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Title: Duffels
Author: Eggleston, Edward, 1837-1902
Language: English
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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.

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DUFFELS



By

EDWARD EGGLESTON

AUTHOR OF
THE FAITH DOCTOR, THE HOOSIER SCHOOLMASTER, ROXY, ETC.



NEW YORK
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
1893

COPYRIGHT, 1893,
BY EDWARD EGGLESTON.

_All rights reserved._

ELECTROTYPED AND PRINTED
AT THE APPLETON PRESS, U.S.A.



PREFACE.


The once famous Mrs. Anne Grant--known in literature as Mrs. Grant of
Laggan--spent part of her childhood in our New York Albany, then a town
almost wholly given to traffic with the aborigines. To her we owe a
description of the setting out of the young American-Dutch trader to
ascend the Mohawk in a canoe, by laborious paddling and toilsome
carrying round rifts and falls, in order to penetrate to the dangerous
region of the tribes beyond the Six Nations. The outfit of this young
"bushloper," as such a man was called in the still earlier Dutch
period, consisted mainly of a sort of cloth suited to Indian wants. But
there were added minor articles of use and fancy to please the youth or
captivate the imagination of the women in the tribes. Combs, pocket
mirrors, hatchets, knives, jew's-harps, pigments for painting the face
blue, yellow, and vermilion, and other such things, were stored away in
the canoe, to be spread out as temptations before the eyes of some
group of savages rich in a winter's catch of furs. The cloths sold by
the traders were called duffels, probably from the place of their
origin, the town of Duffel, in the Low Countries. By degrees the word
was, I suppose, transferred to the whole stock, and a trader's duffels
included all the miscellany he carried with him. The romantic young
bushloper, eager to accumulate money enough to marry the maiden he had
selected, disappeared long ago from the water courses of northern New
York. In his place an equally interesting figure--the Adirondack
guide--navigates single-handed the rivers and lakes of the "North
Woods." By one of those curious cases of transference that are often
found in etymology, the guide still carries duffels, like his
predecessor; but not for Indian trading. The word with him covers also
an indefinite collection of objects of manifold use--camp utensils,
guns, fishing tackle, and whatnots. The basket that sits in his light
boat to hold his smaller articles is called a duffel basket, as was the
basket of sundries in the trader's canoe, I fancy. If his camp grows
into a house frequented by sportsmen, there will be a duffel room to
contain all manner of unclassified things.

Like the trader of old New York, I here open my kit of duffels. I have
selected from the shorter tales written by me since I began to deal in
the fancy wares of a writer of fiction only such as seem to have
elements of permanent interest. I find their range to be wide. They
cover many phases of human nature; they describe life in both the
eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries; they are of the East and of
the West, of the North, the Middle, and the South. Group or classify
them I can not; they are too various. Some were written long ago, in my
younger manner, and in the tone prevailing among the story-writers of
those days. Opinions and sentiments are inextricably interwoven with
some of these earlier stories that do not seem to be mine to-day. But a
man in his fifties ought to know how to be tolerant of the enthusiasms
and beliefs of a younger man. I suspect that the sentiment I find
somewhat foreign to me in the season of cooler pulses, and the
situations and motives that seem rather naïve now, had something to do
with the acceptability of the stories. The popularity of these early
tales in their day encouraged me to go on, and a little later to set up
in more permanent and wholesale business as a novelist. To certain of
these stories of my apprenticeship I have appended dates to explain
allusions in the text. Other stories there are here, that are of recent
production, and by these I am willing to be judged. The variety in
subject, manner, date, location, makes proper to them the title I have
chosen--a good word with a savor of human history and an odor of the
New World about it; a word yet in living use in this region of lakes
and mountains. I am not without hope that some of my duffels will
please.

If formal dedications were not a little old-fashioned, I should give
myself the pleasure of writing on one of these pages the name of my
friend Mr. Richard Watson Gilder. I have read with delight and sincere
admiration the poems that have given him fame, but they need no praise
of mine. The occasion of my mentioning his name here is more
personal--it was by his solicitation that I was seduced, nearly a
quarter of a century ago, into writing my earliest love story. I may
say, perhaps without pushing the figure too far, that on his suggestion
I first embarked in the light canoe of a dealer in duffels.

E. E.

JOSHUA'S ROCK, LAKE GEORGE, 1893.



CONTENTS.


                                                 PAGE

SISTER TABEA                                        1

THE REDEMPTIONER                                   27

A BASEMENT STORY                                   64

THE GUNPOWDER PLOT                                 91

THE STORY OF A VALENTINE                          114

HULDAH, THE HELP                                  128

THE NEW CASHIER                                   149

PRISCILLA                                         157

TALKING FOR LIFE                                  185

PERIWINKLE                                        192

THE CHRISTMAS CLUB                                228



DUFFELS.

SISTER TABEA.


Two weather-beaten stone buildings at Ephrata, in Pennsylvania, remain
as monuments on this side of the water of the great pietistic movement
in Germany in the early part of the eighteenth century. One of these
was called Bethany, the other Sharon. A hundred and thirty or forty
years ago there were other buildings with these, and the softening hand
of time had not yet touched any of them. The doorways were then, as
now, on the ground level, the passages were just as narrow and dusky,
the cells had the same little square windows to let in the day. But the
stones in that day had a hue that reminded one of the quarry, the
mortar between them was fresh, the shingles in the roof had gathered no
moss and very little weather stain; the primeval forests were yet
within the horizon, and there was everywhere an air of newness, of
advancement, and of prosperity about the Dunkard Convent. One sees now
neither monks nor nuns in these narrow hallways; monks and nuns are
nowhere about Ephrata, except in the graveyard where all the brethren
of Bethany, and all the sisters who once peopled Sharon, sleep together
in the mold. But in the middle of the eighteenth century their bare
feet shuffled upon the stairs as, clad in white hooded cloaks
descending to the very ground, they glided in and out of the low doors,
or assembled in the little chapel called "Zion" to attend service under
the lead of their founder, Conrad Beissels. In the convent, where he
reigned supreme, Beissels was known as Brother Friedsam; later he was
reverently called Father Friedsam Gottrecht, a name that, like all
their convent names, had plenty of mystical significance attached to
it.

But monks and nuns are men and women; and neither cloister life, nor
capuchin hoods and cloaks, nor bare feet, nor protracted midnight
services, can prevent heartburnings and rivalries, nor can all of these
together put down--what is most to be dreaded in a monastery--the
growth of affection between man and woman. What could be done to tame
human nature into submission, to bring it to rejoice only in unearthly
meditations, and a contented round of self-denial and psalm-singing,
Brother Friedsam had tried on his followers with the unsparing hand of
a religious enthusiast. He had forbidden all animal food. Not only was
meat of evil tendency, but milk, he said, made the spirit heavy and
narrow; butter and cheese produced similar disabilities; eggs excited
the passions; honey made the eyes bright and the heart cheerful, but
did not clear the voice for music. So he approved chiefly of those
plain things that sprang direct from the earth, particularly of
potatoes, turnips, and other roots, with a little bread soup and such
like ghostly diet. For drink he would have nothing but what he called
"innocent clear water," just as it flowed from the spring.

But even a dish of potatoes and turnips and beets and carrots, eaten
from wooden trenchers, without milk or butter or meat, was not
sufficient to make the affections and passions of men and women as
ethereal as Friedsam wished. He wedded his people in mystic marriage to
"the Chaste Lamb," to borrow his frequent phrase. They sang
ecstatically of a mystical city of brotherly and sisterly affection
which they, in common with other dreamers of the time, called
Philadelphia, and they rejoiced in a divine creature called in their
mystical jargon _Sophia_, which I suppose meant wisdom, wisdom divorced
from common sense. These anchorites did not eschew social enjoyment,
but held little love feasts. The sisters now invited the brethren, and
next the brethren entertained the sisters--with unbuttered parsnips and
draughts of innocent clear water, no doubt.

That which was most remarkable at Ephrata, and that out of which grows
my story, was the music. Brother Friedsam, besides his cares of
organization, finance, and administration, and his mystical theological
speculations, was also a poet. Most of the songs sung in the little
building called "Zion" were written by him--songs about "the lonesome
turtledove in the wilderness," that is, the Church; songs in praise of
the mystical marriage of virgins with the chaste Lamb; songs about the
Philadelphian brotherhood of saints, about the divine Sophia, and about
many other things which no man can understand, I am sure, until he has
first purified himself from the gross humors of the flesh by a heavenly
diet of turnips and spring water. To the brethren and sisters who
believed their little community in the Pennsylvania woods to be "the
Woman in the Wilderness" seen by St. John, these words represented the
only substantial and valuable things in the wide universe; and they
sang the songs of Conrad Beissels with as much fervor as they could
have sung the songs of heaven itself. Beissels--the Friedsam of the
brotherhood--was not only the poet but the composer of the choral
songs, and a composer of rare merit. The music he wrote is preserved as
it was copied out with great painstaking by the brethren and sisters.
In looking over the wonderful old manuscript notebook, the first
impression is one of delight with the quaint symbolic illuminations
wrought by the nuns of Ephrata upon the margins. But those who know
music declare that the melodies are lovely, and that the whole
structure of the harmonies is masterful, and worthy of the fame they
had in the days when monks and nuns performed them under the lead of
Brother Friedsam himself. In the gallery of Zion house, but concealed
from the view of the brethren, sat the sisterhood, like a company of
saints in spotless robes. Below, the brethren, likewise in white,
answered to the choir above in antiphonal singing of the loveliest and
most faultless sort. Strangers journeyed from afar over rough country
roads to hear this wonderful chorus, and were moved in the depths of
their souls with the indescribable sweetness and loftiness of the
music, and with the charm and expressiveness of its rendering by these
pale-faced other-worldly singers.

But their perfection of execution was attained at a cost almost too
great. Brother Friedsam was a fanatic, and he was also an artist. He
obliged the brethren and sisters to submit to the most rigorous
training. In this, as in religion, he subordinated them to his ideals.
He would fain tune their very souls to his own key; and he exacted a
precision that was difficult of attainment by men and women of average
fallibility and carelessness. The men singers were divided into five
choruses of five persons each; the sisters were classified, according
to the pitch of their voices, into three divisions, each of which sang
or kept silent, according to the duty assigned to it in the notebook.
At the love-feasts these choruses sat side by side at the table, so as
to be ready to sing together with perfect precision whenever a song
should be announced. At the singing school Brother Friedsam could not
abide the least defect; he rated roundly the brother or sister who made
any mistake; he scourged their lagging aspirations toward perfection.
If it is ever necessary to account for bad temper in musicians, one
might suggest that the water-gruel diet had impaired his temper and
theirs; certain it is that out of the production of so much heavenly
harmony there sprang discord. The brethren and sisters grew daily more
and more indignant at the severity of the director, whom they
reverenced as a religious guide, but against whom, as a musical
conductor, they rebelled in their hearts.

The sisters were the first to act in this crisis. At their knitting and
their sewing they talked about it, in the kitchen they discussed it,
until their hearts burned within them. Even in illuminating the
notebook with pretty billing turtledoves, and emblematic flowers such
as must have grown in paradise, since nothing of the sort was ever
known in any earthly garden--even in painting these, some of the nuns
came near to spoiling their colors and blurring their pages with tears.

Only Margaretha Thome, who was known in the convent as Sister Tabea,
shed no tears. She worked with pen and brush, and heard the others
talk; now and then, when some severe word of Brother Friedsam's was
repeated, she would look up with a significant flash of the eye.

"The Hofcavalier doesn't talk," said Sister Thecla. This Thecla had
given the nickname of "Hofcavalier" (_noble courtier_), to Tabea at her
first arrival in the convent on account of her magnificent figure and
high carriage.

"You shouldn't give nicknames, Sister Thecla."

The last speaker was a sister with an austere face and gray eyes which
had no end of cold-blooded religious enthusiasm in them.

"I need not give you a nickname," retorted Thecla to the last speaker;
"Brother Friedsam did that when he called you Jael. You are just the
kind of person to drive a tent-nail through a man's head."

"If he were the enemy of the Church of God," said Jael, in a voice as
hard as it was sincere.

Then the talk drifted back to the singing school and Brother Friedsam's
severity.

"But why doesn't the Hofcavalier speak?" again persisted Thecla.

"When the Hofcavalier speaks, it will be to Brother Friedsam himself,"
answered Tabea.

The temerity of this proposition took Thecla's breath, but it set the
storm a-going more vigorously than before among the sisterhood, who,
having found somebody ready to bell the cat, grew eager to have the cat
belled. Only Sister Jael, who for lack of voice was not included in
either of the three choruses of the sisterhood, stoutly defended
Brother Friedsam, thinking, perhaps, that it was not a bad thing to
have the conceit of the singers reduced; indeed, she was especially
pleased that Tabea, the unsurpassed singer of the sisters' gallery,
should have suffered rebuke.

At length it was agreed that Tabea should tell Brother Friedsam that
the sisters did not intend to go to singing school again.

Then Tabea lifted up her dark head and regarded the circle of women in
white garments about her.

"You are all brave now, but when Brother Friedsam shakes his finger at
you, you will every one of you submit as though you were a set of
redemptioners bought with his money. When I tell Brother Friedsam that
I shall not come to singing school, I shall stick to it. He may get his
music performed by some one else. He will not call me a 'ninny' again."

"There spoke the Hofcavalier," giggled Thecla.

"Sister Tabea," said Jael, "if you go on as you are going, you will end
by leaving the convent and breaking your vows. Mark my words."

"I am going to finish this turtledove first, though," said Tabea gayly.

It was finally agreed that if Tabea would speak to the director on
behalf of the sisterhood, the sisters would resolutely stand by their
threat, and that they would absent themselves from Brother Friedsam's
music drills long enough to have him understand that they were not to
be treated like children. To the surprise of all, Tabea left her work
at once, covered up her head with the hood attached to her gown, and
sought the lodge of Brother Friedsam, which stood between Bethany and
Sharon.

When Tabea was admitted to the cell, and stood before the revered
Friedsam, she felt an unexpected palpitation. Nor was Beissels any more
composed. He could never speak to this girl without some mental
disturbance.

"Brother Friedsam," she said, "I am sent by the sisters to say that
they are very indignant at your treatment of them in the rehearsals,
and that they are not going to attend them hereafter."

Beissels's sensitive lips quivered a moment; this sudden rebellion
surprised him, and he did not at first see how to meet it.

"You suggested this course to them, I suppose?" he said after a pause.

"No, Brother Friedsam, I had nothing to do with it until now. But I
think they are right, and I hope they will keep to their word. You have
been altogether too hard on us."

The director made no reply, but wearily leaned his pale, refined face
upon his hand and looked up at Tabea. This look of inquiry had
something of unhappiness in it that touched the nun's heart, and she
was half sorry that she had spoken so sharply. She fumbled for the
wooden latch of the door presently, and went out with a sense of inward
defeat and annoyance.

"The Hofcavalier does not come back with head in the air," murmured
Thecla. "A bad sign."

"I gave the message," said Sister Tabea, "and Brother Friedsam did not
say whether the four parts sung by the men would be sufficient or not.
But I know very well what he will do; he will coax you all back within
a week."

"And you will leave the convent and break your vows; mark my words,"
said Sister Jael with sharpness.

"It will be after I get this page finished, I tell you," said Tabea.
But she did not seem in haste to finish the page, for, not choosing to
show how much she had been discomposed by Brother Friedsam's wistful
and inquiring look, she gathered up her brush, her colors, and the
notebook page on which she had been at work, and went up the stairs
alongside the great chimney, shutting herself in her cell.

Once there, the picture of Friedsam's face came vividly before her. She
recalled her first meeting with him at her mother's house on the
Wissahickon, and how her heart had gone out to the only man she had
ever met whose character was out of the common. I do not say that she
had consciously loved him as she listened to him, sitting there on the
homemade stool in her mother's cabin and talking of things beyond
comprehension. But she could have loved him, and she did worship him.
It was the personal fascination of Brother Friedsam and her own
vigorous hatred of the commonplace that had led her three years before
to join the sisterhood in the Sharon house. She did not know to what
degree a desire for Beissels's companionship had drawn her to accept
his speculations concerning the mystical Sophia and the Philadelphian
fellowship. But the convent had proved a disappointment. She had seen
little of the great Brother Friedsam, and he had given her, instead of
friendly notice and approval, only a schoolmaster's scolding now and
then for slight faults committed in singing a new piece.

As she sat there in gloomy meditation Jael's evil prediction entered
her mind, and she amused herself with dreams of what might take place
if she should leave the convent and go out into the world again.

In putting away her papers a little note fell out.

"The goose is at it again," she said.

She had that day received some blank paper from the paper mill of the
community, and Daniel Scheible had put this little love letter into the
package of which he was the bearer. He had sent such letters before,
and Tabea, though she had not answered them, had kept them, partly
because she did not wish to inform those in authority of this breach of
rule, partly because so much defiance of the law of the place gave a
little zest to a monotonous life, and partly because she was a young
woman, and therefore not displeased with affection, even from a youth
in whom she had no more than a friendly interest.

Scheible's parents had been Dunkards, persecuted in Europe, who had
sought refuge from their troubles by the bad expedient of taking ship
for Philadelphia, with an understanding that they were, according to
custom, to be sold for a term of years to pay the fare. Among a
multitude who died on the passage from the overcrowding and bad food
were Daniel's father and mother, and the little lad was sold for the
rest of his minority to pay his own fare as well as that of the dead
members of his family. As a promising boy, he had been bought by the
Ephrata brotherhood and bred into the fraternity. With the audacity of
youth he had conceived a great passion for Tabea, and now that his
apprenticeship was about to expire he amused her with surreptitious
notes. To-day, for the first time, Tabea began to think of the
possibility of marrying Scheible, chiefly, perhaps, from a vague desire
to escape from the convent, which could not but be irksome to one of
her spirit. Scheible was ambitious, and it was his plan, as she knew,
to go to Philadelphia to make his fortune; and she and he together,
what might they not do? Then she laughed at herself for such a day
dream, and went out to do her share of household duties, singing
mellifluously, as she trod barefoot through the passages, a mystic song
of hope and renunciation:

      "Welt, packe dich;
      Ich sehne mich
      Nur nach dem Himmel.
    Denn droben ist Lachen und Lieben und Leben;
    Hier unten ist Alles dem Eiteln ergeben."

Which rendered may read:

      "World, get you gone;
      I strive alone
      To attain heaven.
    There above is laughter, life, and love;
    Here below one must all vanity forego."

But though to-day she sang of the laughter that is above, she was less
unworldly on the morrow. Brother Friedsam, as she had foreseen, began
to break down the rebellion about the singing school. He was too good a
strategist to attack the strong point of the insurrection first. He
began with good-natured Thecla, who could laugh away yesterday's
vexations, and so one by one he conquered the opposition in detail. He
shrank from assailing the Hofcavalier until he should have won the
others, knowing well the obstinacy of her resolution. And when all the
rest had yielded he still said nothing to Tabea, either because he
deemed it of no use, or because he thought neglect might do her
rebellious spirit good. But if this last were his plan, he had
miscalculated the vigor of her determination.

"Do you know," said the good-hearted, gossipy little Sister Persida,
coming into Tabea's cell two or three days later, "that the sisters
have all yielded to Brother Friedsam? He coaxed and managed them so,
you know. Has he talked to you?"

"No."

"You'll have to give up when he does. Nobody can resist Brother
Friedsam."

"I can."

"You always scare me so, Sister Tabea; I wouldn't dare hold up my head
as you do."

But when Persida had gone out the high head of the Hofcavalier went
down a little. She felt that the man whom she in some sort worshiped
had put upon her a public slight. He did not account it worth his while
to invite her to return. She had missed her chance to refuse. Just what
connection Brother Friedsam's slight had with Daniel Scheible's love
letters I leave the reader to determine. But in her anger she fished
these notes out of a basket used to hold her changes of white raiment,
and read them all over slowly, line by line, and for the first time
with a lively interest in their contents. They were very ingenious; and
they very cleverly pictured to her the joys of a home of her own with a
devoted husband. She found evidences of very amiable traits in the
writer. But why should I trace in detail the curious but familiar
process by which a girl endows a man with all the qualities she wishes
him to possess?

The very next day Scheible, who had been melancholy ever since he began
to send to Tabea letters that brought no answer, was observed to be in
a mood so gleeful that his companions in the paper mill doubted his
sanity. The fountain of this joy was a note from Tabea stowed away in
the pocket of his gown. She had not signed it with her convent title,
but with the initials M. T., for her proper name, Margaretha Thome.
There were many fluctuations in Tabea's mind and many persuasive notes
from Scheible before the nun at length promised to forsake the convent,
now grown bitter to her, for the joys of a home. Even then Daniel could
not help feeling insecure in regard to a piece of good fortune so
dazzling, and he sent note after note to urge her to have the day for
the wedding fixed.

Meantime the young man created but little sensation by leaving the
mill, as his term of apprenticeship had expired, and he had never
professed much attachment to the brotherhood.

Sister Tabea had persistently omitted the rehearsals, and so the grand
chorals were now given on the Sabbaths without her voice, and Jael felt
no little exultation at this state of things. At length, after much
wavering, Tabea made a final resolution to leave the convent, and to
accept the love of the adventurous youth who had shown so persistent an
affection for her.

As soon as the day of the wedding was arranged by means of the
surreptitious notes which she continued to exchange with Scheible, she
prepared to leave Sharon and Ephrata. But nothing could be farther from
her plans than the project proposed by her lover that she should elope
with him at night. Tabea meant to march out with all her colors flying.

First of all she went to see the sinister prophetess, Sister Jael.

"I've finished that turtledove, Sister Jael, and now I am going to
leave the sisterhood and marry Daniel Scheible."

Nothing is so surprising to a prophet as the fulfillment of his most
confident prediction. Jael looked all aghast, and her face splintered
into the most contradictory lines in the effort to give expression to
the most conflicting emotions.

"I'm astonished at you," she said reprovingly, when she got breath.

"Why, I thought you expected it," replied Tabea.

"Will you break your vow?"

"Yes. Why shouldn't a woman break a vow made by a girl? And so,
good-by, Sister Jael. Can't you wish me much joy?"

But Jael turned sharply away in a horror that could find no utterance.

Thecla laughed, as was her wont, and wished Tabea happiness, but
intimated that Daniel was a bold man to undertake to subdue the
Hofcavalier. Sister Persida's woman's heart was set all a-flutter, and
she quite forgot that she was trying to be a nun, and that she belonged
to the solitary and forsaken turtledove in the wilderness. She
whispered in Tabea's ear: "You'll look so nice when you're married,
dear, and Daniel will be so pleased, and the young men will steal your
slipper off your foot at the dinner table, and how I wish I could be
there to see you married! But oh, Tabea! I don't see how you dare to
face them all! I'd just run away with all my might if I were in your
place."

And so each one took the startling intelligence according to her
character, and soon all work was suspended, and every inmate of Sharon
was gathered in unwonted excitement in the halls and the common room.

When Tabea passed out of the low-barred door of Sharon she met the
radiant face of Scheible, who had tied his two saddle horses a little
way off.

"Come quickly, Tabea," he said with impatience.

"No, Daniel; it won't do to be rude. I must tell Brother Friedsam
good-by."

"No, don't," said Daniel, turning pale with terror. "If you go in to
see the director you will never come with me."

"Why won't I?" laughed the defiant girl.

"He's a wizard, and has charms that he gets out of his great books.
Don't go in there; you'll never get away."

Daniel held to the Pennsylvania Dutch superstitions, but Tabea only
laughed, and said, "I am not afraid of wizards." She looked the
Hofcavalier more than ever as she left the trembling fellow and went up
to the door of Brother Friedsam's lodge.

"She isn't afraid of the _devil_," muttered Scheible.

Tabea knocked at the door.

"Come in and welcome, whoever thou art," said the director within.

But when she had lifted the latch and pushed back the door, squeaking
on its wooden hinges, Tabea found that Friedsam was engaged in some
business with the prior of the convent, the learned Dr. Peter Miller,
known at Ephrata as Brother Jabez. Friedsam did not at first look up.
The delay embarrassed her; she had time to see, with painful clearness,
all the little articles in the slenderly furnished room. She noticed
that the billet of wood which lay for a pillow, according to the
Ephrata custom, on a bare bench used for a bed, was worn upon one side
with long use; she saw how the bell rope by means of which Friedsam
called the brethren and sisters to prayers at any hour in the night,
hung dangling near the bench, so that the bell might be pulled on a
sudden inspiration even while the director was rising from his wooden
couch; she noted the big books; and then a great reverence for his
piety and learning fell upon her, and a homesick regret; and Scheible
and the wedding frolic did not seem so attractive after all.
Nevertheless she held up her head like a defiant Hofcavalier.

After a time Brother Jabez, with a kind greeting, passed her, and the
director, looking up, said very gently:

"I wish you a very good day, Sister Tabea."

"I am no longer Sister Tabea, but Margaretha Thome. I have said adieu
to all in Sharon, and now I come to say good-by to Brother Friedsam. I
am going to lay aside these garments and marry Daniel Scheible."

She held out her hand, but Friedsam was too much stunned to see it.

"You have broken your vow! You have denied the Lord!"

There was no severity in his despondent rebuke; it had the vibration of
an involuntary cry of surprise and pain.

Tabea was not prepared for this. Severity she could have defied; but
this cry of a prophet awakened her own conscience, and she trembled as
if she had been in the light of a clear-seeing divine judgment.

"You can speak so, Brother Friedsam, for you have no human weaknesses.
I am not suited to a convent; I never can be happy here. I am not
submissive. I want to be necessary to somebody. Nobody cares for me
here. You do not mind whether I sing in the chorals or not, and you
will be better pleased to have me away, _and I am going_." Then,
finding that the director remained silent, she said, with emotion:
"Brother Friedsam, I have a great reverence for you, but I wish you
knew something of the infirmities of a heart that wants to love and to
be loved by somebody, and then maybe you would not think so very hardly
of Tabea after she has gone."

There was a tone of beseeching in these last words which Tabea had not
been wont to use.

The director looked more numb now than ever. Tabea's words had given
him a rude blow, and he could not at once recover. His lips moved
without speaking, and his face assumed a look betokening inward
suffering.

"Great God of wisdom, must I then tell her?" said Friedsam when he got
breath. He stood up and gazed out of the square window in indecision.

"Tabea," he said presently, turning full upon her and looking into her
now pale face upturned to the light, "I thought my secret would die in
my breast, but you wring it from me. You say that I have no
infirmities--no desire for companionship like other men or women. It is
the voice of Sophia, the wisdom of the Almighty, that bids me humble
myself before you this day."

Here he paused in visible but suppressed emotion. "These things," he
said, pointing to his wooden couch, "these hardships of the body, these
self-denials of my vocation, give me no trouble. I have one great
soul-affliction, and that is what you reproach me for lacking, namely,
the longing to love and to be loved. And that trial you laid upon me
the first time I saw your face and heard your words in your mother's
house on the Wissahickon. O Tabea, you are not like the rest! you are
not like the rest! Even when you go wrong, it is not like the rest. It
is the vision of the life I might have led with such a woman as you
that troubles my dreams in the night-time, when, across the impassable
gulf of my irrevocable vow, I have stretched out my hands in entreaty
to you."

This declaration changed instantly the color of Tabea's thoughts of
life. Daniel Scheible and his little love scrawls seemed to her lofty
spirit as nothing now that she saw herself in the light thrown upon her
by the love of the great master whose spirit had evoked Ephrata, and
whose genius uttered itself in angelic harmonies. She loathed the
little life that now opened before her. There seemed nothing in heaven
or earth so desirable as to possess the esteem of Friedsam. But she
stood silent and condemned.

"I have had one comfort," proceeded Brother Friedsam after a while.
"When I have perceived your strength of character, when I have heard
your exquisite voice uttering the melodies with which I am inspired, I
have thought my work was sweeter because Tabea shared it, and I have
hoped that you would yet more and more share it as years and discipline
should ripen your spirit."

The director felt faint; he sat down and looked dejectedly into the
corner of the room farthest away from where Tabea stood. He roused
himself in a few moments, and turned about again, to find Tabea
kneeling on the flagstones before him.

"I have denied the Lord!" she moaned, for her judgment had now come
completely round to Friedsam's standpoint. His condemnation seemed
bitterer than death. "Brother Friedsam, I have denied the Lord!"

Friedsam regarded the kneeling figure for a moment, and then he reached
out his hands, solemnly placing them on her head with a motherly
tenderness, while a tremor went through his frame.

"Thou, dear child, shalt do thy first work over again," he said. "Thou
shalt take a new vow, and when thou art converted then shalt thou, like
Peter, strengthen the others." And, withdrawing his hands, he said: "I
will pray for you, Tabea, every night of my life when I hear the cock
crow."

Tabea rose up slowly and went out at the door, walking no longer like a
Hofcavalier, but like one in a trance. Dimly she saw the sisters
standing without the door of Sharon; there was Thecla, with half-amused
face, and there was Persida, curious as ever; there were Sister
Petronella and Sister Blandina and others, and behind all the straight,
tall form of austere Jael. Without turning to the right or to the left,
Tabea directed her steps to the group at the door of Sharon.

"No! no! come, dear Tabea!" It was the voice of Daniel Scheible, whose
existence she had almost forgotten.

"Poor Daniel!" she said, pausing and looking at him with pity.

"Don't say '_Poor_ Daniel,' but _come_."

"Poor boy!" said Tabea.

"_You are bewitched!_" he cried, seizing her and drawing her away. "I
knew Friedsam would put a charm on you."

She absently allowed him to lead her a few steps; then, with another
look full of tender pity and regret at his agitated face, she
extricated herself from his embrace and walked rapidly to the door.
Quickening her steps to escape his pursuing grasp, she pushed through
the group of sisters and fled along the hallway and up the stairs,
closing the door of her cell and fastening down the latch.

Scheible, sure that she was under some evil spell, rushed after her,
shook himself loose from the grip of Sister Jael, who sought to stop
him, and reached the door of Tabea's cell. But all his knocking brought
not one word of answer, and after a while Brother Jabez came in and led
the poor fellow out, to the great grief of Sister Persida, who in her
heart thought it a pity to spoil a wedding.

The sisters who came to call Tabea to supper that evening also failed
to elicit any response. Late in the night, when she had become calm,
Tabea heard the crowing of a cock, and her heart was deeply touched at
the thought that Friedsam, the revered Friedsam, now more than ever the
beloved of her soul, was at that moment going to prayer for the
disciple who had broken her vow. She rose from her bench and fell on
her knees; and if she mistook the mingled feelings of penitence and
human passion for pure devotion, she made the commonest mistake of
enthusiastic spirits.

But she was not left long to doubt that Friedsam had remembered her; by
the time that the cock had crowed the second time the sound of the
monastery bell, the rope of which hung just by Friedsam's bedside,
broke abruptly into the deathlike stillness, calling the monks and nuns
of Ephrata to a solemn night service. Tabea felt sure that Friedsam had
called the meeting at this moment by way of assuring her of his
remembrance.

Daniel Scheible, who had wandered back to the neighborhood in the
aimlessness of disappointment, heard the monastery bell waking all the
reverberations of the forest, and saw light after light twinkle from
the little square windows of Bethany and Sharon; then he saw the monks
and nuns come out of Bethany and Sharon, each carrying a small paper
lantern as they hastened to Zion. The bell ceased, and Zion, which
before had been wrapped in night, shone with light from every window,
and there rose upon the silence the voices of the choruses chanting an
antiphonal song; and disconsolate Scheible cursed Friedsam and Ephrata,
and went off into outer darkness.

When the first strophe had been sung below, and the sweet-voiced
sisters caught up the antistrophe, Brother Friedsam, sitting in the
midst, listened with painful attention, vainly trying to detect the
sound of Tabea's voice. But when the second strophe had been sung, and
the sisters began their second response, a thrill of excitement went
through all as the long-silent voice of Sister Tabea rose above the
rest with even more than its old fervor and expression.

And the next Saturday--for the seventh day was the Ephrata
Sabbath--Tabea took a new, solemn, and irrevocable vow; and from that
time until the day of her death she was called Sister Anastasia--the
name signifying that she had been re-established. What source of
consolation Anastasia had the rest never divined. How should they guess
that alongside her religious fervor a human love grew ethereally like
an air plant?

    NOTE.--Much of this little story is fact. I have supplied details,
    dialogue, and passion. For the facts which constitute the
    groundwork I am chiefly indebted to Dr. Oswald W. Seidensticker's
    very valuable monograph entitled "Ephrata, eine amerikanische
    Klostergeschichte." The reader will find a briefer account of the
    monastery from the same learned and able writer in _The Century_
    magazine for December, 1881.



THE REDEMPTIONER.

A STORY IN THREE SCENES.

PROLOGUE.


The stories we write are most of them love stories; but in the lives of
men there are also many stories that are not love stories: some, truly,
that are hate stories. The main incident of the one I am about to tell
I found floating down from the eighteenth century on the stream of
Maryland tradition. It serves to present some of our forefathers, not
as they seem in patriotic orations and reverent family traditions, but
as they appear to a student of the writings and prints of their own
age.


SCENE I.

The time was a warm autumn day in the year 1751. The place was a
plantation on the Maryland shore of the Potomac. A planter of about
thirty years of age, clad in buckskin shortclothes, sat smoking his
pipe, after his noonday meal, in the wide entry that ran through his
double log house from the south side to the north, the house being of
the sort called alliteratively "two pens and a passage." The planter's
wife sat over against him, on the other side of the passage, carding
home-grown cotton wool with hand cards. He had placed his shuck-bottom
chair so as to see down the long reach to the eastward, where the
widening Potomac spread itself between low-lying banks, with never a
brown hill to break the low horizon line. Every now and again he took
his cob pipe from his mouth, and scanned the distant water wistfully.

"I know what you're looking for, Mr. Browne," said his wife, as she
reversed her hand cards and rubbed the carded cotton between the smooth
backs of the two implements to make it into a roll for spinning.
"You're looking to see the Nancy Jane come sailing into the river one
of these days."

"That's just what I'm looking after," he answered.

"Why should you care?" she said. "You don't expect her to fetch you a
new bonnet and a hoop skirt seven feet wide." She laughed merrily at
her own speech, which, after all, was but a trifling exaggeration of
the width of a hoop skirt in that time.

Sanford Browne did not laugh, but took his pipe from his mouth, and
stood up a moment, straining his sight once more against the distant
horizon, where the green-blue water of the wide estuary melted into the
blue-green of the sky with hardly a line of demarcation. Then he sat
down and took a dry tobacco leaf lying on a stool beside him and
crushed it to powder by first chafing it between his open hands and
then grinding it in the palm of his left hand, rubbing it with the
thumb of his right in a mortar-and-pestle fashion.

"I've a good deal more reason to look for the Nancy Jane than you have,
Judy. I wrote my factor, you know, to find some trace of my father and
mother, or of my sister Susan, if it took the half of my tobacco crop.
I hope he'll find them this time." Saying this, he filled his cob pipe
with the powdered tobacco, and then rose and walked into the large
western room of the house, which served for kitchen and dining-room. It
was also the weaving-room, and the great heavy-beamed loom stood in the
corner. At the farther end was the vast, smoke-blackened stone
fireplace, with two large rude andirons and a swinging crane. A skillet
and a gridiron stood against the jamb on one side, a hoe for baking hoe
cakes and a little wrought-iron trivet were in order on the other. The
breakfast fire had burned out; only the great backlog, hoary with gray
ashes, lay slumbering at the back of the fireplace. The planter poked
the drift of ashes between the andirons with a green oak stick until he
saw a live coal shining red in the gray about it. This he rolled out
upon the hearth, and then took it between thumb and finger and
deposited it within the bowl of his pipe by a deft motion, which gave
it no time to burn him.

Having got his pipe a-going, he strolled back into the wide passage and
scanned the horizon once more. Judith Browne did not like to see her
husband in this mood. She knew well how vain every exercise of her
wifely arts of diversion would prove when he once fell into this train
of black thoughts; but she could not refrain from essaying the hopeless
task by holding up her apron of homespun cloth full of cotton rolls,
pretty in their whiteness and roundness and softness, meantime
coquettishly turning her still girlish head on one side, and saying:
"Now, Mr. Browne, why don't you praise my cotton? Did you ever see
better carding than that?"

The young planter took a roll of the cotton in his hands, holding it
gingerly, and essaying absentmindedly to yield to his wife's mood. Just
at that moment Sanford Browne the younger, a boy about eight years of
age, came round the corner of the house and stood in front of his
father, with his feet wide apart, feeling among the miscellanies in the
bottom of his pocket for a periwinkle shell.

"How would you like to have him spirited away by a crimp, Judy?"
demanded the husband, replacing the cotton and pointing to the lad.

"I should just die, dear," said Judy Browne in a low voice.

"That's what happened to my mother, I suppose," said Browne. "I hope
she died; it would be too bad to think that she had to live all these
twenty-two years imagining all sorts of things about her lost little
boy. I remember her, Judy, the day I saw her last. I went out of a side
street into Fleet Street, and then I grew curious and went on out
through Temple Bar into the road they call the Strand. I did not know
how far I had gone from the city until I heard the great bell of St.
Martin's in the Fields chiming at five o'clock. I turned toward the
city again, but stopped along the way to look at the noblemen's houses.
Somehow, at last I got into Lincoln's Inn Fields and could not tell
which way to go. Just then a sea captain came up to me, and, pretending
to know me, told me he would fetch me to my father. I went with him,
and he got me into a boat and so down to his ship below the bridge. The
ship was already taking aboard a lot of kids and freewillers out of the
cook houses, where some of them had been shut up for weeks. I cried and
begged for my father, but the captain only kicked and cuffed me. It was
a long and wretched voyage, as I have told you often. I was brought
here and sold to work with negroes and convicts. I don't so much mind
the beatings I got, or the hard living, but to think of all my mother
has suffered, and that I shall never see her or my father again! If I
ever lay eyes on that Captain Lewis, he will go to the devil before he
has time to say any prayers."

"I'd like to shoot him," said the boy, in sympathy with his father's
mood. "I'll kill him when I get big enough, pappy." And he went off to
seek the bow and arrow given him by an Indian who lingered in the
region once occupied by his tribe.

"Never mind," said the wife, stroking her husband's arm, "you are
getting rich now, and your hard times are over."

"Yes, but everybody will always remember that I was a bought
redemptioner, and your folks will hardly ever forgive you for marrying
me."

"Oh, yes, they will some day. If you keep on as lucky as you are, I
shall live in a bigger house than any of them, and drive to church
behind six horses. That'll make a great difference. If the Nancy Jane
fetches me a London bonnet and a wide, wide petticoat such as the
Princess Augusta wears, so that I can brush against the pews on both
sides with my silk frock when I go down the aisle, my folks will
already begin to think that Sanford Browne is somebody," and she made
little motions of vanity as she fancied her entrance into Duck Creek
parish church on the Sunday after the arrival of the tobacco ship,
arrayed in imitation of the Princess of Wales, the news of whose recent
widowhood had not yet reached Judy Browne.

"There comes the Nancy Jane now," called the boy from the dooryard,
pointing to a sloop on the other side of the wide estuary, bowling in
with topsail and jib furled, and her rusty mainsail bellying under
pressure of a wind dead aft.

"That's not the Nancy Jane," said the father; "only a sloop. But I
don't know whose. Oh, yes; it must be that Yankee peddler back again.
There's his codfish ensign at his masthead. He's making for the other
side now, but he'll come over here to sell his rum and kickshaws before
he goes out."

"Hello, Mr. Browne!" It was a voice coming from the river in front of
the house. The owner of the voice was concealed by some bushes at the
margin of the water.

"Hello!" answered Browne to the invisible caller. "Is that you, Mr.
Wickford?"

"I've got some letters for you, Mr. Browne," came back from the water.
"The Nancy Jane ran in on the east wind this morning before daylight,
and anchored in the little oyster bay below Manley's. She brings news
that the Prince of Wales died last Spring. I happened to come past
there this morning, and I brought some things Captain Jackson had for
you. I reckon there's something pretty here for Mrs. Browne, too. Send
one of your boys down."

"I'll come myself," said Browne, going down the bank, followed eagerly
by the little Sanford, who had also his interest in the arrival of the
parcels from London. There came after them presently a lithe young
negro boy of fifteen, not yet two years out of Africa. He was clad in
nothing but his native blackness, which was deemed sufficient for a
half-grown negro in that day. Mrs. Browne had sent black Jocko after
the others with orders to bring up her things "without waiting for the
gentlemen to get done talking."

But the gentlemen did not talk very long. The neighbor was desirous of
getting on to have the first telling of the news about the death of
Prince Frederick, and Mr. Browne was impatient to open the packet from
his factor.

"Good-by, Mr. Wickford. Come down and see us some time, and bring all
your family," he called as the neighbor's canoe shot away in answer to
the lusty paddle strokes of his men.

"I reckon we'll come, sir," answered the receding neighbor. "My wife'll
want to see what Mrs. Browne got from London. Tell Mrs. Browne we're
afraid she'll be too fine to know her neighbors when she puts on her
new bonnet."

The last words of this neighborly chaff were shouted over a wide sheet
of water, and Sanford Browne, halfway up the bank, made no reply, but
went back to his chair in the passage and opened his packet. Kid that
he had been, Browne had contrived to learn to read and write from a
convict bought for a schoolmaster by the planter to whom Browne had
been sold. This lettered rogue took pity on the kidnaped child, and
gave him lessons on nights and Sunday, because he was well born and not
willing to sink to the condition of the servants about him.

Browne found his factor's letter occupied at the outset with an account
of the tobacco market and congratulations on the high price obtained
for the last year's crop. Then the factor proceeded to give a bill of
sales, and then a list of things purchased for Browne and his family,
with the price set down for the hoop skirt and the new bonnet and the
silk frock, as well as for a cocked hat and dress periwig necessary to
Sanford Browne's increasing dignity, and some things for the little
Sanford. Browne studied each successive page of the letter in hope of
finding a word on the subject in which he was most deeply interested,
stopping reluctantly now and then to look up when his wife would break
in with:

"Mr. Browne! Mr. Browne! won't you just look this way a minute? Isn't
this fine?"

"Yes, Judy; it surely is," he would say absently, keeping his thumb on
the place in the factor's letter, and resuming his reading as soon as
possible, without having any definite idea of what Mrs. Judith had been
showing him.

On the very last page he found these words:

    "I have made most diligent searche for your family as you required
    butt I have not discovered muche that will be to your satisfaction.
    I send you, Sir, a coppie of certain things sette down in the
    Parish Register of St. Clement Danes, wch I thoughte most like to
    be of interest to you. Bye these you will discover that Walter
    Sanford Browne was born the 27 daye of the moneth of Febuarie
    1721--wch will no doubt give you exacte knowledge of your owne age.
    The father and mother of Walter Sanford Browne bore the names
    Walter and Susan respectively wch is a fact that will not be
    indifferent to you I suppose. I finde that Walter Browne aforesd,
    who is sette down a scrivener, was married at this same church of
    St. Clements on the 22 daye of Marche in the year 1720 to Anne
    Sanford of the same parish. Theire daughter Susan was borne in
    Aprill 1725, as you will see by this transcripte made by the clarke
    of the parish. The clarke cannot discover any further mencion of
    this familie nor of the name of Sanford in this register downe to
    this present time, from wch he deems it is to be inferred that sd.
    Walter Browne long since removed out of that parish, in particular
    as the present wardens and sidesmen of the parish afresd do not
    know any man of that name now residente there. It is a probabilitie
    that yr. father has removed to one of the plantations. I have made
    public advertisement in the Gazettes for your father or any neare
    kinsman but w'out any successe whatsoever."

There followed a memorandum of pounds, shillings, and pence paid to the
"clarke" of the parish of St. Clement Danes, of money paid for
advertisements in the gazettes, and of expenses incurred in further
searches made by a solicitor. That was all--the end of hope to Sanford
Browne. He went into the sitting-room and put the factor's letter into
a little clothespress that stood beside the chimney, and then strode
out into the air, giving no heed to Judith, who had gone up the stairs
at the side of the passage, and come down again wearing a hideous
pannier petticoat under her new frock. She guessed her husband's
disappointment, and, though she longed for a word of admiration, or at
least of wondering attention, for her square-rigged petticoat, she
thought best to be content with the excited prattle of her maid, a
young bond-servant bought off the Nancy Jane the year before.

"Here, Jocko," said Browne, standing in front of his house and calling
to the Adamite negro lad, "you go and call Bob, and get the sloop
ready. I'm going down to the ship."

"Get sloop, massa?" said the negro, speaking English with difficulty.
"Massa say sloop?"

Sanford Browne looked at the black figure inquiringly. It was not often
that poor, cringing Jocko ventured to question him. "Yes, sloop," he
said with an emphasis born of his irritating disappointment.

"Much great big wind blow--blow right up river. Tack, tack, all day,"
muttered the black boy timidly.

"You're right," said the planter, who had not observed that the strong
wind would be dead ahead all the way to the anchorage. "Tell Bob to put
the canoe in the water." And then to himself: "The negro is no fool."

"Bob, Bob, massa him want can-noo go see great big ship mighty quick."

"Come, Sanford; you may go too," said the planter to his son. "We'll
carry the fowling piece: there'll be ducks on the water."


SCENE II.

The time is the same day, and the place the deck of the Nancy Jane, at
anchor. The captain is giving orders to the cook: "I want a good bowl
of bumbo set here on deck against the planters come aboard." Then
turning to the mate: "Have the decks squeegeed clean, an' everything
shipshape. Put the rogues in as good garb as you can. You'll find a few
wigs in a box in my cabin. But these on the likeliest, and make 'em say
they're mechanics, or merchants' clerks, and housemaids. Tell 'em if
they don't put out a good foot and get off our hands soon we'll tie 'em
up and make 'em understand that it's better to lie to a planter than to
stick on shipboard too long. Make the women clean themselves up and
look tidy like ancient housemaids, and don't allow any nonsense. Tell
'em if they swear or quarrel while the planters are aboard they'll get
a cat-o'-nine-tails well laid on. We've got to make 'em more afraid of
the ship than they are of the plantations."

The convicts were in the course of an hour or two ranged up against the
bulwarks forward, and they were with much effort sufficiently
browbeaten to bring them into some kind of order.

"They're a sorry lot of Newgate birds," said the captain to the mate.
"I'm afraid we'll have a time of it before we change 'em off for
merchantable tobacco. Here, you Cappy," he said to one of the older
convicts. "Look here! Don't you tell anybody to-day that you're a
seaman. They'll swear you are a pirate, and that you'll be off with one
of their country sloops, and go a-blackbearding it down the coast.
You're to be a schoolmaster to-day."

"I can't read much, and I can't hardly write a word," said the man, a
burly fellow of about sixty, whose heavy jaws and low brows would look
brutal in spite of the brand-new periwig put on him that very morning
to make him salable.

"That don't matter," said the captain. "You're schoolmaster enough for
a tobacco country. You can navigate a ship by the sun and compass, and
that's education enough. If you go and let it out that you're a sailor,
I'll--well, you've been a captain or mate, and you know devilish well
what I'll do with you. I'll serve you as you have served many a poor
devil in your time."

Then, catching sound of a quarrel between two of the women, the captain
called the mate, and said: "Give both of the wenches a touch off with
your rope's end. Don't black their eyes or hit 'em about the face, but
let 'em just taste the knot once over the shoulders to keep 'em
peaceable. Be in haste, or they'll scratch one another's eyes."

The mate proceeded to salute the two women with a sharp blow apiece of
the knotted rope, and thus changed their rising fury into sullenness.

Planters came and went during the forenoon, and cross-questioned the
convicts, threatening to make it hard for them if they did not tell the
truth. The visitors drank the captain's bumbo, but the convicts were
slow of sale. Some of the planters announced their intention not to buy
any more convicts, meaning for the future to purchase only freewillers,
or bond servants voluntarily selling themselves, and some had made up
their minds not to buy any more Christian servants at all, but to stock
their places with blacks.

It was mid-afternoon when Sanford Browne arrived in his dugout,
propelled against a head wind and heavy seas by Bob, the white
redemptioner, and Jocko, the negro boy. The planter himself sat astern
steering, with little Sanford crouched between his knees. Leaving the
two servants in the canoe, the planter and his son went aboard the
ship, while the convicts crowded against the guard rail to get a look
at the naked figure of Jocko, his black skin being a novel sight to
their English eyes.

There was recognition between the captain of the Nancy Jane, who had
sailed to the Potomac for many years, and Sanford Browne. While the two
stood in conversation by the bowl of strong rum punch, little Sanford
strolled about the deck, shyly scrutinizing the faces of the convicts
and being scrutinized by them. The women tried to talk with him, but
their rather battered countenances frightened the boy, and he slipped
away. At last he planted himself before old Cappy, whose bronzed face
under a new powdered wig produced a curious effect.

"Where did you come from?" demanded the child, with awakened curiosity.

The would-be schoolmaster started at this question, gazed a moment at
the child, and said, "God!" between his teeth.

"Lawr! 'e's one uv yer scholars, Cappy," said one of the women, in
derision. "Ye'll be a-l'arnin' 'im lots uv words 'e ain't never 'eerd
uv afore. Yer givin' the young un a prime lesson in swearin' to begin."

But Cappy made no reply. He only looked more eagerly at the child, and
wiped his brow with his sleeve, disarranging his periwig in doing so.
Then, changing the form of his exclamation but not its meaning, he
muttered, "The devil!"

"W'atever's the matter?" said the woman. "You're fetching in God an'
the devil both. Is the young un one uv yer long-lost brothers, Cappy?"

"What's your name?" demanded Cappy of the boy, without heeding the
woman's gabble.

"Sanford Browne."

The perspiration stood in beads on the man's forehead, and the veins
were visibly distended. "Looks like as if he hadn't got any bigger in
more'n twenty years," he soliloquized. Then he said to the boy in an
eager whisper, for his voice was dry and husky, "What's yer pappy's
name, lad?"

"He's Sanford Browne, too. That's him a-talking to Captain Jackson at
t'other end of the ship. He was stole when he was a little boy by a
mean old captain, and brought over here and sold, just like you folks,"
and the lad made the remark general by looking around him. "He's got
rich now, and he's got more'n a thousand acres of land," said the
little Sanford, boastfully, thinking perhaps that his father's success
might encourage the woe-begone set before him. "But I reckon that mean
old captain'll ketch it if pappy ever sets eyes on to him," he added.

"Lawr! now w'atever's the matter uv you, Cappy?" put in the woman
again. "A body'd think you must 'a' been that very cap'n yer own self."

The man turned fiercely upon the garrulous woman and seized her throat
with his left hand, while he threatened her with a clenched fist and
growled like a wild beast. "Another word of that, Poll, and I'll knock
the life out of you."

Poll gave a little shriek, which brought the mate on the scene with his
threatening rope's end, and restored Cappy to a sort of self-control,
though with a strange eagerness of terror his eyes followed the
frightened lad as he retreated toward his father.

The planter, after discussing with Captain Jackson the death of the
Prince of Wales in the preceding March, was explaining to the captain
that he did not mean to buy any more white servants. The blacks were
better, and were good property, while the black children added to a
planter's estate. White servants gave you trouble, and in four or seven
years at most their time expired, and you had to break in new ones. But
still, if he could pick up a fellow that would know how to sail his
sloop in a pinch, he might buy.

"There's one, now," said Captain Jackson; "that chap leaning on the
capstan; he's been a captain, I believe."

"How'd they come to convict a captain?" demanded the planter, laughing.
"We planters have always thought that all captains were allowed to
steal a little."

"They mustn't steal from their owners," said Captain Jackson
good-naturedly. "Passengers and shippers we do clip a little when we
can, but that old fool must have tried to get something out of the
owners of the ship. He's too old to run away now, or cut up any more
deviltry. Go and talk with him."

"What's his bob-wig for?"

"Oh, that's some of my mate's nonsense. He thought planters wouldn't
want to buy a seaman, so he rigged the old captain up like a
schoolmaster, and told him to say that he had always taught arithmetic.
He'll tell you he's a schoolmaster, according to the mate's commands;
but he isn't. He's been a ship's captain, I believe, and he helped me
take observations on the voyage, and he seemed to know the river when
he got in last night."

There ensued some talk as to how many hogsheads of tobacco the convict
was worth, and then Browne went forward to inspect the man and question
him.

"What's your name?" said the planter.

"James Palmer," said Cappy, with his head down.

"Lawr!" muttered Polly under her breath.

"What's your business?"

"Schoolmaster."

"Come, don't lie to me," said Browne. "You are a sailor, or a captain
maybe."

This set the old fellow to trembling visibly, and Polly again said
"Lawr!" loud enough for him to hear it and give her one fierce glance
that quieted her.

"Who said I was a sailor, sir?"

"Captain Jackson."

"That's because you want a sailor," stammered the convict. "Mighty
little I ever knew about a ship till I got aboard this thing. Captain
would 'a' told you I was a carpenter or a preacher if he thought that
was what you wanted."

The man spoke gaspingly, and a dim sense of having known him began to
make its way into the mind of the planter. He was going to ask him
where he had taught school, but all at once a rush of memories crowded
his mind, and a strange suspicion came to him. He stood silent and
staring at the convict half a minute. Then he walked round him,
examining him from this side and that.

"Let me see your left hand, you villain!" he muttered, approaching the
man.

The convict had kept his left hand shoved down under his belt. He shook
now as with an ague, and made no motion.

"Out with it!" cried the planter.

Slowly the old man drew out his hand, showing that one joint of the
little finger was gone.

"You liar!" said the planter, at the same time pulling the bob-wig from
the convict's head, and flinging it on the deck. "Your name is not
James Palmer, but Jim Lewis, Captain Jim Lewis of the Red Rose--'Black
Jim,' as everybody called you behind your back!"

Here Poll broke out again with "Lawr!" while Sanford Browne paused,
fairly choked with emotion. Then he began again in a low voice:

"You thought I wouldn't know you. I've been watching out for you these
ten years, to send you to hell with my own hands! You robbed my poor
mother of her boy." The wretch cowered beneath the planter's gaze, and
essayed to deny his identity, but his voice died in his throat. Browne
at length turned on his heel, and strode rapidly toward the captain.

"I'll take him at the price you fixed," he called out as he advanced.

The captain wondered what gold mine Browne had discovered in Cappy to
make him so eager to accept the first price named. He for his part was
equally eager to be rid of a convict whom he regarded as rather a
dangerous man, so he said promptly, "He belongs to you," and shook
hands according to the custom in "closing a bargain."

A moment later Black Jim Lewis, having regained his wits, rushed up to
the captain entreating hoarsely not to be sold to Browne. "Now, don't
let him have me, Captain Jackson; for God's sake, don't, now! He's my
enemy. He'll beat me and starve me to death. I'm one of your own kind;
I'm a sea captain, and it's a shame for you, a sea captain too, to sell
me to a man that hates me and only wants to make me miserable. I'm
ruinated anyhow, and you ought to take some pity on me."

This plea for a freemasonry among sea captains had influence with the
captain of the Nancy Jane. But he said, "W'y, Jim Lewis, I've sold to
you the best master in the province of Maryland. You don't know when
you're well off. Mr. Browne feeds his people well, and he never beats
'em bad, like the rest."

"I tell you, he'll flay me alive, that man will! You'd better shoot me
dead and put me out of misery."

While the wretch was making this appeal, Browne was silently engaged
in emptying the priming of his flintlock fowling piece, picking open
the tube, and then filling the pan with fresh powder from the horn at
his side. When he had closed the pan, he struck the stock of the gun
one or two blows to shake the powder well down into place, that the gun
might not miss fire. Then turning to the captain, he said, "A bargain
is a bargain."

Then to the convict he said: "Black Jim Lewis, you belong to me. Get
into that boat, or it'll be worse for you," and he slowly raised the
snaphance with his thumb on the hammer.

Lewis had aged visibly in ten minutes. With trembling steps he walked
to the ship's side, and clambered over the bulwarks into the dugout.
The boy followed, and then the master took his seat in the stern, with
his flintlock fowling piece within reach.

"My dead body'll float down here past the Nancy Jane," said Jim Lewis
to the captain; "and I'll ha'nt your ship forever--see if I don't!" He
half rose and waved his hand threateningly as he said this in a hoarse,
sepulchral voice.

"Mr. Browne," interposed the captain of the Nancy Jane, as the lifted
canoe paddles were ready to dip into the water, "don't be too hard on
the old captain. You see how old and shaken he is. You'll show
moderation, now, won't you?"

"I'll care for him," answered Browne unbendingly. "Away with the canoe!
Good-by, captain. My tobacco will be ready for you."

And Poll, the convict, as she leaned over the rail and watched the
fast-receding canoe pitching up and down on the seas, said, "Lawr!"


SCENE III.

The time is the late afternoon of the same day, and the place is again
Sanford Browne's plantation.

Judith Browne, having exhausted her experiments on the frock, the
bonnet, and the hoop petticoat bought for her in London and sent like
the proverbial pig in a poke, had taken to watching the Yankee peddling
sloop, which, having lain for an hour at Patterson's on the Virginia
shore, was now heading for the Browne place. It was pretty to see the
sloop heel over under a beam wind and shoot steadily forward, while the
waves dashed fair against her weather side and splashed the water from
time to time to the top of her free board. It was a pleasant sight to
mark her approach by the gradual increase in her size and the growing
distinctness with which the details of her rigging could be made out.
At length, when her bow appeared to Judith Browne to be driving so
straight on the bank that nothing could prevent the vessel's going
ashore Captain Perkins called to his only man, standing at the helm,
"Hard down!" and the sloop swung her nose into the waves, and
gracefully rounded head into the wind just in time to lie close under
the bank, rocking fore and aft like a duck. As soon as she had swung
into the wind enough for her sail to flap, the captain called to the
boy who was the third member of the crew to let go the halyards; and as
the sail ran rattling down, the captain heaved the anchor at the bow
with his own hands. Then a plank was run out, a line made fast forward,
and Perkins climbed the bank and greeted Mrs. Browne. His manner
combined strangely the heartiness of the seaman with the sinuous
deference of the peddler. His speech was that which one hears only in
the most up-country New England regions and among London small
shopkeepers. The uttering of his vowel sounds taper end first greatly
amused his customers in the Chesapeake regions, while their abrupt
clipping of both vowels and liquids was equally curious to Perkins, who
regarded all people outside of New England as natives to be treated
with condescending kindness alike for Christian and for business
reasons, and as people who were even liable to surprise him by the
possession of some rudimentary virtues in spite of their unlucky
outlandishness.

"Glad to see yeh again, Mis' Braown," he said when he reached the top
of the bank. "Where's Mr. Braown?"

"He's gone down to the Nancy Jane. Won't you come in, Captain Perkins?
Come in and sit down a while."

"Wal, yes. And how's your little gal?" Seeing a dubious look on Mrs.
Browne's face, he said: "Or is it a boy, now? I call at so many houses
I git confused. Fine child, I remember."

"The lad's gone off with his father," said Judith, giving Perkins a
seat in the passage.

After more preliminary talk the peddler got to his main point, that he
had lots of nice notions and things this year cheaper'n they could be
had in London. All the folks agreed that his things were "cheaper,
considerin' quality, Mis' Braown, than you could git 'em in London."

Judith knew by experience that his things were neither very good nor
very cheap, but her only chance in life to know anything of the
delights of shopping lay in the coming of peddling sloops. One might
order a frock, a bonnet, or a petticoat from London, but one must wait
nearly a year till the tobacco ship returned to get what had been sent
for. It was better to be cheated a little in order to get the pleasure
of making up her mind and then changing it, of fancying herself
possessor now of this and now of that, and finally getting what she
liked best after having had the usufruct of the whole stock. She was
soon examining the goods that Perkins's boy had brought up to
her--fancy things for herself and young Sanford, and coarse cloth for
her servants. She concluded nothing about staple trading till her
husband should return; for prices were to be fixed on the corn and
bacon which must be paid in exchange. But there were articles that she
craved, and of which she preferred not to speak to her husband, for a
while at least, and these she paid for from her little hoard of pieces
of eight, or Spanish dollars. The change she made in fractions of these
coins--actual quarters of dollars cut like pieces of pie. These were
tested in Perkins's little money scales. Less than a quarter of a
dollar was usually disregarded in the South; and as for Perkins, he
never seemed to have any fractional silver to give back in change, but
always proposed some little article that he would put in at cost just
to fill up to the value of a piece of eight.

                     *      *      *      *      *

Paddling with the wind, Sanford Browne's cedar canoe made good speed,
and as the sun was setting and the wind falling it glided past the
Yankee sloop into shoal water farther up, where its inmates
disembarked, and beached their craft.

Sanford Browne walked rapidly up the bank, followed by his son, the
servants, and the old convict. He approached Perkins and greeted him,
but in a manner not cordial and hardly courteous. He looked at Judith
so severely that she fancied him offended with her. She reflected
quickly that he could not have known anything of her surreptitious
trading with the peddler. Uriah Perkins concluded that a storm was
brewing between husband and wife, and found it necessary to return to
the sloop to make her fast astern, against the turn of the tide and the
veering of the wind.

When Perkins had disappeared, Sanford Browne pointed to the convict and
said slowly and with fierceness:

"Judy, that's the man. That's Black Jim Lewis, that stole me away from
home and sold me for a redemptioner. Jocko, go fetch the manacles."

Judith stood speechless. It was a guiding maxim with her that women
should not meddle with men's business, and it was an article of faith
that whatever her husband did was right. She sympathized with his
resentment against the man who had kidnaped him. But the sight of the
terror-stricken face of the cowardly brute smote her woman's heart with
pity as the manacles were put on the convict's wrists.

"See that he doesn't get away," said Browne to Bob.

"He can't pound his corn with them things," said Bob, pointing to the
handcuffs. "Shall I get him some meal?"

"Not to-night," said Browne. "He didn't give me a crust to eat the
first night I was on ship. Turn about's fair play, Captain Lewis. Take
him to the quarters."

When the convict found himself manacled, his terror increased. He
pulled away from Bob and approached Browne.

"Let me speak a word, master," he began tremulously. "I'm all broke up
and ruinated, anyhow. I know the devil must 'a' been in me the day I
took you away. I've thought of it many a time, and I've said, 'Jim
Lewis, something dreadful'll come to you for stealin' a good little boy
that way.'" Here he paused. Then he resumed in a still more broken
voice: "When I was put on to a transport to come to this country I
remembered you, and I says, 'That's what's come of it.' Soon as I saw
that little fellow, the very picture of you the day when I coaxed you
away, I says to myself, 'O my God, I'm done fer now! I'm ruinated for a
fact; I might as well be in hell as in Maryland.' But, master, if
you'll only have just a little pity on an old man that's all broke up
and ruinated, I'll--I'll--be a good servant to you. I promise you,
afore Almighty God. Don't you go and be too hard on a poor ruinated old
man. I'm old--seems to me I'm ten year older than I wuz afore I saw you
this mornin'. I know you hate me. You've got strong reasons to hate me.
I hate myself, and I keep sayin' to myself, says I, 'Jim Lewis, what an
old devil you are!' But please, master, if you won't be too hard on me,
I think I'll be better. I can't live long nohow. But----"

"There, that'll do," said Browne.

"Please, Mr. Browne," interposed Judy.

"Lewis, do you remember when you woolded a sailor's head?" demanded the
planter.

"I don't know, master. I have done lots of things a little hard.
Sailors are a hard lot."

"If you'd had pity on that poor sailor when he begged for mercy, I'd
have pity on you to-night But I cried over that sailor that you
wouldn't have mercy on, and now I can't pity you a bit. You've made
your own bed. Your turn has come."

Saying this, Sanford Browne went into the house, while the old sea
captain followed Bob in a half-palsied way round the south end of the
house toward the servants' quarters, muttering, "Well, now, Jim Lewis,
you're done fer."

"Mr. Browne, what are you going to do with that old man?" asked Judy,
with more energy than she usually showed in speaking to her husband.

"I don't know, Judy. Something awful, I reckon." Browne could not make
up his mind to any distinct act of cruelty beyond sending the convict
supperless to bed.

"I don't like you to be so hard on an old man. I know he's bad--as bad
as can be, but that's no reason why you should be bad."

"I wouldn't be bad, Judy. Just think how he sold me, like Joseph, away
from my family!"

"But Joseph wasn't really very unkind to his brothers, Mr. Browne; and
you won't be too hard on the poor old wretch, now will you?"

"Judy, I mean to make him suffer. When I think of my mother, and all
she must have suffered, I haven't a drop of pity in me. He's got to
suffer for his crimes now. That's what he was thrown into my hands for,
I reckon, Judy."

"Then you won't be the man you have been. Time and again you've bought
some poor kid from a hard master like old Hoak, to save him from
suffering. Now you'll get to be hard and hateful like old Hoak
yourself."

"Judy, remember my mother."

"Do you think your mother, if she is alive, would like to think of your
standing over that old wretch while he was whipped and whipped and
washed with salt water, maybe? If your mother has lived, she has been
kept alive just by thinking what a good boy you were; and she says to
herself, 'My Sanford wouldn't hurt anything. If he was run off to the
plantations, he has grown to be the best man in all the country.' Do
you think she'd like to have you turn a kind of public whipper or
hangman for her sake?"

Browne looked at his wife in surprise. Her eyes flashed as she spoke,
and the little womanly body, whose highest flight had seemed to end in
a London frock and petticoat, had suddenly become something much more
than he had fancied possible to her. She had taken the first place, and
he felt himself overshadowed. He looked up at her with a sort of
reverence, but he held stubbornly to a purpose that had been ossifying
for twenty years.

"That's all well enough for a woman, Judy. But you know that any other
man would do just what I am going to do, under the same circumstances.
I don't like to do what you don't want me to do, but I sha'n't let old
Lewis off. I reckon he'll find my hand hard on him as long as he holds
out. Any other man would do just the same, Judy."

Judith Browne stood still and looked at her husband in silence. Then
she spoke in a repressed voice:

"Sanford Browne, what do you talk to me that way for? Any other man
might worry this old wretch out of his life, but you won't do it. What
did I marry you for? Why did I leave my father's house to take you, a
poor redemptioner just out of your time? It was because you weren't
like other men. I knew you were kind and good-hearted when other men
were cruel and unfeeling. From that day to this you have never made me
sorry that I left home and turned my father against me. But if you do
this thing you have in mind to a poor old wretch that can't help
himself, then you won't be Sanford Browne any more. You'll have that
old man's blood on your hands, and Judy will never get over being sorry
that she left her friends to go with you." The woman's voice had broken
as she spoke these last words, and now she broke down completely, and
sobbed a little.

"What shall I do, Judy?" said her husband softly. "God knows, if I keep
him in sight I shall kill him some day."

"Sell him. Sell him right off. There's Captain Perkins coming up the
bank now."

"You sell him, Judy. Perkins has things you want. I give Lewis to you.
Make any trade you please." Then, as his wife moved away, he followed
her, and said in a smothered voice: "Sell him quick, Judy. Don't stand
on the price. Get him out of sight before I kill him."

Judith went out to meet the peddling captain, who was now strolling
toward the house in hope of an invitation to supper, knowing that Mrs.
Browne's biscuit and fried chicken were better than the salt pork and
hoecake cooked by the boy on the sloop. The wind had fallen, and the
water view was growing dim in the gloaming. Judith explained to the
peddler that the convict her husband had bought proved to be an old
enemy of his. She stammered a little in her endeavor not to betray the
real reasons for selling him, and Perkins, who was proud of his own
penetration, inferred that Browne was afraid of his life if he should
keep the new servant. He saw in this an unexpected chance for profit.
When Mrs. Browne offered to sell him if Perkins would take him to the
eastern shore or some other place away off, he said that servants wuz a
thing he didn't deal in--a leetle dangerous at sea where the crew wuz
so small as his. Hard to sell an old fellow; the planters wanted young
men. But he wanted to accommodate, you know, an' seein' as how Mis'
Braown had been a good customer, he would do what he could. He would
have to make a run over to the eastern shore perticular to sell this
man. Folks on the eastern shore didn't buy much. Hadn't sold 'em a hat,
for instance. They all wore white cotton caps, men an' women; an' they
made the caps themselves out of cotton of their own raisin'. But, as he
wuz a-sayin', Mis' Braown had been a good customer, an' he wanted to
accommodate. But he'd have to put the price low enough so as he
wouldn't be poorer by the trade. Thus he faced about on his disjunctive
conjunction, now this way, now that, until he had time to consider what
was the very lowest figure he could offer as a basis for his higgling.
He couldn't offer much, but he would give a price which he named in
pieces of eight, stipulating that he should pay it in goods. He saw in
this a chance for elastic profits in both directions.

Judith hardly gave a thought to the price he named; but as soon as she
perceived that he had disentangled himself from his higgling preamble
so far as to offer a definite sum, she accepted it.

This lack of hesitation on her part disconcerted the peddler, who had a
feeling that a bargain made without preliminary chaffering had not been
properly solemnized. He was suspicious now that he was the victim of
some design.

"That is to say, Mis' Braown, I only dew this to accommodate ole
friends. It ain't preudent to make such a trade in the dark. I'll dew
it if I find the man sound in wind and limb, and all satisfactory, when
I come to look him over."

"Of course that's what I mean," said Judith. "Now come in and take
supper with us, captain," she continued, her voice still in a quiver
with recent emotions.

"Well, I don't keer if I dew, jest fer to bind the bargain, you knaow.
I told the boy I'd be back, but I reckon they won't wait long. Ship
folks don't wait much on nobody."

Judith turned toward the house, followed by the peddler. Sanford Browne
was still sitting in the entry just as Judith had left him, surprised
and in a sense paralyzed by the sudden and effective opposition which
his wife had offered to the gratification of his only grudge.

"Mr. Browne!" called Judith, almost hysterically, her tense nerves
suddenly shaken again. "What's that? Something's happened down at the
quarters."

Looking through the wide passage into the dim twilight beyond, she
could see running figures like shadows approaching the house. Sanford
Browne rose at his wife's summons in time to meet the convict Lewis,
still manacled, as he rushed into the passage at the back of the house
and dashed out again at the front. Browne attempted to arrest his
flight, crying out, as he made an effort to seize him, "Stop, you old
villain, or I'll kill you!" But the momentum of the flying figure
rendered Browne's grasp ineffectual, and in a moment he was out of
doors, just as Bob and Jocko and the other servants entered the passage
in a pell-mell pursuit.

As the running man emerged from the darkness of the passage, Perkins,
thinking his profit in jeopardy, threw himself athwart his path, and
cried: "Here! Where be you a-goin' so fast with them things on your
wrist?"

"To hell and damnation!" yelled Lewis, striking the peddler fair in the
breast with both manacled hands, and sending him rolling on the ground.

The convict did not pause a moment in his flight, but, with the whole
pack in full cry after him, dashed onward to the bank and down it.
Before any of his pursuers could lay hands on him he was aboard the
sloop.

"Ketch him! Ketch him!" cried Captain Perkins, once more on his feet,
and giving orders from the top of the bank.

The cabin boy had just emerged from the cabin to call the man to
supper. He and the sailor tried hard to seize the fleeing man, but
Captain Lewis swerved to one side and ran round the gunwale of the
sloop with both men after him. When he reached the stern he leaped
beyond their reach, and plunged head first into the water, sinking out
of sight where the fast-ebbing tide was now gurgling round the rudder.

In vain the boy and the sailorman looked with all their might at the
place where he had gone down; in vain they poked a long pole into the
water after him; in vain did Bob and Jocko paddle in the canoe all over
the place where Black Jim Lewis had sunk.

Perkins took the precaution, before descending the bank, to say:
"You'll remember, Mis' Braown, that I only bought him on conditions,
and stipple-lated I wuz to be satisfied when I come to look him over.
'Tain't no loss of mine." This caveat duly lodged, he descended to the
deck of his sloop, where he found the cabin boy shaking as with an
ague.

"What be you a-trimblin' abaout, naow? Got a fever 'n' agur a'ready? Y'
ain't afeard of a dead man, be yeh, Elkanah?"

"I don't noways like the idear," said Elkanah, "of sleepin' aboard, an'
him dead thar by his own will, a-layin' closte up to the sloop."

"He ain't nowher's nigh the sloop," responded Perkins. "This ebb-tide's
got him in tow, an' he'll be down layin' ag'in' the Nancy Jane afore
mornin'. That's the ship he'll ha'nt, bein' kind uv used to her."

Browne had remained standing at the top of the bank, without saying a
single word. He turned at last, and started slowly toward the house.
Judith, forgetting her invitation to the peddler, went after her
husband and took his hand.

"I'm so glad he's dead," said she. "I know the cruel man deserved his
fate. He'll be off your mind, now, dear; and nobody can say you did
it."



A BASEMENT STORY.


I.

It was one of those obscure days found only on the banks of
Newfoundland. There was no sun, and yet no visible cloud; there was
nothing, indeed, to test the vision by; there was no apparent fog, but
sight was soon lost in a hazy indefiniteness. Near objects stood out
with a distinctness almost startling. The swells ran high without
sufficient provocation from the present wind, and attention was
absorbed by the tremendous pitching of the steamer's bow, the wide arc
described by the mainmast against no background at all, and by the
smoky and bellying mainsail, kept spread to hold the vessel to some
sort of steadiness in the waves. There was no storm, nor any dread of a
storm, and the few passengers who were not seasick in stateroom bunks
below, or stretched in numb passivity on the sofas in the music saloon,
were watching the rough sea with a cheerful excitement. In the total
absence of sky and the entire abolition of horizon the eye rejoiced,
like Noah's dove, to find some place of rest; and the mainsail, smoky
like the air, but cutting the smoky air with a sharp plane, was such a
resting place for the vision. This sail and the reeky smokestack
beyond, and the great near billows that emerged from time to time out
of the gray obscurity--these seemed to save the universe from chaos. On
such a day the imagination is released from bounds, individuality is
lost, and space becomes absolute--the soul touches the poles of the
infinite and the unconditioned.

I do not pretend that such emotions filled the breasts of all the
twenty passengers on deck that day. One man was a little seasick, and
after every great rushing plunge of the steamer from a billow summit
into a sea valley he vented his irritation by wishing that he had there
some of the poets that--here he paused and gasped as the ship balanced
itself on another crest preparatory to another shoot down the flank of
a swell, while the screw, thrown clean out of the water, rattled wildly
in the unresisting air and made the ship quiver in every timber--some
of those poets, he resumed with bitterer indignation, that sing about
the loveliness of the briny deep and the deep blue--but here an errant
swell hit the vessel a tremendous blow on the broadside, making her
roll heavily to starboard, and bringing up through the skylights sounds
of breaking goblets thrown from the sideboards in the saloon below,
while the passenger who hated marine poetry was capsized from his
steamer chair and landed sprawling on the deck. A small group of young
people on the forward part of the upper deck were passing the day in
watching the swells and forecasting the effect of each upon the
steamer, rejoicing in the rush upward followed by the sudden falling
downward, much as children enjoy the flying far aloft in a swing or on
a teetering see-saw, to be frightened by the descent. Some of the young
ladies had books open in their laps, but the pretense that they had
come on deck to read was a self-deluding hypocrisy. They had left their
elderly relatives safely ensconced in staterooms below, and had worked
their way up to the deck with much care and climbing and with many
lurches and much grievous staggering, not for the purpose of reading,
but to enjoy the society of other young women, and of such young men as
could sit on deck. When did a young lady ever read on an ocean steamer,
the one place where the numerical odds are reversed and there are
always found two gallant young men to attend each young girl? This
merry half dozen, reclining in steamer chairs and muffled in shawls,
breathed the salt air and enjoyed the chaos into which the world had
fallen. On this deck, where usually there was a throng, they felt
themselves in some sense survivors of a world that had dropped away
from them, and they enjoyed their social solitude, spiced with apparent
peril that was not peril.

The enthusiastic Miss Sylvia Thorne, who was one of this party, was
very much interested in the billows, and in the attentions of a student
who sat opposite her. From time to time she remarked also on some of
the steerage passengers on the deck below; particularly was she
interested in a young girl who sat watching the threatening swells
emerge from the mist. Miss Sylvia spoke to the young lady alongside of
her about that interesting young girl in the steerage, but her
companion said she had so much trouble with the Irish at home that she
could not bear an Irish girl even at sea. Her mother, she went on to
say, had hired a girl who had proved most ungrateful, she had--but here
a scream from all the party told that a sea of more than usual
magnitude was running up against the port side. A minute later and all
were trying to keep their seats while the ship reeled away to starboard
with vast momentum, and settled swiftly again into the trough of the
sea.

Miss Thorne now wondered that the sail, which did not flap as she had
observed sails generally do, in poems, did not tear into shreds as she
had always known sails to do in novels when there was a rough sea. But
the blue-eyed student, having come from a fresh-water college, and
being now on a homeward voyage, knew all about it, and tried to explain
the difference between a sea like this and a storm or a squall. He
would have become hopelessly confused in a few minutes more had not a
lucky wave threatened to capsize his chair and so divert the
conversation from the sail to himself. And just as Sylvia was about to
change back to the sail again for the sake of relieving his
embarrassment, her hat strings, not having been so well secured as the
sail, gave way, and her hat went skimming down to the main deck below,
lodged a minute, and then took another flight forward. It would soon
have been riding the great waves on its own account, a mark for curious
sea gulls and hungry sharks to inspect, had not the Irish girl that
Sylvia had so much admired sprung to her feet and seized it as it swept
past, making a handsome "catch on the fly." A sudden revulsion of the
vessel caused her to stagger and almost to fall, but she held on to the
hat as though life depended on it. The party on the upper deck cheered
her, but their voices could hardly have reached her in the midst of the
confused sounds of the sea and the wind.

The student, Mr. Walter Kirk, a large, bright, blond fellow, jumped to
his feet and was about to throw himself over the rail. It was a chance
to do something for Miss Thorne; he felt impelled to recover her
seventy-five-cent hat with all the abandon of a lover flinging himself
into the sea to rescue his lady-love. But a sudden sense of the
ludicrousness of wasting so much eagerness on a hat and a sudden lurch
of the ship checked him. He made a gesture to the girl who held the
hat, and then ran aft to descend for it. The Irish girl, with the curly
hair blown back from her fair face, started to meet Mr. Kirk, but
paused abruptly before a little inscription which said that steerage
passengers were not allowed aft. Then turning suddenly, she mounted a
coil of rope, and held the hat up to Miss Thorne.

"There's your hat, miss," she said.

"Thank you," said Sylvia.

"Sure you're welcome, miss," she said, not with a broad accent, but
with a subdued trace of Irish in the inflection and idiom.

When the gallant Walter Kirk came round to where the girl, just
dismounted from the cordage, stood, he was puzzled to see her without
the hat.

"Where is it?" he asked.

"The young lady's got it her own self," she replied.

Kirk felt foolish. Had his chum come down over the rail for it? He
would do something to distinguish himself. He fumbled in his pockets
for a coin to give the girl, but found nothing smaller than a half
sovereign, and with that he could ill afford to part. The girl had
meanwhile turned away, and Kirk had nothing left but to go back to the
upper deck.

The enthusiastic Sylvia spoke in praise of the Irish girl for her
agility and politeness, but the young lady alongside, who did not like
the Irish, told her that what the girl wanted was a shilling or two.
Servants in Europe were always beggars, and the Irish people
especially. But she wouldn't give the girl a quarter if it were her
hat. What was the use of making people so mean-spirited?

"I'd like to give her something, if I thought it wouldn't hurt her
feelings," said Sylvia, at which the other laughed immoderately.

"Hurt her feelings! Did you ever see an Irish girl whose feelings were
hurt by a present of money? I never did, though I don't often try the
experiment, that's so."

"I was going to offer her something myself, but she walked away while I
was trying to find some change," said Kirk.

The matter of a gratuity to the girl weighed on Sylvia Thorne's mind.
She had a sense of a debt in owing her a gratuity, if one may so speak.
The next day being calm and fine, and finding her company not very
attractive, for young Kirk was engaged with some gentlemen in a stupid
game of shuffleboard, she went forward to the part of the deck on which
the steerage passengers were allowed to sun themselves, and found the
Irish girl holding a baby. "You saved my hat yesterday," she said with
embarrassment.

"Sure that's not much now, miss. I'd like to do somethin' for you every
day if I could. It isn't every lady that's _such_ a lady," said the
girl, with genuine admiration of the delicate features and kindly
manner of young Sylvia Thorne.

"Does that baby belong to some friend of yours?" asked the young lady.

"No, miss; I've not got any friends aboard. Its mother's seasick, and
I'm givin' her a little rest an' holdin' the baby out here. The air of
that steerage isn't fit for a baby, now, you may say."

Should she give her any money? What was it about the girl that made her
afraid to offer a customary trifle?

"Where did you live in Ireland?" inquired Sylvia.

"At Drogheda, miss, till I went to work in the linen mills."

"Oh! you worked in the linen mills."

"Yes, miss. My father died, and my mother was poor, and girls must work
for their living. But my father wanted me to get a good bit of readin'
and writin' so as I might do better; but he died, miss, and I couldn't
leave my mother without help."

"You were the only child?"

"I've got a sister, but somehow she didn't care to go out to work, and
so I had to go out to service; and I heard that more was paid in
Ameriky, where I've got an aunt, an' I had enough to take me out, an' I
thought maybe I'd get my mother out there some day, or I'd get money
enough to make her comfortable, anyways."

"What kind of work will you do in New York? I don't believe we've got
any linen mills. I think we get Irish linen table-cloths, and so on."

"Oh, I'm going out to service. I can't do heavy work, but I can do
chambermaid's work."

All this time Sylvia was turning a quarter over in her pocket. It was
the only American coin she had carried with her through Europe, and she
now took it out slowly, and said:

"You'll accept a little something for your kindness in saving my hat."

"I'm much obliged, miss, but I'd rather not I'd rather have your kind
words than any money. It's very lonesome I've been since I left
Drogheda."

She put the quarter back into her pocket with something like shame;
then she fumbled her rings in a strange embarrassment. She had made a
mess of it, she thought. At the same time she was glad the girl had so
much pride.

"What is your name?" she asked.

"Margaret Byrne."

"You must let me help you in some way," said Miss Thorne at last.

"I wonder what kind of people they are in New York, now," said
Margaret, looking at Sylvia wistfully. "It seems dreadful to go so far
away and not know in whose house you'll be livin'."

Sylvia looked steadily at the girl, and then went away, promising to
see her again. She smiled at Walter Kirk, who had finished his game of
shuffleboard and was looking all up and down the deck for Miss Thorne.
She did not stop to talk with him, however, but pushed on to where her
mother and father were sitting not far from the taffrail.

"Mamma, I've been out in the steerage."

"You'll be in the maintop next, I don't doubt," said her father,
laughing.

"I've been talking to the Irish girl that caught my hat yesterday."

"You shouldn't talk to steerage people," said Mrs. Thorne. "They might
have the smallpox, or they might not be proper people."

"I suppose cabin passengers might have the smallpox too," said Mr.
Thorne, who liked to tease either wife or daughter.

"I offered the Irish girl a quarter, and she wouldn't have it."

"You're too free with your money," said her mother in a tone of
complaint that was habitual.

"The girl wouldn't impose on you, Sylvia," said Mr. Thorne. "She's
honest. She knew that your hat wasn't worth so much. Now, if you had
said fifteen cents----"

"O papa, be still," and she put her hand over his mouth. "I want to
propose something."

"Going to adopt the Irish----" But here Sylvia's hand again arrested Mr.
Thorne's speech.

"No, I'm not going to adopt her, but I want mamma to take her for
upstairs girl when we get home."

Mr. Thorne made another effort to push away Sylvia's hand so as to say
something, but the romping girl smothered his speech into a gurgle.

"I couldn't think of it. She's got no references and no character."

"Maybe she has got her character in her pocket, you don't know," broke
out the father. "That's where some girls carry their character till
it's worn out."

"I'll give her a character," said Sylvia. "She is a lady, if she is a
servant."

"That's just what I don't want, Sylvia," said Mrs. Thorne, with a
plaintive inflection, "a ladylike servant."

"Oh, well, we must try her. How's the girl to get a character if nobody
tries her? And she's real splendid, I think, going off to get money to
help her mother. And I'm sure she's had some great sorrow or
disappointment, you know. She's got such a wistful look in her face,
and when I spoke about Drogheda she said----"

"There you are again!" exclaimed the father. "You'll have a heroine to
make your bed every morning. But you'd better keep your drawers locked
for all that."

"Now, I think that's mean!" and the young girl tried to look stern. But
the severity vanished when Mr. Kirk, of the senior class in Highland
College, came up to inform Miss Thorne that the young people were about
getting up a conundrum party. Miss Sylvia accepted the invitation to
join in that diluted recreation, saying, as she departed, "Let's try
her anyway."

"If she wants her I suppose I shall have to take her, but I wish she
had more sense than to go to the steerage for a servant."

"She could hardly find one in the cabin," ventured Mr. Thorne.

So it happened that, on arrival in New York, Margaret Byrne was
installed as second girl at the Thornes'. For in an American home the
authority is often equitably divided--the mother has the name of ruling
the household which the daughter actually governs.


II.

How much has the setting to do with a romance? The old tales had
castles environed with savage forests and supplied with caves and
underground galleries leading to where it was necessary to go in the
novelist's emergency. In our realistic times we like to lay our scenes
on a ground of Axminster with environments of lace curtains, pianos,
and oil paintings. How, then, shall I make you understand the real
human loves and sorrows that often have play in a girl's heart, where
there are no better stage fittings than stationary washtubs and kitchen
ranges?

Sylvia Thorne was sure that the pretty maid from Drogheda, whose
melancholy showed itself through the veil of her perfect health, had
suffered a disappointment. She watched her as she went silently about
her work of sweeping and bedmaking, and she knew by a sort of
divination that here was a real heroine, a sufferer or a doer of
something.

Mrs. Thorne pronounced the new maid good, but "awfully solemn." But
when Maggie Byrne met the eyes of Sylvia looking curiously and kindly
at her sad face, there broke through her seriousness a smile so bright
and sunny that Sylvia was sure she had been mistaken, and that there
had been no disappointment in the girl's life.

Maggie shocked Mrs. Thorne by buying a shrine from an image vender and
hanging it against the wall in the kitchen. The mistress of the house,
being very scrupulous of other people's superstitions, and being one of
the stanchest of Protestants, doubted whether she ought to allow an
idolatrous image to remain on the wall. She had read the Old Testament
a good deal, and she meditated whether she ought not, like Jehu, the
son of Nimshi, to break the image in pieces. But Mr. Thorne, when the
matter was referred to him, said that a faithful Catholic ought to do
better than an unfaithful one, and that so long as Margaret did not
steal the jewelry she oughtn't to be disturbed at her prayers, which it
was known she was accustomed to say every night, with her head bowed on
the ironing table, before the image of Mary and her son.

"How can the Catholics pray to images and say the second commandment,
I'd like to know?" said Mrs. Thorne, one morning, with some asperity.

"By a process like that by which we Protestants read the Sermon on the
Mount, and then go on reviling our enemies and laying up treasures on
earth," said her husband.

"My dear, you never will listen to reason; you know that the Sermon on
the Mount is not to be taken literally."

"And how about the second commandment?"

"You'd defend the scribes and Pharisees, I do believe, just for the
sake of an argument."

"Oh, no! there are plenty of them alive yet; let them defend
themselves, if they want to," said the ungallant husband, with a wicked
twinkle in his eye.

As for Sylvia, she was all the more convinced, as time went on, that
the girl "had had a disappointment." On the evenings when the cook was
out Sylvia would find her way into the kitchen for a talk with Maggie.
The quaint old stories of Ireland and the enthusiastic description of
Irish scenes that found their way into Margaret Byrne's talk delighted
Sylvia's fancy. But the conversations always ended by some allusion to
the ship and the hat, and to the large-shouldered blond young man that
came down after the hat; and Sylvia confided to Maggie that he had
asked permission to call to see her the next summer, when he should
come East after his graduation. Margaret had no other company, and she
regularly looked for Sylvia on the evenings when she was alone,
brightening the kitchen for the occasion so much as to convince the
"down-stairs girl" that sly Maggie was accustomed to receive a beau in
her absence.

One evening Miss Thorne found Maggie in tears.

"I've a mind to tell you all about it," said the girl, in answer to the
inquiries of Sylvia, at the same time pushing her hair back off her
face and leaning her head on her hands while she rested her elbows on
the table.

"Maybe it will do you good to tell me," answered Sylvia, concealing her
eager curiosity behind her desire to serve Margaret.

"Well, you see, miss, my sister Dora is purty."

"So are you, Maggie."

"No, but Dora is a young thing, and kind of helpless, like a baby. I
was the oldest, and that Dora was my baby, like. Well, Andy Doyle and
me were always friends. I wish I hadn't never seen him. But he seemed
to be the nicest fellow in the world. There was never anything said
between him an' me, only--well--but I can't tell ye--you're so
young--you don't know about such things."

"Yes, I do. You loved him, didn't you?"

"You see, miss, he was always so good. Dora, she hadn't no end of b'ys
that liked her. But anything that I had she always wanted, you may say,
and I always 'umored her in a way. She was young and a kind of a baby,
an' she is that purty, Miss Sylvy. Well, one of us had to go out to
work in the mill, an' my mother, she said that Dora must go, because
Dora wasn't any good about the house to speak of. She never knew how to
do anything right. But Dora cried, and said she couldn't work in the
mill, and so I went down to Larne to work in the mill, and Dora
promised to look after the house. Now, at the time I went away Dora was
all took up with Billy Caughey, and we thought sure as could be it was
a match. But what does that girl do but desave Billy, and catch Andy. I
don't think, miss, that he ever half loved her, but then I don't know
what she made him believe; and then, ye know, nobody ever could refuse
Dora anything, with her little beggin', winnin' ways. She just dazed
him and got him engaged to her; and I don't believe he was ever
entirely happy with her. But what could I do, miss? I couldn't try to
coax him back--now could I? She was such a baby of a thing that she
would cry if Andy only talked to me a minute after I come home. And I
didn't want to take him away from her. That was when the mill at Larne
had shut up. And so I hadn't no heart to do anything more there; it
seemed like I was dead; and I knowed that if I stayed there would be
trouble, for I could see that Andy looked at me strange, like there was
somethin' he didn't quite understand, ye may say; but I was mad, and I
didn't want to take away Dora's beau, nor to have anything to do with a
lad that could change his mind so easy. And so I come away, thinkin'
maybe I'd get some heart again on this side of the sea, and that I
could soon send for me old mother to come."

Here she leaned her head on the table and cried.

"Now, there," she said after a while, "to-day I got a letter from Dora;
there it is!" and she pushed it to the middle of the table as though it
stung her. "She says that Andy is comin' over here to make money enough
to bring her over after a while, sure. It kind o' makes my heart jump
up, miss, to think of seein' anybody from Drogheda, and more'n all to
see Andy again, that always played with me, and---- But I despise him
too, miss, fer bein' so changeable. But then, Dora she makes fools out
of all of them with her purty face and her coaxin' ways, miss. She
can't help it, maybe."

"Well, you needn't see Andy if you don't want to," said Sylvia.

"Oh! but I do want to," and Margaret laughed through her tears at her
own inconsistency. "Besides, Dora wants me to help him get a place, and
I must do that; and then, sure, miss, do you think I'd let him know
that I cared a farthin' fer him? Not a bit of it!" and Maggie pushed
back her hair and held herself up proudly.

The next morning, as Margaret laid the morning paper on Mr. Thorne's
table in the library, she ventured to ask if he knew of a place for a
friend of hers that was coming from Ireland the next week. That
gentleman had caught the infection of Sylvia's enthusiasm for the Irish
girl, and by the blush on her cheek when she made the request he was
sure that his penetration had divined the girl's secret. So he made
some inquiries about Andy, and, finding that he was "handy with tools,"
the merchant thought he could give him a place in his packing
department.

It happened, therefore, that Sylvia rarely spent any more evenings in
the kitchen. Instead of that, her little sister used to frequent it,
for Andy was very ingenious in making chairs, tables, and other
furniture for doll houses, and little Sophy thought him the nicest man
in the world. Maggie was very cool and repellent to him, with little
spells of relenting. Sometimes Andy felt himself so much snubbed that
he would leave after a five minutes' call, in which event Maggie Byrne
was sure to relax a little at the door, and Sylvia or Sophy was almost
certain to find her in tears afterward.

Andy could not, perhaps, have defined his feelings toward Margaret. He
could not resist the attraction of the kitchen, for was not Maggie his
old playmate and the sister of Dora? Sure, there was no harm at all in
a fellow's goin' to see, just once a week, the sister of his
swateheart, when the ocean kept him from seein' his swateheart herself.
But if Andy had been a man accustomed to analyze his feelings he might
have inquired how it came that he liked his swateheart's sister better
even than his swateheart herself.

One evening he had a letter from Dora, and he thought to cheer Margaret
with good news from home. But she would not be cheered.

"Now what's the matter, Mag?" Andy said coaxingly. "Don't that fellow
in Larne write to ye?"

"What fellow in Larne?" demanded Margaret with asperity.

"Why, him that used to be so swate when ye was a-workin' in the mill."

"Who told you that?"

"Oh, now, you needn't try to kape it from me! Don't you think I knew
all about it? Do you think Dora wouldn't tell me, honey? Don't I know
you was engaged to him before you left the mill at Larne? Has he gone
an' desaved you now, Maggie? If he has, I don't wonder you're cross."

"Andy, that isn't true. I never had any b'y at Larne, at all."

"Now, what's the use denying it? That's always the way with you girls
about such things."

"Andy Doyle, do you go out of this kitchen, and don't you never come
back. I never desaved you in my life, and I won't have nobody say that
I did."

A conflict of feeling had made Margaret irritable, and Andy was the
most convenient object of wrath in the absence of Dora. Andy started
slowly out through the hall; there he turned about, and said:

"Hold a bit, my poor Mag. Let me git me thoughts together. It's me's
been desaved. If it hadn't 'a' been fer that fellow down at Larne there
wouldn't never 'a' been anything betwixt me and Dora. And now----"

"Don't you say no more, Andy. Dora's a child, and she wanted you. Don't
ye give her up. If you give her up, and she, poor child, on the other
sides of the water, I'll never respict ye--d'ye hear that, now, Andy?
Only the last letter she wrote she said she'd break her heart if I let
you fall in love with anybody else. The men's all fools now, anyhow,
Andy, and some of them is bad, but don't you go and desave that child,
that's a-breakin' her heart afther you. And don't ye believe as I ever
keered a straw for ye, for I don't keer fer you, nor no other man
a-livin'."

Andy stood still for some moments, trying in a dumb way to think what
to do or say; then he helplessly opened the door and went out.


III.

The next Thursday evening Andy did not come, and Margaret felt sorry,
she could not tell why. But Sylvia came down into the lower hall,
peered through the glass of the kitchen door, and, finding the maid
sitting alone by the range, entered as of old. And to her Maggie Byrne,
sore pressed for sympathy, told of her last talk with the comely young
man.

"You see, miss, it would be too mean for me to take Dora's b'y away
from her, fer he's the finest-lookin' and altogether the nicest young
man anywhere about Drogheda; and Dora, she's always used to havin' the
best of everything, and she always took anything that was mine,
thinkin' she'd a right to it, and, bein' a weak and purty young thing,
I s'pose she had, now, miss."

"I think she's mean, Maggie, and you're foolish if you don't take your
own lover back again."

"And she on the other sides of the say, miss? And my own little sister
that I packed around in me arms? She's full of tricks, but then she's
purty, and she's always been used to havin' my things. At any rate,
'tain't meself as'll be takin' away what's hers, and she's trusted him
to me, and she's away on the other sides of the water. At least not if
I can help it, miss. And I pray fer help all the time. Besides, do you
think I'd have Andy Doyle afther what's happened, even if Dora was out
of the way?"

"I know you would," said Sylvia.

"I believe I would, miss, I'm such a fool. But then sometimes I despise
him. If it wasn't fer me dear old mother, that maybe I'll never see
again," and Maggie wiped her eyes with her apron, "I'd join the
Sisters. I think maybe I have got a vocation, as they call it."

It was the very next evening after this interview that Bridget Monahan,
the downstairs girl, gave Margaret a little advice.

"He's a foine young feller, now, Mag, but don't you be in no hurry to
git married. You're afther havin' a nice face--a kind o' saint's face,
on'y it's a thrifle too solemn to win the men. But if Andy should lave,
ye might be afther doin' better, and ye might be afther doin' worruss
now, Mag. But don't ye git married till ye've got enough to buy a
brocade shawl. Ef ye don't git a brocade shawl afore you're married,
niver a bit of a one'll ye be afther gittin' aftherwards. Girls like us
don't git no money afther they are married, and it's best to lay by
enough to git a shawl beforehand now, Mag. That's me own plan."

A few weeks later Maggie was thrown into grief by hearing of the death
of her mother. Of course she received sympathy from Sylvia. Andy, also
having received a letter from Dora, ventured to call on Maggie to
express in his sincerely simple way his sympathy for her grief, and to
discuss with her what was now to be done for the homeless girl in the
old country.

"We must bring her over, Andy."

"I know that," said the young man. "I'll draw all my money out of the
Shamrock Savings Bank to-morry and send her a ticket. But I'll tell you
what, Mag, after I went away from here the last time I felt sure I'd
never marry Dora Byrne. But maybe I was wrong. Poor thing! I'm sorry
fer her, all alone."

"Sure, now, Andy, you must 'a' made a mistake," said Maggie. "It's
myself as may've given Dora rason to think I'd got a young man down at
Larne. I don't know as she meant to desave you. She needn't, fer you
know I don't keer fer men, neither you nor anybody. I'm goin' into the
Sisters, now my mother's dead. I've spoken to Sister Agnes about it."

But whether it was from her lonely feeling at the death of her mother,
or from her exultation at her victory over her feelings, or whether it
was that her heart, trodden down by her conscience, sought revenge, she
showed more affection for Andy this evening than ever before, following
him to the area gate, detaining him in conversation, and bidding him
goodnight with real emotion.

The next evening Andy came again with a long face. He had a paper in
which he showed Maggie an account of the suspension of the Shamrock
Savings Bank, in which the money of so many Irishmen was locked up, and
in which were all of Andy Doyle's savings, except ten dollars he had in
his pocket.

"Now, Mag, what am I goin' to do? It takes thirty-five dollars for a
ticket. If I put my week's wages that I'll git to-morry on to this, I'm
short half of it."

"Sure, Andy, I'll let you have it all if you want it. You keep what
you've got. She's me own sister. On'y I'll have to wait a while, for I
don't want to fetch into the Sisters any less money than I've spoke to
Sister Agnes about."

"I'm a-goin' to pay ye back every cint of it, Mag, and God bless ye!
But it 'most makes me hate Dora to see you so good. And I tell you,
Maggie, the first thing when she gits here she's got to explain about
that fellow down at Larne that she told me about."

"Andy," said Maggie, "d'ye mind now what I say. I've suffered enough on
account of Dora's takin' you away from me, but I'd rather die with a
broken heart than to have anything to do with you if you are afther
breakin' that poor child's heart when she comes here."

"Oh, then you did keer for me a little, Maggie darlint?" exclaimed
Andy. "I thought you said you never did keer!"

Maggie was surprised. "I don't keer for you, nor any other man, and I
never----" But here she paused. "You ought to be ashamed to be talkin'
that way to me, and you engaged to Dora. There, now, take the money,
Andy, and git Dora's ticket, and don't let's hear no more foolish
talkin' that it would break the poor dear orphan's heart to hear. The
poor baby's got nobody but you and me to look afther her, now her
mother's gone, and it's a shame and a sin if we don't do it."


IV.

Margaret Byrne hurried her work through. The steamer that brought Dora
had come in that day. Dora was met at Castle Garden by her aunt, and
Margaret had got permission to go to see her in the evening. As Andy
Doyle had to go the same way, he stopped for Maggie. All the way over
to the aunt's house in Brooklyn he was moody and silent, the very
opposite of a man going to meet his betrothed. Margaret was quiet, with
the peace of one who has gained a victory. Her struggle was over. There
was no more any danger that she should be betrayed into bearing off the
affections of her sister's affianced lover.

Maggie greeted Dora affectionately, but Dora was like one distraught.
She held herself aloof from her sister, and still more from Andy, who,
on his part, made a very poor show of affection.

"Well," said Dora after a while, "I s'pose you two people have been
afther makin' love to one another for six months."

"You hain't got any right to say that, Dora," broke out Andy. "Maggie's
stood up fer you in a way you didn't more'n half desarve, and it's
partly Maggie's money that brought you here. You know well enough what
a--a--lie, if I must say it, you told me about Mag's havin' a beau at
Larne, and she says she didn't. You're the one that took away your
sister's----" But here he paused.

"Hush up, Andy!" broke in Margaret. "You know I never keered fer you,
or any other man. Don't you and Dora begin to quarrel now."

Andy looked sullen, and Dora scared. At length Dora took speech
timidly.

"Billy will be here in a minute."

"Billy who?" asked Andy.

"Billy Caughey," she answered. "He came over in the same ship with me."

"Oh, I s'pose you've been sparkin' with him ag'in! You pitched him over
to take me----"

"No, I haven't been sparkin' with him, Andy; at least, not lately. He's
my husband. We got married three months ago."

"And didn't tell me?" said Andy, between pleasure and anger.

"No, we wanted to come over here, and we couldn't have come if it
hadn't been for the money you sent."

"Why, Dora, how mean you treated Andy!" broke out Margaret.

"I knew you'd take up for him," said Dora pitifully, "but what could I
do, sure? You won't hurt Billy, now, will you, Andy? He's afeard of
you."

"Well," said Andy, straightening up his fine form with a smile of
relief, "tell Billy that I wish him much j'y, and that I'll be afther
thankin' him with all my heart the very first time I see him for the
kindness he's afther doin' me. Good-night, Mrs. Billy Caughey, good
luck to ye! As Mag says she don't keer fer me, I'll be after going home
alone." This last was said bitterly as he opened the door.

"O Andy! wait fer me--do!" said Margaret.

"Ain't you stayin' to see Billy?" asked Dora.

"Not me. It's with Andy Doyle I'm afther goin'," cried Margaret, with a
lightness she had not known for a year.

And the two went out together.

The next evening Margaret told Sylvia about it, and the little
romance-maker was in ecstasy.

"So you won't enter the sisterhood, then?" she said, when Margaret had
finished.

"No, miss, I don't think I've got any vocation."



THE GUNPOWDER PLOT.

THE STORY OF A FOURTH OF JULY.


Whenever one writes with photographic exactness of frontier life he is
accused of inventing improbable things.

"Old Davy Lindsley" lived in a queer cabin on the Pomme de Terre River.
If you should ever ride over the new Northern Pacific when it shall be
completed, or over that branch of it which crosses the Pomme de Terre,
you can get out at a station which will, no doubt, be called for an old
settler, Gager's Station; and if you would like to see some beautiful
scenery, take a canoe and float down the Pomme de Terre River. You will
have to make some portages, and you will have a good appetite for
supper when you reach the old Lindsley house, ten miles from Gager's,
but its present owner is hospitable.

A queer old chap was Lindsley the last time I saw him. I remember how
he took me all over his claim and showed me the beauties of
Lindsleyville, as he called it. His long iron-gray hair fluttered in
the wind, and his face seemed like a wizard's, penetrating but
unearthly. That was long before the great tide of immigrants had begun
to find their way into this paradise through the highway of the Sauk
Valley. Lindsleyville was a hundred and fifty miles out of the world at
that time. Its population numbered two--Lindsley and his daughter. The
old man had tried to make a fortune in many ways. There was no sort of
useless invention that he had not attempted, and you will find in the
Patent Office models without number of beehives and cannons, steam
cut-offs and baby jumpers, lightning churns and flying machines on
which he had taken out patents, assured of making a fortune from each
one. He had raised fancy chickens, figured himself rich on two swarms
of bees, traveled with a magic lantern, written a philosophic novel,
and started a newspaper. There was but one purpose in which he was
fixed--which was, to guard his daughter jealously. To do this, and to
make the experiment of building a Utopian city, he had traveled to the
summit of this knoll on the right bank of the Pomme de Terre. There
never was a more beautiful landscape than that which Lindsleyville
commanded. But the town did not grow, chiefly because it was so far
beyond the border, though the conditions in his deeds intended to
secure the character of the city from deterioration were so many that
nobody would have been willing to buy the lots.

At the time I speak of David Lindsley had dwelt on the Pomme de Terre
for five years. He had removed suddenly from the Connecticut village in
which he had been living because he discovered that his daughter had,
in spite of his watchfulness, formed an attachment for a young man who
had the effrontery to disclose the whole thing to him by politely
asking his consent to their marriage.

"Marry my daughter!" choked the old man. "Why, Mr. Brown, you are
crazy! I have educated her upon the combined principles of Rousseau, of
Pestalozzi, of Froebel, and of Herbert Spencer. And you--you only
graduated at Yale, an old fogy mediæval institution! No, sir! not till
I meet a philosopher whose mind has been symmetrically developed can I
consent for my Emilia to marry."

And the old man became so frantic, that, to save him from the madhouse,
Emilia wrote a letter, at his dictation, to young Brown, peremptorily
breaking off all relations; and he, a sensitive, romantic man, was
heartbroken, and left the village. He only sent a farewell to his
friends the day before he was to sail from New Bedford on a whaling
voyage. He carried with him the impression that an unaccountable change
of mind in Emilia had left no hope for him.

To prevent a recurrence of such an untoward accident as this, and, as
he expressed it, "to bring his daughter's mind into intimate relations
with nature," the fanatical philosopher established the town of
Lindsleyville, determined that no family in which there was a young man
should settle on his town plot, unless, indeed, the young man should
prove to be the paragon he was looking for.

Emilia's motherless life had not been a cheerful one, subjected to the
ever-changing whims of a visionary father, with whom one of her
practical cast of mind could have no point of sympathy. And since she
came to Lindsleyville it was harder than ever, for there was no
neighbor nearer than Gager's, ten miles away, and there was not a woman
within fifty miles. There is no place so lonesome as a prairie; the
horizon is so wide, and the earth is so empty!

Lindsley had spent all his own money long ago, and it was only the
small annuity of his daughter, inherited from her mother's family, the
capital of which was tied up to keep it out of his reach, that
prevented them from starving. Emilia was starving indeed, not in body,
but in soul. Cut off from human sympathy, she used to sit at the gable
window of the cabin and look out over the boundless meadow until it
seemed to her that she would lose her reason. The wild geese screaming
to one another overhead, the bald eagles building in the solitary elm
that grew by the river, the flocks of great white pelicans that were
fishing on the beach of Swan Lake, three miles away, were all objects
of envy to the lonesome heart of the girl; for they had companions of
their kind--they were husbands and wives, and parents and children,
while she--here she checked her thoughts, lest she should be disloyal
to her father. To her disordered fancy the universe seemed to be a
wheel. The sun and the stars came up and went down over the monotonous
sea of grass with frightful regularity, and she could not tell whether
there was a God or not. When she thought of God at all, it was as a
relentless giant turning the crank that kept the sky going round. The
universe was an awful machine. The prayers her mother taught her in
infancy died upon her lips, and instead of praying to God she cried out
to her mother. Un-protestant as the sentiment is, I can not forbear
saying that this talking to the dead is one of the most natural things
in the world. To Emilia the dimly remembered love of her mother was all
of tenderness there was in the universe, the only revelation of God
that had come to her, except the other love, which was to her a
paradise lost. For the great hard fate that turned the prairie universe
round with a crank motion had also--so it seemed to her--snatched away
from her the object of her love. This disordered, faithless state was
all the fruit she tasted of the peculiar education so much vaunted by
her father. She had eaten the husks he gave her and was hungry.

I said she had no company. An old daguerreotype of her mother and a
carefully hidden photograph (marked on the back, in a rather immature
hand, "E. Brown") seemed to answer with looks of love and sympathy when
she wetted them with her tears. They were her rosary and her crucifix;
they were the gifts of a beclouded life, through which God shone in
dimly upon her.

This poor girl looked and longed so for the company of human kind that
she counted those red-letter days on which a half-breed voyageur
traveled over the trail in front of the house, and even a party of
begging and beggarly Sioux, hungry for all they could get to eat,
offering importunately to sell "hompoes" (moccasins) to her father,
were not wholly unwelcome. But the days of all days were those on which
Edwards, the tall, long-haired American trapper, fished in the Pomme de
Terre in sight of the Lindsley cabin. On such occasions the old man
Lindsley would leave his work and stay about the house, and watch
jealously and uneasily every movement of the trapper. On one or two
occasions when that picturesque individual, wearing a wolf-skin cap,
with the wolf's tail hanging down between his shoulders, presented
himself at the door of the cabin to crave some little courtesy,
Lindsley closed the front door and brought out the article asked for
from the back, like a mediæval chieftain guarding his castle. But all
the time that poor Emilia could hear the voice of the tall trapper her
heart beat two beats for one. For was it not a human voice speaking her
own language? And the days on which he was visible were accounted as
the gates of paradise, and the moments in which he spoke in her hearing
were as paradise itself.

This churlish, inhospitable manner made Lindsley many enemies in a land
in which one can not afford to have enemies. Every half-breed hunter
took the old man's suspicious manner as a personal affront. "He thinks
we are horse thieves," they said scornfully. And Jacques Bourdon, the
half-breed who had "filed on" the claim alongside Lindsley's, and even
claimed unjustly a "forty" of Lindsley's town plot, had no difficulty
in securing the sympathy of the settlers and nomads, who looked on
Lindsley as a monster quite capable of anything. He was even reported
to have beaten his daughter, and to have confined her in the wilderness
that he might keep her out of an immense fortune which she had
inherited. So Lindsley grew every day in disfavor in a region where
unpopularity in its mildest form is sure to take a most unpleasant way
of making itself known. Emilia knew enough to understand this danger,
and she was shaken with a nameless fear whenever she heard the sharp
words that passed between her father and Bourdon, the half-breed. The
resentment of the latter reached its climax when the decision of the
land office was rendered in favor of Mr. Lindsley. From that hour the
revenge of this man, whose hot French was mixed with relentless Indian
blood, hung over the head of the old man, who still read and wrote, and
invented and theorized, in utter ignorance of any peril except the
danger that some man, not a fool, should marry his daughter.

The Fourth of July was celebrated at Gager's. People came from fifty
miles round. Patriotism? No! but love of human fellowship. The
celebrated Pierre Bottineau and the other Canadians and half-breeds
were there, mellowed with drink, singing the sensual and almost lewd
French rowing songs their fathers had sung on the St. Lawrence. "Whisky
Jim," the retired stage driver, and Hans Brinkerhoff and the other
German settlers, with two or three Yankees, completed the slender
crowd, which comprised almost the entire population of six skeleton
counties. And the ever-popular Edwards was among them, his grave face
and flowing ringlets rising above them all. A man so ready to serve
anybody as he was idolized among frontiermen, whose gratitude is almost
equal to their revenge. Captain Oscar, the popular politician, who wore
his hair long and swore and drank, just to keep in with his widely
scattered constituents, whom he represented in the Minnesota Senate
each winter (and who usually cast half a dozen votes each for him),
made a buncombe speech, and then Edwards, who wouldn't drink, but who
knew how to tell strange stories, kept them laughing for half an hour.
Edwards was a type of man not so uncommon on the frontier as those
imagine who think the trapper always a half-horse, half-alligator
creature, such as they read of in the Beadle novels. I knew one trapper
who was a student of numismatics, another who devoted his spare time to
astronomy, and several traders and trappers who were men of
considerable culture, though they are generally men who are a little
morbid or eccentric in their mental structure. All Edwards's natural
abilities, which were sufficient to have earned him distinction had he
been "in civilization," were concentrated on the pursuits of his wild
life, and such a man always surpasses the coarser and duller Indian or
half-breed in his own field.

After a game of ball, and other sports imitated from the Indians, the
_bois brûlés_[1] began to be too much softened with whisky to keep up
athletic exercises, and something in their manner led Edwards to
suspect that there were other amusements on the programme into the
secret of which he had not been admitted.

      [1] _Bois brûlés_, "burnt wood," is the title the half-breeds
      apply to themselves, in allusion to their complexion.

By adroit management he contrived to overhear part of a conversation in
which "_poudre à canon_" was mixed up with the name of Linds_lee_. He
inferred that the blowing up of Lindsley's house was to finish the
celebration of the national holiday. Treating Bourdon to an extra glass
of whisky, and seasoning it with some well-timed denunciations of "the
old monster," he gathered that the plan was to plant a keg of powder
under the chimney on the north side of the cabin and blow it to pieces,
just to scare the monster out, or kill him and his daughter, it did not
matter which. Edwards praised the plan. He said that if it were not
that he had to go to Pelican Lake that very night he would go along and
help blow up the old rascal.

Soon after this he shook hands all around and wished them _bon voyage_
in their trip to Lindsleyville. He winked his eyes knowingly, playing
the hypocrite handsomely. Oscar and Bottineau left in different
directions, the Germans had gone home drunk, and only "Whisky Jim"
joined the half-breeds in their trip. They took possession of an
immigrant team that was in Gager's stable, and just after sunset
started on their patriotic errand. They were going to celebrate the
Fourth by blowing up the tyrant.

Meantime Edwards had taken long strides, but his moccasin-clad feet
were not carrying him in the direction of Pelican Lake. Half the time
walking as only "the long trapper" could walk, half the time in a
swinging trot, he made the best possible speed toward Lindsleyville. He
had the start of the half-breeds, but how much he could not tell; and
there was no time to be lost. At the summit of every knoll he looked
back to see if they were coming, crouching in the grass lest they
should discover him.

Lindsley received him as suspiciously as ever, and positively refused
to believe his story. But by using his telescope Edwards soon convinced
him that the party were just leaving Gager's. The dusk of the evening
was coming on, and Lindsley's fright was great as he realized his
daughter's peril.

"I will fight them to the death," he said, getting down his revolver,
with an air that would have done honor to Don Quixote.

"If you fight them and whip them, they will waylay you and kill you.
But there are ten of them, and if you fight them you will be killed,
and this lady will be without a protector. If you run away, the house
will be destroyed, and you will be killed whenever you are found. But
what have you here--a magic lantern?"

The old gentleman had, before Edwards's arrival, taken down the
instrument to introduce some improvement which he had just invented.
When Edwards stumbled over it and called it a magic lantern he looked
at him scornfully.

"A magic lantern!" he cried. "No, sir; that is a dissolving view,
oxy-calcium, panto-sciostereoscopticon."

"With this we must save you and your daughter from the half-breeds,"
said the trapper, a little impatient at this ill-timed manifestation of
pedantry. "Get ready for action immediately."

"I have no oxygen gas."

"Make it at once," said Edwards. He picked up some papers marked
"chlor. potass." and "black oxide."

"Here is your material," he said.

"Do _you_ understand chemistry?" asked Lindsley. But the trapper did
not answer. He got out the retort, and in five minutes the oxygen was
bubbling furiously through the wash bottle into the India-rubber
receiver. Edwards stood at the window scanning the road toward Gager's
with his telescope until it grew dark, which in that latitude was at
about ten o'clock. Then the magic lantern was removed to the little
grass-roofed stable, in which dwelt a solitary pony, and by Edwards's
direction the focus was carefully set so that it would throw a picture
against the house. Edwards selected two pictures and adjusted them for
use in the two tubes.

The half-breeds were not in haste, and in all the long hour of suspense
Emilia, hidden in the barn with her father and young Edwards, was
positively happy. For here was human companionship, and a hungry soul
will gladly risk death if by that means companionship can be purchased.
It did not matter either that conversation was out of the question. It
is presence, and not talk, that makes companionship.

But hark! the _bois brûlés_ are on the bank of the river below. Emilia's
heart grew still as she heard them swear. Their _sacr-r-r-r-ré_ rolled
like the rattle of a rattlesnake. They were coming up the hill,
quarreling drunkenly about the powder. Now they were between the house
and the stable, getting ready to dig a hole for the "_poudre à canon_"

"I'll give them fireworks!" said Edwards in a whisper.

A picture of Thorwaldsen's bas-relief of "Morning" having been
previously placed in the instrument, Edwards now removed the cap, and
the beautiful flying female figure, with the infant in her arms, shone
out upon the side of the house with marvelous vividness.

"By thunder!" said Whisky Jim, steadying himself, while every hair
stood on end.

"_Mon Dieu!_" cried the _bois brûlés_, who had never seen a picture in
their lives except in the cathedral of St. Boniface, at Fort Garry.
"_Mon Dieu! La Sainte Vierge!_" And they fell on their knees before
this apparition of the Blessed Virgin, and crossed themselves and
prayed lustily.

But "Whisky Jim" straightened himself up, and hiccoughed, and stammered
"By thunder!" and added some words which, being Saxon, I will not
print.

"The devil!" cried Jim, a minute later, starting down the hill at full
speed, for, by Edwards's direction, the light had been shifted to the
other tube in such a way as to dissolve the "Morning" into a hideous
picture of the conventional horned and hoofed devil. The picture was
originally meant to be comic, but it now set Jim to running for dear
life.

"_Oui, c'est le diable! le diable! le diable!_" cried the frantic _bois
brûlés_, breaking off their invocations to the Virgin most abruptly,
and fleeing pellmell down the hill after Jim, falling over one another
as they ran. Quick as a flash Edwards threw about him a sheet which he
had ready, and pursued the fleeing Frenchmen. Jim had already seized
the reins, and, on the plan of "the devil take the hindmost," was
driving at a pace that would have done him credit in the Central Park,
up the trail toward Gager's, leaving the half-breeds to get on as best
they could. Bourdon stumbled and fell, and Edwards lavished some blows
upon him that must have satisfied the _bois brûlé_ that ghosts have a
most solid corporeal existence.

Then Edwards returned and captured the keg of powder. He assured the
Lindsleys that the superstitious half-breeds would never again venture
within five miles of a house that was guarded by the Holy Virgin and
the devil in partnership. And they never did. Even the Indians were
afraid to approach the place, pronouncing it "Wakan," or supernaturally
inhabited. They regarded Lindsley as a "medicine-man" of great power.

But what a night that was! For Edwards stayed two hours, and made the
acquaintance of Lindsley and his daughter. And how he talked, while
Emilia thought she had never known how heaven felt before; and the old
man forgot his inventions, and did not broach more than twenty of his
theories in the two hours. He was so much interested in the tall
trapper that he forgot the rest. Edwards ate a supper set out by the
hands of Emilia, and left at three o'clock. He was at Pelican Lake next
morning, and no man suspected his share in the affair except Gager, who
had sense enough to say nothing. And Emilia lay down and dreamed of
angels about the house. One was like Thorwaldsen's "Morning," and the
other wore long hair and beard, and was very tall.

This abortive attempt to make a skyrocket out of Lindsley's cabin
wrought only good to Emilia at first. The father was now wholly in love
with the trapper. He praised him at all hours.

"He is a philosopher, my daughter. He understands chemistry. He lives
in the arcana of nature and reads her secrets. No foolish study of the
heathen classics; no training after mediæval fashion in one of our
colleges, which are anachronisms, has perverted his taste. Here is the
Émile worthy of my Emilia," he would say, much to the daughter's
annoyance.

But when Edwards came the hours were golden. Hanging his wolf-skin cap
behind the door, and shaking back his long locks as he took his seat,
he would entrance father and daughter alike with his talk of adventure.
From the time of his first visit new life came to the heart of Emilia;
and Mr. Lindsley, whose every whim the trapper humored, was as much
fascinated as his daughter. But now commenced a fierce battle in the
heart of Emilia. Edwards loved her. By all the speech that his eyes
were capable of, he told her so. And by all the beating of her own
heart she knew that she loved the brown-faced, long-haired trapper in
return. But what about the fair-eyed student, who for very love and
disappointment had gone to the arctic seas? He was not at hand to plead
his cause, and for this very reason her conscience pleaded it for him.
When her soul had fed on the words of the trapper as upon manna in the
wilderness, she took up the old photograph and the eyes reproached her.
She shed bitter tears of penitence upon it for her disloyalty to the
storm-tossed sailor, but rejoiced again when she saw the tall figure of
the trapper coming down the trail. A desolate and lonely heart can not
live forever on the memory of a dead love. And have ye not read what
David did when he was an hungered? Do not, therefore, reproach a
starving soul for partaking of this feast in the desert.

And so Emilia tried to believe that Brown was long since dead--poor
fellow! She shed tears over an imaginary grave in Labrador with a great
sense of comfort. She tried to think that he had long since married and
forgotten her, and she endeavored to nurse some feeble pangs of
jealousy toward an imaginary wife.

Now it was very improper, doubtless, in Brown to come to life just at
this moment. One lover too many is as destructive to the happiness of a
conscientious girl as one too few. If Emilia had been trained in
society, her joy at having two lovers would have had no alloy save her
grief that there were not four of them. But it was one of the
misfortunes of her solitary and peculiar education that she had
conscience and maidenly modesty. Wherefore it was a source of bitter
distress and embarrassment to her that, at the end of a long letter
from a neighbor who had taken a notion after years of silence to write
her all the gossip of the old village, she found these words: "Your old
friend Brown did not jump into the sea at grief for his rejection,
after all. He has written to somebody here that he is coming home. I
believe he said that he loved you all the same as ever."

The greatest grief of Emilia was that she should have been so wicked as
to be grieved. Had she not prayed all these years, when she could pray
at all, for the safety of the young student? Had she not prayed against
storms and icebergs? And now that he was coming, her heart smote her as
if he were a ghost of some one whom she had murdered! Whether she loved
him, or Edwards, or anybody, indeed she could not tell. But she would
do penance for her crime. And so, when next she heard the quiet voice
of "the long trapper" asking for her, she refused to see him, though
the refusal all but killed her.

Poor Edwards! How he paced the shore of Swan Lake all that night! For
when love comes into the soul of a solitary man it has all the force
that all the thousand interests of life have to one in the busy world.
How terrible were the temptations that sometimes assailed the religious
eremites we can never guess.

Sunset of the next day found Edwards in the Red River Valley, far on
his way toward Fort Garry, bent on spending the rest of his life as a
"free trader" in British America. As for Emilia, she was now in total
darkness. The sun had set, and the moon had not appeared. Brown might
be dead, or she might not love him, or he might never find her. And she
had thrown away her paradise, and there was only blackness left.

Edwards had already come within a few miles of Georgetown, where he was
to take passage in that strangest of all the craft that ever frightened
away the elk, the little seven-by-nine steamer Anson Northrup, when, as
he was striding desperately along the trail, he was suddenly checked by
a thought. He stood five minutes in indecision, then turned and began
to walk rapidly in the opposite direction. At Breckinridge he found a
stage, and getting out at Gager's he went down the trail toward
Lindsley's.

Now Davy Lindsley had been in a terrible state of ferment. When he had
found the philosopher, "the uncontaminated child of Nature, the
self-educated combination of civilized and savage man," his daughter
had perversely refused him, and the old man had taken the
disappointment so to heart that he was in a state bordering on frenzy.

"Misfortune always pursues me!" he began, when he met Edwards under the
hill. "Fifty times I have been near achieving some great result, and my
ill luck has spoiled it all. You see me a broken-hearted man. To have
allied my family with a child of Nature like yourself would have given
me the greatest joy. But--how shall I express my grief?" And here the
old man struck a pathetically tragic attitude and drew out his
handkerchief, weeping with a profound self-pity.

"Mr. Lindsley, do you know why Miss Lindsley has become so suddenly
displeased with me?" asked the trapper, trembling.

"Miss Lindsley, sir, is perverse. It is the one evil trait that my
enlightened system of education, drawn from Rousseau, Pestalozzi,
Froebel, and Herbert Spencer, and combined by my own genius--it is the
one evil trait that my system has failed to eradicate. She is perverse.
I fear, sir, she is yet worshiping the image of a misguided youth who,
filled and puffed up with the useless learning of the schools, ventured
to address her. I am the most unfortunate of men."

"Mr. Lindsley, can I see your daughter alone?"

The old man thought he could. But she was very perverse. In truth, that
very morning Emilia had, in a sublime spirit of self-immolation, vowed
that she would love none but the long-lost lover, and that if Brown
never came back she would die heroically devoted to him, and thus she
had sacrificed to her conscience and it was appeased. But right atop
this vow came the request of Edwards for an interview. Was ever a girl
so beset? Could she trust herself? On thinking it over she was afraid
not; so that it was only by much persuasion that she was prevailed on
to grant the request.

While Edwards talked she could but listen, frightened all the time at
the faintness of her solemn resolution, which had seemed so irrevocable
when she made it. He frankly demanded the reason for her change of
conduct toward him. And she, like an honest and simple-hearted girl,
told the other love story with a trembling voice, while Edwards
listened with eyes downcast.

"This was five years ago?" he asked.

"Yes, sir."

"And the young man's name?"

"Was Edward Brown."

"Curious! I think," he said slowly, pausing as if to get breath and
keep his self-control, "I think, if my hair were cut off short and
parted on one side as Edward Brown wore his, instead of in the middle,
and if my whiskers were shaven off, and if the tan of five years'
exposure were gone from my face, and if I were five years younger, and
two inches shorter, I think----" He paused here and looked at her.

"Please say the rest quickly," she said in a faint whisper. For the
setting sun was streaming in at the west window upon the face of the
trapper. His hair was thrown back, and he was looking into her eyes
with a look she had never seen before. But he dropped his head upon his
hand now and looked at the floor.

"It might be," he spoke musingly, "it might be that Edward Brown failed
to reach his ship in time at New Bedford, and changed his mind and came
here, and that after Emilia came he watched this house day and night
till his heart came nigh to bursting. But I was going to say," he said,
rousing himself, "that in case the years and the tan and the hair could
be taken off, and this trapper coat changed into one of finer cut and
material, and the name reversed, that Browne Edwards, the trapper,
would be nearer of kin than a twin brother to Edward Brown, the
broken-hearted student."

What Emilia did just here I do not know, and if I did I should not tell
you. To faint would have been the proper thing. But, poor girl! her
education had been neglected, and I think she did not faint. When the
old philosopher came in he was charmed with the situation, and that
evening, when they two walked together on the bank of the Pomme de
Terre, Emilia pointed to the stars, and said: "Do you know that in all
these years God has seemed to me a cruel monster turning a crank? And
to-night every star seems to be an eye through which God is looking at
me, as my mother used to. I feel as though God were loving me. See, the
stars are laughing in my face! Now I love Him as I did my mother. And
to-night I am going to read that curious story about Christ at the
wedding."

For God, who is love, loves to find his way to a human heart through
love. And Edwards, who had been in bitterness and rebellion during the
years of his exile, listened now to the voice of love as to that of an
angel whom God had sent out of heaven to bring him back home again.

Mr. Lindsley is an invalid now. Lindsleyville belongs to Browne Edwards
and his wife. And old Davy has made a will on twenty quires of legal
cap, bequeathing to his son-in-law all his right, title, and interest
in certain and sundry patents on churns, cannons, beehives, magic
lanterns, flying machines, etc., together with some extraordinary
secret discoveries. The old gentleman is slowly dying in the full
conviction that he is bequeathing the foundation of an immense fortune
to his son-in-law, and more wisdom to the world than has been
contributed to its stock by all that have gone before. And he often
reminds Emilia that she has to thank him for getting so good a husband.
If it hadn't been for him she might have married that sickly student.

_1871_.



THE STORY OF A VALENTINE.


When my friend Capt. Terrible, U.S.N., dines at my plain table, I am
a little abashed. I know that he has been accustomed always to a
variety of wines and sauces, to a cigarette after each course, and to
cookery that would kill an undeveloped American. So, when the captain
turns the castor round three times before selecting his condiment, and
when his eyes seem to be seeking for Worcestershire sauce and Burgundy
wine, I feel the poverty of the best feast I can furnish him. I am
afraid veteran magazine readers will feel thus about the odd little
story I have to tell. For I have observed of late that even the short
stories are highly seasoned; and I can not bear to disappoint readers.
So, let me just honestly write over the gateway to this story a
warning. I have no Cayenne pepper. No Worcestershire sauce. No cognac.
No cigarettes. No murders. No suicides. No broken hearts. No lovers'
quarrels. No angry father. No pistols and coffee. No arsenic. No
laudanum. No shrewd detectives. No trial for murder. No "heartless
coquette." No "deep-dyed villain with a curling mustache." Now if,
after this warning, you have the courage to go on, I am not
responsible.

Hubert said I might print it if I would disguise the names. It came out
quite incidentally. We were discussing the woman question. I am a
"woman's righter." Hubert--the Rev. Hubert Lee, I should say, pastor of
the "First Church," and, indeed, the only church in Allenville--is not,
though I flatter myself I have made some impression on him. But the
discussion took place in Hubert's own house, and wishing to give a
pleasant turn at the end, I suppose, he told me how, a year and a half
before, he had "used up" one woman's-rights man, who was no other than
old Dr. Hood, the physician that has had charge of the physical health
of Hubert and myself from the beginning. Unlike most of his profession,
the doctor has always been a radical, and even the wealth that has come
in upon him of late years has left him quite as much of a radical, at
least in theory, as ever. Indeed, the old doctor is not very
inconsistent in practice, for he has educated his only daughter,
Cornelia, to his own profession, and I believe she took her M.D. with
honors, though she has lately spoiled her prospects by marrying. But
socially he has become a little aristocratic, seeking an exclusive
association with his wealthy neighbors. And this does not look very
well in one who, when he was poor, was particularly bitter on "a
purse-proud aristocracy." I suppose Hubert felt this. Certainly I did,
and therefore I enjoyed the conversation that he repeated to me all the
more.

It seems that my friend Hubert had been away at the seminary for three
years, and that having at last conquered in his great battle against
poverty, and having gained an education in spite of difficulties, and
having supplied a city church acceptably for some months during the
absence of the pastor in Europe, he came back to our native village to
rest on his laurels a few weeks, and to decide which of three rather
impecunious calls he would accept. When just about to leave he took it
into his head, for some reason, to "drop in" on old Doctor Hood. It was
nine o'clock in the morning, and the doctor's partner was making
morning calls, while the old gentleman sat in his office to attend to
any that might seek his services. This particular morning happened to
be an unfortunate one, for there were no ague-shaken patients to be
seen, and there was not even a case of minor surgery to relieve the
tediousness of the morning office hour. Perhaps it was for this reason,
perhaps it was for the sake of old acquaintance, that he gave Hubert a
most cordial reception, and launched at once into a sea of vivacious
talk. Cornelia, who was in the office, excused herself on the ground
that she was cramming for her final examination, and seated herself at
a window with her book.

"I am afraid I take your time, doctor," said Hubert.

"Oh, no, I am giving up practice to my partner, Dr. Beck, and shall
give it all to him in a year or two."

"To him and Miss Cornelia?" queried Hubert, laughing. For it was
currently reported that the young doctor and Cornelia were to form a
partnership in other than professional affairs.

Either because he wished to attract her attention, or for some other
reason, Hubert soon managed to turn the conversation to the subject of
woman's rights, and the old doctor and the young parson were soon
hurling at each other all the staple and now somewhat stale arguments
about woman's fitness and woman's unfitness for many things. At last,
perhaps because he was a little cornered, Hubert said:

"Now, doctor, there was a queer thing happened to a student in my class
in the seminary. I don't suppose, doctor, that you are much interested
in a love story, but I would just like to tell you this one, because I
think you dare not apply your principles to it in every part. Theories
often fail when practically applied, you know."

"Go on, Hu, go on; I'd like to hear the story. And as for my
principles, they'll bear applying anywhere!" and the old doctor rubbed
his hands together confidently.

"This friend of mine, Henry Gilbert," said Hu, "was, like myself, poor.
A long time ago, when he was a boy, the son of a poor widow, the lot on
which he lived joined at the back the lot on which lived a Mr. Morton,
at that time a thriving merchant, now the principal capitalist in that
part of the country. As there was a back gate between the lots, my
friend was the constant playmate from earliest childhood of Jennie
Morton. He built her playhouses out of old boards, he molded clay
bricks for her use, and carved tiny toys out of pine blocks for her
amusement. As he grew larger, and as Jennie's father grew richer and
came to live in greater style, Henry grew more shy. But by all the
unspoken language of the eyes the two never failed to make their
unchanging regard known to each other.

"Henry went to college early. At vacation time the two met. But the
growing difference in their social position could not but be felt.
Jennie's friends were of a different race from his own. Her parents
never thought of inviting him to their entertainments. And if they had,
a rusty coat and a lack of money to spend on kid gloves would have
effectually kept him away. He was proud. This apparent neglect stung
him. It is true that Jennie Morton was all the more kind. But his quick
and foolish pride made him fancy that he detected pity in her kindness.
And yet all this only made him determined to place himself in a
position in which he could ask her hand as her equal. But you do not
understand, doctor, as I do, how irresistible is this conviction of
duty in regard to the ministry. Under that pressure my friend settled
it that he must preach. And now there was before him a good ten years
of poverty at least. What should he do about it?

"In his extremity he took advice of a favorite theological professor.
The professor advised him not to seek the hand of a rich girl. She
would not be suited to the trials of a minister's life. But finding
that Henry was firm in his opinion that this sound general principle
did not in the least apply to this particular case, the professor
proceeded to touch the tenderest chord in the young man's heart. He
told him that it would be ungenerous, and in some sense dishonorable,
for him to take a woman delicately brought up into the poverty and
trial incident to a minister's life. If you understood, sir, how morbid
his sense of honor is, you would not wonder at the impression this
suggestion made upon him. To give up the ministry was in his mind to be
a traitor to duty and to God. To win her, if he could, was to treat
ungenerously her whose happiness was dearer to him a thousand times
than his own."

"I hope he did not give her up," said the doctor.

"Yes, he gave her up, in a double spirit of mediæval self-sacrifice.
Looking toward the ministry, he surrendered his love as some of the old
monks sacrificed love, ambition, and all other things to conscience.
Looking at her happiness, he sacrificed his hopes in a more than
knightly devotion to her welfare. The knights sometimes gave their
lives. He gave more.

"For three years he did not trust himself to return to his home. But,
having graduated and settled himself for nine months over a church,
there was no reason why he shouldn't go to see his mother again; and
once in the village, the sight of the old schoolhouse and the old
church revived a thousand memories that he had been endeavoring to
banish. The garden walks, and especially the apple trees, that are the
most unchangeable of landmarks, revived the old passion with
undiminished power. He paced his room at night. He looked out at the
new house of his rich neighbor. He chafed under the restraint of his
vow not to think again of Jennie Morton. It was the old story of the
monk who thinks the world subdued, but who finds it all at once about
to assume the mastery of him. I do not know how the struggle might have
ended, but it was all at once stopped from without.

"There reached him a rumor that Jennie was already the betrothed wife
of a Colonel Pearson, who was her father's partner in business. And,
indeed, Colonel Pearson went in and out at Mr. Morton's gate every
evening, and the father was known to favor his suit.

"Jennie was not engaged to him, however. Three times she had refused
him. The fourth time, in deference to her father's wishes, she had
consented to 'think about it' for a week. In truth, Henry had been at
home ten days and had not called upon her, and all the hope she had
cherished in that direction, and all the weary waiting, seemed in vain.
When the colonel's week was nearly out she heard that Henry was to
leave in two days. In a sort of desperation she determined to accept
Colonel Pearson without waiting for the time appointed for her answer.
But that gentleman spoiled it all by his own overconfidence.

"For when he called, after Jennie had determined on this course, he
found her so full of kindness that he hardly knew how to behave with
moderation. And so he fell to flattering her, and flattering himself at
the same time that he knew all the ins and outs of a girl's heart, he
complimented her on the many offers she had received.

"'And I tell you what,' he proceeded, 'there are plenty of others that
would lay their heads at your feet if they were only your equals.
There's that young parson--Gilbert, I think they call him--that is
visiting his mother in the unpainted and threadbare-looking little
house that stands behind this one. I've actually seen that fellow, in
his rusty, musty coat, stop and look after you on the street; and every
night, when I go home, he is sitting at the window that looks over this
way. The poor fool is in love with you. Only think of it! And I chuckle
to myself when I see him, and say, "Don't you wish you could reach so
high?" I declare, it's funny.'

"In that one speech Colonel Pearson dashed his chances to pieces. He
could not account for the sudden return of winter in Jennie Morton's
manner. And all his sunshine was powerless to dispel it, or to bring
back the least approach of spring.

"Poor Jennie! You can imagine, doctor, how she paced the floor all that
night. She began to understand something of the courage of Henry
Gilbert's heart, and something of the manliness of his motives. All
night long she watched the light burning in the room in the widow's
house; and all night long she debated the matter until her head ached.
She could reach but one conclusion: Henry was to leave the day after
to-morrow. If any communication should ever be opened between them she
must begin it. It was as if she had seen him drifting away from her
forever, and must throw him a rope. I think even such a woman's-right
man as yourself would hardly justify her, however, in taking any step
of the kind."

"I certainly should," said the doctor.

"But she could not find a way--she had no rope to throw. Again the
colonel, meaning to do anything else but that, opened the way. At the
breakfast table the next morning she received from him a magnificent
valentine. All at once she saw her method. It was St. Valentine's day.
The rope was in her hand. Excusing herself from breakfast she hastened
to her room.

"To send a valentine to the faithful lover was the uppermost thought.
But how? She dare not write her name, for, after all, she might be
mistaken in counting on his love, or she might offend his prejudices or
his pride by so direct an approach. She went fumbling in a drawer for
stationery. She drew out a little pine boat that Henry had whittled for
her many years before. He had named it 'Hope,' but the combined wisdom
of the little boy and girl could not succeed in spelling the name
correctly. And here was the little old boat that he had given, saying
often afterward that it was the boat they two were going to sail in
some day. The misspelt name had been the subject of many a laugh
between them. Now--but I mustn't be sentimental.

"It did not take Jennie long to draw an exact likeness of the little
craft. And that there might be no mistake about it, she spelled the
name as it was on the side of the boat:

                                "'HOAP.'

"There was not another word in the valentine. Sealing it up, she
hurried out with it and dropped it in the post office. No merchant,
sending all his fortune to sea in one frail bark, ever watched the
departure and trembled for the result of venture as she did. Spain did
not pray half so fervently when the invincible armada sailed. It was an
unuttered prayer--an unutterable prayer. For heart and hope were the
lading of the little picture boat that sailed out that day, with no
wind but her wishes in its sails.

"She sat down at her window until she saw Henry Gilbert pass the next
street corner on his morning walk to the post office. Three minutes
after, he went home, evidently in a great state of excitement, with her
valentine open in his hand. After a while he went back again toward the
post office, and returned. Had he taken a reply?

"Jennie again sought the office. There were people all around, with
those hideous things that they call comic valentines open in their
hands. And they actually seemed to think them funny! She had a reply.
It did not take her long to find her room and to open it. There was
another picture of a boat, but the name on its side read 'DESPAIR.' And
these words were added: '_Your boat is the pleasantest, but
understanding that there was no vacant place upon it, I have been
obliged to take passage on this._' Slowly the meaning forced itself
upon her. Henry had fears that she whom he thought engaged was
coqueting with him. I think, doctor, you will hardly justify her in
proceeding further with the correspondence?"

"Why not? Hasn't a woman as much right to make herself understood in
such a matter as a man? And when the social advantages are on her side
the burden of making the advances often falls upon her. Many women do
it indirectly and are not censured."

"Well, you know I'm conservative, doctor, but I'm glad you're
consistent. She did send another valentine. I am afraid she strained
this figure of speech about the boat. But when everything in the world
depends on one metaphor, it will not do to be fastidious. Jennie drew
again the little boat with misspelt name. And this time she added five
words: '_The master's place is vacant._'

"And quite late in the afternoon the reply was left at the door: '_I
am an applicant for the vacant place, if you will take that of master's
maté._'"

"Good!" cried the doctor; "I always advocated giving women every
liberty in these matters."

"But I will stump you yet, doctor," said Hubert. "That evening Gough
was to lecture in the village, and my friend went not to hear Gough but
to see Miss Jennie Morton at a distance. Somehow in the stupefaction of
revived hope he had not thought of going to the house to see her yet.
He had postponed his departure and had thrown away his scruples.
Knowing how much opposition he would have to contend with, he
thought--if he thought at all--that he must proceed with caution. But
some time after the lecture began he discovered the Morton family
without Jennie! Slowly it all dawned upon him. She was at home waiting
for him. He was near the front of the church in which the lecture was
held, and every inch of aisle was full of people. To get out was not
easy. But as he thought of Jennie waiting, it became a matter of life
and death. If the house had been on fire he would not have been more
intent on making his exit. He reached the door, he passed the happiest
evening of his life, only to awake to sorrow, for Jennie's father is
'dead set' against the match."

"He has no right to interfere," said the doctor vehemently. "You see, I
stand by my principles."

"But if I tell the story out I am afraid you would not," said Hubert.

"Why, isn't it done?"

"I beg your pardon, doctor, for having used a little craft. I had much
at stake. I have disguised this story in its details. But it is true, I
am the hero----"

The doctor looked quickly towards his daughter. Her head was bent low
over her book. Her long hair hung about it like a curtain, shutting out
all view of the face. The doctor walked to the other window and looked
out. Hubert sat like a mummy. After a minute Dr. Hood spoke.

"Cornelia!"

She lifted a face that was aflame. Tears glistened in her eyes, and I
doubt not there was a prayer in her heart.

"You are a brave girl. I had other plans. You have a right to choose
for yourself. God bless you both! But it's a great pity Hu is not a
lawyer; he pleads well." So saying he put on his hat and walked out.

This is the conversation that Hubert repeated to me that day sitting in
his own little parsonage in Allenville. A minute after his wife came
in. She had been prescribing for the minor ailments of some poor
neighbors. She took the baby from her crib, and bent over her till that
same long hair curtained mother and child from sight.

"I think," said Hubert, "that you folks who write love stories make a
great mistake in stopping at marriage. The honeymoon never truly begins
until conjugal affection is enriched by this holy partnership of loving
hearts in the life of a child. The climax of a love story is not the
wedding. It is the baby!"

"What do you call her?" I asked.

"Hope," said the mother.

"Hope Valentine," added the father, with a significant smile.

"And you spell the Hope with an 'a,' I believe," I said.

"You naughty Hu!" said Mrs. Cornelia. "You've been telling. You think
that love story is interesting to others because _you_ enjoy it so
much!"

_1871._



HULDAH, THE HELP.[2]

A THANKSGIVING LOVE STORY.


I remember a story that Judge Balcom told a few years ago on the
afternoon of Thanksgiving Day. I do not feel sure that it will interest
everybody as it did me. Indeed, I am afraid that it will not, and yet I
can not help thinking that it is just the sort of a trifle that will go
well with turkey, celery, and mince pie.

      [2] This is the first story written by me, beyond a few juvenile
      tales; and it was the first short story to appear in Scribner's
      Monthly, the present Century Magazine. Mr. Gilder, then
      associated with Dr. Holland in editing that newborn periodical,
      begged me to write a short story for the second number of the
      magazine. I told him that something Helps had written suggested
      that a story might be devised in which the hero should marry a
      servant. He said it couldn't be done, and I wrote this, on a
      wager, as it were. But a "help" is not a servant. The popularity
      of this story encouraged me to continue, but I can not now
      account for the popularity of the story.

It was in the judge's own mansion on Thirty-fourth Street that I heard
it. It does not matter to the reader how I, a stranger, came to be one
of that family party. Since I could not enjoy the society of my own
family, it was an act of Christian charity that permitted me to share
the joy of others. We had eaten dinner and had adjourned to the warm,
bright parlor. I have noticed on such occasions that conversation is
apt to flag after dinner. Whether it is that digestion absorbs all of
one's vitality, or for some other reason, at least so it generally
falls out, that people may talk ever so brilliantly at the table, but
they will hardly keep it up for the first half-hour afterward. And so
it happened that some of the party fell to looking at the books, and
some to turning the leaves of the photograph album, while others were
using the stereoscope. For my own part, I was staring at an engraving
in a dark corner of the parlor, where I could not have made out much of
its purpose if I had desired, but in reality I was thinking of the
joyous company of my own kith and kin, hundreds of miles away, and
regretting that I could not be with them.

"What are you thinking about, papa?" asked Irene, the judge's second
daughter.

She was a rather haughty-looking girl of sixteen, but, as I had
noticed, very much devoted to her parents. At this moment she was
running her hand through her father's hair, while he was rousing
himself from his revery to answer her question.

"Thinking of the old Thanksgivings, which were so different from
anything we have here. They were the genuine thing; these are only
counterfeits."

"Come, tell us about them, please." This time it was Annie Balcom, the
elder girl, who spoke. And we all gathered round the judge. For I
notice that when conversation does revive, after that period of silence
that follows dinner, it is very attractive to the whole company, and in
whatsoever place it breaks out there is soon a knot of interested
listeners.

"I don't just now think of any particular story of New England
Thanksgivings that would interest you," said the judge.

"Tell them about Huldah's mince pie," said Mrs. Balcom, as she looked
up from a copy of Whittier she had been reading.

I can not pretend to give the story which follows exactly in the
judge's words, for it is three years since I heard it, but as nearly as
I can remember it was as follows:

There was a young lawyer named John Harlow practicing law here in New
York twenty odd years ago. His father lived not very far from my
father. John had been graduated with honors, had studied law, and had
the good fortune to enter immediately into a partnership with his law
preceptor, ex-Gov. Blank. So eagerly had he pursued his studies that
for two years he had not seen his country home. I think one reason why
he had not cared to visit it was that his mother was dead, and his only
sister was married and living in Boston. Take the "women folks" out of
a house, and it never seems much like home to a young man.

But now, as Thanksgiving day drew near, he resolved to give himself a
brief release from the bondage of books. He told his partner that he
wanted to go home for a week. He said he wanted to see his father and
the boys, and his sister, who was coming home at that time, but that he
specially wanted to ride old Bob to the brook once more, and to milk
Cherry again, just to see how it felt to be a farmer's boy.

"John," said the old lawyer, "be sure you fix up a match with some of
those country girls. No man is fit for anything till he is well
married; and you are now able, with economy, to support a wife. Mind
you get one of those country girls. These paste and powder people here
aren't fit for a young man who wants a woman."

"Governor," said the young lawyer, laying his boots gracefully up on
top of a pile of law books, as if to encourage reflection by giving his
head the advantage of the lower end of the inclined plane, "Governor, I
don't know anything about city girls. I have given myself to my books.
But I must have a wife that is literary, like myself--one that can
understand Emerson, for instance."

The old lawyer laughed. "John," he answered, "the worst mistake you can
make is to marry a woman just like yourself in taste. You don't want to
marry a woman's head, but her heart."

John defended his theory, and the governor only remarked that he would
be cured of that sooner or later, and the sooner the better.

The next morning John had a letter from his sister. Part of it ran
about thus:

"I've concluded, old fellow, that if you don't marry you'll dry up and
turn to parchment. I'm going to bring home with me the smartest girl I
know. She reads Carlyle, and quotes Goethe, and understands Emerson. Of
course she don't know what I am up to, but you must prepare to
capitulate."

John did not like Amanda's assuming to pick a wife for him, but he did
like the prospect of meeting a clever girl, and he opened the letter
again to make sure that he had not misunderstood. He read again,
"understands Emerson." John was pleased. Why? I think I can divine.
John was vain of his own abilities, and he wanted a woman that could
appreciate him. He would have told you that he wanted congenial
society. But congenial female society to an ambitious man whose heart
is yet untouched is only society that, in some sense, understands his
greatness and admires his wisdom.

In the old home they were looking for the son. The family proper
consisted of the father, good Deacon Harlow, John's two brothers, ten
and twelve years old, and Huldah, the "help." This last was the
daughter of a neighboring farmer who was poor and hopelessly rheumatic,
and most of the daughter's hard earnings went to eke out the scanty
subsistence at home. Aunt Judith, the sister of John's mother, "looked
after" the household affairs of her brother-in-law, by coming over once
a week and helping Huldah darn and mend and make, and by giving Huldah
such advice as her inexperience was supposed to require. But now Deacon
Harlow's daughter had left her husband to eat his turkey alone in
Boston, and had brought her two children home to receive the paternal
blessing. Not that Mrs. Amanda Holmes had the paternal blessing chiefly
in view in her trip. She had brought with her a very dear friend, Miss
Janet Dunton, the accomplished teacher in the Mount Parnassus Female
Seminary. Why Miss Janet Dunton came to the country with her friend she
could hardly have told. Not a word had Mrs. Holmes spoken to her on the
subject of the matrimonial scheme. She would have resented any allusion
to such a project. She would have repelled any insinuation that she had
ever dreamed that marriage was desirable under any conceivable
circumstances. It is a way we have of teaching girls to lie. We educate
them to catch husbands. Every superadded accomplishment is put on with
the distinct understanding that its sole use is to make the goods more
marketable. We get up parties, we go to watering places, we buy
dresses, we refurnish our houses, to help our girls to a good match.
And then we teach them to abhor the awful wickedness of ever confessing
the great desire that nature and education have combined to make the
chief longing of their hearts. We train them to lie to us, their
trainers; we train them to lie to themselves; to be false with
everybody on this subject; to say "no" when they mean "yes"; to deny an
engagement when they are dying to boast of it. It is one of the
refinements of Christian civilization which we pray the Women's
Missionary Society not to communicate to poor ignorant heathens who
know no better than to tell the truth about these things.

But, before I digressed into that line of remark, I was saying that
Miss Janet Dunton would have resented the most remote suggestion of
marriage. She often declared sentimentally that she was wedded to her
books, and loved her leisure, and was determined to be an old maid. And
all the time this sincere Christian girl was dying to confer herself
upon some worthy man of congenial tastes; which meant, in her case,
just what it did in John Harlow's--some one who could admire her
attainments. But, sensitive as she was to any imputation of a desire to
marry, she and Mrs. Holmes understood each other distinctly. There is a
freemasonry of women, and these two had made signs. They had talked
about in this wise:

    _Mrs. Holmes._--My dear Janet, you'll find my brother a bear in
    manners, I fear. I wish he would marry. I hope you won't break his
    heart, for I know you wouldn't have him.

    _Miss Dunton._--You know my views on that subject, my dear. I love
    books, and shall marry nobody. Besides, your brother's great legal
    and literary attainments would frighten such a poor little mouse as
    I am.

And in saying those words they had managed to say that John Harlow was
an unsophisticated student, and that they would run him down between
them.

Mrs. Holmes and her friend had arrived twenty-four hours ahead of John,
and the daughter of the house had already installed herself as
temporary mistress by thoughtlessly upsetting, reversing, and turning
inside out all the good Huldah's most cherished arrangements. All the
plans for the annual festival that wise and practical Huldah had
entertained were vetoed, without a thought that this young girl had
been for a year and a half in actual authority in the house, and might
have some feeling of wrong in having a guest of a week overturn her
plans for the next month. But Mrs. Holmes was not one of the kind to
think of that. Huldah was hired and paid, and she never dreamed that
hired people could have any interests in their work or their home other
than their pay and their food. But Huldah was patient, though she
confessed that she had a feeling that she had been rudely "trampled all
over." I suspect she had a good cry at the end of the first day. I can
not affirm it, except from a general knowledge of women.

When John drove up in the buggy that the boys had taken to the depot
for him his first care was to shake hands with the deacon, who was glad
to see him, but could not forbear expressing a hope that he would
"shave that hair off his upper lip." Then John greeted his sister
cordially, and was presented to Miss Dunton. Instead of sitting down,
he pushed right on into the kitchen, where Huldah, in a calico frock
and a clean white apron, was baking biscuit for tea. She had been a
schoolmate of his, and he took her hand cordially as she stood there,
with the bright western sun half-glorifying her head and face.

"Why, Huldah, how you've grown!" was his first word of greeting. He
meant more than he said, for, though she was not handsome, she had
grown exceeding comely as she developed into a woman.

"Undignified as ever!" said Amanda, as he returned to the sitting room.

"How?" said John. He looked bewildered. What had he done that was
undignified? And Amanda Holmes saw well enough that it would not do to
tell him that speaking to Huldah Manners was not consistent with
dignity. She saw that her remark had been a mistake, and she got out of
it as best she could by turning the conversation. Several times during
the supper John addressed his conversation to Huldah, who sat at the
table with the family; for in the country in those days it would have
been considered a great outrage to make a "help" wait for the second
table. John would turn from the literary conversation to inquire of
Huldah about his old playmates, some of whom had gone to the West, some
of whom had died, and some of whom were settling into the same fixed
adherence to their native rocks that had characterized their ancestors.

The next day the ladies could get no good out of John Harlow. He got up
early and milked the cow. He cut wood and carried it in for Huldah. He
rode old Bob to the brook for water. He did everything that he had been
accustomed to do when a boy, finding as much pleasure in forgetting
that he was a man as he had once found in hoping to be a man. The two
boys enjoyed his society greatly, and his father was delighted to see
that he had retained his interest in the farm life, though the deacon
evidently felt an unconquerable hostility to what he called "that
scrub-brush on the upper lip." I think if John had known how strong his
father's feeling was against this much cherished product he would have
mowed the crop and grazed the field closely until he got back to the
city.

John was not insensible to Janet Dunton's charms. She could talk
fluently about all the authors most in vogue, and the effect of her
fluency was really dazzling to a man not yet cultivated enough himself
to see how superficial her culture was; for all her learning floated on
top. None of it had influenced her own culture. She was brim full of
that which she had acquired, but it had not been incorporated into her
own nature. John did not see this, and he was infatuated with the idea
of marrying a wife of such attainments. How she would dazzle his
friends! How the governor would like to talk to her! How she would
shine in his parlors! How she would delight people as she gave them tea
and talk at the same time. John was in love with her as he would have
been in love with a new tea urn or a rare book. She was a nice thing to
show. Other people than John have married on the strength of such a
feeling and called it love; for John really imagined that he was in
love. And during that week he talked and walked and rode in the sleigh
with Miss Dunton, and had made up his mind that he would carry this
brilliant prize to New York. But, with lawyerlike caution, he thought
he would put off the committal as long as possible. If his heart had
been in his attentions the caution would not have been worth much.
Caution is a good breakwater against vanity, but it isn't worth much
against the springtide of love, as John Harlow soon found out.

For toward the end of the week he began to feel a warmer feeling for
Miss Janet. It was not in the nature of things that John should walk
and talk with a pleasant girl a week, and not feel something more than
his first interested desire to marry a showy wife. His heart began to
be touched, and he resolved to bring things to a crisis as soon as
possible. He therefore sought an opportunity to propose. But it was
hard to find. For though Mrs. Holmes was tolerably ingenious, she could
not get the boys or the deacon to pay any regard to her hints. Boys are
totally depraved on such questions anyhow, and always manage to stumble
in where any privacy is sought. And as for the deacon, it really seemed
as though he had some design in intruding at the critical moment.

I do not think that John was seriously in love with Miss Dunton. If he
had been he would have found some means of communicating with her. A
thousand spies with sleepless eyes all round their heads can not keep a
man from telling his love somehow, if he really have a love to tell.

There is another fact which convinces me that John Harlow was not yet
very deeply in love with Janet. He was fond of talking with her of
Byron and Milton, of Lord Bacon and Emerson--i.e., as I have already
said, he was fond of putting his own knowledge on dress parade in the
presence of one who could appreciate the display. But whenever any
little thing released him for the time from conversation in the sitting
room he was given to slipping out into the old kitchen, where, sitting
on a chair that had no back, and leaning against the chimney side, he
delighted to talk to Huldah. She couldn't talk much of books, but she
could talk most charmingly of everything that related to the country
life, and she could ask John many questions about the great city. In
fact, John found that Huldah had come into possession of only such
facts and truths as could be reached in her narrow life, but that she
had assimilated them and thought about them, and that it was more
refreshing to hear her original and piquant remarks about the topics
she was acquainted with than to listen to the tireless stream of Janet
Dunton's ostentatious erudition. And he found more delight in telling
the earnest and hungry-minded country girl about the great world of men
and the great world of books than in talking to Janet, who was, in the
matter of knowledge, a little _blasée_, if I may be allowed the
expression. And then, to Huldah he could talk of his mother, whom he
had often watched moving about that same kitchen. When he had spoken to
Janet of the associations of the old place with his mother's
countenance, she had answered with a quotation from some poet, given in
a tone of empty sentimentality. He instinctively shrank from mentioning
the subject to her again; but to Huldah it was so easy to talk of his
mother's gentleness and sweetness. Huldah was not unlike her in these
respects, and then she gave him the sort of sympathy that finds its
utterance in a tender silence--so much more tender than any speech can
be.

He observed often during the week that Huldah was depressed. He could
not exactly account for it, until he noticed something in his sister's
behavior toward her that awakened his suspicion. As soon as opportunity
offered he inquired of Huldah, affecting at the same time to know
something about it.

"I don't want to complain of your sister to you, Mr. Harlow----"

"Pshaw! call me John; and as for my sister, I know her faults better
than you do. Go on, please."

"Well, it's only that she told me that Miss Dunton wasn't used to
eating at the same table with _servants_; and when one of the boys told
your father, he was mad, and came to me, and said, 'Huldah, you must
eat when the rest do. If you stay away from the table on account of
these city snobs I'll make a fuss on the spot.' So, to avoid a fuss, I
have kept on going to the table."

John was greatly vexed with this. He was a chivalrous fellow, and he
knew how such a remark must wound a person who had never learned that
domestic service had anything degrading in it. And the result was just
the opposite of what his sister had hoped. John paid more attention
than ever to Huldah Manners because she was the victim of oppression.

The evening before Thanksgiving day the ladies were going to make a
visit. It was not at all incumbent on John to go, but he was seeking an
opportunity to carry off the brilliant Miss Dunton, who would adorn his
parlors when he became rich and distinguished, and who would make so
nice a headpiece for his table. And so he had determined to go with
them, trusting to some fortunate chance for his opportunity.

But, sitting in the old "best room" in the dark, while the ladies were
getting ready, and trying to devise a way by which he might get an
opportunity to speak with Miss Dunton alone, it occurred to him that
she was at that time in the sitting room waiting for his sister. To
step out to where she was, and present the case in a few words, would
not be difficult, and it might all be settled before his sister came
downstairs. The Fates were against him, however; for, just as he was
about to act on his thought, he heard Amanda Holmes's abundant skirts
sweeping down the stairway. He could not help hearing the conversation
that followed:

"You see, Janet, I got up this trip to-night to keep John from spending
the evening in the kitchen. He hasn't a bit of dignity, and would spend
the evening romping with the children and talking to Huldah if he took
it into his head."

"Well," said Janet, "one can overlook everything in a man of your
brother's culture. But what a queer way your country servants have of
pushing themselves! Wouldn't I make them know their places!"

And all this was said with the kitchen door open, and with the
intention of wounding Huldah.

John's castles tumbled. The erudite wife alongside the silver tea urn
faded out of sight rapidly. If knowledge could not give a touch of
humane regard for the feelings of a poor girl toiling dutifully and
self-denyingly to support her family, of what account was it?

Two minutes before he was about to give his life to Janet Dunton. Now
there was a gulf wider than the world between them. He slipped out of
the best room by the outside door and came in through the kitchen. The
neighbor's sleigh that was to call for them was already at the door,
and John begged them to excuse him. He had set his heart on helping
Huldah make mince pies, as he used to help his mother when a boy. His
sister was in despair, but she did not say much. She told John that it
was time he was getting over his queer freaks. And the sleigh drove
off.

For an hour afterward John romped with his sister's children and told
stories to the boys and talked to his father. When a man has barely
escaped going over a precipice he does not like to think too much about
it. John did not.

At last the little children went to bed. The old gentleman grew sleepy,
and retired. The boys went into the sitting room and went to sleep, one
on the lounge and one on the floor. Huldah was just ready to begin her
pies. She was deeply hurt, but John succeeded in making her more
cheerful. He rolled up his sleeves and went to rolling out the pastry.
He thought he had never seen a sweeter picture than the young girl in
clean dress and apron, with her sleeves rolled above her elbows. There
was a statuesque perfection in her well-rounded arms. The heat of the
fire had flushed her face a little, and she was laughing merrily at
John's awkward blunders in pie-making. John was delighted, he hardly
knew why. In fixing a pie crust his fingers touched hers, and he
started as if he had touched a galvanic battery. He looked at Huldah,
and saw a half-pained expression on her flushed face.

For the first time it occurred to him that Huldah Manners had excited
in him a feeling a thousand times deeper than anything he had felt
toward Janet, who seemed to be now in another world. For the first time
he realized that he had been more in love with Huldah than with Janet
all the time. Why not marry her? And then he remembered what the
governor had said about marrying a woman's heart and not her head.

He put on his hat and walked out--out, out, into the darkness, the
drizzling rain, and the slush of melting snow, fighting a fierce
battle. All his pride and all his cowardly vanity were on one side, all
the irresistible torrent of his love on the other. He walked away into
the dark wood pasture, trying to cool his brow, trying to think,
and--would you believe it?--trying to pray, for it was a great
struggle, and in any great struggle a true soul always finds something
very like prayer in his heart.

The feeling of love may exist without attracting the attention of its
possessor. It had never occurred to John that he could love or marry
Huldah. Thus the passion had grown all the more powerful for not being
observed, and now the unseen fire had at a flash appeared as an
all-consuming one.

Turning back, he stood without the window, in the shadow, and looked
through the glass at the trim young girl at work with her pies. In the
modest, restful face he read the story of a heart that had carried
great burdens patiently and nobly. What a glorious picture she was of
warmth and light, framed in darkness! To his heart at that moment all
the light and warmth of the world centered in Huldah. All the world
besides was loneliness and darkness and drizzle and slush. His fear of
his sister and of his friends seemed base and cowardly. And the more he
looked at this vision of the night, this revelation of peace and love
and light, the more he was determined to possess it. You will call him
precipitate. But when all a man's nobility is on one side and all his
meanness on the other, why hesitate? Besides, John Harlow had done more
thinking in that half hour than most men do in a month.

The vision had vanished from the window, and he went in and sat down.
She had by this time put in the last pie, and was sitting with her head
on her hand. The candle flickered and went out, and there was only the
weird and ruddy firelight. I can not tell you what words passed between
John and the surprised Huldah, who had thought him already betrothed to
Miss Dunton. I can not tell what was said in the light of that fire; I
don't suppose Harlow could tell that story himself.

Huldah asked that he should not say anything about it till his sister
was gone. Of course John saw that she asked it for his sake. But his
own cowardice was glad of the shelter.

Next day a brother of John's, whom I forgot to mention before, came
home from college. Mrs. Holmes's husband arrived unexpectedly. Aunt
Judith, with her family, came over at dinner time, so that there was a
large and merry party. Two hearts, at least, joined in the deacon's
thanksgiving before dinner with much fervor.

At the table the dinner was much admired.

"Huldah," said Janet Dunton, "I like your pies. I wish I could hire you
to go to Boston. Our cook never does so well."

John saw the well-aimed shaft hidden under this compliment, and all his
manhood rallied. As soon as he could be sure of himself he said:

"You can not have Huldah; she is already engaged."

"How's that?" said Aunt Judith.

"Oh! I've secured her services," said John.

"What?" said Mrs. Holmes, "engaged your--your--your help before you
engaged a wife!"

"Not at all," said John; "engaged my help and my wife in one. I hope
that Huldah Manners will be Huldah Harlow by Christmas."

The deacon dropped his knife and fork, and dropped his lower jaw, and
stared. "What! How! What did you say, John?"

"I say, father, that this good girl Huldah is to be my wife."

"John!" gasped the old man, getting to his feet and reaching his hand
across the table, "you've got plenty of sense if you do wear a
mustache! God bless you, my boy; there ain't no better woman here, nor
in New York, nor anywhere, than Huldah. God bless you both! I was
afraid you'd take a different road, though."

"Hurrah for our Huldah and our John!" said George Harlow, the college
boy, and his brothers joined him. Even the little Holmes children
hurrahed.

                     *      *      *      *      *

Here the judge stopped.

"Well," said Irene, "I don't think it _was_ very nice in him to marry
the 'help.' Do you, father?"

"Indeed I _do_," said the judge, with emphasis.

"Did she ever come to understand Emerson?" asked Anna, who detested the
Concord philosopher because she could not understand him.

"Indeed I don't know," said the judge; "you can ask Huldah herself."

"Who? what? You don't mean that mother is Huldah?"

It was a cry in concert.

"Mother" was a little red in the face behind the copy of Whittier she
was affecting to read.

_1870._



THE NEW CASHIER.


My friend Macartney-Smith has working theories for everything. He
illustrated one of these the other day by relating something that
happened in the Giralda apartment house, where he lives in a suite
overlooking Central Park. I do not remember whether he was expounding
his notion that the apartment house has solved the question of
co-operative housekeeping, or whether he was engaged in demonstrating
certain propositions regarding the influence of the city on the
country. Since I have forgotten what it was intended to prove, the
incident has seemed more interesting. It is bad for a story to medicate
it with a theory. However, here are the facts as Macartney-Smith
relates them with his Q.E.D. omitted.

                     *      *      *      *      *

I do not know [he began] by what accident or on what recommendation the
manager of the Giralda brought a girl from Iowa to act as clerk and
cashier in the restaurant.

The new cashier had lived in a town where there were differences in
social standing, but no recognized distinctions, after you had left out
the sedimentary poverty-stricken class. She not only had no notions of
the lines of social cleavage in a great apartment-house, but she had
never heard of chaperonage, or those other indelicacies that go along
with the high civilization of a metropolis. I have no doubt she was the
best scholar in the arithmetic class in the village high school, and
ten to one she was the champion at croquet. She took life with a zest
unknown to us New Yorkers, and let the starchiest people in the house
know that she was glad to see them when they returned after an absence
by going across the dining-room to shake hands with them and to inquire
whether they had had a good time. Even the gently frigid manner of Mrs.
Drupe could not chill her friendliness; she was accustomed to accost
that lady in the elevator, and demand, "How is Mr. Drupe?" whenever
that gentleman chanced to be absent. It was not possible for her to
imagine that Mrs. Drupe could be otherwise than grateful for any
manifestation of a friendly interest in her husband.

To show any irritation was not Mrs. Drupe's way; that would have
disturbed the stylish repose of her bearing even more than misplaced
cordiality. She always returned the salutations of Miss Wakefield, but
in a tone so neutral, cool, and cucumberish that she hoped the girl
would feel rebuked and learn a little more diffidence, or at least
learn that the Drupes did not care for her acquaintance. But the only
result of such treatment was that Miss Wakefield would say to the clerk
in the office: "Your Eastern people have such stiff ways that they
make me homesick. But they don't mean any harm, I suppose."

Some of the families in the Giralda rather liked the new cashier; these
were they who had children. The little children chatted and laughed
with her across her desk when they came down as forerunners to give the
order for the family dinner. If it were only lunch time, when few
people were in the restaurant, they went behind the desk and embraced
the cashier and had a romp with her. The smallest chaps she would take
up in her arms while she pulled out the drawers to show them her paper
knife and trinkets; and when there were flowers, she would often break
off one apiece for even those least amiable little plagues that in an
apartment house are the torment of their nurses and their mammas the
livelong day. This not only gave pleasure to the infantry, but relieved
an aching which the poor girl had for a once cheerful home, now broken
up by the death of her parents and the scattering abroad of brothers
and sisters.

The young men in the house thought her "a jolly girl," since she would
chat with them over her desk as freely as she would have chatted across
the counter with the clerks in Cedar Falls, where she came from. She
was equally cordial with the head waiter, and with those of his staff
who knew any more English than was indispensable to the taking of an
order. But her frank familiarity with young gentlemen and friendly
speech with servants were offensive to some of the ladies. They talked
it over, and decided that Miss Wakefield was not a modest girl; that at
least she did not know her place, and that the manager ought to dismiss
her if he meant to maintain the tone of the house. The manager--poor
fellow!--had to hold his own place against the rivalry of the
treasurer, and when such complaints were made to him what could he do?
He stood out a while for Miss Wakefield, whom he liked; but when the
influential Mrs. Drupe wrote to him that the cashier at the desk in the
restaurant was not a well-behaved girl, he knew that it was time to
look out for another.

If the manager had forewarned her, she could have saved money enough to
take her back to Iowa, where she might dare to be as friendly as she
pleased with other respectable humans without fear of reproach. But he
was not such a fool as to let go of one cashier till he had found
another. It was while the manager was deciding which of three other
young women to take that Mr. Drupe was stricken with apoplexy. He had
finished eating his luncheon, which was served in the apartment, and
had lighted a cigar, when he fell over. There were no children, and the
Drupes kept no servant, but depended on the housekeeper to send them a
maid when they required one, so that Mrs. Drupe found herself alone
with her prostrate husband. The distracted wife did not know what to
do. She took hold of the needle of the teleseme, but the words on the
dial were confused; she quickly moved the needle round over the whole
twenty-four points, but none of them suited the case. She stopped it at
 "porter," moved it to "bootblack," carried it around to "ice water,"
and successively to "coupe," "laundress," and "messenger-boy," and then
gave up in despair, and jerked open the door that led to the hall. Miss
Wakefield had just come up to the next apartment to inquire after a
little girl ill from a cold, and was returning toward the elevator when
Mrs. Drupe's wild face was suddenly thrust forth upon her.

"Won't you call a boy--somebody? My husband is dying," were the words
that greeted Miss Wakefield at the moment of the apparition of the
despairing face.

Miss Wakefield rushed past Mrs. Drupe into the apartment, and turned
the teleseme to the word "manager," and then pressed the button three
times in quick succession. She knew that a call for the manager would
suggest fire, robbery, and sudden death, and that it would wake up the
lethargic forces in the office. Then she turned to the form of the man
lying prostrate on the floor, seized a pillow from the lounge, and
motioned to Mrs. Drupe to raise his head while she laid it beneath.

"Who is your doctor?" she demanded.

"Dr. Morris; but it's a mile away," said the distracted woman. "Won't
you send a boy in a coupé"

"I'll go myself, the boys are so slow," said the cashier. "Shall I send
you a neighboring doctor till Dr. Morris can get here?"

"Do! do!" pleaded the wife, now wildly wringing her hands.

Miss Wakefield caught the elevator as it landed the manager on the
floor, and she briefly told him what was the matter. Then she
descended, and had the clerk order a coupé by telephone, and then
herself sent Dr. Floyd from across the street, while she ran to the
stable, leaped into the coupé before the horse was fairly hitched up,
and drove for Dr. Morris.

Dr. Morris found Mrs. Drupe already a widow when he arrived with the
cashier. The latter promptly secured the addresses of Mr. Drupe's
brother and of his business partner, again entered the coupé, and soon
had the poor woman in the hands of her friends.

The energetic girl went to her room that night exhilarated by her own
prompt and kind-hearted action. But the evil spirit that loves to mar
our happiness had probably arranged it that on that very evening she
received a note from the manager notifying her that her services would
not be required after one more week. On inquiry the next day she
learned that some of the ladies had complained of her behavior, and she
vainly tried to remember what she had done that was capable of
misconstruction. She also vainly tried to imagine how she was to live,
or by what means she was to contrive to get back to those who knew her
too well to suspect her of any evil. She was so much perplexed by the
desperate state of her own affairs that she even neglected to attend
Mr. Drupe's funeral, but she hoped that Mrs. Drupe would not take it
unkindly.

It was with a heavy heart that the manager called Miss Wakefield into
his office on the ground floor in order that he might pay her last
week's wages. He was relieved that she seemed to accept her dismissal
with cheerfulness.

"What are you going to do?" he asked timidly.

"Why, didn't you know?" she said. "I am to live with Mrs. Drupe as a
companion, and to look out for her affairs and collect her rents. I
used to think she didn't like me. But it will be a good lesson to those
ladies who found fault with me for nothing when they see how much Mrs.
Drupe thinks of me."

And she went her way to her new home in Mrs. Drupe's apartment, at the
end of the hall on the sixth floor, while the manager took from a
pigeonhole Mrs. Drupe's letter of complaint against the former cashier,
and read it over carefully.

The thickness of the walls at the base of so lofty a building made it
difficult for daylight to work its way through the tunnel-like windows,
so that in this office a gas jet was necessary in the daytime. After a
moment's reflection the manager touched Mrs. Drupe's letter of
complaint to the flame, and it was presently reduced to everlasting
illegibility.



PRISCILLA.


The trained novel readers, those who have made a business of it (if any
such should honor this poor little story with their attention), will
glance down the opening paragraphs for a description of the heroine's
tresses. The opening sentences of Miss Braddon are enough to show how
important a thing a head of hair is in the getting up of a heroine for
the popular market. But as my heroine is not a got-up one, and as I can
not possibly remember even the color of her hair or her eyes as I
recall her now, I fear I shall disappoint the professionals, who never
feel that they have a complete heroine till the "long waving tresses of
raven darkness, reaching nearly to the ground, enveloping her as with a
cloud," have been artistically stuck on by the author. But be it known
that I take Priscilla from memory, and not from imagination. And the
memory of Priscilla, the best girl in the school, the most gifted, the
most modest, the most gentle and true, is a memory too sacred to be
trifled with. I would not make one hair light or dark, I would not
change the shading of the eyebrows. Priscilla is Priscilla forever, to
all who knew her. And as I can not tell the precise color of her hair
and eyes, I shall not invent a shade for them. I remember that she was
on the blond side of the grand division line. But she was not blond.
She was--Priscilla. I mean to say that since you never lived in that
dear old-fogy Ohio River village of New Geneva, and since,
consequently, you never knew our Priscilla, no words of mine can make
you exactly understand her. Was she handsome? No--yes. She was
"jimber-jawed"--that is, her lower teeth shut a little outside her
upper. Her complexion was not faultless. Her face would not bear
criticism. And yet there is not one of her old schoolmates that will
not vow that she was beautiful. And indeed she was. For she was
Priscilla. And I never can make you understand it.

As Priscilla was always willing to oblige any one, it was only natural
that Mrs. Leston should send for her to help entertain the marquis. It
was a curious chance that threw the young Marquis d'Entremont for a
whole summer into the society of our little village. His uncle, who was
his guardian, a pious _abbé_, wishing to remove him from Paris to get
him out of socialistic influences, had sent him to New Orleans,
consigned to the care of the great banking house of Challeau, Lafort &
Company. Not liking to take the chances of yellow fever in the summer,
he had resolved to journey to the North, and as Challeau, Lafort &
Company had a correspondent in Henry Leston, the young lawyer, and as
French was abundantly spoken in our Swiss village of New Geneva, what
more natural than that they should dispatch the marquis to our pleasant
town of vineyards, giving him a letter of introduction to their
attorney, who fortunately spoke some book French. He had presented the
letter, had been invited to dinner, and Priscilla Haines, who had
learned French in childhood, though she was not Swiss, was sent for to
help entertain the guest.

I can not but fancy that D'Entremont was surprised at meeting just such
a girl as Priscilla in a rustic village. She was not abashed at finding
herself face to face with a nobleman, nor did she seem at all anxious
to attract his notice. The vanity of the marquis must have been a
little hurt at finding a lady that did not court his attention. But
wounded vanity soon gave place to another surprise. Even Mrs. Leston,
who understood not one word of the conversation between her husband,
the marquis, and Priscilla, was watching for this second surprise, and
did not fail to read it in D'Entremont's eyes. Here was a young woman
who had read. She could admire Corinne, which was much in vogue in
those days among English-speaking students of French; she could oppose
Saint Simon. The Marquis d'Entremont had resigned himself to the ennui
of talking to Swiss farmers about their vineyards, of listening to
Swiss grandmothers telling stories of their childhood in Neufchatel and
Vaud. But to find in this young village school-teacher one who could
speak, and listen while he spoke, of his favorite writers, was to him
very strange. Not that Priscilla had read many French books, for there
were not many within her reach. But she had read Grimm's
Correspondence, and he who reads this has heard the echo of many of the
great voices in French literature. And while David Haines had lived his
daughter had wanted nothing he could get to help her to the highest
culture.

But I think what amazed the marquis most was that Priscilla showed no
consciousness of the unusual character of her attainments. She spoke
easily and naturally of what she knew, as if it were a matter of course
that the teacher of a primary school should have read Corneille, and
should be able to combat Saint Simonism. As the dinner drew to a close,
Leston lifted his chair round to where his wife sat and interpreted the
bright talk at the other side of the table.

I suspect that Saint Simon had lost some of his hold upon the marquis
since his arrival in a country where life was more simple and the
manner of thought more practical. But he dated the decline of his
socialistic opinions from his discussion with Priscilla Haines.

The next Sunday morning he strolled out of the Le Vert House, breathing
the sweet air perfumed with the blossoms of a thousand apple trees. For
what yard is there in New Geneva that has not apple trees and
grapevines? And every family in the village keeps a cow, and every cow
wears a bell, and every bell is on a different key; so that the three
things that penetrated the senses of the marquis on this Sunday morning
were the high hills that stood sentinels on every hand about the valley
in which New Geneva stood, the smell of the superabundant apple
blossoms, and the _tinkle_ and _tankle_ and _tonkle_ of hundreds of
bells on the cows grazing on the "commons," as the open lots were
called. On this almost painfully quiet morning D'Entremont noticed the
people going one way and another to the early Sunday schools in the
three churches. Just as he came to the pump that stood in front of the
"public square" he met Priscilla. At her heels were ten ragged little
ruffians, whom she was accustomed to have come to her house every
Sunday morning and walk with her to Sunday school.

"You are then a Sister of Charity also," he said in French, bowing low
with sincere admiration as he passed her. And then to himself the young
marquis reflected: "We Saint Simonists theorize and build castles in
Spain for poor people, but we do not take hold of them." He walked
clear round the square, and then followed the steps of Priscilla into
the little brick Methodist church which in that day had neither steeple
nor bell nor anything churchlike about it except the two arched front
windows. There was not even a fence to inclose it, nor an evergreen nor
an ivy about it; only a few straggling black locusts. For the
puritanism of New England was never so hard a puritanism as the
Methodist puritanism of a generation ago in the West--a puritanism that
forbade jewelry, that stripped the artificial flowers out of the
bonnets of country girls, that expelled, and even yet expels, a country
boy for looking with wonder at a man hanging head downward from a
trapeze in a circus tent. No other church, not even the Quaker, ever
laid its hand more entirely upon the whole life of its members. The
dead hand of Wesley has been stronger than the living hand of any pope.

Upon the hard, open-backed, unpainted and unvarnished oak benches,
which seemed devised to produce discomfort, sat the Sunday-school
classes, and upon one of these, near the door, D'Entremont sat down. He
looked at the bare walls, at the white pulpit, at the carpetless
floors, at the general ugliness of things, the box stove, which stood
in the only aisle, the tin chandeliers with their half-burned candles,
the eight-by-ten lights of glass in the windows, and he was favorably
impressed. With a quick conscience he had often felt the frivolous
emptiness of a worldly life, and had turned toward the religion of his
uncle the _abbé_ only to turn away again antagonized by what seemed to
him frivolity in the religions pomp that he saw. But here was a
religion not only without the attractions of sensuous surrounding, but
a religion that maintained its vitality despite a repelling plainness,
not to say a repulsive ugliness, in its external forms. For could he
doubt the force of a religious principle that had divested every woman
in the little church of every ornament? Doubtless he felt the
narrowness that could read the scriptural injunction so literally, but
none could doubt the strength of a religious conviction that submitted
to such self-denial. And then there was Priscilla, with all her gifts,
sitting in the midst of her boys, gathered from that part of the
village known as "Slabtown." Yes, there must be something genuine in
this religious life, and its entire contrast to all that the marquis
had known and grown weary of attracted him.

As eleven o'clock drew on, the little church filled with people. The
men sat on one side of the aisle and the women on the other. The old
brethren and sisters, and generally those who prayed in prayer meeting
and spoke in love feast, sat near the front, many of them on the cross
seats near the pulpit, which were thence said by scoffers to be the
"Amen corners." Any one other than a leader of the hosts of Israel
would as soon have thought of taking a seat in the pulpit as on one of
these chief seats in the synagogue. The marquis sat still and watched
the audience gather, while one of the good brethren led the
congregation in singing

    "When I can read my title clear,"

which hymn was the usual voluntary at the opening of service. Then the
old minister said, "Let us continue the worship of God by singing the
hymn on page 554." He "lined" the hymn--that is, he read each couplet
before it was sung. With the coming in of hymn books and other
newfangled things the good old custom of "lining the hymn" has
disappeared. But on that Sunday morning the Marquis d'Entremont thought
he had never heard anything more delightful than these simple melodies
sung thus lustily by earnest voices. The reading of each couplet by the
minister before it was sung seemed to him a sort of recitative. He knew
enough of English to find that the singing was hopeful and triumphant.
Wearied with philosophy and _blasé_ with the pomp of the world, he
wished that he had been a villager in New Geneva, and that he might
have had the faith to sing of the

        "--land of pure delight
    Where saints immortal reign,"

with as much earnestness as his friend Priscilla on the other side of
the aisle. In the prayer that followed D'Entremont noticed that all the
church members knelt, and that the hearty _amens_ were not intoned, but
were as spontaneous as the rest of the service. After reverently
reading a chapter the old minister said: "Please sing without lining,

    "'A charge to keep I have,'"

and then the old time of "Kentucky" was sung with animation, after
which came the sermon, of which the marquis understood but few words,
though he understood the pantomime by which the venerable minister
represented the return of the prodigal and the welcome he received.
When he saw the tears in the eyes of the hearers, and heard the
half-repressed "Bless the Lord!" of an old brother or sister, and saw
them glance joyfully at one another's faces as the sermon went on, he
was strangely impressed with the genuineness of the feeling.

But the class meeting that followed, to which he remained, impressed
him still more. The venerable Scotchman who led it had a face that
beamed with sweetness and intelligence. It was fortunate that the
marquis saw so good a specimen. In fact, Priscilla trembled lest Mr.
Boreas, the stern, hard-featured "exhorter," should have been invited
to lead. But as the sweet-faced old leader called upon one and another
to speak, and as many spoke with streaming eyes, D'Entremont quivered
with sympathy. He was not so blind that he could not see the sham and
cant of some of the speeches, but in general there was much earnestness
and truth. When Priscilla rose in her turn and spoke, with downcast
eyes, he felt the beauty and simplicity of her religious life. And he
rightly judged that from the soil of a cult so severe there must grow
some noble and heroic lives. Last of all the class leader reached the
marquis, whom he did not know.

"Will our strange brother tell us how it is with him to-day?" he asked.

Priscilla trembled. What awful thing might happen when a class leader
invited a marquis, who could speak no English, and who was a disciple
of Saint Simon, to tell his religious experience, was more than she
could divine. If the world had come to an end in consequence of such a
concatenation, I think she would hardly have been surprised. But
nothing of the sort occurred. To her astonishment the marquis rose and
said:

"Is it that any one can speak French?"

A brother who was a member of one of the old Swiss families volunteered
his services as interpreter, and D'Entremont proceeded to tell them how
much he had been interested in the exercises; that it was the first
time he had ever been in such a meeting, and that he wished he had the
simple faith which they showed.

Then the old leader said, "Let us engage in prayer for our strange
brother."

And the marquis bowed his knees upon the hard floor.

He could not understand much that was said, but he knew that they were
praying for him; that this white-haired class leader, and the old
ladies in the corner, and Priscilla, were interceding with the Father
of all for him. He felt more confidence in the efficacy of their
prayers than he had ever had in all the intercessions of the saints of
which he was told when a boy. For surely God would hear such as
Priscilla!

It happened not long after this that D'Entremont was drawn even nearer
to this simple Methodist life, which had already made such an
impression on his imagination, by an incident which would make a
chapter if this story were intended for the New York Weekly Dexter.
Indeed, the story of his peril in a storm and freshet on Indian Creek,
and of his deliverance by the courage of Henry Stevens, is so well
suited to that periodical and others of its class, that I am almost
sorry that Mrs. Eden, or Cobb, Jr., is not the author of this story.
Either of them could make a chapter which would bear the title of "A
Thrilling Incident." But with an unconquerable aversion to anything and
everything "thrilling," the present writer can only say in plainest
prose that this incident made the young marquis the grateful friend of
his deliverer, Henry Stevens, who happened to be a zealous Methodist,
and about his own age.

The effort of the two friends to hold intercourse was a curious
spectacle. Not only did they speak different languages, but they lived
in different worlds. Not only did D'Entremont speak a very limited
English, while Stevens spoke no French, but D'Entremont's life and
thought had nothing in common with the life of Stevens, except the one
thing that made a friendship possible. They were both generous, manly
men, and each felt a strong drawing to the other. So it came about that
when they tired of the marquis's English and of the gulf between their
ideas, they used to call on Priscilla at her home with her mother in
the outskirts of the village. She was an interpreter indeed! For with
the keenest sympathy she entered into the world in which the marquis
lived, which had always been a sort of intellectual paradise to her. It
was strange indeed to meet a living denizen of a world that seemed to
her impossible except in books. And as for the sphere in which Stevens
moved, it was her own. He and she had been schoolmates from childhood,
had looked on the same green hills, known the same people, been molded
of the same strong religious feeling. Nothing was more delightful to
D'Entremont than to be able to talk to Stevens, unless it was to have
so good an excuse for conversation with Priscilla; and nothing was so
pleasant to Henry Stevens as to be able to understand the marquis,
unless it was to talk with Priscilla; while to Priscilla those were
golden moments, in which she passed like a quick-winged messenger
between her own native world and the world that she knew only in books,
between the soul of one friend and that of another. And thus grew up a
triple friendship, a friendship afterward sorely tried. For how strange
it is that what brings together at one time may be a wall of division
at another.

I can not pretend to explain just how it came about. Doubtless Henry
Stevens's influence had something to do with it, though I feel sure
Priscilla's had more. Doubtless the marquis was naturally susceptible
to religions influences. Certain it is that the socialistic opinions,
never very deeply rooted, and at most but a reaction, disappeared, and
there came a religious sentiment like that of his friends. He was drawn
to the little class meeting, which seemed to him so simple a
confessional that all his former notions of "liberty, fraternity, and
equality" were satisfied by it. I believe he became a "probationer,"
but his creed was never quite settled enough for him to accept "full
membership."

Some of the old folks could not refrain from expressions of triumph
that "the Lord had got a hold of that French infidel": and old Sister
Goodenough seized his hand, and, with many sighs and much upturning of
the eyes, exhorted him: "Brother Markus, give up everything! give up
everything, and come out from the world and be separated!" Which led
D'Entremont to remark to Stevens, as they walked away, that "Madame
Goodenough was vare curus indeed!" And Brother Boreas, the exhorter,
who had the misfortune not to have a business reputation without
blemish, but who made up for it by rigid scruples in regard to a
melodeon in the church, and by a vicarious conscience which was kindly
kept at everybody's service but his own--old Brother Boreas always
remarked in regard to the marquis, that "as for his part he liked a
deeper repentance and a sounder conversion." But the gray-haired old
Scotch class leader, whose piety was at a premium everywhere, would
take D'Entremont's hand and talk of indifferent subjects while he
_beamed_ on him his affection and Christian fellowship.

To the marquis Priscilla was a perpetual marvel. More brilliant women
he had known in Paris, more devout women he had seen there, but a woman
so gifted and so devout, and, above all, a woman so true, so modest,
and of such perfect delicacy of feeling he had never known. And how
poorly these words describe her! For she was Priscilla; and all who
knew her will understand how much more that means than any adjectives
of mine. Certainly Henry Stevens did, for he had known her always, and
would have loved her always had he dared. It was only now, as she
interpreted him to the marquis and the marquis to him, idealizing and
elevating the thoughts of both, that he surrendered himself to hope.
And so, toward the close of the summer, affairs came to this awkward
posture that these two sworn friends loved the same woman.

D'Entremont discovered this first. More a man of the world than Henry
Stevens, he read the other's face and voice. He was perturbed. Had it
occurred two years before, he might have settled the matter easily by a
duel, for instance. And even now his passion got the better for a while
of all his good feelings and Christian resolutions. When he got back to
the Le Vert House with his unpleasant discovery he was burning like a
furnace. In spite of a rain storm just beginning and a dark night, he
strode out and walked he knew not whither. He found himself, he knew
not how, on the bank of the Ohio. He untied a skiff and pushed out into
the river. How to advance himself over his rival was his first thought.
But this darkness and this beating rain and this fierce loneliness
reminded him of that night when he had clung desperately to the
abutment of the bridge that spanned Indian Creek, and when the courage
and self-possession of Henry Stevens had rescued him. Could he be the
rival of a man who had gone down into the flood that he might save the
exhausted marquis?

Then he hated himself. Why had he not drowned that night? And with this
feeling of self-disgust added to his general mental misery and the
physical misery that the rain brought to him, there came the great
temptation to write "_Fin_," in French fashion, by jumping into the
water. But something in the influence of Priscilla and that class
meeting caused him to take a better resolution, and he returned to the
hotel.

The next day he sent for Henry Stevens to come to his room.

"Henry, I am going to leave to-night on the mail boat. I am going back
to New Orleans, and thence to France. You love Priscilla. You are a
noble man; you will make her happy. I have read your love in your face.
Meet me at the river to-night. When you are ready to be married, let me
know, that I may send some token of my love for both. Do not tell
mademoiselle that I am going; but tell her good-by for me afterward.
Now, I must pack."

Henry went out stupefied. What did it mean? And why was he half glad
that D'Entremont was going? By degrees he got the better of his
selfishness.

"Marquis d'Entremont," he said, breaking into his room, "you must not
go away. You love Priscilla. You have everything--learning, money,
travel. I have nothing."

"Nothing but a good heart, which I have not," said D'Entremont.

"I will never marry Priscilla," said Henry, "unless she deliberately
chooses to have me in preference to you."

To this arrangement, so equitable, the marquis consented, and the
matter was submitted to Priscilla by letter. Could she love either, and
if either, which? She asked a week for deliberation.

It was not easy to decide. By all her habits of thought and feeling, by
all her prejudices, by all her religious life, she was drawn toward the
peaceful and perhaps prosperous life that opened before her as the wife
of Henry Stevens, living in her native village, near to her mother,
surrounded by her old friends, and with the best of men for a husband.
But by all the clamor of her intellectual nature for something better
than her narrow life, by all her joy in the conversation of
D'Entremont, the only man her equal in culture she had ever known, she
felt drawn to be the wife of the marquis. Yet if there were roses,
there were thorns in such a path. The village girl knew that _madame la
marquise_ must lead a life very different from any she had known. She
must bear with a husband whose mind was ever in a state of unrest and
skepticism, and she must meet the great world.

In truth there were two Priscillas. There was the Priscilla that her
neighbors knew, the Priscilla that went to church, the Priscilla that
taught Primary School No. 3. There was the other Priscilla, that read
Chaucer and Shakespeare, Molière and De Staël. With this Priscilla New
Geneva had nothing to do. And it was the doubleness of her nature that
caused her indecision.

Then her conscience came in. Because there might be worldly attractions
on one side, she leaned to the other. To reject a poor suitor and
accept a rich and titled one, had something of treason in it.

At the end of a week she sent for them both. Henry Stevens's flatboat
had been ready to start for New Orleans for two days. And Challeau,
Lafort & Company were expecting the marquis, who was in some sort a
ward of theirs. Henry Stevens and the Marquis Antoine d'Entremont
walked side by side, in an awkward silence, to the little vine-covered
cottage. Of that interview I do not know enough to write fully. But I
know that Priscilla said such words as these:

"This is an awful responsibility. I suppose a judge trembles when he
must pass sentence of death. But I must make a decision that involves
the happiness of both my friends and myself. I can not do it now. Will
you wait until you both return in the spring? I have a reason that I
can not explain for wishing this matter postponed. It will be decided
for me, perhaps."

I do not know that she said just these words, and I know she did not
say them all at once. But so they parted. And Miss Nancy More, who
retailed ribbons and scandal, and whose only effort at mental
improvement had been the plucking out of the hairs contiguous to her
forehead, that she might look intellectual--Miss Nancy More from her
lookout at the window descried the two friends walking away from Mrs.
Haines's cottage, and remarked, as she had often remarked before, that
it was "absolutely scandalious for a young woman who was a professor to
have two beaux at once, and such good friends, too!"

Gifted girls like Priscilla usually have a background in some friend,
intelligent, quiet, restful. Anna Poindexter, a dark, thoughtful girl,
was sometimes spoken of as "Priscilla's double"; but she was rather
Priscilla's opposite: her traits were complementary to those of her
friend. The two were all but inseparable; and so, when Priscilla found
herself the next evening on the bank of the river, she naturally found
Anna with her. Slowly the flatboat of which Henry Stevens was owner and
master drifted by, while the three or four men at each long oar strode
back and forward on the deck as they urged the boat on. Henry was
standing on the elevated bench made for the pilot, holding the long
"steering oar" and guiding the craft. As his manly form in the western
sunlight attracted their attention, both the girls were struck with
admiration. Both waved their handkerchiefs, and Henry returned the
adieu by swinging his hat. So intent was he on watching them that he
forgot his duty, and one of the men was obliged to call out, "Swing her
round, captain, or the mail boat'll sink us."

Hardly was the boat swung out of the way when the tall-chimneyed mail
boat swept by.

"See the marquis!" cried Anna, and again adieux were waved. And the
marquis stepped to the guard and called out to Henry, "I'll see you in
New Orleans," and the swift steamer immediately bore him out of
speaking distance. And Henry watched him disappear with a choking
feeling that thus the nobleman was to outstrip him in life.

"See!" said Anna, "you are a lucky girl. You have your choice; you can
go through life on the steamboat or on the flatboat. Of course you'll
go by steam."

"There are explosions on steamboats sometimes," said Priscilla. Then
turning, she noticed a singular expression on Anna's face. Her insight
was quick, and she said, "Confess that _you_ would choose the
flat-float." And Anna turned away.

"Two strings to her bow, or two beaux to her string, I should say," and
she did say it, for this was Miss More's comment on the fact which she
had just learned, that Miss Haines had received letters from "the lower
country," the handwriting of the directions of which indicated that she
had advices from both her friends. But poor Miss More, with never a
string to her bow and never a beau to her string, might be forgiven for
shooting popguns that did no harm.

There was a time when Priscilla had letters from only one. Henry was
very ill, and D'Entremont wrote bulletins of his condition to Priscilla
and to his family. In one of these it was announced that he was beyond
recovery, and Priscilla and Anna mingled their tears together. Then
there came a letter saying that he was better. Then he was worse again.
And then better.

In those days the mail was brought wholly by steamboats, and it took
many days for intelligence to come. But the next letter that Priscilla
had was from Henry Stevens himself. It was filled from first to last
with praises of the marquis; that he had taken Henry out of his
boarding place, and put him into his own large room in the St. Charles;
that he had nursed him with more than a friend's tenderness, scarcely
sleeping at all; that he had sold his cargo, relieved his mind of care,
employed the most prominent physicians, and anticipated his every
want--all this and more the letter told.

And the very next steamboat from the lower country, the great heavy
Duke of Orleans, with a green half moon of lattice work in each paddle
box, brought the convalescent Henry and his friend. Both were invited
to supper at the house of Priscilla's mother on the evening after their
arrival. Neither of them liked to face Priscilla's decision, whatever
it might be, but they were more than ever resolved that it should not
in any way disturb their friendship. So they walked together to the
cottage.

Priscilla's mother was not well enough to come to the table, and she
had to entertain both. It was hard for either of the guests to be
cheerful, but Priscilla at least was not depressed by the approaching
decision. Equally attentive to both, no one could have guessed in which
direction her preference lay.

"We must enjoy this supper," she said. "We must celebrate Henry's
recovery and the goodness of his nurse together. Let's put the future
out of sight and be happy."

Her gayety proved infectious, and as she served her friends with her
own hands they both abandoned themselves to the pleasure of the moment
and talked of cheerful and amusing things.

Only when they rose to leave did she allow her face to become sober,
and even then the twilight of her joyousness lingered in her smile as
she spoke, facing them both:

"How I have enjoyed your coming! I wanted us to have this supper
together before coming to the subject you spoke of before leaving. I
shall have to say what will give you both pain." There was a moment's
pause. Then she resumed:

"The matter has been decided for me. I can marry neither of you. My
father and all my brothers and sisters have died of consumption. I am
the only one left of five. In a few months--" She lowered her voice,
which trembled a little as she glanced toward her mother's room--"my
poor mother will be childless."

For the first time, in the imperfect light, they noticed the flushed
cheeks, and for the first time they detected the quick breathing. When
they walked away the two friends were nearer than ever by virtue of a
common sorrow.

And as day after day they visited her in company, the public, and
particularly that part of the public which peeped out of Miss Nancy
More's windows, was not a little mystified. Miss More thought a girl
who was drawing near to the solemn and awful realities of eternal bliss
should let such worldly vanities as markusses alone!

A singular change came over Priscilla in one regard. As the prospect of
life faded out, she was no longer in danger of being tempted by the
title and wealth of the marquis. She could be sure that her heart was
not bribed. And when this restraint of conscience abnormally sensitive
was removed, it became every day more and more clear to her that she
loved D'Entremont. Of all whom she had ever known, he only was a
companion. And as he brought her choice passages from favorite writers
every day, and as her mind grew with unwonted rapidity under the
influence of that strange disease which shakes down the body while it
ripens the soul, she felt more and more that she was growing out of
sympathy with all that was narrow and provincial in her former life,
and into sympathy with the great world, and with Antoine d'Entremont,
who was the representative of the world to her.

This rapidly growing gulf between his own intellectual life and that of
Priscilla Henry Stevens felt keenly. But there is one great
compensation for a soul like Henry's. Men and women of greater gifts
might outstrip him in intellectual growth. He could not add one cell to
his brain, or make the slightest change in his temperament. But neither
the marquis nor Priscilla could excel him in that generosity which does
not always go with genius, and which is not denied to the man of the
plainest gifts. He wrote to the marquis:

    "MY DEAR FRIEND: You are a good and generous friend. I have read in
    her voice and her eyes what the decision of Priscilla must have
    been. If I had not been blind, I ought to have seen it before in
    the difference between us. Now I know that it will be a comfort to
    you to have that noble woman die your wife. I doubt not it will be
    a comfort to her. Do you think it will be any consolation to me to
    have been an obstacle in the way? I hope you do not think so meanly
    of me, and that you and Priscilla will give me the only consolation
    I can have in our common sorrow--the feeling that I have been able
    to make her last days more comfortable and your sorrow more
    bearable. If you refuse, I shall always reproach myself.

    "HENRY."

I need not tell of the discussions that ensued. But it was concluded
that it was best for all three that Priscilla and the marquis should be
married, much to the disgust of Miss Nancy More, who thought that
"she'd better be sayin' her prayers. What good would it do to be a
march-oness and all that when she was in her coffin?"

A wedding in prospect of death is more affecting than a funeral. Only
Henry Stevens and Anna Poindexter were to be present. Priscilla's
mother had completed the arrangements, blinded by tears. I think she
could have dressed Priscilla for her coffin with less suffering. The
white dress looked so like a shroud, under those sunken cheeks as white
as the dress! Once or twice Priscilla had drawn her mother's head to
her bosom and wept.

"Poor mother!" she would say; "so soon to be alone! But Antoine will be
your son."

Just as the dressing of the pale bride was completed, there came one of
those sudden breakdowns to which a consumptive is liable. The doctor
gave hope of but a few hours of life. When the marquis came he was
heartbroken to see her lying there, so still, so white--dying. She took
his hand. She beckoned to Anna and Henry Stevens to stand by her, and
then, with tear-blinded eyes, the old minister married them for
eternity!

Outside the door Priscilla's class of Slabtown boys stood with some
roses and hollyhocks they had thought to bring for her wedding or her
funeral, they hardly knew which. They were all abashed at the idea of
entering the house.

"You go in, Bill," said one.

"No, you go. I can't do it," said Bill, scratching the gravel walk with
his toes.

"I say somebody's got to go," said the first speaker.

"I'll go," said Boone Jones, the toughest of the party. "I ain't
afeerd," he added huskily, as he took the flowers in his hand and
knocked at the door.

But when Boone got in, and saw Priscilla lying there so white, he began
to choke with a strange emotion. Priscilla tried to take the flowers
from his hand, but Anna Poindexter took them. Priscilla tried to thank
him, but she could only whisper his name.

"Boone----" she said, and ceased from weakness.

But the lad did not wait. He burst into weeping, and bolted out the
door.

"I say, boys," he repeated, choking his sobs, "she's just dyin', and
she said Boone--you know--and couldn't say no more, and I couldn't
stand it."

Feeling life ebbing, Priscilla took the hand of the marquis. Then,
holding to the hand of D'Entremont, she beckoned Henry to come near. As
he bent over her she whispered, looking significantly at the marquis,
"Henry, God bless you, my noble-hearted friend!" And as Henry turned
away, the marquis put his arm about him, but said nothing.

Priscilla's nature abhorred anything dramatic in dying, or rather she
did not think of effect at all; so she made no fine speeches. But when
she had ceased to breathe, the old preacher said, "The bridegroom has
come."

She left an envelope for Henry. What it had in it no one but Henry ever
knew. I have heard him say that it was one word, which became the key
to all the happiness of his after life. Judging from the happiness he
has in his home with Anna, his wife, it would not be hard to tell what
the word was. The last time I was at his house I noticed that their
eldest child was named Priscilla, and that the boy who came next was
Antoine. Henry told me that Priscilla left a sort of "will" for the
marquis, in which she asked him to do the Christian work that she would
have liked to do. Nothing could have been wiser if she had sought only
his own happiness, for in activity for others is the safety of a
restless mind. He had made himself the special protector of the ten
little Slabtown urchins.

Henry told me in how many ways, through Challeau, Lafort & Company, the
marquis had contrived to contribute to his prosperity without offending
his delicacy. He found himself possessed of practically unlimited
credit through the guarantee which the great New Orleans banking house
was always ready to give.

"What is that fine building?" I said, pointing to a picture on the
wall.

"Oh! that is the 'Hospice de Sainte Priscille,' which Antoine has
erected in Paris. People there call it 'La Marquise.'"

"By the way," said Priscilla's mother, who sat by, "Antoine is coming
to see us next month, and is to look after his Slabtown friends when he
comes. They used to call him at first 'Priscilla's Frenchman.'"

And to this day Miss More declares that markusses is a thing she can't
no ways understand.

_1871._



TALKING FOR LIFE.


For many years following the war I felt that I owed a grudge to the
medical faculty. Having a romantic temperament and a taste for heroics,
I had wished to fight and eat hard tack for my country. But whenever I
presented the feeble frame in which I then dwelt, the medical man stood
in my path with the remonstrance, "Why should you fill another cot in a
hospital and another strip in the graveyard?" In these late years I
have been cured of my regrets; not by service-pension slogans and
pension agents' circulars, as you may imagine, but by the war
reminiscence which has flooded the magazines, invaded every social
circle, and rendered the listener's life a burden. In any group of men
of my own age, North or South, I do not dare introduce any military
topic, not even the Soudan campaign of General Wolseley, or the East
Indian yarns of Private Mulvaney, lest I should bring down upon my head
stories of campaigning on the Shenandoah, the Red River, or the
Rappahannock--stories that have gained like rolling snowballs during
the rolling years. Not that the war reminiscence is inherently
tedious, but it is frightfully overworked. A scientific friend of mine
of great endurance has discovered, by a series of prolonged
observations and experiments at the expense of his own health, that
only one man in twenty-seven hundred and forty-six can tell a story
well, and that only one in forty-three can narrate a personal
experience bearably. If I had gone into the army the chances are
forty-two to one that I should have bored my friends intolerably from
that day to this, and twenty-seven hundred and forty-five to one
against my stories having anything engaging in them. I thank Heaven for
the medical man that made me stay at home.

But once in a while it has been my luck to meet among old soldiers the
twenty-seven hundred and forty-sixth man who can tell a story well. Ben
Tillye is one of them, and here is an anecdote I heard from him, which
is rather interesting, and which may even be true:

"I had just been promoted to a first lieutenancy, and thought that I
saw a generalship in the dim distance. Why, with such prospects, I
should have straggled right into the arms of three bushwhackers, I do
not know.

"Falling into the hands of guerrillas was a serious business then. An
order had been issued by the wiseacre in command of the Army of the
Potomac that all guerrillas taken should be put to death. This did not
deprive the bushwhackers of a single man, but they naturally retaliated
by a counter-order that all prisoners of theirs should be shot. In this
game of pop and pop again the guerrillas had decidedly the advantage,
and I was one of the first to fall in their way. I had hardly
surrendered before I regretted that I had not resisted capture. I might
have killed one of them, or at least have forced them to shoot me on
the spot, which would not have been so much worse than dying in cold
blood the next morning, and which would have led to a pursuit and the
breaking up of their camp. But here I was disarmed, and after an hour's
march seated among them bushwhacking in an old cabin on a hillside.

"The leader of the party of three who had captured me seemed a kindly
man--one that, if it were his duty to behead me, would prefer to give
me chloroform before the amputation. For obvious reasons I made myself
as agreeable as possible to him. I tried also to talk to the captain of
the band after I reached the camp, but he repelled my friendly advances
with something like surliness. I reasoned that he intended to execute
me, and did not wish to have his feelings taxed with regrets. At any
rate, after finding that he could get no information of value from me,
he went on with his writing at a table made by propping up an old
wooden shutter in the corner of the cabin. Meantime I reflected that
the only way in which I could avoid my doom was by awakening a friendly
sympathy in the minds of my captors. I fell to talking for life. I
trotted out my funniest stories, and the eight men about me laughed
heartily as I proceeded.

"The captain was visibly annoyed. My interlocutor in this conversation
was his second in authority, the one who had captured me. He had no
distinct mark of rank, but I fancied him to be a sergeant. At length
the captain turned to him, and said, 'Jones, I can't write if you keep
up this talking.'

"I knew that this was meant as a hint for me, but I knew also that my
very last hope lay in my winning the hearts of the guerrilla officer
and his men. So with slightly lowered voice I kept on talking to the
men, who looked at me from under their ragged slouched hats with the
most eager interest. At the end of one of my stories their amusement
broke forth into hearty laughter. The captain stopped writing, and
turned upon me with the remark, only half in jest, I thought:

"'I'll have to shoot you, lieutenant. You must be a valuable man in the
Yankee camp.'

"I forced a laugh, but went on with my stories, explaining to the
captain that I meant to enjoy my last hours at all hazards. The accent
of those about me reminded me irresistibly of the year that I, though
of Northern birth, had spent in a school in eastern Virginia.

"'You are a Virginian,' I said to Sergeant Jones.

"'Yes.'

"'What county?'

"'I'm from Powhatan.'

"'I went to school in the next county,' I said, 'at what was called
Amelia Academy.'

"'Goatville?' demanded Jones.

"'Yes, I went to old Goat. That's what we all called him on account of
his red goatee. We never dated a letter otherwise than "Goatville." And
yet we loved and revered the principal. Did you go there?'

"'No,' said Jones, 'but I knew a good many who did.'

"Well, from this I broke into my stock of schoolboy stories of the
jokes about the 'cat,' or roll pudding we had twice a week, of the rude
tricks put upon greenhorns and their retorts in kind. The men enjoyed
these yarns, and even the captain was amused, as I inferred, because I
could no longer hear his pen scratching, for he sat behind me.

"'Did you ever swim in the Appomattox?' asked Jones.

"'Yes,' I replied; 'I came near losing my life there once. I had a
roommate who was a good swimmer. I was also a pretty good swimmer, and
we foolishly undertook for a small wager to see who could swim the
river the oftenest, only stopping to touch bottom with our toes at each
side. We went over side by side five times. The sixth crossing I fell
behind; it was all I could do, and at its close I crept out on the bank
and lay down. My roommate, Tom Freeman, struck out for a seventh. He
was nearly over when the boys by my side uttered a cry. Tom was giving
out. He was in a sort of hysterical laughter from exhaustion, and,
though able to keep above the water, he could not make any headway. I
got to my feet and begged the boys to go to his help, but they all had
their clothes on, and they had so much confidence in Freeman as a
swimmer that they only said, "He'll get out."

"'But I could see no way in which he could get out. I had recovered a
little by this time, and I seized a large piece of driftwood, plunged
into the river again, and pushed this old limb of a tree across the
stream ahead of me. Freeman was sinking out of sight when he got his
hand on the bough. I was able to push him into water where he could get
a footing, but I somehow lost my own hold on the wood and found myself
sinking, utterly faint from a sort of collapse. There was a tree that
had fallen into the stream a few yards below. I was just able to turn
on my back and keep afloat until I could grasp the top branches of the
tree. Then I crept out--I never knew how, for I was only half
conscious. But I'll never forget the cry from the boys on the other
side of the stream that reached my ears as I lay exhausted alongside of
Freeman on the bank. "Hurrah for Tilley!" they shouted.'

"'No, they didn't.' It was the captain who contradicted me thus
abruptly, and I looked up in surprise.

"'That's not what they called you in those days,' said the captain.
'They shouted, "Hurrah for Stumpey!" They never called you anything but
"Stumpey."'

"'Who in thunder are you?' I said, getting to my feet.

"'Tom Freeman,' replied the captain, rising and grasping my hand.

"Well, I wasn't shot, as you can see for yourselves."



PERIWINKLE.


"Bring me that slate, Henriettar!"

Miss Tucker added a superfluous r to some words, but then she made
amends by dropping the final r where it was preceded by a broad vowel.
If she said _idear_, she compounded for it by saying _waw_. She said
_lor_ for law, and _dror_ for draw, but then she said _cah_ for car.
Some of our Americans are as free with the final r as the cockney is
with his initial h.

Miss Tucker was the schoolmistress at the new schoolhouse in West
Easton. I am not quite sure, either, that I have the name of the place
right. I think it may have been East Weston. Weston or Easton,
whichever it is, is a country township east of the Hudson River, whose
chief article of export is chestnuts; consequently it is not set down
in the gazetteer. After all, it doesn't matter. We'll call it East
Weston, if you please.

The schoolhouse was near a brook--a murmuring brook, of course. Its
pleasant murmur could not be shut out. The school trustees had built
the windows high, so that the children might not be diverted from their
lessons by any sight of occasional passers-by. As though children could
study better in a prison! As though you could shut in a child's mind,
traveling in its vagrant fancies like Prospero's Ariel round about the
earth in twenty minutes! The dull sound of a horse's hoofs would come
in now and then from the road, and the children, longing for some new
sight, would spend the next half hour in mental debate whether it could
have been a boy astride a bag of turnips, for instance, or the doctor
in his gig, that had passed under the windows.

It was getting late in the afternoon. Miss Tucker had dominated her
little flock faithfully all day, until even she grew tired of
monotonous despotism. Perhaps the drowsy, distant sounds--the cawing of
crows far away, the almost inaudible rattle of a mowing machine, and
the unvarying gurgle of the brook near at hand--had softened Miss
Tucker's temper. More likely it had made her sleepy, for she relaxed
her watchfulness so much that Rob Riley had time to look at the radiant
face of Henrietta full two minutes without a rebuke. At last Miss
Tucker actually yawned two or three times. Then she brought herself up
with a guilty start. Full twenty minutes had passed in which she,
Rebecca--or, as she pronounced it, Rebekker--Tucker, schoolmistress and
intellectual drum-major, had scolded nobody and had scowled at nobody.
She determined to make amends at once for this remissness. Her eye
lighted on Henrietta. It was always safe to light on Henrietta. Miss
Tucker might punish her at any time on general principles and not go
far astray, especially when she sat, as now, bent over her slate.

Henrietta was a girl past sixteen, somewhat tallish, and a little
awkward; her hair was light, her eyes blue, and her face not yet
developed, but there were the crude elements of a possible beauty in
her features. When her temper was aroused, and she gathered up the
habitual slovenly expression of her face into a look of vigor and
concentrated resolution, she was "splendid," in the vocabulary of her
schoolmates. She was one of those country girls who want only the
trimmings to make a fine lady. Rob Riley, for his part, did not miss
the trimmings. Fine lady she was to him, and his admiration for her was
the only thing that interfered with his diligence. For Rob had actually
learned a good deal in spite of the educational influences of the
school. In fact, he had long since passed out of the possibility of
Miss Tucker's helping him. When he could not "do a sum" and referred it
to her, she always told him that it would do him much more good to get
it himself. Thus put upon his mettle, Rob was sure to come out of the
struggle somehow with the "answer" in his teeth. Miss Tucker would have
liked Rob if Rob had not loved Henrietta, who was Miss Tucker's
deadliest foe.

"Bring me that slate this instant!" repeated the schoolmistress when
Henrietta hesitated, "and don't you rub out the picture."

Henrietta's face took on a sullen look; she rose slowly, dropping the
slate with a clatter on her desk, whence it slid with a bang to the
floor, without any effort on her part to arrest it. Miss Tucker did not
observe--she was nearsighted--that in its fall, and in Henrietta's
picking it up, it was reversed, so that the side presented to the
schoolmistress was not the side on which the girl had last been at
work. All Miss Tucker saw was that the side which faced her when she
took the slate from Henrietta's hand contained a picture of a little
child. It was a chubby little face, with a funny-serious expression.
The execution was by no means correct, the foreshortening of the little
bare legs was not well done, the hands were out of drawing, and the
whole picture had the stillness that comes from inexperience. But Miss
Tucker did not see that. All she saw was that it was to her eye a
miraculously good picture.

"That's the way you get your arithmetic lesson! You haven't done a sum
this morning. You spend your time drawing little brats like that."

"She isn't a brat."

"Who isn't a brat?"

"Periwinkle isn't. That's Periwinkle."

"Who's Periwinkle?"

"She's my niece. She's Jane's little girl. You sha'n't call her a brat,
neither."

"Don't you talk to me that way, you impudent thing! That's the way you
spend your time, drawing pictures."

Miss Tucker here held the slate up in front of her and stared at the
picture of Periwinkle. Whereupon the scholars who were spectators of
Miss Tucker's indignation smiled. Some of them grew red in the face and
looked at their companions. Little Charity Jones rattled out a good,
hearty, irrepressible giggle, which she succeeded in arresting only by
stuffing her apron into her mouth.

"Charity Jones, what are you laughing at?"

But Charity only stuck her head down on the desk and went into another
snicker.

"Come here!"

Charity was sober enough now. Miss Tucker got a little switch out of
her desk and threatened little Charity with "a good sound whipping" if
she didn't tell what she was laughing at.

"At the picture," whimpered the child.

"I don't see anything to laugh at," said the mistress, holding the
slate up before her.

Whereupon the school again showed signs of a sensation.

"What are you laughing at?" and Miss Tucker instinctively felt of her
back hair.

"It's on the other side of the slate," burst out Charity's brother, who
was determined to deliver his sister out of the den of lions.

Miss Tucker turned the slate over, and there was Henrietta's
masterpiece. It was a stunning caricature of the schoolmistress in the
act of yawning. Of course, when that high and mighty authority had, in
her indignation held up the slate so as to get a good view of the
picture of Periwinkle, she was unconsciously exhibiting to the school
the character study on the reverse of the slate. And now, as she looked
with unutterable wrath and consternation at the dreadful drawing, the
scholars were full of suppressed emotion--half of it terror, and the
other half a served-her-right feeling.

"The school is dismissed. Henriettar Newton will stay," said the
schoolmistress. The children arose, glad to escape, while Henrietta
felt that her friends were all deserting her, and she was left alone
with a wild beast.

"Chaw her all up," said one of the boys to another. "I wouldn't be in
there with her for a good deal."

Rob Riley left the room the last of all, and he lingered under the
window. But what could he do? After a while he hurried away to
Henrietta's father, on the adjoining farm, and made a statement of the
case to him.

"I sha'n't interfere," said the old man sternly. "That girl's give me
trouble enough, I'm sure. Spends her time makin' fool pictures on a
slate. I hope the schoolmistress'll cure her."

Rob did not know what to say to this. He went back across the field to
the schoolhouse door and sat down and listened. He could hear an angry
collocation. He thought best not to interfere unless the matter came to
blows.

The old man Newton entered his house soon after Rob Riley left him, and
repeated to his wife what Rob had said from his own standpoint. The
little grandchild, Periwinkle, sat on the floor with that funny-serious
air that belonged to her chubby face.

"I'll go down and see about that, I will," she said with an air of
great importance.

"What?" said the old man, looking tenderly and fondly at Periwinkle.

"I'll see about that, I will," said the barefoot cherub, as she pulled
on her sunbonnet and set out for the schoolhouse, pushing resolutely
forward on her sturdy little legs.

"I vum!" said the old man, as he saw her disappear round the fence
corner.

The quaint little thing had not yet been in the house a week. She was
sent on to the grandparents after her mother's death, and, as the child
of the daughter who had left them years ago never to return, she had
found immediate entrance into the hearts of the old folks. The
reprobate Henrietta, who wasted her time drawing pictures, and who was
generally in a state of siege at home and at school, had found in
little Periwinkle, as they called her, a fountain of affection. And now
that Henrietta was in trouble, the little Illinois Periwinkle had gone
off in her self-reliant fashion to see about it.

When she reached the schoolhouse she found Rob Riley, whom she had come
to know as Henrietta's friend, standing listening.

"I've come down to see about that, I have," said Periwinkle, nodding
her head toward the schoolhouse. Then she listened a while to the angry
voice of Miss Tucker, and the surly, sobbing, and defiant replies of
Henrietta, who was saying, "Stand back, or I'll hit you!"

"Open that door this minute, Wob Wiley! I'm a goin' to see about that."

Rob hesitated. The latch was clearly out of Periwinkle's reach. Rob had
a faint hope that the little thing might divert the wrathful teacher
from her prey. He raised the latch and set the door slightly ajar.

"Now push," he said to Periwinkle.

She pushed the door open a little way and entered the schoolroom
without being seen by the angry mistress, who was facing the other way,
having driven Henrietta into a corner. Here stood the defiant girl at
bay, waving a ruler, which she had snatched from the irate teacher, and
warning the latter to let her alone. Periwinkle walked up to the
teacher, pulled her dress, and said:

"I've come down to see about that, I have."

"Who are you?" said the frightened Miss Tucker, to whom it seemed that
the little chub had dropped down out of the sky, or come to life off
Henrietta's slate.

"I'm Periwinkle, and you mustn't touch my Henrietta. I've come down to
see about it, I have."

Miss Tucker, in a sudden reaction, sank down on a chair exhausted and
bewildered. Then she sobbed a little in despair.

"What shall I do with that girl?" she muttered. "I'm beat out."

"Come home, Henrietta," said Periwinkle, and she marched Henrietta out
the door under the very eyes of the schoolmistress.

"Come back this minute!" cried Miss Tucker, rallying when it was too
late. But the weeping Henrietta, the solemn Periwinkle, and the
rejoicing Rob Riley went away and answered the poor woman never a word.

Miss Tucker, who was not without some good sense and good intentions,
found out that evening that she did not like teaching. She forthwith
resigned the school in East Weston. In a week or two a new teacher was
engaged, "a young thing from town," as the people put it, "who never
could manage that Henrietta Newton."

But sometimes even a "young thing" is gifted with that undefined
something that we call tact. Sarah Reade soon found out, from the
gratuitous advice lavished upon her, that her chief trouble would be
from Henrietta; so she took pains to get acquainted with the unruly
girl the first day. Finding that the center of Henrietta's heart was
Periwinkle, she took great interest in getting the girl to tell her all
about Periwinkle. Henrietta was so much softened by this treatment that
for three whole days after the advent of Miss Reade she did not draw a
picture on the slate. But the self-denial was too great. On the fourth
day, while Miss Reade was hearing recitation, and the girls at the desk
behind Henrietta were looking over at her, she drew a cow very
elaborately.

She was just trying to make the horns look right, rubbing them out and
retouching them, while the other girls rose up in their seats and
brought their heads together in a cluster to see, declaring in a
whisper that "it was the wonderfullest thing how Henrietta could draw,"
when who should look down among them but Miss Reade herself. As soon as
Henrietta became conscious of Miss Reade's attention she dropped her
pencil, not with the old defiant feeling, but with a melancholy sense
of having lost standing with one whose good opinion she would fain have
retained.

The teacher took the slate in her hand, not in Miss Tucker's energetic
fashion, but with a polite "Excuse me," which made Henrietta's heart
sink down within her. For half a minute Miss Reade scrutinized the
drawing without saying a word.

"Did anybody ever give you any drawing lessons?" she said to the
detected criminal.

"No, ma'am."

"You draw well; you ought to have a chance. You'll make an artist some
day. Your cow is not quite right. If you'll bring the picture to me
after school I'll show you some things about it. I think you'd better
put it away now till you get your geography lesson."

Henrietta, full of wonder at finding her art no longer regarded as a
sin, put the slate into the desk, and cheerfully resumed the study of
the boundaries and chief products of North Carolina, while Miss Reade
returned to the hearing of the third-reader class.

"I say, Henrietta, she's j-u-s-t  s-p-l-e-n-d-i-d!" whispered Maria
Thomas. And Rob Riley thought Miss Reade was almost as fine as
Henrietta herself.

"You see," said Miss Reade to Henrietta after school, "that the hind
legs of your cow look longer than the fore legs."

"There's something wrong." said the girl, "but that isn't it. I've
measured, and the cow's just as high before as behind, though she
doesn't look so."

"Yes, but you've put her head a little toward you. The hind legs ought
to seem shorter at a little distance off. Now try it. Make her not so
high from the ground behind," and Miss Reade proceeded to explain one
or two principles of perspective. When Henrietta had experimented on
her cow and saw the result, she was delighted.

"I don't know much about drawing," said Miss Reade, "but I've a set of
drawing books and some drawing cards. Now, if you'll let drawing alone
till you get your lessons each day, I'll lend you my drawing books and
give you all the help I can."

When the old man Newton heard that the "new school ma'am" was
permitting Henrietta to draw "fool picters on her slate," he was sure
that it never would work. He believed in breaking a child's will, for
his part, "though the one that broke Henriettar's will would hev to git
up purty airly in the mornin' now, certain," he added with a grim
smile. But when the old man found Henrietta unexpectedly industrious,
toiling over her studies at night, he was surprised beyond measure; and
when he understood the compact by which studies were to come first and
drawing afterward, he winked his eye knowingly at his wife.

"Who'd a thought that little red-headed school ma'am would a ben so
cute? She knows the very bait for Henriettar now. That woman would do
to trade hosses."

But when the little schoolmistress seriously proposed that he should
send Henrietta down to New York to take lessons in drawing, he quickly
changed his mind. Of what kind of use was drawing? And then, it would
cost, according to Miss Reade's own account, about two or three hundred
dollars a year for board; all to learn a lot of nonsense. It is true,
when the teacher craftily told him stories of the prices that some
lucky artists received for their work, he felt as though she were
pointing down into a gold mine. But the money in his hand was good
money, and he never sent good money after bad. And so Henrietta's newly
raised hope of being an artist was dashed, and Rob Riley was grievously
disappointed; for he was sure that Henrietta would astonish the
metropolis if once she could take her transcendent ability out of East
Weston into New York. Besides, Rob Riley himself was going off to New
York to develop his own talent by learning the granite cutter's trade.
He confided to Henrietta that he expected to come to something better
than granite cutting, for he had heard that there had been granite
cutters who, being, like himself, good at figures, in time had come to
be great contractors and builders and bosses. He was going to be
something, and when he was settled at work in New York Henrietta had a
letter from him telling that he was learning mechanical drawing in the
Cooper Union night school, and that he got books out of the
Apprentices' Library. He also attended free lectures, and was looking
out for a chance to be something some day. Henrietta carried the letter
about with her, and wished heartily that she also might go to New York,
where she could improve herself and see Rob Riley occasionally.

Now it happened that Mrs. Newton had a cousin, a rich man, in New
York--at least, he seemed rich to those not used to the measure applied
to wealth in a great city. She had not seen him since he left the
little town in western Massachusetts, where they were both brought up.
But she often talked about Cousin John. Whenever she saw his business
advertisements in the papers she started out afresh in her talk about
Cousin John. It is something quite worth the having--a cousin in New
York whose name is in the papers, and who is rich. Whenever Mrs. Jones,
Mrs. Newton's neighbor, talked too ostentatiously about her uncle, who
was both a deacon and a justice of the peace up in New Hampshire, then
Mrs. Newton said something about Cousin John. To save her life she
couldn't imagine how Cousin John lived, except that he kept a carriage
or two, or in what precisely his greatness consisted, since he held no
office either in church or State, but the old lady evidently believed
in her heart that a cousin who was a big man down in New York was
nearly as good as an uncle who was a deacon up in New Hampshire.

Now it happened that John Willard, the Cousin John of Mrs. Newton's
gossip, was spending the summer at Lebanon Springs, and at the close of
his vacation he started to drive home through the beautiful region once
the scene of the anti-renters' conflict with the old patroons. He
stopped to see the Shaker villages, and then drove on among the rich
farms, taking great pleasure in explaining to his town-bred wife the
difference between wheat and rye as it stood in the shock, feeling for
once the superiority of one whose early life has been passed in the
country. He happened to remember that he had a cousin over in Weston,
and though he had not seen her for many years, he proposed to turn
aside and eat one dinner with old Farmer Newton and his wife.

And thus it happened that Cousin John Willard, and especially that Mrs.
Cousin John Willard, saw Henrietta's drawings, and heard of her
aspiration to learn to draw and paint; and thus it happened that Cousin
John, and, what is of more consequence, Mrs. Cousin John, invited the
girl to come down to New York and spend the winter with them and
develop her talent for drawing; though Mrs. Willard did not think so
much of Henrietta's developing her gift for art as that she had a fine
face, and would undoubtedly develop into a beauty under city
influences. And as Mrs. Willard had no children, and her house was
lonesome, she thought it might add to her own consequence and to the
cheerfulness of her house to have a handsome cousin under her care.
Henrietta's father was rather unwilling to let her go; he didn't see
how she could be spared from the housework; but the mother was resolved
that she should go, and go she did.

The first things that excited the country girl's wonder were not the
streets and buildings and the works of art, but the unwonted luxury of
city life. Velvet carpets, large panes of plate glass, hot and cold
water that came for the turning of a stopcock, illumination that burst
forth as by magic, mirrors that showed the whole person and
reduplicated the room--even doorbells and sliding doors, and dumb
waiters and speaking-tubes, were things that filled her with
astonishment. For weeks she felt that she had moved out of the world
into a fairy book. But, being a high-spirited girl, she carefully
concealed her wonder, moving about with apparent nonchalance, as though
she had lived in the enchanted ground all her life. Secretly she
carried on experiments upon water works, gas fixtures, and plate-glass
mirrors, using the inductive method of reasoning, as all intelligent
people have from the beginning, without any of the cumbrous and
pedantic machinery provided for them by Lord Chancellor Bacon.

She was soon at work, but drawing from uninteresting plaster casts of
scroll-work in the lower classes of the School of Design for Women was
not so pleasant as spontaneous picture-making on her slate had been. In
Weston, too, she had been a prodigy; her gift for drawing was little
less than miraculous in the eyes of her companions. But in Cooper
Institute she was one of many, and there were those whom much practice
had rendered more skillful. She would slip away from her work and go
through the alcoves sometimes, on one pretext or another, to envy the
girls who were in their second year, and were drawing from a bust of
Psyche or The Young Augustus, and especially did she wish that she were
one of the favored circle in the Venus Room. She thought it would be
fine to try the statue of the Venus de Milo. But day in and day out she
had to stand before a cast of a meaningless scroll, endeavoring to
represent it on drawing paper. This was no longer play, but work as
tedious as the geography lessons in Weston. There is a great difference
between work and play, though they both may consist in doing the same
thing. Nevertheless Henrietta had positive ability, and the almost
mechanical training of the first months did her good.

But somehow she was not so glad to see Rob Riley, the granite cutter,
as she had expected to be. When Rob called at first to see her, the
maid, who had received many warnings against allowing sneak thieves and
tramps to stand in the hall, did not dare leave him by the hatrack. She
eyed him suspiciously, cross-questioned him sharply, and finally called
the cook upstairs to stand guard over him and the overcoats while she
went to call Henrietta. Poor Rob, already frightened at having to ring
the door-bell of a brown-stone house, stood in the hall fumbling his
hat, while the stalwart cook never once took her eyes off him, but
stood ready to throttle him if he made a motion to seize a coat or to
open the door behind him. Somehow the greeting between the two under
these circumstances was as different as possible from their parting in
the country. Henrietta felt that by receiving Rob Riley in his Sunday
clothes she had forever compromised herself with Hibernia downstairs;
and poor Rob, half chilled by Henrietta's reception, and wholly
dampened by the rosewood furniture and the lace curtains, and the
necessity for sitting down on damask upholstery, was very ill at ease.
Henrietta longed to speak freely, as she had done in the old days when
they strolled through the hill pasture together, but then she trembled
lest the door-bell should ring and some of Mrs. Cousin John's fine
visitors enter the reception room. So the meeting was a failure. Rob
even forgot that he had meant to ask Henrietta to go with him to the
free lecture the next evening. And he was glad when he got out, and
Henrietta was relieved, though she cried with vexation and
disappointment when he was gone. As for Rob, he went home in great
doubt whether it was worth while trying to be something. Of what use
was it to seek to get to be a boss, a builder, or the owner of a
quarry? Things were all wrong anyhow.

After this he only met Henrietta now and then as she came in or went
out, though this was not easy, for he had to work with the hammer all
day, and his evenings were spent in mechanical drawing. On second
thought, he _would_ be something, if only just to show folks that
looked down on him. Though, if he had only known it, Henrietta did not
look down on him at all; all her contempt was expended on herself.

But this feeling wore away as she became naturalized in Mrs. Cousin
John's world. There were little dance parties, and though Henrietta was
obliged to dress plainly, she grew more to be a beautiful woman. The
simplicity of her dress set off this fine loveliness, and Henrietta
Newton was artist enough to understand this, so that her clothes did
not make her abashed in company. She had no party dresses, but with
Mrs. Willard's assistance she always looked the beautiful country
cousin. Other girls remarked upon the monotony of her dress, but then
the gentlemen did not care that one woolen gown did duty on many
occasions. Some women can stand the ordeal of a uniform for church and
theater, party and _tête-à-tête_.

Mrs. Willard meant well by Henrietta. If Henrietta's art got on slowly,
and her chance for a prize decreased steadily under the dissipating
influences about her, it was not that Mrs. Willard intended to do her
harm by parading her pretty cousin on Sundays and week days. It was
only a second growth of vanity in Cousin John's wife. When one is no
longer sought after for one's own sake, the next best thing is to be
sought after for somebody else's sake. Mrs. Willard shone now in a
reflected glory, as the keeper of the pretty Miss Newton. Young
gentlemen stood squarely in front of Mrs. Willard and made full bows to
her, and were delighted when she asked them to call. Mrs. Willard also
carried it up to her own credit, in her confidential talks with ladies
of her own age, that she was doing so much for John's cousin, whom she
had found buried in an old farmhouse. For Mrs. Willard was a Christian
and a philanthropist, besides being a reformer.

She was endeavoring with all her heart to reform a younger brother of
her own, who was enough to have filled the hands of three or four red,
white, and blue ribbon associations. He was a fine subject to work on,
this young Harrison Lowder. Few young men have been so much reformed.
He had a bright wit and genial manners, but moral endowments had been
accidentally omitted in his makeup. Nothing that was pleasant could
seem wrong to him. He was a magnificent sinner, with an artistic
lightness of touch in wrongdoing, and he took his evil courses with
such unfailing good nature that people forgave him.

It was a happy thought of Mrs. Willard's, when she saw him becoming
fascinated with Henrietta, to reform him and render Henrietta a service
at the same time. For Lowder had money, and to a poor country girl such
a marriage ought to be a heaven-send, while it would serve to reform
Harry, no doubt. It isn't always that a matchmaker can be sure of being
a benefactor to both sides. One of the most remarkable things in
nature, however, is the willingness of women to lay a girl's life on
the altar for the chance of saving the morals of a scapegrace man. If a
pious mother can only marry her son Beelzebub to some "good, religious
girl," the chance of his reformation is greatly increased. The girl is
neither here nor there when one considers the necessity for saving the
dear Beelzebub.

Harry Lowder had the advantage of all other comers with Henrietta. The
keeper was on his side, in the first place; and he was half
domesticated at the house, coming and going when he pleased. The city
dazzled the country girl, and it was a great pleasure to him to take
her to theaters and operas. His winning manners, his apparent
frankness, and the round of amusements he kept her in, could not but
have their effect on a strong-willed creature such as she was. Her
pent-up intensity of life burst out now into the keenest enjoyment of
all that she saw and heard and felt for the first time.

There were times when the memory of her country home and little
Periwinkle came into her mind like a fresh breeze from the hills. At
such times she recoiled from the round of unhealthful excitement in
which she found herself; she hated the high-wrought plays and burlesque
operas that she had seen; she despised the exciting novels that Harry
Lowder had lent her. Then the old farm, with its stern and quiet ways,
seemed a sort of paradise; she longed for her mother's voice, and even
for her father's rebuke, for Rob Riley's homely love-making, and
Periwinkle's quaint ways. At such times she had a sense of standing in
some imminent peril, a dark foreboding shadowed her, and she wished
that she had never come to New York, for the drawing did not get on
well. Harry Lowder said it didn't matter about the drawing; she was
meant for something better. There was always an easy way out of such
depressions. Harry told her that she had the blues, and that if she
would go to see this or that the blues would disappear. There is an
easy way of getting rid of the blues by pawning to-morrow to pay
to-day's debts.

It would hardly be right to say that Lowder was in love with Henrietta
Newton, for in our good English tongue there is usually a moral element
to the word love. But Harry certainly was fascinated with
Henrietta--more fascinated than he had ever been with any one else. And
as he had become convinced that it was best for him to marry and to
reform--just a little--he thought that Henrietta Newton would be the
girl to marry.

So it happened that Periwinkle, who had waited for Christmas to come
that she might see Henrietta again, was bitterly disappointed. At
Christmas Henrietta had been promised two great treats--Fox in Humpty
Dumpty and the sight of St. Dives's Church in its decorations, with the
best music in the city. And then there were to be other things quite as
wonderful to the country girl. In truth, Henrietta was afraid to go
home. Somewhere in the associations of home there lay in wait for her a
revengeful conscience which she feared to meet. Then, too, Rob Riley
would be at home, and a meeting with him must produce shame in her, and
bring on a decision that she would rather postpone. Mrs. Willard begged
her to stay, and it was hard to resist her benefactress. But in her
girl's heart at times she was tired and homesick, and the staying in
the city cost her two or three good crying spells. And when the
holidays were past she bitterly repented that she had not gone home.

In this mood she sat down and wrote a long letter to her mother, full
of regrets and homesickness, and longing and contradictoriness. She
liked the city and she didn't. She hadn't done very well in her
drawing, as she confessed, but she meant to do better. It was a letter
that gave the good old mother much uneasiness. This city world was
something that she could not understand--a great sea for the navigation
of which she had no chart. She got from Henrietta's letter a vague
sense of danger, a danger terrible because entirely incomprehensible to
her.

And, indeed, she had already become uneasy, for when Rob Riley came
home at Christmas time he did not come to see them, nor did he bring
any messages from Henrietta. When she asked him about the girl, at
meeting time on Sunday, Rob hung his head and looked at the toe of his
boot a minute, and then said that he "hadn't laid eyes on her for six
weeks." What did it all mean? Had Henrietta got into some disgrace? The
father was alarmed also. He thought it about time that she should be
getting a thousand dollars for a picture; though, for his part, he
couldn't see why anybody should pay for a picture enough money to build
two or three barns.

The little Periwinkle heard all of these discussions, though nobody
thought of her understanding them.

"I'm going down there," she said. "I'm going to see about that, I am."

"What?" said the grandfather, looking at the little thing fondly.

"About Henrietta. I'm a-goin' down with Wob Wiley."

"Hello! you air, air you?"

Now it happened that in her fit of repentance and homesickness
Henrietta had written: "I wish you would send dear little Periwinkle
down here some time. I do want to see her, and she would be such a good
model to draw from." Henrietta had not thought of the practical
difficulties of getting the chubby little thing down, nor of how she
would keep her if she came, nor, indeed, of the possibility of her
words being understood in their literal sense. It was only a cry of
longing.

But now the mother, full of apprehension and at her wits' end what to
do, looked with a sort of superstitions respect at the self-confident
little creature who proposed to go down to the city and see about
things.

The old lady at first proposed to go down herself and take little
Periwinkle with her; but she felt timid about the great city, and about
Cousin John's fine ways of living. She wouldn't be able to find her way
around, and she felt "scarr't" when she thought about it. Besides,
who'd get father's breakfast for him if she went away?

So she decided to send Periwinkle down. Rob Riley could take her, and
Cousin John's wife had always liked her and she'd be glad to see her.
She hadn't any children of her own, and might be real glad to have the
merry little thing about; and as for sending her back, there was always
somebody coming up from the city. Of course Grandma Newton didn't think
how large the village of New York had grown to be, and how unlikely it
was that Henrietta should find any one going to Weston.

The greatest difficulty was to persuade Rob Riley to take her. His
pride was wounded, and he didn't want to have anything to do with
Henrietta and her fine folks. But the old lady persisted, and, above
all, little Periwinkle informed Rob that she was going down to see
about Henrietta. This touched Rob; he remembered when she had snatched
Henrietta out of the jaws of Miss Tucker. He consented to take her to
Mr. Willard's house and ring the door-bell.

Henrietta had recovered from her attack of penitence, and was again
floating on the eddying current of excitement. One evening she went
with Lowder to see La Dame aux Camelias. She had never before seen "an
emotional play" of the French school, and it affected her deeply. Harry
took advantage of her softened feelings to envelop her in a cloud of
flattery, and to make love to her. Something of the better sense of the
girl had heretofore held her back from any committal of her trust to
him; but when they reached Mrs. Willard's parlor, Harry laid direct
siege to Henrietta's affection, telling her what moral miracles her
influence had wrought in him, and how nothing but her love was needed
to keep him steadfast in the future; and, in truth, he more than half
believed what he said. The whole scene was quite in the key of the
play, and her overwrought feelings drifted toward the man pleading thus
earnestly for affection. Harry saw the advantage of the situation, and
urged on her an immediate decision. Henrietta, still shaken by
passionate excitement, and without rest in herself, was on the point of
promising eternal affection, in the manner of the heroine of the play,
when there came a loud ringing of the door-bell. So highly strained
were the girl's nerves, that she uttered a sharp cry at this unexpected
midnight alarm. The servants had gone to bed when Henrietta came in.
There was nothing for it but to open the door herself. With Harry
Lowder behind her for a reserve, she timidly opened the front door, to
find a child, muffled in an old-fashioned cloak and hood, standing upon
the stoop, while a man was descending the steps. Looking around just
enough to see who came to the door, he said, "Your mother said you
wanted her, and she would have me bring her to you."

Then, without a word of good-night, Rob Riley walked away, Henrietta
recognizing the voice with a pang.

"I come down to see about you," spoke the solemn and quizzical figure
on the stoop.

"Where on earth did that droll creature come from?" broke out Lowder.
"What is the matter, Miss Newton?"

For the suddenness of the apparition, the rude air with which Rob Riley
had turned his back upon her, had started a new set of emotions in the
mind of Henrietta. A wind from the old farm had blown suddenly over her
and swept away the fog. She felt now, with that intuitive quickness
that belongs to the artistic temperament, that she had recoiled but
just in time from a brink. For a moment she seemed likely to faint,
though she was not the kind of woman to faint when startled.

She reached out her hand to Periwinkle, and then, with a reaction of
feeling, folded her in her arms and wept. Harry was puzzled. She
suddenly became stiff and almost repellent toward him. She seemed
impatient for him to be gone. It was a curious effect of surprise upon
her nerves, he thought. He mentally confounded his luck, and said good
night.

Henrietta bore Periwinkle off to her own room and removed her cloak,
crying a little all the time. She was quite too full of emotion to take
into account as yet all the perplexities in which she would be involved
by the presence of Periwinkle in the house of Cousin John Willard.

"What brought you down here?" she said at last, when the sturdy little
girl, divested of her shawl and cloak and mittens and hood, sat upon a
chair in front of Henrietta, who sat upon the floor looking at her.

"I come down to see about you. Gran'ma said some things, and gran'pa
said some things, and Wob Wiley he looked bad, and I thought maybe I'd
just come down and see about you; and gran'ma said you wanted to make a
picture of me. You don't want to make a picture to-night, do you?
'cause I'm awful sleepy. You see, Wob had to come on the seven o'clock
twain, and that gits in at 'leven; and it took us till midnight to git
here, and Wob he's got to go ever so fur yet. What made 'em build such
a big town?" Here Periwinkle yawned and seemed about to fall off the
chair. In a few minutes she was lying fast asleep on Henrietta's
pillow.

But Henrietta slept not. It was a night of stormy trial. By turns one
mood and then another dominated. At times she resolved to be a lady,
admired and courted in the luxury of the city. As for possible
consequences, she had never been in the habit of counting the cost of
her actions carefully. There is a delicious excitement to a nature like
hers in defying consequences.

But then a sight of Periwinkle's sleeping innocence sent back the tide
with a rush. How much better were the simple old home ways and the love
of this little heart, and the faithful devotion of that most kindly Rob
Riley! She remembered her walks with him, her teasing him, his
interference against Miss Tucker, and the deliverance wrought by the
little creature lying there. She would go back to her old self, how
painful soever it might be.

But she couldn't stay in the city and turn away Harrison Lowder; and to
go home was to confess that she had failed in her art. And how could
she humble herself to seem to wish to regain Rob Riley's love? And
then, what kind of an outlook did the life of a granite-cutter's wife
afford her? Here she looked at herself in the glass. All her pride
rebelled against going home. But all her pride sank down when she
stooped to kiss the cheek of the sleeping child.

In this alternation of feeling she passed the night. When breakfast
time came she took Periwinkle down, making such explanations as she
could with much embarrassment.

"You're sick, Henrietta," said Cousin John. "You don't eat anything.
You've been working too steadily."

After breakfast the family doctor called, and said that Henrietta was
suffering from too close application to her art, and from steam heat in
the alcoves. She must have rest.

The poor, tired, perplexed girl, badgered with conflicting emotions,
but resolved at last to escape from temptations that she could not
resist effectually, received this verdict eagerly. She would go home;
and the doctor agreed that change of scene was what she wanted. Her
life in town was too dull.

Harry Lowder called that evening, but Henrietta had taken the
precaution to be sick abed. At eight o'clock the next morning she was
on the Harlem train.

"You see, I brought her home," said Periwinkle to her grandmother, in
confidence. "I didn't like Cousin John's folks. They wasn't glad to see
me; and I didn't like to leave Henrietta there."

But Henrietta, who had blossomed out into something quite different
from the Henrietta of other times, made no explanation except that she
was sick. For a week she took little interest in anything, ate but
little, and went about in a dazed way, resuming her old cares as though
she had never given them up. Somehow she seemed a fine lady in the
dignity of manner and the self-possession that she had taken on with
characteristic quickness of apprehension and imitation, and Mrs. Newton
felt as if the housework were unsuited to her. Even her father looked
at her with a sort of respect, and forbore to chide her as had been his
wont.

But when a week had passed she suddenly got out her material and began
to draw. Periwinkle was set up first for a model, then her father and
her mother, and then the dog, as he lay sleeping before the fire, had
his portrait taken, to Periwinkle's delight. So persistent was her
ambitious industry that every living thing on the place came in for a
sketch. But Periwinkle was the favorite.

Rob Riley came home for July and August, the work in the yard being
dull. He kept aloof from Henrietta, and she nodded to him with a severe
and almost disdainful air that made him wretched. After three or four
weeks of this coolness, during which Henrietta got a reputation for
pride in the whole country, Rob grew desperate. What did he care for
the "stuck-up" girl? He would have it out, anyhow, the next time he had
a chance.

They met one day on the little bridge that crossed the brook near the
schoolhouse. Henrietta nodded a bare recognition.

"You didn't treat me that way once, Henrietta. What's the matter? Have
I done anything wrong? Can't you be friendly?"

"Why don't _you_ be friendly?" said the girl, looking down.

"I--I?" said Rob.

"You haven't spoken to me since you came home."

"Well, that isn't my fault; you wouldn't look at me. I'm not going to
run after a person that lives in a fine house and that only nods her
head at me."

"I don't live in a fine house, but in that old frame."

"Well, why don't you be friendly?"

"It isn't a girl's place to be friendly first, is it?"

Rob stared at her.

"But you had other young men come to see you in town, and--you know I
couldn't."

"I don't live in town now."

"What made you come home?"

"If I'd wanted to I might have stayed there and had 'other young men,'
as you call them, coming to see me yet."

Rob gasped, but said nothing.

"Are you going over to Mr. Brown's?" asked Henrietta, to break the
awkward silence that followed, at the same time moving toward home.

"Well--no," said Rob; "I think I'm going to your house, if you've no
objection," and he laughed, a foolish little laugh.

"Periwinkle was asking about you this morning," said Henrietta
evasively as they walked on toward Mr. Newton's.

Having once fallen into the old habit of going to Mr. Newton's, Rob
could never get out of the way of walking down that lane. Just to see
how Henrietta got on with her drawing, as he said, he went there every
evening. He confided to Henrietta that he had shown such proficiency in
"figures" in the night school that he was to have a place in a civil
engineer's office when he returned to the city in the fall. It wasn't
much of a place; the salary was small, but it gave him an opportunity
to study and a chance of being something some day.

And Henrietta went on with her drawing, but without ever saying
anything about a return to Cousin John's. And, indeed, she never did go
back to Cousin John's from that day to this. She spent three years in
Weston. If they were tedious years, she said nothing about them. Rob
came home on Christmas and for a week in summer. Once in a long time he
would run up the Harlem road on Saturday evening. These were white
Sundays when Rob was at home, for then he and Henrietta went to meeting
together, and sat on the porch in the afternoons while Rob told her how
he expected to be somebody some day.

But being somebody is hard work and slow for most of us, as Rob Riley
found out. His salary was not increased very fast, but he made up for
that by steadily increasing his knowledge and his value in the office.
For Rob had discovered that being somebody means being something. You
can't hide any man under a bushel if he has a real light in him.

It was not till last year that Henrietta returned to the city. She is a
student now in oil painting. But she does not live at Cousin John's.
Nor, indeed, does she live in a very fashionable street, if I must
confess it. There are many old houses in New York that have been
abandoned by their owners because of the uptown movement and the
west-side movement of fashion. These houses are as quaint in their
antique interiors as a bric-a-brac cabinet. In an upper story of one of
these subdivided houses Rob Riley and his wife, Henrietta, have two
old-fashioned rooms; the front room is large and airy, with a carved
mantelpiece, the back room small and cosy. The furniture is rather
plain and scant, for Rob has not yet got to be a great engineer working
on his own account. At present he is one of those little fish that the
big fish are made to eat--an obscure man whose brains are carried up to
the credit of his chief. But he is already something, and is sure to be
somebody. And, for that matter, the rooms in the old mansion in De Witt
Place are quite good enough for two stout-hearted young people who are
happy. The walls are well ornamented with pictures from Henrietta's own
brush and pencil. These are not framed, but tacked up wherever the
light is good. The best of them is a chubby little girl with a
droll-serious air, clad in an old-fashioned hood and muffled in cloaks
and shawls. It is a portrait of Periwinkle as she stood that night on
Cousin John's steps when she had come down to see about Henrietta.

Henrietta is just finishing a picture called The Culprit, which she
hopes will be successful. It represents a girl in a country school
arraigned for drawing pictures on a slate. Rob, at least, thinks it
very fine, but he is not a harsh critic of anything Henrietta makes.

Rob was talking one evening, as usual, about the time when he should
come to be somebody. But Henrietta said: "O Rob, things are nice enough
as they are; I don't believe we'd be any happier in a house as fine as
Cousin John's. Let's have a good time as we go along, and not mind
about being somebody. But, Rob, I wish somebody'd buy this picture, and
then we could have something to set off this room a little. Don't you
think a sofa would be nice?" And then she looked at him, and said, "You
dear, good old Rob, you!" though why she should call him old, or what
connection this remark had with the previous conversation, I do not
know.



THE CHRISTMAS CLUB.

A GHOST STORY.


"The Dickens!"

That was just what Charley Vanderhuyn said that Christmas Eve, and as a
faithful historian I give the exact words. It sounded like swearing,
though why we should regard it profane to make free with the devil's
name, or even his nickname, I never could see. Can you? Besides, there
was some ambiguity about Charley's use of the word under the
circumstances, and he himself couldn't tell whether his exclamation had
reference to the Author of Evils or only to the Author of Novels. The
circumstances were calculated to suggest equally thoughts of the Great
Teller of Stories and of the Great Story-teller, and I have a mind to
amuse you at this Christmas season by telling you the circumstances,
and letting you decide, if you can, which Dickens it was that Charles
Vanderhuyn intended.

Charley Vanderhuyn was one of those young men that could grow nowhere
on this continent except in New York. He had none of the severe dignity
that belongs to a young man of wealth who has passed his life in sight
of long rows of red brick houses with clean doorsteps and white wooden
shutters. Something of the venerableness of Independence Hall, the
dignity of Girard College, and the air of financial importance that
belongs to the Mint gets into the blood of a Philadelphian. Charley had
none of that. Neither did he have that air of profound thought, that
Adams-Hancock-Quincy-Webster-Emerson-Sumner look that is the inevitable
mark of Beacon Street. When you see such a young man you know that he
has grown part of Faneuil Hall, and the Common, and the Pond, and the
historic elm. He has lived where the very trees are learned and carry
their Latin names about with them. Charley had none of the "vim" and
dash that belongs to a Westerner. He was of the metropolis--metropolitan.
He had good blood in him, else he could never have founded the
Christmas Club, for you can not get more out of a man than there is in
his blood. Charley Vanderhuyn bore a good old Dutch name--I have heard
that the Van der Huyns were a famous and noble family; his Dutch blood
was mingled with other good strains, and the whole was mellowed into
generousness and geniality in generations of prosperous ancestors; for
the richest and choicest fruit (and the rankest weeds as well!) can be
produced only in the sunlight. And a very choice fruit of a very choice
stock was and is our Charley Vanderhuyn. That everybody knows who knows
him now, and that we all felt who knew him earlier in the days of the
Hasheesh Club.

You remember the Hasheesh Club, doubtless. In its day it numbered the
choicest spirits in New York, and the very center of all of them was
this same Charley Vanderhuyn, whose face, the boys used to say, was
like the British Empire--for on it the sun never set. His unflagging
spirits, his keen love for society, his quick sympathy with everybody,
his fine appreciation of every man's good points, whatever they might
be, made Charley a prince wherever he went. I said he was the center of
the circle of young men about the Hasheesh Club ten years ago; and so
he was, though, to tell the truth, he was then but about twenty-one
years of age. They had a great time at the club, I remember, when he
came of age and came into possession of his patrimony--a trifle of half
a million, I believe. He gave a dinner, and there was such a time as
the Hasheesh Club never saw before nor since. I fear there was overmuch
wine-drinking, and I am sure there was a fearful amount of punch drunk.
Charley never drank to excess, never lost his self-control for a moment
under any temptation. But there was many another young man, of
different temperament, to whom the rooms of the club were what candles
are to moths. One poor fellow, who always burned his wings, was a
blue-eyed, golden-haired young magazine writer of that day. We all
thought of his ability and promise--his name was John Perdue, but you
will doubtless remember him by his _nom de plume_ of "Baron Bertram."
Poor fellow! he loved Charley passionately, and always drank himself
drunk at the club. He wasted all he had and all he made; his clothes
grew shabby, he borrowed of Charley, who was always open-handed, until
his pride would allow him to borrow no more. He had just married, too,
and he was so ashamed of his own wreck that he completed his ruin by
drinking to forget it.

I am not writing a story with a temperance moral; temperance tales are
always stupid and always useless. The world is brimful of walking
morals on that subject, and if one will not read the lesson of the life
of his next-door neighbor, what use of bringing Lazarus from the dead
to warn him of a perdition that glares at him out of the eyes of so
many men?

I mentioned John Perdue--poor golden-haired "Baron Bertram"--only
because he had something to do with the circumstances which led Charley
Vanderhuyn to use that ambiguous interjection about "the Dickens!"
Perdue, as I said, dropped away from the Hasheesh Club, lost his
employment as literary editor of the Luminary, fell out of good
society, and at last earned barely enough to keep him and his wife and
his child in bread, and to supply himself with whisky, by writing
sensation stories for the "penny dreadfuls." We all suspected that he
would not have received half so much for his articles had they been
paid for on their merits or at the standard price for hack writing. But
Charley Vanderhuyn had something to do with it. He sent Henry Vail--he
always sent Henry Vail on his missions of mercy--to find out where
Perdue sold his articles, and I have no doubt the price of each article
was doubled, at Vanderhuyn's expense.

And that mention of Henry Vail reminds me that I can not tell this
story rightly unless I let you know who he was. A distant relation of
Charley's, I believe. He was a studious fellow from the country, and
quite awkward in company. The contrast between him and Charley was
marked. Vanderhuyn was absolutely _au fait_ in all the usages of
society; he knew by instinct how a thing ought to be done, and his
example was law. He had a genius for it, everybody said. Vail was
afraid of his shadow; did not know just what was proper to do in any
new circumstances. His manners hung about him loosely; Vanderhuyn's
were part of himself. When Vail came to the Hasheesh Club for the first
time it was on the occasion of Charley's majority dinner. Vail
consulted Vanderhuyn about his costume, and was told that he must wear
evening dress; and, never having seen anything but provincial society,
he went with perfect assurance to a tailor's and ordered a new frock
coat and a white vest. When he saw that the other gentlemen present
wore dress coats, and that most of them had black vests, he was in some
consternation. He even debated whether he should not go out and hire a
dress coat for the evening. He drew Charley aside, and asked him why he
did not tell him that those sparrow-tail things had come into fashion
again!

But he never took kindly to the club life; he soon saw that however
harmless it might be to some men, it was destruction to others. After
attending a few times, Henry Vail, who was something of a Puritan and
much of a philanthropist, declared his opposition to what he called an
English dissipation.

Henry Vail was a scholarly fellow, of real genius, and had studied for
the ministry; but he had original notions, and about the time he was to
have taken deacon's orders in the Episcopal Church he drew back. He
said that orders would do for some men, but he did not intend to build
a wall between himself and his fellows. He could do more by remaining a
man of like passions with other men than he could by casing himself in
a clerical "strait-jacket," as he called it. Having a little income of
his own, he set up on his own account in the dingiest part of that
dingy street called Huckleberry Street--the name, with all its
suggestions of fresh fields and pure air and liberty, is a dreary
mockery. Just where Greenfield Court--the dirtiest of New York
alleys--runs out of Huckleberry Street, he set up shop, to use his own
expression, He was a kind of independent lay clergyman, ministering to
the physical and spiritual wants of his neighbors, climbing to garrets
and penetrating to cellars, now talking to a woman who owned a candy
and gingerbread stall, and now helping to bury a drunken sailor. Such a
life for a scholar! But he always declared that digging out Greek and
Hebrew roots was not half so fascinating a work as digging out human
souls from the filth of Huckleberry Street.

Of course he did not want for money to carry on his operations. Charley
Vanderhuyn's investments brought large returns, and Charley knew how to
give. When Vail would begin a pathetic story, Vanderhuyn would draw out
his check book, and say: "How much shall it be, Harry?--never mind the
story. It's handy to have you to give away my money for me. I should
never take the trouble to see that it went to the people that need. One
dollar given by you is worth ten that I bestow on Tom, Dick, and Harry;
so I prefer to let Tom and Dick go without, and give it all to Harry."
In fact Vanderhuyn had been the prey of so many impostors that he
adopted the plan of sending all of his applicants to Vail, with a note
to him, which generally ran thus, "Please investigate." The tramps soon
ceased to trouble him, and then he took to intrusting to Vail each
month a sum equal to what he had been in the habit of giving away
loosely.

It was about the first of December, four years ago, that Harry Vail,
grown younger and fresher in two years of toil among the
poor--glorified he seemed by the tenderness of his sympathies and the
nobleness of his aims--it was four years ago that Harry came into
Charley Vanderhuyn's rooms for his regular monthly allotment. Vail
generally came in the evening, and Charley generally managed to be
disengaged for that evening. The two old friends whose paths diverged
so widely were fond of each other's company, and Vail declared that he
needed one evening in the month with Vanderhuyn; he liked to carry away
some of Charley's sunshine to the darkness of Huckleberry Street and
Greenfield Court. And Charley said that Harry brought more sunlight
than he took. I believe he was right. Charley, like all men who live
without a purpose, was growing less refined and charming than he had
been, his cheeks were just a trifle graver than those of the young
Charley had been. But he talked magnificently as ever. Vail said that
he himself was an explorer in a barbarous desert, and that Charles
Vanderhuyn was the one civilized man he could meet.

It is a curious thing that Vail had never urged Charley to a different
life from the self-indulgent one that he led, but it was a peculiarity
of Henry's that he was slow to attack a man directly. I have heard that
it was one great secret of his success among the poor, that he would
meet an intemperate man twenty times, perhaps, before he attacked his
vice. Then, when the man had ceased to stand guard, Vail would suddenly
find an entrance to him by an unwatched gate. It was remarkable, too,
that when he did seize on a man he never for an instant relaxed his
grasp. I have often looked at his aquiline nose, and wondered if it
were not an index to this eagle-like swoop at the right moment, and
this unwavering firmness of hold.

On this evening, about the first of December, four years ago, he sat in
Charley's cozy bedroom and listened to Vanderhuyn's stories of a life
antipodal to the life he was accustomed to see--for the antipodes do
not live round the world, but round the first street corner; he
listened and laughed at the graphic and eloquent and grotesque pictures
that Charley drew for him till nearly midnight, and then got ready to
go back to his home, among the noisy saloons of Huckleberry Street.
Charley drew out his check book and wrote and tore off the check, and
handed it to Vail.

"I want more, Charley, this time," said Vail in his quiet, earnest way,
with gray eyes fixed on his friend's blue ones.

"Got more widows without coal than usual, eh, old fellow? How much
shall it be? Double? Ask anything. I can't refuse the half of my
fortune to such a good angel as you are, Vail. I don't spend any money
that pays so well as what I give you. I go to the clubs and to parties.
I sit at the opera and listen to Signora Scracchioli, and say to
myself, 'Well, there's Vail using my money to help some poor devil in
trouble.' I tell you I get a comfortable conscience by an easy system
of commutation. Here, exchange with me; this is for double the amount,
and I am glad you mentioned it."

"But I want more than that this time," and Vail fixed his eyes on
Charley in a way that made the latter feel just a little ill at ease, a
sensation very new to him.

"Well, how much, Harry? Don't be afraid to ask. I told you you should
have half my kingdom, old fellow!" And Vanderhuyn took his pen and
began to date another check.

"But, Charley, I am almost afraid to ask. I want more than half you
have--I want something worth more than all you have."

"Why, you make me curious. Never saw you in that vein before, Vail,"
and Charley twisted a piece of paper, lighted it in the gas jet, and
held it gracefully in his fingers while he set his cigar going, hoping
to hide his restlessness under the wistful gaze of his friend by this
occupation of his attention.

But however nervous Henry Vail might be in the performance of little
acts that were mere matters of convention, there was no lack of quiet
self-possession in matters that called out his earnestness of spirit.
And now he sat gazing steadily at Charley until the cigar had been
gracefully lighted, the bit of paper tossed on the grate, and until
Charley had watched his cigar a moment. When the latter reluctantly
brought his eyes back into range with the dead-earnest ones that had
never ceased to look on him with that strange wistful expression, then
Henry Vail proceeded:

"I want _you_, Charley."

Charley laughed heartily now. "Me? What a missionary _I_ would make!
Kid-glove gospeller I'd be called in the first three days. What a
superb Sunday-school teacher I'd make! Why, Henry Vail, you know
better. There's just one thing in this world I have a talent for, and
that's society. I'm a man of the world in my very fiber. But as for
following in your illustrious footsteps--I wish I could be so good a
man, but you see I'm not built in that way. I'm a man of the world."

"That's just what I want," said Henry Vail, looking with the same
tender wistfulness into his friend's eyes. "If I'd wanted a missionary
I shouldn't have come to you. If I'd wanted a Sunday-school teacher I
could have found twenty better; and as for tract distributing and Bible
reading, you couldn't do either if you'd try. What I want for
Huckleberry Street more than I want anything else is a man of the
world. You are a man of the world--of the whole world. I have seen a
restaurant waiter stop and gape and listen to your talk. I have seen a
coal-heaver delighted with your manners when you paid him. Charley,
you're the most magnificent man of the world I ever saw. Must a man of
the world be useless? I tell you I want you for God and Huckleberry
Street, and I mean to have you some day, old fellow." And the perfect
assurance with which he said this, and the settled conviction of final
success that was visible in his quiet gray eyes, fascinated Charley
Vanderhuyn, and he felt spellbound, like the wedding guest held by the
"Ancient Mariner."

"I tell you what, Henry," he said presently, "I've got no call. I'm an
Epicurean. I say to you, in the words of an American poet:

    'Take the current of your nature, make it stagnant if you will:
    Dam it up to drudge forever at the service of your will.
    Mine the rapture and the freedom of the torrent on the hill!
    I shall wander o'er the meadows where the fairest blossoms call:
    Though the ledges seize and fling me headlong from the rocky wall,
    I shall leave a rainbow hanging o'er the ruins of my fall.'"

"Charley, I don't want to preach," said Vail; "but you know that this
doctrine of mere selfish floating on the current of impulse which your
traveler poet teaches is devilish laziness, and devilish laziness
always tends to something worse. You may live such a life, and quote
such poetry, but you don't believe that a man should flow on like a
purposeless river. The lines you quoted bear the mark of a restless
desire to apologize to conscience for a fearful waste of power and
possibility. No," he said, rising, "I don't want that check. This one
will do; but you won't forget that God and Huckleberry Street want you,
and they will have you, too, noble-hearted fellow! Good night! God
bless you!" and he shook Charley's hand and went out into the night to
seek his home in Huckleberry Street. And the genial Charley never saw
his brave friend again. Yes, he did, too. Or did he?


II.

The month of December, four years ago, was a month of much festivity in
the metropolis. Charley was wanted nearly every night to grace some
gathering or other, and Charley was too obliging to refuse to go where
he was wanted--that is, when he was wanted in Fifth Avenue or
Thirty-fourth Street[3]. As for Huckleberry Street and Greenfield
Court, they were fast fading out of Charley's mind. He knew that Henry
Vail would introduce the subject when he came for his January check,
and he expected some annoyance from the discussion of the
question--annoyance, because there was something in his own breast that
answered to Vail's appeal. Charley was more than an Epicurean. To eat
and drink, to laugh and talk, and die, was not enough for such a soul.
He mentally compared himself to Felix, and said that Vail wouldn't let
him forget his duty, anyhow. But for the present it was too delightful
to him to honor the entertainment given by the Honorable Mr. So-and-so
and Mrs. So-and-so; it was pleasant to be assured by Mrs.
Forty-Millions that her party would fail but for his presence. And then
he had just achieved the end of his ambition. He was president of the
Hasheesh Club. He took his seat at the head of the table on Christmas
Eve.

      [3] The reader will remember that this was written in 1872. I do
      not know how far the uptown centers of fashion will be in twenty
      years more.

Now, patient reader, we draw near to the time when Charley uttered the
exclamation set down at the head of this story. Bear a little longer
with my roundabout way of telling. It is Christmastide anyway; why
should we hurry ourselves through this happy season?

Just as Charley went into the door of the clubhouse--you remember the
Hasheesh clubhouse was in Madison Avenue then--just as Charley entered
he met the burly form and genial face of the eminent Dr. Van Doser, who
said, "Well, Vanderhuyn, how's your cousin Vail?"

"Is he sick?" asked Charley, struck with a foreboding that made him
tremble.

"Sick? Didn't you know? Well, that's just like Vail. He was taken with
smallpox two weeks ago, and I wanted to take the risk of penalties and
not report his case, but he said if I didn't he would do it himself;
that sanitary regulations requiring smallpox patients to go to a
hospital were necessary, and that it became one in his position to set
a good example to Huckleberry Street. So I was compelled to report him
and let him go to the island. And he hasn't let you know?--for fear you
would try to communicate with him probably, and thus expose yourself to
infection. Extraordinary man, that Vail. I never saw his like," and
with that the doctor turned to speak to some gentlemen who had just
come in.

And so Charley's Christmas Eve dinner at the Hasheesh Club was spoiled.
There are two inconvenient things in this world, a conscience and a
tender heart, and Charley Vanderhuyn was plagued with both. While going
through with the toasts, his mind was busy with poor Henry Vail
suffering in a smallpox hospital. In his graceful response to the
sentiment, "The President of the Hasheesh Club," he alluded to the
retiring president, and made some witty remark--I forget what--about
his being a denizen of Lexington Avenue; but in saying Lexington Avenue
he came near slipping into Huckleberry Street, and in fact he did get
the first syllable out before he checked himself. He was horrified
afterward to think how near he had come, later in the evening, to
addressing the company as "Gentlemen of the Smallpox Hospital."

Charley drank more wine and punch than usual. Those who sat near him
looked at one another significantly, in a way that implied their belief
that Vanderhuyn was too much elated over his election. Little did they
know that at that moment the presidency of the famous Hasheesh Club
appeared to Charley the veriest bawble in the world. If he had not
known how futile would be any attempt to gain an entrance to the
smallpox hospital, he would have excused himself and started for the
island on the instant.

But it was one o'clock before Charley got away. Out of the brilliantly
lighted rooms he walked, stunned with grief, and a little heavy with
the wine and punch he had drunk, for in his preoccupation of mind he
had forgotten to be as cautious as usual. Following an impulse, he took
a car and went directly downtown, and then made his way to Huckleberry
Street. He stopped at a saloon door and asked if they could tell him
where Mr. Vail's rooms were.

"The blissed man as wint about like a saint? Shore and I can," said the
boozy Irishman. "It's right ferninst where yer afther stan'in, up the
stairs on the corner of Granefield Coort--over there, bedad."

Seeing a light in the rooms indicated by the man, Charley crossed over,
passed through a sorrowful-looking crowd at the door, and went up the
stairs. He found the negro woman who kept the rooms for Vail standing
talking to an Irish woman. Both the women were deeply pitted with
smallpox.

He inquired if they could tell him how Mr. Vail was.

"O honey, he's done dead sence three o'clock," said the black woman,
sitting down in a chair and beginning to wipe her eyes on her apron.
"This Misses Mcgroarty's jist done tole me this minute."

The Irish woman came round in front of Mr. Vanderhuyn and looked
inquisitively at him a moment, and then said, "Faix, mister, and is yer
name Charley?"

"Why do you ask?" said Vanderhuyn.

"Because I thought, mebbe, you might be after him, the gentleman. It's
me husband, Pat Mcgroarty, as is a nurruss in the horsepital, and a
good one as iver ye seed, and it's Pat as has been a-tellin' me about
that blissed saint of a man, as how in his delairyum he kept a-talkin'
to Charley all the time, and Pat said as he seemed to have something on
his mind he wanted to say to Charley. An' whin I see yer face, sich a
gintleman's face as ye've got, too, I says shure that must be Charley."

"What did he say?" asked Vanderhuyn.

"Shure, and Pat said it wasn't much he could gether, for he was in a
awful delairyum, ye know, but he would keep a-sayin', 'Charley,
Charley, God and Huckleberry Street want you.' Pat says he'd say it so
awful as would make him shiver, that God and Huckleberry Street wanted
Charley. Shure it must a bin the delairyum, you know, that made him mix
up things loike, and put God and Huckleberry Street together, when its
more loike the divil would seem more proper to go with Huckleberry
Street, ye know. But if yer name's Charley, and yer loike the loikes of
him as is dead, shure Huckleberry Street is after wantin' of you, bad
enough."

"My name's Charley, but I'm not a bit like him, though, I'm sorry to
say, my good woman. Tell your husband to come and see me--there's my
number."

Charley went out, and the men at the door whispered, "That must be the
rich man as give him all the money." He took the last car uptown, and
he who had been two hours before in that brilliant company at the
Hasheesh was now one of ten people riding in a street car. Of his
fellow-passengers six were drunken men and two were low women of the
town; one of them had no bonnet, and lacked a penny of enough to pay
her fare, but the conductor mercifully let her ride, remarking to
Vanderhuyn, who stood on the platform, that "the poor devil has a hard
life any how." Said I not a minute ago, that the antipodes live not
around the world, but around the street corner? Antipodes ride in the
same street car.

As the car was passing Mott Street, a passenger, half drunk, came out,
turned his haggard face a moment toward the face of Charley Vanderhuyn,
and then, with an exclamation of startled recognition, leaped from the
car and hurried away in the darkness. It was not till the car had gone
three blocks farther that Vanderhuyn guessed, from the golden hair,
that this was Perdue, the brilliant "Baron Bertram" of the early days
of the Hasheesh Club.

When Charley got back to his luxurious apartment he was possessed with
a superstitious feeling. He took up the paper weight that Henry Vail
had held in his hand the very last night he was in this parlor, and he
thought the whole conversation over as he smoked his cigar, fearing to
put out his light.

"Confound the man that invented ghost stories for a Christmas
amusement!" he said, as he remembered Old Scrooge and Tiny Tim. "Well,
I'm not Old Scrooge, anyhow, if I'm not as good as poor Henry Vail."

I do not know whether it was the reaction from the punch he had drunk,
or the sudden shock of Vail's death, or the troubled conscience, or
from all three, but when he got into bed he found himself shaking with
nervousness.

He had been asleep an hour, perhaps, when he heard a genuine Irish
voice say, "Faix, mister, and is yer name Charley?"

He started up--looked around the room. He had made so much concession
to his nervous feeling that he had not turned the gas quite out, as was
his custom. The dim duskiness made him shudder; he expected to see the
Huckleberry Street Irish woman looking at him. But he shook off his
terror a little, uttered another malediction on the man that invented
Christmas ghost stories, concluded that his illusion must have come
from his lying on his left side, turned over, and reflected that by so
doing he would relieve his heart and stomach from the weight of his
liver, repeated this physiological reflection in a soothing way two or
three times, dropped off into a quiet snooze, and almost immediately
found himself sitting bolt upright in bed, shaking with a chill terror,
sure that the Irish voice had again asked the question, "Faix, mister,
and is yer name Charley?" He had a feeling, though his back was toward
the table, that some one sat at the table. Charley was no coward, but
it took him a minute or two to shake off his terror and regain enough
self-control to look around.

For a moment he saw, or thought he saw, a form sitting at the table,
then it disappeared, and then, after a good while, Charley got himself
composed to sleep again, this time with his head well bolstered, to
reduce the circulation in the brain, as he reflected.

He did not get to sleep, however, for before he became unconscious the
Irish voice from just above the carved headboard spoke out so clear now
that there could be no mistake, "Faix, mister, and is yer name
Charley?" It was then that he rose in bed and uttered the exclamation
which I set down in the first line of this story. Charley Vanderhuyn
could not tell whether he meant Charles Dickens or Nick. Perhaps you
can. Indeed, it doesn't seem to matter much, after all.


III.

A narrative of this sort, like a French sermon, divides itself into
three parts. I have now got through the preliminary tanglements of the
history of the founding of the Christmas Club, and I hope to be able to
tell the remainder of the story with as few digressions as possible,
for at Christmastide a body doesn't want his stories to stretch out to
eternity, even if they are ghostly.

Charley Vanderhuyn said "The Dickens!" and though his meaning was
indefinite, he really meant it, whatever it might be. He looked up at
the ornamental figure carved on the rich headboard of his bed as if he
suspected that the headboard of English walnut had spoken in Irish. He
looked at the headboard intently a long time, partly because the Irish
voice had come from that direction, and partly because he was afraid to
look round toward the table. He _knew_, just as well before he looked
around as he did afterward, what he should see. He saw it before he
looked round by some other vision than that of his eyes, and that was
what made him shiver so. He knew that the persistent gray eyes were
upon him, that they would never move until he looked round. _He could
feel the look before he saw it._

At last he turned slowly. Sure enough, in that very chair by the table
sat the Presence, the Ghost--the--it was Henry Vail; or was it? There,
in the dim light, was the aquiline nose like an eagle's beak, there
were the steady, unwavering gray eyes, with that same earnest, wistful
look fastened on Vanderhuyn; the features were Vail's, but the face was
plowed and pitted fearfully as with the smallpox. All this Charley saw,
while seeing through the ghost and beyond--the carving on the rosewood
dressing case was quite as visible through the unsubstantial apparition
as before. Charley was not ordinarily superstitious, and he quickly
reasoned that his excited imagination had confounded the features of
Harry Vail's face with the pock-marked visage of the Huckleberry Street
Irish woman. So he shook himself, rubbed his eyes and looked again.
The apparition this time was much more distinct, and it lifted the
paper weight, as Henry had three weeks before. Charley was so sure that
it was Henry Vail himself that he began to get up to shake hands with
his friend, but the perfect transparency of the apparition checked him,
and he hid his face in his hands a moment, in a terror that he could no
longer conceal from himself.

"What do you want?" he said at last, lifting his eyes.

"I want you, Charley!" said the ghost.

Now I hardly know how to describe to you the manner in which the ghost
replied. It was not speech, nor any attempt at speech. You have seen a
mesmerist or biologist, or whatever-you-call-him-ist, communicate with
a man under his spell without speech. He looks at him, _wills_ that a
distinct impression shall be made on his victim, and the poor fellow
does or says as the master spirit wishes him. By some such subtle
influence the ghost, without the intervention of sound or the sense of
hearing, conveyed this reply to Charley. There was no doubt about the
reply. It was far more distinct than speech--an impression made
directly upon the consciousness.

Charley arose and dressed himself under some sort of fascination. His
own will had abdicated; the tender, eager, wistful eyes of Vail held
him fast, and he did not feel either inclination or power to resist.
The eyes directed him to one article of clothing, and then to another,
until he found himself muffled to the ears for a night walk.

"Where are we going?" asked Charley huskily.

"To Huckleberry Street," answered the eyes, without a sound, and in a
minute more the two were passing down the silent streets. They met
several policemen and private watchmen, but Vanderhuyn observed that no
one took notice either of him or the ghost. The feet of the watchmen
made a grinding noise in the crisp snow, but Charley was horrified to
find that his own tread and that of his companion made no sound
whatever as their feet fell upon the icy sidewalks. Was he, then, out
of the body also? This silence and this loss of the power of choice
made him doubtful, indeed, whether he were dead or alive.

In Huckleberry Street they went first to a large saloon, where a set of
roysterers were having a Christmas-Eve spree preparatory to a
Christmas-morning headache. Charley could not imagine why the ghost had
brought him here, to be smothered with the smell of this villainous
tobacco, for to nothing was Charley more sensitive than to the smell of
a poor cigar or a cheap pipe. He thought if he should have to stay here
long he would like to distribute a box of his best brand among these
smokers, so as to give the room the odor of the Hasheesh Club. At first
it seemed a Babel of voices; there were men of several different
nationalities talking in three or four languages. Six men were standing
at the long counter drinking--one German, two Irishmen, a Portuguese
sailor, a white American, and a black one. The spirit of Vail seemed to
be looking for somebody; it peered round from table to table, where men
slammed down the cards so as to make as much noise as possible. Nobody
paid the least attention to the two strangers, and at last it flashed
upon Vanderhuyn that he and Vail were both invisible to the throng
around them.

The Presence stopped in front of a table where two young men sat. They
were playing euchre, and they were drinking. It is an old adage that
truth is told in wine, and with some men sense comes with whisky.

"I say, Joe," said one, "blamed ef it 'taint too bad; you and me
spendin' our time this way! The ole woman's mos' broke 'r heart over me
t'day. Sh' said I ought be the s'port 'f her ole dage, 'stid 'f boozin'
roun' thish yer way. 'S so! Tell you, Joe, 's so! Blam'd 'f 'taint.
Hey? W'at y' say? Hey?"

"Of course 'tis, Ben," growled the other; "we all know that. But what's
a feller goin' to do for company? Go on; it's your deal."

"Who kyeers fer th' deal? I d--on't. Now, Joe, I says, t--to th' ole
lady, y' see, I says, a young man can't live up a dingy stairs on th'
top floor al'ays, and never git no comp'ny. Can't do it. I don't want
t' 'rink much, but I c--ome here to git comp'ny. Comp'ny drinks, and I
git drunk 'f--fore I know 'fore you--pshaw! deal yerself 'f you want t'
play."

After a while he put the cards down again, and began:

"What think I done wunst? He, he! Went to th' Young Men's Chrissen
Soshiashen. Ole lady, you know, coaxed. He! he! You bet! Prayer
meetin', Bible class, or somethin'. All slick young fellers 'th side
whiskers. Talked pious, an' so genteel, you know. I went there fer
comp'ny! Didn' go no more. Druther git drunk at the 'free-and-easy'
ever' night, by George, 'n to be a slick kind 'f feller 'th side
whiskers a lis'nin' t' myself make purty speeches 'n a prayer Bible
class meetin' or such, you know. Hey? w'at ye say? Hey? 'S comp'ny a
feller wants, and 's comp'ny a feller's got t' have, by cracky! Hey?
W'at ye say? Hey, Joe?"

"Blam'd 'f 'tain't," said Joe.

"That's w'at them rich fellers goes to the club fer? Hey? w'at ye say,
Joe? Hey?"

"Yes, of course."

"Wish I had a club! Better'n this place to go to. Vail, he used to do a
fellow good. If he'd 'a' lived he'd 'a' pulled me out this yer, would,
you, know. He got 's eyes onto me, and they say when he got 's eyes
onto feller never let go, you know. Done me good. Made me 'shamed. Does
feller good t' be 'shamed, Joe. Don't it? Hey? W'at you say?"

"Yes," said Joe.

"But w'en a feller's lonesome, a young feller, I mean, he's got to have
company if he has to go down to Davy Jones's, and play seven-up with
Ole Nick. Hey, Joe? W'at you say? Hey?"

"I s'pose so," said Joe; "but come, deal, old fellow; don't go to
preachin'."

I have heard Charley say that he never heard anything half so
distinctly in his life as he felt what the apparition said to him when
their eyes met at that moment.

"God and Huckleberry Street want you, Charley."

Charley looked away restively, and then caught the eyes of the ghost
again, and this time the ghost said:

"And they're going to have you, too."

I have heard Charley tell of several other visits they made that night;
but, as I said before, even a Christmas yarn and a ghost story must not
spin itself out, like Banquo's line, to the crack of doom. However true
or authentic a story may be--and you can easily verify this by asking
any member of the Christmas Club in Huckleberry Street--however true a
yarn may be, it must not be so long that it can never be wound up.

The very last of the wretched places they looked in upon was a bare
room in a third story. There was a woman sitting on a box in one
corner, holding a sick child. A man with golden hair was pacing the
floor.

"There's that devil again!" he said, pointing to the blank wall. "Now
he's gone. You see, Carrie, I could quit if I had anybody to help me.
Oh! I heard to night that Charley Vanderhuyn had been elected president
of the Hasheesh. And I saw him an hour ago on a Second Avenue car. I
wish Charley would come and talk to me. He'd give me money, but 'tain't
money. I could make money if I could let whisky alone. I used to love
to hear Charley talk better than to live. I believe it was the ruin of
me. But he don't seem to care for a fellow when his clothes get shabby.
See there!" and he picked up a piece of wood and threw it at the wall,
startling his wife and making the child cry. "I hit him that time! I
wish I could hear Charley Vanderhuyn talk once more. His talk is enough
to drive devils away any time. Great God, what an awful Christmas this
is!"

Charley wanted to begin to talk on the spot, but when he found that
poor "Baron Bertram" could neither see him nor hear a word he spoke, he
had a fearful sense of being a disembodied spirit. The ghost looked
wistfully at him, and said, "God and Huckleberry Street want _you_,
Charley."

Charley was very loath to leave Perdue and his wife in this condition;
he would have loved dearly to while away the dreary night for them, but
he could not speak to them, and the eyes of the ghost bade him follow,
and the two went swiftly back to Charley's rooms again.

Then the apparition sat down by the table and fastened its sad and
wistful eyes upon the soul of Charley Vanderhuyn. Not a word did it
speak. But the look, the old tender, earnest look of Henry Vail, drew
Charley's heart into his eyes and made him weep. There Vail sat, still
and wistful, until Charley, roused by all that he had seen, resolved to
do what he could for Huckleberry Street. He made no communication of
his purpose to the ghost. He meant to keep it close in his own breast.
But no sooner had he formed the purpose than a smile--the old familiar
smile--came across the face of Vail, the hideous scars of his loathsome
disease disappeared, and the face began to shine, while a faint aureole
appeared about his head. And Vanderhuyn became conscious that the room
was full of other mysterious beings. And to his regret Vail ceased now
to regard his friend any more, but looked about him at the Huckleberry
Street angels, who seemed to be pulling him away. He and they vanished
slowly, and on the wall there shone some faint luminous letters, which
Vanderhuyn tried to read, but the light of the Christmas dawn disturbed
his vision, and he was able to see only the latter part, and even that
was not clear to his eyes, but he partly read and partly remembered the
words, "When ye fail on earth they may receive you into everlasting
habitations."

He rang for his servant, had the fire replenished, opened his desk and
began to write letters. First he resigned the presidency of the
Hasheesh Club. Next he begged that Mrs. Rear-Admiral Albatross would
excuse him from her Christmas dinner. Unforeseen circumstances, and the
death of an intimate friend, were his apologies. Then he sent his
regrets, and declined all the invitations to holiday parties. He
canceled his engagements to make New-Year's calls[4] in company with
Bird, the painter. Then he had breakfast, ordered his carriage, and
drove to Huckleberry Street. On the way down he debated what he should
do. He couldn't follow in Vail's footsteps. He was not a missionary. He
went first and found Perdue, who had been fighting off a threatened
attack of tremens all night, relieved the necessities of his family,
and took the golden-haired fellow into his carriage. He ordered the
coachman to drive the whole length of Huckleberry Street slowly.

      [4] The New-Year's call is one of several things alluded to in
      the text that were in vogue when the story was written, but seem
      anachronisms in 1893.

"Perdue, what can I do down here? Vail always said that I could do
something, if I would try."

"Why, Charley, start a club. That's what these fellows need. How I
should like to hear you talk again!"


IV.

How provoking this is! I thought I should get through with three parts.
But Christmas is a time when a man can not avoid a tendency to long
stories. One can not quite control one's self in a time of mirth, and
here my history has grown until I shall have to put on a mansard roof
to accommodate it. For in all these three parts I have told you about
everything but what my title promised. If you have ever gone through
Huckleberry Street--of course you never have gone through such a street
except by accident, since you are neither poor, vicious, nor
benevolent, and only the poor, the vicious, and the benevolent ever go
there intentionally--but if you have ever happened to go there of late
years, you have seen the Christmas Club building. For on that very
morning, with poor "Baron Bertram" in the carriage, Charley resolved to
found a club in Huckleberry Street. And what house so good as the one
in which Henry Vail had lived?

So he drove up to the house on the corner of Greenfield Court and began
to examine it. It was an old-fashioned house; and in its time, when the
old families inhabited the downtown streets, it had been an
aristocratic mansion. The lower floor was occupied by a butcher's shop,
and in the front room, where an old family had once entertained its
guests, cheap roasts were being dispensed to the keepers of low
boarding houses. The antique fireplace and the ancient mantelpiece were
forced to keep company with meat blocks and butchers' cleavers. Above
this were Henry Vail's rooms, where the old chambers had been carefully
restored; and above these the third story and attic were crowded with
tenants. But everywhere the house had traces of its former gentility.

"Good!" said Charley; "Vail preserved his taste for the antique to the
last."

"Perdue, what do you think of this for a club-house?"

"Just the thing if you can get it. Ten chances to one it belongs to
some saloonkeeper who wouldn't rent it for purposes of civilization."

"Oh, I'll get it! Such men are always susceptible to the influence of
money, and I'm sure this is the spot, or Vail wouldn't have chosen it."

And with that Charley and the delighted Perdue drove to the house of
Charley's business agent, the same who had been his father's manager.

"Mr. Johnston," said Charley, "I don't like to ask you to work on
Christmas, but I want you to find out to-day, if you can, who owns No.
164 Huckleberry Street."

"Do you mean the house Mr. Vail lived in?"

"Yes, that's it. Look it up for me, if you can."

"Oh, that's not hard. The house belongs to you."

"To me! I didn't know I had anything there."

"Yes, that house was your grandfather's, and your mother lived there in
her childhood, and your father wouldn't sell it. It brought good rent,
and I have never bothered you about it."

"And you let Harry pay me rent?"

"Well, sir, he asked me not to mention to you that he was in your
house. He liked to pay his own way. Strange man, that Mr. Vail! I heard
from another tenant last night that he is dead."

"Perdue," said Charley, "I wish you would go down there to-day and find
out what each tenant in that house will sell his lease for and give
possession immediately. Give them a note to Johnston stating the
amount, and I want Johnston to give them something over the amount
agreed on. I must be on good terms with Huckleberry Street."

Johnston wondered what whim Charley had in his head. "Baron Bertram"
completed his negotiations for the leases of the tenants, and then went
off and drank Charley's health in so many saloons that he went home
entirely drunk, and the next morning was ashamed to see Vanderhuyn. But
Charley never even looked a disapproval at him. He had learned from
Vail how easy it is for reformers to throw their influence on the wrong
side in such a life-and-death struggle as that of Perdue's. In the year
that followed he had to forgive him many more than seven times. But
Perdue grew stronger in the sunlight of Vanderhuyn's steady friendship.

They had a great time opening the club on New-Year's Eve. There was a
banquet, not quite in Delmonico's style, nor quite so fine as those at
the Hasheesh; but still it was a grand affair to the dilapidated wrecks
that Charley gathered about him. Charley was president, and Vail's
portrait hung over the mantelpiece, with this inscription beneath, "The
Founder of the Club." Most of Charley's fine paintings were here, and
the rooms were indeed brilliant. And if lemonade and root beer and good
strong coffee could have made people drunk, there would not have been
one sober man there. But Ben delighted "the old lady" by going home
sober, owning it was better than the free-and-easy, and his friends all
agreed with him. To Charley, as he looked round on them, this was a far
grander moment than when, one week before, he had presided over the gay
company at the Hasheesh. Here were good cheer, laughter, funny stories,
and a New-Year's Eve worth the having. The gray eyes of the portrait
over the antique mantel-piece seemed happy and satisfied.

"Gentlemen," said Charley, "I rise to propose the memory of our
founder," and he proceeded to set forth the virtues of Henry Vail. If
there had been a reporter present he could have inserted in
parenthesis, at several places in Charley's speech, the words, "great
applause"; and if he had reported its effect exactly, he would, at
several other places, have inserted the words "great sensation," which,
in reporter's phrase, expresses any great emotion, especially one which
makes an audience weep. In conclusion, Charley lifted his glass of
lemonade, and said, "To the memory of Henry Vail, the Founder of the
Christmas Club."

"Christmas!" said Baron Bertram, "a good name! For this man," pointing
to Charley, "receiveth sinners and eateth with them" (applause).

I have done. Dear friends, a Merry Christmas to you all!


THE END.



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