrs. Clemm
brought her splint rocker out, and begged her to try it, and asked after
the cousins, sending thanks for the cake that she had found in her
basket, and the pot-cheese that had proved such a treat to her visitors.

She thanked Mrs. Clemm prettily for the chair, but said she must go
home. The poet nodded. He had taken up his pen then, and she wondered
what the spell was like that inspired a poem.

The next forenoon, they saw Mr. Poe going down to the station. Cousin
Jennie shook her head; and the stout old Major said, "It was a pity Mrs.
Clemm couldn't keep him at home steadily."

She was never to see him again; but when she heard of his tragic death,
her heart ached for the poor desolate mother.



CHAPTER XI

THE KING OF TERRORS


They all admitted that Hanny had improved a good deal. She seemed to
have grown every way. Her mother was sure she must let her skirts down;
and her last winter's frocks were too tight about the shoulders, and too
short in the sleeves. She had absolutely gained five pounds, and her
little face had rounded out. But still she was smaller than most girls
of her age.

She had so much to talk about that her mother said she was a regular
little gossip. Her father liked to hear about grandmother and the
kindly, large-hearted Major. She had found out that when grandmother was
a young girl her name was Hannah Underhill, now it was Horton. So many
elderly people had been visiting at Fordham, and her father knew most of
them. But Ben and Doctor Joe were interested in the poet Poe; Joe knew
more about him than he confessed to his little sister.

Oh, how glad she was to get back to school! There were so many things to
learn. But Dolly had to have her one Saturday; and Mrs. French came over
and took her to the house Beautiful. Ben was quite in love with Mrs.
French. And now they were filling up the conservatory for winter
blooming; and Hanny wished _they_ could have some house-flowers. Her
mother had hydrangeas and an oleander; but they were put in the end of
the stable for winter.

Now and then she went up to Margaret's to stay all night. Daisy was
growing to be almost as lovely as Stevie had been; and though she did
not suggest Daisy Jasper, the name always recalled her dear friend. And
Stevie was quite a big boy. He was getting some rough ways, too, and
wanted to drive Hanny about for a horse, just as he did papa.
Great-grandmother Van Kortland had knit him some beautiful horse-lines.

And Annie was such a sweet little thing! Stevie wished she was a little
brother, "'tause dirls ain't no dood," he said. "You'm dot to be so
tareful." He talked quite crooked, and could not pronounce "g" at all.
He said "umbebella" and "peaapoket" and "tea-tettletel." Philadelphia
always floored him. But then he had been Hanny's first love, and she
could never forget the Christmas morning when he came.

There had been another exciting matter as well, and this was a
presidential election. Zachary Taylor, Old Rough and Ready, as he was
called, had become a great hero to her. She found that he had served
gallantly in the War of 1812, fought against the mighty Tecumseh, and
been in the Black Hawk War, beside all the late Mexican engagements,
where he had so distinguished himself. At the nomination, she had been a
little sorry to have her old favourite Harry Clay superseded, and
General Scott was a war-veteran as well. Then there had been famous
Daniel Webster, whose speeches were the favourite of school-boys, though
they had not banished Patrick Henry. But the real race was between Cass,
Van Buren, Charles Francis Adams and himself; and Old Rough and Ready
won. She wore a rough-and-ready straw bonnet this fall; all the girls
did.

Margaret agitated the school question again. Hanny ought to be making
some useful friends, and though the "First Avenue and First Street girls
might be very nice--"

"Nonsense!" exclaimed Mrs. Underhill. "She's too little to be sent so
far off. And I don't want any lovers put in her head this many a year."

Margaret was getting to be rather aristocratic. She kept her whole house
now, and had a maid-servant beside the coloured "boy." Some stylish
people were building up-town. Dr. Hoffman had a good many friends, and
he was very proud of his handsome wife. But Mrs. Underhill sometimes
said, in the bosom of her family, that Margaret "put on airs."

Hanny was well satisfied, and found a great many things to learn at Mrs.
Craven's.

Then Mr. Theodore Whitney came home, and published a book of travel
letters. And another young man, one Bayard Taylor, had been abroad and
seen all of Europe with knapsack and staff, and had published his "Views
Afoot." Ben was so interested. He often stopped at the Whitneys for
supper and a talk.

Nora grew like a weed, and developed a good deal of musical ability.
They had a steady servant now; and Mrs. Whitney was more "intellectual"
than ever, and beginning to be proud of Delia's stories. She was
generally paid for them; although young writers of that day were
satisfied with the chance of being heard of, and read. She was getting
quite a library together, and had her corner of the back parlour, which
Mr. Theodore took possession of at once. He had brought home some fine
engravings and studies, and half-a-dozen different "Virgins." The aspect
of the rooms changed altogether. Delia began to cultivate quite a
"circle."

She and Ben were splendid comrades. She had plans for going abroad also;
and he entered into them with great zeal. She "didn't suppose she could
pay her way like The.; but she was saving up her money for that object."
Aunt Clem was real good to her; and when her quarterly allowance was
paid she often dropped five dollars into Dele's bank.

"I don't know how much there is, and I am not going to open it under two
years. Of course a woman couldn't take matters as Bayard Taylor did; but
if she was economical and found cheap places! I do wonder if she could
go alone?"

Tourists' parties had not been invented, though men occasionally
clubbed together and obtained accommodations more cheaply.

"Two years," returned Ben, musingly.

Dele was certainly growing prettier. Her hair wasn't even Titian colour
now, but a decided bright brown, and the curly roughness seemed just to
suit her. Then the freckles were disappearing. He didn't know as
freckles spoiled any one's complexion when it had that peachy softness
and the kind of creamy look. If her mouth was wide, it had some pretty
curves, and her teeth were beautiful. A Grecian nose would take all the
piquancy out of her face.

"It may be a little more than two years," considered Delia, "and The.
may start off again. Oh, I'm pretty sure to go some time!"

"I've quite made up _my_ mind to go some time," Ben announced gravely,
then laughed.

"It would be such fun to go together," said Dele, in her harum-scarum
fashion, without a thought of any future contingency. "I'll try to make
The. wait until I get rich enough."

Ben went home thinking what rare fun it would be to travel with some one
who saw the comical side of everything, and who could extract pleasure
straight along, as a bee could gather up honey. He enjoyed the fun
mightily, but he could not always bring it to pass. Joe and Jim had a
humourous side; but John had always been grave and steady-going. Ben
wanted some one to stir up the spirit of fun, and then he did his best
to keep it going. But he always had so much of the past seething in his
brain. The world had such a wonderful history! He was almost afraid that
now, when there was no war on hand, only Indian skirmishes, it would
grow common-place. There were no breathless romances about it, as there
were about Europe and Asia, where such conquerors as Tamerlane, Genghis
Khan, Alexander and Philip and Attila, Charlemagne and Napoleon had
stalked across the world as it was known then. Not that Ben had any
soldierly ambitions, but to youth everyday plodding along seems
unheroic.

The pleasant neighbourhood-life went on, though it must be confessed
that Hanny often longed for Daisy Jasper. Mr. Jasper had returned; and
the plan was now that the others might stay abroad two or three years.
Daisy had improved wonderfully at the baths. They would spend the winter
at Naples, and go back to Germany in the summer. Daisy was taking
lessons in music and painting and Italian.

She wrote about herself to Hanny. She only practised an hour a day, and
could stand it very well. Everything was so queer and foreign, though
often very beautiful. But the operas were enchanting beyond description.

"I want to learn to play a little for myself," she wrote. "And I find I
have quite a good voice. I don't want to drop behind you all, and have
you ashamed of me when I come back, for I couldn't spend a whole
lifetime here, unless I had you, Hanny, and dear Doctor Joe. Tell me
everything about everybody."

Hanny was always two or three days answering the letters. There were new
girls in school to talk about, and the many things the others were
doing. Charles and Jim were at the Deans so much; Mr. Dean was so
interested in them, and Mrs. Dean made it so pleasant! Mrs. Reed was
induced to come over now and then. She had softened considerably; but
she had never regained her strength, and sometimes she felt quite
useless, she declared to Mr. Reed. But he thought they had never been so
happy or comfortable.

That left Hanny quite alone. Josie seemed such a very large girl, and
she classed Hanny and Tudie as "the children." Tudie was a good deal
engrossed with her first large piece of worsted work. Not that Hanny was
lonely! She read to her father when lessons were done, or he came
upstairs to hear her play. She was learning some of the old-fashioned
songs that he had loved in his youth, though I think sometimes he leaned
his head against the high back of his chair and went sound asleep.

Everybody was always wanting her; and her mother said she was a sad
little gad-about. Even John's wife insisted upon a share of her.
Cleanthe wasn't bright and full of fun like Dolly, but she was very fond
of the little girl, and both she and John considered it a great treat to
have her come in to tea.

There was a grand time when Zachary Taylor was inaugurated. Stephen and
Dolly and the Doctor and Margaret went on to Washington with many
others. They were fain to take Hanny.

"Such a crowd is no place for children," said Mrs. Underhill. "There'll
be presidents likely, if the world should stand, and she'll have chances
to go when the journey will do her more good."

Ben went with Mr. Whitney. And at the eleventh hour, Theodore gave in
and said Delia might go, and she needn't rob her bank either.

Oh, what a splendid time they had! Washington has changed wonderfully
since then; but the White House and some of the government buildings are
just the same. Ben was a little startled at the splendour. Mr. Theodore
was much engrossed with some friends, so Ben and Delia rambled about,
lost themselves, and came to light in out-of-the-way places, hunted up
famous spots, and rehearsed old-time stories of brave men and notable
women. The sail down the Potomac was delightful. There was Alexandria
and Mount Vernon and Richmond, all of which were to become a hundred
times more famous in the course of a few years. Ben went over this
youthful trip, so full of delight, many a time when, as a soldier, he
slept under the stars, not knowing what the morrow would bring.

They were just a big boy and girl, in search of fun and knowledge, and
they found plenty of both. Ben made up his mind that, when he did go
abroad, Delia certainly should be his companion.

Margaret and her husband went to Baltimore at once, as they were not
partial to crowds; and Dolly felt that she must get back to the
children. But Mr. Theodore had some business on hand, so the young
people had their holiday lengthened.

Still the season in New York had been a rather brilliant one, with
various noted singers. An opera troupe from Havana had been giving some
famous operas; and Hanny was delighted to hear "La Somnambula," because
now she could compare notes with Daisy Jasper.

And in May, the famous rivalry between two leading theatres, that
culminated in a great riot, occurred. Edwin Forrest, the great tragedian
of that day, and many a year later, and Macready, a celebrated English
actor, seemed almost pitted against each other in the same play, Hamlet.
A certain party coming into existence had taken for its watchword
Americanism of a rather narrow sort, and was protesting against all
foreign influence. Macready had played, and then gone to fulfil another
engagement, but was to return and play again. Some of the hot heads
decided he should not; and though all precautions were taken, the
feeling was that the better sense of the community would prevent any
absolute disturbance. But the mob had grown larger and stronger in their
narrow prejudice, and, before the play was half through, an onslaught
was made on the opera-house. The rioters were in such force that the
famous Seventh Regiment had to be called out. It was a night of terror
and tragedy, and the whole city was wild with alarm. So serious did it
become, that it was not quelled without bloodshed; and for days the
whole city seemed amazed that such a thing could have happened.

But before the surprise and regret had died away, a sudden sound of
alarm ran through the city, in curiously muffled tones that blanched the
bravest faces,--a visitant, then feared beyond measure, that science had
not been able to cope with. People spoke of it with bated breath. It was
not simply among the poor and destitute, or those indifferent to
cleanliness and order, but it spread everywhere,--the dreaded,
mysterious cholera.

The older people remembered the scourge of almost twenty years before,
and many of them prepared to fly to places of safety. The plague spot of
the city was then the old Five Points, where the lowest and poorest,
beggars and thieves, and sometimes murderers, had crowded in until it
was a nest to be shunned and feared. Through this tract the plague swept
like wildfire.

Margaret had accepted the urgent invitation of the cousins at Tarrytown,
and gone thither with her baby, insisting also upon taking her little
sister. Father Underhill was glad to have her out of danger, and was
fain to persuade his wife to follow.

"No," she said stoutly; "Joe must remain; and you and Stephen cannot run
away from business. With Margaret and Hanny safe, I shall stay to keep
watch over the rest of you. I may be needed."

Dolly had taken her two children up to her sisters', who lived on the
Hudson near Fort Washington. Stephen could drive up every day or two
with news of everybody.

It did not seem at all alarming up at the Morgan's rural home. True,
Cousin Famie was aging fast, and had grown more feeble than her years
really warranted. Mrs. Eustis was quite the head of the house, and very
bright and chatty, with a rather romantic turn of mind, just as fond of
reading as some of the younger folks.

And it seemed to them as if the world was quite full of famous people
then. For beside Cooper and Irving, there were Prescott's splendid
histories, that were full of romance. And for story-writers, Miss
Leslie, who was entertaining magazine-readers, and Miss Sedgwick and
Lydia Maria Child. Then there was Hanny's favourite Mrs. Osgood, Alice
Carey, and Mrs. Welby coming into notice, and Longfellow, Hawthorne and
Emerson. The Doctor brought them up the new magazines, and said
everybody kept well. Ben came up and stayed a week, and added to their
stock of books.

They went down to Sleepy Hollow, though it had not become so famous for
pilgrimages. Mr. Irving had come home from Madrid, and friends dropped
in upon him. He always had a delightful welcome for them. They used to
sit out on the old porch and talk; or, when there were no guests, his
two nieces and some of his brothers' kept him company.

Ben summoned up courage and went down to see the charming man, beloved
of so many friends, taking his little sister with him. What a
delightful hour it was! Hanny was too shy to talk much, although she had
been so brave on the poet's old stoop at Fordham. Perhaps, really, there
was no opportunity, Ben kept the floor so entirely. They went in and
looked at the drawings from Rip Van Winkle and Ichabod Crane and
Katrina. But she still loved the old history that had charmed her so at
first, and she would have given him her child's adoration freely, if he
had written nothing else.

Ben had already seen a number of notable people. They often came in at
the Harpers'. He used to talk them over with Delia; and he thought now
what a fascinating story he should have to tell her.

The next day they went over to see grandmother and Uncle David. Jim was
up making a visit. His mother preferred to have him out of danger. He
and Ben were to go down to Yonkers; and though they were loth to spare
the little girl, she went back to Tarrytown.

It was October before the Doctor would let Margaret return to the city.
Daisy had grown so much, and was talking in a cunning, broken fashion.
Mrs. Underhill had made two brief visits; and though she seemed rather
nervous for her, she declared, "She had been very well all summer, and
that they had a great deal to be thankful for. She couldn't have left
father and the boys."

She had never been so demonstrative to Hanny, much as she had loved her.
She kept one arm around her, and could hardly bear her out of her
sight.

"Had she been content, and not made any trouble, and waited upon Cousin
Famie, and helped all she could? She was such a large girl now, and
ought to be useful."

Hanny smiled, and kissed her mother, and said: "She had tried to do her
best. And she had been very, very happy."

"Cousin Margaret, I do wonder if you appreciate that child," said
Roseann, when Hanny had gone out on the porch to have a romp with little
Daisy. "She's such a smart little thing, and not a bit set up about it.
I've been clear beat to see how she understands books, and people, too.
And she's so industrious and pleasant-tempered. She makes me think of
Grandmother Underhill and Aunt Eunice. I do hope you'll be able to keep
her. It's a providential mercy she hasn't been in the city all summer.
The cholera has been just awful! I don't see how you had the courage to
stay."

"My sons were there." The tears came to Mrs. Underhill's eyes. "And
though they were spared, they often needed me. No one really can know
what it was, unless they have been through it. Joe came home one night
so worn out that he stayed in bed all the next day. I just prayed every
moment; I felt as if I'd never prayed before. And there was all of
John's trouble. Yes; many a one has been called upon to part with their
nearest and dearest."

John Underhill's wife had lost both father and mother, within
twenty-four hours of each other. Then Cleanthe's little baby had been
born dead; and they had to move her to Mother Underhill's, more dead
than alive; but good care had at last restored her. The old Archer
cousins in Henry Street had gone; and many another among friends and
relatives.

They did not tell Hanny until she came home who had gone out of the
neighbourhood. Mrs. Reed had been among the first. She was getting ready
to go away with Charles, when the summons came. But the greatest sorrow
of all to her was the loss of Tudie Dean. She had been rather drooping
for several days; and one night Doctor Joe had been summoned, but in
vain. Two of the prettiest of the little Jewish children who had come to
the Whitney house were buried on the same day.

Cleanthe was still at home, as she called her mother-in-law's house. She
was very pale and wan, and just hugged Hanny to her heart, and cried
over her.

Charlie Reed sorrowed deeply for his mother.

"I don't just know how it came about," he said tremulously; "but we were
getting to be such friends; she took such a real interest in my studies;
and she seemed to want father to be happy in the things he liked. He's
most broken-hearted over it; and the house seems dreadful! Cousin Jane
advises father to break up and board; I think she's kind of nervous, and
wants a change. Oh, what a terrible time it has been; I am glad you
were away. And poor little Tudie Dean!"

They both cried over her. And when she went in to see Josie, she was
almost heart-broken; for Josie looked so strange and grown-up, and was
so grave.

Mrs. Dean pressed her to her heart.

"Thank God, my little dear," she exclaimed, "that your mother hasn't to
sorrow over any loss. Your brother has been heroic; and there was one
time when we were all afraid. He was so dead-tired that I know he
couldn't have lived if it had been cholera. The doctors were all heroes;
and many of them have given their lives."

Yet the world went on, over the thousands who had dropped out of it.
Business resumed its sway; even amusements started up. But there were
many sad households.

And though the Underhills had not taken Cleanthe to their hearts with
quite the fervor Dolly had awakened, they loved her very tenderly now;
and she seemed to slip in among them with a new and closer bond.

There would be a good deal of business to settle. John thought it better
to look about for a new partner. Mr. Bradley had left quite a fortune
for the times. He had been investing in up-town property, and John
thought it would be wise to build, and sell or rent as his wife desired.
The old home was dismantled, the best of the furniture stored for
further use.

He tried to persuade his father to go farther up-town. Joe was also a
factor in this matter.

For though the cholera had spared Dr. Fitch, the infirmities of age and
hard work had overtaken him. A nephew who had recently graduated, and
had the prestige of the same name, was anxious to take the practice. Joe
felt as if circumstances were shaping a change for him; and he was ready
now to take up a life of his own.

Then the Deans sold, and were to go up a little farther. Sometime, and
before many years, there would be street-cars, instead of the slow,
awkward stages, and people could get to and fro more rapidly. The trend
was unmistakably up-town.

Mr. Reed hired out his house furnished, and went over to the Deans to
board.

It seemed to Hanny that no one was quite the same. Nora Whitney was
almost a head taller than Hanny, and was getting to be a very stylish
girl. Her voice was considered promising, and was being cultivated. But
poor old Pussy Gray had rounded out his life, and slept under a great
white rosebush at the end of the yard. Mrs. Whitney's hair was nearly
all white, and she was a very pretty woman. Mr. Theodore was showing
silver in both hair and beard; but Delia changed very little. Aunt Clem
went on living in her serene and cheerful fashion.

And then the bells rang out for the mid-century, 1850! How wonderful it
seemed.

"I wonder if any one of us will live to nineteen hundred," questioned
Hanny, with a strange thrill of awe in her voice.

"I don't suppose I will," replied her father; "but some of you may.
Why, even Stephen wouldn't be much above eighty; and you'll be a little
past sixty!" He laughed with a mellow, amused sound. "And all you young
people of to-day will be telling your grandchildren how New York looked
at the half-century mark. Well, it has made rapid strides since eighteen
hundred. I sometimes wonder what there is to happen next. We have steam
on land and water. We have discovered Eldorado, and invented the
telegraph; and there are people figuring on laying one across the ocean.
That may come in your day."

"And a sewing-machine," added the little girl, smilingly.

The sewing-machine was attracting a good deal of attention now, and
making itself a useful factor.

But to live to see nineteen hundred! That would be like discovering the
fountain of perpetual youth.



CHAPTER XII

UP-TOWN


There had been so many delightful things in First Street, the little
girl thought at first it would almost break her heart to go away. Her
father, with the inertia of coming years, hated to be disturbed.

"I hoped, when we did make any change, we would build on the old place,"
he said. "I'd like country life again. But I am getting too old to farm;
and none of the boys care about it. If George had stayed at home," and
Father Underhill sighed.

George had not yet found his bonanza. There was gold in plenty in that
wonderful country. There were hardships, too. He kept those to tell of
in after years. It was a wild, rough, marvellous life; and every man of
them was waiting for a run of luck, that he might go East with his pile.
Meanwhile cities were begun.

Mrs. Underhill sighed a little also, in an undecided fashion. All the
children were here, and surely they could not go away and leave them
behind. The attractive, rural aspect of Yonkers had changed, or was it
that she had changed? Some of her old friends had gone to new homes
some had died. Then she had grown so accustomed to the stirring life of
the city.

"No, we should not want to go alone," she said.

"Steve's a bright business-man. John's long-headed, if he isn't quite so
brilliant. Ben will be all for books and travel. And Jim--well, it's
odd, but there won't be a farmer among them."

"No," returned their mother, not knowing whether to be glad or sorry.

"Then farming is changing. And the near-by places are turning into
towns. What the next half of the century will bring--"

Since there was no prospect of the homestead, they allowed themselves to
be persuaded to join the migration. Foreigners were crowding them a
little. There was a finer, freer air up-town.

The Deans suited themselves, and Mr. Reed and Charles went with them.
Charles was now a tall, fair young fellow, rather grave from the shock
of the loss of his mother, intensified perhaps by his sympathy with Mrs.
Dean and Josie. It was a great comfort to keep together.

John looked up a new home; but Cleanthe, with her arms around Mrs.
Underhill's neck, said, in a broken sort of tone:--

"Oh, you must be somewhere near us! I don't feel as if I could live, if
I did not see you every day. I have no mother but you."

Twentieth Street seemed a long way up, to be sure. But there was an odd,
rather oldish house, with a two-story ell that seemed to have been added
as an after-thought. There was a stable and quite a garden. It had been
considered rather a country house in its inception.

Joe insisted that it was just the thing. He could have an office and a
library, and a sleeping-room overhead, without disturbing the family.

Mrs. Underhill declared there was twice too much room; and if any of the
other boys should marry and go away--

"There's only Ben. I am a fixture; and it will be years before Jim
reaches that tempting period. Oh, I think you need not worry!" comforted
the Doctor.

Hanny was glad to go with everybody else. They had one sad sweet time at
the Deans, talking over old days and the tea in the back-yard, when
there had been Nora and the pussy, and the one who was not. It was
rather sad to outgrow childhood. Ah, how merry they had been! What a
simple idyllic memory this was to be for all her later years! Mrs. Reed
always lived in First Street to her; and Tudie Dean used to go up and
down the street, a blessed, beautiful ghost. The little girl was quite
sure she would not be afraid to clasp her white hand, if she should meet
her wandering about those sacred precincts. She could not have put her
idea into Longfellow's beautiful lines; but it haunted her in the same
shape of remembrance.

    "All houses wherein men have lived and died
        Are haunted houses."

They went down to the Jasper house also. There had been a family of
children to tramp over the flower-beds and leave debris about. There
was no pretty striped awning, no wheeling-chair, no slim, picturesque
negro lad, and no ladies in light lawns sitting about. It looked
common-place.

"We can write Ichabod on it," said Charles, half regretfully.

Hanny asked Joe why they should; and he showed her the verse, "Thy glory
has departed."

"The glory has departed from the whole street," she said, glancing
around. The new-comers were of a different class. No one swept the
debris up to the crown of the street any more; and the city
street-sweepers were infrequent visitors.

"It will be beginning all over again," Dr. Hoffman said to his
brother-in-law. "It seems a pity to waste so much endeavour. Yet if you
_can_ wait, the practice will be better worth while."

"It wouldn't be the fair thing to crowd in on young Dr. Fitch. He did
suggest a partnership, but I thought I would rather strike out for
myself. And I prefer having all my interests at home. Mother begins to
miss the children that have gone out; and there were so many of us."

When Mrs. Underhill looked back, she always thought those early years in
First Street were among the happiest of her life. They were broader and
richer than the first wedded years. They could not keep together always.
She wanted her children to know the sweetness of life and love. Steve
and Margaret were very happy. John and his wife had supped of sorrow;
but they were young and had each other; and children would come to
restore beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning.

She was delighted with Joe's decision. That night, when Joe had come
home a very ghost of himself, and dropped down on Hanny's bed, because
he hadn't strength to go up another pair of stairs, and she had clasped
her arms about him and cried, in her terror: "Oh, Joe, my dear son, is
it cholera?" had been an awful moment for her.

"No, mother dear; but if I can't have a few hours' rest, I shall die of
fatigue. Just let me sleep, but watch me well."

She had sat beside him the rest of the night, from midnight to morning,
counting his pulse now and then, which showed no indication of collapse.
Other mothers had their sons snatched from them,--mothers who were
tender and worthy, and who loved as fervently as she did.

When he awoke at the next noon, she felt as if he had been given back to
her out of a great danger. And she was glad now to have him plan for the
home-interest, glad there would be several years before she was called
upon to share him with any other woman.

So they said good-bye to the old house again, and placed their household
gods in a new home. They had gone farther than any of the others, though
they were nearer Margaret and Dolly. The Deans were lower down and on
Second Avenue. Up above them were great open spaces. They had two lots,
which gave them a grassy space beside the drive. The lot being deeper
than usual, they could have a little garden where the fruit-trees did
not shade. There was a tall, gnarled old pear-tree, and they found it
bore excellent fruit. Right by the porch, in a lovely southern exposure,
was a delicious nectarine.

The little girl was deeply interested in Joe's house, as she began to
call it. A door opened from the main hall, and one quite outside from
the flagged path. That would be the patients' entrance, when they began
to come. Joe went up to Yonkers and exhumed some old furniture. There
was a queer, brass-studded, leather-covered sofa, with high roll arms,
and a roll at the back that suggested a pillow. There were two small
spindle-legged tables; some high-backed, oaken chairs, rudely carved,
and almost black with age; and a curious old _escritoire_ that was said
to have come from France with the French grandmother who had landed with
the emigrants at New Rochelle.

His office was plainly appointed, with an oil-cloth on the floor, a row
of shelves for jars of medicines; for even then many doctors compounded
their own prescriptions. There was a plain business-desk, a table, and
some chairs, and a small book-case. All the odd old things were to go in
his sitting-room.

Across one end, he had it filled in with book-shelves. One corner was
for the little girl. And there was to be a special chair for her, so she
could come in and study her lessons, or read or talk to her dear Doctor
Joe.

Mrs. French made a splendid addition to the room in a large Oriental rug
that Doctor Joe valued more highly as the years went on. For then we
were getting bright-hued carpets from French and English looms, and
these dull old things were not in any great favour. Only it was so thick
and soft, the little girl said it was good enough for a bed.

Joe laughed. "I daresay I shall take many a nap on it. You must make me
a nice pillow-cushion, out of some of your bits of silk."

People made real sensible patchwork then, or worked a cover in worsted,
with perhaps a pretty bunch of flowers.

The house had a basement-kitchen at the back, and a dumb-waiter like
Margaret's. Mrs. Underhill thought at first she shouldn't like it. There
was a spacious area, which made Hanny think of Mrs. Dean's in First
Street, where they used to play tea.

It took a long while to get settled, somehow. Ben thought it a great way
up-town; and he often went to the Whitneys to tea, when he wanted his
evening. Jim grumbled a little, too; there were no nice fellows around.
Joe insisted that he had better not hunt up any, but pay strict
attention to his studies, for he was falling dreadfully behind. But when
Jim had to work or study, he went at it with all his might and main, and
generally managed to catch up.

The little girl and her father were perhaps the best pleased. He liked
the little garden spot. He was not confining himself very closely to
business now. There were so many pretty walks around, for it was still
quite rural, and you could find a few wild flowers. There was another
very amusing feature farther up-town, and that was the "squatters," with
their pigs and goats and geese, and their rich, wonderful brogue, their
odd attire, which was in the same style as when they landed. Connemara
cloaks had not then attracted the fashionable eye; but the women seemed
to wear them to keep out both heat and cold. Red, green, and plaided
seemed the favourites. The wide cap-ruffles caught the breeze, for one
always found a breeze in this vicinity.

The little girl's happiness was rendered complete by the gift of a
beautiful Maltese kitten about half-grown. It had a black nose, and
black pads to its feet, and a fashion of pricking up its small ears like
a dog. There was a great discussion about a name; and Joe suggested
"Major," as she was still fond of military heroes.

One evening Ben said: "Jim, the Whitneys are going over into Jersey on
an exploring expedition, to view some curious old places, Cockloft Hall
among them. Don't you want to go?"

Jim glanced up lazily. The boys were to play ball, as they often did, on
Saturday afternoon.

"Oh, that's the place where the Salmagundi Club used to meet," cried
Hanny, with eager interest. "It is in Newark."

"Yes; and there's another queer nest on the Passaic where a great
sportsman lives, Henry William Herbert, the Frank Forrester of some
stirring adventures. Mr. Whitney is to see him. And there are some other
old haunts; Delia was looking them up,--the Kearny house, and an old
place that was once used as a sort of fort."

"Dele Whitney goes round just like a boy!" said Jim, disdainfully.

"Well, why shouldn't she go with her brother?"

"Oh, Ben, can't I go with you?" pleaded Hanny.

"Jersey's a queer sort of State," said Jim, teasingly. "The Blue Laws
are still in operation. You are not allowed to stay out after dark."

"Are they printed in blue? And you don't mean to stay out after dark, do
you, Ben?"

Hanny's expression was so simply honest they all laughed, which rather
disconcerted her.

"It is because you feel pretty blue when you have to obey them; and
Jersey is out of the United States."

"It just isn't, Mr. Jim!" cried Hanny, indignantly. "It's one of the
Middle States."

It was quite the fashion then to laugh at New Jersey, in spite of the
geography; though even at that remote date New Jersey peaches were held
in high esteem.

"But if you went with Dele Whitney, we shouldn't know when to look for
you--hardly where," and Jim winked.

That was an allusion to an old visit at the Museum, when they stayed all
the evening, for the same admittance.

"I've half suspected you were the ringleader of that scheme, Jim," said
his doctor-brother. "I have a mind to go. One good thing about the
Whitneys is that you can invite yourself, and no one takes umbrage."

"Oh, do go!" said Ben; and Hanny came around to give his hand a tender,
persuasive squeeze. "I haven't explored the State very much, but it has
some curious features. The magnolia and many Southern flowers grow
there. I believe almost every kind of mineral, even to gold, is found in
the State. And it is rich in historic lore."

"There was Valley Forge," said Hanny, softly.

"Yes, the Delaware River is beautiful. And the Passaic winds half around
the State. It is twenty-seven miles by water,--a delightful sail we must
take some time, Hanny."

"We shouldn't have time for that now. We are to start at one. Delia'll
be glad enough to have you go, Hanny."

"Then you may count on us," returned Joe.

"Well, I'll take the ball game," said Jim.

Mrs. Underhill had been settling on a final negative. She had a little
feeling about Delia Whitney; she could not quite approve of grown girls
running about so much with boys. And she thought if she was going to set
up for a genius, she ought to be delicate and refined. But Joe always
carried the day, and she could trust her darling with him.

It was Margaret's Saturday, so Hanny ran around in the morning to tell
her of the new arrangements. They were to meet the Whitneys at
Courtlandt Street, so they had an early lunch, and started in good time.
Hanny was so interested in everything that she was a charming companion.

It seemed queer that Mr. Whitney could remember when there was no
railroad, and you travelled mostly by stage-coaches. It had cost almost
a quarter then, with the ferriage and toll-gates, if you walked to
Newark. And now you could go through to Washington on the train.

She thought it quite a fearful thing to go through the Harlem tunnel;
but here there was a road cut through great, high, frowning rocks that
made you feel as if you were in a dungeon. Then a long, level stretch of
salt meadows with ditches cut across them, that suggested a vague idea
of Holland. We did not know the world quite so well then.

Newark, in those days, was a sort of country town with country roads in
all directions. At intervals, a stage went up Broad Street, which was
handsome and wide and lined with stately trees. They thought it best to
wait awhile for this, lest Hanny should get too tired.

"But you can't half see," declared Delia.

"When we come to the curiosities, we will get out," said Mr. Whitney.
"We can't afford to miss them."

They passed a pretty park full of magnificent elms, with an old grey
stone church standing in it, one of the oldest churches in the State.
There were a number of stores, interspersed with private dwellings, and
everything wore a sort of leisurely aspect. A little farther up was
another park,--commons, they were called then. The modest old houses and
large gardens and fields gave it a still more complete country aspect.

The stage stopped at a tavern where some people were waiting. The sign
was "The Black Horse Tavern."

"We will get out and begin our adventures," said Mr. Whitney, smilingly.
"This little sort of creek was called First River. I dare say in past
days it came rushing over the hill in quite a wild way."

"Is there a Second River?" asked Delia, mirthfully.

"Indeed there is, at Belleville. There used to be an old mill
hereabouts, and this was the mill brook. Once or twice, in a freshet,
the stream has risen so that it swept the bridge away."

"It's meek enough now," said Ben. "Black Horse Tavern! That ought to be
in a book."

It was a small one-story building, looking very old even then. Over
opposite, a pretty house stood on a slight elevation, that dated back to
1820, with its sloping lawn and green fields, its churn and bright
milkpans standing out in the sunshine.

"We shall have to go round, as the frogs advise," said Mr. Whitney,
looking about him with an air of consideration. "We might get through
some of these driveways; but there seems to be no regular street."

"And if we go round?" commented Delia, questioningly.

"We go straight up this road until we come to a winding path called the
Gully, then down to the river, where we shall find Herbert's, thence
down the river to Cockloft Hall. But we will return by the upper
railroad, as we shall be near that."

"Come on, then," said Dele, laughingly, when her brother had ended his
explanations, "if you _can_ go straight on a crooked road; and if Hanny
gets tired, Ben and I will make a chair and carry her."

Joe smiled down at his little sister. He had linked his arm within hers.
Ben and Delia were fond of falling behind. They were so merry, that
Hanny was a little curious to know what they found to laugh about. It
does not take much to amuse healthy young people before their tastes
become complicated.

The old road wound a little, and had the curves that prove no one horse
or man ever walks in a straight line. But, oh, how beautiful it was with
the fruit-trees and shrubbery in bloom, wild flowers, and stretches of
meadow, where cows were pastured, and here and there a small flock of
sheep! Up above, on the brow of a hill, a wooded background gave it a
still more picturesque appearance.

They passed an old stone house on the west side that was really a
Revolutionary relic. The stone ran up to the eaves; but the two gables
were of timber. It was on quite a bit of hill then, and had broken stone
steps up to the first terrace, where great clumps of brownish yellow
lilies were in bloom. When strolling parties of British soldiery went
marauding about, the residents of this vicinity used to flee to the old
Plum house as a place of refuge. The heavy double doors and wooden
shutters could not well be battered down, though bullet-marks could be
traced here and there.

A Captain Alden lived in it now, who was himself quite a character. He
had been in the British navy, with Admiral Nelson's command. When his
time in the service ended, he had shipped with what he understood was a
merchant vessel, but on learning it was a slaver, bound for Africa to
gather up a human cargo, he sprang overboard, when he saw a vessel
passing that halted for his signal. Several shots were fired at him,
which he escaped. Later on, he was impressed in the naval service again,
but at the first opportunity came to America. A hale, hearty old man,
rather short in stature, but lithe and active, and with a merry look on
his weather-beaten face, he was still proud of his schooner that lay at
Stone Dock, at the launching of which, in the early part of the century,
the Jersey Blues had turned out, and Major Stevens had christened it the
"Northern Liberties." It had been all built of Essex County lumber, and
constructed on the Passaic. But the river had been quite a famous stream
in those days. There were no factories using up its volume of water.

They sat on the stone coping and listened to the Captain's stories,
indeed, could have spent all the afternoon, so entertaining did he
prove. Then he took them through the old house with its ample hall and
spacious rooms on one side. They concluded it must have been able to
stand quite a siege, judging from its present solidity. And Mrs. Alden
treated them to a pitcher of freshly churned buttermilk, and a slice of
excellent rye bread, which they found delightful.

"I shall have to come over again, and get some material for a story,"
declared Delia, when they were fairly started, tearing themselves away
with quite a struggle. "That experience on the 'Slaver' was very
graphic."

"If you want to hear something that will make your hair stand on end,"
said Doctor Joe, "come up and talk to father. When I was a little lad,
we had a farm-hand working for us who had gone through with it all, been
to Africa for a cargo, and come to the States with what was left of it.
He never spoke of it when sober; and though he was in the main steady,
once in a while he drank enough to start him going, and he always
rehearsed this horrible experience. I remember father used to lock him
in the barn to sober up; because he did not want us children to hear the
terrible story."

"Were the slaves brought that way?" asked Hanny, with a shudder.

"Most every civilised country condemns that part of the awful practice,"
answered Ben. "But it is a fact that the native tribes in Africa sell
prisoners to one another, or whoever will buy them. Do you suppose
Africa will ever be explored?" and Ben looked up at Mr. Whitney.

We did not know much about Africa even then. But Ben was afterward to
see the great explorer Stanley, whose journey across that country was a
wonderful romance. And although the question of slavery was seething
even then, he could not have dreamed, this lovely afternoon when all was
at peace, that one day he should be in the thick of the battle himself,
with many another brave soul, when his country was nearly rent in twain.

A few lanes led up to places, the outline of streets, and lost
themselves in the fields. Cottages had been built to face nearly every
way. Here and there was an old colonial house of greater pretensions,
some of them at the end of a long driveway lined with stately trees.
Here also were the remnants of orchards, meadows where cows were
pasturing, thickets of shrubbery with bread-and-butter vine running over
them, showing glossy green leaves.

Mr. Whitney paused at a queer, long, one-story house with a high-peaked
roof in which were set three small dormer windows. There was a little
dooryard in front, a Dutch hall door with an iron knocker, a well near
by with the old oaken bucket General Morris had immortalised, and back
of the house a picturesque ravine through which ran a clear stream of
water that presently found its way out to the Passaic. Willows bent over
it, elms and maples stood, tall and handsome, like guardian sentinels.

A little old woman sat sewing by the window.

"We haven't time to stop," said Mr. Whitney. "Hanny, that lady is your
hero's grandmother, and the mother of General Watts Kearny. He not only
distinguished himself in the Mexican War, but also in the War of 1812.
Then he was Governor of Vera Cruz and the City of Mexico."

"And the hero of no end of stories," added Ben. "Jim and I were wild
over them a few years ago. Why do people keep saying we have no romance
in our own country, because we have no ruined old castles? Why, Mexico
itself is a land of historical romance!"

"What a lovely cool dell!" exclaimed Dele. "Just the place to take your
book on a hot summer day."

"I believe your young hero Philip was born in New York. But this is the
old home, one of the landmarks."

Opposite was a rather pretty place,--a rambling brick house with sharp,
pointed roofs, and a long stretch of evergreens. It was beautiful in
this soft atmosphere. The birds made a swift dazzle now and then, and
filled the air with melody.

"Up here is a hedge of hawthorn that was brought over from England by a
Yorkshireman living up above. It is out of bloom now; but another year
you can come over early in May and see the 'hawthorn blossoms white'
that poets never tire of praising."

Dele broke off a sprig for herself, and one for Hanny. The spaces were
larger, the houses farther apart. On the west side was a tree-nursery
and garden, and two quaint old frame-houses that hardly looked large
enough for any one to live in; but there were children playing about;
and on the other side a cemetery. All this tract was known as Mount
Pleasant.

At the north of the cemetery, they plunged down a stony way called a
road, mostly by courtesy, though it was the only way of getting up from
the river. Great trees overhung it on one side, and gave it a weird,
darkened aspect.

"It might be a ghost-walk, at night," exclaimed Delia. "Edgar A. Poe
could have put a story here. I like the tragic; but I'm not so fond of
the horrible."

Another turn showed them the river and the opposite shore crowned with
green glittering in the afternoon sunshine. They all paused, it was such
a wonderful outlook.

And when they reached it, and glanced up and down, it was a picture
indeed. The river made little bends, and wound around tiny points, edged
with the greenest of sedge grass in some places, then grey stones with
mossy sea-growth, or willows dipping their branches in the lightly
ruffled water. Not a soul to be seen anywhere, not a sound save the
voices of birds; but while they looked, a flock of geese came floating
grandly down.

    "On thy fair bosom, silver lake,
    The white swan spreads her snowy sail,"

quoted Delia.

"It is not the first time swans have proved geese," said Mr. Theodore,
with a smile. "But for the sake of the picturesque we will let it pass."

"I wonder if the Wye or the Severn would be so enchanting to us if poets
had not lived there and immortalised them?"

"When we are an old country, we will, no doubt, sigh for relics. In
1666, this was called 'Neworke or Pesayak towne;' and a little more than
a hundred years ago this Gully was made the dividing line between the
towns. There are many historic spots in Belleville, and an old copper
mine that once made a great addition to her prosperity. But my quest
ends here. I don't know as I have a hero exactly, Miss Hanny, yet my
friend, Frank Forrester, has had a varied and eventful life. This way."

Mr. Whitney led them up a path mostly over-grown with pale, spindling
grass that had no chance for sunshine, so close and tall were the trees.
It was undeniably gloomy, hidden away here. A little old brown,
weather-beaten house hung with vines, that even stretched up into the
trees; small, narrow windows, with diamond-shaped panes that could not
let in much light, it would seem.

"It's a horrid place," cried Dele. "Hanny, we shall surely see a ghost.
The idea of living at the very foot of a burying-ground!"

Hanny held tight to Joe's hand. She was beginning to have what Miss
Cynthia called the "creeps."



CHAPTER XIII

OUT-OF-THE-WAY CORNERS


If the outside was gloomy, it had a queer, disorderly, and rather
cheerful aspect within, for the sun was pouring a flood of gold in one
window where it happened to strike a spot between two trees. And Frank
Forrester was by no means melancholy to-day. He shook hands cordially
with Mr. Whitney, and welcomed the rest of the party with the utmost
affability,--a fine-looking Englishman with a picturesque air, due
largely to his rather long hair, which fell about his forehead and neck
in a tumbled manner, suggesting a tendency to curls.

"These young people may like to look over my curiosities, while we have
our talk," he said. "Take a cigar, and I'll bring a bottle of wine.
Won't you join us, Doctor? Here, young folks, are curiosities from
everywhere."

He ushered them into a small room that was library and everything by
turns. There were trophies of hunting expeditions, some rare birds
stuffed and mounted, looking so alive Hanny would not have been
surprised if they had suddenly begun to warble; books in every stage of
dilapidation, some of them quite rare copies, Ben found; portfolios of
old engravings; curious weapons; foreign wraps; Grecian and Turkish bits
of pottery; and the odd things we call bric-à-brac nowadays.

Delia began to make some notes. Ben laughed a little. Interviewing was
not such a fine art then; and people were considered greater subjects of
interest than their belongings. But Delia was saving up things for
stories which she meant to write as she found time.

Doctor Joe had come in here with the young people, leaving the two
friends to discuss their business. He, too, found much to interest him;
and he was amused at Delia's running comments, some of them very bright
indeed. She was quite a spur to Ben, he found; and he was surprised at
the varied stock of knowledge Ben had accumulated.

It did not seem as if they had explored half, when Mr. Whitney opened
the door.

"Young folks, we must be going, if we expect to reach home that very
same night, like the old woman with her pig," he said.

"Are you talked out?" asked Delia, archly; "for we haven't half looked
through things."

"I want your brother to stay and have some supper with me. I'm my own
housekeeper now; but I think we could manage."

"What fun it would be," said Delia. "As there are no stores, we should
have to start at the foundation of things."

"I have a loaf of bread, and some cold mutton, and eggs, I think, and
tea and coffee. Come, you had better accept my hospitality."

"I must be home in the early evening," remarked Doctor Joe.

"And Hanny's not to stay out after dark," appended Ben.

"We are going down to Cockloft Hall," explained Mr. Whitney. "I am sorry
we cannot accept."

"Then you must bring your happy family again. If they are fond of
curiosities, the old house could entertain them all day long."

"And if they are fond of adventures, which they are, they might put you
to the test," said Delia, daringly.

Herbert laughed at the vivacious tone.

"Then you'd have to find me in the mood. In that respect, I am
variable."

"Do you have a mood for each day? Then your friends could be sure--"

"A good idea, like the ladies' reception-days. Must I put on the card,
Serious, Jolly, Adventurous, etc.?"

"And supernatural. I should come on the ghost days. For if ever a ghost
walked out of its earthy habitation, I should think it would be here.
Did you ever see a ghost, Mr. Herbert?"

"I have seen some queer things. But these up here," nodding his head,
"seem a very well behaved community. I can't say that they have troubled
me; and I've come down the road at twelve or so at night. Perhaps my
imagination is not vivid enough in that line. Have you ever seen a
ghost, Miss Whitney?"

"No, I have not, except the ghosts of my imagination. I can shut my eyes
now, and see them come trooping down that lonely road by twos and
threes."

Herbert laughed again. "A vivid imagination is worth a good deal at
times," he said. "There ought to be a ghost-walk about here; and next
time you come over, we'll arrange one so perfectly that he shall defy
detection. I'll walk a bit with you, if I am not a ghost."

When he put on his wide-brimmed, rather high-crowned hat, he looked more
Spanish than English. They went through another room that opened on a
porch, and, from thence, through the garden, or an attempt at one that
did not betoken signal success.

The cemetery sloped down from a high hill that was such a thicket of
woods it hid all indications of the City of the Dead. The placid river,
in which there was only a gentle tide up here, lapped the shores with a
little murmur as it came up from the bay. The green, irregular shore
opposite showed here and there a house. The wood-robins were beginning
their vespers already. Hanny thought them the sweetest singers she had
ever heard.

Just here there was a terraced garden-spot and an old house adorned with
all kinds of blossoming shrubbery.

"You see we two are guardians of the place, at either end. Miss
Whitney, this house could tell some interesting tales of the bygone
time; but the glory is departing. In a few years the city will stretch
out and invade our solitude."

A wild spot of ground it was below, hilly, gravelly, sloping sharply
down to the river. But people were beginning to take advantage of the
shore-edge for business. There were shops, and a foundry stretching out
smoky, dingy arms in various directions.

They said their good-byes here, as they were in sight of the old
Gouverneur mansion. And no one guessed then that a tragedy of love and
desperation to madness was soon to follow, and that in the dreary old
house "Frank Forrester" was to lie, slain by his own hand, that he waved
so jauntily to them as he bade them "Come again."

They scrambled up the small ascent, and sprang over the wall. Here was
where the Nine Worthies used to come for their merry-making in their
exuberant youth, and, as one of their number said afterward, "enlivened
the solitude by their mad-cap pranks and juvenile orgies." The house had
not been much modernised up to that period. Its young owner, Mr. Kemble,
who was the Patroon of the merry company, still held it. They found the
old honeydew cherry-tree standing; but some of its long-armed branches
were going to decay. The odd, octagonal summer-house had not then fallen
down.

They went up to the old room in the south-western angle, the green
moreen chamber, as it had been called, where the Nine Worthies used to
congregate, and where Irving concocted some choice bits of fun for the
Salamagundi Club. And here was the great drawing-room where they
disposed themselves to sociable naps on Sunday afternoons, the
vine-covered porch on which they sat and smoked starlit evenings, and
the grassy lawn over which they rambled. And now Mr. Washington Irving
had been minister to Spain, and the guest of noted people in England and
on the continent. He had won fame in more than one line, and hosts of
appreciative readers.

Hanny could hardly realise it all, as she thought of the still handsome
though rather delicate man, past middle life, gracious and dignified and
kindly, sitting on his own porch at Sunnyside. She couldn't help going
back to her first love, the old "Knickerbocker History" that seemed so
real to her, even now.

The hand of improvement touched Cockloft Hall shortly after. The old
summer-house was taken down; the famous cherry-tree, where the robins
sang and reared their young for so many generations, succumbed to old
age and wintry blasts; but she was glad she had seen it in its romantic
halo.

They were not far from the upper railroad station then,--the old Morris
and Essex that had stirred up the country people mightily when it first
went thundering through quiet vales, and screaming out at little
way-stations. They were just in time for a train. The sun had dropped
down behind the Orange Mountain, though the whole west was alive with
changeful gold and scarlet, melting to fainter tints, changing to
indescribable hues and visionary islands floating in seas of amber and
chrysoprase.

Hanny was quite tired, and leaned her head on Joe's shoulder. Ben and
Delia were in front, and Mr. Whitney in the seat behind. They kept up an
animated conversation, and thought it had been a delightful afternoon.

"And I feel like quoting a bit out of a letter of the Poet Gray," said
Ben. "'Do you not think a man may be the wiser, I had almost said
better, for going a hundred or two miles?' We have gone a tenth or so of
that, and I feel ever so much richer as well as wiser. How is it with
you, little Hanny?"

"I've been to the land of heroes," she replied, with a soft smile. "I
shall insist that Jim must honour New Jersey in the future."

"Bravo!" said Mr. Whitney. "And there are many more heroes in it, and I
think some heroines, that we must hunt up at a leisure day. There was
Ann Halsted of Elizabethtown, who saw the British foraging expedition
coming over from Staten Island, where the ship lay at anchor; and,
donning a suit of her father's clothes, and taking an old musket, she
went down to the only road they could come up, and blazed away at them
with such intrepidity that the red-coats were alarmed lest a whole squad
might be quartered there, and retreated in haste. It was said when
Washington heard of it, he toasted the young lady. And there were the
brave women of Valley Forge."

"And Moll Pitcher, don't forget her," put in Ben. "We in New York don't
own quite everything."

They went rumbling into the tunnel, and Hanny started. She was used to
the Harlem tunnel; but this came upon her unexpectedly.

"And there are three considerable tunnels," laughed Delia. "Yet there
are people who believe the State is one vast sandy plain, and that the
agricultural products are solely watermelons and peaches. Some one
always stands ready to believe ridiculous things."

"Hereafter, we will take up the cudgels for New Jersey," declared Ben.
"I am hungry as a bear! That rye bread was splendid, wasn't it! We must
ask mother to make some, Joe."

Mr. Whitney begged them to stop to tea; but Doctor Joe thought they had
better get home. They were late, of course; but Mrs. Underhill had a
nice supper for them.

When Jim heard about Captain Alden, he half wished he had gone.

"But I had to come in and save the day, or we should have been beaten
out of sight, so I was of some use," he announced.

Mrs. Underhill was put on her mettle by hearing about Mrs. Alden's rye
bread; and the very next week she made some quite as splendid.

Hanny displayed her sprig of hawthorn,--real hawthorn.

"Are you sure it isn't artificial?" asked Jim, teasingly.

"An artificial branch can't grow," she said indignantly.

The next week at school, the girls' compositions had to be read aloud;
and Hanny wrote about her tour, which received the highest commendation.

Delia came up to get the story of the man who had been on board the
slave ship. She had a sketch of her own under way, and she wanted to
make it very thrilling.

"And I shall have to give you half the money for it," she said
laughingly.

It had a rather amusing hitch about its acceptance. The editor of the
paper to which it was offered liked it extremely for its vigourous
treatment, but begged her to use a masculine name, or simply initials,
because it didn't sound like a young girl's story.

She told this over with great gusto, and showed her check for twenty
dollars. But Mr. Underhill magnanimously refused to accept the half of
it.

"I don't approve of so much mannishness in a girl," Mrs. Underhill said
decisively. In her heart she wished Ben did not like her so well. But
they really were more like two boys than lovers.

She took every occasion to make sharp little comments. Delia was rather
careless in her attire; and while she dressed her heroines in the styles
of their period, or in good taste, if they were modern, she had a rather
mismatched look herself, except when she wore white, which she nearly
always did evenings at home.

And she made home a really delightful place. She was quite ambitious for
reception evenings. Mrs. Osgood was holding them for a literary circle.
Of course she could not aim at anything as elegant as that; but
newspaper men, young and old, were in the habit of dropping in upon Mr.
Whitney quite informally. About ten, they might be asked down to the
dining-room, where there was a dainty little spread, sometimes a Welsh
rarebit that Dele could concoct to perfection. To be sure, they smoked
the room blue; and Mr. Whitney often brought out a bottle of wine, as
was the custom then; true, he waited until Delia and Nora had gone
upstairs, and taken some of the younger men. Delia had made a strong
protest against it, in her humourous way.

"I don't so much mind you old fellows, who, if you haven't sense enough
not to addle your brains, never will have. But the young men oughtn't
have the temptation thrust in their way. They think it looks smart and
manly; and they make themselves so silly that I'm like a lump of ice to
some of them. I like clear-brained people."

So upstairs they had music and recitations. Every young man of any
elocutionary ability felt himself empowered to recite "The Raven," that
much admired and sharply discussed poem by the Poet Poe, whose
melancholy end still created much interest. Critical spirit ran high.
One party could see only a morbid faculty heightened by opium and
intoxicants; others found the spirit of true and fine genius in many of
his efforts, and believed the circumstances of his life had been against
him.

Ben was reading one evening in Doctor Joe's cosy library, enjoying the
most capacious arm-chair, and improvising a foot-rest out of one not
quite so luxurious. The Doctor had been making out bills, and feeling
quite encouraged, perhaps lighter-hearted than he would when he had
waited a year for the payment of some of them.

"Joe," began his brother, abruptly, "what do you suppose makes mother so
bitter about Delia Whitney?"

"Bitter?" repeated Joe, in the tone of indecision people often use when
a proposition or question takes them by surprise.

"Yes. We all used to be so nice and jolly together, and Delia likes us
all so much. Hanny has such good times down there, with the old lady who
sings such pretty old-fashioned songs, if her voice is rather cracked
and tremulous; and Nora is bright and entertaining. But the other day
mother wouldn't let her go; and she was dreadfully disappointed; and
mother is not as cordial to Delia as she used to be. Dele spoke of it."

Ben looked straight at his brother, out of the frankest of eyes. It was
Joe who changed colour.

"I hate things to go crosswise. And when something keeps you just a
little ruffled up all the time--"

Ben drew his brows. Was he really unconscious of the trouble?

"You go there a good deal, you know. Some of the men are not quite the
company a young fellow should choose, mother thinks."

That was begging the main issue, of course.

"I don't see much of the older men. They're mostly smoking downstairs,
and I don't care a bit for that. But their talk is often worth listening
to. People who just keep in one little round have no idea how rich the
world is growing intellectually, scientifically; and on what broad lines
it is being laid."

"It is not the men altogether. Ben, you don't go anywhere else. Perhaps
it would be wisdom to enlarge your acquaintance among girls, young
ladies," and Joe gave a short laugh that betrayed the effort.

"I don't care a penny for girls in general," said Ben, with elderly
gravity. "Delia sometimes asks them in; and we seldom have as good a
time. She's a host in herself; and I've always liked her."

"You haven't had a very wide experience. And you are too young to make
up your mind about--anything."

Ben started up suddenly and flushed. What a fine, strong, solid face he
had! It wasn't the face of one turned about with every wind of doctrine;
it was not as handsome as Jim's bid fair to be, but it had hardly a weak
or selfish line in it. Ben had always been such a good, generous, steady
boy.

"You don't mean," he began with a little gasp,--"Joe, you can't think
that mother--that any one would object if the time came for me to--to
marry Delia?"

"You are too young to think of such things, Ben," said his brother,
gently.

"Why--I've been thinking of it ever since Mr. Theodore came home. We
were talking one time about going to Europe--"

"Are you really engaged, Ben?"

The young fellow laughed and blushed.

"Well--I suppose not exactly," he answered slowly. "We've never come to
that boshy stuff you find now and then in stories. But we know all about
each other's plans; and we like so many of the same things; and we
always feel so comfortable together, not a bit as if we were trigged up
in Sunday clothes. I don't think she's the most beautiful girl in the
world; but she has lovely eyes, and I've never seen a handsome girl I
have liked as well. Steve chose his own wife, and so did John.
Cleanthe's a splendid housekeeper; but she doesn't have time to read a
newspaper. Dolly's well informed, and has something fresh to talk about.
But it seems to me Margaret is always caring about society and
etiquette, and who is in our set, and a hundred things that bore me.
Phil has all his life been used to style, so Margaret's just the one for
him. And why shouldn't I have just the one for me?"

Joe laughed heartily then.

"I'd wait a year or two," he answered drily. "You are not out of your
time; and it is an unwise thing to take the responsibilities of life too
early. Delia may fancy some one else."

"Oh, no, she won't," replied Ben, confidently. "We just suit. I can't
explain it to you, Joe; but it is one of the things that seem to come
about without any talking. Are some things ordained? I should be awful
sorry to have mother object to it; but I know Dolly would stand by us
when the time came."

"Well--don't hurry; and, Ben, take the little comments patiently. If
mother was convinced that it was for your happiness, she would consent.
We all know there are unwise marriages, unhappy ones, as well."

"Oh, we're not in any hurry! You see, Delia is really needed at home.
The old aunt is awfully fond of her. And she's so interested in her
stories. We have such fun planning them out; and she does some capital
little sketches."

Joe nodded in a friendly manner, as if he did not altogether disapprove.
But there was a belief that literary women could not make good wives.
People quoted Lady Bulwer and Lady Byron; and yet right in the city were
women of literary proclivities living happily with their husbands.

And Joe had found careless, fretful, indifferent wives and poor
housekeepers among women who could not even have written a coherent
account-book. Come to think, he liked Delia a good deal himself. And if
she wasn't such a great worker, she did have the art of making a
cheerful, attractive home, and putting everybody at ease.

The new woman and cooking-schools were in the far future. Every mother,
if she knew enough, trained her daughter to make a good wife, to buy
properly, to cook appetisingly if not always hygienically, to make her
husband's shirts, and do the general family sewing, to keep her house
orderly, to fight moths and mice, and to give company teas with the best
china and the finest tablecloth.

To be sure there was a little seething of unrest. Mrs. Bloomer had put
forth a new costume that shocked the feminine world, though they were
complaining of the weight of heavy skirts and the various devices for
distending them. Lucretia Mott and some other really fine women were
advocating the wider education of the sex. Women were being brought to
the fore as teachers in schools, and higher institutions were being
discussed. There was a Mrs. Bishop who had preached; there were women
who lectured on various subjects.

The sewing-machine was making its way; and the argument in its favour
was that it would save a woman's strength and give her more leisure. But
employment of any kind out of the house _was_ considered derogatory
unless one had no father or brother to supply her needs.

Still, the old simple life was going out of date. There was more style;
and some leaders of opinion professed to be shocked at the extravagance
of the day. There was a sudden influx of people up-town. There were new
stores and offices. One wondered where all the people came from. But New
York had taken rapid strides in her merchant-marine. The fastest vessels
in the China trade went out of her ports. The time to both California
and China was shortened by the flying clippers. The gold of that
wonderful land of Ophir was the magic ring that one had only to rub, if
he could get hold of it, and work wonders.

But the little girl went on her quiet way. They were finding friends in
the new neighbourhood; yet Daisy Jasper could not be superseded. Every
letter was carefully treasured; and, oh, how many things she found to
say in return.

They kept up the intimacy with the Deans, though Josephine seemed almost
a young woman. Mr. Reed enjoyed the pleasant home wonderfully. Charles
spent much of his leisure over music, of which he was passionately fond.
He and Jim were not so intimate. Jim was going with a gayer lot of young
fellows, while Charles was seriously considering his life-plans.



CHAPTER XIV

AMONG GREAT THINGS


Were people more enthusiastic in old New York than they are at the end
of the century? We have done so much, we have had so many wonderful
happenings since then. To be sure, Dickens had been over and made,
people thought, a somewhat caustic return for the hospitable welcome;
Harriet Martineau had made a tour, and gone home rather favourably
impressed; and the winter before the intellectual circle--and it was
getting to be quite notable--had honoured the Swedish novelist,
Frederica Bremer, and been really charmed by her unaffected sweetness.
If they were not quite ready to take up her theories for the advancement
of women, they fell to reading the delightful "Neighbours" and "Home."
And now there was to be another visitant, "The Swedish Nightingale."

For Mr. Barnum was still the prince of entertainers. Theatres waxed and
waned, and new stars came to the front who had still their laurels to
win; people strove for cards to the Steven's Terrace, just back of
Columbia College on Park Place. Bleecker Street was not out of date,
though Mrs. Hamilton Fish had gone up to Stuyvesant Square, and was
gathering about her a political clique. There were card-parties and
dances; there were Christy's Minstrels and the Hutchinson family; and
some of the more intellectual circles had conversaziones where the best
talent displayed itself. Still, Barnum could not be crowded out. No
sarcasm withered him; and his variety was infinite. It was a safe place
for mothers to go and take their children. The men had formed several
ambitious clubs, and were beginning to entertain themselves.

Jenny Lind had already captivated Europe. Mr. Barnum judiciously brought
interest up to fever heat. After the bargain was made known, and the
young singer had taken her passage with her suite, a musical rage
pervaded the very city. The streets leading to the wharf were thronged
by crowds in the wildest enthusiasm. Triumphal arches were built across
Canal Street, and as she came down the gang-plank of the steamer, shouts
rent the very air.

The young traveller and poet, Bayard Taylor, had captured the prize
offered for the finest ode to be sung at her first concert. Two hundred
dollars seemed a large price at that time, as Tennyson had not been
offered a thousand for a poem. So great was the inquiry for tickets,
that they were sold at auction a few days previous. And Mr. Genin, a
Broadway hatter, signalised himself by making the highest bid for a
ticket,--two hundred and twenty-five dollars. Over one thousand tickets
were sold on the first day.

The concert was to be at Castle Garden. At five, the doors were opened,
and people began to throng in, though each seat had been secured to its
proper owner; and by eight, the audience was in a perfect transport of
expectation. It was said to be the largest audience assembled to listen
to her. And when she was led on the stage by her manager, the enthusiasm
was beyond description. It seemed to divine beforehand that the
fair-haired Swedish songstress would meet all expectations; and she
passed beyond it.

Ben had been caught by the enthusiasm, and squandered his savings on a
ticket. He and Jim had been in the crowd around the hotel, that first
night when the New York musical society had serenaded her, and she had
bowed from the old stone balcony to the admiring crowds.

"There isn't any word to express it," declared Ben, at the
breakfast-table the next morning. "Joe, you must hear her, and
Hanny--all of you. Never mind the cost."

"Ben, you have lost your senses," said his mother, with a touch of her
old sharpness. "As if we were all millionaires! And I have heard people
sing before."

"Not anything like that. You can't imagine such melody. And the
enthusiasm of the crowd is worth something!"

The little girl looked up wistfully. She was beginning to understand the
value of money.

"Yes," returned Joe; "Hanny must hear her. I wouldn't have her miss it
for anything. But the tickets won't be so high after a little."

They dropped to regular prices, but that was high for the times; and the
rush continued unabated. New York broke out in a Jenny Lind furore.
There were gloves, and hats, and shawls, and gowns, beautiful little
tables, and consoles, and furniture of all sorts that bore her name. The
bakers made Jenny Lind cake. What a time there was! Enthusiastic adorers
took her carriage from its shafts, and dragged it from Castle Garden to
the hotel. Was New York old in those days? Rather, it was the glowing,
fervid impetuosity of early youth.

And the serenade, when Broadway was jammed for blocks, and lighted by
torches in the street, and illuminations in the houses and stores. There
was a wonderful cornetist, Koenig, who could have won another Eurydice
from the shades with his playing. Out on the balcony he stood and moved
the crowd with his melody. Then she came out beside him, and, in the
hush, a thousand times more appreciative than the wildest applause, the
magnificent voice sang to its large, free audience, "Home, Sweet Home,"
as no one will ever hear it sung again. That alone would be fame enough
for any writer of song!

The furore did not abate. But they must all go,--Stephen and Dolly,
Margaret and her husband, Joe and the little girl, and her father.

"It is nonsense for an old fellow like me," he declared, half
humourously.

"But I shall like it so much better, and then we can talk it over
afterward. That's half the pleasure."

She looked so wistful out of her soft eyes, and patted his hand with her
caressing little fingers, of course he couldn't say No.

It was so much harder to persuade Mrs. Underhill. "It certainly _was_
wicked to spend so much money just to hear one woman sing. She had heard
the 'Messiah,' with Madame Anna Bishop in it; and she never again
expected to hear anything so beautiful this side of heaven."

They carried the day, however, in spite of her objections. Castle Garden
looked like fairyland, with its brilliant lights, its hundred ushers in
white gloves and rosettes, their wands tipped with ribbon as if for some
grand ball. The quiet was awe-inspiring. One did not even want to
whisper to his neighbour, but just sit in fascinated silence and wonder
what it would be like.

Then Jenny Lind was led on the stage, and the entire audience rose with
one vast, deafening cheer,--a magnificent one, as hearty as on her first
night. It seemed as if they would never stop. There was a cloud of
waving handkerchiefs, shaking out fragrance in the air.

A simple Swedish maiden in her gown of soft, white silk, with no blaze
of diamonds, and just one rose low down in her banded hair, only her
gracious sweetness and simplicity, a thousand times finer and more
effective than flashing beauty. She has heard the applause many a time
before, in audiences of crowned heads; and this from the multitude is
just as sweet.

When all is listening, attentive silence, she begins "Casta Diva." "Hark
to the voice," and every one listens with such intensity that the
magnificent sound swells out and fills the farthest space. There is no
striving for effect. A woman singing with a God-given voice, in simple
thanks for its ownership, not a queen bidding for admiration. Had any
voice ever made such glorious melody, or so stirred human souls?

The applause has in it an immensity of appreciation, as if it could
never get itself wholly expressed.

Then another favourite, which everybody sang at for years afterward: "I
dreamt I dwelt in marble halls." In some of the sorrows of her
womanhood, the little girl was to recall the sweet refrain--

    "That you loved me still the same."

Then "Comin' thro' the Rye," with a lilt and dainty deliciousness that
one never can forget. But "Home, Sweet Home," moves to tears and
enthusiasm. Surely, no voice ever put such pathos, such marvellous
sweetness, into it!

And sometimes now, when the little girl looks over to the other country,
one of the many joys she thinks will be hearing such blessed voices as
Jenny Lind's and Parepa Rosa's. You could not shake her faith in
immortality and all these precious joys to come.

She was quite a heroine at school for many days to come. People did not
think it worth while to spend so much money on children at that time.

Margaret and her mother had compromised on the school question, or
rather Margaret had yielded.

Hanny would graduate at the end of the year. Margaret preferred a
stylish boarding-school after that. The Hoffmans were quite in the swim
of that period. The Doctor's connections, and Margaret's beauty, made
them welcome in circles that were beginning to grow a little exclusive,
and demand grandfathers for vouchers. There was a little talk, even
then, about _nouveaux riches_; but, after all, no one seemed to
absolutely despise wealth.

Margaret was really very ambitious for the younger members of the
family. Jim, with his good looks and the brightness that was akin to
wit, was her favourite. Then he took naturally to elegance.

Dolly was very happy and jolly with her husband and children. They lived
in a very pleasant manner; and society courted Dolly as well. Stephen
was prospering wonderfully, and had a fine standing among business-men.

Hanny was extravagantly fond of the children. Stevie called her Auntie
Nan, now; but Annie said simply Nan. Margaret had adopted it as well.
Hannah was rather awkward and old-fashioned. Even Ben sometimes
warbled,--

    "Nannie, wilt thou gang wi' me?"

She had another great and unexpected treat a few weeks later. She had
gone on Friday to make a real visit at Dolly's, and go from there to
school on Monday morning. And, fortunately for her, she had taken her
best Sunday frock, which she was wearing a good deal lest she might
outgrow it.

And who should drop in but Delia Whitney. Whether Dolly suspected all
was not clear sailing for the young people, no one could have told from
her friendly manner. She had taken quite a liking to Delia, and was much
interested in her success.

They talked over the Jenny Lind concert. Delia had attended two. She was
going about quite a good deal among literary people.

"And to-morrow night, The. and I are going to take Ben to the Osgoods.
Oh, Hanny, that's the author of the little song you sing:--

    "'I love you, I adore you; but
    I'm talking in my sleep.'

And she's just lovely."

"Oh," cried Hanny, "I should like to see her, truly. You know I told you
about seeing her in the carriage when she went up to Mr. Poe's."

"Well, can't you go? The. has a standing invitation to bring friends.
Why, Nora has gone! She sang up there one evening, and did wonderfully
well. Her teacher thinks in a year or two she can try concerts; only it
isn't best to strain her voice now. And you may see some famous people,
and some yet to be famous, myself among them."

"Oh, I don't care about the others," said Hanny, naïvely. "And if you
are quite sure--Dolly, ought I to go?"

"Why not?" answered Dolly. "It's fortunate that you brought your best
frock; though we could have sent for it. Why, yes, if you would like
to."

Hanny drew a long breath. Twice of late her mother had found excuses
when she had asked to go down to Beach Street. She, too, had a vague
feeling there was something in the air; but her simple nature was not
suspicious. And it wasn't like going to the Whitney's. She couldn't do
such a thing without asking permission.

Delia finished her call, kissed the babies and Hanny, and said they
would all be up at eight, sharp.

"I'll have Hanny in apple-pie order," answered Dolly, with her bright
smile.

Stephen was delightful in his family; and he had the same odd little
look in his eye as her father, suggestive of fun. He was teaching her to
play checkers; and, although Dolly helped sometimes, she found it hard
work to beat him. Dolly sat by embroidering.

The next morning they drove down-town and did some shopping, and called
on Annette, who made them stay to luncheon. Mrs. Beekman was quite
poorly now, and had grown very, very stout. She said, "she had lost all
her ambition. It was a great thing to be young, and have all your life
before you."

It was so delightful; and Dolly was sure they wouldn't have many more
such Indian summery days, so they went over to Washington Parade-ground,
where the style promenaded on Saturday afternoon. Hanny wore her best
dress and a pretty cloth cape trimmed with a little edge of fur. They
took Stevie, who was delighted of course, and who ran about, very proud
of his new jacket and trousers.

Many of the promenaders nodded to young Mrs. Stephen Underhill. Belles
and beaux went by; prettily dressed children; stylish little boys, who
carried canes, and had long tassels drooping over one side of their
caps. Hanny enjoyed it all very much.

Then after supper, Dolly put a fine lace tucker over the edging at the
neck of her frock, and found a blue sash, and curled her hair so as to
make it all wavy at the edge of her forehead; and there was a very
sweet, attractive girl, if she wasn't a beauty.

Mr. Theodore Whitney seemed very much amused and pleased, and politely
inquired if he might be Miss Underhill's escort. Delia looked unusually
nice in her new brown silk and some beautiful old lace Aunt Clem had
given her.

People did not wait until ten o'clock for "functions" to begin; neither
did they give them that uneuphonious name. Hanny had read and heard a
good deal since her first visit to genius in the plain, poor, little
cottage; and this certainly had more of the true aspect one connects
with poesy. The two rooms were daintily furnished; pictures everywhere.
Mr. Osgood was a painter, and his portraits were quite celebrated. The
curtains fell with a graceful sweep. The light brocade of the chairs
threw out glisteny shades; the little tables set about held books and
engravings, and great portfolios leaned against the wall. There was a
case of choicely-bound books, and an open piano. Flowers were in vases
on brackets, and low, quaint china bowls. It was like a lovely picture
to the little girl; but she felt afraid of the people talking so
earnestly, and wondered if they were all poets and authors.

The party greeted their hostess, and Hanny was introduced. Was it the
glamour of the summer and the blue gown that had made Mrs. Osgood so
lovely sitting there in the carriage? Now she was thin, and her hair was
banded down in the fashion of the day; then it had been flying in
ringlets. Her gown was black silk, and that made her look rather grave;
but when she smiled, all the old sweetness was there. Hanny knew her
then.

Delia took charge of Hanny, and seated her by a table with a book of
choice engravings. Ben had found some one he knew, and Mr. Whitney had
gone to talk to General Morris. A tall young lady came over and began
complimenting Miss Whitney on her story in Godey's, and Delia flushed up
with pleasure. Then she begged to introduce her to a friend. She wrote
verses only, and her friend had composed music for them.

Hanny kept watching her hostess. She knew some of the guests, from
having had them pointed out to her in the street. There was Mr. Greeley,
thin of face and careless of attire in those early days. In the street
he could always be told by a shaggy light coat that he wore.

A very sweet-looking elderly lady came up presently and spoke to Delia,
who was in full flow of eager talk with the young musical composer.

"Isn't that your sister, or your niece,--the one who sang here some time
ago? I saw her come in with Mr. Whitney."

"Oh, no," returned Delia. "But she is a very dear friend,--Mr.
Underhill's sister."

"Mr. Stephen Underhill?"

"Yes, she is his sister; but it is Mr. Ben Underhill who is here."

"I know Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Underhill very well. She was a Beekman. And
Dr. Hoffman's wife belongs to the family."

Delia turned and introduced Mrs. Kirtland.

She had such an attractive face, framed in with rows of snowy puffs,
quite gone out of date, but becoming to her nevertheless.

"I feel that I almost know you," she said sweetly, "though I half
mistook you for Miss Whitney; but she is dark, and you are fair, so I
ought not to have made the blunder. I know your brother Stephen and his
wife."

"Oh!" Hanny gave it a glad little sound, and smiled, as she put out her
small hand.

Mrs. Kirtland took the unoccupied seat.

"I suppose you have hardly begun life, you look so young. But no doubt
you are a genius of some sort. Mrs. Osgood is so extraordinarily good to
young geniuses."

"No, I haven't any genius," and Hanny flushed, as she gave a beguiling
smile that lighted up her face. "And though there are a good many of
us, we have not even a family genius."

"That depends upon whether you restrict the word to painting a picture
or writing a poem or a story. Mr. Stephen Underhill is very highly
spoken of as one of the promising young business-men. And is it your
brother who was in the office of old Dr. Fitch, and in the hospital?"

"Yes, ma'am," returned Hanny, with a glow of pleasure. Young people were
still expected to say "Yes, sir," and "Yes, ma'am," to their elders, out
of respect.

"That does very well for one family, though the Whitneys seem to have a
good share. Miss Delia is quite a success, I hear. And we always find
Mr. Whitney very entertaining. Have you known them long?"

"Oh, for years, seven almost. And we used to be neighbours."

"A friendship is said to be certain when you have held it seven years.
Have you met Mrs. Osgood before?"

"No, ma'am; but I saw her quite a long while ago at Fordham."

"At Fordham! Then you must have known the poet Edgar Allan Poe."

"A little," returned Hanny, timidly.

"There's such a romance to his life at that place,--his lovely young
wife dying, and the devotion of Mrs. Clemm. Oh, tell me about your
episode!"

Hanny told the story, very simply, charmingly as well.

"Oh," exclaimed Mrs. Kirtland, "Frances must hear that!" Then she
glanced around. Mrs. Osgood was no longer receiving guests, but mingling
with the company. Some one was going to the piano; and everybody
listened to an exquisite voice singing a beautiful Italian melody. When
that was finished, a young man who was to be famous in after years read
a sweet, simple poem that touched every one's heart. Then the talk began
in little groups again.

Mrs. Kirtland signalled to her hostess, who came over to them.

"Frances," she said, "here is a youthful worshipper who remembers you as
a lovely lady all in cerulean blue, and with long curls, going up to the
Poe cottage. See how you have lived in the child's memory. And she sings
a song of yours."

Hanny's face was scarlet for a moment; but Mrs. Osgood sat down beside
her, and they talked of the poet and Mrs. Clemm, and touched lightly
upon the sad after-happenings. He had at one time been a frequent guest.
There was even yet a deep interest in him, though opinion was sharply
divided. And Mrs. Osgood had known the beautiful Virginia, whose sad
fate even then was hardly realised. They talked a little about "Annabel
Lee" and the "high-born kinsman;" and Hanny thought she had a delightful
time.

There was coffee and chocolate and lemonade, with plates of dainty cakes
and confectionery, in an ante-room. Then a gentleman sang a
hunting-song in a fine tenor voice; and another paper on Art was read.

If people came early, they also dispersed at a reasonable hour. It was
not quite ten when Delia, Hanny, and Ben made their adieus to the
hostess, who stooped and kissed Hanny for "old remembrance' sake," she
said.

Mr. Whitney was going down with some of the older men. Ben saw his
little sister safe in Stephen's hands, and then went on with Delia.

"I've had such a splendid time!" exclaimed Hanny. "I wouldn't have
missed it for the world."

When she told the home-folks about it, her mother made no comment; but
Joe and her father were very much interested. And when, not long after
that, "the high-born kinsman" came for the charming woman who had given
much pleasure in her brief way through the world, and who had not
disdained to write a verse and her name in many a society album, Hanny
felt quite as if she had lost a dear friend.

Two other poets, sisters, Alice and Ph[oe]be Cary, came to New York, and
held receptions that were quite famous as time went on. To be sure,
there was the old name of blue-stocking applied to them now and then;
for people, women especially, were taking a wider interest in other
affairs beside literature, prefiguring the new woman. Miss Delia Whitney
was very much interested. They were not quite up to clubs in those days,
or she would have been a charter-member.

But the child Hanny had enough to do to study her lessons, practise her
music, and make her visits, with a little sewing in between. She did
make her father a set of shirts; but underclothing of all kinds was
being manufactured; and though the older-fashioned women sneered at it,
as rather poor stuff, the men seemed to like it. At gentlemen's
furnishing stores, you could buy shirts cut and made in the latest
style, the neckbands of which always seemed to fit, or else the men
discreetly refrained from grumbling when they had spent so much money.
And women began to find it eased their burdens.

No one wanted home-knit stockings, the English and French and Germans
sent us such perfect ones. White was still all the style, unless you
wore black, or blossom-coloured silk. Of course there were common people
who put slate-colour on their children, because white made so much
washing. And as for pantalets, there were none left.

There were other people called away beside poets, and changes made in
families. Grandmother Underhill went to the country wherein the faithful
abide, and Aunt Katrina. Grandmother Van Kortlandt came to make her home
with her daughter. Aunt Crete and Cousin Joanna Morgan, and here and
there some of the old people, as well as the young, passed over the
narrow river.

But there seemed new babies all around. Dolly and Margaret had little
sons, and Cleanthe a daughter. John was quite jealous of Hanny's notice;
for his little girl was fair, and had light hair, and they were quite
sure it looked like her. John wanted to call her Hannah Ann.

"Oh, no," said Hanny; "there are so many beautiful names now!" Then she
laughed. "I shall not promise her a hundred dollars, nor my string of
gold beads. I am not sorry, for I have loved both grandmothers; and one
is gone--"

"Why don't we name her after _her_ grandmothers?" exclaimed Cleanthe.
"One of hers is gone," and she sighed. "It seems such a long name for a
wee baby."

"Margaret Elizabeth,--it is a beautiful name," said Hanny, with delight.
"Mother will give her something, I know. And I will be her godmother,
and endow her for the Elizabeth."

"With all your worldly goods?" asked John.

"Not _quite_ all--"

"You'll be impoverished, Hanny," interrupted John, with a glint of
humour. "Six nephews and nieces already! And there are four of us still
to marry, if George ever comes back. He hasn't made his fortune yet. He
was crazy to go. The good times here suit me well enough."

Grandmother Underhill put fifty dollars in the bank for the new baby,
and gave it a silver spoon. Hanny gave her a silver cup with her name
engraved on it, and, with Dolly's help, made her a beautiful christening
robe, which Cleanthe saved up for her, the sewing and tucking on it was
so exquisite. She used to show it to visitors with a great deal of
pride.



CHAPTER XV

THE BEGINNINGS OF ROMANCE


There was Saratoga and Newport; and Long Branch laid claim to some
distinction; even Cape May was not unknown to fame,--still the Jersey
coast, with all its magnificent possibilities, really had not been
discovered, and was rather contemptuously termed sand wastes. It was
getting to be quite the thing to go off awhile in the summer. Some of
the style had spent a "season" in London, and seen the young Queen and
the Prince Consort and the royal children, and gone over to Paris to see
"the nephew of his uncle," who was taking a hand in the new French
Republic.

But plain people still visited their relatives a good deal. Ben had
taken a holiday, and gone up to Tarrytown after Hanny; and they had made
pilgrimages along to different cousins. They sat on the old porch at
Fordham; but one of the cousins was married, and gone to her own home,
taken the tall, bright-eyed young man who had been about so much the
olden summer.

It was really a delightful walk over there. Ben was finding out odd
places for Delia, who was now interested in some Revolutionary sketches.
They had explored Kingsbridge; they had found Featherbed Lane; they
learned the Harlem River once had borne the Indian name of Umscoota.
Here, more than forty years before, Robert Macomb had built his dam, in
defiance of certain national laws, as he wanted a volume of water for
his mill.

Many and ineffectual were the efforts made to remove it by the
surrounding property-owners who had large and beautiful estates. For no
one dreamed then that the great city would sometime absorb everything,
and that here was to stand a beautiful bridge, the pride of the city.
But the old dam was one dark night assaulted by a "piratical craft,"
that demanded entrance, and, on being refused a right through the
waterway, demolished the old affair; and the freed and happy river went
on to the sea unvexed, and still kept Manhattan an island, to be bridged
over as convenience required.

Down in one of the pretty valleys was the home of Cousin Jennie, that
Hanny always connected with Mrs. Clemm and the poet. All about were
green fields and orchards, hills and valleys. Between them and the
Harlem lay a high wooded ridge from whose top you could see the Hudson,
and the Harlem was like a cord winding in and out of green valleys.
There was Fort George and Harlem plains; and Hanny recalled the two old
Underhill ladies whose lives had reached back to Revolutionary times.

They rambled about the historic ground, peaceful enough then. There was
the old Poole house, the De Voe house, and further up the Morris
mansion. What names they recalled!--Washington, Rochambeau, the Hessian
General Knyphausen.

And then Cousin Jennie's husband pointed out a place with a romantic
story. When the Hessian Army had swept on in the steps of General
Washington's retreating men, they had been encamped for some time,
foraging about for food and demanding supplies of the farmers,--an
ill-fed, and ill-clothed set of conscripts, without much enthusiasm,
many of them torn from home and friends, neither knowing nor caring
about the land where they had gone to fight, and perhaps lay their
bones.

Among them a young fellow, Anthony Woolf by name, whose mother, in a
district in distant Germany, had yielded to the blandishments of a
second husband, thus rendering her son liable to conscription, as he was
no longer her sole protector. Young Anthony knew his stepfather grudged
him the broad acres of his patrimony, and guessed whose influence had
sent the press-gang one night, and hurried him off, without even a
good-bye to his mother, to the nearest seaport town, and there embarked
him for a perilous ocean-journey, to fight against people struggling for
their liberty.

He had fought, like many of the others, under a sort of rebellious
protest. Several had deserted: some joining the American army from
sympathy. But Anthony was sick of carnage and marching and
semi-starvation. Winter was coming on. So, one night, he stole out
unperceived, and hurried down to the river's edge. On the other side,
at some distance, he could see a faint gleam of light between the
leafless trees. He had watched it longingly. There were many kindly
disposed people who gave shelter to deserters. He threw off his heavy
coat, and his boots, with the soles worn through, and made a plunge. The
water was cold, the way longer than it looked; but he buffeted across
and crawled out in the autumn blast, dripping and shivering, and ran up
to the kitchen steps, that looked more friendly than the great wide
porch and stately doorway. The maids were frightened, and a man came, to
whom he told his story in broken English, and was taken in, warmed and
fed and clothed, and kept out of sight for several days.

In his gratitude and delight, he made himself useful. He had been
accustomed to farming and herds and flocks. The old Morris estate was
large; and when the British Army was safely out of the way, there was
work in plenty; and a faithful hand Anthony Woolf proved.

When the long summer days came the next year, there was no end of
spinning in the great house, where linen and woollen were made for the
family use. The farmers' daughters used to be eager for the chances; and
one day, when pretty Phebe Oakley's grandmother was going over to the
great house, as it was so often called, the young girl begged her to
speak a good word for her, as she could spin both wool and flax.

"They'll be glad to have you," said grandmother on her return. "But,
Phebe, they have a young Woolf over there; so look out he doesn't catch
you."

Phebe tossed her head. She was in no hurry to be caught. And yet it so
fell out that when Anthony Woolf had saved up a little money, and
negotiated for a farm over in the valley, he caught pretty Phebe Oakley,
and built a house for her, and prospered.

They looked at the place where the Hessian Army had been encamped, and
traced the course of the young fellow's daring swim. And here was the
old part of the house he had built, and where he had outlived his own
son, but left grandsons behind him, one of whom had married Cousin
Jennie. Grandmother was still alive,--a little, rather-faded, and
shrunken old lady who had once been pretty Phebe Oakley, who lived with
her daughter in the old part.

"There are lots of romances lying about unused," said Ben. "I should
like to have a story-teller's gift myself."

Hanny was so interested in young Mr. Woolf that she had to tell Joe all
the story when she came home; and he said they must go up the historic
Harlem some day. And he said Umscoota meant "Stream among the green
sedge."

This year it had to be Rutger's Institute for Hanny. There were a great
many new schools; but Dolly and Margaret carried the day. She thought at
first she shouldn't like it at all; but when she came to know the girls,
she began to feel quite at home, and, in some queer fashion, as if she
were growing up. But she didn't seem to grow very fast.

Ben came to his twenty-first birthday. He was a tall, well-grown young
fellow, and often surprised Jim by the amount of knowledge he possessed.
And then he went over to the "Tribune" office, and sometimes tried his
hand at queer, out-of-the-way bits of past lore that people were almost
forgetting. Just how it came about, he never clearly remembered himself;
but one night, when Delia had seemed unusually attractive to three or
four young men who haunted the place, he rose abruptly and said he must
go. There was a set look in his usually pleasant face, and he shut his
lips, as if something had displeased him.

Delia went to the hall door. As he turned, she caught his arm.

"What is it, Ben?" she said in a hurried whisper. "Something has
happened to vex you."

"Something!" with youthful bitterness. "We never have any good times any
more. There's always such a crowd--"

"Oh, Ben! Are you jealous? Why, you know I like you better than any of
them! Gordon only comes to get ideas; he's so very anxious to do
something in literature. As if I could help anybody!" and she laughed.
"The others come for fun. You're worth them all, Ben. Oh, don't go away
angry!" with a voice of tender pleading.

Ben felt suddenly foolish. Was he angry over such a trifle? Then he
glanced up in Delia's face; he was on the step below. What was there in
her eyes; and she had said she liked him better than any of them, even
that handsome Van Doren. Well, he was most jealous of Van Doren, who was
in his last year at Columbia, and whose father was rich and indulgent.

"Oh," he said with an indrawn breath, "you must know that I love you.
I've always loved you, I think."

She put her arms about his neck, and kissed him. It was very
reprehensible, I suppose. Young people were honestly friendly in those
days, and seldom had a chaperone; yet they did not play at love, unless
they were real flirts; and a flirt soon gained an unenviable reputation.

"Come down a ways with me," he entreated, with a little tremulous sound
in his voice that touched her.

The street was very quiet. He put his arm about her, and drew her close
to his side.

"Oh, it's cool out here, and you've no wrap!" He was suddenly very
careful of her. "But I wanted to say--it isn't only a like, but a love.
You _do_ love me, Delia?"

"I love you, love you! I love you and yours."

"Of course we will have to wait. We are both young. But I'm doing a bit
of outside work, and have a chance to come up--"

"If we did marry, you'd have to come and live with me; for I have
promised Aunt Patty never to leave her. I haven't really thought about
marriage. There is so much to my life all the time. Oh, yes, we can
wait. But you must not feel afraid, Ben. I like fun and nonsense, and
plenty of people to talk to. I'm not sure I shall make a good wife,
even, though both of my sisters do."

"I want you, good or bad," said Ben, sturdily.

They both laughed, and then he kissed her again.

"Oh, you must go back! You'll get an awful cold."

"I never do take cold. I'll run like a flash. Come to-morrow night. Oh,
Ben!"

"Oh, Delia, my darling!"

Then she flew back. How long had she been gone? She re-entered the room
with a most nonchalant air; and in two minutes she had them all in a
whirl of conversation, even if they did look rather curious.

Ben sauntered up home. It was quite early. Hanny was upstairs reading to
grandmother, who went to bed at nine, and liked to have Hanny come in
and read to her. Joe sat in his office, poring over an abstruse medical
article. He glanced up and nodded.

"Joe," the lad began, with a bright flush that gave a certain tenderness
to his eyes, which were dewy sweet,--"Joe, listen a minute. I am engaged
to Delia Whitney,--just to-night. But I hate mean, underhand things. I
wanted some one to know it. And--shall I tell mother? Of course she
won't like it; though I don't see why."

"Ben, I don't believe I would just now. You are young, and you won't be
married under a year or two. No, I would wait a little. She may settle
to it presently," said the elder, thoughtfully.

"I don't want her to feel hurt. I'd just like to go and tell her, I am
so happy."

He looked so brave and manly that Joe was almost sorry not to send him.
But he _did_ know that his mother objected to it strenuously, and might
say something that would cut Ben to the heart.

Latterly, he had been cherishing a vague belief that the affair would
end in a sort of a good comradeship.

"Thank you," Ben laid his hand on the elder's shoulder. "You are a dear
good brother, Joe. Don't you suppose you will ever marry? No one will be
quite good enough for you. You're a splendid fellow."

Joe went back to his book; but it had lost interest. Well--it was rather
queer. He had been made very welcome in several houses; and Margaret had
given delicate little suggestions. But he had never cared for any one.
He would be nine and twenty on his next birthday,--quite a bachelor.

It was somewhat curious; but Ben, who had never cared for fixing up,
though he was always clean, suddenly developed a new care for his cuffs
and collars, and indulged in light-coloured neckties, and gloves that he
could no longer "run and jump in," as Jim had accused him of doing. He
went out Sunday evening to tea, which was a new thing, though he often
stayed at the Whitneys' through the week. There was a certain air of
being of supreme consequence to some one; Mrs. Underhill rather resented
it.

Jim was very gay this winter. A good-looking young collegian who was
bright and full of fun, and could sing college glees in a fine tenor
voice, tell a capital story, and dance well, was not likely to go
begging.

One evening he stumbled over his old friend Lily Ludlow, whom he had not
seen for two years,--a tall, stylish girl, handsome in the ordinary
acceptation of the word, but lacking some of the finer qualities, if you
studied her closely. There had been some great changes in her life. Her
father had died suddenly, leaving but small provision for them. Chris
had her hands full trying to live pretentiously on a rather small
income.

They had found an elderly aunt of Mr. Ludlow's who, in her day, had been
quite a society woman. She had an old-fashioned but well furnished house
in Amity Street, and had not given up all her acquaintances. The house
was to go to her husband's family when she was done with it, there being
no children; and her income ended with her life, so there was nothing to
expect from her.

"But I do want a housekeeper and a nurse, sometimes," she said to
Mrs. Ludlow. "If you like to fill the place, you will have a good home
and good wages. And Lily's fine looks ought to get her a husband."

Amity Street still had a rather select air, if its fashion was falling
off a little. The house was old, but not out of date, and quite
imposing; and the big doorplate, with "Nicoll" on it, stamped it as
undeniably aristocratic, Miss Lily thought. She urged her mother to
accept it.

"I don't feel as if I could be at that queer old woman's beck and call.
I remember when we were first married she said some very mean things. My
family was quite as good as your father's, Lily. Neither of his brothers
amounted to much, though his sister married a rich Southerner and went
off to forget all her relatives. We've never asked anything of the
Ludlows, and I don't want to now."

"But it will only be for a year or two. Of course I shall marry; and
then you will have two homes."

"I'd a sight rather go with Chris. And if you could teach--seems to me
you might, with your education. And you have had two lovers already."

"Who couldn't take care of me. I am not going to marry that way. But, as
Aunt Nicoll says, 'We shall be sure of a good home.'"

Lily gained her point. Early in the preceding spring they had gone to
Amity Street. The spacious, old-fashioned parlours were a little out of
date, but had been elegant in their day. Lily laid off her mourning, and
fell heir to some handsome gowns that Chris helped her remodel. Mrs.
Nicoll was queer and bad-tempered; and the difficulty had been to keep
servants who would submit to such exactions. Matters went a little
smoother; but poor Mrs. Ludlow had to suffer.

Lily spent a month at Saratoga with Mrs. Nicoll and the maid. The old
lady was a good deal entertained by the airs and graces and bright ways
of her grand-niece. Lily made several conquests; but the desirable offer
of marriage was not forth-coming.

Mrs. Nicoll gave a reception early in the season,--a thing she always
did; and her friends attended with a certain kindly feeling that she was
old, and the duty might never be required of them again. Miss Lily made
quite an impression; and cards and invitations were left for her. And
when she attended a dance at the Apollo Rooms, the height of her
ambition was reached.

At a pretty private dance she met her school-day admirer again, and
tried her charms, which had increased notably since that youthful
period. She did dance beautifully, and had no lack of the small talk of
the day. Jim promised to call, and did so at an early date, rather
surprised at the solid elegance of the place. Lily expatiated skilfully
on dear old Aunt Nicoll, who _would_ have mother come and stay with her;
since they were alone it seemed the best thing to do; and Aunt Nicoll
had no near relatives of her own. There were plenty of her husband's
family "hungry for what she had," said Lily, with a sort of sneer, as if
they might find themselves mistaken in the end.

Certainly, Jim thought, Lily had dropped in a clover-field. He found
that Mrs. Nicoll was considered a rich woman. Lily was handsomely
dressed, and no doubt she would be kindly remembered in the old lady's
will. Not that Jim was speculating on any part or lot in the matter. He
was too young; he would have his three years in the law school, and
after that, getting established.

Lily begged him to bring some of his friends. The house was lonely, with
no young people for companionship; and she raised her eyes in the old
pleading fashion that even now had quite an effect upon him.

Jim chose several young men that he associated with. Some of them had
sisters, who declared Miss Ludlow charming. She was not anxious now to
have any of the Underhills on her visiting-list; but she did mean to
make use of Jim. She had grown quite worldly-wise and experienced.

Two of Jim's friends were generously supplied with pocket-money. One was
a young Virginian, Mr. Weir, the other, Harry Gaynor, and both spent
lavishly. Flowers were costly then; and Lily was the recipient of many a
handsome bouquet. In return, she now and then gave a dainty supper,
simple to be sure, or a card-party, with some delightful confections,
and a little coffee or chocolate. Mrs. Nicoll always retired early, and
took some drops to make sure of sleeping the first part of the night, so
she was not easily disturbed.

Then there were stars at the theatres. Parodi was emulating Jenny Lind,
who had gone to Havana; and the houses were crowded, if the tickets were
not so high. It was so easy to spend money when an artful girl, with
softest voice and bewitching eyes, planned for you. And it was so easy
to borrow, when you had good friends.

Miss Lily looked carefully over her ground; Harry Gaynor was gay and
delightful, but one couldn't be quite sure he was not flirting. And
though Mr. Weir had plenty of money, there was a large family of
brothers and sisters, and they lived on an extensive plantation miles
away from any considerable town. There was a Mr. Lewis, not so young,
who had an interest in an old well-established leather firm that had
been left him by an uncle. There were some non-eligibles.

Mrs. Nicoll had said, in her caustic way:--

"You make the most of your time, Lily Ludlow. I'm past eighty, and you
may find me dead in my bed some morning. I have not a stiver to leave
any one; so don't you count on that. I can hardly pay my own way."

Still she had every luxury for herself; for years she had considered
nothing but her own wants and indulgences.

Poor Jim! In his young mannishness he was quite sure there was no danger
of falling in love; of course such a thing would be wildest folly. But
Lily was very fascinating and very flattering. She put it on the score
of old friendship; but, with a coquette's ardour, she did enjoy the
young fellow's struggles to keep himself on a firm footing. And when he
saw Gaynor's attentions, and listened to Weir's rhapsodies, a passion of
boyish jealousy sprang up in his heart.

Miss Lily kept her other admirers out of the way, except as she might
meet them at dances or whist parties. She was not much in love with Mr.
Lewis; he was slow and really conceited, and, for a young man, rather
careful of his money. If she only dared run the risk, and take Mr. Weir,
who was to finish his college course in the summer! And then arose a new
star on her horizon.

Mr. Williamson was forty and a widower; but he drove an elegant pair of
bays, belonged to a club, and had apartments at a hotel. She tried
captivating simplicity, and succeeded, to her great surprise, though she
knew his habits were not irreproachable. She had begged of Mr. Lewis a
little time for consideration, when one morning Mr. Williamson
astonished her by a call, and an offer of his hand and fortune.

Miss Ludlow did not show her amazement, neither did she jump at the
offer. She was very delicately surprised. Was he quite certain of his
wishes? And--it was so unexpected!

So certain indeed that he would bring her a ring that very afternoon,
and take her out driving,--a man of his years not to know his own mind!

She could hardly believe her good fortune. For a fortnight she
engineered her way skilfully, still keeping Mr. Lewis in reserve. And
then she was convinced, and dismissed him.

"Guess who is engaged?" Harry Gaynor cried, one morning. "I never was so
beat in my life! Jim, maybe this will hit you hard. Seems to me you've
been rather distraught of late and sighing like a furnace."

"These exams are enough to make any one sigh. And I am way behind. I
must study day and night."

"There are always engagements at this season, and weddings at Easter,"
returned Weir, laughingly.

"That isn't guessing, Jim!"

"Oh, bother! What do I care?"

"Then your charmer told you last night?"

"My charmer? What are you driving at, Gaynor?"

"Oh, how innocent! Miss Lily Ludlow."

"I've met that Lewis there," returned Jim, with an air of bravado,
though he flushed a little. "He's a regular stick."

"But it isn't Lewis. It's that Gerald Williamson,--a man about town. And
the queer thing is that he thinks he has struck a fortune. Do _you_
know, Jim? Is she to be the old lady's heir?"

Jim was silent. What should he say?

"Of course she is," said Weir. "That is--I think it depends on whether
Mrs. Nicoll approves of the marriage."

He had turned very pale.

"Are you sure it is Williamson?" asked Jim.

"He announced it himself. My cousin heard him. And as for the old
lady--the house is willed away. I've heard some talk; I can't just
remember what. She's been shrewdly giving the impression."

"It would be a shame to sell her to the highest bidder! And Williamson's
double her age. No sister of mine would be allowed to do such a thing.
She can't love him! Why, she has only been driving out with him a few
times."

"If she's sold, she has done the business herself. She's a girl to look
out for the main chance. Weir, I hope you haven't been hovering too near
the flame. The Ludlow is capital to flirt with,--quick, spicy,
sentimental by spells, not the kind of a girl to waste herself on a
young, impecunious fellow like our friend Jim, here, so he goes
scot-free. Weir, I hope you're not hard hit. We've all had a good time;
but I think now we must address ourselves to the examinations in hand,
and let the girls go. Though I am in for two big weddings, presently."

There was a summons to the class-room that stopped the chaffing. Jim
felt very sober. Lily had indirectly led him to think she cared a great
deal about him, and if matters only _were_ a little different! He ought
not to get engaged; but the preference was flattering when a man like
Weir was head over heels in love with her!

But to marry an old man like Gerald Williamson! thought the young
fellow, disdainfully.



CHAPTER XVI

COUNTING UP THE COST


Jim failed miserably. What was the matter? He couldn't seem to remember
the simplest thing. Did it make any difference to him whom she married?
Well--if it _had_ been Weir; but that imperious, pretentious,
half-dissipated Williamson, who report said had run though with one
fortune, and two years ago had fallen heir to another! Why were some
people so lucky! Grandmother Van Kortlandt had some money; but Hanny was
named for her, and Joe was a great favourite. Then Jim flushed hotly.
The idea of counting on any one's money!

Still he had a boyish, chivalric idea that he would like to snatch Lily
from this awful peril, as it seemed to him. Could it be really true? The
older men said Williamson was a braggart. There might be no truth in it.
He would ask Lily.

Several days passed before Jim achieved his desire. Then, as he loitered
around one afternoon, he saw Williamson leave the house. After a few
moments he knocked.

"Miss Lily is indisposed, and cannot see any one," announced the maid.

"She will see me," returned Jim, with an air of dignity; and he walked
into the parlour that had an atmosphere of twilight, quite determined to
remain until she came down.

She seemed in no hurry, and Jim's temper began to loose its serenity.
The maid came and lighted the gas jet in the hall. Then there was a
rustle of silken garments on the stair.

"Oh, Jim dear," the entreating voice said, "I've had such a horrid
headache all the afternoon. I've been in the bed. I really did not feel
fit to see any one," with a languid, indifferent air.

And Williamson had just gone away!

"So you will excuse me, if I'm stupid--"

"Is the story true about your--your engagement?" asked the young fellow,
abruptly.

"My engagement? Well, I've had an offer of marriage,--two of them.
Wouldn't you advise me to take the best one?" rather archly.

The tone rang flippantly. Jim felt she was evading.

"You see I can't be young always. And Aunt Nicoll may go without a
moment's warning. She had a bad spell yesterday; and she does get in
such horrid tantrums! Mother is awfully tired of staying with her. And
most girls get married--those who have a chance." She ended with a
forced little laugh.

"Is it Williamson? You don't know the sort of man he is," and Jim's
voice was husky with emotion.

"Oh, everybody gets talked about sooner or later! He has been rather
wild; but he wants to settle down now. And I'm not a sentimental girl.
Yes, I do think I'll take him," hesitatingly.

"Lily!"

"Oh, Jim, you are very young and inexperienced! If you were ten years
older, there wouldn't be a man on the whole earth I'd marry as soon. But
you know I said we could only be friends; and I hope you haven't been
cherishing any silly romances about me," tossing her head coquettishly.
"I shall always like you, and I want us to keep friends. But you can't
understand all the reasons. Some girls might drag you into an
engagement, and waste all your young years; but I could not be so mean
to any friend I cared about. We have settled all this matter."

Her tone took on a rather sharp business accent. It was almost curt.

Yes, it had been settled. Yet she had demanded a lover-like devotion,
and allowed him to speculate on what might have been if she were rich or
he older. And though Jim's sturdy common-sense had kept him from going
very deep, he felt wretched and jealous that any other man should have
the supreme right; and yet he had a conviction that the friendship or
flirtation ought to end.

"He thinks you are Mrs. Nicoll's heiress."

She gave a light laugh. "Oh, that will do to talk about; and she may
leave me a little. If I was her heiress--"

The glance roused Jim's anger. He rose suddenly.

"I hope you love Williamson," he said, in a tone that he meant to sound
bitterly cutting. "A girl who sells herself for money to such a man--"

"Nonsense, Jim!" She rose also. "You'll find most of the world will
consider it a good marriage; and anyhow, I have to look out for myself.
It's too bad to break up the pleasant times we've had this winter; but
you must not be angry. You will understand it better presently. I
wouldn't let you go off in this way if I hadn't such a wretched
headache; but you will come in again."

Jim said good-evening with superb dignity. What a stylish fellow he was.
Of course he felt a little "huffy" now; but next winter, when she had a
home of her own, she would give attractive parties, and invite Jim among
the very first. By that time he would be over his boyish folly. And now,
what must she wear to the theatre to-night? She must look her prettiest.
Her wretched headache was gone.

James Underhill felt as he had sometimes in the old school days, that he
had been duped. He was angry with her, with himself. He had brought his
friends to the house; and he knew Weir was really in love with her, yet
she had laughed daintily about some of his peculiarities. What if she
had laughed with Gaynor about him? She did satirise people. It was
strange how many faults he saw in her! Yet he did hate to have her
marry Williamson.

He heard of her being at the theatre that evening with an array of
diamonds, which young girls seldom wore. In a week or so the marriage
was discussed with a little wonder. Mrs. Nicoll was one of the old New
Yorkers, a Ludlow herself. It was fortunate for Lily's prestige that her
plain, unambitious father was dead, and her mother kept well in the
background. No one quite knew about the fortune.

Richard Weir was certainly hard hit. He made a pretence of devoting
himself to his studies to keep away from Gaynor's raillery. But one day
he said to Jim,--

"Something ought to be done to save Miss Ludlow from such an awful
sacrifice; don't you think so, Underhill? That old aunt has egged her
on, and she's doing this for her mother's sake. If I was in a position
to marry, I know I could persuade her to throw it up. What shall I do,
Jim? I know she really loves me. She is heroic about it. She thinks it
would spoil my life in the very beginning. I don't know how father would
take it; and there's such a family of us to provide for."

"Let her alone," returned Jim, gruffly. So she had played with this
honest-hearted young fellow as well; and the saddest of all was that he
really believed in her.

"She will marry Williamson, no matter what comes. Weir, I'm sorry enough
I introduced you, if you are going to take it that way. Lily Ludlow is
a flirt, pure and simple. I've never believed it until now. There is no
use in our wasting our sympathies upon her."

"You don't half do her justice, Jim; if you could hear her side--"

"I have heard it," laconically. "Weir, I'm awful sorry," and he wrung
the young fellow's hand.

There was another aspect to Jim beside the mortification. He had dropped
behind in his standing. Late hours and planning all sorts of amusements
had distracted his attention. And there was another fact to face. He had
been spending money with a lavishness that he wondered at now. He had
borrowed of Weir, of Gaynor, of Ben. When he counted up the total he was
dismayed. His father had been generous. They had all been very proud of
him. How could he confess the miserable fiasco to any one? Perhaps,
after he had taken his degree--

But he had to study hard for that. No more frolicking about! He had a
good deal of resolution, when it was put to the test. He would ask
sober-going Ben to lend him a hundred dollars, which he would pay back
by degrees. No girl should ever win a smile out of him again. He would
never borrow when he was once out of this difficulty.

He knew Dick Weir really needed his money, and this emboldened him to
apply to Ben. Alas!

"I'd do it in a minute Jim; but I've been trying a sort of experiment.
I had a chance to buy some capital stock, five hundred dollars' worth,
and I just scraped up everything I had, and borrowed, so I'm behind, and
must catch up. You've been pretty gay, haven't you, Jim?"

"I have been an idiot," replied Jim, sturdily. "But I have learned a
lesson."

"You just go to Joe. He's the best fellow in all the world. Don't worry
father about it; he takes such pride in his young collegian," and Ben
smiled with generous kindliness upon his younger brother.

That was the best thing certainly; yet it was days before Jim could
summon sufficient courage. And then he found, as he blundered a little
over the matter, that Joe thought it worse than it really was.

"Have you been gambling?" the elder asked gravely.

"No, not that, Joe. It's all been a silly sort of extravagance. I am mad
at myself when I think of it." He wouldn't say he had been tempted by a
girl into much unwise expenditure. How could he have been so weak!

"It will be all right," returned Joe. "I am glad it is not gambling
debts; though a hundred dollars wouldn't cover much. I hope you are
coming through in good shape."

"You may be sure of that. Oh, Joe, how kind you are!"

"What is brotherhood for, if not that?" said Joe gravely.

He would not put himself in the way of meeting Miss Ludlow, though she
did send him two rather plaintive notes. Early in June, the marriage
took place; and the bride's trousseau was quite magnificent, if it was
not made in Paris. Mrs. Nicoll was delighted with what she termed her
grandniece's good sense, and gave her a handsome set of rubies, beside
having her diamonds reset for her. And when she died, some two months
later, it was found she had made a new will on Lily's wedding day, in
which she bequeathed the bride all her personal effects and some
valuable bank-stock, if the amount was not very large. The next winter,
Mrs. Williamson took her place in society, and was quite a married
belle, managing her husband as adroitly as she had managed her lovers.

Jim studied day and almost night to make up for the dissipation of the
winter, and passed with honour, though Joe had hoped he would have one
of the orations. He went immediately into the law office of a friend of
Stephen's as clerk and copyist while he was waiting for the new term of
the law school.

Charles Reed did distinguish himself, and was one of the heroes of the
occasion. He was a fine, manly fellow now, and Mrs. Dean loved him like
a son. Indeed, it seemed as if he might be her son, the young people
were so much to each other. Josie would graduate the next year at the
high school.

Ben and Delia had gone along through the winter with very little
change, except to learn how much they loved each other. The young men
did not have quite such rollicking good times, though Nora was
developing into a very attractive young girl and enchanted them with her
singing. Delia was very busy trying her best to come up to some high
standards of literary work. Everybody was not a genius in those days.
Colleges had not begun to turn them out by the score, and the elder
people were very often helpful to the younger ones.

There was, it is true, a certain kind of Bohemianism among the men that
proved dangerous to more than one fine, promising mind. Ben liked the
bright wit and keen encounters, and the talk that ran through centuries
of intellectual activity as if it was only yesterday. He was taking a
curious interest in politics as well, for some great questions were
coming to the fore.

Mrs. Underhill had preserved a cautious silence respecting Delia,
indeed, ignored the whole matter. Dolly was cordial when they met. Jim
had been so taken up with his engrossing experience that he rarely went
to Beach Street; and the two sets of society were widely apart. Delia
had supposed everything would come around straight; it generally did in
her happy-go-lucky fashion.

But on Commencement day, when she was all smiles and gladness, Mrs.
Underhill's coolness and Mrs. Hoffman's stately distance quite amazed
her.

"Ben," she said, "something has happened with your people. Your mother
hardly spoke to me, and Margaret was icy. And now that I come to think
of it, Hanny hasn't been near us since Nora's birthday--February that
was. Are they offended because--don't they like our engagement? And I
love them all so, from least to greatest; only Margaret is rather high
up."

"Hanny's had such lots of lessons, and her music, and she's
corresponding with Daisy Jasper in French. Grandmother takes her time,
too. You don't have so much leisure out of childhood."

"What jolly times we had back there in First Street! Oh, Ben, I did like
you all so much! And I can't bear to have the good feeling die out."

There were tears in Delia's brown eyes. Ben was moved immeasurably.

"May be I ought to have said something to mother; Joe counselled me to
wait."

"Then it has been talked about!" Delia stood up very straight, and
looked like a spirited picture. "What is their objection to me? Your
family are all prospering. Stephen is really a man of mark; Of course
Dr. Hoffman was rich to begin with. And John's wife had quite a fortune
when her parents died. Joe is up among the important people; and Jim
will make a smart lawyer, every one says. You _are_ a splendid lot!" and
her honest admiration touched him.

"I don't know. I've never felt very splendid."

"You are solid, and strong, and sensible. What a pity that alliteration
won't do in a poem!" and she laughed in her joyous manner. "I don't
care if you never are rich, so long as we have good times. And as you
can't write a bit of verse, you dear, lovely old Ben, nor a story, I do
not believe our tastes will clash. Why shouldn't we agree just as well
when we are married as we do now? Even that tremendous, gloomy, erratic
Edgar Allan Poe adored not only his wife, but his mother-in-law. To be
sure, there was Milton and Byron, and Mrs. Hemans and Bulwer, and a host
of them; but Mr. and Mrs. Browning are going on serenely. And 'The
Scarlet Letter' hasn't made trouble in Hawthorne's family yet. I think
it is temper, rather than genius. And I have a good temper, Ben,"
looking up out of honest, convincing eyes.

"You just have," returned Ben, with emphasis, kissing her fondly.

"Ben, I love you too well to make you unhappy."

"You will never make me unhappy."

"May be I'm not careful enough in little things."

"I don't fret about the little things," said Ben. "We both like
easy-chairs, and evenings at home, and reading about famous people, or
queer people, and wonderful places. We both like a fire, and a cat; I
adore a nice cat, it is such a comfortable thing. And we like to go out
where people are bright and vivacious, and know something. We're fond of
music, and pictures, and like a good play. Oh, there are things enough
to agree upon all our lives; so what would be the use of hunting round
to find a few things to dispute about."

"Why, there wouldn't be. But I want your mother to like me, and to feel
sure I shall do my best to make you happy. Of course, we may not get
rich."

"Bother riches! But I'm not going to give you up for anybody in
Christendom."

"You are very sweet, Ben." There was a sound of tears in Delia's voice.

"I'll see what it is," subjoined Ben. "Oh, it will all come straight, I
know."

"I shall not marry you for the next seven years, no, not for twenty,
until everybody is willing," said Delia, decisively.

Why couldn't people be kindly affectioned one toward another, as the
Apostle enjoined, when there was nothing very objectionable in the
other? It puzzled Ben. He was passionately fond of his mother, too; but
the issue had to be met. And the very next evening when Mrs. Underhill
was out watering her garden, that had in it all manner of sweet herbs
and the old-time flowers dear to her heart, Ben came wandering down the
clean-cut path.

"Mother," when they had both stood silently several minutes,--"mother, I
want to tell you--Delia Whitney and I are engaged."

"I supposed as much," said his mother, tartly. Then she turned to come
up the path.

"Mother, you have welcomed Dolly and Cleanthe; and we have all been like
brothers and sisters. Haven't you a tender word for Delia? You used to
like her."

"Delia Whitney was well enough for a neighbour. You have run and run
there, Ben, and really never taken the trouble to look about. You are
young, and hardly know what is best for you. You could have looked
higher. But you've gotten in with those newspaper people; and they do
drink, and are not very choice in their company."

"And lawyers drink; yet we are going to make a lawyer out of Jim. And we
have known country farmers addicted to the habit. Newspaper-men are
quite up to the average. But that has nothing to do with Delia."

"No, women don't so often take to drinking. But she is in it all; and I
don't like such public business for a woman. A wife's place is at home;
and Mrs. Whitney is a very poor housekeeper. Ben, a great deal of a
man's happiness depends on the way his house is kept."

"But their house is always bright and pleasant. And think how Delia used
to work in First Street. She can keep house good enough for me."

"You have always had things so neat and orderly, Ben, that you don't
know how trying that sort of helter-skelter housekeeping can be. A woman
can't run hither and yon, and write stories and what not; and now they
are beginning to lecture and talk, and make themselves as mannish as
possible! No, I don't like it. And I pity the man who has to live in
that sort of neglected home. And then, Ben, come disputes and
separations."

He had heard the narrow reasoning before. Mrs. Reed came into his mind.
With her passion for cleanliness and order, she certainly knew nothing
about a happy, comfortable home. His mother still scouted a
sewing-machine. Delia had hired one with a good operator, and declared
that in a week they had done up all the summer sewing. He knew his
mother would say it was only half-done. To be sure, Delia's mother was a
great novel-reader and had neglected her household many a time for an
interesting book. But _she_ wrote neither stories nor verses.

"Of course, you will do as you like. And you think you are the only one
that will suffer. But a mother has many sorrowful hours over a son's
unhappiness and discomfort."

Then she passed him, and went into the house. And, after the fashion of
unreasoning women, she hurried up to her own room and cried a few bitter
tears. Ben had been such a good, upright, pleasant son. He ought to have
the best wife in the world, for he was easy-going and would put up with
almost anything. She _was_ disappointed.

She would have scouted the idea of being aristocratic or mercenary; yet
she did want him to look higher. There had been such an attractive
Hoffman cousin spending a month with Margaret, who thought Ben
delightful. There were two or three girls in the neighbourhood. In fact,
a young man might as well marry some one of distinction and character;
Dolly and Cleanthe were none the worse for their money.

"I don't know what I can do," Ben said to Dolly, with a sigh. "Delia has
a suspicion that mother is against her. I'm not in a hurry to marry;
but Delia won't marry me until everybody is ready to welcome her."

"Yes, you are young; and a good many things come around straight if you
give them time, just like a northeast wind. Ask Delia to come up to tea,
whenever she and you are at liberty."

Dolly kissed Ben. In some respects he was still boyish.

Margaret was vexed over the certainty. It was said Nora Whitney had a
chance to go abroad with a Madame Somebody who used to sing in operas.
She would be educated for a professional. Of course a Jenny Lind or a
Parodi or Malibran was different; but just an ordinary singer!--or one
could admire an acknowledged woman of genius who had a position, or any
social prestige!

Ben said nothing to Delia; but she guessed his announcement had not been
satisfactory. She had not been to the Underhills for six months or more.
But, in her generous fashion, she made no comment.

Late that summer a wonderful thing happened that filled everybody with
elation, and for twenty-four hours set the city wild. Every show-window
had a picture of a trim, spirited yacht that seemed to have triumph
written all over her; and men and boys crowded around to look at it, and
cheered it with an enthusiasm seldom inspired nowadays. We were all
going wild over our great triumph; for we had distanced England on the
seas and in British waters. The gallant "America" had borne off the
"Queen's Cup," the prize offered for the fleetest yacht in the great
race.

We had been very proud of our fleet "clippers" that were scudding about
to different ports. Then the Steers brothers had built the "America" for
Mr. Stevens, of the New York Yacht Club; and he decided to take her over
to the great contest that was to be a race around the Isle of Wight. She
met with a little mishap in the beginning; but, nothing daunted, her
courageous captain kept on to the end, eighty-one miles, and distanced
all competitors. Other yachts of all nations were entered; and it must
have been a magnificent sight when she had eight minutes to spare, and
could glance back at her really splendid rivals. The pretty story of
Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort was told over many times. The
Queen asked the captain of the royal yacht who was first.

"The 'America,' your Majesty."

"And who is second?"

"There is no second, your Majesty," returned the Captain, gallantly
admitting the defeat.

So the brave "America," after being flattered and fêted, brought home
her trophy; and thousands rushed to see that and the beautiful yacht.
But the English Club did not mean to resign honours so easily, and
announced that efforts would be made to win back the famous cup. And
to-day the cup is still ours, after many challenges and trials.

But the enthusiasm then knew no bounds. There were little flags with a
miniature yacht and the American colours; and the patriotic boys wore
them in their jackets. Jim put up a handsome engraving in his room.

He had been working like a Trojan all summer, except a brief fortnight,
and had begun to pay back his debt.

Nora Whitney was to go abroad under the care of a well-known musician
and his wife, who was a fine concert-singer. It seemed such an excellent
opportunity; and Nora had an ambition to reach a high standard. The
Professor and Madame had visited the Whitneys, and both parties were
mutually satisfied.

"I could never let a child of mine go away among strangers in that
manner," declared Mrs. Underhill. "No one can tell what will happen to
her. I shouldn't have thought it of Mr. Theodore. The women, of course,
are not overweighted with common sense, and the poor child has no
mother."

"Oh, dear," sighed Hanny, "all the little girls are dropping out; and we
used to have such nice times. I do wonder if Daisy means ever to come
back. And Josie Dean is a young lady with long dresses, and does up her
hair."

"Elenora Whitney is not worth worrying about," subjoined Mrs. Underhill,
tartly; "and Josie Dean is a very nice, modest girl."

Charles Reed and Josie had dropped into a fashion of making frequent
calls during the summer. The young fellow made a confidant of Doctor
Joe, as young people were very apt to do, he was so sympathetic and
kindly.

Mr. Reed had quite a fancy at first that he should study medicine.

"It is a fine profession, when one's heart is in it," said Doctor Joe.
"And there are so many new discoveries and methods all the time. Still,
I can't quite fancy Charlie taking up the disagreeable side."

"He could be a professor, I suppose," commented his father, rather
reluctantly. "He loves study and books, and he ought to turn his
education to some account. I would do anything for him; he knows that.
He is all I have; and he is a fine boy."

It was odd; but Charlie talked his desire over with Josie first of all,
and she approved of it enthusiastically. Then he rather timidly
confessed it to his father.

"I used to believe that I never wanted to be a clergyman; but, after
mother died, I began to think it over. She was so sort of sweet and
changed that last year, almost as if she had a presentiment; and though
she took such an interest in my studies, she never spoke of that, though
I know it was her heart's desire. All the time I seem to have had a
leaning towards it. It is a grand life, when one's heart and soul are in
it; and I am sure now mine would be. I should feel as if I was keeping
near to her, and doing something for her happiness. And if you would not
feel disappointed--"

"My boy, I should be gratified," said his father, warmly. "I should not
have tried to influence your choice; but I do think, in certain ways,
you are especially fitted for this profession. I can trust you never to
bring discredit on so sacred a calling; and I think you are alive to
the true responsibility of it. Yes; it is what she would like, if she
were here."

Jim declared he had felt sure of this decision all the last year. They
all decided Charles Reed would make a fine conscientious clergyman.



CHAPTER XVII

A GLAD SURPRISE


Doctor Joe stood at the doorway of the Institute. It was still in
Madison Street, though it was to go up-town and be transformed into a
college. The girls came trooping out,--they were really girls then, and
had a deliciously girlish air.

"Oh, Joe!" cried Hanny, glancing up rather in amaze. What had happened?

He bowed gravely to some of her compeers. They thought Jim splendid; but
they stood a little in awe of grave Doctor Joe.

"I have come for you to go and make a call," he said. "Let me take your
books."

She glanced up the street.

"Oh, this isn't in style," he began laughingly. "I have neither coach
nor four."

"Then we will have a nice walk. Where? Down at the Battery?"

She had such a sweet, eager face, and she was so easily pleased.

"We will go over to Broadway, first," he replied. "Then--well, wherever
you like."

So they chatted as they walked along, across City Hall Square, where the
fountain was still playing on sunny days.

The Astor House was yet in its glory. She wondered a little, as they
walked up the stone steps, through the hall, and then up the thickly
padded stairs, and into the spacious parlour.

A lady, dressed in black, was standing by the window, and turned
smilingly. Hanny was bewildered by a familiar likeness. Then a young
girl sprang up from the sofa; and Hanny caught a glint of golden curls,
as she was clasped in the outstretched arms.

"Oh, Hanny!"

"Oh, Daisy!"

That was all they said for a moment or two. They cried a little, as
people often do, out of pure gladness, and just hugged each other
tighter.

"I was so afraid I never should see you again. Papa laughed. You know he
has crossed the ocean so many times. If I hadn't been coming home, I
suppose I shouldn't have been worried. But it seemed such a long, long
while, and I was just crazy to see you, to get home. I don't believe I
shall ever really want to go abroad again."

Hanny raised her head from Daisy Jasper's shoulder. Oh, what a tall girl
she was! Her complexion was like pearl and blush roses; her hair was a
wonderful gold; and her eyes, somehow, suggested the starry heaven at
night. Hanny felt strangely abashed.

Then Mrs. Jasper claimed a greeting. Hanny knew that a year ago they had
lost Aunt Ellen, with an attack of fever. Mrs. Jasper looked rather
pale, but she had not changed.

"Why, you haven't grown a bit!" cried Daisy. "And look at me! You'll
have to go to German baths, and all that, to get a good start. What a
pity you did not go with us! I've had such a longing for girls. You
don't get acquainted with them on the continent. They are always in the
school-room. And I am just hungry, all the way through, for some one
young and enthusiastic, and foolish and merry things to laugh at."

"But--I didn't know you were coming--"

"No, dear Doctor Joe kept the secret well. We did hope to be in on
Saturday."

"Then _you_ knew?" and she looked half reproachfully at her brother.

He laughed. He had only done Daisy's bidding.

"Now, if you want to keep Hanny to dinner, I'll come down this evening.
I have a few calls to make," he announced presently.

"Indeed we do. You have so many folks, you might give me Hanny," and
Daisy glanced at Doctor Joe with a bright, arch smile.

"If you took Hanny, you would have to take father and me, sure. The
others might squeeze along without her; but I am afraid they would get
thin on it."

Then the Doctor nodded and went his way.

"Now that you have Hanny, I will go and unpack one of the trunks," said
Mrs. Jasper.

Hanny and Daisy went down in the corner of the long apartment, and took
possession of a _tête-à-tête_.

"Oh, you are so changed!" cried the little girl "And so--so beautiful!"

"And so well! That's the loveliest thing. I can take long walks and
dance, think of that! I am only a little lame. Just the merest crook in
my back, and one leg a tiny bit shorter, but a thick sole makes it all
right. And I've grown like a weed, while you are a tiny bit of something
very choice,--a dainty little white rose. And I am so glad to have you
again. Oh, don't let anything ever come between us! Let us be friends
all our lives long. I have brought you a beautiful ring to bind
friendship."

"Oh," sighed Hanny, in delight.

"And there have been so many changes! Oh, who do you think we met in
London? Not Whittington and his cat, but Nora Whitney without her cat.
And poor Pussy Gray is dead, and Nora is a tall young lady with a
splendid voice, and will make a famous singer, I suppose. And Delia is
getting to be famous too, I hear. It is odd, but she doesn't suggest a
genius to my mind. I think you often are disappointed in geniuses. We
saw some while abroad, and they did not come up to my expectations, or
else one expects too much. Still there are some lovely faces."

"But she is just delightful! Only she keeps so busy, we do not see much
of her."

"And poor little Tudie! How sad it was! I can sympathise with her sister
now, for being an only child."

Then Hanny said Charlie had entered a theological seminary; and Daisy
agreed being a clergyman would prove just the calling for him, he was so
earnest and conscientious. Hanny had written everything, she thought;
but Daisy was so eager to hear it all over again.

Mr. Jasper came in. He had been back and forth, and kept up the habit of
calling on the Underhills, so nothing about Hanny surprised him.

The little girl felt rather startled when she went into the large
dining-room. At this period, there were people who spent the whole
season at the Astor House, though there were some newer hotels that were
very attractive. It was like a grand party, Hanny thought. The ladies
were so prettily attired, so bright and chatty.

When they went back to the parlour, that looked like a party, too. Hanny
felt very plain in her school-dress. There were a number of Mr. Jasper's
business friends, that he brought up to introduce to his wife and the
two girls. But they were so busy talking, that they hardly noticed any
one else.

Doctor Joe returned, armed with an invitation from Mrs. Underhill, for
Mrs. Jasper and Daisy, to come up and make them a visit; and Mrs. Jasper
said she should be glad to go somewhere, and find an old-fashioned
American home-feeling. Daisy could hardly let Hanny go. Doctor Joe
proposed that he should come for Daisy the next day, for she could not
be of any special service to her mother until some plans were decided
upon. That was a splendid thought.

They kissed and kissed, as if they were never to see each other again.
Hanny's eyes were lustrous, and her cheeks pink with excitement. And
there was so much to tell her mother.

"You must go to bed," declared Doctor Joe. "It is after ten."

"But, oh, my lessons! I have not looked at them."

"Never mind lessons now. You can get up early in the morning."

She was very tired, she had talked so much and listened so intently. And
in five minutes she was asleep, in spite of the unlearned lessons.

She studied every moment the next morning, and all the way down in the
stage, and managed to get through. She was a very good scholar
ordinarily, and ambitious to have perfect recitations. But she kept
counting the hours, for she could hardly believe Daisy Jasper was really
at home.

Joe brought her up to the house when he had finished his round of calls.
He handed her out quite as if she was a stylish young lady, though she
was not in long gowns. But Joe was curiously proud of her, as being one
of his first cases.

Everybody gave her a cordial welcome. Jim was at once her most devoted.
Mrs. Underhill soon concluded foreign ways had not spoiled her; and
grandmother said she was a pretty-behaved, intelligent girl. But, oh,
the things she had seen, and done! She could talk French and German; she
had taken painting-lessons from real artists, and had some pretty
studies for Hanny, in a box not yet unpacked. She had brought the
friendship ring, which was two tiny hands clasped over a sapphire with
diamond sparks around it. Hanny's eyes shone with delight; she was
getting quite a collection in the way of gifts.

Daisy seemed to bring a fascinating atmosphere. She was not forward,
indeed there was often a pretty air of deprecation; but she had seen a
good deal of society without being actually in it, and, since her aunt's
death, had been her mother's companion. Her different lessons had mostly
been given at home, except those in oil-painting; and there was no air
of schools about her. She was so ready to be entertaining, so fresh, and
yet with a charming simplicity.

"I am so glad for Hanny to have such a friend," her mother said to the
Doctor. "She hasn't seemed to take any one to her heart since we have
been up here; and it does make her seem a bit old-fashioned to be so
much with elderly people."

"Yes. They seem to suit exactly."

Jim took them over to the Deans' one evening. Oh, what a merry talk they
had about old times, for it did seem quite old to them. They recalled
the day in summer, when the "caravan" went down Broadway to the store
where Charles had been employed one vacation, and dear old First Street.
Biddy Brady, who had danced for them, had run away and married a young
Irishman. Old Mrs. McGiven still sold candies and cakes, and
slate-pencils, and, oh, Washington pie that was almost as great a
necessity to childhood then, as chewing-gum is now.

Mr. Jasper brought up the pictures when he escorted his wife. There were
two pretty bits of landscape on the shore of Lake Geneva, and the other
a Holland scene, with a stretch of canal and a queer house that looked
as if it might topple over some day, if the foundation was washed out.

"But they never do," explained Daisy. "It's all so curious, and most of
it so clean! And, oh, the windmills, and the queer costumes that have
not changed in a century!"

Beside that there was a water-colour, a study of the most elegant
tulips, painted from a real bed.

Hanny was wild with delight. They hung the pictures in her room, though
Doctor Joe declared they ought to go in his study. He pretended to feel
very badly that Daisy had not done anything for him.

"I will wait until I can paint something really worthy," she replied
with a bright flush. "I owe you so much, that I ought to give you the
very best. I mean to go on with my lessons. I love the work, and if I
have any talent, it certainly is that."

"But you used to draw figures, faces," said Hanny, "and they were so
real."

"In the summer I took lessons in miniature painting on ivory. I must
confess that is my ambition; but it will take years to attain to
perfection. I suppose now I ought to go to studying solid branches," and
she laughed lightly. "I've begun wrong end first, with the
accomplishments. But I had to talk German, for mamma wouldn't bother.
And as she had not forgotten all her French, she went at that with me,
and so I am a tolerable scholar. But I dare say Hanny could twist me all
up with mathematics. I only know enough to count change. Still, I am
quite an expert in foreign money. And, Hanny, were my sentences
fearfully and wonderfully constructed, and did I slip up often on
spelling?"

"I am quite sure you did not," protested Hanny.

"I do suppose she ought to go to a good school," said Mrs. Jasper.

"I am afraid I should not like school now. I could no longer be the
heroine. And how could I descend to an ordinary station in life? Oh, Dr.
Underhill, can't you interpose on the score of my still delicate
health."

She had such a pretty colour in her cheeks, and her eyes shone with
merriment.

"Doctor, you really must begin to be severe with her. She has her own
way quite too much."

But it was a very charming way, they all thought. She roused Hanny to an
unwonted brightness. Even grandmother laid claim to her, for she was
delighted with her piquant description of places and people. She had
heard Jenny Lind, and several other noted singers; but it seemed to her
that the ovation to the Swedish Nightingale in New York must have been
magnificent.

Jim claimed her when he was indoors; and they had many a merry bout. It
hardly seemed possible that the few years could have wrought such a
change in her. Ben took glowing accounts to Delia; and although she felt
hurt and sore over the coolness of the Underhills, she did not abate one
jot of her love for Ben.

She had been very busy arranging Nora's wardrobe, and now most of the
care of the house devolved upon her. Mrs. Whitney would read for hours
to Aunt Patty; often the old lady went soundly asleep. To be sure,
matters were not attended to with the niceness of Mrs. Underhill; but
Barbara was a treasure with her German neatness, and Bridget kept her
kitchen at sixes and sevens. Mr. Theodore brought home one guest or
three, with the same indifference; and if Ben's mother could have seen
the cheerful manner in which Delia hurried about and arranged the table
on short notice, she must have modified her opinion a little. Theodore
was quite negligent about money-matters as well. Sometimes he was very
lavish; then he would declare he was "dead broke," and she must do the
best she could. Three or four of his friends would be in about ten, and
couldn't she fix up a bit of something?

Sometimes she ran a little in debt; but when the good times came, she
was only too eager to get matters straight. And she was so bright and
gay with it all, and made Ben's visits so pleasant, that he sometimes
forgot there was any trouble.

She had said decisively that they could not marry yet awhile; and Ben
had accepted her fiat. But they did begin to plan for the journey
abroad, and had a good deal of entertainment counting the cost, and
considering where they would go.

"I should so like to see Daisy Jasper," she said.

"I will ask her to come down," answered Ben.

But Dolly invited them both up one Saturday, when Hanny and Daisy were
to be there to tea. And Daisy told Delia about meeting Nora, and how
happy she was in her new prospects.

She had been a little homesick, she wrote to Delia, but only for a few
hours at a time. Madame Clavier was as careful as any mother could be,
fussy, she thought sometimes; but no doubt it was for her good.

Daisy was very attractive to the children until Delia came, when they
deserted their new friend for stories. Delia had not lost her girlish
gift.

The Jaspers were a month making up their minds what to do, and then
decided to board until spring at least. Joe found them a very pleasant
place in their neighbourhood, to Hanny's delight. She was so glad to get
her dear friend back again, sweet and unchanged; not but what she had
found several charming girls at school, and some of them were just wild
to see that lovely Miss Jasper, so her circle was widening all the time.

Margaret thought she ought to wear long dresses. Girls not quite grown
up wore them to their gaiter-tops. Crisp, elegant button-boots had not
come in, like a good many other excellent things. And Hanny was
undeniably petite. Stretch up her very utmost, she hardly measured five
feet. Women had not, by taking thought, added an inch to their stature
by high heels. There were one or two "lifts" put in between the soles,
called spring-heels; but the hats helped out a little.

"I haven't grown an inch this year," she declared ruefully. "And I am
afraid I never will be any taller. It's queer, when all the rest of you
are large."

"You are just right," said her father. "You will be my little girl all
your life long."

Doctor Joe comforted her with the asseveration that he liked little
women, "honest and true;" and Daisy also insisted she was just right.

"For you see how admirably your head goes down on my shoulder; and if we
were the same size, we should be bumping heads. Queen Victoria is only
five feet, and she is very queenly."

"But I am not queenly."

"No, but you could be, if you set about it."

She had some frocks to wear out that could not be let down; and her
mother settled the question according to that for the present.

There was another thing that gave her a vague suspicion of being grown
up, and that was cards.

The "quality" used visiting-cards; but it would have been considered
underbred and pretentious to sow them around in the modern manner. They
were kept for state occasions. Of course Dolly and Margaret had them;
and Hanny thought Joseph B. Underhill, M. D., looked extremely elegant.
Jim had some written ones in exquisite penmanship. He had not given up
society because one girl had proved false and deceitful. He made a
point of bowing distantly to Mrs. Williamson, and flushed even now at
the thought of having been such a ninny!

Daisy Jasper's name was on her mother's cards. But you couldn't persuade
Mrs. Underhill into any such nonsense. She declared if Joe brought her
home any, she would put them in the fire. One day, however, he dropped a
small white box into Hanny's lap, as she sat in his easy-chair, studying
her lessons. It was too small for confectionery; it might be--she had
coveted a pair of bracelets.

So she looked up with an inquiring smile.

"Open it, and see if they suit."

She was sure then it was bracelets.

There was white tissue-paper and something stiff. She tumbled the
contents out in her lap. A few cards fell the plain side up. She turned
one over. In very delicate script she saw--

"Miss Nan Underhill."

"Oh!" with a cry of delight. They called her Nan altogether at
Stephen's, and the school-girls wrote her name in that manner. She often
used it in writing notes. It looked so very attractive now.

"Oh, you lovely Joe!"

"They are nice to use with your girl-friends. There are a great many
little society regulations that show refinement and good breeding, and I
want you to observe them. When you get to be a middle-aged woman, Hannah
Ann will look solid and dignified. I consulted Daisy and Mrs. Jasper,
and both approved."

"Just a thousand thanks," and she threw up her arms to bring his face
down within kissing reach.

The long skirt was settled by a rather peculiar circumstance.

We were beginning to have real literary aspirations, and some writers
who attracted attention abroad. Miss Bremer had found a great many
things to like in us; and Jenny Lind had been enthusiastic. Some
Englishmen of note had been over and found we were not a nation of
savages or red men, and that the best and highest in English literature
was not unknown to us. Several of our writers had been abroad; and there
was growing up a spirit of cordiality.

Then Thackeray was coming over to lecture on The English Humourists.
Nearly everybody went to reading him. Some because it was, as we should
say now, a "fad;" others because they wanted to appear conversant with
his works; and a few because they had learned to understand and to love
the wonderful touches of the master-pen. Boston received him with open
arms. Then he was to visit the principal cities.

Ben and Delia were tremendously interested; and most of their talk was
spiced with bits and quotations, and the telling scenes from his novels.
Delia was beginning to have a good deal of discrimination and judgment.
Sometimes, in moments of discouragement, she admitted to Ben that she
was afraid she really hadn't any genius. Her novel had been recast ever
so many times, and still languished.

Ben brought up tickets for Mr. Thackeray's second lecture. He had gone
to the first one, and meant to hear them all. Joe must take Hanny, who
would always regret it if she didn't hear him. He had seen Mr. Jasper;
and they were all going the same evening.

Joe had meant to hear him. He was fond of hearing and seeing notable
people, and kept his mind freshened up with all that was going on in the
great world.

Hanny was delighted, of course, though the fact of listening with Daisy
beside her added a great deal. They had an enthusiastic, rather
school-girlish friendship. Daisy's mind was, of course, the more
experienced. But with youthful fervor they were training themselves into
perfect accord, _en rapport_, so they could look at each other and
understand.

There was a really fine audience. And when the large, burly,
broad-chested Englishman stepped on the platform, he had a cordial and
enthusiastic welcome.

This evening he was at his best. His manner was clear and engaging; he
moved his audience to tears and smiles. There was satire and tenderness
and the marvellous insight that made him absolutely personify the
writers he touched upon. The audience was charmed.

Hanny could not decide upon him. She was being won against her will,
rather her preconceived notions; and yet her first feelings about him
would return to disturb her. Mr. and Mrs. Jasper were delighted beyond
expression; Joe was deeply interested, though he confessed he did not
know Thackeray as he ought. He had read only one or two of the novels
and the "Yellowplush Papers."

"I am going to read 'Vanity Fair' over again," said Hanny, when they
reached home. "I didn't like it, really and truly."

"You are hardly old enough to enjoy such things," returned Joe. "Even I
have not made up my mind, and I know I would not have liked them at
seventeen. We believe in heroes and great deeds then, and the
possibilities of life look grander to us than they do afterward. I
suppose it is right that we should want to be _pleased_ then."

Hanny felt that she wanted to be pleased with a story, or else very
sorry for the misfortunes that no human power could seem to avert. But
when mean and shallow and selfish people caused their own trials, were
they worthy of sympathy?

They talked at school with the wide diversity of crude, girlish
opinions. The papers were full of him as well.

Ben was one of his enthusiastic admirers. And now they planned to give a
banquet,--printers and newspaper-men,--and Mr. Thackeray was to be the
guest of the occasion; there was to be a dinner, with some of the bright
literary lights, music, and dancing,--a really grand affair. Theodore
Whitney was on the committee; and Ben had a lesser position. They meant
to make it the affair of the season. Joe must surely take tickets. It
was such a shame Dolly couldn't go; and, of course, Steve wouldn't.
John and Cleanthe were not interested in such things; and, after
thinking it over, Mrs. Hoffman declined.

"I shall have to look up a girl," said Joe. "Hanny, you have never been
to a ball. Would you like to go?"

"Oh, I think a ball would be splendid! If Daisy could go, or Dolly."

"Yes, Daisy's mother or Dolly would have to go."

That gave him an idea, and he went down to see Mrs. Jasper.

"Why, I really think I would like to go myself," she said. "We do not
consider Daisy quite a grown-up lady. I should like to keep her just a
young girl for a long while; but, perhaps, that will not be possible."

"Hanny is a very young girl," returned Joe. "And I do not think father
could stand it to have her grown up. But she keeps so small, I don't
just know how we should get mother coaxed around. Both girls would enjoy
it immensely."

"Oh, she would trust her with Mr. Jasper and me, if we were to take
Daisy. Dear me--one festivity doesn't really signify. And yet--" she
blushed and smiled with a certain girlishness. "They may be dangerous; I
went to a Christmas ball when I was sixteen, and met Mr. Jasper. I was
out on a holiday,--a mere school-girl."

"I don't believe Hanny or Daisy will find any one to fall in love
with," said Joe, seriously; "they are so in love with each other."

"Oh, yes. They are planning to live together. There must be a
settlement; for both will have to bring their respective families."

Joe was a good deal amused at that.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE LITTLE GIRL GROWN UP


Mrs. Underhill said "No." It was not to be thought of for a moment.
Hanny in short frocks!

"It would have to be made long in the skirt, I suppose," returned Joe,
gravely.

"Long! What are you talking about!"

"She would enjoy seeing the dancing. And when she was an old lady, and
Thackeray dead, she could tell her children she was at a banquet with
the great novelist."

"What nonsense you do talk, Joe."

Doctor Joe laughed, gave his mother a squeeze and a kiss that brought
the bright colour to her cheek, and then went off to comfort two rich
old patients who had nothing the matter with them, except the
infirmities of age. They thought there was no one like Dr. Underhill.

Perhaps his mother thought so, too. She was taking a good deal of
comfort with him in these days, when she had cast Ben a little out of
her good graces. She had a hope that Ben's sturdy common sense would
convince him after a while that Delia would make a poor, improvident
wife. And there was a chance that, while Ben was waiting to get ready,
some one might capture Delia. She sincerely hoped it would be some one
well-to-do and deserving, and who could afford servants and a generous
household expenditure. Ben would get over it in time.

And much as she enjoyed Joe, she wanted him to marry and have a home and
family of his very own. But was any one good enough for such a sweet,
generous, noble soul!

Of course Hanny couldn't go; that was a foregone conclusion. But then
the Jaspers were going, and it wasn't like taking a young girl out in
society. Just one night would not matter. Daisy had been to several
grown-up festivities abroad, where they were ever so much more strenuous
about girls. There would be so many people, they would pass in the
throng unnoticed; and it was not like a public ball.

It was a little odd, but Miss Cynthia settled it finally. Her verdict
seemed to settle a good many things. She did not "dress-make" very
steadily now; but there were some folks who thought they couldn't have a
wedding, or a large party, without Miss Cynthia's advice and assistance.

She came to spend the day. Grandmother Van Kortlandt enjoyed her very
much, as she could not visit a great deal herself. Cynthia always had
the latest news about all the relatives. She gossiped in a bright social
fashion, with no especial ill-nature, or sharp criticism, indeed her
sharpnesses were amusing for the bit of real fun in them.

"Why, of course she ought to go," declared Miss Cynthia. "I'd like to
see the great man myself, and shake hands with him, though I am not over
fond of the English; and I do hope and pray he won't go home and make
fun of us. As for the dancing, and all that, Peggy Underhill, you went
to lots of frolics before you were as old as Hanny, and had young men
beauing you round. I don't see but you have made a good and capable wife
and mother; and it didn't hurt you a bit."

"But I was not going to school."

"It wasn't the fashion then. And now women are in Oberlin College,
studying the same things as the men; and they fall in love and get
married just as they always did. The ball, or whatever you call it,
won't hurt Hanny a bit. There will be the Jaspers, and Joe, and Ben, and
I'm sure that's enough to take care of one little girl."

"She has nothing to wear; she is still in short frocks. And the idea of
buying a ball-dress, that she won't want until next winter!"

"Now see here. Let's look over the old things. There's her blue silk,
outgrown of course. They ruffle everything now, and it will be wide
enough for that. And I can just cover the waist, and ruffle the skirt
with white tarleton. It is nearly two yards wide, and makes lovely
trimming. There's no use saving it up for Stephen's children."

They all laughed at that.

"And, Aunt Marg'ret," to grandmother, "why didn't you keep _your_ little
girl shut up in a band-box, while all the other girls were having good
times and getting lovers? She might have been a queer, particular,
fidgety old maid, instead of having a nice family for us to quarrel
over."

"I will buy her a new dress," said grandmother.

"She doesn't want anything but a few yards of tarleton. She won't be
likely to get into the papers. She and Miss Daisy will sit and look on,
and just whisper to each other, and feel afraid to say their souls are
their own; but they'll enjoy the pretty dressing and the dancing, and
they will see how the thing is done when it comes their turn in good
earnest."

So Mrs. Underhill had to give in. Grandmother slipped five dollars in
Miss Cynthia's hand, as she was going away.

"If that falls short, I'll give you some more. And you just buy that
tarleton."

Hanny wasn't quite sure, and never said a word at school until the very
day. But she and Daisy had a thrill of delight talking it over. Miss
Cynthia came armed with the tarleton. The skirt was let down; but girls'
long dresses were not sweeping length in those days. Then it was covered
with narrow ruffles that suggested drifting clouds over an azure sky.
The bodice was not outgrown, after all. It was covered with the
tarleton, and had a fall of beautiful old lace around the shoulders, a
pretty frill at the neck, and short sleeves. Joe bought her white
gloves, and she had a blue sash.

Miss Cynthia came in to dress her; but the little girl had a quivering
fear that something had happened to her maid, for it was full eight
o'clock. She put her back hair in a French twist, much worn then, with
two big rings right on the top of her head that looked like a crown. Her
front hair she curled over an iron, and then combed it out; and it was a
mass of fluffy waves, gathered in bandeaux just above her ears. She had
her mother's beautiful pearl earrings, that had come from France with
the old French grandmother, and a handsome mother-of-pearl-topped comb
in her hair.

They put on the ball-dress. "Now look at yourself," said Miss Cynthia,
"and get used to it before I let in the folks."

Hanny stood before her mother's tall mirror. Oh, this was Miss Nan
Underhill, and she had never seen her before. There was a mystery about
her,--a sudden sense of a strange, beautiful, unseen world, a new
country she was going into, an old world left behind, an intangible
recreation that no words could explain, but that touched her with a
kind of exalted sacredness, as if a new life was unfolding all about
her. She hardly dared stir or breathe.

"For a girl with no special beauty, I think you look very well. But,
land sakes! You'll see no end of handsome girls; Margaret and Jim
carried off the beauty of this family."

Miss Cynthia's voice recalled her from the vision of coming womanhood,
that she was to live over again on her wedding night, with its holy
blessedness enshrining her within her bridal veil.

Her father's eyes shone with a softness that looked like tears. Her
mother viewed her all over with a critical air.

"I must say, Cynthia, you've done wonderfully. The dress looks very
nice. And now, Hanny, I do hope you won't be forward or silly. Mind
everything Mrs. Jasper says, and don't you and Daisy giggle. Be careful
and don't lose Margaret's handkerchief. I don't just know as you ought
to carry that."

Joe said she was lovely; and Jim really was very complimentary. He _did_
wish that he was going. But Jim counted the cost of everything now, for
he was trying to get out of debt.

The coach came up from the Jaspers' and Hanny was put inside. Joe
insisted on sharing the box with the driver.

When Daisy took off her wrap in the dressing-room, she had on a pale
pink silk. Part of her curls were tied up in a bunch on top of her head,
and fastened with a silver arrow and two roses. She would always wear it
in ringlets, or at least until she was so old she wouldn't mind about
her shoulders being not quite straight.

The affair was a banquet primarily. To be sure they gathered in the
Assembly room; and there was Ben, and Delia, who looked very nice and
bright in maize colour and brown.

"Oh, Hanny, you are as lovely as a picture," she whispered
enthusiastically. "But you _are_ a little mite; there is no denying it.
I was so afraid you couldn't come, that something would happen at the
last moment. Miss Cynthia is capital."

Hanny coloured and almost sighed. She might as well give up hoping to be
tall, and accept the fact.

They went into the banquet-room, where there were two long tables. They
passed around to where a circle of men stood, some of them very fine
looking indeed. The advancing group were presented to the great
novelist, and in future years Hanny was to treasure the cordial smile
and pressure of the hand. But he was to come again when the world had
learned to pay him a finer and more discriminating admiration.

His end of the table was literary. The Jasper party were opposite, at
the other one. What brightness and wit spiced the party, they could
gather from the genial laughter. There were toasts and responses that
scintillated with gaiety and touched the border of pathos.

It was long, and of course the younger people who came for the ball were
not compelled to stay. The novelist was to leave at the close of the
dinner. And presently most of the company found their way to the dancing
room, where the band was discoursing enchanting music, and where every
one enjoyed the promenade.

But when the quadrille sets were formed and in motion, Hanny was
enraptured. Ben and Delia were among them. Delia certainly had a
frivolous side to her nature for a genius. She was very fond of fun and
pleasure and dancing, and had no lack of partners all the evening.

Some there were who danced like a fairy dream; others who made blunders
and gave the wrong hand, and betrayed various awkwardnesses. Doctor Joe
found several lady friends, and danced two or three times, then
proposed that Hanny should try, which he was sure "would inspire Daisy
into making the attempt," he said with a persuasive smile.

Hanny was very much afraid out on the large space. But Delia was in the
same set, and her bright merry eyes were full of encouragement. It was
not alarming. Indeed, in five minutes, the music had put a "spirit in
her feet," and she felt quite at home.

Then a friend of Ben's came to ask her; and Doctor Joe sat down to
persuade Daisy. While abroad, she had taken what we should now term a
series of physical culture lessons to strengthen and develop her limbs,
and to learn how to overcome her misfortune in every possible manner.
Indeed, it was hardly noticeable now, and she had outgrown the
sensitiveness of her childhood.

"Oh, mamma, do you think I could?"

"Of course she can," declared Doctor Joe. "I can't have you playing wall
flower altogether at your first ball. And if you drop down in surprise,
or faint away, I will carry you to the dressing-room at once."

He was so tender and full of nonsense, yet so much in earnest, that she
rose reluctantly. But like Hanny, with the eager joy of youth, she soon
forgot everything except the pure pleasure, and the delight of
gratifying dear Doctor Joe, who was so strong and gentle that she could
not even feel a bit nervous.

As for Hanny, she was really enchanted. The room full of people,
smiling and happy, the changing figures, the light airy dresses, the
shimmer of silks, the cloudlets of lace, the soft flying curls, for so
many people wore ringlets still, the happy smiling faces, and the throb
of the music was intoxicating. It was a strange, delightful world that
she had gone into with her first long gown and her hair done up.

She came back, flushed and excited, her pretty eyes shining, her red
lips all in a quiver.

"Now you must sit down and rest," said Mrs. Jasper. "And if you are very
obedient, you may get up in that Spanish dance. I think that quite
delightful and bewildering."

A lady sat on the other side of Mrs. Jasper, and resumed the incident
she was describing. Mr. Jasper came up with a young man.

"Here is an old friend!" he exclaimed. "Where is Daisy?"

"Somewhere with the Doctor. Oh, what a surprise!" and she took the young
man's hand.

"I wasn't sure I could get here; and it would have been very ungrateful
to Mr. Jasper, when he sent me a ticket. I wanted to see Miss Daisy
again. But I have just come on a flying business tour, and must start
to-morrow for Philadelphia. Still, I may have a little leisure when I
return. What a gay scene."

Hanny sat fanning herself, and feeling that her cheeks were scarlet. If
it only wouldn't culminate in her nose! Then Mr. Jasper turned and
introduced his young friend. Hanny moved a little, so he could sit
between her and Mrs. Jasper,--a very attractive young man, a Mr.
Andersen.

"Miss Underhill," he repeated, as Mr. Jasper turned away, "I've been
speculating on a Miss Underhill for five minutes. I wonder if you will
consider it impertinent; but perhaps you never speculate upon people,
and then it might be reprehensible. Just as I entered the room, there
was a merry group talking, and a sort of 'nut brown mayde,' all in brown
and yellow with bright hair and laughing eyes said, 'Miss Nan
Underhill.' Of course I was too well bred, and in too great a hurry to
listen to any more, or I might have found out about her. I had just an
instant interior gleam of what she must be like with that English name.
And I wonder if the fates have directed my steps to her?"

Mr. Andersen was not the tall, stern, gloomy hero of romance; he was
medium in height and figure, with a frank, eager sort of face, dark
hair, and eyes she thought black then, but afterwards came to know that
they were of the deep blue of a midnight sky in winter. He had such a
smiling mouth, and his voice had a curious, lingering cadence that
suggests that one may have heard it in a previous state.

Hanny caught the spirit of the half badinage, and the laughing light in
his face.

"I think I ought to know the ideal before I confess identity," she
replied.

"Can't I change the ideal? Or repent my vague, wild fancy?"

"Oh, was it wild? Then I must insist upon it. Miss Nan Underhill, an
English girl; of course she was tall, this vision of your imagination?"

Hanny was quite sure her face grew redder. And this ideal girl was
beautiful. Oh, dear!

"Yes, tall; a daughter of the gods, or the old Norse Vikings before they
were Anglicised, with fair hair. And you have the fair hair."

"But I am not tall! I am sorry to have you disappointed."

"I am not disappointed. What does a vagrant fancy amount to? I consider
myself fortunate in meeting Miss Underhill. Why, suppose I had gone
rambling about and missed you altogether? Have you known the Jaspers
long?"

"Oh, years and years. Before they went abroad."

"What a beautiful girl Daisy is! I am glad she is here enjoying herself.
Oh, isn't it the regulation thing to speak of the hero of the feast? Of
course when you heard he was coming to lecture you began to read his
novels--if you had not before."

"I had not read them before. There are a great many books I have not
read. But I tried at 'Vanity Fair;' and I am afraid I don't like it."

"I do not believe you will now. I can't imagine real young people liking
them. But when one has grown older and had sorrow and suffering and
experience, there are so many touches that go to one's heart. And
'Vanity Fair' is a novel without a hero. Still I always feel sorry for
poor Major Dobbins. I wonder if Amelia would have liked him better if
his name had been something else? Could you fall in love with such a
name?"

They both laughed. She raised her eyes. How exquisitely fair and sweet
and dainty she was! The soft hair had shining lights; and her eyes had a
twilight look that suggested a pellucid lake, with evening shades
blowing over it.

"A little more of something would have made him a hero, and spoiled the
book."

"But I don't like Amelia, nor Becky; and the Crawleys are horrid. And
Thackeray seems holding up everybody and laughing at them. I like to
believe in people."

"I am glad there is a time when we can believe in them: it is the
radiant time of youth. What did that little smile hide, and half betray?
Confess!"

"Are you so very old?"

The charming gravity was irresistible.

"Seven and twenty, and I am beginning to worship Thackeray. At seven and
thirty, he will be one of my passions, I know. Now and then I come to a
sentence that goes to my heart. No, do not read him yet awhile, unless
it is some of the little things. There is 'Dr. Birch and his Young
Friends;' and if you want to be amused you must read his continuation of
'Ivanhoe.' But then you will have neither heroines nor heroes left. And
if you and Miss Daisy want to laugh beyond measure, get the 'Rose and
the Ring,' that he wrote for his two little girls."

"Oh," said Hanny, "are they at home, in England?"

"Yes, with an aunt."

"Haven't they any mother?"

"They have no mother," he said gravely.

Years later, the novelist was to be one of the little girl's heroes,
when she knew all the bravery of his life, and why his little girls were
without a mother.

Joe and Daisy returned, and there was a pleasant rencontre; then Delia
and Ben came up, and they had a merry chat and a promenade.

"I wonder," as the musicians began tuning again, "if you are engaged for
all the dances. Could I be allowed one?"

He took up her card.

"I have been dancing so much already; but Mrs. Jasper said I might try
the Spanish dance."

"Oh, then try it with me! I am not too old to dance, if I have come to
adoring Thackeray. And I am to go away soon."

"To go away--where?" And she glanced up with an interest that gave him a
quick sense of pleasure.

"To Hamburg first; then to find some relations."

"In Germany? But you are not a German?" in surprise.

"I ought to be a Dane, if one's birth counts for anything; and if one's
ancestors count, then an old Dutch Knickerbocker," he returned, with a
soft, amused laugh. "But I believe I cannot boast of any English
descent, such as the son of a hundred earls. That doesn't sound as
poetic as the daughter of a hundred earls."

"Who was not one to be desired," interposed the young girl.

"Ah, you read Tennyson then? It is odd, but a good many of us begin on
poetry. I like it very much myself."

A touch of thought settled between Hanny's brows.

"Are you wondering about my mixed lineage? Part of it came from the old
Dutch governor, Jacob Leisler. My grandfather went to Germany, and ran
away with a lady of high degree, and brought her back to America, where
my father was born, and lived all his young life, until his marriage.
Then business took him abroad, and I was born; and my mother died at
Copenhagen. My father is connected with the importing house of Strang,
Zahner, & Co., of which Mr. Jasper is a member. He is married again, to
a very sweet, amiable German woman. Oh, here we are to take our places!"

Hanny hesitated an instant. She longed to have Mrs. Jasper's
approbation.

"We have been looking for you," said Ben. "Let us begin in the one set.
Here is Daisy and Joe."

Then it would be all right. She glanced up and smiled with cordial
assent.

The old-fashioned Spanish dance was a great favourite at that time, when
germans were unknown. Its graceful turns and windings, its stately
balances, until the dancers seemed all one long elegant chain, that
moved to the perfect time of the music, was indeed fascinating. People
danced then. Youth never dreamed of being bored, and walking languidly.
Every movement was delicate and refined.

Was she really in some enchanted country? When Mr. Andersen was
compelled to leave her, he glanced over or past his partner with an
expression so near a smile that Hanny's pulses quickened. When he came
back, the light touch of his hand gave her a little thrill that was
quite delicious. Now and then they had a bit of conversation.

Once he said, in his charming fashion, that was admiration rather than
criticism:--

"Why, you _are_ very petite!"

"Yes; I am not the tall, slim English girl."

"I am very glad. We dance so well together; I wish I were not going away
so soon. And you can't guess--you will think it strange,--to American
ideas it is; but when I go back I have to hunt up a descendant of this
grandmother of high degree who has been making matrimonial overtures to
my father on my behalf."

"Oh, that is like a story! And what will you do?"

"I will think about it, and answer you when you return to me."

He gave her to the next partner, with a graceful inclination of the
head.

There were numberless evolutions before he could take her again. She
glanced up out of sweet, questioning eyes.

"I've been considering," he resumed, as if they had not parted. "You
see, it is this way. My father is very, very fond of me, though there
are other children. Then I have my mother's fortune, which he has been
very watchful of. He is a splendid, upright, honourable man. Now, if
your father asked such a thing of you,--what I mean is, if he asked you
to see some one and learn how well you could like her or him--"

She was off again. Oh, what a sweet little fairy she was! What poet
wrote about twinkling feet? Hers certainly twinkled in their daintiness.
He had not considered her prettiness at first; now it seemed as if she
was exquisitely fair, with that soft pink in her cheeks.

"Yes. Do you not believe you would go to please him, and see? And you
might not like her, and she might not like you. But sometimes people do
take sudden fancies. What do you think, looking at it out of an American
girl's eyes?"

"I should go for my father's sake."

There was such a delicate gravity in her clear eyes as she raised them a
little.

"Thank you," he returned softly. "What an odd thing to talk of in the
midst of our dancing! When you are older, you will find people making a
confidante of you very often, you seem so serious and truthful."

They were coming down to the end of the winding chain; Mr. and Mrs.
Jasper stood there. One more figure, and the cornet and horns and
violins gave three long breaths of melody and stopped.

"My dear children," said Mrs. Jasper, as she stretched out her hand.
"Daisy, you will be in bed all day to-morrow! Your mother will never
trust me with you again, Hanny; I didn't think it would be so long."

"But it was so delightful, mamma." Daisy was in a tumult of pleasure.

"We must go at once. Mr. Jasper will be back by the time we have found
our wraps. Doctor, I can't thank you for making such a patient martyr of
yourself, only you are always so good. Hanny, have you had a nice time?"

"It has been splendid," with a long, long breath, and shining lights in
her eyes.

Delia went to the dressing-room with them.

"I'm going to have two more dances," she said. "It is the first real
ball I've been to in a long while. I'm so glad you came. Ben says he
never imagined you were so pretty. Think of that, from one's own
brother! And Daisy did not shine you down, either."

Hanny kissed her with a sort of rapture. She couldn't understand; she
seemed to be walking on the azure clouds instead of solid earth.

Mr. Andersen went to the carriage with them, and said he should surely
call when he returned from Philadelphia.

Daisy leaned her head down on her mother's shoulder. She was more tired
than she would admit. Hanny's eyes were like stars, and her brain was
still filled with wonderful melodies and light airy figures trooping to
the ravishing sounds, the shimmering light and sparkle. Doctor Joe just
carried her up the steps, and opened the door with his latch-key. But
Mrs. Underhill had heard them, and she came downstairs, wrapped in a
shawl.

"Oh, Joe, how could you keep her out so late! Do you know it's almost
three o'clock?"

Then the mother folded her to her heart. It seemed as if she had been
snatched from some great danger; and now that she had her safe and
sound, she felt as if she should never let her go again.

"You're all excitement, Hanny; you tremble like a leaf. Such
dissipations are bad for growing girls."

"Oh, mother, I think I'm done growing," Hanny laughed, with a soft ring
of music in her voice. "I have wanted to be tall like Margaret; but now
I do not mind a bit. I think I shall always be father's little girl. And
the dancing was so delightful; but you can't think how queer and long
the supper was. And Mr. Thackeray really shook hands with me. He has two
little girls, and they haven't any mother. If you could have seen Daisy!
And she dances beautifully."

"Hanny, your tongue runs like a mill-race. Do keep still, child. Cynthia
has you pinned in every fashion. I hope your dress looked nice enough
for a little girl. There, I'll take care of them all. You will never
want to get up in the morning."

When she had hung the dress out of sight, she felt as if she had her
little girl once more. And the little girl fell asleep to the sound of
the most delicious music ever floating through one's brain.



CHAPTER XIX

THE COURSE OF TRUE LOVE


Yes, Hanny Underhill was a little girl again in gaiter-length dresses,
and her braids tied across at the back of her head. They let her sleep
until the latest moment; and then she had to hurry off to school. But
her eyes were bright; and she could have danced along the street, if it
had been the proper thing to do.

Daisy did not fare so well. She had a headache, and was very languid.
Joe said Hanny had better not go down; and that Daisy would be all right
to-morrow. So Hanny studied her lessons, and began to read "Vanity Fair"
aloud to grandmother. But grandmother said she didn't care about such a
silly girl as Amelia; and though there were wretched women in the world,
she didn't believe any one ever was quite so scheming and heartless as
Becky.

Then Hanny told her father about the dancing, and the partners she had,
and Mr. Andersen, who was going back to Germany to marry some distant
cousin. Altogether, it was a splendid time, only she felt as if there
had been some kind of a Cinderella transformation; and that she was
safe only as long as she wore short frocks.

A week afterward, Mr. Andersen returned to the city, and Hanny was
invited down to tea at the Jaspers. They had a nice time, only the talk
was not quite so charming as when it was interspersed with dancing.

He was to go to Paris also. And now Louis Napoleon had followed in the
footsteps of his illustrious uncle, and was really Emperor of France.
What a strange, romantic history his had been!

After this, life went on with tolerable regularity. There was plenty of
amusement. Old New York did not suffer. Laura Keene thrilled them with
the "Hunchback," and many another personation. Matilda Heron was doing
some fine work in Milman's "Fazio," and the play of "The Stranger" held
audiences spell-bound. Then there were lectures for the more
sober-minded people; and you heard youngish men who were to be famous
afterward. Spirit-rappings had fallen a trifle into disfavour; and
phrenology was making converts. It was the proper thing to go to
Fowler's and have your head examined, and get a chart, which sort of
settled you until something else came along. Young ladies were going
into Combe's physiology and hygiene and cold bathing. Some very hardy
and courageous women were studying medicine. Emerson was in a certain
way rivalling Carlyle. Wendell Phillips was enchanting the cities with
his silver tongue. There had been Brooke Farm; and Margaret Fuller had
flashed across the world, married her Italian lover, who fought while
she wrote for liberty; and husband, wife, and child had met their tragic
death in very sight of her native land.

People were thinking really great thoughts; and there was a ferment of
moral, transcendental, and æsthetical philosophy. Women met to discuss
them in each other's parlours, prefiguring the era of clubs. Alice and
Ph[oe]be Cary's receptions had grown to be quite the rage; and Anne C.
Lynch was another figure in the social-literary world. Beecher was
drawing large audiences in Brooklyn, and telling the old truths in a new
fashion. There is always a great seething and tumult before the water
fairly boils and precipitates the dregs to the bottom.

But whatever comes and goes, young girls are always growing up with the
flush and fragrance and elusive fascinations of spring. To-day, a
credulous tenderness and overwhelming faith in the past; to-morrow, a
little doubtful, hesitatingly anticipative, with the watchwords of "The
True, the Good, and the Beautiful;" and still concerned in the latest
style of doing one's back hair, and if silver combs and gilt pins would
keep in fashion; and flushing celestial rosy red, yet with an odd sense
of importance, when men began to lift their hats in a gravely polite
manner, as if the laughing, hoydenish girl of yesterday, who strung
herself out four or five wide on the sidewalk with books in hand, was
the shy, refined, hesitating, utterly delicious young woman of to-day.

There were times when Hanny stood on the mysterious borderland. She used
to steal up and look at the wraith of a ball-dress hanging in the
third-floor closet, put away with the "choice" garments. The skirt
looked so long, almost uncanny. She could see the girl who had gone to
the banquet, who had danced with young men who asked "the pleasure" with
the politest inclination of the head. And, oh, the lovely dances she had
with Mr. Andersen! The bewitching Spanish movement floated through her
brain; and the young man's voice--what a curious, lingering sweetness it
had--went over her like a wave of music. Of course his German cousin
would fall in love with him,--how could she help it?--and they would
marry. They would go to Paris once a year or so, when business took him;
they would go over to London; but their real home would be in some
German town, or maybe in the castle from which the pretty grandmother
had run away with her American lover. She was so glad there were real
romances left in the world. It wasn't likely any would happen to her.
She was not tall, nor elegant, nor handsome; and though she could sing
"Bonnie Doon," "Annie Laurie," "A Rose-tree in Full Bearing," and "The
Girl I Left behind me," for her father, she was not a company singer.
But she really didn't mind. Her father would want her. She wasn't quite
resigned to being an old maid; but then she need not worry until she was
twenty-five. And when you came to that, half the relatives were fighting
for Miss Cynthia Blackfan; and Mr. Erastus Morgan had invited her over
to Paris to see the new Emperor, who was copying in every way his
granduncle who had ruled half Europe.

Then she would close the closet door and run blithely downstairs with a
bit of song. That was Miss Nan Underhill up there; and in her short
school-girl frock she was plain household Hanny.

But they had delightful times. Doctor Joe bought a new buggy, very wide
in the seat, and used to take her and Daisy out when the days were
pleasant. Then Charles and Josie came over evenings, or they went to
Mrs. Dean's, and talked and sang and discussed their favourite poems and
stories, and thought how rich the world was growing, and wondered how
their grandfathers and grandmothers had existed!

The little rue in the Underhills' cup became sweetened presently with
the balm of love and forbearance, that time or circumstances usually
brings about when truth and good sense are at the helm.

Matters had gone rather hard with Delia Whitney of late. In a certain
fashion, she had come to the parting of the intellectual ways. People
were as eager then as now to discover new geniuses. There were not so
many writing, and it was easier to gain a hearing. She had been
successful. She had been praised; her stories and poems were accepted,
published, and paid for. She had been made much of by her brother's
friends, and some of the literary women she had met.

She began to realise it was not altogether wandering at one's sweet
will, unless one had a garden of unfailing bloom in which to gather the
flowers of poetry, or even prose. There were greater heights than even
girlhood's visions. But there must be training and study to reach them,
and she had been lilting along in a desultory way, like a careless
child.

But had she any real genius? When she bent her whole mind to the
cultivation of every energy, what if she should find it was energy and
imagination merely? Her novel did not progress to her satisfaction.
Characters might be common-place; but there was to be force enough in
their delineation to keep the attention of the reader. They must be
clear-cut, vivid; and hers seemed all too much alike, with no salient
points.

"Do you suppose no one ever felt discouraged before?" asked Ben, with
his brave, sweet smile. "That's no sign."

"But if I really wasn't a genius? And I have had so many splendid plans
and plots in my brain; but when they come out, they are flat and weak. I
don't ever expect to stand on the top-most round; but I can't stay down
at the bottom always. I would rather not be anywhere."

Ben comforted her in his quiet fashion.

"Oh, what should I do without you!" she cried. "I want to achieve
something for your sake."

"You will achieve. And if you do not, there is enjoyment left. You
inspire other people."

"With a kind of girlish nonsense that passes for wit. But older minds
demand the real article."

"You have a certain brightness of talk that brings out the best in other
people. That is a rare gift, I am beginning to observe. Put the novel by
for a little while."

"But every time I take it out, it seems worse," she returned ruefully.

Then she admitted another worry.

"Aunt Patty stumbled and fell about a month ago in her room. She was
lame for some days; and I can see she isn't quite the same. Mother
thinks it was a stroke. She is old, you know, and if she should be laid
up! She clings to me so. You see, she misses Nora, who was running in
and out, and the young girls who came here, and--oh, Ben, I am afraid I
am growing stupid!"

Ben laughed and kissed her, and told her not to cross bridges until she
came to them.

Then Theodore went to Washington for a fortnight; and Ben felt that it
was hard for Delia to be bereft of that useful article, a man around the
house. When Theodore returned, there was an imperative journey to the
West. Already there were clouds rising that disquieted the wisest
statesmen who were studying how to prevent any outward clashing. Mr.
Whitney, with his _savoir faire_, was considered one of the best men to
send on a _quasi_ political mission.

"You just drop in to supper every evening, Ben," he said with his
Good-bye. "Dele has a head worth that of any half-dozen women; but I
like to feel some one is looking after her. Mother is away a good deal."

The. had a misgiving Ben and Delia might want to marry; but they
couldn't possibly spare Delia. So he was very friendly and obliging to
Ben.

"Mother," oddly enough, was taking a great interest in the small end of
the woman question, that was pushing its way in among other things. Mr.
Whitney had been the most indulgent of husbands, and her sons had
accepted household discomforts with no grumbling. But she took most
kindly to the emancipation of women. She had a friend in Brooklyn who
was lecturing on the subject; and she had vague aspirations that way
herself. She was still a woman of fine presence and a fair share of
intelligence.

Bridget had married, and been superseded by an untrained Katy. Aunt
Patty was growing rather weak-hearted and childish, so Delia did have
her hands full, and but little time for writing.

Theodore had been absent hardly a week when the stroke came. One
morning, Aunt Patty was unable to move hand or foot on one side, and
could hardly speak intelligibly, though her face kept its sweet
expression. Mrs. Whitney had gone away somewhere with her friend.

When Ben heard the sad story that night, and folded the trembling,
sobbing girl to his heart, his resolve was taken. A nurse had come, to
be sure; but Delia should not bear this trial alone. He must live here,
and comfort her with his love.

He went home quite early that evening. His father and Hanny were in
Joe's study; his mother sat alone, darning stockings.

She glanced up and smiled; but when she saw his grave face, she said,
"Oh, Ben, what has happened?"

"They are in great trouble down at Beach Street. Old Aunt Boudinot has
had a stroke of paralysis. Mrs. Whitney has gone on a little journey
with a friend; and Delia is alone. Mother, I have resolved to be married
and help her bear her burthen. There is no immediate danger of Miss
Boudinot dying, I believe; but since The. is away--they need some one--"

"Ben!"

Then she looked in her boy's face. Benny Frank and Jim were still boys
to her. There was Joe to be married before it came their turn, and poor
George, if he should live to come back. But it was not a boy's face, nor
a boy's pleading eyes, that met hers. A man's grave sweetness, and sense
of responsibility, shone in the clear, deep grey orbs, and the whole
face had matured, so that she was amazed, bewildered.

"Mother dear," he began, "can't you wish me God speed, as you have the
others? I've never loved any one but Delia; I never shall. I know I can
make her happy; and isn't there some duty on my side? Am I to demand
everything, and throw out a few crumbs of comfort now and then? We have
known each other long enough to be quite sure, quite satisfied. But she
has said all along she would not marry me until she could be considered
a daughter of the house. I shall persuade her to now, unless--mother,
can't you give her a welcome?"

He put his arms about his mother's neck. Was there some mysterious
strength and manliness in him she had not realised before, even in his
very voice. When had she lost her boy? What a pang went to her inmost
heart. Yes, he was a man, and he had a right to himself. She was not a
selfish woman; but her face dropped down on his shoulder and she cried
softly.

"Mother--dear." There was a sweet, faint break in his voice, and he
kissed her brow softly.

"You have been such a good boy, Ben. I've been a little worried
sometimes about Jim; but you have gone on so straight and steadfast. I
do thank the Lord for all of you. And I have wanted you to have the
best--"

"She is the best to me, mother. Like her a little for my sake," he
pleaded tenderly.

"I _do_ like her. If she makes you happy--"

That was all. If Delia made her son as happy as Dolly or Cleanthe--

Ben kissed his mother. Ten years ago she had thought kissing rather
foolish for anybody but the little girl. Now her big sons always kissed
her. Perhaps there was more love in the world.

They began to make plans presently. Ben was in favour of a quiet
marriage; and of course he would remain at Beach Street. Delia had
promised to care for her aunt; and there was no one else to take
charge.

"I don't know as I have been just right about it," said Mrs. Underhill.
"But Mrs. Whitney's carelessness and inefficiency have always tried me.
Still, the children have turned out well. Delia is smart, and capable;
and since you are quite resolved--"

Ben smiled then; and it went to his mother's heart. He knew he had won
the victory.

The next morning she said to him:--

"Ben, I've decided to go down and see Delia. I have never been there but
once, since they went to Beach Street. Could you stop and tell her? Give
her my love. I'm very sorry all this should happen, and she alone."

Mrs. Underhill was not given to half-hearted measures. When the work was
done, and the dinner planned out, she dressed herself and went
down-town. Delia was a little embarrassed at first; but they talked
about Aunt Boudinot, and she went up to see her. The sweet old face
lighted up, and she reached out her "best hand," in a sad sort of
fashion; but she could utter only one word at a time.

"Ben said, I must keep you to dinner, and he would come up," exclaimed
Delia, with a bright blush. It was so like old times to hear her
cheerful voice. "And you will be late at home."

Delia ran down and put on a clean cloth, and wiped the dishes over with
a dry towel, to take off the roughness Katy always left behind in her
manipulations. And she broiled the steak herself. She could do that to
perfection.

Then they arranged about the marriage. Delia certainly did need some
one. It was not worth while to make any fuss. Mrs. Whitney would surely
be back by Monday, and it was appointed for that evening.

Dolly took the news with cordial sweetness. Margaret was sorry that Ben
had not looked a little higher; but since it must be, they would make
the best of it. Hanny was delighted. Joe went down that very evening,
and gave the young people his best love.

Mrs. Whitney came home on Saturday. She considered the step very
judicious. She thought they had been engaged long enough. Then Ben and
The. were such good friends; and with The. away so much, it was
lonesome. "She was glad they had set the marriage for Monday evening,
for she had promised to go out to Buffalo on Tuesday with Mrs. Stafford.
A nurse was the proper thing for Aunt Patty. It was too bad, to be sure;
but at her time of life, one might expect almost anything. And she, Mrs.
Whitney, never had been any sort of a nurse; so it was folly for her to
undertake it." She was very sweet to Aunt Patty. She had a good deal of
the suavity that helps matters to run easily, and her sympathies were
boundless.

Delia's sisters, and their children, and a few friends were invited. All
the Underhills came, and Hanny was bridesmaid; but she wore her last
summer's embroidered muslin, which was not long in the skirt.

They missed Ben a good deal, though he ran up every now and then. And
Theodore was gone six weeks, instead of two or three. Now that Mrs.
Underhill had really "given in," she was most cordial and sympathetic to
her new daughter. Doctor Joe went down every day, though very little
could be done, since even a physician could not fight against old age.
Joe thought Delia very sweet and patient.

There were two great undertakings engrossing the public mind. One was a
grand library. Old Mr. John Jacob Astor, some years previous, had left a
large sum of money for this purpose; and there were heated discussions
as to its scope and purpose. It would be a reference library rather than
an entirely free library for general readers. But it would be a fine
addition to the city.

The other was the Crystal Palace. There had been the first famous
World's Fair at Sydenham, opened by the Prince Consort. And now, we were
trying our energy and ingenuity to have something worthy of attracting
the nations. Reservoir Square had been selected; and the great iron
braces and supports and ribs had been watched with curiously eager eyes,
as they spread out into a giant framework, and were covered with glass
that glinted in the sun like molten gold. When its graceful dome arose,
enthusiasm knew no bounds.

We had not dreamed of the great White City then. But we were only in the
early middle part of the century.

A park had been opened on the east side, out of an old tract known as
"Jones's Woods," and was quite a picnic-place for the working-people on
a holiday. There was a talk about another, and, perhaps, the inspiration
was evolved as the Fair grounds were being put in attractive order. A
short time afterward, the Central Park board was appointed, with
Washington Irving as president.

The country was wild and rough all about. Here and there, clusters of
houses began to indicate the coming city. Kip farm had not disappeared;
and people talked of Strawberry Hill and Harlem Heights; and there
remained some fortifications of the old Rock House of 1812 memory. The
old times were recalled, as people went rambling around.

Broadway still kept its vogue and elegance on the dollar side. There was
Thompson's and Taylor's, where the stylish young ladies stopped in the
afternoon for chocolate or cream and confections, and theatre parties
went after the play. But, on the whole, there were mysterious strides
up-town.

The old streets were quaint and cool in summer, with the trees that had
grown for years in ungrudged spaces. The park in Beach Street was still
lovely; and now Hanny often went over from school and stayed to tea with
Ben and Delia. Daisy came down as well; and they talked of Nora, who was
getting on famously, and who had sung at an out-of-doors fête for a
children's charity.

Delia was happy and charming; but she was very much engrossed with home
affairs. Nurses grew tired and went away; and Aunt Patty became more and
more helpless.

Then came the great event to Hanny's life, and she was quite nervous
over it. This was graduation; but when she had passed the examinations
successfully, the real care was over.

And the new clothes! The old ones had been made to do through the
spring; but now there was no question about long skirts. There were
pretty plaid summer-silks,--everybody wore them then, and they were
almost as cheap as now,--lawns, a light grey cashmere for ordinary
occasions, and a white India muslin for graduation. The very next
evening Dolly was to give her a party.

Grandmother thought it ought to be at home, instead.

"She will want one in the fall," said Dolly, "to announce that she is
really Miss Underhill, and ready for society. Home will be the place for
that. And she will be getting acquainted with young people through the
summer. She's never been anything but a little girl."

There wasn't such a fuss made about sweet girl graduates then; and,
later on, Rutgers Institute was to wheel into line and become a college;
but even now they had bouquets and baskets of flowers. And some of the
girls had lovers, and were engaged, even if there was no co-education.
The chapel was crowded with admiring friends; and the girls looked sweet
and pretty in their white gowns and flowing curls; for youth has a charm
and beauty of its own that does not depend on regular features, or
style, or any of the later accessories of life. It is an enchanted land
of sunny skies and heavenly atmospheres.

She came home out of it all with a curious new feeling. That night of
the banquet it had been almost a masquerade. Even now the blue shimmer
and clouds of white ruffles seemed to belong to some other state. She
wondered a little if she would ever wear it again.

There were some pretty gifts for her at home. Josie Dean and Charlie
Reed came around in the evening. He had passed his first year's
examinations successfully.

Doctor Joe and Jim and the elder people were talking very earnestly
about the duties and the purposes of life. Josie touched Hanny's hand,
and, with a little movement, the sign girls understand, drew her out on
the porch.

"Let us walk down the path. Oh, Hanny, I've something to tell you!" and
her voice was in a sort of delicious tremble. "May be you have
suspected. I told Charlie I _must_ confess it to you; though we do not
mean to say much about it at present. Oh, Hanny, can't you guess?"

There were so many things; it was something joyful, certainly. She
glanced up and smiled. Josie's face was all one roseate flush.

"Oh!" with a mysterious throb.

"We are engaged, dear. I don't know when we began to love each other. We
have been so much with each other, you know. He has helped me with my
lessons; and we have sung, and played, and read, and gone to church
together. It was like having a brother. Tudie and I used to envy you
the boys. And it was not quite like a brother either, for another
feeling came in. Sometimes I wanted to run away, such a queer tremble
came over me. Then there were hours when I could hardly wait for him to
come home from the seminary. And for a while, he was so grave, I
wondered if I had offended him. And then--do you suppose any one can
tell just _how_ it happens?--though they always do in books. All in an
instant, you know some one loves you. It's strange and beautiful and
exciting; and it seems as if the best and loveliest of all the world had
come to you. We have been engaged a whole week; and every day it grows
more mysteriously delightful."

"It is so strange," said Hanny, with a long, indrawn breath.
"And--Charlie!"

"Oh, don't you remember how we waylaid Mr. Reed one night, and begged
him to let Charlie go to singing-school? He laughed about it the other
night, though he said you were the bravest of the three. And he is
delighted with it. Then mother is so fond of Charles. Of course it will
be a two years' engagement. Mother doesn't want me to teach school now.
She thinks I ought to learn about housekeeping and sewing, and fit
myself for a minister's wife. That seems so solemn, doesn't it? Oh, I do
wonder if I can be good enough! And visiting the poor, and helping to
the right way, and being patient and sweet, and real religious! But he
will help me; and he is so good! I think he couldn't have been anything
but a minister. I _do_ suppose Mrs. Reed knows about it in heaven. She
was so different that last year, sweeter and kinder; and we feel sure
she has gone to heaven. But we want her to know; and dear little Tudie!
You must come over and spend the day, now that school is ended; and we
will do nothing but talk about it. Oh, Hanny, I hope some day you will
have a lover! But you seem such a sort of a little girl even yet. And I
have worn long skirts a whole year."

A lover! Hanny's face was scarlet in the fragrant dusk.

"We must go in. I promised mother we would not stay late. And Charlie
has some examinations for to-morrow. You may tell your mother and Daisy
Jasper."

Joe said they needn't hurry off so; and Charles flushed as he looked at
Josie. They rose and said good-night; and Josie kissed Hanny in a
rapturous kind of fashion.

"I'll bet a sixpence those two youngsters are engaged," said Jim.
"Hanny, what was all the long talk about?"

She was not quite sure all the rest were to be taken in the confidence;
but she looked so conscious, and Jim was so positive, that she admitted
the fact.

"That's just like a theological student."

"It is a very suitable engagement. Mrs. Dean has brought Josie up
sensibly; and Charles is such a fine fellow. Of course they must all be
pleased about it," commented Mrs. Underhill.



CHAPTER XX

MISS NAN UNDERHILL


Just a few days later, Mrs. Odell came down for some advice and help,
for Janey was to be married. Her betrothed was a well-to-do young farmer
up in Sullivan County. He was coming down in August to go to the World's
Fair; and he wanted to be married and make a general holiday of it.

"I am not much judge of such matters; but Stephen's wife will go
shopping with you. I don't know what we should do without her," said
Mrs. Underhill.

That very morning two silver-embossed envelopes came for Miss Nan
Underhill. One schoolmate was to be married in church at noon, and go to
Niagara on a wedding journey. The other was an evening ceremony with a
reception afterward. Mr. James Underhill had an invitation to this also.

Was all the world getting married, or being engaged! Standing on the
threshold, Hanny shrank back in dismay. It was looking out of a tranquil
cloister into a great, unknown world; and it gave her a mysterious
shiver. She didn't feel safe and warm until she had dropped on her
father's knee, and had his strong, fond arms about her.

Dolly's party was a great success. The young people were invited to meet
Miss Nan Underhill. And Miss Nan wore her graduation dress and blue
ribbons. Blue gave her a sort of ethereal look; pink added a kind of
blossomy sweetness.

Dolly knew so many young folks. True, there were some older ones. Ben
and Delia came up for an hour. Dolly said they were old-fashioned
married people already. Hanny thought there didn't seem much difference,
only Ben had a new strange sort of sweetness. She was very fond of
Delia; and it was a delight to feel free to go down to Beach Street.

Peter and Paulus Beekman came; and they were nice, fine, rather stout
young men. Peter was a lawyer; he and Jim were quite friends. Paulus was
in shipping business.

"Oh," said Peter to Nan, "you look just as you did when you were a
little girl and used to come to grandfather's. Do you remember that
beautiful Angora cat? That was grandfather's sign. He always took to
people Katschina liked. And your hair hasn't grown any darker. I like
light hair. Aunt Dolly has such beautiful hair! And I'm glad you have
not grown up into a great, tall May-pole. I just adore little women.
When I marry, I am going to choose a 'bonnie wee thing,' like the wife
in the song."

Hanny flushed rosy red. Oh, why would people talk about being married,
and all that? And if Peter wouldn't look at her in just that way! It
gave her a touch of embarrassment.

But oh, they had a splendid time! Modern young people would have been
bored, and voted it "no spread at all." They played Proverbs, and What
is my thought like? and everybody tried to bring out their very best,
and be as bright and witty and joyous as possible. They had plain cake
and fancy cake, and a new kind of dainty crisp crackers; candies, nuts,
raisins, and mottoes, which were the greatest fun of all. Afterward,
some dancing with the Cheat quadrille, and it was so amusing to "cut
out," or run away and leave your partner with his open arms, and a blank
look of surprise on his face.

Doctor Joe came to take the little girl home; for he was quite sure Jim
would want to take some one else's sister.

"Aunt Dolly," said Peter, when he was going away without any girl at
all, though he had hoped to walk home with Hanny, "isn't Nan Underhill
just the sweetest little thing in the world? I don't wonder grandfather
liked her so. With that soft, indescribable hair, and her
eyes,--twilight eyes, some one put in a poem,--and that cunning dimple
when she smiles, and so dainty altogether. What made you say she was not
pretty?"

"Why, I said, she was not as handsome as Mrs. Hoffman."

"She suits me ten times better. She is like this,

    "'A creature not too bright or good
    For human nature's daily food.'"

Dolly repeated the talk and the verses to Stephen. "And Peter is such a
solid, steady-going fellow. He was really smitten."

"The idea! And with that child!"

Dolly laughed gaily. "I suppose when our girls get to be eighteen, you
will still think them children. Why, I wasn't quite fifty when you fell
in love with me!"

Fifty! How ridiculous it was to think of Dolly ever being fifty. Ah, it
is love alone that holds the secret of eternal youth!

"Well, I hope there won't any one be foolish over Hanny, in a long
while," said Stephen, decisively.

"Foolish!" repeated Dolly, in a tone of resentment. But then they both
laughed.

The Odell girls came down to make a two days' visit. They went up to the
Deans' to tea; and the two engaged girls strayed off by themselves, with
their arms about each other, and had confidences in which the masculine
pronoun played an important part. And poor Polly bewailed the prospect
of being left alone. If she had a brother like Jim, she wouldn't mind.

Jim's girls were a kind of standing amusement to the family. This was a
case where there was safety in numbers, Mrs. Underhill felt assured. If
she had known of the episode of Lily Ludlow, her confidence would have
been a little shaken. Jim was a general lover of the sex, and a
good-looking, entertaining young fellow is apt to be spoiled.

Just now he had a penchant for Daisy, who teased him, and was as
uncertain as an April shower. She and Hanny were inseparables. Jim took
them round to Dolly's, or down to Ben's, or to Mrs. Hoffman, who had a
new grand piano, and had refurnished her parlor, quite changing the
simplicity of her first wedded life. Through the winter, she had given
fortnightly receptions, that had an air and grace of the highest
refinement. You always met some of the best and the most entertaining
people. It was not a crush and a jam; but men and women really talked at
that period, and brought out their best. Knowledge was not at a
discount.

Young ladies came to call on Miss Underhill; and in the evenings, they
brought their brothers or admirers. When she knew of it beforehand, she
always had Daisy to help. Sometimes the whole party would go out for a
little walk, and have some cream or water ices. The city was still so
airy and open, you did not have to fly out of it at the first pleasant
day.

This summer, nearly everybody was staying at home, and waiting for the
big fair to open. Rooms at hotels and private houses were engaged; and
the plainer country people came in to visit. There would be crowds, of
course.

The Underhills had invited some of the elder relatives, since they had
plenty of room.

And on July 4th, this great event occurred. The President, Mr. Franklin
Pierce at that time, was the grand master of the occasion. Oh, what a
Fourth of July it was! The grounds were crowded. The military were out
in force; and the fireworks would have done credit to the empire of
China. Never had the city seen such a gala time; the Victory of Peace it
was called.

The men had it largely to themselves this day. It was more the
ceremonies, than the articles exhibited, that attracted attention. That
came later on.

There was a great influx of visitors in the city. The streets were
thronged; the stages were crowded. One wonders what they did without
electric cars. But numbers of people still kept carriages, and temporary
lodging-houses were erected in the vicinity of the Palace. It certainly
was a great thing for that day. And the interior, with its handsome
dome, its galleries, its arched naves, and broad aisles, had a striking
and splendid effect.

And, oh, the riches of the world that had contributed some of its
choicest treasures! There were many people who never expected to go to
Europe, and who were glad beyond measure to have it come to them. Here
was the largest collection of paintings and sculpture that had ever been
gathered in New York. Then, for the first time, we saw Powers' matchless
Greek slave, and Kiss' Amazon, and many another famous marble. There was
the row of the Apostles by the sculptor Thorwaldsen, about which there
was always a concourse of people; and some of the devout could almost
see them in the flesh.

We have had a Centennial since, and a famous White City, and almost any
day, in New York, you can see some famous pictures and statuary. Then
people run over to Europe, and study up the galleries, and write books
of exquisite descriptions; but it was not so at that time. There is the
grand Museum of Art near to where the old Palace stood; but all was new
then. We had not been surfeited with beauty; we had not had a flood of
art critics, praising or denouncing, and schools of this or that fad. It
is good for cities, as well as nations, that they should once be young,
and revel in the enchanting sense of freshness and delight.

Presently, it became a sort of regular thing to go,--a kind of
summer-day excursion. There were delightful walks and drives up above.
Bloomingdale was still a garden of sweetness. Riverside was unknown,
only as the beautiful bank of the Hudson. You went and carried your
lunch, or you found some simple cottage, where a country-woman dispensed
truly home-made bread, and delicious ham, and a glass of milk,
buttermilk on some days.

The remembrance of it to Hanny Underhill, through all her after years,
was as of a golden summer. The little knot of young people kept
together. When Josie Dean recovered somewhat, from the first transports
of her engagement, she proved very companionable. Charles, in his long
vacation, was quite at their service. Jim couldn't always be at liberty;
but he did get off pretty often. Sometimes Joe, sometimes Father
Underhill, chaperoned the party; but they were allowed to go by
themselves as well. Girl friends joined them; Peter Beekman, and even
Paulus, thought it a great thing to be counted in.

Oh, the wonderful articles! It was a liberal education. Sèvres china,
Worcestershire with its wonderful tint, Wedgwood, Doulton, Cloisonnée,
some rare Italian; and the tragic stories of Palissy, of Josiah
Wedgwood, and Charles III. of Naples taking his secret to Spain; some
queer Chinese ware, and Delft and Dresden, until it seemed as if half
the genius of the world must have been expended in the exquisite
productions.

And then the laces, the gossamer fabrics, the silks and velvets, the
jewels, the elegant things from barbaric Russia, the wonders of the
Orient, the plainer exhibit of our own land rich in mechanical wonders,
the natural products, the sewing-machine that now could do the finest of
work, the miniature looms weaving, the queer South American and Mexican
fabrications, the gold from California,--well, it seemed as if one never
could see it all.

Hanny wondered why Peter Beekman should want to stay close by her when
Daisy was so bright and entertaining, and when there were other girls.
When he looked at her so earnestly her heart gave a great throb, her
cheeks burned, and she wanted to run away.

He wished she wasn't so shy and so ready to shelter herself under
Charlie's wing, or her father's, or Joe's. And when she felt really safe
she was so merry and enchanting!

It was a day in August, rather warm, to be sure; but Polly Odell had
come down just on purpose to go, "for now that Janey was married and
gone the house was too horrid lonesome!" They stopped for Josie. Doctor
Joe brought Daisy up in the afternoon, and they were all in the
picture-gallery, where they were ever finding something new. Perhaps
Polly had made big eyes at Peter; perhaps Peter liked her because she
talked so much about Hanny. Anyhow, they had rambled off way at one end.
Daisy was resting, and telling the doctor about some pictures in the
Berlin gallery. Hanny moved up and down slowly, not getting very far
away. She was fond of interiors, and the homely Dutch or French women
cooking supper, or tending a baby, or spinning. And there were two
kittens she had never seen before, scampering about an old kitchen where
a man in his shirt-sleeves had fallen asleep over his paper. It seemed
to her she could see them move.

A man of six or seven and twenty, young for his years, yet with a
certain stamp of the world and experience, went slowly along, glancing
at the visitors in a casual manner. Of course he would know Miss Jasper
and Dr. Underhill. It was like looking for a needle in a hay-stack; but
Mrs. Jasper had suggested the picture-gallery; and suddenly he saw a
small figure and fair face under a big leghorn hat full of wild roses
and green leaves. She was smiling at the playful kittens. Oh, it surely
was Miss Nan Underhill!

He came nearer; and she looked startled, as if she might fly. What a
delicious colour drenched her face!

"Oh, you surely haven't forgotten me!" he cried. "I should remember you
thousands of years, and I could pick you out of a world full of women."

"I--" Then she gave her soft little laugh, and the colour went
fluttering all over her face in a startled, happy manner. "But I
thought--"

"Did you think me a fixture in German wilds? Well, I am not. It's a
long, long story; but I have come over now for good, to be a true
American citizen all the rest of my days. The steamer arrived last
night; but I couldn't get off until nearly noon. Then I went to a hotel
and had some dinner, and came up to see Mrs. Jasper. She sent me here.
Where are the others?"

"Daisy is--" she glanced about--"oh, down there with my brother,--and
Miss Odell"--how queer that sounded!

"Let us stop here and rest until I get my breath and summon enough
fortitude to encounter them. You are dreadfully surprised, I see by your
face, I don't wonder. I must seem to you dropped from the clouds."

She wasn't a bit afraid, and sat down beside him. And she wondered if he
had married the German cousin and brought her over; but it was strange
not to mention her. It must be, however, if he was going to live in
America.

"Oh, do you remember that night and the Spanish dance? I have shut my
eyes and danced it ever so many times in memory. And you sent me
away,"--with a soft, untranslatable laugh.

"I--" She looked amazed. She seemed caught and held captive in the swirl
of some strange power. The colour fluttered up and down her sweet face,
and her eyelids drooped, their long, soft lashes making shadows.

"Yes, you said I ought to go; and I shall always be glad I went,"--in a
confident tone.

"Your cousin?" she said inquiringly, with no consciousness that a word
would swerve either way.

"Yes. You know I told you my father's wishes. That sort of thing doesn't
seem queer to continental people. But it was not so much his as the
aunt's,--the relation is farther back than that; but it serves the same
purpose. She had known about my father, and was desirous of being
friends. So after I was home about a week, and had confessed to my
father that the prospect of the marriage was not agreeable to me, he
still begged me to go."

Hanny looked almost as if she was disappointed. He smiled and resumed:--

"It is a lonely spot on the Rhine, not far from Ebberfeld. We will look
it up some day. I don't know how people can spend their lives in such
dreary places. I do not wonder my grandmother ran away with her brave
lover. The castle is fast going to ruins. There was a brother who wasted
a great deal of the patrimony before he died. The Baroness is the last
of her race. There is a poor little village at the foot of the mountain,
and some peasants who work the land; and then the cousin, who is
expected to rehabilitate the race by marrying a rich man."

"Yes." There was such a pretty, eager interest and pity in her eyes that
he smiled.

"She is six and twenty; tall, fair, with a sorrowful kind of face, that
has never been actually happy or pretty. Who could be happy in that
musty old rookery! The father, I believe, did very little for their
pleasure, but spent most of his time in town, wasting their little
substance."

"Oh, poor girl!" cried Hanny, thinking of her own father, so loving and
generous.

"She seemed to me almost as old as her mother. And then she told me her
troubles, poor thing, and I found her in heart and mind a sort of
inexperienced child. She has had a lover for two years; an enterprising
young man, who is superintendent of an iron mine some fifty miles
distant. It is the old story over again. I wish he had my grandfather's
courage and would run away with her. He has no title nor aristocratic
blood, and the mother will not consent. But I had made up my mind before
I went there, and even if I had been fancy free, I couldn't resign
myself to live in that old ruin."

"Oh, what will she do?"

"I advised her to run away." Herman Andersen laughed softly. "But I
think I persuaded them both to come to the city and visit my father.
They will find business isn't so shocking. They have lived in loneliness
until they know very little of the real world. The old castle is not
worth saving. Then I went home, and after a good deal of talking have
arranged my life in a way that is satisfactory to my father, and I hope
will be eminently so to myself. Some day I will tell you about that. Now
where shall we find the others?" and he rose.

"Daisy is down here." Hanny rose also; but she had a queer sort of
feeling, as if the world was turning round.

It seemed to Doctor Joe that he so rarely had a good talk with Daisy
now, that he would make the most of this opportunity. Jim was always
hovering about her. It was natural she should like the younger people.
He was like a very much older brother. She was looking pale and tired.
She could not stand continual dissipation. And while she often had a
brilliant color and Hanny very little, the latter possessed by far the
most endurance.

She liked to be alone with Doctor Joe. There was something restful and
inspiriting, as if she absorbed his generous, superabundant strength.

So they almost forgot about Hanny, or thought her with the others. And
now she came walking slowly down to them with a strange young man.

"Why, who can it be?" in a tone of surprised inquiry.

Daisy Jasper studied a moment. "Why, it looks like--no, it cannot
be--yes, it is Mr. Andersen."

"I thought he was in Germany."

Daisy looked puzzled. Then she sprang up with a quick colour and a smile
of pleasure, stretching out both hands.

"Oh, Miss Jasper!" and Mr. Andersen took her hands in a fervent clasp.
"Do you know this is going to be a red-letter day in my life,--one of
the happiest of days? Your mother sent me up here on a venture. First, I
found Miss Underhill, and now you. And one might go all over the world
and miss one's best friends. Ah, Dr. Underhill!"

A curious shock went over Dr. Underhill. He had to compel himself to
take the outstretched hand. For what had this young man "crossed the
seas?" He was not going to marry the cousin.

"But when did you come?" inquired Daisy. It was odd, but he took the
seat the other side of her, and Hanny was by Joe.

Then Mr. Andersen told his voyage all over again, and that he had come
for good. He was to take his father's money share in the house here, and
his father's was to be transferred to Paris, where one of the elderly
partners was in failing health and wished to retire.

"I am just delighted," exclaimed Daisy, enthusiastically. "If you would
only come and board at our house! There are some people going away.
Wouldn't it be splendid, Hanny?"

Hanny assented with a smile.

"I will see if I can find the others," said the doctor, rising and
looking at his watch. "Father was to drive up with the Surrey at
half-past five. Don't go away from here."

He walked slowly, looking a few moments in every room. Yes--there was
Charles. He caught his eye and beckoned.

The estrays soon rejoined the others. Then they went out to the
southern entrance, and so along to the gateway.

Yes, there was Mr. Underhill. He would take the four girls, and one
more, as he had a team. This was decided to be Mr. Andersen, as he was
to go to the Jaspers' to tea. The others would ride down in the stage.
The doctor said he must make a few calls. Mr. Beekman expressed his
intention of coming up in the evening, as Miss Odell was going to stay;
and Miss Odell's eyes shone with delight.

Daisy having a lover! Dr. Underhill had not felt alarmed about Jim's
attentions, he had so many fancies. But this young man--

Would it be best or wise for Daisy to marry? She appeared quite well,
but she was not strong, and there was a remnant of the old spinal
trouble that came out now and then in excruciating nervous headaches.
Somehow she had seemed his especial property since she had cried in his
arms with all the pain and suffering, and he had encouraged her to bear
the little more. He had meant always to stand her friend. It wasn't
likely he would marry, for he had seen no one yet that he wanted. But if
this child went out of his life! For, alas! the child had grown to
womanhood.



CHAPTER XXI

THE OLD, OLD STORY, EVER NEW


When Mr. Underhill took Polly home the next day, it was with the
stipulation that she should come back and spend a week. Polly was wild
with delight, and packed up her best things. There were some other
visitors,--cousins of the elderly sort,--so the young people had their
own good times. Daisy and Mr. Andersen were in, and Charlie and they had
the happy enjoyment of youth.

Peter Beekman seemed devoted to them. Jim wouldn't be crowded out where
Daisy was concerned, but he wanted to be first with her. Mr. Andersen
gave way generously, and went over to Hanny, who somehow clung to Polly.

There was a good deal of business to be done for Mr. Herman Andersen.
His father's share in the New York firm was to be transferred to him, as
at the age of twenty-five he had come into possession of his mother's
fortune, that had been accumulating. His father was to take charge of
the Paris house. He spent some hours every morning with Mr. Jasper,
acquiring a knowledge of his new duties; but the afternoons were for
pleasure, until the autumnal business stirred up.

"I do wish young Beekman wouldn't come over here so much," Mrs.
Underhill said in a fretted tone, "or that he would take a real fancy to
Polly."

"They are just having a young people's good time," returned Joe.
"Polly's a nice girl. He might do worse."

"But I am afraid it is not Polly. He watches Hanny like a cat watching a
mouse."

"Nonsense!" declared Joe.

"But he does. And I don't like it."

"Oh, mother dear, you're a hen with one chick. If there is a rustle in
the leaves you think a hawk is going to pounce down."

"Hanny's too young to have lovers." She tried to keep her face in severe
lines.

"Hanny isn't thinking about lovers. And Peter is a fine, solid fellow,
who is going to make his mark, and who may be a sort of ballast to Jim.
I like him."

"Oh, he is well enough. But if there was any fuss it might annoy Dolly.
And we have always been so cordial; Margaret was married too young."

"And you were married too young. Now, if you had waited and done without
Steve and me, and begun with John--"

There was a twinkle in Doctor Joe's eye.

"I should have begun with the most sensible son," returned his mother;
but she could not keep her voice sharp.

"Well, I will look after Hanny and the young man. I think myself that we
don't need any more lovers right away."

She knew she could depend on him.

Then they had some anxiety at Ben's, and Delia's mother was away. Aunt
Boudinot had her third stroke, and lay insensible for several days, then
slipped out of life. Mrs. Underhill was quite surprised with Delia's
good sense, as she called it, and really she wasn't such a bad
housekeeper for a girl with no training.

There was the funeral, with some of New York's oldest families.
Afterward the will was read. Aunt Patty had made a new one on the death
of her sister.

There was a small legacy to the niece who had married; a remembrance to
several relatives and friends. The use of the house was to be Mrs.
Whitney's while she lived; at her death to be sold and divided between
her niece, Delia Whitney, and her grand-niece, Eleanora Whitney. And to
Delia Whitney, if she took faithful care of her until her death, the sum
of five thousand dollars in bank-stock.

She had taken faithful care of her, and would have done it out of the
kindness of her heart without any reward.

"I thought it might be a thousand dollars," she said to Ben, "and I made
up my mind if it should be that, we would take it and go abroad. I had
some savings beside. When Bayard Taylor told us about his tour I felt
sure we could do something like it. We would keep out of the expensive
tourists' ways, and live cheaply, keeping house when we could. Oh, Ben,
won't it be splendid!"

He thought it splendid to have her so generous, but he had some savings
as well.

Five thousand dollars was considered quite a legacy in those days; and
the bank-stock was worth a good deal more than its face.

Every one said they would be crazy to waste their money in such a
frivolous manner.

"I don't mind if I shouldn't ever be rich," declared Ben. "I want a
piece of the big world, with its knowledges and wonders. I shouldn't
care to live there always, but it broadens one to see what other nations
have done; what has made their greatness and what has contributed to
their downfall. And the arts and sciences, the mysteries of the East and
of Egypt. We are young yet as a country, and we have a right to gather
up the riches of experience. I only hope we shall profit by it."

So they planned and planned. Delia looked over the old things, and sent
Dolly and Hanny some antiquities of a century or more. Then she packed
and boxed hers, for she knew her mother might deal them out to
indifferent people. She thought it would be a good plan to hire out the
house to some one who would board her mother and Theodore; and presently
one of the married sisters, Mrs. Ferris, decided she would come. So then
they could plan to go away; and Delia might write her novel while she
was abroad.

Meanwhile the summer was slipping away like a dream. The great fair
still attracted a large concourse. But September came in, and schools
opened. Jim went back to regular study; Charles to the seminary. Hanny
had some more schoolmates married. There was another baby at Margaret's;
and it was so delightful to go down to Delia's and hear all the plans!
Now that Hanny had learned so much at the Crystal Palace, she had quite
a longing for churches and museums and art galleries. Herman Andersen
had visited so many of them!

Sometimes Daisy Jasper went down with her. Mr. Andersen came for them in
the evening. Delia he thought wonderfully bright and entertaining. Ben
liked him amazingly.

"But if I had all that money," said Ben, "I wouldn't confine myself to
such puttering stuff as silks and laces and India shawls; I should want
to do something high up and fine, like a magazine or a paper, that had
influence and scope. Some day I mean to own a share in a paper, where
you have a chance to touch up public opinion."

Herman Andersen seemed very happy and content. Mr. Jasper said he was
going to make a fine, reliable business man. He really felt he wouldn't
object to him for a son.

Grandmother Van Kortlandt was growing more feeble, and now and then had
a bad spell. Doctor Joe made light of it, and told her red lavender and
aromatic hartshorn were good for old ladies. She seemed to want her
daughter near her. The young man who had alarmed Mrs. Underhill did not
come so frequently, so she began to feel quite safe.

Oh, what a happy, happy summer it had been! The little girl was used to
her long frocks, and studied ways of doing her hair, and practised
Mendelssohn's "Songs without Words" because some one had said they were
the most beautiful things he had ever heard. She and Daisy and Mr.
Andersen talked German, and had no end of fun.

One afternoon Mr. Andersen came in.

"Let us go up to the Crystal Palace," he said. "It is the most glorious
afternoon imaginable. There is a sort of hazy red gold in the air, that
exhilarates one. You feel as if you could soar to heaven's gate."

"We haven't been up in almost a fortnight," said Hanny, laughing.

"The more need of our going now. I enjoy these superb days to the full."

Hanny went to get her hat. Grandmother generally took her nap early in
the afternoon. Mother was not in her own room, she saw, as she looked
in, so she ran on down. She was not in the kitchen either.

"Joe," she cried--there was no one in the office, and he sat with his
legs stretched out, and a book on the table beside him, looking very
comfortable,--"Joe, where is mother?"

"Up with grandmother, dear. Don't disturb her. What did you want?"

"Oh, nothing--only to say--we are going up to the fair."

"Very well; run along. You look as sweet as a pink."

A bright color flashed over her face, and settled in her dimple, making
it look like a rose as she smiled.

She was putting on her blossom-coloured lace mitts as she entered the
room. Some one else thought she looked as sweet as a pink when he rose,
and led the way.

She turned down the street.

"Oh, Daisy is not going," he said. "She had a headache all the morning.
You don't mind?"

"Oh, no. Poor dear Daisy! And I didn't go in!" Her voice was touched
with the sweetest regret and compassion.

Doctor Joe went upstairs presently, to grandmother.

"Her breathing is better," he said. "I have tried a new remedy. When she
has had some sleep she will be all right. This isn't quite a normal
state yet. Call me if there is any special change."

Then he went down to the office again. People came more in the morning
or the evening, and he had attended to his urgent calls. He was glad not
to go out just then. But he thought of the young people on their way to
the palace of delight. Had he ever been young and joyous, as the youth
of to-day? He had studied and worked, taught some, used up all his time,
and had none for the passing vagaries. What made him feel old, and as if
some of the rarest delights would pass him by?

There was a light tap at the office-door, though it stood ajar. He rose
and opened it wider.

"Why, Daisy Jasper!" he cried in amazement. "Or is it your wraith? I
thought you had gone to the fair with Hanny."

She had been very pale; now she flushed a little. There was a
tremulousness about her, and shadows under her eyes.

"I had a headache all the morning; most of the night as well. It has
gone off somewhat, but I didn't feel well enough for that."

"No, of course not." He led her to the pretty library, that was always
having a picture or a set of books added. You couldn't put in any more
easy-chairs. He placed her in one. As he touched her hand, he felt the
feverish tremble.

"My dear child, what is it?"

Her eyes drooped, and tears beaded the lashes.

"You shouldn't have come out. Why did you not send for me?"

"I--I wanted to come. I knew Hanny would be gone. I wanted to see you."
She was strangely embarrassed.

He was standing by the side of the chair and took her hand again. How
limp and lifeless it seemed!

"I wanted to see you--to ask you, to tell you--oh, how shall I say
it!--if you could help me a little. You are so wise, and can think of so
many ways--and I am so afraid he loves me--it would not be right--"

Yes, that was it. This bright, charming, well-bred, fortunate young
fellow loved her. He could keep her like a little queen. And she had
some conscientious scruple about her health, and her trifling lameness,
and all. A word from him would keep her where she was. He had carried
her in his arms, his little ewe lamb. No man could ever give her the
exquisite care that he would be able to bestow. Oh, could he let any one
take her out of his life!

Yet some one younger and richer loved her. Yes, he _must_ stand aside.

"My child,"--he would be grave and fatherly,--"I think you are making
yourself needless trouble. Why should you refuse a good man's love? You
have your beauty, and a gift that is really a genius, and though you may
not be as strong as some women, that is no reason why you should deny
yourself the choicest blessing of a woman's life."

"But"--she gave a little sob--"I thought you might blame me for being
heedless. We have all been such friends. And I don't want anything to
mar the perfect pleasantness. I know it is not right because--how can I
make you understand! It might wound you if I said it--I think it can
never be that kind of love--"

Did he hear aright, or was it some subtle temptation?

"You, of all other women, should be careful not to make a mistake. It
would mean more to you afterward--if matters went a little wrong."

"And he is so gay, so full of life and fun, and always wanting one to
keep up to the highest pitch. It would not be the right thing for him."

"But he is very gentle as well."

"Dr. Underhill, tell me that it isn't the right step for me to take,
_ever_," Daisy said decisively.

"I cannot tell you any such thing. I will not bar you out of any
happiness."

Perhaps he really approved of it. They were all in a way proud of the
younger brother. And Jim thought there was no such splendid man in the
world as the doctor. Oh, if she only knew! She was heroic enough to
please them all for the sake of the past and present friendship. But she
had a doubt of Mrs. Underhill's approval. She might give in as she had
to Delia; and now she had really begun to find virtues in Ben's wife.
But with Jim's brilliant nature always on the alert for amusement, she,
Daisy, would be worn out trying to keep up to his standard.

She rose slowly. "I ought not have come," she began in a despondent
tone. "I thought I could talk it all over with you; but I must decide,
and bear the pain. You may all feel hurt, even if you acknowledge the
wisdom of my decision. It would be a delight to come and live with you
all; I who have had no brothers or sisters. But I think Jim will soon
get over it, especially if _you_ point out the unwisdom of it all. Maybe
you will take me back into favour then, when the soreness is spent."

"Jim," he repeated, in a vague, absent sort of way. "Jim! Who are you
talking about, Daisy?"

Her face was scarlet, and her eyes full of tears.

"Your brother James. It is a shame, I know, to betray one man's inmost
secrets to another. But I am quite sure that I ought not, that I cannot,
marry him. Oh, will you all forgive me, and help him to forget all but
the friendship?"

She took a step toward the door. The scarlet went out of her face, and
she swayed as if her strength was all gone. He caught her, and put her
back in the chair.

"Jim!" now in a tone of great surprise, and giving a little incredulous
laugh. "Why, I thought it was Herman Andersen."

Joe's heart seemed suddenly to enlarge and fill his whole body. There
was a ringing in his ears, as of joy-bells.

"Herman Andersen!" she said composedly. "Oh, have you all been blind?
Why, he is in love with Hanny! He came back to America to win her, and
he will if he serves seven years."

Doctor Joe looked at her in amaze. Ah, yes, they had been blind. They
had fenced out young Peter Beckman, and opened the door wide to this
unsuspected lover. And he knew as well as it Hanny had confessed it,
that her heart had gone to meet his on the magic sea of love, and they
would come into port no longer twain, but one.

He sat down on the broad arm of the chair. He could see Daisy's long
agitated breaths quiver through her body; and she looked tired and
spent. Poor little girl!

"No, I had never thought of Jim," he began gravely, "because he is so
fond of girls; a general worshipper. Not but what he might be very true
and devoted to one. He seems so young yet. Daisy,"--his voice
fell,--"did he ask you--"

Her head drooped a little, and her shining curls hid her face.

"Oh, do believe that when I thought of it first I did try to evade,
to--to laugh him out of it. That was a month ago. He kept saying little
things I would not heed or seem to understand. It has been such a gay,
happy summer for us all! And there was Charlie's engagement. Last
evening mamma and papa had gone out to call on a friend, and we were
quite alone--"

How much was volatile temperament and the love of pursuit, and how much
the deeper regard? Let him do his young brother justice.

"Charlie is young, to be sure, but he is a very steady-minded fellow,
and his mother's and Tudie's death brought them together in a very
sympathetic manner. Then Charles is about certain of a good position.
Jim has his fortune all to make. And you are right about some other
qualities. Herman Andersen would be a much better companion for you. Jim
is strong and energetic, full of life, and will always be among the busy
bustling things, and deep in excitements. He would wear you out."

"And don't you see that when he is five or six and twenty he will need
something better than an invalid wife, who might have to go to bed with
a headache when he was giving an important dinner, or having a brilliant
sort of evening with some stylish guests? He ought to have a wife
something like Mrs. Hoffman, who would help him to the finest things of
life. And though I seem well, I shall never be real strong; and I do not
care for grand society. I like a good deal of quiet and ease, and just
everyday living, a little painting when I feel inspired, a little
reading and talks with friends, and old-fashioned music. I sometimes
feel as if I was an old girl, and ought to have lived a century ago.
Perhaps I shall make a queer, stuffy old woman. And--I ought not to
marry."

"You shall not give up the divine right," he made answer, earnestly.

"Oh, I have a pretty face just now, and people, I find, _do_ admire
beauty. But that will fade." Then she sprang up suddenly, parted her
long ringlets, and stood with her back to him. "See," and her voice
trembled, he knew there were tears in her eyes, "I have a little crook
in my back, and one high shoulder. There has to be half an inch of cork
in one boot-sole to keep me straight and from limping. No, I shouldn't
do for a handsome young man like Jim, for I may grow lamer and crookeder
as I grow older; nor for any man, although you try to comfort me with an
almost divine compassion."

She was sobbing in his arms then. It was not the first time she had wept
out her sorrow there.

He raised the golden head a little, and kissed down amid the passionate
tears that were sweeping away a kind of regret that sometimes haunted
her. He had kissed her often as a little child, but rarely since her
return from abroad. Her girlhood had been a quality fine and rare and
sacred to him.

"Except the one man who has always loved you from the poor little child
in her pitiful pain and anguish, and the little girl who began to take
courage and face the world, the larger girl who was brave and
sunny-hearted, and looked out with hopeful eyes on the world that had so
many blessings. And he knows now that no skill can ever shut out all
suffering; but his sympathy and tender affection will help her through
years that may be weary and sorrowful, and endure with her whatever
burden comes, make her pathway easy and pleasant and restful."

"Oh, you must not," she cried, with a pang of renunciation. "Whatever
applies to another man applies with double force to you. You are so
noble, so tender; so worthy of what is best in life! And you have to
carry so many burdens for other people that you must have some one brave
and strong and full of energy and in perfect health--"

"The woman I love will be better than all this to me," he returned, with
a sweetness in his voice that went to her very heart, and brought the
tears to her eyes again. Then he dropped down in the great chair and
took her gently in his arms, and he knew his case was as good as won.

"When you were a little girl you once said to Hanny if you could have a
brother out of the clan you would like it to be me. And for days the
quaint, generous little soul could hardly resolve whether it was not her
duty to give me away. Then don't you remember you both planned to come
and keep my bachelor-home? Some one else will take her. And we will
wait, dear. We will go on in the same friendly, kindly fashion. You must
run in and out and come to me with your headaches and perplexities, and
I shall scold you a little and give you a bitter tonic; and when
everything is just right I shall ask you to marry me; but all the time I
shall be loving you so much that it will be impossible for you to refuse
me. So you know what is in store, and no one need trouble about the
future. You are not engaged, you are quite free; and, like Ben, I will
wait seven years or twenty years for you. But I think you never can
belong to any one else."

Ah, what delightful security!

"Dear, dear Doctor Joe. Oh, it would be too much happiness! No, I ought
not; mamma thinks I ought not to marry. And," raising her head and
showing a face full of scarlet flushes and tears, and eyes shining with
love's own light, "it looks just as if I had come in here and really
asked you to marry me. We have forgotten all about poor Jim. You will
think me a coquette, and you ought to despise me."

His clasp tightened a little.

"I am sorry that Jim should have been so heedless. Perhaps it will be
better to let him learn how much in earnest you are with your refusal.
It may not be flattering to a young girl to think a man will forget
her."

"But I want him to forget that part," she interrupted eagerly.

"I think he will. And if he comes to me for comfort, I will try to be a
wise father-confessor. And yet I can't help pitying the man a little who
will lose you. Only in this case it would be like having an exotic
without a conservatory, and not quite knowing how to build one."

"Joseph!" his mother called from upstairs.

Daisy sprang up and smoothed her ruffled plumes, Joe gave her one long,
dear kiss, and she flashed out of the little room.

She held her head very high. It was the most splendid thing that could
happen to a girl; but she was not going to spoil her dear Doctor Joe's
life.

Are there days that the Lord of all the earth has created for love? Some
days seem made especially for sorrow. But this had such an exquisite
serenity brooding in the air. It was not late enough to have any regrets
for the passing of summer, and oh, what a summer it had been!

"Do you really want to go up to the fair?" Herman Andersen had asked,
when they reached the corner.

"Why,--" Hanny hesitated,--"we have seen it a good many times," and she
gave her soft, rippling laugh.

"Let us go over to Tompkin's Square." He had something to say to her
that would be easier said in those deserted walks. You could always find
them except on Saturday or Sunday.

"Very well," with her graceful assent.

The birds, done with their summer housekeeping and child-rearing, had
time to sing again. But it was all low, plaintive songs, as if they
said: "We must go away from the place in which we have been so happy.
Will we be sure to come another spring?" Now and then a branch stirred.
The grass had been cut for the last time, and there were sweet little
winrows that filled the air with fragrance. He was quiet, for he liked
to hear her enchanting talk. It had turned upon when she was a little
girl, and how queer things were! It didn't seem as if everything could
change so. And what a great gay time they had at the Beekmans' when
Stephen was married! So they walked around, and were at an entrance. A
cabman put down a woman and some children just as Mr. Andersen had said,
"We were going up there some day, you know; we ought to go before
everything has faded."

"Yes," she made answer.

"See here, we might get this cab and go up now"--looking up with eager
inquiry.

Dickens had not created Mr. Wemmick with his delightful off-hand
premeditated happenings; but other people had them even then.

She made no demur, but assented with her innocent eyes full of exquisite
sweetness.

He helped her in and sat along side of her. He had all kinds of young
lover-like thoughts, and really he so seldom had her alone. He wanted to
snatch up the hand and kiss it. It made such a tempting background for
the lace mitt. No one but old ladies wore gloves, except on very fine
occasions. And her slim little fingers, with their pink nails, were so
pretty! If he could even hold her hand!

But they jolted over rough streets, through little clumps of Irish
villages, and laughed over the pigs, and geese, and children. Then
wastes again, with long, straight lines where streets were to be.

"That is the house over there," she said.

"I wonder if you could walk back? Or shall I keep the cab?"

"Oh, no. It is so delightful to walk!"

Ah, how the hand of improvement had disfigured everything! leaving ugly,
square, naked blocks, with here and there a house, then a space where
the trees were still standing; but the children despoiled the lilacs and
dogwood in the spring, and thrashed the lindens and black walnuts all
the later summer, until the poor things had a weary, drooping aspect.
Over here was the great garden, and a street ran through it. The old
house was shabby, and needed painting; and most of the vines had been
cut away. The steps were broken. Several families inhabited it now. The
cousin had thrown it up in disgust.

But the young man saw it through her eyes, glorified with the glamour of
childhood. Slim young Dolly, Aunt Gitty netting, the ladies in
rocking-chairs with their sewing under the trees, Mr. Beckman and
Katschina, and the tea on little tables; and the boys she was afraid of.

"They were such pudgy little boys," she says, with a laugh in which
there is only a remembered mirth. "They were like some of Irving's
descriptions. You wouldn't expect them to grow up into such fine-looking
men, now, would you? I think Peter is almost handsome."

It gives him a little twinge. He was jealous of Peter awhile ago; but he
admits bravely that Peter is very good-looking.

And here are some poor willows. Oh, the lovely shrubbery that is
neglected and dying!

"After all, it _is_ the people who give the charm to places,--the loving
care, the home delight. But no one could keep it up. Property gets too
valuable, and taxation is too high; and there are so many poorer people
who must have homes."

These sententious bits of wisdom he considers utterly charming. She has
caught them from John.

Then they sit down on a great stone and rest, though she protests she is
not tired. She can walk for hours.

Now he ought to tell her all that is in his heart. If the world stands
thousands of years there will never be such a golden opportunity again.
She breaks off a bit of yarrow and sticks it in her belt. How
beautifully the lashes droop over her eyes, deepening and softening the
tint, until it looks like a glint of heaven!

"Oh, we ought to go on," she says presently; and with a dainty smile and
motion, she rises. Ah, if she knew what he is wild to utter!

They turn their steps homeward. A wood-robin in a thicket sings,
"Sweet, sweet, I love you, I l-o-v-e you," with a maddening, lingering
cadence.

Why is he not as brave as the bird? Are there any choicer, more
exquisite words in which to say it?

They come to a little stream. "Oh, just down here is Kissing Bridge,"
she says, with a kind of girlish gleefulness.

She had made her father tell the old Dutch story one evening, when they
were all sitting on the stoop. And as they go on, she, with a sort of
eager, heedless step, as if she was not walking on his heart, tells
about Stephen, and how he jumped out of the carriage and gathered a
great bunch of roses for her. They have reached the spot. The stream has
shrunken. You could step over it.

"They were just there." She indicates the spot with a pretty gesture of
her head. "But there are no wild-roses now;" and a soft sigh escapes
her, as she turns to him, and their eyes meet.

"Are there none?" he asks, his eyes drinking in the sudden radiance. For
if ever dainty, delicate, ethereal wild-roses bloomed, they are in her
cheeks; and oh, what are her scarlet lips that have meant to answer, and
are mysteriously tranfixed with the rarest sweetness!

He kisses her--once, a dozen times. There is no one near. They own the
city,--the whole world, for love is Lord of all.

He slips her hand in his arm. Its tremble thrills every nerve in his
body. He experiences the overwhelming joy of possessorship, for she _is_
his.

"My darling little Nan;" and his voice is unsteady with emotion.

He has rechristened Baby Stevie's pet name; but it has never sounded so
enchanting before.

Then they walk on in delicious silence. Another bird sings in a drowsy
afternoon tone,--

"Sweet, sweet, I love you, I l-o-v-e you."

They glance at each other, and both translate it. Her cheeks are redder
than wild-roses now; and her dimple holds the sweetness of a great
mystery. They both smile, and he kisses her again. Why not? There is no
one about.

"My darling, can you guess when I first began to love you?" He wants her
to know all the story. It seems as if his whole life will not be long
enough to get it told and he must begin at once.

"When?" There is a startled sound in her voice, as if she was amazed
that love had a beginning.

"That night in the dance,--the Spanish dance. We will go somewhere this
winter and dance it over again; and the music beats will say--'I love
you.'"

"Oh, so long ago?" she exclaims.

"Yes; and I have a visiting-card of yours." He hunts in his card-case.
"Here it is--'Miss Nan Underhill.' I've kissed it thousands of times. I
have almost worn it out. And when I went home I told my father about the
little girl in New York that I must come back and win."

"Oh, did you!" She is touched by the revelation.

"He is a delightful father. Some time I must take you over to see him,
or he may come here. But he had promised that I should go to Ebberfeld;
and so I did. The aunt had proposed the match."

"And your poor cousin!" Her voice is full of such infinite pity that he
gives the little hand a tender pressure for thanks.

"I couldn't have loved her anyhow. She seems older than I; and I am a
very boy in heart. Then she was too large. I like little women."

"I am so glad," she cries, with unaffected joy, "for I am small; and I
never can grow any larger. But I don't mind now."

"So when my father found how much in earnest I was, he planned the
business change. It was my own mother's money, you know. But he has been
a good father to me, and I am glad he has some other children. I was to
go to Paris."

That seems so magnificent she is almost conscience smitten.

Ah, how much there is to say!

"But you will get tired with all this long walk," he exclaims anxiously.
Oh, blessed thought! he will have the right to keep her rested and
happy, and in a realm of joy.

"Oh, no," she returns. "Why, the walk has not seemed long." The surprise
in her voice is enchanting.

Is any walk ever too long for love? Is any day too long,--even all of
life?

The crickets and peeps come out; a locust drones his slow tune. The sun
has dropped down. Well, they are in an enchanted country that needs no
sun but that of love. And if they walked all night they could not say
all that has been brought to light by the mighty touch that wakes human
souls.

At home grandmother's difficult breathing has returned, and they have
had a troubled hour. But now she is all right, except that she will be
weaker to-morrow. Mrs. Underhill goes downstairs and bustles about the
supper as a relief from the strain. She makes a slice of
delicately-browned toast. Joe comes rushing in.

"I'm sorry, but the servant at the Dentons has cut her hand badly. Don't
wait supper for me," he exclaims.

"Jim has not come in, and no one can tell when those children will be
back. If the fair should keep open three months longer every one will be
dead with fatigue. Yes, we'll wait. I am going to take some toast up to
mother."

"The children!" Doctor Joe has a strange, guilty sort of feeling. What
if to-night should bring her a new son, as some future night will bring
her a new daughter?

Father Underhill sits on the front stoop reading his paper. He glances
up now and then. When he espies a small figure in soft gray with a
wide-brimmed leghorn hat, and a young man, he studies them more
attentively. What is this? She has the young man's arm,--that has gone
out of date for engaged people,--and her head inclines toward him. She
glances up and smiles.

And then a great pang rends the father's soul. They come nearer, and she
smiles to him; but, oh! there is a light in her face, a gladness shining
in her eyes, a tremulous sweetness about the mouth. Did he read all this
in her mother's face years and years ago? Did _her_ mother have this
awful pang that seems to wrench body and soul asunder?

They say good-evening and that it has been a glorious afternoon. The
young man will lose no time,--hasn't he been dangling three months
already?

"Mr. Underhill, may I see you a moment?"

How brave and sweet and assured the voice is! And he helps the little
girl up the steps, through the hall space, and the three stand in the
parlour, where the young man prefers his request with such a daring that
the elder man is almost dazed. Then the father holds out his arms as if
he was grasping for something lost. She comes to them, and her head is
on his breast, her hands reaching up to clasp him about the neck.

"And this little girl, too!"

His voice is broken, his face goes down to hers. The sweetest thing of
his life,--how can he give her up?

"Oh, father, father!" The cry is so entreating, so piteous, and he feels
the tears on her sweet face. "Oh, father, can I not love you both?"

She loosens one hand and holds it out to the young man. He feels the
motion, and accepts the fact that her heart is divided. She draws her
lover in the circle. "You will love him for my sake."

Alas! alas! she is his little girl no longer. She is another man's
sweetheart, and will one day be his wife. It is the fashion in this
world; it has God's favor and sanction.



CHAPTER XXII

1897


All that was long ago. It is nearing the end of the century, and the
little girl who thought it a great thing to see the half-century mark,
bids fair to shake hands with the new one. There have been many changes,
there have been sorrows and deaths, and such exquisite satisfying
happiness that she could say with the poet,--

        "Let come what come may
    I shall have had my day."

She is in the older generation now, and a grandmother. You may see her
in Central Park, or some of the surburban places, a fair, sweet small
personage, with a face more nearly beautiful than in her girlhood. Her
hair has that shining silvery tint, her complexion is clear and fine,
and her eyes, though they have wept bitter tears, still look out gladly,
serenely, on life.

In the carriage will be her twin granddaughters, and sometimes a young
man, her son. They are pretty children, and will be "summer girls" when
their time comes, and "winter girls" as well, clad in cloth and velvet
and furs. They will dance Germans instead of the bewildering Spanish
dance she had that first night with her lover. Even children have
changed in half a century. Beauty is no longer considered a delusion and
a snare. Physical culture gives strength and grace and growth.

The lover of her youth and the husband of her love, and her first-born
daughter, who was wedded, and who with her husband faced a railroad
tragedy and were its victims, have gone into that "goodly land and
large." It seems to many of us as we grow older that there is only a
thin wall between this and the other country where we shall see them
again. Sometimes she can almost fancy them leaning over the jasper
walls, like the Blessed Damosel, and smiling down on her. There are so
many of them now! And the children were given to her. They are spoiled,
all the aunts and cousins declare. But grandmamma lives another youth
over in them,--a delightful life, rich in love and interest.

For conditions have changed. The world, and all that therein is, has
changed. It is Greater New York now, and it stretches out everywhere.
What was Brooklyn, and Williamsburg, and many a pretty town up above the
city, have all been merged into one grand metropolis. What it will do in
the next fifty years passes conjecture.

As they drive around nothing interests them more than to have grandmamma
talk of what it was like when she was a little girl. They find the
places, and look at them through her eyes. There is no longer any
Bowling-Green, only in name, and though part of the Battery is left, the
elevated roads go winding about among the tree-tops; Castle Garden,
after many vicissitudes and debasements, is again a place of interest
and entertainment. Here was where she heard that sweet and wonderful
Jenny Lind, who, with Parepa Rosa, and many another divine voice, is
singing up in the New Jerusalem. And though hundreds in the glare of
light and blaze of diamonds listen to Patti, she wonders if the
enthusiasm is as deep and sincere.

Over opposite where modest Brooklyn lived its simple, friendly life
fifty years ago, stretching out into country ways and green fields,
there are miles of houses, and the great bridge is such an everyday
affair one hardly gives it a second thought. And all is business now,
with tall buildings that the glance can hardly reach. There is no City
Hall Park, but a great space of flagging, though the fountain remains.
Business crowds hurry to and fro where ladies used to sit and chat while
the young people strolled about.

Stewart's old marble building is common-place and dingy. Delmonico has
gone on up-town stride by stride, and people have forgotten the old
balcony where Jenny Lind sang, and Koenig played to a street packed with
people. And the Prince de Joinville was here; also Louis Napoleon, the
nephew of his uncle, who followed his steps as Emperor and loser of
crown and all, and exile. And the young Prince Imperial, whose birth, so
long desired and celebrated with state as was that of the young King of
Rome, met with as melancholy a fate and early death as the Duc de
Reichstadt. And here the young Prince of Wales dined. He came down
Broadway with his suite and procession, and the little wife thought it a
fine sight as she stood there to see.

Broadway stretches on and on. Union Square is really a thoroughfare; but
she came up here with father and the boys when it was a grand new thing.

Did she really live in First Street with Aunt Daisy for a playmate, and
Auntie Reed, and Nora, who was a much admired singer in her day, and who
married a Roman Count; and the little Tudie who died? Did she have that
splendid Christmas and the beautiful wax doll, that seems sacredly alive
to them both; only under some spell of enchantment laid upon her by
Merlin's clan?

Oh, how full the streets are now with their great high tenement-houses,
pouring out their myriads of children all day long, of every
nationality! But you still hear the old plays, "Open the Gates," and
"Scotland's Burning," and "Uncle John is very Sick," and "Ring around a
Rosy." Little Sally Waters still sits in the sun,--

    "Crying and sighing for a young man,"

though modern poesy advises her to--

            "Rise, Sally, rise,
    Wipe your eyes out with your frock."

And the strange Chinatown, with its cabalistic signs, its men in blue
shirts and pigtails, and often snowy white stockings and queer pointed
slippers!

They wind slowly about Central Park. Was the Crystal Palace here? And no
park? To them it seems as if New York must have been born this way, with
electric lights, and push-buttons, and telephones, and cars, and
telegraphs, and everything. And did grandmamma come up here to the Fair;
and was it anything like the Museum of Art? And wasn't there any
menagerie, or playground, or donkey-riding or bicyclers?

Here is Washington Arch, with its memory of a great anniversary. Over on
the west side there is a curious spot fenced in with wooden palings,
where Alexander Hamilton planted thirteen trees for the Union, when
there were only thirteen States, and named them all. Even before his sad
death, South Carolina was braced to keep her from growing crooked; but
she went awry in spite of it all. They have moved the house in which he
lived, across the street, to save it from destruction; and it is in the
shadow of a church. And here is the old mansion where Aaron Burr lived a
brief while with Madame Jumel for his wedded wife,--a beautiful old
place on a hill.

They go on up to the grand Washington Bridge. They are very fond of the
story of Anthony Woolf swimming across the Harlem that dark night to get
away from the Hessian regiment, and begging shelter of kindly hearts.
They turn into a shaded road, and pass by lovely grounds, where wealth
has made gardens and terraces akin to those of Paradise. And winding
down the old road leading to the vale, they find a little dark-eyed girl
whose great-great-grandfather was this same Anthony Woolf. And the
Revolutionary War was a century and a quarter ago! Here they have lived
for generations. The Cousin Jennie has gone, but the tall bright-eyed
man who married her is still hale and hearty, with snowy hair and beard.

Yes, it is all New York up to Kingsbridge. There are many historic
spots, and several old manor houses still standing. But it has a city
aspect in spite of some wildness. They go around to Fordham; the old
house perched on the hill is there, though it has been enlarged, and the
street widened and straightened. Up on the old porch grandmamma sat and
read; and it still hangs out with a tempting aspect, just as when she
watched the pedestrians and the reverend fathers, who yet go up and
down. And here is the little old Poe Cottage, about which such a flavor
of romance lingers, though the place has been modernised into a
"Terrace," and built about with city pretentiousness. It is still the
same little low place, not a bit changed since she sat there on the
door-sill and talked over her heroes with the poet. She can still see
the tall spare figure of Mrs. Clemm in her rocking-chair doing her bit
of mending and casting anxious glances at the son of her love, about
whom so much has been written in later days. People still quote the
"Raven" and "Ullalume," but all she cares to remember is "Annabel Lee,"
and the weird stories are not to her taste.

The old Odell house at West Farms was swept away long ago; Janey is a
grandmother on a big farm that is crowded with summer boarders. Polly
is in Oregon, her sons coming up with the country. And up a short
distance, Jerome Park used to be thronged by the beauty and fashion of
the city on racing days. And that has gone, too.

A little to the eastward is the beautiful Bronx Park, that is going to
tread closely on its down-town rival. Oh, is Central Park really
down-town? There are woods and wilds, ravines and the leisurely stream,
trees that have been brought from everywhere, walks and drives, hills
clothed with verdure, and the old Lorillard mansion still grand, with
its legend of love and tragedy. Its gardens have changed indeed.
Grandmamma remembers the small old man, who used to gather his rose
leaves day by day from the fragrant beds,--Lorillard's rose-snuff was a
great thing two generations ago.

"Did they really take snuff?" asks Ethel, in disgust. "How queer!"

"And you know," says Rose, "that Uncle Herman told us of a man who
declined to take snuff, because if nature had intended his nose for a
dust-pan, she would have put it the other side up."

How they both laugh at that!

They have a governess friend at home, but they are continually picking
up knowledge in their rides and rambles about. They know the old city
that was afraid to stray above Union Square, they know the modern city
with its fifty years of improvements, and they will grow up to womanhood
in Greater New York, the Star City of the Continent.

Here in one of the pleasant streets overlooking the park, they live.
They are not rich; no one is now who doesn't go up in the millions.
There is a pretty house looking like a hotel, an apartment house,--very
moderate since it only accommodates three families. Joseph, the eldest
son, who should have been a doctor, but is a fine architect, is married,
and with his wife and two babies, and a dear friend who is an artist,
has one side, and the other is grandmamma's. It is quite like a house by
themselves, only there is a beautiful square hall, and a handsome
stairway one could hardly have space for in a small house. Herman, the
second son, lives with them, and is a scientist, and wields the pen of a
ready writer. He has no taste for the toil and moil of money-getting,--a
refined, studious, thoughtful young man.

They have all had their share of happiness. Dolly and Stephen are really
old people, and have a flock of grandchildren. Hanny can see her own
father again in Stephen, and Dolly, since she has grown stout and
white-haired, suggests her mother. Stephen's sons are promising young
business-men. There is only one little grave marking their prosperous
pathway,--a baby girl, who went so soon they have hardly missed her.

Margaret is still handsome and aristocratic. Dr. Hoffman long ago gave
up practice, his property interests increased so rapidly. Their sons and
daughters are of the higher society order, intellectual, fine and noble,
and a power in the land. One daughter has married an Englishman of
rank, the other is the wife of a Bishop. Margaret is serene and
satisfied, and still very fond of her little sister.

Dear Doctor Joe lectures mostly, and attends to hospital surgery, still
keeping his tender sympathy for suffering humanity. After Grandmother
Van Kortlandt went away, he brought Daisy Jasper home, to help fill the
vacant spaces. And presently, when Mrs. Jasper was left alone, she came,
too, the house being so large. Two mothers-in-law, according to the
rules of family lore, ought to have quarrelled and sulked, but they
didn't. And the babies that came were a source of delight. Though there
was suffering in Daisy's life, there was so much joy that, to her, it
was the unalloyed delight of living.

And Jim outgrew his fancy, and had many another one that did not strike
deep enough in the soil to lead him to ask a woman to marry him. But he
and Daisy were fast friends, and he saw that no one could ever have
cared for her as well and wisely as dear Doctor Joe, with his wonderful
tenderness.

Jim, brilliant and gay and witty, was a fine, fluent speaker, studying
such eloquent models as Webster and Choate, and the vanished Clay. Did
Hanny remember, when they had lost his election, and he, Jim, had turned
out with the Democratic boys? There are grave questions now, on wider
than party lines, and sometimes the hearts of thoughtful statesmen beat
with an undefined fear.

The fun-loving, dancing side of his nature often asserts itself. Women
adore him. Though he is not rich, the mothers smile on him for the
"promise yet to be." Even Lily Williamson tries her arts; admiration is
what she lives for now. She is one of the handsome, fascinating society
vampires, who make great capital out of matrimonial infelicities, to
appeal to the sympathies of really good and generous men, who are the
more easily caught in the silken nets. One day she leaves her worthless
drunken husband, when his money is all spent, and elopes with a young
fellow of excellent family who has just come into a fortune, and later
becomes one of the adventuresses that disgrace Americans in the eyes of
European propriety.

Ben and Delia go abroad,--Ben in the interest of his paper, which is
next to his wife; Delia to write travel letters for a weekly, and find
material for her novel. It is quite a picnic, and they enjoy the
economies.

Then the clouds that have been gathering a long, long while, break over
the country, and all is tumult from end to end. The Seventh Regiment
"boys" go down to Washington, with brave, laughing, high-hearted Jim,
who understands that it is no child's play, but a bitter struggle that
will call forth the best energies of the country, and who enlists for
"three years or the whole war." Ben hurries home, and takes his place in
the ranks. When things are at their lowest ebb, and men's hearts are
sinking with fear, quiet, grave John buckles on a soldier's haversack
and marches away. The others have substitutes.

Ah, what times they were! It is well that flowers can spring up on a
battlefield. The little girl keeps track of her heroes. Kearny, who has
seen Magenta and Solferino, meets his fate at Chantilly. Many another
one who has come up to fame, many new ones, who are on the march to win
or die.

John is wounded, patched up in a hospital, and honorably discharged,
lamed for life. But he has done good work. Ben has a slight mishap, and
Delia sends her two babies and their nurse to her sister's, and goes to
the hospital, and remains. Women of brains and kindly impulses are much
needed.

And one night some wounded are brought in. There has been a fateful
reconnoisance, but it has saved the regiment from destruction on the
next day. This limp figure in a captain's uniform is laid tenderly on a
cot; but the surgeon, after a brief examination, shakes his head. Oh,
surely, she knows that handsome face with the clustering dark curls!

He opens his eyes, and after an instant says in a faint voice, "Oh,
Dele, is that you?" then lapses into insensibility. There is nothing to
be done; that is the cruelest of all. Once again, after a long while, he
moves his head, and opens his eyes again, brave and clear even in death.

"Delia," in a strange, strong voice that surprises her, "kiss them all
good-night for me;" and James Odell Underhill has gone to the land of
everlasting morning.

The war ends; and Ben comes home none the worse. He has reached his
ambition, and is a "newspaper man" in every sense of the word. Delia
sets up housekeeping, takes home the babies, and in the course of time
adds two more to them.

But there is another ferment, and women are coming to the fore. There
are clubs and suffrage meetings, lectures; women have even invaded
churches, and preach; and colleges for higher education are springing up
everywhere. There are poets and philosophers, there are teachers and
orators; some of them ill-judged, because they are fond of notoriety;
but there are always some wry sheep in the best of flocks. Have men
always been honest and wise and honourable and grand?

Delia lectures and writes, and is one of the able women of the day. Mrs.
Hoffman on her serene heights _is_ mortified. Mother Underhill is sure
Ben has to go to a restaurant, that his stockings are never mended, his
buttons always off. But patent buttons are invented, and collar-buttons
that cannot be ironed off by the "washerwoman," supply a long-felt want.
Ben is stout and comfortable-looking, and the same grave, affectionate
fellow. The children seem to come up without much sickness or trouble.
When Mother Underhill feels disposed to cavil and criticise, for she
_is_ shocked by the new woman's heresies, she recalls the "last
good-night kiss," and is silent. What if there had been no one at hand
to bring it home?

Delia's girls grow up into "modern women." It is true they do not spend
half a day a week darning stockings, neither have they learned to put
the exquisite over and under darns in tablecloths that the little girl
could do by the time she was ten. But they sing and play; they are ready
speech-makers, and clubs are glad to get them. They know about Greek
antiquities and Central American wonders; they can take up the questions
of the day intelligently; one paints really very well, and has entered
pictures at the Academy. One is interested in industrial schools for
girls, and the doctor, who is "Daisy Jasper," a tall, bright,
good-looking woman, has a big, tender heart for all babies who are
suffering, and trains many a poor mother how to care judiciously for her
offspring.

But all the nieces think Aunt Nan just the loveliest and sweetest body
in the world. They send her flowers and bric-à-brac; they beg her to
come here and there to receptions and charity bazaars, and reunions of
all sorts. She is so small and dainty, and they are all growing up to
the new stature.

George has come home at last, after varying fortunes. He has seen San
Francisco built and destroyed by fire, and rebuilt, and at last planned
into a handsome city. He has mined and been in the wild life known only
to the few remaining "forty-niners." He has gained and lost, been burned
out and robbed, been one of the heads of a Vigilance Committee, and
mayor of a town; and at last, when all is serene and prosperous, a great
wave of homesickness overtakes him.

It is twenty years since he went away, though he has been home once in
the time. He is spare, and has a weather-beaten look, and is old for his
years. Is the money worth all the sacrifice?

He will build a house on their part of the old farm at Yonkers, where
his heart has turned in many a weary hour; but Uncle Faid and Aunt Crete
are dead. Barton Finch and Retty are living in town, and Barton is a
thriving manufacturer. Yonkers has stretched out; and the suburbs are in
that ugly transition state of new unworked streets and dingy cottages,
for property has been cut up and lots sold cheaply. Father Underhill is
offered a great price for his, and sells it. It is no longer George's
ideal home.

Mrs. Eustis begs him to come up to Tarrytown. All the other Morgans are
gone, and she is left alone. The place shall belong to George if he will
give her a home her few remaining years.

He will not listen to this, but buys it, and builds on a new part. Then
he marries a nice girl whose youth is past, and who is delighted with
her kindly, indulgent husband. They have no children; but the nieces and
nephews flock hither for rest and recreation, and are always fascinated
with Uncle George's adventures.

Delia is at middle life when she writes her book, but then it is no
young girl's story with an imperious Rochester-like hero, that we used
to shiver over and adore. It is a serious, inspiriting woman's book, and
carries weight in spite of the flood of new literature.

Charles Reed has followed a manly, pure, and high-minded Christian
course, and left an impress on the hurrying world. Josie has grown
broader and more intelligent, and made a delightful household mother.
There have been children enough to satisfy Grandmamma Reed.

These old friends meet now and then, and talk as people will when they
begin to go down the decline on the other side of the hill that they
climbed with such a light step and high heart. How simple life was then
compared with the ramifications of to-day!

The old songs, the old poets, the old novelists are gone. "Jane Eyre" no
longer holds us spell-bound, though the three sisters in the bleak old
Haworth Rectory will never be forgotten; nor that strange "Rosemary,"
and Huntingdon's "Lady Alice," thought to be so unsettling to the faith.
We read "Robert Elsmere," and "John Ward, Preacher," and go our way
tranquilly. Education has become almost a synonym for genius.

The gold of the Pacific Coast, the oil wells, the rich spoils of the
earth, have been touched with the wand of industry and science.
Railroads run to and fro; vessels dot the ocean; we cross it now in less
than a week. Cables bring us hour-old news from everywhere. We go abroad
for seasons and touch elbows with royalty, and are not abashed. We
gather the beauty and wisdom of the old world. We build palaces, and
spend on an evening's entertainment what would have been a fortune fifty
years ago. We have private palace-cars, and luxurious yachts for
pleasure, and others for speed, so swift that the "America's Cup" has
remained in our keeping all these years.

Will we presently utter the old cry of the wise man who "gat him
everything," "that all is vanity"?

When the children are asleep the little grandmother goes down to her
son's study. He is not ambitious for show or wealth, but he has a rather
luxurious side. The rugs are soft; the chairs are easy, the library is
filled with choice books. Sometimes she sits and reads, and brave old
Thackeray is one of her favourites. It is as her lover said,--it takes
years and experience to see all the tender, hidden mysteries of his best
speech.

Then she puts aside her book, and he his work, and they talk. "What your
father said" and "your father thought this way," always has a charm for
him, and he misses his father more than any one can imagine. He knows
about the trip to Germany, and the visit to grandfather, with Paris at
its highest estate and the beautiful Empress Eugénie. And London with
its Queen, who has reigned sixty years, and who, like his mother, has
made part of the pilgrimage with a great sorrow buried in her heart.
Some day he is going over it all; but he will not see the handsome,
golden-haired empress, who is but a pale, sorrowful ghost, and perhaps
not the Queen. He would go to-morrow, if he could take the little
mother.

They talk, too, of the future. There have been fifty magical years when
you look back,--years of discovery, of perfection in art and invention,
of nations making rapid strides, of Africa illumined by explorers, of
Japan coming to the front when hardly fifty years have elapsed since she
first opened her gates to strangers.

And of the great City that has gathered the little towns of children who
went out from her again in her arms,--will she be beautiful and grand
and wise, and a power among men and cities? She has gathered heroes,
living and dead, in her bosom, and for the greatest of all reared a
marble temple. Oh, what will she be in fifty more years?

"You may live to see it," the little mother says, and smiles.

For herself there is the other country, and the loves she holds most
dear. And because they go, when the worst sorrow is spent, one knows
they will be found again, and that immortality is no myth, but the crown
and seal of God's love to human love.


THE END

       *       *       *       *       *

The "Little Girl" Series

By AMANDA M. DOUGLAS

In Handsome Cloth Binding


A Little Girl in Old New York

A Little Girl of Long Ago A sequel to "A Little Girl in Old New York"

A Little Girl in Old Boston

A Little Girl in Old Philadelphia

A Little Girl in Old Washington

A Little Girl in Old New Orleans

A Little Girl in Old Detroit

A Little Girl in Old St Louis

A little Girl in Old Chicago

A Little Girl in Old San Francisco

A Little Girl in Old Quebec

A Little Girl in Old Baltimore

A Little Girl in Old Salem

A Little Girl in Old Pittsburg


A. L. BURT COMPANY, PUBLISHERS
52, 58 Duane Street   New York





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ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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