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Title: Second Book of Tales
Author: Field, Eugene, 1850-1895
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Second Book of Tales" ***

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The Works of Eugene Field

Vol. X

The Writings in Prose and Verse of Eugene Field

SECOND BOOK OF TALES



[Frontispiece: Eugene Field.  Etched by W. H. W. Bicknell.]



Charles Scribner's Sons
New York
1911

Copyright, 1896, by
Julia Sutherland Field.



NOTE

The tales down to and including "The Werewolf" in this volume have been
selected from those which remained unpublished in book form at the time
of Mr. Field's death. It was also thought desirable to take from
"Culture's Garland," and to incorporate in this volume, such sketches
as seemed most likely to prove of permanent value and of interest as
illustrating Mr. Field's earlier manner; and these, eight in number,
form the latter part of the book.



INTRODUCTION

Of all American poets Field, it seems to me, best understood the heart
of a child.  Other sweet singers have given us the homely life of the
Western cabin, the unexpected tenderness of the mountaineer, the
loyalty and quaint devotion of the negro servant, but to Field alone,
and in preëminent degree, was given that keen insight into child
nature, that compassion for its faults, that sympathy with its sorrows
and that delight in its joyous innocence which will endear him to his
race as long as our language is read.

His poems too always kindle afresh that spark of child-life which still
lies smouldering in the hearts of us all, no matter how poor and
sorrowful our beginnings.  As we read, how the old memories come back
to us!  Old hopes, rosy with the expectation of the indefinite and
unknowable.  Old misgivings and fears; old rompings and holidays and
precious idle hours.  We know them all, and we know how true they are.
We remember in our own case the very hour and day, and how it all
happened and why, and what came of it,--joys and sorrows as real as our
keenest experiences since.

This is a heritage plentiful and noble,--and this heritage is Field's.

In the last paragraphs of that tender prose poem of "Bill--the Lokil
Editor"--one of the Profitable Tales--Bill--"alluz fond uv children 'nd
birds 'nd flowers"--Bill, who was like the old sycamore that the
lightning had struck,--with the vines spread all around and over it,
covering its scars and splintered branches--occurs this passage:

"----That's Bill perhaps as he stands up f'r jedgment--a miserable,
tremblin', 'nd unworthy thing, perhaps, but twined about, all over,
with singin' and pleadin' little children--and that is pleasin' in
God's sight, I know."

If Field had nothing else to bring he could say truthfully as he faced
his Master:

"I followed in your footsteps.  I loved the children and the children
loved me."

F. HOPKINSON SMITH.



The Tales in this Book


HUMIN NATUR' ON THE HAN'BUL 'ND ST. JO.

THE MOTHER IN PARADISE

MR. AND MRS. BLOSSOM

DEATH AND THE SOLDIER

THE 'JININ' FARMS

THE ANGEL AND THE FLOWERS

THE CHILD'S LETTER

THE SINGER MOTHER

THE TWO WIVES

THE WOOING OF MISS WOPPIT

THE TALISMAN

GEORGE'S BIRTHDAY

SWEET-ONE-DARLING AND THE DREAM-FAIRIES

SWEET-ONE-DARLING AND THE MOON-GARDEN

SAMUEL COWLES AND HIS HORSE ROYAL

THE WEREWOLF

A MARVELLOUS INVENTION

THE STORY OF XANTHIPPE

BAKED BEANS AND CULTURE

MLLE. PRUD'HOMME'S BOOK

THE DEMAND FOR CONDENSED MUSIC

LEARNING AND LITERATURE

"DIE WALKÜRE" UND DER BOOMERANGELUNGEN

THE WORKS OF SAPPHO



HUMIN NATUR' ON THE HAN'BUL 'ND ST. JO

Durin' war times the gorillas hed torn up most uv the cypress ties an'
used 'em for kindlin' an' stove wood, an' the result wuz that when the
war wuz over there wuz n't anythink left uv the Han'bul 'nd St. Jo but
the rollin' stock 'nd the two streaks uv rails from one end uv the road
to the other.  In the spring uv '67 I hed to go out into Kansas; and
takin' the Han'bul 'nd St. Jo at Palmyry Junction, I wuz n't long in
findin' out that the Han'bul 'nd St. Jo railroad wuz jist about the
wust cast of rollin' prairer I ever struck.

There wuz one bunk left when I boarded the sleepin'-car, and I hed
presence uv mind 'nuff to ketch on to it.  It wuz then just about dusk,
an' the nigger that sort uv run things in the car sez to me: "Boss,"
sez he, "I 'll have to get you to please not to snore to-night, but to
be uncommon quiet."

"What for?" sez I.  "Hain't I paid my two dollars, an' hain't I
entitled to all the luxuries uv the outfit?"

Then the nigger leant over an' told me that Colonel Elijah Gates, one
uv the directors uv the road, an' the richest man in Marion County, wuz
aboard, an' it wuz one uv the rules uv the company not to do anythink
to bother him or get him to sell his stock.

The nigger pointed out Colonel Gates, 'nd I took a look at him as he
sot readin' the "Palmyry Spectator."  He wuz one of our kind uv
people--long, raw-boned, 'nd husky.  He looked to be about sixty--may
be not quite on to sixty.  He wuz n't bothered with much hair onto his
head, 'nd his beard was shaved, all except two rims or fringes uv it
that ran down the sides uv his face 'nd met underneath his chin.  This
fringe filled up his neck so thet he did n't hev to wear no collar, 'nd
he had n't no jewelry about him excep' a big carnelian bosom pin that
hed the picture uv a woman's head on it in white.  His specs sot well
down on his nose, 'nd I could see his blue eyes over 'em--small eyes,
but kind ur good-natured.  Between his readin' uv his paper 'nd his
eatin' plug terbacker he kep' toler'ble busy till come bedtime.  The
rest on us kep' as quiet as we could, for we knew it wuz an honor to
ride in the same sleepin'-car with the richest man in Marion County 'nd
a director uv the Han'bul 'nd St. Jo to boot.

Along 'bout eight o'clock the colonel reckoned he 'd tumble into bed.
When he 'd drawed his boots 'nd hung up his coat 'nd laid in a fresh
hunk uv nat'ral leaf, he crawled into the best bunk, 'nd presently we
heerd him sleepin'.  There wuz nuthin' else for the rest uv us to do
but to foller suit, 'nd we did.

It must have been about an hour later--say along about Prairer
City--that a woman come aboard with a baby.  There war n't no bunk for
her, but the nigger allowed that she might set back near the stove, for
the baby 'peared to be kind ov sick-like, 'nd the woman looked like she
had been cryin'.  Whether it wuz the jouncin' uv the car, or whether
the young one wuz hungry or hed a colic into it, I did n't know, but
anyhow the train had n't pulled out uv Prairer City afore the baby
began to take on.  The nigger run back as fast as he could, 'nd told
the young woman that she 'd have to keep that baby quiet because
Colonel 'Lijy Gates, one uv the directors uv the road, wuz in the car
'nd wunt be disturbed.  The young woman caught up the baby scart-like,
'nd talked soothin' to it, 'nd covered its little face with her shawl,
'nd done all them things thet women do to make babies go to sleep.

But the baby _would_ cry, and, in spite of all the young woman 'nd the
nigger could do, Colonel Elijah Gates heard the baby cryin', and so he
waked up.  First his two blue yarn socks come through the curtains, 'nd
then his long legs 'nd long body 'nd long face hove into sight.  He
come down the car to the young woman, 'nd looked at her over his specs.
Did n't seem to be the least bit mad; jest solemn 'nd bizness like.

"My dear madam," sez he to the young woman, "you must do sumpin' to
keep that child quiet.  These people have all paid for their bunks, 'nd
they are entitled to a good night's sleep.  Of course I know how 't is
with young children--_will_ cry _sometimes_--have raised 'leven uv 'em
myself, 'nd know, all about 'em.  But as a director uv the Han'-bul 'nd
St. Jo I 've got to pertect the rights of these other folks.  So jist
keep the baby quiet as you kin."

Now, there war n't nothin' cross in the colonel's tone; the colonel wuz
as kind 'nd consid'rit as could be expected uv a man who hed so much
responsibility a-restin' onto him.  But the young woman was kind uv
nervous, 'nd after the colonel went back 'nd got into his bunk the
young woman sniffled and worrited and seemed like she had lost her
wits, 'nd the baby kep' cryin' jist as hard as ever.

Waal, there wuz n't much sleepin' to be done in that car, for what with
the baby cryin', 'nd the young woman a-sayin', "Oh, dear!" 'nd "Oh,
my!" and the nigger a-prancin' round like the widder bewitched--with
all this goin' on, sleep wuz out uv the question.  Folks began to wake
up 'nd put their heads outern their bunks to see what wuz the doggone
matter.  This made things pleasanter for the young woman.  The colonel
stood it as long as he could, and then he got up a second time 'nd come
down the car 'nd looked at the young woman over his specs.

"Now, as I wuz tellin' you afore," sez he, "I hain't makin' no
complaint uv myself, for I 've raised a family of 'leven children, 'nd
I know all about 'em.  But these other folks here in the car have paid
for a good night's sleep, 'nd it 's my duty as a director uv the
Han'bul 'nd St. Jo to see that they get it.  Seems to me like you ought
to be able to keep that child quiet--you can't make me believe that
there's any use for a child to be carryin' on so.  Sumpin 's hurtin'
it--I know sumpin 's hurtin' it by the way it cries.  Now, you look 'nd
see if there ain't a pin stickin' into it somewhere; I 've raised
'leven children, 'nd that 's jist the way they used to cry when there
wuz a pin stickin' em."

He reckoned he 'd find things all right this time, 'nd he went back to
his bunk feelin' toler'ble satisfied with himself.  But the young woman
could n't find no pin stickin' the baby, 'nd, no matter how much she
stewed and worrited, the baby kep' right on cryin', jest the same.
Holy smoke! but how that baby _did_ cry.

Now, I reckoned that the colonel would be gettin' almighty mad if this
thing kep' up much longer.  A man may raise 'leven children as easy as
rollin' off 'n a log, 'nd yet the twelfth one, that is n't his at all,
may break him.  There is ginerally a last straw, even when it comes to
the matter uv children.

So when the colonel riz feet foremost for the third time outern his
bunk that night--or, I should say, mornin', for it was mighty near
mornin' now--we looked for hail Columby.

"Look a-here, my good woman," sez he to the young woman with the baby,
"as I wuz tellin' you afore, you _must_ do sumpin to keep that child
quiet.  It 'll never do to keep all these folks awake like this.  They
've paid for a good night's sleep, 'nd it 's my duty as a director uv
the Han'bul 'nd St. Jo to pertest ag'in' this disturbance.  I 've
raised a family uv 'leven children, 'nd I know, as well as I know
anythink, that that child is hungry.  No child ever cries like that
when it is n't hungry, so I insist on your nursin' it 'nd givin' us
peace 'nd quiet."

Then the young woman began to sniffle.

"Law me, sir," sez the young woman, "I ain't the baby's mother--I 'm
only just tendin' it."

The colonel got pretty mad then; his face got red 'nd his voice kind uv
trembled--he wuz so mad.

"Where is its mother?" sez the colonel.  "Why is n't she here takin'
care uv this hungry 'nd cryin' child like she ought to be?"

"She 's in the front car, sir," sez the young woman, chokin' up.  "She
's in the front car--in a box, dead; we 're takin' the body 'nd the
baby back home."

Now what would you or me have done--what would _any_ man have done then
'nd there?  Jest what the colonel done.

The colonel did n't wait for no second thought; he jest reached out his
big bony hands 'nd he sez, "Young woman, gi' me that baby"--sez it so
quiet 'nd so gentle like that seemed like it wuz the baby's mother that
wuz a-speakin'.

The colonel took the baby, and--now, may be you won't believe me--the
colonel held that baby 'nd rocked it in his arms 'nd talked to it like
it had been his own child.  And the baby seemed to know that it lay
ag'in' a lovin' heart, for, when it heerd the ol' man's kind voice 'nd
saw his smilin' face 'nd felt the soothin' rockin' uv his arms, the
baby stopped its grievin' 'nd cryin', 'nd cuddled up close to the
colonel's breast, 'nd begun to coo 'nd laff.

The colonel called the nigger.  "Jim," sez he, "you go ahead 'nd tell
the conductor to stop the train at the first farm-house.  We 've got to
have some milk for this child--some warm milk with sugar into it; I
hain't raised a family uv 'leven children for nothin'."

The baby did n't cry no more that night; leastwise we did n't hear it
if it _did_ cry.  And what if we had heerd it?  Blessed if I don't
think every last one of us would have got up to help tend that lonesome
little thing.

That wuz more 'n twenty years ago, but I kin remember the last words I
heerd the colonel say: "No matter if it _does_ cry," sez he.  "It don't
make no more noise than a cricket, nohow; 'nd I reckon that being a
director uv the road I kin stop the train 'nd let off anybody that
don't like the way the Han'bul 'nd St. Jo does business."

Twenty years ago!  Colonel Elijah Gates is sleepin' in the Palmyry
buryin'-ground; likely as not the baby has growed up--leastwise the
Han'bul 'nd St. Jo has; everythink is different now--everythink has
changed--everythink except humin natur', 'nd that is the same, it allus
has been, and it allus will be, I reckon.

1888.



THE MOTHER IN PARADISE

A mother came to the gateway of Heaven.  She was aged and weary.  Her
body was bowed and her face was wrinkled and withered, for her burden
had been the burden of care and trouble and sorrow.  So she was glad to
be done with life and to seek at the gateway of Heaven the fulfilment
of the Promise that had been her solace through all the hard, bitter
years.

An angel met the Mother at the gateway, and put her arms about the
drooping figure, and spoke gracious, tender words.

"Whom seekest thou?" asked the angel.

"I seek my dear ones who came hither before me," answered the Mother.
"They are very many--my father, my mother, my husband, my
children--they all are here together, and for many and weary years I
have lived in my loneliness, with no other thing to cheer me but the
thought that I should follow them in good time."

"Yes, they are here and they await thee," said the angel.  "Lean upon
me, dear Mother, and I will lead thee to them."

Then the angel led the way through the garden of Paradise, and the
angel and the Mother talked as they walked together.

"I am not weary now," said the Mother, "and my heart is not troubled."

"It is the grace of Heaven that restoreth thee, dear Mother," quoth the
angel.  "Presently thou shalt be filled with the new life, and thou
shalt be young again; and thou shalt sing with rapture, and thy soul
shall know the endless ecstasy of Heaven."

"Alas, I care not to be young again," saith the Mother.  "I care only
to find and to be forever with my beloved ones."

As they journeyed in their way a company came to meet them.  Then the
Mother saw and knew her dear ones--even though the heavenly life had
glorified their countenances, the Mother knew them, and she ran to
greet them, and there was great joy to her and to them.  Meanwhile the
angel kept steadfastly at her side.

Now the Mother, when she had embraced her dear ones, looked at each of
them separately once more, and then she said: "Ye are indeed my
beloved--my mother, my father, my husband, and my children!  But there
is one who should be of your company whom I do not see--my babe, my
little helpless babe that came hither alone so many, many years ago.
My heart fainteth, my breast yearneth for that dear little lamb of
mine!  Come, let us go together and search for her; or await me here
under these pleasant trees while I search and call in this fair garden
for my dear, lost little babe!"

The others answered never a word, but the angel said: "I will go with
thee, Mother, and together we shall find thy child."

As they went on their way the angel said: "Shall I tell thee of myself?
For I was a little helpless babe when I came hither to this fair garden
and into this heavenly life."

"Perchance thou knowest her, my precious lambkin!" cried the Mother.

"I was a babe when I came hither," said the angel.  "See how I am grown
and what happiness hath been mine!  The compassion of divinity hath
protected and fostered me, and hath led me all these years in the peace
that passeth all human understanding.  God hath instructed me in
wisdom, and He shall instruct thee, too; for all who come hither are as
children in His sight, and they shall grow in wisdom and in grace
eternally."

"But my babe--my own lost little one whom I have not held in these arms
for so many weary years--shall she not still be my little babe, and
shall I not cradle her in my bosom?" asked the Mother.

"Thy child shall be restored to thee," said the angel; "for she
yearneth for thee even as thou yearnest for her.  Only with this
difference, dear Mother: Thy child hath known, in the grace of heavenly
wisdom, that at the last thy earthly sorrow should surely be rewarded
with the joys of the endless reunion in Paradise!"

"Then she hath thought of me and longed for me to come!" cried the
Mother.  "And my lost babe shall be restored and shall know her mother
again!"

"Ay, she loveth thee fondly," said the angel, "and she hath awaited thy
coming, lo, these many years.  Presently thine eyes shall be opened and
thou shalt see her standing before thee in her heavenly raiment whiter
than snow, and around her neck thou shalt see her wearing most precious
pearls--the tears which thou hast shed, oh lonely Mother! and which are
the pearls the little ones in Heaven gather up and cherish as an
adornment most pleasing unto God and them."

Then the Mother felt that her eyes were opened, and she turned and
looked upon the angel.  And the Mother saw that the angel was her lost
beloved child whom she was seeking: not the helpless babe that she had
thought to find, but a maiden of such heavenly beauty and gentleness as
only the dwellers in Paradise behold and know.  And the Mother spread
her arms, and gave a great cry of joy, and folded her very dear one to
her bosom.

Then presently they returned together to the others.  And there was
rapturous acclaim in Paradise, and it was to God's sweet pleasance that
it was so.  For a Mother and her beloved communed in the holy
companionship of love everlasting.



MR. AND MRS. BLOSSOM

The name we meant to call her was Annette, for that was a name I always
liked.  'Way back, before I got married, I made up my mind that if I ever
had a daughter I should call her Annette.  My intention was good enough,
but circumstances of a peculiar nature led me to abandon the idea which
in anticipation afforded me really a lot of pleasure.  My circumstances
have always been humble.  I say this in no spirit of complaint.  We have
very much to be thankful for, and we are particularly grateful for the
blessing which heaven has bestowed upon us in the person of our dear
child--our daughter who comes from school to-night to spend Thanksgiving
with us and with our friends, Mr. and Mrs. Blossom.  I must tell you how
we became acquainted with the Blossoms.

When our baby was two years old I used to sit of mornings, before going
to my work, on the front steps, watching the baby playing on the
sidewalk.  This pleasantest half-hour of the day I divided between the
little one and my pipe.  One morning, as I sat there smoking and as the
little one was toddling to and fro on the sidewalk, a portly,
nice-looking old gentleman came down the street, and, as luck would have
it, the baby got right in his path, and before I could get to her she
tangled herself all up with the old gentleman's legs and cane.  The old
gentleman seemed very much embarrassed, but, bless your soul! the baby
liked it!

"A pretty child--a beautiful child!" said the old gentleman, and then he
inquired: "Boy or girl?"

"Girl," says I, and I added: "Two years old and weighs thirty pounds."

"That must be a great deal for a little girl to weigh," said the old
gentleman, and I saw that his eyes lingered lovingly and yearningly upon
the child.  I am sure he wanted to say more, but all at once, as if he
suddenly recollected himself, he glanced furtively up the street, and
then, turning as suddenly the other way, he resumed his course downtown.
I thought to myself that he was a kindly old gentleman, a trifle queer,
perhaps, but of a gentle nature.

Three or four times within a week after that a similar experience with
this old gentleman befell me and the baby.  He would greet her cheerily;
sometimes he would pat her head, and I saw that his heart warmed toward
her.  But all the time he talked with us he seemed to act as if he feared
he was being watched, and he left us abruptly--sometimes breaking away in
the middle of a sentence as if he was afraid he might say something he
ought not to say.  At last, however, I learned that his name was Blossom,
and that Mrs. Blossom and he lived alone in a fine house up yonder in a
more fashionable part of our street.  In an outburst of confidence one
morning he told me that he was very fond of children, and that he felt
that much was gone out of his life because no little one had ever come to
Mary and himself.

"But," he added with an air of assumed cheerfulness, "as Mary does not
like children at all, it is perhaps for the best that none has ever come
to us."

I now understood why Mr. Blossom was so cautious in his attentions to our
baby; he was fearful of being observed by his wife; he felt that it was
his duty to humor her in her disinclination to children.  I pitied the
dear old gentleman, and for the same reason conceived a violent dislike
for Mrs. Blossom.

But my wife Cordelia told me something one day that set my heart to
aching for both the two old people.

"A sweet-looking old lady passed the house this afternoon," said
Cordelia, "and took notice of baby asleep in my arms on the porch.  She
stopped and asked me all about her and presently she kissed her, and then
I saw that she was crying softly to herself.  I asked her if she had ever
lost a little girl, and she said no.  'I have always been childless,'
said the sweet old lady.  'In all the years of my wifehood I have
besought but one blessing of heaven--the joy of maternity.  My prayers
are unanswered, and it is perhaps better so.'  She told me then that her
husband did not care for children; she could hardly reconcile his
professed antipathy to them with his warm, gentle, and loyal nature; but
it was well, if he did not want children, that none had come."

"What was the old lady's name?" I asked.

"Mrs. Blossom," said my wife Cordelia.

I whistled softly to myself.  Then I told Cordelia of my experience with
Mr. Blossom, and we wondered where and when and how this pathetic comedy
of cross-purposes would end.  We talked the matter over many a time after
that, and we agreed that it would be hard to find an instance of
deception more touching than that which we had met with in the daily life
of Mr. and Mrs. Blossom.  Meanwhile the two old people became more and
more attached to our precious baby.  Every morning brought Mr. Blossom
down the street with a smile and a caress and a tender word for the
little one, that toddled to meet him and overwhelm him with her innocent
prattle.  Every afternoon found the sweet-looking old lady in front of
our house, fondling our child, and feeding her starving maternal instinct
upon the little one's caresses.  Each one--the old gentleman and the old
lady--each one confessed by action and by word to an overwhelming love
for children, yet between them stood that pitiless lie, conceived of the
tenderest consideration for each other, but resulting in lifelong misery.

I tell you, it was mighty hard sometimes for Cordelia and me not to break
out with the truth!

It occurred to us both that there would eventually come a time when the
friendship of Mr. and Mrs. Blossom would be precious indeed to our
daughter.  We had great hopes of that child, and all our day-dreams
involved her.  She must go to school, she must be educated, she must want
nothing; there was no conceivable sacrifice which Cordelia and I would
not make gladly for our little girl.  Would we be willing to share her
love with these two childless old people, who yearned for that love and
were ready to repay it with every benefit which riches can supply?  We
asked ourselves that question a thousand times.  God helped us to answer
it.

The winter set in early and suddenly.  We were awakened one night by that
hoarse, terrifying sound which chills the parent heart with anxiety.  Our
little one was flushed with fever, and there was a rattling in her throat
when she breathed.  When the doctor came he told us not to be frightened;
this was a mild form of croup, he said.  His medicines seemed to give
relief, for presently the child breathed easier and slept.  Next morning
an old gentleman on his way downtown wondered why the baby was not out to
greet him with a hilarious shout; he felt that here--all about his
heart--which told him that two dimpled hands had taken hold and held him
fast.  An old lady came to the door that day and asked questions
hurriedly and in whispers, and went away crying to herself under her veil.

When it came night again the baby was as good as well.  I was rocking her
and telling her a story, when the door-bell rang.  A moment later--I
could hardly believe my senses, but Mr. Blossom stood before me.

"I heard she was sick," said he, coming up to the cradle and taking the
baby's hand awkwardly, but tenderly, in his.  "You can never know how I
have suffered all day, for this little one has grown very dear to me, and
I dare not think what I should do if evil were to befall her.  To-night I
told my wife a lie.  I said that I had a business engagement that called
me downtown; I told her _that_ in order to hasten here without letting
her know the truth.  She does not like children; I would not for the
world have her know how tenderly I love this little one."

He was still talking to me in this wise when I heard a step upon the
stairway.  I went to the door and opened it.  Mrs. Blossom stood there.

"I have worried all day about the baby," she said, excitedly.
"Fortunately, Mr. Blossom was called downtown this evening, and I have
run in to ask how our precious baby is.  I must go away at once, for he
does not care for children, you know, and I would not have him know how
dear this babe has grown to me!"

Mrs. Blossom stood on the threshold as she said these words.  And then
she saw the familiar form of the dear old gentleman bending over the
cradle, holding the baby's hands in his.  Mr. Blossom had recognized his
wife's voice and heard her words.

"Mary!" he cried, and he turned and faced her.  She said, "Oh,
John!"--that was all, and her head drooped upon her breast.  So there
they stood before each other, confronted by the revelation which they had
thought buried in long and many years.

She was the first to speak, for women are braver and stronger than men.
She accused herself and took all the blame.  But he would not listen to
her self-reproaches.  And they spoke to each other--I know not what
things, only that they were tender and sweet and of consolation.  I
remember that at the last he put his arm about her as if he had not been
an aged man and she were not white-haired and bowed, but as if they two
were walking in the springtime of their love.

"It is God's will," he said, "and let us not rebel against it.  The
journey to the end is but a little longer now; we have come so far
together, and surely we can go on alone."

"No, not alone," I said, for the inspiration came to me then.  "Our
little child yonder--God has lent this lambkin to our keeping--share her
love with us.  There is so much, so very much you can do for her which we
cannot do, for we are poor, and you are rich.  Help us to care for her
and share her love with us, and she shall be your child and ours."

That was the compact between us fifteen years ago, and they have been
happy, very happy years.  Blossom--we call her Blossom, after the dear
old friends who have been so good to her and to us--she comes from school
to-night, and to-morrow we shall sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with our
daughter.  We always speak of her as "our daughter," for, you know, she
belongs now no more to Cordelia and me than to Mr. and Mrs. Blossom.



DEATH AND THE SOLDIER

A soldier, who had won imperishable fame on the battlefields of his
country, was confronted by a gaunt stranger, clad all in black and
wearing an impenetrable mask.

"Who are you that you dare to block my way?" demanded the soldier.

Then the stranger drew aside his mask, and the soldier knew that he was
Death.

"Have you come for me?" asked the soldier.  "If so, I will not go with
you; so go your way alone."

But Death held out his bony hand and beckoned to the soldier.

"No," cried the soldier, resolutely; "my time is not come.  See, here
are the histories I am writing--no hand but mine can finish them--I
will not go till they are done!"

"I have ridden by your side day and night," said Death; "I have hovered
about you on a hundred battlefields, but no sight of me could chill
your heart till now, and now I hold you in my power.  Come!"

And with these words Death seized upon the soldier and strove to bear
him hence, but the soldier struggled so desperately that he prevailed
against Death, and the strange phantom departed alone.  Then when he
had gone the soldier found upon his throat the imprint of Death's cruel
fingers--so fierce had been the struggle.  And nothing could wash away
the marks--nay, not all the skill in the world could wash them away,
for they were disease, lingering, agonizing, fatal disease.  But with
quiet valor the soldier returned to his histories, and for many days
thereafter he toiled upon them as the last and best work of his noble
life.

"How pale and thin the soldier is getting," said the people.  "His hair
is whitening and his eyes are weary.  He should not have undertaken the
histories--the labor is killing him."

They did not know of his struggle with Death, nor had they seen the
marks upon the soldier's throat.  But the physicians who came to him,
and saw the marks of Death's cruel fingers, shook their heads and said
the soldier could not live to complete the work upon which his whole
heart was set.  And the soldier knew it, too, and many a time he paused
in his writing and laid his pen aside and bowed his head upon his hands
and strove for consolation in the thought of the great fame he had
already won.  But there was no consolation in all this.  So when Death
came a second time he found the soldier weak and trembling and
emaciated.

"It would be vain of you to struggle with me now," said Death.  "My
poison is in your veins, and, see, my dew is on your brow.  But you are
a brave man, and I will not bear you with me till you have asked one
favor, which I will grant."

"Give me an hour to ask the favor," said the soldier.  "There are so
many things--my histories and all--give me an hour that I may decide
what I shall ask."

And as Death tarried, the soldier communed with himself.  Before he
closed his eyes forever, what boon should he ask of Death?  And the
soldier's thoughts sped back over the years, and his whole life came to
him like a lightning flash--the companionship and smiles of kings, the
glories of government and political power, the honors of peace, the
joys of conquest, the din of battle, the sweets of a quiet home life
upon a western prairie, the gentle devotion of a wife, the clamor of
noisy boys, and the face of a little girl--ah, there his thoughts
lingered and clung.

"Time to complete our work--our books--our histories," counselled
Ambition.  "Ask Death for time to do this last and crowning act of our
great life."

But the soldier's ears were deaf to the cries of Ambition; they heard
another voice--the voice of the soldier's heart--and the voice
whispered: "Nellie--Nellie--Nellie."  That was all--no other words but
those, and the soldier struggled to his feet and stretched forth his
hands and called to Death; and, hearing him calling, Death came and
stood before him.

"I have made my choice," said the soldier.

"The books?" asked Death, with a scornful smile.

"No, not them," said the soldier, "but my little girl--my Nellie!  Give
me a lease of life till I have held her in these arms, and then come
for me and I will go!"

Then Death's hideous aspect was changed; his stern features relaxed and
a look of pity came upon them.  And Death said, "It shall be so," and
saying this he went his way.

Now the soldier's child was far away--many, many leagues from where the
soldier lived, beyond a broad, tempestuous ocean.  She was not, as you
might suppose, a little child, although the soldier spoke of her as
such.  She was a wife and a mother; yet even in her womanhood she was
to the soldier's heart the same little girl the soldier had held upon
his knee many and many a time while his rough hands weaved prairie
flowers in her soft, fair curls.  And the soldier called her Nellie
now, just as he did then, when she sat on his knee and prattled of her
dolls.  This is the way of the human heart.

It having been noised about that the soldier was dying and that Nellie
had been sent for across the sea, all the people vied with each other
in soothing the last moments of the famous man, for he was beloved by
all and all were bound to him by bonds of patriotic gratitude, since he
had been so brave a soldier upon the battlefields of his country.  But
the soldier did not heed their words of sympathy; the voice of fame,
which, in the past, had stirred a fever in his blood and fallen most
pleasantly upon his ears, awakened no emotion in his bosom now.  The
soldier thought only of Nellie, and he awaited her coming.

An old comrade came and pressed his hand, and talked of the times when
they went to the wars together; and the old comrade told of this battle
and of that, and how such a victory was won and such a city taken.  But
the soldier's ears heard no sound of battle now, and his eyes could see
no flash of sabre nor smoke of war.

So the people came and spoke words of veneration and love and hope, and
so with quiet fortitude, but with a hungry heart, the soldier waited
for Nellie, his little girl.

She came across the broad, tempestuous ocean.  The gulls flew far out
from land and told the winds, and the winds flew further still and said
to the ship: "Speed on, O ship! speed on in thy swift, straight course,
for you are bearing a treasure to a father's heart!"

Then the ship leapt forward in her pathway, and the waves were very
still, and the winds kept whispering "Speed on, O ship," till at last
the ship was come to port and the little girl was clasped in the
soldier's arms.

Then for a season the soldier seemed quite himself again, and people
said "He will live," and they prayed that he might.  But their hopes
and prayers were vain.  Death's seal was on the soldier, and there was
no release.

The last days of the soldier's life were the most beautiful of all--but
what a mockery of ambition and fame and all the grand, pretentious
things of life they were!  They were the triumph of a human heart, and
what is better or purer or sweeter than that?

No thought of the hundred battlefields upon which his valor had shown
conspicuous came to the soldier now--nor the echo of his eternal
fame--nor even yet the murmurs of a sorrowing people.  Nellie was by
his side, and his hungry, fainting heart fed on her dear love and his
soul went back with her to the years long agone.

Away beyond the western horizon upon the prairie stands a little home
over which the vines trail.  All about it is the tall, waving grass,
and over yonder is the swale with a legion of chattering blackbirds
perched on its swaying reeds and rushes.  Bright wild flowers bloom on
every side, the quail whistles on the pasture fence, and from his home
in the chimney corner the cricket tries to chirrup an echo to the
lonely bird's call.  In this little prairie home we see a man holding
on his knee a little girl, who is telling him of her play as he smooths
her fair curls or strokes her tiny velvet hands; or perhaps she is
singing him one of her baby songs, or asking him strange questions of
the great wide world that is so new to her; or perhaps he binds the
wild flowers she has brought into a little nosegay for her new gingham
dress, or--but we see it all, and so, too, does the soldier, and so
does Nellie, and they hear the blackbird's twitter and the quail's
shrill call and the cricket's faint echo, and all about them is the
sweet, subtle, holy fragrance of memory.

And so at last, when Death came and the soldier fell asleep forever,
Nellie, his little girl, was holding his hands and whispering to him of
those days.  Hers were the last words he heard, and by the peace that
rested on his face when he was dead you might have thought the soldier
was dreaming of a time when Nellie prattled on his knee and bade him
weave the wild flowers in her curls.



THE 'JININ' FARMS

You see Bill an' I wuz jest like brothers; wuz raised on 'jinin' farms:
he wuz _his_ folks' only child, an' _I_ wuz _my_ folks' only one.  So,
nat'ril like, we growed up together, lovin' an' sympathizin' with each
other.  What _I_ knowed, I told _Bill_, an' what _Bill_ knowed, _he_
told _me_, an' what neither on us knowed--why, that warn't wuth knowin'!

If I had n't got over my braggin' days, I 'd allow that, in our time,
Bill an' I wuz jest about the sparkin'est beaus in the township;
leastwise that's what the girls thought; but, to be honest about it,
there wuz only two uv them girls we courted, Bill an' I, _he_ courtin'
_one_ an' I t'other.  You see we sung in the choir, an' as our good
luck would have it we got sot on the sopranner an' the alto, an'
bimeby--oh, well, after beauin' 'em round a spell--a year or so, for
that matter--we up an' married 'em, an' the old folks gin us the farms,
'jinin' farms, where we boys had lived all our lives.  Lizzie, my wife,
had always been powerful friendly with Marthy, Bill's wife; them two
girls never met up but what they wuz huggin' an' kissin' an' carryin'
on, like girls does; for women ain't like men--they can't control
theirselves an' their feelin's, like the stronger sext does.

I tell you, it wuz happy times for Lizzie an' me and Marthy an'
Bill--happy times on the 'jinin' farms, with the pastures full uv fat
cattle, an' the barns full uv hay an' grain, and the twin cottages full
uv love an' contentment!  Then when Cyrus come--our little boy--our
first an' only one! why, when _he_ come, I wuz jest _so_ happy an' so
grateful that if I had n't been a man I guess I 'd have hollered--maybe
cried--with joy.  Wanted to call the little tyke Bill, but Bill would
n't hear to nothin' but Cyrus.  You see, he 'd bought a cyclopeedy the
winter we wuz all marr'ed an' had been readin' in it uv a great foreign
warrior named Cyrus that lived a long spell ago.

"Land uv Goshen, Bill!" sez I, "you don't reckon the baby 'll ever be a
warrior?"

"Well, I don't know about that," sez Bill.  "There 's no tellin'.  At
any rate, Cyrus Ketcham has an uncommon sound for a name; so Cyrus it
must be, an' when he 's seven years old I 'll gin him the finest Morgan
colt in the deestrick!"

So we called him Cyrus, an' he grew up lovin' and bein' loved by
everybody.

Well, along about two years--or, say, eighteen months or so--after
Cyrus come to us a little girl baby come to Bill an' Marthy, an' of all
the cunnin' sweet little things you ever seen that little girl baby was
the cunnin'est an' sweetest!  Looked jest like one of them foreign
crockery figgers you buy in city stores--all pink an' white, with big
brown eyes here, an' a teeny, weeney mouth there, an' a nose an' ears,
you'd have bet they wuz wax--they wuz so small an' fragile.  Never
darst hold her for fear I 'd break her, an' it liked to skeered me to
death to see the way Marthy and Lizzie would kind uv toss her round an'
trot her--so--on their knees or pat her--so--on the back when she wuz
collicky like the wimmin folks sez all healthy babies is afore they 're
three months old.

"You 're goin' to have the namin' uv her," sez Bill to me.

"Yes," sez Marthy; "we made it up atween us long ago that you should
have the namin' uv _our_ baby like _we_ had the namin' uv yourn."

Then, kind uv hectorin' like--for I was always a powerful tease--I sez:
"How would Cleopatry do for a name? or Venis?  I have been readin' the
cyclopeedy myself, I 'd have you know!"

An' then I laffed one on them provokin' laffs uv mine--oh, I tell ye, I
was the worst feller for hectorin' folks you ever seen!  But I meant it
all in fun, for when I suspicioned they did n't like my funnin', I sez:
"Bill," sez I, "an' Marthy, there 's only one name I 'd love above all
the rest to call your little lambkin, an' that's the dearest name on
earth to me--the name uv Lizzie, my wife!"

That jest suited 'em to a T, an' always after that she wuz called
leetle Lizzie, an' it sot on her, that name did, like _it_ was made for
_her_, an' _she_ for _it_.  We made it up then--perhaps more in fun
than anything else--that when the children growed up, Cyrus an' leetle
Lizzie, they should get marr'd together, an' have both the farms an' be
happy, an' be a blessin' to us all in our old age.  We made it up in
fun, perhaps, but down in our hearts it wuz our prayer jest the same,
and God heard the prayer an' granted it to be so.

They played together, they lived together; together they tended
deestrick school an' went huckleberryin'; there wuz huskin's an'
spellin' bees an' choir meetin's an' skatin' an' slidin' down-hill--oh,
the happy times uv youth! an' all those times our boy Cyrus an' their
leetle Lizzie went lovin'ly together!

What made me start so--what made me ask of Bill one time: "Are we
a-gettin' old, Bill?" that wuz the Thanksgivin' night when, as we set
round the fire in Bill's front-room, Cyrus come to us, holdin' leetle
Lizzie by the hand, an' they asked us could they get marr'd come next
Thanksgivin' time?  Why, it seemed only yesterday that they wuz chicks
together!  God! how swift the years go by when they are happy years!

"Reuben," sez Bill to me, "le's go down' cellar and draw a pitcher uv
cider!"

You see that, bein' men, it wuz n't for us to make a show uv ourselves.
Marty an' Lizzie just hugged each other an' laughed an' cried--they wuz
so glad!  Then they hugged Cyrus an' leetle Lizzie; and talk and laff?
Well, it did beat all how them women folks did talk and laugh, all at
one time!  Cyrus laffed, too; an' then he said he reckoned he 'd go out
an' throw some fodder in to the steers, and Bill an' I--well, _we_ went
down-cellar to draw that pitcher uv cider.

It ain't for me to tell now uv the meller sweetness uv their courtin'
time; I could n't do it if I tried.  Oh, how we loved 'em both!  Yet,
once in the early summer-time, our boy Cyrus he come to me an' said:
"Father, I want you to let me go away for a spell."

"Cyrus, my boy!  Go away?"

"Yes, father; President Linkern has called for soldiers; father, you
have always taught me to obey the voice of Duty.  That voice summons me
now."

"God in heaven," I thought, "you have given us this child only to take
him from us!"

But then came the second thought: "Steady, Reuben!  You are a man; _be_
a man!  Steady, Reuben; be a man!"

"Yer mother," sez I, "yer mother--it will break her heart!"

"She leaves it all to you, father."

"But--the other--the other, Cyrus--leetle Lizzie--ye know!"

"She is content," sez he.

A storm swep' through me like a cyclone.  It wuz all Bill's fault; that
warrior-name had done it all--the cyclopeedy with its lies had pizened
Bill's mind to put this trouble on me an' mine!

No, no, a thousand times no!  These wuz coward feelin's an' they
misbecome me; the ache herein this heart uv mine had no business there.
The better part uv me called to me an' said: "Pull yourself together,
Reuben Ketcham, and be a man!"

Well, after he went away, leetle Lizzie wuz more to us 'n ever before;
wuz at our house all the time; called Lizzie "mother"; wuz contented,
in her woman's way, willin' to do her part, waitin' an' watchin' an'
prayin' for him to come back.  They sent him boxes of good things every
fortnight, mother an' leetle Lizzie did; there wuz n't a minute uv the
day that they wuz n't talkin' or thinkin' uv him.

Well--ye--see--I must tell it my own way--he got killed.  In the very
first battle Cyrus got killed.  The rest uv the soldiers turnt to
retreat, because there wuz too many for 'em on the other side.  But
Cyrus stood right up; he wuz the warrior Bill allowed he wuz goin' to
be; our boy wuz n't the kind to run.  They tell me there wuz bullet
holes here, an' here, an' here--all over his breast.  We always knew
our boy wuz a hero!

Ye can thank God ye wuz n't at the 'jinin' farms when the news come
that he 'd got killed.  The neighbors, they were there, of course, to
kind uv hold us up an' comfort us.  Bill an' I sot all day in the
woodshed, holdin' hands an' lookin' away from each other, so; never
said a word; jest sot there, sympathizin' an' holdin' hands.  If we 'd
been women, Bill an' I would uv cried an' beat our forrids an' hung
round each other's neck, like the womenfolks done.  Bein' we wuz men,
we jest set there in the woodshed, away from all the rest, holdin'
hands an' sympathizin'.

From that time on, leetle Lizzie wuz our daughter--our very daughter,
all that wuz left to us uv our boy.  She never shed a tear; crep' like
a shadder 'round the house an' up the front walk an' through the
garden.  Her heart wuz broke.  You could see it in the leetle lambkin's
eyes an' hear it in her voice.  Wanted to tell her sometimes when she
kissed me and called me "father"--wanted to tell her, "Leetle Lizzie,
let me help ye bear yer load.  Speak out the sorrer that's in yer
broken heart; speak it out, leetle one, an' let me help yer bear yer
load!"

But it is n't for a man to have them feelin's--leastwise, it is n't for
him to tell uv 'em.  So I held my peace and made no sign.

She jest drooped, an' pined, an' died.  One mornin' in the spring she
wuz standin' in the garden, an' all at oncet she threw her arms up, so,
an' fell upon her face, an' when they got to her all thet wuz left to
us uv leetle Lizzie wuz her lifeless leetle body.  I can't tell of what
happened next--uv the funeral an' all that.  I said this wuz in the
spring, an' so it wuz all around us; but it wuz cold and winter _here_.

One day mother sez to me: "Reuben," sez she, softlike, "Marthy an' I is
goin' to the buryin' ground for a spell.  Don't you reckon it would be
a good time for you to step over an' see Bill while we 're gone?"

"Mebbe so, mother," sez I.

It wuz a pretty day.  Cuttin' across lots, I thought to myself what I
'd say to Bill to kind uv comfort him.  I made it up that I 'd speak
about the time when we wuz boys together; uv how we used to slide down
the meetin'-house hill, an' go huckleberryin'; uv how I jumped into the
pond one day an' saved him from bein' drownded; uv the spellin' school,
the huskin' bees, the choir meetin's, the sparkin' times; of the
swimmin' hole, the crow's nest in the pine-tree, the woodchuck's hole
in the old pasture lot; uv the sunny summer days an' the snug winter
nights when we wuz boys, an' happy!  And then----

No, no!  I could n't go on like that!  I 'd break down.  A man can't be
a man more 'n jest so far!

Why did mother send me over to see Bill?  I 'd better stayed to home!
I felt myself chokin' up; if I had n't took a chew uv terbacker, I 'd
'ave been cryin', in a minute!

The nearer I got to Bill's, the worst I hated to go in.  Standin' on
the stoop, I could hear the tall clock tickin' solemnly
inside--"tick-tock, tick-tock," jest as plain as if I wuz settin' aside
uv it.  The door wuz shet, yet I knew jest what Bill wuz doin'; he was
settin' in the old red easy-chair, lookin' down at the floor--like
this.  Strange, ain't it, how sometimes when you love folks you know
jest what they 're doin', without knowin' anything about it!

There warn't no use knockin', but I knocked three times; so.  Did n't
say a word; only jest knocked three times--that a-way.  Did n't hear no
answer--nothin' but the tickin' uv the tall clock; an' yet I knew that
Bill heered me an' that down in his heart he was sayin' to me to come
in.  He never said a word, yet I knowed all the time Bill wuz sayin'
for me to come in.

I opened the door, keerful-like, an' slipped in.  Did n't say nothin';
jest opened the door, softly-like, an' slipped in.  There set Bill jist
as I knowed he was settin', lonesome-like, sad-like; his head hangin'
down; he never looked up at me; never said a word--knowed I wuz there
all the time, but never said a word an' never made a sign.

How changed Bill wuz--oh, Bill, how changed ye wuz!  There wuz furrers
in yer face an' yer hair wuz white--as white as--as white as mine!
Looked small about the body, thin an' hump-shouldered.

Jest two ol' men, that's what we wuz; an' we had been boys together!

Well, I stood there a spell, kind uv hesitatin' like, neither uv us
sayin' anything, until bimeby Bill he sort of made a sign for me to set
down.  Did n't speak, did n't lift his eyes from the floor; only made a
sign, like this, in a weak, tremblin' way--that wuz all.  An' I set
down, and there we both set, neither uv us sayin' a word, but both
settin' there, lovin' each other an' sympathize' as hard as we could,
for that is the way with men.

Bimeby, like we 'd kind uv made it up aforehand, we hitched up closer,
for when folks is in sorrer an' trouble they like to be closte
together.  But not a word all the time, an' hitchin' closer an' closer
together, why, bimeby we set side by side.  So we set a spell longer,
lovin' an' sympathizin', as men-folks do; thinkin' uv the old times, uv
our boyhood; thinkin' uv the happiness uv the past an' uv all the hopes
them two children had brought us!  The tall clock ticked, an' that wuz
all the sound there wuz, excep' when Bill gin a sigh an' I gin a sigh,
too--to lighten the load, ye know.

Not a word come from either of us: 't wuz all we could do to set there,
lovin' each other an' sympathizin'!

All at oncet--for we could n't stand it no longer--all at oncet we
turnt our faces t' other way an' reached out, so, an' groped with our
hands, this way, till we found an' held each other fast in a clasp uv
tender meanin'.

Then--God forgive me if I done a wrong--then I wisht I wuz a woman!
For, bein' a woman, I could have riz up, an', standin' so, I could have
cried: "Come, Bill! come, let me hold you in these arms; come, let us
weep together, an' let this broken heart uv mine speak through these
tremblin' lips to that broken heart uv yourn, Bill, tellin' ye how much
I love ye an' sympathize with ye!"

But--no!  I wuz _not_ a woman!  I wuz a _man_! an', bein' a man, I must
let my heart break; I must hold my peace, an' I must make no sign.



THE ANGEL AND THE FLOWERS

An angel once asked the Father if he might leave heaven for a day and
go down to earth to visit the flowers and birds and little children,
for you must know that no other earthly things so much please the
angels of heaven as do the flowers, the birds, and the little children.

"Yes," said the Father, "you may go down to earth, but be sure to stay
no longer than a day; and when you come back to heaven bring me the
loveliest flower you can find, that I may transplant it to my garden
and love it for its beauty and its fragrance.  Cherish it tenderly,
that no harm may befall it."

Then the angel went down to the earth, and he came to a beautiful
rose-bush upon which bloomed a rose lovelier and more fragrant than any
of her kind.

"Heyday, sweet rose," said the angel; "how proudly you hold up your
fair head for the winds to kiss."

"Ay, that I do," replied the rose, blushing, albeit she enjoyed the
flattery.  "But I do not care for these idle zephyrs nor for the wanton
sunbeams that dance among my leaves all the day long.  To-night a
cavalier will come hither and tear me from this awkward bush with all
its thorns, and kiss me with impassioned lips, and bear me to his lady,
who, too, will kiss me and wear me on her bosom, next her heart.  That,
O angel, is the glory of the rose--to be a bearer of kisses from lover
to lover, and to hear the whispered vows of the cavalier and his lady,
to feel the beating of a gentle heart, and to wither on the white bosom
of a wooed maiden."

Then the angel came to a lily that arose fair and majestic from its
waxen leaves and bowed gracefully to each passing breeze.

"Why are you so pale and sad, dear lily?" asked the angel.

"My love is the north wind," said the lily, "and I look for him and
mourn because he does not come.  And when he does come, and I would
smile under his caresses, he is cold and harsh and cruel to me, and I
wither and die for a season, and when I am wooed back to life again by
the smiles and tears of heaven, which are the sunlight and the dew, lo!
he is gone."

The angel smiled sadly to hear of the trusting, virgin fidelity of the
lily.

"Tell me," asked the lily, "will the north wind come to-day?"

"No," said the angel, "nor for many days yet, since it is early summer
now."

But the lonely lily did not believe the angel's words.  Still looking
for her cruel lover, she held her pale face aloft and questioned each
zephyr that hurried by.  And the angel went his way.

And the angel came next to a daisy that thrived in a meadow where the
cattle were grazing and the lambs were frisking.

"Nay, do not pluck me, sir," cried the daisy, merrily; "I would not
exchange my home in this smiling pasture for a place upon the princess'
bosom."

"You seem very blithesome, little daisy," quoth the angel.

"So I am, and why should I not be?" rejoined the daisy.  "The dews
bathe me with their kisses, and the stars wink merrily at me all the
night through, and during the day the bees come and sing their songs to
me, and the little lambs frisk about me, and the big cattle caress me
gently with their rough tongues, and all seem to say 'Bloom on, little
daisy, for we love you.'  So we frolic here on the meadow all the
time--the lambs, the bees, the cattle, the stars, and I--and we are
very, very happy."

Next the angel came to a camellia which was most beautiful to look
upon.  But the camellia made no reply to the angel's salutation, for
the camellia, having no fragrance, is dumb--for flowers, you must know,
speak by means of their scented breath.  The camellia, therefore, could
say no word to the angel, so the angel walked on in silent sadness.

"Look at me, good angel," cried the honeysuckle; "see how adventuresome
I am.  At the top of this trellis dwells a ladybird, and in her cozy
nest are three daughters, the youngest of whom I go to woo.  I carry
sweetmeats with me to tempt the pretty dear; do you think she will love
me?"

The angel laughed at the honeysuckle's quaint conceit, but made no
reply, for yonder he saw a purple aster he fain would question.

"Are you then so busy," asked the angel, "that you turn your head away
from every other thing and look always into the sky?"

"Do not interrupt me," murmured the purple aster.  "I love the great
luminous sun, and whither he rolls in the blazing heavens I turn my
face in awe and veneration.  I would be the bride of the sun, but he
only smiles down upon my devotion and beauty!"

So the angel wandered among the flowers all the day long and talked
with them.  And toward evening he came to a little grave which was
freshly made.

"Do not tread upon us," said the violets.  "Let us cluster here over
this sacred mound and sing our lullabies."

"To whom do you sing, little flowers?" asked the angel.

"We sing to the child that lies sleeping beneath us," replied the
violets.  "All through the seasons, even under the snows of winter, we
nestle close to this mound and sing to the sleeping child.  None but he
hears us, and his soul is lulled by our gentle music."

"But do you not often long for other occupation, for loftier service?"
inquired the angel.

"Nay," said the violets, "we are content, for we love to sing to the
little, sleeping child."

The angel was touched by the sweet humility of these modest flowers.
He wept, and his tears fell upon the grave, and the flowers drank up
the angel tears and sang more sweetly than before, but so softly that
only the sleeping child heard them.

And when the angel flew back to heaven, he cherished a violet in his
bosom.



THE CHILD'S LETTER

Everybody was afraid of the old governor because he was so cross and
surly.  And one morning he was crosser and surlier than ever, because
he had been troubled for several days with a matter which he had
already decided, but which many people wished to have reversed.  A man,
found guilty of a crime, had been imprisoned, and there were those who,
convinced of his penitence and knowing that his family needed his
support, earnestly sought his pardon.  To all these solicitations the
old governor replied "no," and, having made up his mind, the old
governor had no patience with those who persisted in their
intercessions.  So the old governor was in high dudgeon one morning,
and when he came to his office he said to his secretary: "Admit no one
to see me; I am weary of these constant and senseless importunities."

Now, the secretary had a discreet regard for the old governor's
feelings, and it was seldom that his presence of mind so far deserted
him as to admit of his suffering the old governor's wishes to be
disregarded.  He bolted the door and sat himself down at his modest
desk and simulated intense enthusiasm in his work.  His simulation was
more intense than usual, for never before had the secretary seen the
old governor in such a harsh mood.

"Has the mail come--where are the papers and the letters?" demanded the
old governor, in a gruff voice.

"Here they are, sir," said the secretary, as he put the bundle on the
old governor's table.  "These are addressed to you privately; the
business letters are on my desk.  Would you like to see them now?"

"No, not now," growled the old governor; "I will read the papers and my
private correspondence first."

But the old governor found cause for uneasiness in this employment.
The papers discussed the affair of the imprisoned man, and these
private letters came from certain of the old governor's friends, who,
strangely enough, exhibited an interest in the self-same prisoner's
affair.  The old governor was highly disgusted.

"They should mind their own business," muttered the old governor.  "The
papers are very officious, and these other people are simply
impertinent.  My mind is made up--nothing shall change me!"

Then the old governor turned to his private secretary and bade him
bring the business letters, and presently the private secretary could
hear the old governor growling and fumbling over the pile of
correspondence.  He knew why the old governor was so excited; many of
these letters were petitions from the people touching the affair of the
imprisoned man.  Oh, how they angered the old governor!

"Humph!" said the old governor at last, "I 'm glad I 'm done with them.
There are no more, I suppose."

When the secretary made no reply the old governor was surprised.  He
wheeled in his chair and searchingly regarded the secretary over his
spectacles.  He saw that the secretary was strangely embarrassed.

"You have not shown me all," said the old governor, sternly.  "What is
it you have kept back?"

Then the secretary said: "I had thought not to show it to you.  It is
nothing but a little child's letter--I thought I should not bother you
with it."

The old governor was interested.  A child's letter to _him_--what could
it be about?  Such a thing had never happened to him before.

"A child's letter; let me see it," said the old governor, and, although
his voice was harsh, somewhat of a tender light came into his eyes.

"'T is nothing but a scrawl," explained the secretary, "and it comes
from the prisoner's child--Monckton's little girl--Monckton, the
forger, you know.  Of course there's nothing to it--a mere scrawl; for
the child is only four years old.  But the gentleman who sends it says
the child brought it to him and asked him to send it to the governor,
and then, perhaps, the governor would send her papa home."

The old governor took the letter, and he scanned it curiously.  What a
wonderful letter it was, and who but a little child could have written
it!  Such strange hieroglyphics and such crooked lines--oh! it was a
wonderful letter, as you can imagine.

But the old governor saw something more than the strange hieroglyphics
and crooked lines and rude pencillings.  He could see in and between
the lines of the little child's letter a sweetness and a pathos he had
never seen before, and on the crumpled sheet he found a love like the
love his bereaved heart had vainly yearned for, oh! so many years.

He saw, or seemed to see, a little head bending over the crumpled page,
a dimpled hand toiling at its rude labor of love, and an earnest little
face smiling at the thought that this labor would not be in vain.  And
how wearied the little hand grew and how sleepy the little head became,
but the loyal little heart throbbed on and on with patient joy, and
neither hand nor head rested till the task was done.

Sweet innocence of childhood!  Who would molest thee--who bring thee
one shadow of sorrow?  Who would not rather brave all dangers, endure
all fatigues, and bear all burdens to shield thee from the worldly ills
thou dream'st not of!

So thought the old governor, as he looked upon the crumpled page and
saw and heard the pleadings of the child's letter; for you must know
that from the crumpled page there stole a thousand gentle voices that
murmured in his ears so sweetly that his heart seemed full of tears.
And the old governor thought of his own little one--God rest her
innocent soul.  And it seemed to him as if he could hear her dear baby
voice joining with this other's in trustful pleading.

The secretary was amazed when the old governor said to him: "Give me a
pardon blank."  But what most amazed the secretary was the tremulous
tenderness in the old governor's voice and the mistiness behind the old
governor's spectacles as he folded the crumpled page reverently and put
it carefully in the breast pocket of his greatcoat.

"Humph," thought the secretary, "the old governor has a kinder heart
than any of us suspected."

Then, when the prisoner was pardoned and came from his cell, people
grasped him by the hand and said: "Our eloquence and perseverance saved
you.  The old governor could not withstand the pressure we brought to
bear on him!"

But the secretary knew, and the old governor, too--God bless him for
his human heart!  _They_ knew that it was the sacred influence of a
little child's letter that had done it all--that a dimpled baby hand
had opened those prison doors.



THE SINGER MOTHER

Once, as Death walked the earth in search of some fair flower upon
which he could breathe his icy breath, he met the graceful and pleasing
spirit who is called Ambition.

"Good morrow," quoth Death, "let us journey a time together.  Both of
us are hale fellows; let us henceforth be travelling companions."

Now Ambition is one of the most easily cajoled persons in the world.
The soft words of Death flattered him.  So Death and Ambition set out
together, hand in hand.

And having come into a great city, they were walking in a fine street
when they beheld at the window of a certain house a lady who was named
Griselda.  She was sitting at the window, fondling in her lap her
child, a beautiful little infant that held out his dimpled arms to the
mother and prattled sweet little things which only a mother can
understand.

"What a beautiful lady," said Ambition, "and what a wonderful song she
is singing to the child."

"You may praise the mother as you will," said Death, "but it is the
child which engages my attention and absorbs my admiration.  How I wish
the child were mine!"

But Ambition continued to regard Griselda with an eye of covetousness;
the song Griselda sang to her babe seemed to have exerted a wondrous
spell over the spirit.

"I know a way," suggested Death, "by which we can possess ourselves of
these two--you of the mother and I of the child."

Ambition's eyes sparkled.  He longed for the beautiful mother.

"Tell me how I may win her," said he to Death, "and you shall have the
babe."

So Death and Ambition walked in the street and talked of Griselda and
her child.

Griselda was a famous singer.  She sang in the theatre of the great
city, and people came from all parts of the world to hear her songs and
join in her praise.  Such a voice had never before been heard, and
Griselda's fame was equalled only by the riches which her art had
brought her.  In the height of her career the little babe came to make
her life all the sweeter, and Griselda was indeed very happy.

"Who is that at the door?" inquired Charlotte, the old nurse.  "It must
be somebody of consequence, for he knocks with a certain confidence
only those in authority have."

"Go to the door and see," said Griselda.

So Charlotte went to the door, and lo, there was a messenger from the
king, and the messenger was accompanied by two persons attired in royal
robes.

These companions were Ambition and Death, but they were so splendidly
arrayed you never would have recognized them.

"Does the Lady Griselda abide here?" asked the messenger.

"She does," replied old Charlotte, courtesying very low, for the
brilliant attire of the strangers dazzled her.

"I have a message from the king," said the messenger.

Old Charlotte could hardly believe her ears.  A message from the king!
Never before had such an honor befallen one in Griselda's station.

The message besought Griselda to appear in the theatre that night
before the king, who knew of her wondrous voice, but had never heard
it.  And with the message came a royal gift of costly jewels, the like
of which Griselda had never set eyes upon.

"You cannot refuse," said Ambition in a seductive voice.  "Such an
opportunity never before was accorded you and may never again be
offered.  It is the king for whom you are to sing!"

Griselda hesitated and cast a lingering look at her babe.

"Have no fear for the child," said Death, "for I will care for him
while you are gone."

So, between the insinuating advice of Ambition and the fair promises of
Death, Griselda was persuaded, and the messenger bore back to the king
word that Griselda would sing for him that night.

But Ambition and Death remained as guests in Griselda's household.

The child grew restless as the day advanced.  From the very moment that
Death had entered the house the little one had seemed very changed, but
Griselda was so busy listening to the flattering speeches of Ambition
that she did not notice the flush on her infant's cheeks and the
feverish rapidity of his breathing.

But Death sat grimly in a corner of the room and never took his eyes
from the crib where the little one lay.

"You shall so please the king with your beautiful face and voice," said
Ambition, "that he will confer wealth and title upon you.  You will be
the most famous woman on earth; better than that, your fame shall live
always in history--it shall be eternal!"

And Griselda smiled, for the picture was most pleasing.

"The child's hands are hot," said old Charlotte, the nurse, "and there
seem to be strange tremors in his little body, and he groans as he
tosses from one side of his cradle to the other."

Griselda was momentarily alarmed, but Ambition only laughed.

"Nonsense," quoth Ambition, "'tis an old woman's fancy.  This envious
old witch would have you disappoint the king--the king, who would load
you with riches and honors!"

So the day lengthened, and Griselda listened to the grateful flatteries
of Ambition.  But Death sat all the time gazing steadfastly on the
little one in the cradle.  The candles were brought, and Griselda
arrayed herself in her costliest robes.

"I must look my best," she said, "for this is to be the greatest
triumph of my life."

"You are very beautiful; you will captivate the king," said Ambition.

"The child is very ill," croaked old Charlotte, the nurse; "he does not
seem to be awake nor yet asleep, and there is a strange, hoarse
rattling in his breathing."

"For shame!" cried Ambition.  "See how the glow of health mantles his
cheeks and how the fire of health burns in his eyes."

And Griselda believed the words of Ambition.  She did not stoop to kiss
her little one.  She called his name and threw him a kiss, and hastened
to her carriage in the street below.  The child heard the mother's
voice, raised his head, and stretched forth his hands to Griselda, but
she was gone and Ambition had gone with her.  But Death remained with
Griselda's little one.

The theatre was more brilliant that night than ever before.  It had
been noised about that Griselda would sing for the king, and lords and
ladies in their most imposing raiment filled the great edifice to
overflowing, while in the royal box sat the king himself, with the
queen and the princes and the princesses.

"It will be a great triumph," said Ambition to Griselda, and Griselda
knew that she had never looked half so beautiful nor felt half so ready
for the great task she had to perform.  There was mighty cheering when
she swept before the vast throng, and the king smiled and bowed when he
saw that Griselda wore about her neck the costly jewels he had sent
her.  But if the applause was mighty when she appeared, what was it
when she finished her marvellous song and bowed herself from the stage!
Thrice was she compelled to repeat the song, and a score of times was
she recalled to receive the homage of the delighted throng.  Bouquets
of beautiful flowers were heaped about her feet, and with his own hand
from his box the king threw to her a jewelled necklace far costlier
than his previous gift.

As Griselda hurried from her dressing-room to her carriage she
marvelled that Ambition had suddenly and mysteriously quitted her
presence.  In his place stood the figure of a woman, all in black, and
with large, sad eyes and pale face.

"Who are you?" asked Griselda.

"I am the Spirit of Eternal Sorrow," said the woman.

And the strange, sad woman went with Griselda into the carriage and to
Griselda's home.

Old Charlotte, the nurse, met them at the door.  She was very white and
she trembled as if with fear.

Then Griselda seemed to awaken from a dream.

"My child?" she asked, excitedly.

"He is gone," replied old Charlotte, the nurse.

Griselda flew to the chamber where she had left him.  There stood the
little cradle where he had lain, but the cradle was empty.

"Who has taken him away?" cried Griselda, sinking upon her knees and
stretching her hands in agony to heaven.

"Death took him away but an hour ago," said old Charlotte, the nurse.

Then Griselda thought of his fevered face and his pitiful little moans
and sighs; of the guileful flatteries of Ambition that had deafened her
mother ears to the pleadings of her sick babe; of the brilliant theatre
and the applause of royalty and of the last moments of her lonely,
dying child.

And Griselda arose and tore the jewels from her breast and threw them
far from her and cried: "O God, it is my punishment!  I am alone."

"Nay, not so, O mother," said a solemn voice; "I am with thee and will
abide with thee forever."

Griselda turned and looked upon the tall, gloomy figure that approached
her with these words.

It was the Spirit of Eternal Sorrow.



THE TWO WIVES

In a certain city there were two wives
named Gerda and Hulda.  Although
their homes adjoined, these wives were in
very different social stations, for Gerda was
the wife of a very proud and very rich man,
while Hulda was the wife of a humble
artisan.  Gerda's house was lofty and
spacious and was adorned with most costly and
most beautiful things, but Hulda's house
was a scantily furnished little cottage.  The
difference in their social stations did not,
however, prevent Gerda and Hulda from
being very friendly in a proper fashion, and the
two frequently exchanged visits while their
husbands were away from home.

One day Hulda was at Gerda's house, and
Gerda said: "I must show you the painting
we have just received from Paris.  It is
the most beautiful painting in the world, and
it cost a princely sum of money."

And Gerda took Hulda into an adjoining
chamber and uncovered the picture, and for
a long time Hulda stood admiring it in
silence.  It was indeed a masterpiece of art.
Such beauty of conception, such elegance of
design, and such nicety in execution had
never before been seen.  It was a marvel of
figure and color and effect.

"Is it not the most beautiful picture in
all the world?" asked Gerda.

"It is very beautiful," replied Hulda, "but
it is not the most beautiful picture in all the
world."

Then Gerda took Hulda into another
chamber and showed her a jewelled music-box
which the most cunning artisans in all
Switzerland had labored for years to produce.

"You shall hear it make music," said Gerda.

And Gerda touched the spring, and the
music-box discoursed a harmony such as
Hulda's listening ears had never heard
before.  It seemed as if a mountain brook, a
summer zephyr, and a wild-wood bird were
in the box vying with each other in sweet melodies.

"Is it not the most beautiful music in all
the world?" asked Gerda.

"It is very beautiful," replied Hulda, "but
it is not the most beautiful music in all the world."

Then Gerda was sorely vexed.

"You said that of the picture," said Gerda,
"and you say it of the music.  Now tell
me, Hulda, where is there to be found a
more beautiful picture, and where more
beautiful music?"

"Come with me, Gerda," said Hulda.

And Hulda led Gerda from the stately
mansion into her own humble little cottage.

"See there upon the wall near the door?"
said Hulda.

"I see nothing but stains and marks of
dirt," said Gerda.  "Where is the picture
of which you spoke?"

"They are the prints of a baby hand,"
said Hulda.  "You are a woman and a
wife, and would you not exchange all the
treasures of your palace for the finger-marks
of a little hand upon your tinted walls?"

And Gerda made no reply.

Then Hulda went to a corner and drew
forth a pair of quaint, tiny shoes and showed
them to Gerda.

"These are a baby's shoes," said Hulda,
"and make a music no art can equal.  Other
sounds may charm the ear and delight the
senses, but the music of a baby's shoe thrills
the heart and brings the soul into
communion with the angels."

Then Gerda cried "'T is true, O Hulda!
't is true."  And she bowed her head and
wept.  For she was childless.



THE WOOING OF MISS WOPPIT

At that time the camp was new.  Most of what was called the valuable
property was owned by an English syndicate, but there were many who had
small claims scattered here and there on the mountainside, and
Three-fingered Hoover and I were rightly reckoned among these others.
The camp was new and rough to the degree of uncouthness, yet, upon the
whole, the little population was well disposed and orderly.  But along in
the spring of '81, finding that we numbered eight hundred, with electric
lights, telephones, a bank, a meeting-house, a race-track, and such-like
modern improvements, we of Red Hoss Mountain became possessed of the
notion to have a city government; so nothing else would do but to proceed
at once and solemnly to the choice of a mayor, marshal, clerk, and other
municipal officers.  The spirit of party politics (as it is known and as
it controls things elsewhere) did not enter into the short and active
canvass; there were numerous candidates for each office, all were
friends, and the most popular of the lot were to win.  The campaign was
fervent but good-natured.

I shall venture to say that Jim Woppit would never have been elected city
marshal but for the potent circumstance that several of the most
influential gentlemen in the camp were in love with Jim's sister; that
was Jim's hold on these influences, and that was why he was elected.

Yet Jim was what you 'd call a good fellow--not that he was fair to look
upon, for he was not; he was swarthy and heavy-featured and hulking; but
he was a fair-speaking man, and he was always ready to help out the boys
when they went broke or were elsewise in trouble.  Yes, take him all in
all, Jim Woppit was properly fairly popular, although, as I shall always
maintain, he would never have been elected city marshal over Buckskin and
Red Drake and Salty Boardman if it had n't been (as I have intimated) for
the backing he got from Hoover, Jake Dodsley, and Barber Sam.  These
three men last named were influences in the camp, enterprising and
respected citizens, with plenty of sand in their craws and plenty of
stuff in their pockets; they loved Miss Woppit, and they were in honor
bound to stand by the interests of the brother of that fascinating young
woman.

I was not surprised that they were smitten; she might have caught me,
too, had it not been for the little woman and the three kids back in the
states.  As handsome and as gentle a lady was Miss Woppit as ever walked
a white pine floor--so very different from White River Ann, and Red
Drake's wife, and old man Edgar's daughter, for they were magpies who
chattered continually and maliciously, hating Miss Woppit because she
wisely chose to have nothing to do with them.  She lived with her brother
Jim on the side-hill, just off the main road, in the cabin that Smooth
Ephe Hicks built before he was thrown off his broncho into the gulch.  It
was a pretty but lonesome place, about three-quarters of a mile from the
camp, adjoining the claim which Jim Woppit worked in a lazy sort of
way--Jim being fairly well fixed, having sold off a coal farm in Illinois
just before he came west.

In this little cabin abode Miss Woppit during the period of her wooing, a
period covering, as I now recall, six or, may be, eight months.  She was
so pretty, so modest, so diligent, so homekeeping, and so shy, what
wonder that those lonely, heart-hungry men should fall in love with her?
In all the population of the camp the number of women was fewer than two
score, and of this number half were married, others were hopeless
spinsters, and others were irretrievably bad, only excepting Miss Woppit,
the prettiest, the tidiest, the gentlest of all.  She was good, pure, and
lovely in her womanliness; I shall not say that I envied--no, I respected
Hoover and Dodsley and Barber Sam for being stuck on the girl; you 'd
have respected 'em, too, if you 'd seen her and--and _them_.  But I _did_
take it to heart because Miss Woppit seemed disinclined to favor any suit
for her fair hand--particularly because she was by no means partial to
Three-fingered Hoover, as square a man as ever struck pay dirt--dear old
pardner, your honest eyes will never read these lines, between which
speaks my lasting love for you!

In the first place, Miss Woppit would never let the boys call on her of
an evening unless her brother Jim was home; she had strict notions about
that sort of thing which she would n't waive.  I reckon she was right
according to the way society looks at these things, but it was powerful
hard on Three-fingered Hoover and Jake Dodsley and Barber Sam to be
handicapped by etiquette when they had their bosoms chock full of love
and were dying to tell the girl all about it.

Jake Dodsley came a heap nearer than the others to letting Miss Woppit
know what his exact feelings were.  He was a poet of no mean order.  What
he wrote was printed regularly in Cad Davis' Leadville paper under the
head of "Pearls of Pegasus," and all us Red Hoss Mountain folks allowed
that next to Willie Pabor of Denver our own Jake Dodsley had more of the
afflatus in him than any other living human poet.  Hoover appreciated
Jake's genius, even though Jake _was_ his rival.  It was Jake's custom to
write poems _at_ Miss Woppit--poems breathing the most fervid sentiment,
all about love and bleeding hearts and unrequited affection.  The papers
containing these effusions he would gather together with rare diligence,
and would send them, marked duly with a blue or a red pencil, to Miss
Woppit.

The poem which Hoover liked best was one entitled "True Love," and Hoover
committed it to memory--yes, he went even further; he hired Professor De
Blanc (Casey's piano player) to set it to music, and this office the
professor discharged nobly, producing a simple but solemn-like melody
which Hoover was wont to sing in feeling wise, poor, dear, misguided
fellow that he was!  Seems to me I can hear his big, honest, husky, voice
lifted up even now in rendition of that expression of his passion:

  Turrue love never dies--
    Like a river flowin'
  In its course it gathers force,
    Broader, deeper growin';
  Strength'nin' in the storms 'at come,
    Triumphin' in sorrer,
  Till To-day fades away
    In the las' To-morrer.
  Wot though Time flies?
  Turrue love never dies!


Moreover, Three-fingered Hoover discoursed deftly upon the fiddle; at
obligates and things he was not much, but at real music he could not be
beat.  Called his fiddle "Mother," because his own mother was dead, and
being he loved her and had no other way of showing it, why, he named his
fiddle after her.  Three-fingered Hoover was full of just such queer
conceits.

Barber Sam was another music genius; his skill as a performer upon the
guitar was one of the marvels of the camp.  Nor had he an indifferent
voice--Prof. De Blanc allowed that if Barber Sam's voice had been
cultured at the proper time--by which I suppose he meant in youth--Barber
Sam would undoubtedly have become "one of the brightest constellations in
the operatic firmament."  Moreover, Barber Sam had a winsome presence; a
dapper body was he, with a clear olive skin, soulful eyes, a noble
mustache, and a splendid suit of black curly hair.  His powers of
conversation were remarkable--that fact, coupled with his playing the
guitar and wearing plaid clothes, gave him the name of Barber Sam, for he
was not really a barber; was only just like one.

In the face of all their wooing, Miss Woppit hardened her heart against
these three gentlemen, any one of whom the highest lady in the land might
have been proud to catch.  The girl was not inclined to affairs of the
heart; she cared for no man but her brother Jim.  What seemed to suit her
best was to tend to things about the cabin--it was called The Bower, the
poet Jake Dodsley having given it that name--to till the little garden
where the hollyhocks grew, and to stroll away by herself on the hillside
or down through Magpie Glen, beside the gulch.  A queer, moodful creature
she was; unlike other girls, so far as we were able to judge.  She just
doted on Jim, and Jim only--how she loved that brother you shall know
presently.

It was lucky that we organized a city government when we did.  All
communities have streaks of bad luck, and it was just after we had
elected a mayor, a marshal, and a full quota of officers that Red Hoss
Mountain had a spell of experiences that seemed likely at one time to
break up the camp.  There 's no telling where it all would have ended if
we had n't happened to have a corps of vigilant and brave men in office,
determined to maintain law and order at all personal hazards.  With a
camp, same as 'tis with dogs, it is mighty unhealthy to get a bad name.

The tidal wave of crime--if I may so term it--struck us three days after
the election.  I remember distinctly that all our crowd was in at
Casey's, soon after nightfall, indulging in harmless pleasantries, such
as eating, drinking, and stud poker.  Casey was telling how he had turned
several cute tricks on election day, and his recital recalled to others
certain exciting experiences _they_ had had in the states; so, in an
atmosphere of tobacco, beer, onions, wine, and braggadocio, and with the
further delectable stimulus of seven-year-old McBrayer, the evening
opened up congenially and gave great promise.  The boys were convivial,
if not boisterous.  But Jim Woppit, wearing the big silver star of his
exalted office on his coat-front, was present in the interests of peace
and order, and the severest respect was shown to the newly elected
representative of municipal dignity and authority.

All of a sudden, sharp, exacting, and staccato-like, the telephone
sounded; seemed like it said, "Quick--trouble--help!"  By the merest
chance--a lucky chance--Jim Woppit happened to be close by, and he
reached for the telephone and answered the summons.

"Yes."  "Where?"  "You bet--right away!"

That was what Jim said; of course, we heard only one side of the talk.
But we knew that something--something remarkable had happened.  Jim was
visibly excited; he let go the telephone, and, turning around, full over
against us, he said, "By ----, boys! the stage hez been robbed!"

A robbery!  The first in the Red Hoss Mountain country!  Every man leapt
to his feet and broke for the door, his right hand thrust instinctively
back toward his hip pocket.  There was blood in every eye.

Hank Eaves' broncho was tied in front of Casey's.

"Tell me where to go," says Hank, "and I 'll git thar in a minnit.  I 'm
fixed."

"No, Hank," says Jim Woppit, commanding like, "_I 'll_ go.  I 'm city
marshal, an' it's my place to go--I 'm the repersentive of law an' order
an' I 'll enforce 'em--damn me ef I don't!"

"That's bizness--Jim's head 's level!" cried Barber Sam.

"Let Jim have the broncho," the rest of us counselled, and Hank had to
give in, though he hated to, for he was spoiling for trouble--cussedest
fellow for fighting you ever saw!  Jim threw himself astride the spunky
little broncho and was off like a flash.

"Come on, boys," he called back to us; "come on, ez fast ez you kin to
the glen!"

Of course we could n't anywhere near keep up with him; he was soon out of
sight.  But Magpie Glen was only a bit away--just a trifle up along the
main road beyond the Woppit cabin.  Encouraged by the excitement of the
moment and by the whooping of Jake Dodsley, who opined (for being a poet
he always opined) that some evil might have befallen his cherished Miss
Woppit--incited by these influences we made all haste.  But Miss Woppit
was presumably safe, for as we hustled by The Bower we saw the front room
lighted up and the shadow of Miss Woppit's slender figure flitting to and
fro behind the white curtain.  She was frightened almost to death, poor
girl!

It appeared from the story of Steve Barclay, the stage-driver, that along
about eight o'clock the stage reached the glen--a darkish, dismal spot,
and the horses, tired and sweaty, toiled almost painfully up the short
stretch of rising ground.  There were seven people in the stage: Mr.
Mills, superintendent of the Royal Victoria mine; a travelling man (or
drummer) from Chicago, one Pryor, an invalid tenderfoot, and four miners
returning from a round-up at Denver.  Steve Barclay was the only person
outside.  As the stage reached the summit of the little hill the figure
of a man stole suddenly from the thicket by the roadside, stood directly
in front of the leading horses, and commanded a halt.  The movement was
so sudden as to terrify the horses, and the consequence was that, in
shying, the brutes came near tipping the coach completely over.  Barclay
was powerless to act, for the assailant covered him with two murderous
revolvers and bade him throw up his hands.

Then the men in the coach were ordered out and compelled to disgorge
their valuables, the robber seeming to identify and to pay particular
attention to Mr. Mills, the superintendent, who had brought with him from
Denver a large sum of money.  When the miners made a slight show of
resistance the assailant called to his comrades in the bush to fire upon
the first man who showed fight; this threat induced a wise resignation to
the inevitable.  Having possessed himself in an incredibly short time of
his booty, the highwayman backed into the thicket and quickly made off.
The procedure from first to last occupied hardly more than five minutes.

The victims of this outrage agreed that the narrative as I have given it
was in the main correct.  Barclay testified that he saw the barrels of
rifles gleaming from the thicket when the outlaw called to his
confederates.  On the other hand, Mr. Mills, who was the principal loser
by the affair, insisted that the outlaw did his work alone, and that his
command to his alleged accomplices was merely a bluff.  There was, too, a
difference in the description given of the highwayman, some of the party
describing him as a short, thick-set man, others asserting that he was
tall and slender.  Of his face no sight had been obtained, for he wore a
half-mask and a large slouch hat pulled well down over his ears.  But
whatever dispute there may have been as to details, one thing was
sure--robbery had been done, and the robber had fled with four gold
watches and cash to the amount of, say, two thousand five hundred dollars.

Recovering betimes from their alarm and bethinking themselves of pursuit
of the outlaws, the helpless victims proceeded to push into camp to
arouse the miners.  It was then that Barclay discovered that the tire of
one of the front wheels had come off in the jolt and wrench caused by the
frightened horses.  As no time was to be lost, Barclay suggested that
somebody run down the road to Woppit's cabin and telephone to camp.  Mr.
Mills and the Chicago drummer undertook this errand.  After considerable
parley--for Miss Woppit wisely insisted upon being convinced of her
visitors' honorable intentions--these two men were admitted, and so the
alarm was transmitted to Casey's, Miss Woppit meanwhile exhibiting
violent alarm lest her brother Jim should come to harm in pursuing the
fugitives.

As for Jim Woppit, he never once lost his head.  When the rest of us came
up to the scene of the robbery he had formed a plan of pursuit.  It was
safe, he said, to take for granted that there was a gang of the outlaws.
They would undoubtedly strike for Eagle Pass, since there was no possible
way of escape in the opposite direction, the gulch, deep and wide,
following the main road close into camp.  Ten of us should go with
him--ten of the huskiest miners mounted upon the stanchest bronchoes the
camp could supply.  "We shall come up with the hellions before mornin',"
said he, and then he gritted his teeth significantly.  A brave man and a
cool man, you 'll allow; good-hearted, too, for in the midst of all the
excitement he thought of his sister, and he said, almost tenderly, to
Three-fingered Hoover: "I can trust you, pardner, I know.  Go up to the
cabin and tell her it's all right--that I 'll be back to-morrow and that
she must n't be skeered.  And if she is skeered, why, you kind o' hang
round there to-night and act like you knew everything was all O. K."

"But may be Hoover 'll be lonesome," suggested Barber Sam.  He was a sly
dog.

"Then you go 'long too," said Jim Woppit.  "Tell her I said so."

Three-fingered Hoover would rather--a good deal rather--have gone alone.
Yet, with all that pardonable selfishness, he recognized a certain
impropriety in calling alone at night upon an unprotected female.  So
Hoover accepted, though not gayly, of Barber Sam's escort, and in a happy
moment it occurred to the twain that it might be a pious idea to take
their music instruments with them.  Hardly, therefore, had Jim Woppit and
his posse flourished out of camp when Three-fingered Hoover and Barber
Sam, carrying Mother and the famous guitar, returned along the main road
toward The Bower.

When the cabin came in view--the cabin on the side hill with hollyhocks
standing guard round it--one of those subtle fancies in which Barber
Sam's active brain abounded possessed Barber Sam.  It was to convey to
Miss Woppit's ear good tidings upon the wings of music.  "Suppose we play
'All's Well'?" suggested Barber Sam.  "That'll let her know that
everything's O. K."

"Just the thing!" answered Three-fingered Hoover, and then he added, and
he meant it: "Durned if you ain't jest about as slick as they make 'em,
pardner!"

The combined efforts of the guitar and Mother failed, however, to produce
any manifestation whatever, so far as Miss Woppit was concerned.  The
light in the front room of the cabin glowed steadily, but no shadow of
the girl's slender form was to be seen upon the white muslin curtain.  So
the two men went up the gravelly walk and knocked firmly but respectfully
at the door.

They had surmised that Miss Woppit might be asleep, but, oh, no, not she.
She was not the kind of sister to be sleeping when her brother was in
possible danger.  The answer to the firm but respectful knocking was
immediate.

"Who's there and what do you want?" asked Miss Woppit in tremulous tones,
with her face close to the latch.  There was no mistaking the poor
thing's alarm.

"It's only us gents," answered Three-fingered Hoover, "me an' Barber Sam;
did n't you hear us serenadin' you a minnit ago?  We 've come to tell you
that everything 's all right--Jim told us to come--he told us to tell you
not to be skeered, and if you wuz skeered how we gents should kind of
hang round here to-night; be you skeered, Miss Woppit?  Your voice sounds
sort o' like you wuz."

Having now unbolted and unlatched and opened the door, Miss Woppit
confessed that she was indeed alarmed; the pallor of her face confirmed
that confession.  Where was Jim?  Had they caught the robbers?  Was there
actually no possibility of Jim's getting shot or stabbed or hurt?  These
and similar questions did the girl put to the two men, who, true to their
trust, assured the timorous creature in well-assumed tones of confidence
that her brother could n't get hurt, no matter how hard he might try.

To make short of a long tale, I will say that the result of the long
parley, in which Miss Woppit exhibited a most charming maidenly
embarrassment, was that Three-fingered Hoover and Barber Sam were
admitted to the cabin for the night.  It was understood--nay, it was
explicitly set forth, that they should have possession of the front room
wherein they now stood, while Miss Woppit was to retire to her apartment
beyond, which, according to popular fame and in very truth, served both
as a kitchen and Miss Woppit's bedroom, there being only two rooms in the
cabin.

This front room had in it a round table, a half-dozen chairs, a small
sheet-iron stove, and a rude kind of settee that served Jim Woppit for a
bed by night.  There were some pictures hung about on the walls--neither
better nor poorer than the pictures invariably found in the homes of
miners.  There was the inevitable portrait of John C. Fremont and the
inevitable print of the pathfinder planting his flag on the summit of
Pike's Peak; a map of Colorado had been ingeniously invested with an old
looking-glass frame, and there were several cheap chromos of flowers and
fruit, presumably Miss Woppit's contributions to the art stores of the
household.  Upon the centre table, which was covered with a square green
cloth, stood a large oil lamp, whose redolence and constant spluttering
testified pathetically to its neglect.  There were two books on the
table--viz., an old "Life of Kit Carson" and a bound file of the "Police
News," abounding, as you will surmise, in atrocious delineations of
criminal life.  We can understand that a volume of police literature
would not be out of place in the home of an executive of the law.

Miss Woppit, though hardly reassured by the hearty protestations of
Hoover and Barber Sam as to her brother's security, _hoped_ that all
would be well.  With evident diffidence she bade her guests make
themselves at home; there was plenty of wood in the box behind the stove
and plenty of oil in the tell-tale lamp; she fetched a big platter of
crackers, a mammoth cut of cheese, a can of cove oysters, and a noble
supply of condiments.  Did the gents reckon they would be comfortable?
The gents smiled and bowed obsequiously, neither, however, indulging in
conversation to any marked degree, for, as was quite natural, each felt
in the presence of his rival a certain embarrassment which we can fancy
Miss Woppit respected if she did not enjoy it.

Finally Miss Woppit retired to her own delectable bower in the kitchen
with the parting remark that she would sleep in a sense of perfect
security; this declaration flattered her protectors, albeit she had no
sooner closed the door than she piled the kitchen woodbox and her own
small trunk against it--a proceeding that touched Three-fingered Hoover
deeply and evoked from him a tender expression as to the natural timidity
of womankind, which sentiment the crafty Barber Sam instantly indorsed in
a tone loud enough for the lady to hear.

It is presumed that Miss Woppit slept that night.  Following the moving
of that woodbox and that small trunk there was no sound of betrayal if
Miss Woppit did not sleep.  Once the men in the front room were startled
by the woman's voice crying out, "Jim--oh, Jim!" in tones of such terror
as to leave no doubt that Miss Woppit slept and dreamed frightful dreams.

The men themselves were wakeful enough; they were there to protect a
lady, and they were in no particular derelict to that trust.  Sometimes
they talked together in the hushed voices that beseem a sick-chamber;
anon they took up their music apparata and thrummed and sawed therefrom
such harmonies as would seem likely to lull to sweeter repose the object
of their affection in the adjoining chamber beyond the woodbox and the
small trunk; the circumstance of the robbery they discussed in discreet
tones, both agreeing that the highwaymen were as good as dead by this
time.  We can fancy that the twain were distinctly annoyed upon
discovering in one corner of the room, during their vigils, a number of
Leadville and Denver newspapers containing sonnets, poems, odes,
triolets, and such like, conspicuously marked with blue or red pencil
tracings and all aimed, in a poetic sense, at Miss Woppit's virgin heart.
This was the subtle work of the gifted Jake Dodsley!  This was his
ingenious way of storming the citadel of the coy maiden's affections.

The discovery led Barber Sam to ventilate his opinion of the crafty
Dodsley, an opinion designedly pitched in a high and stentorian key and
expressive of everything but compliment.  On the contrary, Three-fingered
Hoover--a guileless man, if ever there was one--stood bravely up for
Jake, imputing this artifice of his to a passion which knows no ethics so
far as competition is concerned.  It was true, as Hoover admitted, that
poets seldom make good husbands, but, being an exceptionally good poet,
Jake might prove also an exception in matrimony, providing he found a
wife at his time of life.  But as to the genius of the man there could be
no question; not even the poet Pabor had in all his glory done a poem so
fine as that favorite poem of Hoover's, which, direct from the burning
types of the "Leadville Herald," Hoover had committed to the tablets of
his memory and was wont to repeat or sing on all occasions to the
aggrandizement of Jake Dodsley's fame.  Gradually the trend of the
discussion led to the suggestion that Hoover sing this favorite poem, and
this he did in a soothing, soulful voice.  Barber Sam accompanying him
upon that wondrous guitar.  What a picture that must have been!  Even
upon the mountain-sides of that far-off West human hearts respond
tenderly to the touch of love.

  --Wot though time flies?
  Turrue love never dies!


That honest voice--oh, could I hear it now!  That honest face--oh, could
I see it again!  And, oh, that once more I could feel the clasp of that
brave hand and the cordial grace of that dear, noble presence!

It was in the fall of the year; the nights were long, yet this night sped
quickly.  Long before daybreak significant sounds in the back room
betokened that Miss Woppit was up and moving around.  Through the closed
door and from behind the improvised rampart of wood-box and small trunk
the young lady informed her chivalric protectors that they might go home,
prefacing this permission, however, with a solicitous inquiry as to
whether anything had been heard from Brother Jim and his posse.

Jim Woppit and his men must have had a hard ride of it.  They did not
show up in camp until eleven o'clock that day, and a tougher-looking
outfit you never saw.  They had scoured the surrounding country with the
utmost diligence, yet no trace whatever had they discovered of the
outlaws; the wretches had disappeared so quickly, so mysteriously, that
it seemed hard to believe that they had indeed existed.  The crime, so
boldly and so successfully done, was of course the one theme of talk, of
theory, and of speculation in all that region for the conventional period
of nine days.  And then it appeared to be forgotten, or, at least, men
seldom spoke of it, and presently it came to be accepted as the popular
belief that the robbery had been committed by a gang of desperate tramps,
this theory being confirmed by a certain exploit subsequently in the San
Juan country, an exploit wherein three desperate tramps assaulted the
triweekly road-hack, and, making off with their booty, were ultimately
taken and strung up to a convenient tree.

Still, the reward of one thousand dollars offered by the city government
of Red Hoss Mountain for information leading to the arrest of the glen
robbers was not withdrawn, and there were those in the camp who quietly
persevered in the belief that the outrage had been done by parties as yet
undiscovered, if not unsuspected.  Mr. Mills, the superintendent of the
Royal Victoria, had many a secret conference with Jim Woppit, and it
finally leaked out that the cold, discriminating, and vigilant eye of
eternal justice was riveted upon Steve Barclay, the stage-driver.  Few of
us suspected Steve; he was a good-natured, inoffensive fellow; it seemed
the idlest folly to surmise that he could have been in collusion with the
highwaymen.  But Mr. Mills had his own ideas on the subject; he was a man
of positive convictions, and, having pretty nearly always demonstrated
that he was in the right, it boded ill for Steve Barclay when Mr. Mills
made up his mind that Steve must have been concerned in one way or
another in that Magpie Glen crime.

The wooing of Miss Woppit pursued the even tenor of its curious triple
way.  Wars and rumors of wars served merely to imbue it with certain
heroic fervor.  Jake Dodsley's contributions to the "Leadville Herald"
and to Henry Feldwisch's Denver "Inter-Ocean," though still aimed at the
virgin mistress of The Bower, were pitched in a more exalted key and
breathed a spirit that defied all human dangers.  What though death
confronted the poet and the brutal malice of nocturnal marauders
threatened the object of his adoration, what, short of superhuman
intervention, should prevent the poet from baffling all hostile
environments and placing the queen of his heart securely upon his throne
beside him, etc., etc.?  We all know how the poets go it when they once
get started.  The Magpie Glen affair gave Jake Dodsley a new impulse, and
marked copies of his wonderful effusions found their way to the Woppit
cabin in amazing plenty and with exceeding frequency.  In a moment of
vindictive bitterness was Barber Sam heard to intimate that the robbery
was particularly to be regretted for having served to open the sluices of
Jake Dodsley's poetic soul.

'T was the purest comedy, this wooing was; through it all the finger of
fate traced a deep line of pathos.  The poetic Dodsley, with his
inexhaustible fund of rhyme, of optimism and of subtlety; Barber Sam,
with his envy, his jealousy, and his garrulity; Three-fingered Hoover
with his manly yearning, timorousness, tenderness, and awkwardness--these
three in a seemingly vain quest of love reciprocated; the girl, fair,
lonely, dutiful--filled with devotion to her brother and striving, amid
it all, to preserve a proper womanly neutrality toward these other men;
there was in this little comedy among those distant hills so much of real
pathos.

As for Jim Woppit, he showed not the slightest partiality toward any one
of the three suitors; with all he was upon terms of equal friendship.  It
seemed as if Jim had made up his mind in the beginning to let the best
one win; it was a free, fair, square race, so far as Jim was concerned,
and that was why Jim always had stanch backers in Jake Dodsley, Barber
Sam, and Three-fingered Hoover.

My sympathies were all with Hoover; he and I were pardners.  He loved the
girl in his own beautiful, awkward way.  He seldom spoke of her to me,
for he was not the man to unfold what his heart treasured.  He was not an
envious man, yet sometimes he would tell how he regretted that early
education had not fallen to his lot, for in that case he, too, might have
been a poet.  Mother--the old red fiddle--was his solace.  Coming home to
our cabin late of nights I'd hear him within scraping away at that tune
De Blanc had written for him, and he believed what Mother sung to him in
her squeaky voice of the deathlessness of true love.  And many a time--I
can tell it now--many a time in the dead of night I have known him to
steal out of the cabin with Mother and go up the main road to the gateway
of The Bower, where, in moonlight or in darkness (it mattered not to
him), he would repeat over and over again that melancholy tune, hoping
thereby to touch the sensibilities of the lady of his heart.

In the early part of February there was a second robbery.  This time the
stage was overhauled at Lone Pine, a ranch five miles beyond the camp.
The details of this affair were similar to those of the previous business
in the glen.  A masked man sprang from the roadside, presented two
revolvers at Steve Barclay's head, and called upon all within the stage
to come out, holding up their hands.  The outrage was successfully
carried out, but the booty was inconsiderable, somewhat less than eight
hundred dollars falling into the highwayman's hands.  The robber and his
pals fled as before; the time that elapsed before word could be got to
camp facilitated the escape of the outlaws.

A two days' scouring of the surrounding country revealed absolutely no
sign or trace of the fugitives.  But it was pretty evident now that the
two crimes had been committed by a gang intimately acquainted with, if
not actually living in, the locality.  Confirmation of this was had when
five weeks later the stage was again stopped and robbed at Lone Pine
under conditions exactly corresponding with the second robbery.  The
mystery baffled the wits of all.  Intense excitement prevailed; a reward
of five thousand dollars was advertised for the apprehension of the
outlaws; the camp fairly seethed with rage, and the mining country for
miles around was stirred by a determination to hunt out and kill the
miscreants.  Detectives came from Denver and snooped around.  Everybody
bought extra guns and laid in a further supply of ammunition.  Yet the
stage robbers--bless you! nobody could find hide or hair of 'em.

Miss Woppit stood her share of the excitement and alarm as long as she
could, and then she spoke her mind to Jim.  He told us about it.  Miss
Woppit owed a certain duty to Jim, she said; was it not enough for her to
be worried almost to death with fears for his safety as marshal of the
camp?  Was it fair that in addition to this haunting terror she should be
constantly harassed by a consciousness of her own personal danger?  She
was a woman and alone in a cabin some distance from any other habitation;
one crime had been committed within a step of that isolated cabin; what
further crime might not be attempted by the miscreants?

"The girl is skeered," said Jim Woppit, "and I don't know that I wonder
at it.  Women folks is nervous-like, anyhow, and these doings of late hev
been enough to worrit the strongest of us men."

"Why, there ain't an hour in the day," testified Casey, "that Miss Woppit
don't telephone down here to ask whether everything is all right, and
whether Jim is O. K."

"I know it," said Jim.  "The girl is skeered, and I 'd oughter thought of
it before.  I must bring her down into the camp to live.  Jest ez soon ez
I can git the lumber I 'll put up a cabin on the Bush lot next to the
bank."

Jim owned the Bush lot, as it was called.  He had talked about building a
store there in the spring, but we all applauded this sudden determination
to put up a cabin instead, a home for his sister.  That was a
determination that bespoke a thoughtfulness and a tenderness that
ennobled Jim Woppit in our opinions.  It was the square thing.

Barber Sam, ever fertile in suggestion, allowed that it might be a pious
idea for Miss Woppit to move down to the Mears House and board there
until the new cabin was built.  Possibly the circumstance that Barber Sam
himself boarded at the Mears House did not inspire this suggestion.  At
any rate, the suggestion seemed a good one, but Jim duly reported that
his sister thought it better to stay in the old place till the new place
was ready; she had stuck it out so far, and she would try to stick it out
the little while longer yet required.

This ultimatum must have interrupted the serenity of Barber Sam's temper;
he broke his E string that evening, and half an hour later somebody sat
down on the guitar and cracked it irremediably.

And now again it was spring.  Nothing can keep away the change in the
season.  In the mountain country the change comes swiftly, unheralded.
One day it was bleak and cheerless; the next day brought with it the
grace of sunshine and warmth; as if by magic, verdure began to deck the
hillsides, and we heard again the cheerful murmur of waters in the gulch.
The hollyhocks about The Bower shot up once more and put forth their
honest, rugged leaves.  In this divine springtime, who could think evil,
who do it?

Sir Charles Lackington, president of the Royal Victoria mine, was now due
at the camp.  He represented the English syndicate that owned the large
property.  Ill health compelled him to live at Colorado Springs.  Once a
year he visited Red Hoss Mountain, and always in May.  It was announced
that he would come to the camp by Tuesday's stage.  That stage was robbed
by that mysterious outlaw and his gang.  But Sir Charles happened not to
be among the passengers.

This robbery (the fourth altogether) took place at a point midway between
Lone Pine and the glen.  The highwayman darted upon the leading horses as
they were descending the hill and so misdirected their course that the
coach was overturned in the brush at the roadside.  In the fall Steve
Barclay's right arm was broken.  With consummate coolness the highwayman
(now positively described as a thick-set man, with a beard) proceeded to
relieve his victims of their valuables, but not until he had called, as
was his wont, to his confederates in ambush to keep the passengers
covered with their rifles.  The outlaw inquired which of his victims was
Sir Charles Lackington, and evinced rage when he learned that that
gentleman was not among the passengers by coach.

It happened that Jake Dodsley was one of the victims of the highwayman's
greed.  He had been to Denver and was bringing home a pair of elaborate
gold earrings which he intended for--for Miss Woppit, of course.  Poets
have deeper and stronger feelings than common folk.  Jake Dodsley's
poetic nature rebelled when he found himself deprived of those lovely
baubles intended for the idol of his heart.  So, no sooner had the outlaw
retreated to the brush than Jake Dodsley whipped out his gun and took to
the same brush, bent upon an encounter with his despoiler.  Poor Jake
never came from the brush alive.  The rest heard the report of a rifle
shot, and when, some time later, they found Jake, he was dead, with a
rifle ball in his head.

The first murder done and the fourth robbery!  Yet the mystery was as
insoluble as ever.  Of what avail was the rage of eight hundred miners,
the sagacity of the indefatigable officers of the law, and the united
efforts of the vengeance-breathing population throughout the country
round about to hunt the murderers down?  Why, it seemed as if the devil
himself were holding justice up to ridicule and scorn.

We had the funeral next day.  Sir Charles Lackington came by private
wagon in the morning; his daughter was with him.  Their escape from
participation in the affair of the previous day naturally filled them
with thanksgiving, yet did not abate their sympathy for the rest of us in
our mourning over the dead poet.  Sir Charles was the first to suggest a
fund for a monument to poor Jake, and he headed the subscription list
with one hundred dollars, cash down.  A noble funeral it was; everybody
cried; at the grave Three-fingered Hoover recited the poem about true
love and Jim Woppit threw in a wreath of hollyhock leaves which his
sister had sent--the poor thing was too sick to come herself.  She must
have cared more for Jake than she had ever let on, for she took to her
bed when she heard that he was dead.

Amid the deepest excitement further schemes for the apprehension of the
criminals who had so long baffled detection were set on foot and--but
this is not a story of crime; it is the story of a wooing, and I must not
suffer myself to be drawn away from the narrative of that wooing.  With
the death of the poet Dodsley one actor fell out of the little comedy.
And yet another stepped in at once.  You would hardly guess who it
was--Mary Lackington.  This seventeen-year-old girl favored her father in
personal appearance and character; she was of the English type of blonde
beauty--a light-hearted, good-hearted, sympathetic creature who
recognized it as her paramount duty to minister to her invalid father.
He had been her instructor in books, he had conducted her education, he
had directed her amusements, he had been her associate--in short, father
and daughter were companions, and from that sweet companionship both
derived a solace and wisdom precious above all things else.  Mary
Lackington was, perhaps, in some particulars mature beyond her years; the
sweetness, the simplicity, and the guilelessness of her character was the
sweetness, the simplicity, and the guilelessness of childhood.  Fair and
innocent, this womanly maiden came into the comedy of that mountain
wooing.

Three-fingered Hoover had never been regarded an artful man, but now, all
at once, for the first time in his life, he practised a subtlety.  He
became acquainted with Mary Lackington; I am not sure that he did not
meet Sir Charles at the firemen's muster in Pueblo some years before.
Getting acquainted with Miss Mary was no hard thing; the girl flitted
whithersoever she pleased, and she enjoyed chatting with the miners, whom
she found charmingly fresh, original, and manly, and as for the miners,
they simply adored Miss Mary.  Sir Charles owed his popularity largely to
his winsome daughter.

Mary was not long in discovering that Three-fingered Hoover had a little
romance all of his own.  Maybe some of the other boys told her about it.
At any rate, Mary was charmed, and without hesitation she commanded
Hoover to confess all.  How the big, awkward fellow ever got through with
it I for my part can't imagine, but tell her he did--yes, he fairly
unbosomed his secret, and Mary was still more delighted and laughed and
declared that it was the loveliest love story she had ever heard.  Right
here was where Hoover's first and only subtlety came in.

"And now, Miss Mary," says he, "you can do me a good turn, and I hope you
will do it.  Get acquainted with the lady and work it up with her for me.
Tell her that you know--not that I told you, but that you happen to have
found it out, that I like her--like her better 'n anybody else; that I 'm
the pure stuff; that if anybody ties to me they can find me thar every
time and can bet their last case on me!  Don't lay it on too thick, but
sort of let on I 'm O. K.  You women understand such things--if you 'll
help me locate this claim I 'm sure everything 'll pan out all right;
will ye?"

The bare thought of promoting a love affair set Mary nearly wild with
enthusiasm.  She had read of experiences of this kind, but of course she
had never participated in any.  She accepted the commission gayly yet
earnestly.  She would seek Miss Woppit at once, and she would be so
discreet in her tactics--yes, she would be as artful as the most skilled
diplomat at the court of love.

Had she met Miss Woppit?  Yes, and then again no.  She had been rambling
in the glen yesterday and, coming down the road, had stopped near the
pathway leading to The Bower to pick a wild flower of exceeding
brilliancy.  About to resume her course to camp she became aware that
another stood near her.  A woman, having passed noiselessly from the
cabin, stood in the gravelly pathway looking upon the girl with an
expression wholly indefinable.  The woman was young, perhaps twenty; she
was tall and of symmetrical form, though rather stout; her face was
comely, perchance a bit masculine in its strength of features, and the
eyes were shy, but of swift and certain glance, as if instantaneously
they read through and through the object upon which they rested.

"You frightened me," said Mary Lackington, and she had been startled,
truly; "I did not hear you coming, and so I was frightened when I saw you
standing there."

To this explanation the apparition made no answer, but continued to
regard Mary steadfastly with the indefinable look--an expression partly
of admiration, partly of distrust, partly of appeal, perhaps.  Mary
Lackington grew nervous; she did therefore the most sensible thing she
could have done under the circumstances--she proceeded on her way
homeward.

This, then, was Mary's first meeting with Miss Woppit.  Not particularly
encouraging to a renewal of the acquaintance; yet now that Mary had so
delicate and so important a mission to execute she burned to know more of
the lonely creature on that hill side, and she accepted with enthusiasm,
as I have said, the charge committed to her by the enamored Hoover.

Sir Charles and his daughter remained at the camp about three weeks.  In
that time Mary became friendly with Miss Woppit, as intimate, in fact, as
it was possible for anybody to become with her.  Mary found herself drawn
strangely and inexplicably toward the woman.  The fascination which Miss
Woppit exercised over her was altogether new to Mary; here was a woman of
lowly birth and in lowly circumstances, illiterate, neglected, lonely,
yet possessing a charm--an indefinable charm which was distinct and
potent, yet not to be analyzed--yes, hardly recognizable by any process
of cool mental dissection, but magically persuasive in the subtlety of
its presence and influence.  Mary had sought to locate, to diagnose that
charm; did it lie in her sympathy with the woman's lonely lot, or was it
the romance of the wooing, or was it the fascination of those restless,
searching eyes that Mary so often looked up to find fixed upon her with
an expression she could not forget and could not define?

I incline to the belief that all these things combined to constitute the
charm whereof I speak.  Miss Woppit had not the beauty that would be
likely to attract one other own sex; she had none of the sprightliness
and wit of womankind, and she seemed to be wholly unacquainted with the
little arts, accomplishments and vanities in which women invariably find
amusement.  She was simply a strange, lonely creature who had accepted
valorously her duty to minister to the comfort of her brother; the
circumstances of her wooing invested her name and her lot with a certain
pleasing romance; she was a woman, she was loyal to her sense of duty,
and she was, to a greater degree than most women, a martyr--herein,
perhaps, lay the secret to the fascination Miss Woppit had for Mary
Lackington.

At any rate, Mary and Miss Woppit became, to all appearances, fast
friends; the wooing of Miss Woppit progressed apace, and the mystery of
those Red Hoss Mountain crimes became more and--but I have already
declared myself upon _that_ point and I shall say no more thereof except
so far as bears directly upon my story, which is, I repeat, of a wooing,
and not of crime.

Three-fingered Hoover had every confidence in the ultimate success of the
scheme to which Miss Mary had become an enthusiastic party.  In
occasional pessimistic moods he found himself compelled to confess to
himself that the reports made by Miss Mary were not altogether such as
would inspire enthusiasm in the bosom of a man less optimistic than
he--Hoover--was.

To tell the truth, Mary found the task of doing Hoover's courting for him
much more difficult than she had ever fancied a task of that kind could
be.  In spite of her unacquaintance with the artifices of the world Miss
Woppit exhibited the daintiest skill at turning the drift of the
conversation whenever, by the most studied tact, Mary Lackington
succeeded in bringing the conversation around to a point where the
virtues of Three-fingered Hoover, as a candidate for Miss Woppit's
esteem, could be expatiated upon.  From what Miss Woppit implied rather
than said, Mary took it that Miss Woppit esteemed Mr. Hoover highly as a
gentleman and as a friend--that she perhaps valued his friendship more
than she did that of any other man in the world, always excepting her
brother Jim, of course.

Miss Mary reported all this to Hoover much more gracefully than I have
put it, for, being a woman, her sympathies would naturally exhibit
themselves with peculiar tenderness when conveying to a lover certain
information touching his inamorata.

There were two subjects upon which Miss Woppit seemed to love to hear
Mary talk.  One was Mary herself and the other was Jim Woppit.  Mary
regarded this as being very natural.  Why should n't this women in exile
pine to hear of the gay, beautiful world outside her pent horizon?  So
Mary told her all about the sights she had seen, the places she had been
to, the people she had met, the books she had read, the dresses she--but,
no, Miss Woppit cared nothing for that kind of gossip--now you 'll agree
that she was a remarkable woman, not to want to hear all about the lovely
dresses Mary had seen and could describe so eloquently.

Then again, as to Jim, was n't it natural that Miss Woppit, fairly
wrapped up in that brother, should be anxious to hear the good opinion
that other folk had of him?  Did the miners like Jim, she asked--what did
they say, and what did Sir Charles say?  Miss Woppit was fertile in
questionings of this kind, and Mary made satisfactory answers, for she
was sure that everybody liked Jim, and as for her father, why, he had
taken Jim right into his confidence the day he came to the camp.

Sir Charles had indeed made a confidant of Jim.  One day he called him
into his room at the Mears House.  "Mr. City Marshal," said Sir Charles,
in atone that implied secrecy, "I have given it out that I shall leave
the camp for home day after to-morrow."

"Yes, I had heerd talk," answered Jim Woppit.  "You are going by the
stage."

"Certainly, by the stage," said Sir Charles, "but _not_ day after
to-morrow; I go to-morrow."

"To-morrow, sir?"

"To-morrow," repeated Sir Charles.  "The coach leaves here, as I am told,
at eleven o' clock.  At four we shall arrive at Wolcott Siding, there to
catch the down express, barring delay.  I say 'barring delay,' and it is
with a view to evading the probability of delay that I have given out
that I am to leave on a certain day, whereas, in fact, I shall leave a
day earlier.  You understand?"

"You bet I do," said Jim.  "You are afraid of--of the robbers?"

"I shall have some money with me," answered Sir Charles, "but that alone
does not make me desirous of eluding the highwaymen.  My daughter--a
fright of that kind might lead to the most disastrous results."

"Correct," said Jim.

"So I have planned this secret departure," continued Sir Charles.  "No
one in the camp now knows of it but you and me, and I have a favor--a
distinct favor--to ask of you in pursuance of this plan.  It is that you
and a posse of the bravest men you can pick shall accompany the coach,
or, what is perhaps better, precede the coach by a few minutes, so as to
frighten away the outlaws in case they may happen to be lurking in
ambush."

Jim signified his hearty approval of the proposition.  He even expressed
a fervent hope that a rencontre with the outlaws might transpire, and
then he muttered a cordial "d---- 'em!"

"In order, however," suggested Sir Charles, "to avert suspicion here in
camp it would be wise for your men to meet quietly at some obscure point
and ride together, not along the main road, but around the mountain by
the Tin Cup path, coming in on the main road this side of Lone Pine
ranch.  You should await our arrival, and then, everything being
tranquil, your posse can precede us as an advance guard in accordance
with my previous suggestion."

"It might be a pious idea," said Jim, "for me to give the boys a pointer.
They 'll be on to it, anyhow, and I know 'em well enough to trust 'em."

"You know your men; do as you please about apprising them of their
errand," said Sir Charles.  "I have only to request that you assure each
that he will be well rewarded for his services."

This makes a rude break in our wooing; but I am narrating actual
happenings.  Poor old Hoover's subtlety all for naught, Mary's friendly
offices incompleted, the pleasant visits to the cabin among the
hollyhocks suspended perhaps forever, Miss Woppit's lonely lot rendered
still more lonely by the departure of her sweet girl friend--all this was
threatened by the proposed flight--for flight it was--of Sir Charles and
Mary Lackington.

That May morning was a glorious one.  Summer seemed to have burst upon
the camp and the noble mountain-sentinels about it.

"We are going to-day," said Sir Charles to his daughter.  "Hush! not a
word about it to anybody.  I have reasons for wishing our departure to be
secret."

"You have heard bad news?" asked Mary, quickly.

"Not at all," answered Sir Charles, smilingly.  "There is absolutely no
cause for alarm.  We must go quietly; when we reach home I will tell you
my reasons and then we will have a hearty laugh together."

Mary Lackington set about packing her effects, and all the time her
thoughts were of her lonely friend in the hill-side cabin.  In this hour
of her departure she felt herself drawn even more strangely and tenderly
toward that weird, incomprehensible creature; such a tugging at her heart
the girl had never experienced till now.  What would Miss Woppit
say--what would she think?  The thought of going away with never so much
as a good-by struck Mary Lackington as being a wanton piece of
heartlessness.  But she would write to Miss Woppit as soon as ever she
reached home--she would write a letter that would banish every suspicion
of unfeelingness.

Then, too, Mary thought of Hoover; what would the big, honest fellow
think, to find himself deserted in this emergency without a word of
warning?  Altogether it was very dreadful.  But Mary Lackington was a
daughter who did her father's bidding trustingly.

Three-fingered Hoover went with Jim Woppit that day.  There were thirteen
in the posse--fatal number--mounted on sturdy bronchos and armed to the
teeth.  They knew their business and they went gayly on their way.
Around the mountain and over the Tin Cup path they galloped, a good seven
miles, I 'll dare swear; and now at last they met up with the main road,
and at Jim Woppit's command they drew in under the trees to await the
approach of the party in the stage.

Meanwhile in camp the comedy was drawing to a close.  Bill Merridew drove
stage that day; he was Steve Barclay's pardner--pretty near the only man
in camp that stood out for Steve when he was suspicioned of being in some
sort of cahoots with the robbers.  Steve Barclay's arm was still useless
and Bill was reckoned the next best horseman in the world.

The stage drew up in front of the Mears House.  Perhaps half a dozen
passengers were in waiting and the usual bevy of idlers was there to
watch the departure.  Great was the astonishment when Sir Charles and
Mary Lackington appeared and stepped into the coach.  Everybody knew Sir
Charles and his daughter, and, as I have told you, it had been given out
that they were not to leave the camp until the morrow.  Forthwith there
passed around mysterious whisperings as to the cause of Sir Charles'
sudden departure.

It must have been a whim on Barber Sam's part.  At any rate, he issued
just then from Casey's restaurant across the way, jaunty and chipper as
ever.  He saw Sir Charles in the stage and Bill Merridew on the box.  He
gave a low, significant whistle.  Then he crossed the road.

"Bill," says he, quietly, "It 's a summerish day, and not feelin' just as
pert as I oughter I reckon I 'll ride a right smart piece with you for my
health!"

With these words Barber Sam climbed up and sat upon the box with Bill
Merridew.  A moment later the stage was on its course along the main road.

"Look a' here, Bill Merridew," says Barber Sam, fiercely, "there 's a
lord inside and you outside, to-day--a mighty suspicious coincidence!
No, you need n't let on you don't tumble to my meenin'!  I 've had my eye
on Steve Barclay an' you, and I 'm ready for a showdown.  I 'm travelin'
for my health to-day, and so are you, Bill Merridew!  I 'm fixed from the
ground up an' you know there ain't a man in the Red Hoss Mountain country
that is handier with a gun than me.  Now I mean bizness; if there is any
onpleasantness to-day and if you try to come any funny bizness, why,
d---- me, Bill Merridew, if I don't blow your head off!"

Pleasant words these for Bill to listen to.  But Bill knew Barber Sam and
he had presence of mind enough to couch his expostulatory reply in the
most obsequious terms.  He protested against Barber Sam's harsh
imputations.

"I 've had my say," was Barber Sam's answer.  "I ain't goin' to rub it
in.  You understand that I mean bizness this trip; so don't forget it.
Now let's talk about the weather."

Mary Lackington had hoped that, as they passed The Bower, she would catch
a glimpse of Miss Woppit--perhaps have sufficient opportunity to call out
a hasty farewell to her.  But Miss Woppit was nowhere to be seen.  The
little door of the cabin was open, so presumably the mistress was not far
away.  Mary was disappointed, vexed; she threw herself back and resigned
herself to indignant reflections.

The stage had proceeded perhaps four miles on its way when its progress
was arrested by the sudden appearance of a man, whose habit and gestures
threatened evil.  This stranger was of short and chunky build and he was
clad in stout, dark garments that fitted him snugly.  A slouch hat was
pulled down over his head and a half-mask of brown muslin concealed the
features of his face.  He held out two murderous pistols and in a sharp
voice cried "Halt!"  Instantaneously Barber Sam recognized in this bold
figure the mysterious outlaw who for so many months had been the terror
of the district, and instinctively he reached for his pistol-pocket.

"Throw up your hands!" commanded the outlaw.  He had the drop on them.
Recalling poor Jake Dodsley's fate Barber Sam discreetly did as he was
bidden.  As for Bill Merridew, he was shaking like a wine-jelly.  The
horses had come to a stand, and the passengers in the coach were
wondering why a stop had been made so soon.  Wholly unaware of what had
happened, Mary Lackington thrust her head from the door window of the
coach and looked forward up the road, in the direction of the threatening
outlaw.  She comprehended the situation at once and with a scream fell
back into her father's arms.

Presumably, the unexpected discovery of a woman among the number of his
intended victims disconcerted the ruffian.  At any rate, he stepped back
a pace or two and for a moment lowered his weapons.  That moment was
fatal to him.  Quick as lightning Barber Sam whipped out his unerring
revolver and fired.  The outlaw fell like a lump of dough in the road.
At that instant Bill Merridew recovered his wits; gathering up the lines
and laying on the whip mercilessly he urged his horses into a gallop.
Over the body of the outlaw crunched the hoofs of the frightened brutes
and rumbled the wheels of the heavy stage.

"We 've got him this time!" yelled Barber Sam, wildly.  "Stop your
horses, Bill--you 're all right, Bill, and I 'm sorry I ever did you
dirt--stop your horses, and let 's finish the sneakin' critter!"

There was the greatest excitement.  The passengers fairly fell out of the
coach, and it seemed as if they had an arsenal with them.  Mary
Lackington was as self-possessed as any of the rest.

"Are you sure he is dead?" she asked.  "Don't let us go nearer till we
know that he is dead; he will surely kill us!"

The gamest man in the world would n't have stood the ghost of a show in
the face of those murderous weapons now brought to bear on the fallen and
crushed wretch.

"If he ain't dead already he 's so near it that there ain't no fun in
it," said Bill Merridew.

In spite of this assurance, however, the party advanced cautiously toward
the man.  Convinced finally that there was no longer cause for alarm,
Barber Sam strode boldly up to the body, bent over it, tore off the hat
and pulled aside the muslin half-mask.  One swift glance at the outlaw's
face, and Barber Sam recoiled.

"Great God!" he cried, "Miss Woppit!"

It was, indeed, Miss Woppit--the fair-haired, shy-eyed boy who for months
had masqueraded in the camp as a woman.  Now, that masquerade disclosed
and the dreadful mystery of the past revealed, the nameless boy, fair in
spite of his crimes and his hideous wounds, lay dying in the dust and
gravel of the road.

Jim Woppit and his posse, a mile away, had heard the pistol-shot.  It
seemed but a moment ere they swept down the road to the scene of the
tragedy; they came with the swiftness of the wind.  Jim Woppit galloped
ahead, his swarthy face the picture of terror.

"Who is it--who 's killed--who 's hurt?" he asked.

Nobody made answer, and that meant everything to Jim.  He leapt from his
horse, crept to the dying boy's side and took the bruised head into his
lap.  The yellowish hair had fallen down about the shoulders; Jim stroked
it and spoke to the white face, repeating "Willie, Willie, Willie," over
and over again.

The presence and the voice of that evil brother, whom he had so bravely
served, seemed to arrest the offices of Death.  The boy came slowly to,
opened his eyes and saw Jim Woppit there.  There was pathos, not
reproach, in the dying eyes.

"It 's all up, Jim," said the boy, faintly, "I did the best I could."

All that Jim Woppit could answer was "Willie, Willie, Willie," over and
over again.

"This was to have been the last and we were going away to be decent
folks," this was what the boy went on to say; "I wish it could have been
so, for I have wanted to live ever since--ever since I knew her."

Mary Lackington gave a great moan.  She stood a way off, but she heard
these words and they revealed much--so very much to her--more, perhaps,
than you and I can guess.

He did not speak her name.  The boy seemed not to know that she was
there.  He said no other word, but with Jim Woppit bending over him and
wailing that piteous "Willie, Willie, Willie," over and over again, the
boy closed his eyes and was dead.

Then they all looked upon Jim Woppit, but no one spoke.  If words were to
be said, it was Jim Woppit's place to say them, and that dreadful silence
seemed to cry: "Speak out, Jim Woppit, for your last hour has come!"

Jim Woppit was no coward.  He stood erect before them all and plucked
from his breast the star of his office and cast away from him the weapon
he had worn.  He was magnificent in that last, evil hour!

"Men," said he.  "I speak for him an' not for myself.  Ez God is my
judge, that boy wuz not to blame.  I made him do it all--the lyin', the
robbery, the murder; he done it because I told him to, an' because havin'
begun he tried to save me.  Why, he wuz a kid ez innocent ez a leetle
toddlin' child.  He wanted to go away from here an' be different from wot
he wuz, but I kep' at him an' made him do an' do agin wot has brought the
end to-day.  Las' night he cried when I told him he must do the stage
this mornin; seemed like he wuz soft on the girl yonder.  It wuz to have
been the las' time--I promised him that, an' so--an' so it is.  Men, you
'll find the money an' everything else in the cabin--under the floor of
the cabin.  Make it ez square all round ez you kin."

Then Jim Woppit backed a space away, and, before the rest could realize
what he was about, he turned, darted through the narrow thicket, and
hurled himself into the gulch, seven hundred feet down.

But the May sunlight was sweet and gracious, and there lay the dead boy,
caressed of that charity of nature and smiling in its glory.

Bill was the first to speak--Bill Merridew, I mean.  He was Steve
Barclay's partner and both had been wronged most grievously.

"Now throw the other one over, too," cried Bill, savagely.  "Let 'em both
rot in the gulch!"

But a braver, kindlier man said "No!"  It was Three-fingered Hoover, who
came forward now and knelt beside the dead boy and held the white face
between his hard, brown hands and smoothed the yellowish hair and looked
with unspeakable tenderness upon the closed eyes.

"Leave her to me," said he, reverently.  "It wuz ez near ez I ever come
to lovin' a woman, and I reckon it's ez near ez I ever _shell_ come.  So
let me do with her ez pleases me."

It was their will to let Three-fingered Hoover have his way.  With
exceeding tenderness he bore the body back to camp and he gave it into
the hands of womenfolk to prepare it for burial, that no man's touch
should profane that vestige of his love.  You see he chose to think of
her to the last as she had seemed to him in life.

And it was another conceit of his to put over the grave, among the
hollyhocks on that mountain-side, a shaft of pure white marble bearing
simply the words "Miss Woppit."



THE TALISMAN

There was a boy named Wilhelm who was the only son of a widow.  He was
so devoted and obedient that other people in the village used to be
saying always: "What a good son Wilhelm is; how kind he is to his
mother."  So, while he was the example for all the other boys in the
village, he was the pride of his mother, who told him that some day he
would marry a princess for having been such a good and dutiful son.

When the time came for him to go out into the world and make his
living, his mother blessed him and said, "Here, my son, is a talisman,
which you are to hang about your neck and wear nearest your heart.
Whenever you are in trouble, look at this talisman and it will preserve
you from harm."

So, with his mother's kiss upon his lips and the talisman next his
heart, Wilhelm set out to make his fortune in the world.  The talisman
was simply an old silver coin which had been smoothly polished upon one
side and inscribed with the word "Mother;" yet Wilhelm prized it above
all other earthly things--first, because his mother had given it to
him, and again because he believed it possessed a charm that would keep
him from harm.

Wilhelm travelled many days through the forests and over the hills in
search of a town where he might find employment, and the food with
which his mother had provided him for the journey was nearly gone.  But
whenever he was inclined to sadness, he drew the talisman from his
bosom and the sight of the name of mother restored his spirits.

One evening as he climbed a hill, he beheld a great city about a league
distant.

"Here at last I shall find employment," thought he.  But he had no
sooner uttered these words than he heard something like a sigh issuing
from the roadside and as he turned to discover whence it came, he saw a
dark and forbidding looking old castle standing back some way from the
road in a cluster of forest trees.  The grounds belonging to this old
castle were surrounded by a single fence, between the palings of which
a white swan stretched out its neck and gave utterance to the sighs
which had attracted Wilhelm's attention.

The dismal noise made by the bird and its strange actions--for it
fluttered its wings wildly and waved its head as if it would have
Wilhelm approach--excited Wilhelm's curiosity, and he drew nearer the
fence and said, "Why do you act so strangely, white swan?"

But the swan made no answer except to sigh more dismally than before
and flap its wings still more widely.  Then Wilhelm saw that the swan,
although a swan in every other particular, had the eyes of a human
being.  He had scarcely recovered from the astonishment occasioned by
this discovery, when the first swan was joined by a full score of other
white swans that came running over the green sward, sighing very
dismally and many of them shedding tears from their human eyes.

It was only the approach of night that hastened Wilhelm on his journey
to the city, and, as he trudged along, he could not help thinking of
the singular adventure with the swans.  Presently he came upon a
countryman sitting by the roadside, and to him he told the story of the
castle and the swans.

"Ah," said the countryman, "you are an innocent lad to be sure!  That
was the castle of the old witch, and the swans you saw are unfortunate
princes whom she has enchanted."

Then Wilhelm begged him to tell him about the old witch and the poor
princes, and the countryman told him all from first to last, only I
will have to make it much shorter, as it was a long tale.

It seems that the old witch was once a princess who was famed for her
beauty and wit.  She had a younger sister who was quite as beautiful,
but much more amiable and much less ambitious.  These sister princesses
lived in the castle together, and the elder, whose name was Mirza,
guarded the younger very jealously lest the younger should be first
married.  One time the Prince Joseph determined he would wed.  He was
the handsomest and bravest prince in the land and all the princesses
set their caps for him, Mirza among the others.  But it came to the
prince's ears that Mirza was learned in and practised witchcraft, so,
despite her beauty and her grace, he would have no thought of Mirza,
but chose her younger sister to wife.

When the prince wedded the younger princess, Mirza was enraged beyond
all saying, and forthwith she dismissed her court and gave up her life
to the singing of incantations and the dreadful practices of a witch;
and so constant was she in the practice of those black arts that her
back became bent, her hair white, and her face wrinkled, and she grew
to be the most hideous hag in the whole kingdom.  Meanwhile, the prince
had become king; and his wife, the queen, had presented him with a
daughter, so beautiful that her like had never been seen on earth.
This little princess was named Mary, a name esteemed then, as now, as
the most beautiful of all names.  Mary increased in loveliness each day
and when she was fifteen the fame of her beauty and amiability was
worldwide.

But one day, as the princess sat counting her pearls in her chamber,
the old witch Mirza flew in through the window on a broomstick and
carried the princess Mary off to her forlorn old castle, a league
beyond the city.  The queen mother, who had witnessed this violence,
fell into a swoon from which she never recovered, and the whole court
was thrown into a vast commotion.

Having buried his fair queen, the bereaved king set about to recover
his daughter, the princess Mary, but this was found to be impossible,
since the witch had locked the girl in an upper chamber of the castle
and had set a catamaran and a boogaboo to guard the place.  So,
whenever the king's soldiers attempted to rescue the princess, the
catamaran breathed fire from his nostrils upon them while the boogaboo
tore out their hearts with his fierce claws.

Finally the king sent word to the witch that he would bestow upon her
all the riches of his kingdom if she would restore his daughter, but
she replied that there was only one condition upon which she would give
up the princess and that was that some young man of the kingdom should
rightly answer three questions she would propound.  At once the bravest
and handsomest knights in the kingdom volunteered to rescue the
princess, but having failed to answer the questions of the old witch,
they were transformed into swans and were condemned to eke out
miserable existences in the dreary park around the old witch's castle.

"This," said the countryman, "is the story of the princess, the witch
and the swans.  Every once in a while, an adventuresome youth seeks to
restore the princess to her father, and he is as surely transformed
into a swan.  So, while the court is in mourning, the princess pines in
the witch's castle and the swans wander about the castle yard."

This piteous tale awakened Wilhelm's sympathy, and although it was now
quite dark, he determined to go back to the witch's castle and catch a
glimpse of the beautiful princess.

"May luck attend thee," said the countryman, "but beware of the
catamaran and the boogaboo."

As he was plodding back to the witch's castle, Wilhelm drew his
talisman from his bosom and gazed tenderly upon it.  It had never
looked so bright and shining.  The moon beams danced upon its smooth
face and kissed it.  Wilhelm was confident that this was an omen that
his dear mother approved the errand he was on.  Then he knelt down by
the roadside and said a little prayer, and when he had finished, the
night zephyrs breathed their sweetest music in his ears, and Wilhelm
thought it was the heavenly Father whispering words of encouragement to
him.  So Wilhelm went boldly toward the witch's castle.

As he drew nigh to the castle, he saw the old witch fly away on her
broomstick, accompanied by a bevy of snarling hobgoblins that were also
on broomsticks and looked very hideous.  Then Wilhelm knew the witch
and her escort were off for the forest and would not return till
midnight.

The princess Mary was standing at the barred window of her chamber and
was weeping.  As Wilhelm approached the castle, the swans rushed to
meet him, and the flapping of their wings and their piteous cries
attracted the attention of the princess, and she saw Wilhelm.

"Oh, fly from here, sweet prince," cried the princess; "for if the
witch were to return, she would kill you and boil your heart in her
cauldron!"

"I am no prince," replied Wilhelm, "and I do not fear the ugly old
witch."

Then Wilhelm told the princess who he was and how he was ready to serve
her, for, having perceived her rare beauty and amiability, he was madly
in love with her and was ready to die for her sake.  But the princess,
who was most agreeably impressed by his manly figure, handsome face,
and honest valor, begged him not to risk his life for her.

"It is better that I should pass my existence here in prison," said
she, "than that you should be transformed as these other wretched
princes have been."

And when they heard these words, the swans craned their necks and gave
utterance to such heartrending sighs that the princess sobbed with
renewed vigor and even Wilhelm fell to weeping.

At this moment, hearing the commotion in the yard, the hideous
catamaran and the ugly boogaboo came out of the castle and regarded
Wilhelm with ferocious countenances.  Never before had Wilhelm seen
such revolting monsters!

The catamaran had a body and tail like an alligator, a head like a
hippopotamus, and four legs like the legs of an ostrich.  The body was
covered with greenish scales, its eyes were living fire, and scorching
flames issued from its mouth and ears.  The boogaboo was none the less
frightful in its appearance.  It resembled a monster ape, except that
instead of a hairy hide it had a scabby skin as red as a salamander's.
Its arms were long and muscular, and its bony hands were armed with
eleven fingers each, upon which were nails or claws shaped like fish
hooks and keen as razors.  This boogaboo had skinny wings like a huge
bat, and at the end of its rat-like tail was a sting more deadly than
the poison of a snake.

These hideous reptiles--the catamaran and the boogaboo--stood glaring
at Wilhelm.

"Ow--wow--wow--wow!" roared the catamaran; "I will scorch you to a
cinder."

"Ow--wow--wow--wow!" bellowed the boogaboo, "I will tear your heart
from your bosom."

So, in the wise determination not to die until he had made a brave and
discreet struggle for the princess, Wilhelm left the castle and stole
down the highway towards the city.

That night he slept in a meadow, and the stars watched over him and the
daisies and buttercups bent their heads lovingly above him and sang
lullabies, while he dreamed of his mother and the princess, who seemed
to smile upon him all that night.

In the morning, Wilhelm pushed on to the city, and he went straight to
the palace gate and demanded to see the king.  This was no easy matter,
but finally he was admitted and the king asked him what he wanted.
When the king heard that Wilhelm was determined to make an attempt to
rescue the princess, he burst out crying and embracing the youth,
assured him that it was folly for him--a simple country boy--to
undertake to accomplish what so many accomplished and skilled princes
had essayed in vain.

But Wilhelm insisted, until at last the king called his court together
and announced that the simple country lad had resolved to guess the
riddles of the old witch.  The courtiers straightway fell to laughing
at the presumption of the rural wight, as they derisively called him,
but it was much to the credit of the court ladies that they admired the
youth for his comely person, ingenuous manners, and brave
determination.  The end of it all was that, at noon that very day, a
long procession went with Wilhelm to the witch's castle, the courtiers
hardly suppressing their mirth, but the ladies all in tears for fear
the handsome youth would not guess the riddles and would therefore be
transformed by the witch.

The old witch saw the train approaching her castle and she went out
into the yard and sat on a rickety bench under a upas tree to receive
the king and his court.  She was attended by twelve snapdragons, a
score of hobgoblins, and innumerable gnomes, elves, ghouls, and
hoodoos.  On her left stood the catamaran, and on her right the
boogaboo, each more revoltingly hideous than ever before.

When the king and Wilhelm and the rest of the cavalcade came into the
castle yard and stood before the witch, she grinned and showed her
black gums and demanded to know why they had come.

"We have a youth here who would solve your three riddles," said the
king.

Then the old witch laughed, "Ha, ha, ha!" and the gnomes, ghouls, and
all the rest of the enchantress' followers took up the refrain and
laughed till the air was very dense with sulphurous fumes.

"Well, if the youth is resolved, let him see the doom that awaits him,"
said the witch, and she waved her stick.

Forthwith a strange procession issued from the castle.  First came two
little imps, then came two black demons, and last of all the swans, two
by two, mournfully flapping their wings and giving utterance to sighs
and moans more dismal than any sounds ever before heard.

"You are going to have a new companion, my pretty pets," said the old
witch to the swans, whereupon the swans moaned and sighed with renewed
vigor.

The king and his court trembled and wept at the spectacle, for in these
unhappy birds they recognized the poor princes who had fallen victims
to the foul witch's arts.  To add to the misery of the scene, the
beautiful princess Mary appeared at the barred window of her chamber in
the castle and stretched out her white arms beseechingly.  But the king
and his court could avail her nothing, for the hideous catamaran and
the cruel boogaboo were prepared to pounce upon and destroy whosoever
attempted to rescue the unhappy maiden by violence.

"Let the presumptuous youth stand before me," cried the witch.  And
Wilhelm strode boldly to the open spot between the witch and the kingly
retinue.

"A fine, plump swan will you make," hissed the old witch.  "Now can you
tell me what is sweeter than the kiss of the princess' mother?"

Now the witch had supposed that Wilhelm would reply "The kiss of the
princess herself," for this was the reply that all the other youths had
made.  But Wilhelm made no such answer.  He faced the old witch boldly
and replied, "The kiss of my own mother!"

And hearing this, which was the correct answer, the witch quivered with
astonishment and rage, and the catamaran fell down upon the grass and
vomited its flaming breath upon itself until it was utterly consumed.
So that was the last of the hideous catamaran.

"Having said that, he will not think to repeat it," thought the old
witch, and she propounded the second question, which was: "What always
lieth next a good man's heart?"

Now for a long time Wilhelm paused in doubt, and the king and his
retinue began to tremble and the poor swans dolorously flapped their
wings and sighed more piteously.  But the old witch chuckled and licked
her warty chops and muttered, "He will have feathers all over his back
presently."

And in his doubt Wilhelm remembered the words of his dear mother:
"Whenever in trouble, look at the talisman and it will preserve you
from harm."  So Wilhelm put his hand in his bosom and drew forth the
talisman, and lo! the inscription seemed to burn itself into his very
soul.  Gently he raised the talisman to his lips and reverently he
kissed it.  And then he uttered the sacred name, "Mother."

And straightway the hideous boogaboo fell down upon the grass and with
its cruel talons tore out its own heart, so that the boogaboo perished
miserably in the sight of all.  The old witch cowered and foamed at her
ugly black mouth and uttered fearful curses and imprecations.

It was never known what the third and last riddle was, for as soon as
they saw her deprived of her twin guardians, the catamaran and the
boogaboo, the king's swordsmen fell upon the witch and hewed off her
head, and the head and body tumbled to the ground.  At that very
instant the earth opened and, with a sickening groan, swallowed up the
dead witch and all her elves, gnomes, imps, ghouls, snapdragons, and
demons.  But the swans were instantaneously transformed back into human
beings, for as soon as the witch died, all enchantment over them was at
an end, and there was great joy.

The recovery of the beautiful princess Mary was easily accomplished
now, and the next day she was wedded to Wilhelm amid great rejoicing,
the rescued princes serving as the bridegroom's best men.  The king had
it proclaimed that Wilhelm should be his successor, and there was great
rejoicing in all the kingdom.

In the midst of his prosperity, Wilhelm did not forget his dear old
mother.  He sent for her at once, and she lived with Wilhelm and his
bride in the splendid palace, and she was always very particular to
tell everybody what a good, kind, and thoughtful son Wilhelm had always
been.

Dear little boys, God has put into your bosoms a talisman which will
always tell you that love of mother is the sweetest and holiest of all
human things.  Treasure that sacred talisman, and heaven's blessings
will be always with you.  And then each of you shall marry a beautiful
princess, or at least one who is every whit as good as a beautiful
princess.



GEORGE'S BIRTHDAY

Lawrence seemed to be lost in meditation.  He sat in a rude arm-chair
under his favorite fig tree, and his eyes were fixed intently upon the
road that wound away from the manor house, through the broad gate, and
across the brown sward until it lost itself in the oak forest yonder.
Had it been summer the sight of Lawrence in the arm-chair under the fig
tree would not have been surprising, but the spectacle of Lawrence
occupying that seat in mid-winter, with his gaze riveted on the sear
roadway, was simply preposterous, as you will all admit.

It was a February morning--clear, bright, and beautiful, with a hint of
summer in the warmth of its breath and the cheeriness of its smile.
Pope's Creek, as it rippled along, made pleasant music, the partridges
drummed in the under brush, and the redbirds whistled weirdly in the
leafless chestnut grove near the swash.  Now and then a Bohemian crow,
moping lazily from the Maryland border, looked down at Lawrence in the
old arm-chair and uttered a hoarse exclamation of astonishment.

But Lawrence heard none of these things; with stony stare he continued
to regard the roadway to the grove.  Could it be that he was unhappy?
He was the proprietor of "Wakefield," the thirteen hundred acres that
stretched around him; five hundred slaves called him master; bounteous
crops had filled his barns to overflowing, and, to complete what should
have been the sum of human happiness, he had but two years before taken
to wife the beautiful Mary, daughter of Joseph Ball, Esq., of Epping
Forest, and the acknowledged belle of the Northern Neck.  How, then,
_could_ Lawrence be unhappy?

The truth is, Lawrence was in a delirium of expectancy.  He stood, as
it were, upon the threshold of an event.  The experience which
threatened him was altogether a new one; he was in a condition of
suspense that was simply torturesome.

This event had been anticipated for some time.  By those subtile
methods peculiar to her sex, Mary, the wife, had prepared herself for
it, and Lawrence, too, had declared ever and anon his readiness to face
the ordeal; but, now that the event was close at hand, Lawrence was
weak and nervous and pale, and it was evident that Mary would have to
confront the event without the hope of any practical assistance from
her husband.

"It is all the fault of the moon," muttered Lawrence.  "It changed last
night, and if I had paid any attention to what Aunt Lizzie and Miss
Bettie said I might have expected this trouble to-day.  A plague take
the moon, I say, and all the ills it brings with its monkeyshines!"

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Along the pathway across the meadow meandered three feminine figures
attired in the quaint raiment of those remote Colonial times--Mistress
Carter, her daughter Mistress Fairfax, and another neighbor, the
antique and angular Miss Dorcas Culpeper, spinster.  At sight of
Lawrence they groaned, and Miss Culpeper found it necessary to hold her
big velvet bag before her face to conceal the blushes of indignation
which she felt suffusing her venerable features when she beheld the
horrid author of a kind of trouble to which, on account of her years
and estate, she could never hope to contribute save as a party of the
third part.  And oh! how guilty Lawrence looked and how guilty he felt,
too, as he sat under his fig tree just then.  He dropped his face into
his hands and ground his elbows into his knees and indulged in bitter
thoughts against the feminine sex in general and against the moon and
Miss Dorcas Culpeper, spinster, in particular.

So absorbing were these bitter reflections that, although Lawrence had
posted himself under the fig tree for the sole purpose of discovering
and of heralding the approach of a certain expected visitor, he was not
aware of Dr. Parley's arrival until that important personage had issued
from the oak grove, had traversed the brown road, and was dignifiedly
stalking his flea-bitten mare through the gateway.  Then Lawrence
looked up, gave a sickly smile, and bade the doctor an incoherent
good-morning.  Dr. Parley was sombre and impressive.  He seldom smiled.
An imperturbable gravity possessed him from the prim black-satin
cockade on his three-cornered hat to the silver buckles on his
square-toed shoes.  In his right hand he carried a gold-headed cane
which he wielded as solemnly as a pontiff might wield a sceptre, and as
he dismounted from his flea-bitten mare and unswung his ponderous
saddlebags he never once suffered the gold head of his impressive cane
to lapse from its accustomed position at his nostrils.

"Go right into the house, doctor," said Lawrence, feebly, "_I 'll_ look
after the mare.  You have n't come any too soon--Mary 's taking on
terrible."

It was mean of Dr. Parley, but at this juncture he _did_ really
smile--yes, and it was a smile which combined so much malevolent pity
and scorn and derision that poor Lawrence felt himself shrivelling up
to the infinitesimal dimension of a pea in a bushel-basket.  He led the
flea-bitten mare to the cherry tree and tied her there.  "If you bark
that tree I 'll tan you alive," said Lawrence hoarsely, to the
champing, frisky creature, for now he hated all animal life from Dr.
Parley down, down, down even to the flea-bitten mare.  Then, miserable
and nervous, Lawrence returned to the arm-chair under the fig
tree--and, how wretched he was!

Pretty soon he heard a merry treble voice piping out: "Is ze gockter
tum to oo house?" and Lawrence saw little Martha toddling toward him.
Little Martha was Mistress Dandridge's baby girl.  The Dandridges lived
a short way beyond the oak grove, and little Martha loved to visit
Uncle Lawrence and Aunt Mary, as she called Lawrence and his wife.

"Yes, Martha," said Lawrence, sadly, "the doctor's come."

"Ain't oo glad ze gockter's tum?" asked the child, anxiously, for she
recognized the weary tone of Lawrence's voice.

"Oh, yes," he answered, quickly and with an effort at cheerfulness, "I
'm glad he 's come.  Ha, ha!"

"Is oo doing to have oo toof pulled?" she inquired, artlessly.

Lawrence shook his head.

"No, little one," said he, in a melancholy voice, "I wish I was."

Then Martha wanted to know whether the doctor had brought his
saddlebags, and when Lawrence answered in the affirmative a summer of
sunshine seemed to come into the child's heart and burst out over her
pretty face.

"Oh, I know!" she cried, as she clapped her fat little hands.  "Ze
gockter has bwought oo a itty baby!"

Now Martha's innocence, naïveté, and exuberance rather pleased
Lawrence.  In fact, Martha was the only human being in all the world
who had treated Lawrence with any kind of consideration that February
morning, and all at once Lawrence felt his heart warm and go out toward
the prattling child.

"Come here, little Martha," said he, kindly, "and let me hold you on my
knee.  Who told you about the--about the--the baby, eh?"

"Mamma says ze gockter _allers_ brings itty babies in his sagglebags.
Do oo want a itty baby, Uncle Lawrence?"

"Yes, Martha, I do," said he, kissing her, "and I want a little girl
just like you."

Now Martha had guessed at the event, and her guess was eminently
correct.  Lawrence had told the truth, too; it was a little girl he
wanted--not one that looked like Martha, perhaps--one that looked like
his Mary would please him most.  So the two talked together, and
Lawrence found himself concocting the most preposterous perjuries
touching the famous saddlebags and the babies, but it seemed to delight
little Martha all the more as these perjuries became more and more
preposterous.

For reasons, however, which we at this subsequent period can
appreciate, this confabulation could not last for aye, and when,
finally, little Martha trotted back homeward Lawrence bethought himself
it was high time to reconnoiter the immediate scene of action within
his house.  He found a group of servants huddled about the door.
Chloe, Becky, Ann, Snowdrop, Pearl, Susan, Tilly--all, usually cheerful
and smiling, wore distressful countenances now.  Nor did they speak to
him as had been their wont.  They seemed to be afraid of him, yet what
had _he_ done--what had he _ever_ done that these well-fed,
well-treated slaves should shrink from him in his hour of trouble?

It was still gloomier inside the house.  Aunt Lizzie and Miss Bettie,
the nurses, had taken supreme charge of affairs.  At this moment Aunt
Lizzie, having brewed a pot of tea, was regaling Mistress Carter and
Mistress Fairfax and the venerable Miss Dorcas Culpeper, spinster, with
a desultory but none the less interesting narrative of her performances
on countless occasions similar to the event about to take place.  The
appearance of Lawrence well-nigh threw Miss Culpeper into hysterics,
and, to escape the dismal groans, prodigious sighs, and reproachful
glances of the others, Lawrence made haste to get out of the apartment.
The next room was desolate enough, but it was under Mary's room and
there was _some_ comfort in knowing _that_.  Yet the nearer Lawrence
came to Mary's room the more helpless he grew.  He could not explain
it, but he was lamentably weak and miserable.  A strange fear undid him
and he fairly trembled.

"I will go up and ask if there is anything I can do," he said to
himself, for he was ashamed to admit his cowardice.

But his knees failed him and he sat down on the stairs and listened and
wished he had never been born.

Oh, how quiet the house was.  Lawrence strained his ears to catch a
sound from Mary's room.  He could hear a faint echo of the four
chattering women in the front chamber below, but not a sound from
Mary's room.  Now and then a shrill cry of a jay or the lowing of the
oxen in the pasture by the creek came to him from the outside
world--but not a sound from Mary's room.  His heart sank; he would have
given the finest plantation in Westmoreland County for the echo of
Mary's voice or the music of Mary's footfall now.

Presently the door of Mary's room opened.  The cold, unrelenting,
forbidding countenance of Miss Bettie, the nurse, confronted Lawrence's
upturned, pleading face.

"Oh, it 's _you_, is it?" said Miss Bettie, unfeelingly, and with this
cheerless remark she closed the door again, and Lawrence was more
miserable than ever.  He stole down-stairs into a back room, escaped
through a window, and slunk away toward the stables.  The whole world
seemed turned against him--in the flower of early manhood he found
himself unwillingly and undeservedly an Ishmaelite.

He rebelled against this cruel injustice.

Then he grew weak and childish again.

Anon he anathematized humanity, and then again he ruefully regretted
his own existence.

In a raging fever one moment, he shivered and chattered like a sick
magpie the next.

But when he thought of Mary his heart softened and sweeter emotions
thrilled him.  She, at least, he assured himself, would defend him from
these persecutions were she aware of them.  So, after roaming aimlessly
between the barn and the creek, the creek and the overseer's house, the
overseer's house and the swash, the swash and the grove, the grove and
the servants' quarters, Lawrence made up his mind that he 'd go back to
the house (like the brave man he wanted to make himself believe he was)
and help Mary endure "the ordeal," as Miss Dorcas Culpeper, spinster,
was pleased to term the event.  But Lawrence could not bring himself to
face the feminine quartet in the front chamber--now that he came to
think of it he recollected that he always _had_ detested those four
impertinent gossips!  So he crept around to the side window, raised it
softly, crawled in through, and slipped noiselessly toward the stairway.

Then all at once he heard a cry; a shrill little voice that did not
linger in his ears, but went straight to his heart and kept echoing
there and twining itself in and out, in and out, over and over again.

This little voice stirred Lawrence strangely; it seemed to tell him
things he had never known before, to speak a wisdom he had never
dreamed of, to breathe a sweeter music than he had ever heard, to
inspire ambitions purer and better than any he had ever felt--the voice
of his firstborn--you know, fathers, what that meant to Lawrence.

Well, Lawrence _was_ brave again, but there was a lump in his throat
and his eyes were misty.

"She's here at last," he murmured thankfully; "heaven be praised for
that!"

Of course you understand that Lawrence had been hoping for a girl; so
had his wife.  They had planned to call her Mary, after her mother, the
quondam belle of the Northern Neck.  Grandfather Joseph Ball, late of
Epping Forest, was to be her godfather, and Colonel Bradford Custis of
Jamestown had promised to grace the christening with his imposing
presence.

"Well, you can come in," said Miss Bettie, with much condescension, and
in all humility Lawrence did go in.

Dr. Parley was quite as solemn and impressive as ever.  He occupied the
great chair near the chimney-place, and he still held the gold head of
his everlasting cane close to his nose.

"Well, Mary," said Lawrence, with an inquiring, yearning glance.  Mary
was very pale, but she smiled sweetly.

"Lawrence, it's a boy," said Mary.

Oh, what a grievous disappointment that was!  After all the hopes, the
talk, the preparations, the plans--a boy!  What would Grandfather Ball,
late of Epping Forest, say?  What would come of the grand christening
that was to be graced by the imposing presence of Colonel Bradford
Custis of Jamestown?  How the Jeffersons and Randolphs and Masons and
Pages and Slaughters and Carters and Ayletts and Henrys _would_ gossip
and chuckle, and how he--Lawrence--_would_ be held up to the scorn and
the derision of the facetious yeomen of Westmoreland!  It was simply
terrible.

And just then, too, Lawrence's vexation was increased by a gloomy
report from the four worthy dames down-stairs--viz., Mistress Carter,
Mistress Fairfax, Miss Dorcas Culpeper, spinster, and Aunt Lizzie, the
nurse.  These inquiring creatures had been casting the new-born babe's
horoscope through the medium of tea grounds in their blue-china cups,
and each agreed that the child's future was full of shame, crime,
disgrace, and other equally unpleasant features.

"Now that it's a boy," said Lawrence, ruefully, "I 'm willing to
believe almost anything.  It would n't surprise me at all if he wound
up on the gallows!"

But Mary, cherishing the puffy, fuzzy, red-faced little waif in her
bosom, said to him, softly: "No matter _what_ the _others_ say, my
darling; _I_ bid you welcome, and, by God's grace, my love and prayers
shall make you good and great."

And it was even so.  Mary's love and prayers _did_ make a good and
great man of that unwelcome child, as we who celebrate his birthday in
these later years believe.  They had a grand christening, too;
Grandfather Ball was there, and Colonel Bradford Custis, and the Lees,
the Jeffersons, the Randolphs, the Slaughters--yes, all the old
families of Virginia were represented, and there was feasting and
merry-making for three days!  Such cheer prevailed, in fact, that even
Miss Dorcas Culpeper, spinster, and Lawrence, the happy father, became
completely reconciled.  Soothed by the grateful influences of barbecued
meats and draughts of rum and sugar, Lawrence led Miss Culpeper through
the minuet.

"A very proper name for the babe?" suggested Miss Culpeper.

"Yes, we will call him George, in honor of his majesty our king," said
Lawrence Washington, with the pride that comes of loyalty and
patriotism.



SWEET-ONE-DARLING AND THE DREAM-FAIRIES

A wonderful thing happened one night; those who never heard of it
before will hardly believe it.  Sweet-One-Darling was lying in her
little cradle with her eyes wide open, and she was trying to make up
her mind whether she should go to sleep or keep awake.  This is often a
hard matter for little people to determine.  Sweet-One-Darling was
ready for sleep and dreams; she had on her nightgown and her nightcap,
and her mother had kissed her good-night.  But the day had been so very
pleasant, with its sunshine and its play and its many other diversions,
that Sweet-One-Darling was quite unwilling to give it up.  It was high
time for the little girl to be asleep; the robins had ceased their
evening song in the maple; a tree-toad croaked monotonously outside,
and a cricket was chirping certain confidences to the strange shadows
that crept furtively everywhere in the yard and garden.  Some folk
believe that the cricket is in league with the Dream-Fairies; they say
that what sounds to us like a faint chirping merely is actually the
call of the cricket to the Dream-Fairies to let those pretty little
creatures know that it is time for them to come with their dreams.  I
more than half believe this myself, for I have noticed that it is while
the cricket is chirping that the Dream-Fairies come with their
wonderful sights that seem oftentimes very real.

Sweet-One-Darling heard the voice of the cricket, and may be she knew
what it meant.  There are a great many things which Sweet-One-Darling
knows all about but of which she says nothing to other people; although
she is only a year old, she is undoubtedly the most knowing little
person in all the world, and the fact that she is the most beautiful
and the most amiable of human beings is the reason why she is called by
that name of Sweet-One-Darling.  May be--and it is quite likely
that--with all the other wonderful things she knew, Sweet-One-Darling
understood about the arrangement that existed between the cricket and
the Dream-Fairies.  At any rate, just as soon as she heard that cricket
give its signal note she smiled a smile of gratification and looked
very wise, indeed--as much as to say: "The cricket and I know a thing
worth knowing."

Then, all of a sudden, there was a faint sound as of the rustle of
gossamer, silken wings, and the very next moment two of the cunningest
fairies you ever saw were standing upon the window-sill, just over the
honeysuckle.  They had come from Somewhere, and it was evident that
they were searching for somebody, for they peered cautiously and
eagerly into the room.  One was dressed in a bright yellow suit of
butterfly silk and the other wore a suit of dark-gray mothzine, which
(as perhaps you know) is a dainty fabric made of the fine strands which
gray moths spin.  Each of these fairies was of the height of a small
cambric needle and both together would not have weighed much more than
the one-sixteenth part of four dewdrops.  You will understand from this
that these fairies were as tiny creatures as could well be imagined.

"Sweet-One-Darling! oh, Sweet-One-Darling!" they cried softly.  "Where
are you?"

Sweet-One-Darling pretended that she did not hear, and she cuddled down
close in her cradle and laughed heartily, all to herself.  The
mischievous little thing knew well enough whom they were calling, and I
am sure she knew what they wanted.  But she meant to fool them and hide
from them awhile--that is why she did not answer.  But nobody can hide
from the Dream-Fairies, and least of all could Sweet-One-Darling hide
from them, for presently her laughter betrayed her and the two
Dream-Fairies perched on her cradle--one at each side--and looked
smilingly down upon her.

"Hullo!" said Sweet-One-Darling, for she saw that her hiding-place was
discovered.  This was the first time I had ever heard her speak, and I
did not know till then that even wee little babies talk with fairies,
particularly Dream-Fairies.

"Hullo, Sweet-One-Darling!" said Gleam-o'-the-Murk, for that was the
name of the Dream-Fairy in the dark-gray mothzine.

"And hullo from me, too!" cried Frisk-and-Glitter, the other
visitor--the one in the butterfly-silk suit.

"You have come earlier than usual," suggested Sweet-One-Darling.

"No, indeed," answered Frisk-and-Glitter; "this is the accustomed hour,
but the day has been so happy that it has passed quickly.  For that
reason you should be glad to see me, for I bring dreams of the day--the
beautiful golden day, with its benediction of sunlight, its grace of
warmth, and its wealth of mirth and play."

"And _I_," said Gleam-o'-the-Murk, "_I_ bring dreams, too.  But _my_
dreams are of the night, and they are full of the gentle, soothing
music of the winds, of the pines, and of the crickets! and they are
full of fair visions in which you shall see the things of Fairyland and
of Dreamland and of all the mysterious countries that compose the vast
world of Somewhere away out beyond the silvery mist of Night."

"Dear me!" cried Sweet-One-Darling.  "I should never be able to make a
choice between you two, for both of you are equally acceptable.  I am
sure I should love to have the pleasant play of the daytime brought
back to me, and I am quite as sure that I want to see all the pretty
sights that are unfolded by the dreams which Gleam-o'-the-Murk brings."

Sweet-One-Darling was so distressed that her cunning little underlip
drooped and quivered perceptibly.  She feared that her indecision would
forfeit her the friendship of both the Dream-Fairies.

"You have no need to feel troubled," said Frisk-and-Glitter, "for you
are not expected to make any choice between us.  We have our own way of
determining the question, as you shall presently understand."

Then the Dream-Fairies explained that whenever they came of an evening
to bring their dreams to a little child they seated themselves on the
child's eyelids and tried to rock them down.  Gleam-o'-the-Murk would
sit and rock upon one eyelid and Frisk-and-Glitter would sit and rock
on the other.  If Gleam-o'-the-Murk's eyelid closed first the child
would dream the dreams Gleam-o'-the-Murk brought it; if
Frisk-and-Glitter's eyelid closed first, why, then, of course, the
child dreamt the dreams Frisk-and-Glitter brought.  It would be hard to
conceive of an arrangement more amicable.

"But suppose," suggested Sweet-One-Darling, "suppose both eyelids close
at the same instant?  Which one of you fairies has his own way, _then_?"

"Ah, in that event," said they, "neither of us wins, and, since neither
wins, the sleeper does not dream at all, but awakes next morning from a
sound, dreamless, refreshing sleep."

Sweet-One-Darling was not sure that she fancied this alternative, but
of course she could not help herself.  So she let the two little
Dream-Fairies flutter across her shoulders and clamber up her cheeks to
their proper places upon her eyelids.  Gracious! but how heavy they
seemed when they once stood on her eyelids!  As I told you before their
actual combined weight hardly exceeded the sixteenth part of four
dewdrops, yet when they are perched on a little child's eyelids (tired
eyelids at that) it really seems sometimes as if they weighed a ton!
It was just all she could do to keep her eyelids open, yet
Sweet-One-Darling was determined to be strictly neutral.  She loved
both the Dream-Fairies equally well, and she would not for all the
world have shown either one any partiality.

Well, there the two Dream-Fairies sat on Sweet-One-Darling's eyelids,
each one trying to rock his particular eyelid down; and each one sung
his little lullaby in the pipingest voice imaginable.  I am not
positive, but as nearly as I can remember Frisk-and-Glitter's song ran
in this wise:

  Dream, dream, dream
  Of meadow, wood, and stream;
    Of bird and bee,
    Of flower and tree,
  All under the noonday gleam;
    Of the song and play
    Of mirthful day--
  Dream, dream, dream!


This was very soothing, as you would suppose.  While Frisk-and-Glitter
sung it Sweet-One-Darling's eyelid drooped and drooped and drooped
until, goodness me! it seemed actually closed.  But at the critical
moment, the other Dream-Fairy, Gleam-o'-the-Murk, would pipe up his
song somewhat in this fashion:

  Dream, dream, dream
  Of glamour, glint, and gleam;
    Of the hushaby things
    The night wind sings
  To the moon and the stars abeam;
    Of whimsical sights
    In the land o' sprites
  Dream, dream, dream!


Under the spell of this pretty lullaby, the other eyelid would speedily
overtake the first and so for a goodly time there was actually no such
thing even as guessing which of those two eyelids would close sooner
than the other.  It was the most exciting contest (for an amicable one)
I ever saw.  As for Sweet-One-Darling, she seemed to be lost presently
in the magic of the Dream-Fairies, and although she has never said a
word about it to me I am quite sure that, while her dear eyelids
drooped and drooped and drooped to the rocking and the singing of the
Dream-Fairies, it was her lot to enjoy a confusion of all those
precious things promised by her two fairy visitors.  Yes, I am sure
that from under her drooping eyelids she beheld the scenes of the
mirthful day intermingled with peeps of fairyland, and that she heard
(or seemed to hear) the music of dreamland harmonizing with the more
familiar sounds of this world of ours.  And when at last she was fast
asleep I could not say for certain which of her eyelids had closed
first, so simultaneous was the downfall of her long dark lashes upon
her flushed cheeks.  I meant to have asked the Dream-Fairies about it,
but before I could do so they whisked out of the window and away with
their dreams to a very sleepy little boy who was waiting for them
somewhere in the neighborhood.  So you see I am unable to tell you
which of the Dream-Fairies won; maybe neither did; may be
Sweet-One-Darling's sleep that night was dreamless.  I have questioned
her about it and she will not answer me.

This is all of the wonderful tale I had to tell.  May be it will not
seem so wonderful to you, for perhaps you, too, have felt the
Dream-Fairies rocking your eyelids down with gentle lullaby music;
perhaps you, too, know all the precious dreams they bring.  In that
case you will bear witness that my tale, even though it be not
wonderful, is strictly true.



SWEET-ONE-DARLING AND THE MOON-GARDEN

One time Sweet-One-Darling heard her brother, little Our-Golden-Son,
talking with the nurse.  The nurse was a very wise woman and they called
her Good-Old-Soul, because she was so kind to children.  Little
Our-Golden-Son was very knowing for a little boy only two years old, but
there were several things he did not know about and one of these things
troubled him a good deal and he went to the wise nurse to find out all
about it.

"Tell me, Good-Old-Soul," said he, "where did I come from?"

Good-Old-Soul thought this a very natural question for little
Our-Golden-Son to ask, for he was a precocious boy and was going to be a
great man some time.

"I asked your mother that very question the other day," said
Good-Old-Soul, "and what do you think she told me?  She told me that the
Doctor-Man brought you!  She told me that one night she was wishing all
to herself that she had a little boy with light golden hair and dark
golden eyes.  'If I had such a little boy,' said she, 'I should call him
Our-Golden-Son.'  While she was talking this way to herself, rap-tap-rap
came a knock at the door.  'Who is there?' asked your mother.  'I am the
Doctor-Man,' said the person outside, 'and I have brought something for
you.'  Then the Doctor-Man came in and he carried a box in one hand.  'I
wonder what can be in the box!' thought your mother.  Now what do you
suppose it was?"

"Bananas?" said little Our-Golden-Son.

"No, no," answered Good-Old-Soul, "it was nothing to eat; it was the
cutest, prettiest little baby boy you ever saw!  Oh, how glad your mother
was, and what made her particularly happy was this: The little baby boy
had light golden hair and dark golden eyes!  'Did you really bring this
precious little boy for me?' asked your mother.  'Indeed I did,' said the
Doctor-Man, and he lifted the little creature out of the box and laid him
very tenderly in your mother's arms.  That 's how you came, little
Our-Golden-Son, and it was very good of the Doctor-Man to bring you, was
n't it?"

Little Our-Golden-Son was much pleased with this explanation.  As for
Sweet-One-Darling, she was hardly satisfied with what the nurse had told.
So that night when the fairies--the Dream-Fairies--came, she repeated the
nurse's words to them.

"What _I_ want to know," said Sweet-One-Darling, "is this: Where did the
Doctor-Man get little Our-Golden Son?  I don't doubt the truth of what
Good-Old-Soul says, but Good-Old-Soul does n't tell how the Doctor-Man
came to have little Our-Golden-Son in the box.  How did little
Our-Golden-Son happen to be in the box?  Where did he come from before he
got into the box?"

"That is easy enough to answer," said Gleam-o'-the-Murk.  "We
Dream-Fairies know all about it.  Before he got into the Doctor-Man's box
little Our-Golden-Son lived in the Moon.  That's where all little babies
live before the Doctor-Man brings them."

"Did I live there before the Doctor-Man brought me?" asked
Sweet-One-Darling.

"Of course you did," said Gleam-o'-the-Murk.  "I saw you there a long,
long time before the Doctor-Man brought you."

"But I thought that the Moon was a big, round soda-cracker," said
Sweet-One-Darling.

That made the Dream-Fairies laugh.  They assured Sweet-One-Darling that
the Moon was not a soda-cracker, but a beautiful round piece of silver
way, way up in the sky, and that the stars were little Moons, bearing the
same relationship (in point of size) to the old mother Moon that a dime
does to a big silver dollar.

"And how big is the Moon?" asked Sweet-One-Darling.  "Is it as big as
this room?"

"Oh, very, very much bigger," said the Dream-Fairies.

"I guess it must be as big as a house," suggested Sweet-One-Darling.

"Bigger than a house," answered Gleam-o'-the-Murk.

"Oh, my!" exclaimed Sweet-One-Darling, and she began to suspect that the
Dream-Fairies were fooling her.

But that night the Dream-Fairies took Sweet-One-Darling with them to the
Moon!  You don't believe it, eh?  Well, you wait until you 've heard all
about it, and then, may be, you not only will believe it, but will want
to go there, too.

The Dream-Fairies lifted Sweet-One-Darling carefully out of her cradle;
then their wings went "whir-r-r, whir-r-r"--you 've heard a green fly
buzzing against a window-pane, have n't you?  That was the kind of
whirring noise the Dream-Fairies' wings made, with the pleasing
difference that the Dream-Fairies' wings produced a soft, soothing music.
The cricket under the honeysuckle by the window heard this music and saw
the Dream-Fairies carrying Sweet-One-Darling away.  "Be sure to bring her
back again," said the cricket, for he was a sociable little fellow and
was very fond of little children.

You can depend upon it that Sweet-One-Darling had a delightful time
riding through the cool night air in the arms of those Dream-Fairies; it
was a good deal like being a bird, only the Dream-Fairies flew very much
faster than any bird can fly.  As they sped along they told
Sweet-One-Darling all about the wonderful things they saw and everything
was new to Sweet-One-Darling, for she had never made any journeys before
except in the little basket-carriage which Good-Old-Soul, her nurse,
propelled every sunny morning up and down the street.  Pretty soon they
came to a beautiful river, which looked as if it were molten silver; but
it was n't molten silver; it was a river of moonbeams.

"We will take a sail now," said Gleam-o'-the-Murk.  "This river leads
straight to the Moon, and it is well worth navigating."

So they all got into a boat that had a sail made out of ten thousand and
ten baby-spiders' webs, and away they sailed as merrily as you please.
Sweet-One-Darling put her feet over the side of the boat and tried to
trail them in the river, but the moonbeams tickled her so that she could
n't stand it very long.  And what do you think?  When she pulled her feet
back into the boat she found them covered with dimples.  She did n't know
what to make of these phenomena until the Dream-Fairies explained to her
that a dimple always remains where a moonbeam tickles a little child.  A
dimple on the foot is a sure sign that one has been trailing in that
beautiful silver river that leads to the Moon.

By and by they got to the Moon.  I can't begin to tell you how large it
was; you 'd not believe me if I did.

"This is very lovely," said Sweet-One-Darling, "but where are the little
babies?"

"Surely you did n't suppose you 'd find any babies here!" exclaimed the
Dream-Fairies.  "Why, in all this bright light the babies would never,
never go to sleep!  Oh, no; we 'll have to look for the babies on the
other side of the Moon."

"Of course we shall," said Sweet-One-Darling.  "I might have guessed as
much if I 'd only stopped to think."

The Dream-Fairies showed Sweet-One-Darling how to get to the edge of the
Moon, and when she had crawled there she held on to the edge very fast
and peeped over as cautiously as if she had been a timid little mouse
instead of the bravest Sweet-One-Darling in all the world.  She was very
cautious and quiet, because the Dream-Fairies had told her that she must
be very sure not to awaken any of the little babies, for there are no
Mothers up there on the other side of the Moon, and if by any chance a
little baby is awakened--why, as you would easily suppose, the
consequences are exceedingly embarrassing.

"Can you see anything?" asked the Dream-Fairies of Sweet-One-Darling as
she clung to the edge of the Moon and peeped over.

"I should say I did!" exclaimed Sweet-One-Darling.  "I never supposed
there could be so beautiful a place.  I see a large, fair garden, filled
with shrubbery and flowers; there are fountains and velvety hillocks and
silver lakes and embowered nooks.  A soft, dim, golden light broods over
the quiet spot."

"Yes, that is the light which shines through the Moon from the bright
side; but it is very faint," said the Dream-Fairies.

"And I see the little babies asleep," continued Sweet-One-Darling.  "They
are lying in the embowered nooks, near the fountains, upon the velvety
hillocks, amid the flowers, under the trees, and upon the broad leaves of
the lilies in the silver lakes.  How cunning and plump and sweet they
are--I must take some of them back with me!"

If they had not been afraid of waking the babies the Dream-Fairies would
have laughed uproariously at this suggestion.  Just fancy
Sweet-One-Darling, a baby herself, undertaking the care of a lot of other
little babies fresh from the garden on the other side of the Moon!

"I wonder how they all came here in this Moon-Garden?" asked
Sweet-One-Darling.  And the Dream-Fairies told her.

They explained that whenever a mother upon earth asked for a little baby
of her own her prayer floated up and up--many leagues up--and was borne
to the other side of the Moon, where it fell and rested upon a lily leaf
or upon a bank of flowers in that beautiful garden.  And resting there
the prayer presently grew and grew until it became a cunning little baby!
So when the Doctor-Man came with his box the baby was awaiting him, and
he had only to carry the precious little thing to the Mother and give her
prayer back to her to keep and to love always.  There are so very many of
these tiny babies in the Moon-Garden that sometimes--he does n't do it of
purpose--but sometimes the Doctor-Man brings the baby to the wrong
mother, and that makes the real mother, who prayed for the baby, feel
very, very badly.

Well, I actually believe that Sweet-One-Darling would gladly have spent
the rest of her life clinging to the edge of the Moon and peeping over at
the babies in that beautiful garden.  But the Dream-Fairies agreed that
this would never do at all.  They finally got Sweet-One-Darling away by
promising to stop on their journey home to replenish her nursing bottle
at the Milky Way, which, as perhaps you know, is a marvellous lacteal
ocean in the very midst of the sky.  This beverage had so peculiar and so
soothing a charm that presently Sweet-One-Darling went sound asleep, and
when she woke up--goodness me! it was late in the morning, and her
brother, little Our-Golden-Son, was standing by her cradle, wondering why
she did n't wake up to look at his beautiful new toy elephant.

Sweet-One-Darling told Good-Old-Soul and little Our-Golden-Son all about
the garden on the other side of the Moon.

"I am sure it is true," said Good-Old-Soul.  "And now that I come to
think of it, that is the reason why the Moon always turns her bright side
toward our earth!  If the other side were turned this way the light of
the sun and the noise we make would surely awaken and frighten those poor
little babies!"

Little Our-Golden-Son believed the story, too.  And if Good-Old-Soul and
little Our-Golden-Son believed it, why should n't you?  If it were not
true how could I have known all about it and told it to you?



SAMUEL COWLES AND HIS HORSE ROYAL

The day on which I was twelve years old my father said to me: "Samuel,
walk down the lane with me to the pasture-lot; I want to show you
something."  Never suspicioning anything, I trudged along with father,
and what should I find in the pasture lot but the cunningest,
prettiest, liveliest colt a boy ever clapped eyes on!

"That is my birthday present to you," said father.  "Yes, Samuel, I
give the colt to you to do with as you like, for you 've been a good
boy and have done well at school."

You can easily understand that my boyish heart overflowed with pride
and joy and gratitude.  A great many years have elapsed since that
time, but I have n't forgotten and I never shall forget the delight of
that moment, when I realized that I had a colt of my own--a real, live
colt, and a Morgan colt, at that!

"How old is he, father?" I asked.

"A week old, come to-morrow," said father.

"Has Judge Phipps seen him yet?" I asked.

"No; nobody has seen him but you and me and the hired man."

Judge Phipps was the justice of the peace.  I had a profound respect
for him, for what he did n't know about horses was n't worth knowing; I
was sure of this, because the judge himself told me so.  One of the
first duties to which I applied myself was to go and get the judge and
show him the colt.  The judge praised the pretty creature inordinately,
enumerating all his admirable points and predicting a famous career for
him.  The judge even went so far as to express the conviction that in
due time my colt would win "imperishable renown and immortal laurels as
a competitor at the meetings of the Hampshire County Trotting
Association," of which association the judge was the president, much to
the scandal of his estimable wife, who viewed with pious horror her
husband's connection with the race-track.

"What do you think I ought to name my colt?" I asked of the judge.

"When I was about your age," the judge answered, "I had a colt and I
named him Royal.  He won all the premiums at the county fair before he
was six year old."

That was quite enough for me.  To my thinking every utterance of the
judge's was ex cathedra; moreover, in my boyish exuberance, I fancied
that this name would start my colt auspiciously upon a famous career; I
began at once to think and to speak of him as the prospective winner of
countless honors.

From the moment when I first set eyes on Royal I was his stanch friend;
even now, after the lapse of years, I cannot think of my old companion
without feeling here in my breast a sense of gratitude that that
honest, patient, loyal friend entered so largely into my earlier life.

Twice a day I used to trudge down the lane to the pasture-lot to look
at the colt, and invariably I was accompanied by a troop of boy
acquaintances who heartily envied me my good luck, and who regaled me
constantly with suggestions of what they would do if Royal were their
colt.  Royal soon became friendly with us all, and he would respond to
my call, whinnying to me as I came down the lane, as much as to say:
"Good morning to you, little master!  I hope you are coming to have a
romp with me."  And, gracious! how he would curve his tail and throw up
his head and gather his short body together and trot around the
pasture-lot on those long legs of his!  He enjoyed life, Royal did, as
much as we boys enjoyed it.

Naturally enough, I made all sorts of plans for Royal.  I recall that,
after I had been on a visit to Springfield and had beholden for the
first time the marvels of Barnum's show, I made up my mind that when
Royal and I were old enough we would unite our fortunes with those of a
circus, and in my imagination I already pictured huge and gaudy posters
announcing the blood-curdling performances of the dashing bareback
equestrian, Samuel Cowles, upon his fiery Morgan steed, Royal!  This
plan was not at all approved of by Judge Phipps, who continued to
insist that it was on the turf and not in the sawdust circle that
Royal's genius lay, and to this way of thinking I was finally
converted, but not until the judge had promised to give me a sulky as
soon as Royal demonstrated his ability to make a mile in 2:40.

It is not without a sigh of regret that in my present narrative I pass
over the five years next succeeding the date of Royal's arrival.  For
they were very happy years--indeed, at this distant period I am able to
recall only that my boyhood was full, brimful of happiness.  I broke
Royal myself; father and the hired man stood around and made
suggestions, and at times they presumed to take a hand in the
proceedings.  Virtually, however, I broke Royal to the harness and to
the saddle, and after that I was even more attached to him than ever
before--you know how it is, if ever you 've broken a colt yourself!

When I went away to college it seemed to me that leaving Royal was
almost as hard as leaving mother and father; you see the colt had
become a very large part of my boyish life--followed me like a pet dog,
was lonesome when I was n't round, used to rub his nose against my arm
and look lovingly at me out of his big, dark, mournful eyes--yes, I
cried when I said good-by to him the morning I started for
Williamstown.  I was ashamed of it then, but not now--no, not now.

But my fun was all the keener, I guess, when I came home at vacation
times.  Then we had it, up hill and down dale--Royal and I did!  In the
summer-time along the narrow roads we trailed, and through leafy lanes,
and in my exultation I would cut at the tall weeds at the roadside and
whisk at the boughs arching overhead, as if I were a warrior mounted
for battle and these other things were human victims to my valor.  In
the winter we sped away over the snow and ice, careless to the howling
of the wind and the wrath of the storm.  Royal knew the favorite road,
every inch of the way; he knew, too, when Susie held the reins--Susie
was Judge Phipps' niece, and I guess she 'd have mittened me if it had
n't been that I had the finest colt in the county!

The summer I left college there came to me an overwhelming sense of
patriotic duty.  Mother was the first to notice my absent-mindedness,
and to her I first confided the great wish of my early manhood.  It is
hard for parents to bid a son go forth to do service upon the
battlefield, but New England in those times responded cheerfully and
nobly to Mr. Lincoln's call.  The Eighth Massachusetts cavalry was the
regiment I enlisted in; a baker's dozen of us boys went together from
the quiet little village nestling in the shadow of Mount Holyoke.  From
Camp Andrew I wrote back a piteous letter, complaining of the horse
that had been assigned to me; I wanted Royal; we had been inseparable
in times of peace--why should we not share together the fortunes of
war?  Within a fortnight along came Royal, conducted in all dignity
by--you would never guess--by Judge Phipps!  Full of patriotism and of
cheer was the judge.

"Both of ye are thoroughbreds," said he.  "Ye 'll come in under the
wire first every time, I know ye will."

The judge also brought me a saddle blanket which Susie had ornamented
with wondrous and tender art.

So Royal and I went into the war together.  There were times of
privation and of danger; neither of us ever complained.  I am proud to
bear witness that in every emergency my horse bore himself with a
patience and a valor that seemed actually human.  My comrades envied me
my gentle, stanch, obedient servant.  Indeed, Royal and I became famous
as inseparable and loyal friends.

We were in five battles and neither of us got even so much as a
scratch.  But one afternoon in a skirmish with the rebels near Potomac
Mills a bullet struck me in the thigh, and from the mere shock I fell
from Royal's back into the tangle of the thicket.  The fall must have
stunned me, for the next thing I knew I was alone--deserted of all
except my faithful horse.  Royal stood over me, and when I opened my
eyes he gave a faint whinny.  I hardly knew what to do.  My leg pained
me excruciatingly.  I surmised that I would never be able to make my
way back to camp under the fire of the rebel picketers, for I
discovered that they were closing in.

Then it occurred to me to pin a note to Royal's saddle blanket and to
send Royal back to camp telling the boys of the trouble I was in.  The
horse understood it all; off he galloped, conscious of the import of
the mission upon which he had been dispatched.  Bang-bang-bang! went
the guns over yonder, as if the revengeful creatures in the far-off
brush guessed the meaning of our manoeuvering and sought to slay my
loyal friend.  But not a bullet touched him--leastwise he galloped on
and on till I lost sight of him.  They came for me at last, the boys
did; they were a formidable detachment, and how the earth shook as they
swept along!

"We thought you were a goner, sure," said Hi Bixby.

"I guess I would have been if it had n't been for Royal," said I.

"I guess so, myself," said he.  "When we saw him stumblin' along all
bloody we allowed for sure you was dead!"

"All blood?" I cried.  "Is Royal hurt?"

"As bad as a hoss can be," said he.

In camp we found them doing the best they could for him.  But it was
clearly of no avail.  There was a gaping, ragged hole in his side;
seeking succor for me, Royal had met his death-wound.  I forgot my own
hurt; I thrust the others aside and hobbled where he lay.

"Poor old Roy!" I cried, as I threw myself beside my dying friend and
put my arms about his neck.  Then I patted and stroked him and called
him again and again by name, and there was a look in his eyes that told
me he knew me and was glad that I was there.

How strange, and yet how beautiful, it was that in that far-off
country, with my brave, patient, loyal friend's fluttering heart close
unto mine, I neither saw nor thought of the scene around me.

But before my eyes came back the old, familiar places--the pasture lot,
the lane, the narrow road up the hill, the river winding along between
great stretches of brown corn, the aisle of maple trees, and the
fountain where we drank so many, many times together--and I smelled the
fragrance of the flowers and trees abloom, and I heard the dear voices
and the sweet sounds of my boyhood days.

Then presently a mighty shudder awakened me from this dreaming.  And I
cried out with affright and grief, for I felt that I was alone.



THE WEREWOLF

In the reign of Egbert the Saxon there dwelt in Britain a maiden named
Yseult, who was beloved of all, both for her goodness and for her
beauty.  But, though many a youth came wooing her, she loved Harold
only, and to him she plighted her troth.

Among the other youth of whom Yseult was beloved was Alfred, and he was
sore angered that Yseult showed favor to Harold, so that one day Alfred
said to Harold: "Is it right that old Siegfried should come from his
grave and have Yseult to wife?"  Then added he, "Prithee, good sir, why
do you turn so white when I speak your grandsire's name?"

Then Harold asked, "What know you of Siegfried that you taunt me?  What
memory of him should vex me now?"

"We know and we know," retorted Alfred.  "There are some tales told us
by our grandmas we have not forgot."

So ever after that Alfred's words and Alfred's bitter smile haunted
Harold by day and night.

Harold's grandsire, Siegfried the Teuton, had been a man of cruel
violence.  The legend said that a curse rested upon him, and that at
certain times he was possessed of an evil spirit that wreaked its fury
on mankind.  But Siegfried had been dead full many years, and there was
naught to mind the world of him save the legend and a cunning-wrought
spear which he had from Brunehilde, the witch.  This spear was such a
weapon that it never lost its brightness, nor had its point been
blunted.  It hung in Harold's chamber, and it was the marvel among
weapons of that time.

Yseult knew that Alfred loved her, but she did not know of the bitter
words which Alfred had spoken to Harold.  Her love for Harold was
perfect in its trust and gentleness.  But Alfred had hit the truth: the
curse of old Siegfried was upon Harold--slumbering a century, it had
awakened in the blood of the grandson, and Harold knew the curse that
was upon him, and it was this that seemed to stand between him and
Yseult.  But love is stronger than all else, and Harold loved.

Harold did not tell Yseult of the curse that was upon him, for he
feared that she would not love him if she knew.  Whensoever he felt the
fire of the curse burning in his veins he would say to her, "To-morrow
I hunt the wild boar in the uttermost forest," or, "Next week I go
stag-stalking among the distant northern hills."  Even so it was that
he ever made good excuse for his absence, and Yseult thought no evil
things, for she was trustful; ay, though he went many times away and
was long gone, Yseult suspected no wrong.  So none beheld Harold when
the curse was upon him in its violence.

Alfred alone bethought himself of evil things.  "'T is passing
strange," quoth he, "that ever and anon this gallant lover should quit
our company and betake himself whither none knoweth.  In sooth 't will
be well to have an eye on old Siegfried's grandson."

Harold knew that Alfred watched him zealously, and he was tormented by
a constant fear that Alfred would discover the curse that was on him;
but what gave him greater anguish was the fear that mayhap at some
moment when he was in Yseult's presence, the curse would seize upon him
and cause him to do great evil unto her, whereby she would be destroyed
or her love for him would be undone forever.  So Harold lived in
terror, feeling that his love was hopeless, yet knowing not how to
combat it.

Now, it befell in those times that the country round about was ravaged
of a werewolf, a creature that was feared by all men howe'er so
valorous.  This werewolf was by day a man, but by night a wolf given to
ravage and to slaughter, and having a charmed life against which no
human agency availed aught.  Wheresoever he went he attacked and
devoured mankind, spreading terror and desolation round about, and the
dream-readers said that the earth would not be freed from the werewolf
until some man offered himself a voluntary sacrifice to the monster's
rage.

Now, although Harold was known far and wide as a mighty huntsman, he
had never set forth to hunt the werewolf, and, strange enow, the
werewolf never ravaged the domain while Harold was therein.  Whereat
Alfred marvelled much, and oftentimes he said: "Our Harold is a
wondrous huntsman.  Who is like unto him in stalking the timid doe and
in crippling the fleeing boar?  But how passing well doth he time his
absence from the haunts of the werewolf.  Such valor beseemeth our
young Siegfried."

Which being brought to Harold his heart flamed with anger, but he made
no answer, lest he should betray the truth he feared.

It happened so about that time that Yseult said to Harold, "Wilt thou
go with me to-morrow even to the feast in the sacred grove?"

"That can I not do," answered Harold.  "I am privily summoned hence to
Normandy upon a mission of which I shall some time tell thee.  And I
pray thee, on thy love for me, go not to the feast in the sacred grove
without me."

"What say'st thou?" cried Yseult.  "Shall I not go to the feast of Ste.
Aelfreda?  My father would be sore displeased were I not there with the
other maidens.  'T were greatest pity that I should despite his love
thus."

"But do not, I beseech thee," Harold implored.  "Go not to the feast of
Ste. Aelfreda in the sacred grove!  And thou would thus love me, go
not--see, thou my life, on my two knees I ask it!"

"How pale thou art," said Yseult, "and trembling."

"Go not to the sacred grove upon the morrow night," he begged.

Yseult marvelled at his acts and at his speech.  Then, for the first
time, she thought him to be jealous--whereat she secretly rejoiced
(being a woman).

"Ah," quoth she, "thou dost doubt my love," but when she saw a look of
pain come on his face she added--as if she repented of the words she
had spoken--"or dost thou fear the werewolf?"

Then Harold answered, fixing his eyes on hers, "Thou hast said it; it
is the werewolf that I fear."

"Why dost thou look at me so strangely, Harold?" cried Yseult.  "By the
cruel light in thine eyes one might almost take thee to be the
werewolf!"

"Come hither, sit beside me," said Harold tremblingly, "and I will tell
thee why I fear to have thee go to the feast of Ste. Aelfreda to-morrow
evening.  Hear what I dreamed last night.  I dreamed I was the
werewolf--do not shudder, dear love, for 't was only a dream.

"A grizzled old man stood at my bedside and strove to pluck my soul
from my bosom.

"'What would'st thou?' I cried.

"'Thy soul is mine,' he said, 'thou shalt live out my curse.  Give me
thy soul--hold back thy hands--give me thy soul, I say.'

"'Thy curse shall not be upon me,' I cried.  'What have I done that thy
curse should rest upon me?  Thou shalt not have my soul.'

"'For my offence shalt thou suffer, and in my curse thou shalt endure
hell--it is so decreed.'

"So spake the old man, and he strove with me, and he prevailed against
me, and he plucked my soul from my bosom, and he said, 'Go, search and
kill'--and--and lo, I was a wolf upon the moor.

"The dry grass crackled beneath my tread.  The darkness of the night
was heavy and it oppressed me.  Strange horrors tortured my soul, and
it groaned and groaned, gaoled in that wolfish body.  The wind
whispered to me; with its myriad voices it spake to me and said, 'Go,
search and kill.'  And above these voices sounded the hideous laughter
of an old man.  I fled the moor--whither I knew not, nor knew I what
motive lashed me on.

"I came to a river and I plunged in.  A burning thirst consumed me, and
I lapped the waters of the river--they were waves of flame, and they
flashed around me and hissed, and what they said was, 'Go, search and
kill,' and I heard the old man's laughter again.

"A forest lay before me with its gloomy thickets and its sombre
shadows--with its ravens, its vampires, its serpents, its reptiles, and
all its hideous brood of night.  I darted among its thorns and crouched
amid the leaves, the nettles, and the brambles.  The owls hooted at me
and the thorns pierced my flesh.  'Go, search and kill,' said
everything.  The hares sprang from my pathway; the other beasts ran
bellowing away; every form of life shrieked in my ears--the curse was
on me--I was the werewolf.

"On, on I went with the fleetness of the wind, and my soul groaned in
its wolfish prison, and the winds and the waters and the trees bade me,
'Go, search and kill, thou accursed brute; go, search and kill.'

"Nowhere was there pity for the wolf; what mercy, thus, should I, the
werewolf, show?  The curse was on me and it filled me with a hunger and
a thirst for blood.  Skulking on my way within myself I cried, 'Let me
have blood, oh, let me have human blood, that this wrath may be
appeased, that this curse may be removed.'

"At last I came to the sacred grove.  Sombre loomed the poplars, the
oaks frowned upon me.  Before me stood an old man--'twas he, grizzled
and taunting, whose curse I bore.  He feared me not.  All other living
things fled before me, but the old man feared me not.  A maiden stood
beside him.  She did not see me, for she was blind.

"Kill, kill,' cried the old man, and he pointed at the girl beside him.

"Hell raged within me--the curse impelled me--I sprang at her throat.
I heard the old man's laughter once more, and then--then I awoke,
trembling, cold, horrified."

Scarce was this dream told when Alfred strode that way.

"Now, by'r Lady," quoth he, "I bethink me never to have seen a sorrier
twain."

Then Yseult told him of Harold's going away and how that Harold had
besought her not to venture to the feast of Ste. Aelfreda in the sacred
grove.

"These fears are childish," cried Alfred boastfully.  "And thou
sufferest me, sweet lady, I will bear thee company to the feast, and a
score of my lusty yeomen with their good yew-bows and honest spears,
they shall attend me.  There be no werewolf, I trow, will chance about
with us."

Whereat Yseult laughed merrily, and Harold said: "'T is well; thou
shalt go to the sacred grove, and may my love and Heaven's grace
forefend all evil."

Then Harold went to his abode, and he fetched old Siegfried's spear
back unto Yseult, and he gave it into her two hands, saying, "Take this
spear with thee to the feast to-morrow night.  It is old Siegfried's
spear, possessing mighty virtue and marvellous."

And Harold took Yseult to his heart and blessed her, and he kissed her
upon her brow and upon her lips, saying, "Farewell, oh, my beloved.
How wilt thou love me when thou know'st my sacrifice.  Farewell,
farewell forever, oh, alder-liefest mine."

So Harold went his way, and Yseult was lost in wonderment.

On the morrow night came Yseult to the sacred grove wherein the feast
was spread, and she bore old Siegfried's spear with her in her girdle.
Alfred attended her, and a score of lusty yeomen were with him.  In the
grove there was great merriment, and with singing and dancing and games
withal did the honest folk celebrate the feast of the fair Ste.
Aelfreda.

But suddenly a mighty tumult arose, and there were cries of "The
werewolf!"  "The werewolf!"  Terror seized upon all--stout hearts were
frozen with fear.  Out from the further forest rushed the werewolf,
wood wroth, bellowing hoarsely, gnashing his fangs and tossing hither
and thither the yellow foam from his snapping jaws.  He sought Yseult
straight, as if an evil power drew him to the spot where she stood.
But Yseult was not afeared; like a marble statue she stood and saw the
werewolf's coming.  The yeomen, dropping their torches and casting
aside their bows, had fled; Alfred alone abided there to do the monster
battle.

At the approaching wolf he hurled his heavy lance, but as it struck the
werewolf's bristling back the weapon was all to-shivered.

Then the werewolf, fixing his eyes upon Yseult, skulked for a moment in
the shadow of the yews and thinking then of Harold's words, Yseult
plucked old Siegfried's spear from her girdle, raised it on high, and
with the strength of despair sent it hurtling through the air.

The werewolf saw the shining weapon, and a cry burst from his gaping
throat--a cry of human agony.  And Yseult saw in the werewolf's eyes
the eyes of some one she had seen and known, but 't was for an instant
only, and then the eyes were no longer human, but wolfish in their
ferocity.  A supernatural force seemed to speed the spear in its
flight.  With fearful precision the weapon smote home and buried itself
by half its length in the werewolf's shaggy breast just above the
heart, and then, with a monstrous sigh--as if he yielded up his life
without regret--the werewolf fell dead in the shadow of the yews.

Then, ah, then in very truth there was great joy, and loud were the
acclaims, while, beautiful in her trembling pallor, Yseult was led unto
her home, where the people set about to give great feast to do her
homage, for the werewolf was dead, and she it was that had slain him.

But Yseult cried out: "Go, search for Harold--go, bring him to me.  Nor
eat, nor sleep till he be found."

"Good my lady," quoth Alfred, "how can that be, since he hath betaken
himself to Normandy?"

"I care not where he be," she cried.  "My heart stands still until I
look into his eyes again."

"Surely he hath not gone to Normandy," outspake Hubert.  "This very
eventide I saw him enter his abode."

They hastened thither--a vast company.  His chamber door was barred.

"Harold, Harold, come forth!" they cried, as they beat upon the door,
but no answer came to their calls and knockings.  Afeared, they
battered down the door, and when it fell they saw that Harold lay upon
his bed.

"He sleeps," said one.  "See, he holds a portrait in his hand--and it
is her portrait.  How fair he is and how tranquilly he sleeps."

But no, Harold was not asleep.  His face was calm and beautiful, as if
he dreamed of his beloved, but his raiment was red with the blood that
streamed from a wound in his breast--a gaping, ghastly spear wound just
above his heart.



From "Culture's Garland"


A MARVELLOUS INVENTION

It is narrated, that, once upon a time, there lived a youth who
required so much money for the gratification of his dissolute desires,
that he was compelled to sell his library in order to secure funds.
Thereupon, he despatched a letter to his venerable father, saying,
"Rejoice with me, O father! for already am I beginning to live upon the
profits of my books."

Professor Andrew J. Thorpe has invented an ingenious machine which will
be likely to redound to the physical comfort and the intellectual
benefit of our fellow-citizens.  We are disposed to treat of this
invention at length, for two reasons: first, because it is a Chicago
invention; and, second, because it seems particularly calculated to
answer an important demand that has existed in Chicago for a long time.
Professor Thorpe's machine is nothing less than a combination parlor,
library, and folding bedstead, adapted to the drawing-room, the study,
the dining-room, and the sleeping apartment--a producer capable of
giving to the world thousands upon thousands of tomes annually, and
these, too, in a shape most attractive to our public.

Professor Thorpe himself is of New-England birth and education; and,
until became West, he was called "Uncle Andy Thorpe."  For many years
he lived in New Britain, Connecticut; and there he pursued the vocation
of a manufacturer of sofas, settees, settles, and bed-lounges.  He came
to Chicago three years ago; and not long thereafter, he discovered that
the most imperative demand of this community was for a bed which
combined, "at one and the same time" (as he says, for he is no
rhetorician), the advantages of a bed and the advantages of a library.
In a word, Chicago was a literary centre; and it required, even in the
matter of its sleeping apparata, machines which, when not in use for
bed-purposes, could be utilized to the nobler ends of literary display.

In this emergency the fertile Yankee wit of the immigrant came to his
assistance; and about a year ago he put upon the market the ingenious
and valuable combination which has commanded the admiration and
patronage of our best literary circles, and which at this moment we are
pleased to discourse of.

It has been our good fortune to inspect the superb line of folding
library-bedsteads which Professor Thorpe offers to the public at
startlingly low figures, and we are surprised at the ingenuity and the
learning apparent in these contrivances.  The Essay bedstead is a
particularly handsome piece of furniture, being made of polished
mahogany, elaborately carved, and intricately embellished throughout.
When closed, this bedstead presents the verisimilitude of a large
book-case filled with the essays of Emerson, Carlyle, Bacon, Montaigne,
Hume, Macaulay, Addison, Steele, Johnson, Budgell, Hughes, and others.
These volumes are made in one piece, of the best seasoned oak, and are
hollow within throughout; so that each shelf constitutes in reality a
chest or drawer which may be utilized for divers domestic purposes.  In
these drawers a husband may keep his shirts or neckties; or in them a
wife may stow away her furs or flannel underwear in summer, and her
white piques and muslins in winter.

These drawers (each of which extends to the height of twelve inches)
are faced in superb tree-calf, and afford a perfect representation of
rows of books, the title and number of each volume being printed in
massive gold characters.  The weight of the six drawers in this Essay
bedstead does not exceed twelve pounds; but the machine is so stoutly
built as to admit of the drawers containing a weight equivalent to six
hundred pounds without interfering with the ease and nicety of the
machine's operation.  Upon touching a gold-mounted knob, the book-case
divides, the front part of it descends; and, presto! you have as
beautiful a couch as ever Sancho could have envied.

This Essay bedstead is sold for four hundred and fifty dollars.
Another design, with the case and bed in black walnut, the books in
papier maché, and none but English essayists in the Collection, can be
had for a hundred dollars.

A British Poets' folding-bed can be had for three hundred dollars.
This is an imitation of the blue-and-gold edition published in Boston
some years ago.  Busts of Shakespeare and of Wordsworth appear at the
front upper corners of the book-case, and these serve as pedestals to
the machine when it is unfolded into a bedstead.  This style, we are
told by Professor Thorpe, has been officially indorsed by the poetry
committee of the Chicago Literary Club.  A second design, in royal
octavo white pine, and omitting the works of Chaucer, Spenser, Ben
Jonson, and Herrick, is quoted at a hundred and fifty dollars.

The Historical folding-bed contains complete sets of Hume, Gibbon,
Guizot, Prescott, Macaulay, Bancroft, Lingard, Buckle, etc., together
with Haines's "History of Lake-County Indians" and Peck's "Gazetteer of
Illinois," bound in half calf, and having a storage space of three feet
by fourteen inches to each row, there being six rows of these books.
You can get this folding-bed for two hundred dollars, or there is a
second set in cloth that can be had for a hundred dollars.

The Dramatists' folding-bed (No. 1) costs three hundred dollars, bound
in tree-calf hard maple, the case being in polished cherry, elaborately
carved.  The works included in this library are Shakespeare's,
Schiller's, Molière's, Goethe's, Jonson's, Bartley Campbell's, and many
others.  Style No. 2 of this folding-bed has not yet been issued, owing
to some difficulty which Professor Thorpe has had with eastern
publishers; but when the matter of copyright has been adjusted, the
works of Plautus, Euripides, Thucydides, and other classic dramatists
will be brought out for the delectation of appreciative Chicagoans.

The Novelists' bed can be had in numerous styles.  One contains the
novels of Mackenzie, Fielding, Smollett, Walpole, Dickens, Thackeray,
and Scott, and is bound in tree-calf: another, better adapted to the
serious-minded (especially to young women), is made up of the novels of
Maria Edgeworth, Miss Jane Porter, Miss Burney, and the Rev. E. P. Roe.
This style can be had for fifty dollars.  But the Novelists'
folding-bed is manufactured in a dozen different styles, and one should
consult the catalogue before ordering.



THE STORY OF XANTHIPPE


CHICAGO, ILL.

TO THE EDITOR: I am in a great dilemma, and I come to you for counsel.
I love and wish to marry a young carpenter who has been waiting on me
for two years.  My father wants me to marry a literary man fifteen
years older than myself,--a very smart man I will admit, but I fancy he
is _too_ smart for me.  I much prefer the young carpenter, yet father
says a marriage with the literary man would give me the social position
he fancies I would enjoy.  Now, what am I to do?  What would _you_ do,
if you were I?

Yours in trouble,
  PRISCILLA.


Listen, gentle maiden, and ye others of her sex, to the story of
Xanthippe, the Athenian woman.

Very, very many years ago there dwelt in Athens a fruit-dealer of the
name of Kimon, who was possessed of two daughters,--the one named Helen
and the other Xanthippe.  At the age of twenty, Helen was wed to
Aristagoras the tinker, and went with him to abide in his humble
dwelling in the suburbs of Athens, about one parasang's distance from
the Acropolis.

Xanthippe, the younger sister, gave promise of singular beauty; and at
an early age she developed a wit that was the marvel and the joy of her
father's household, and of the society that was to be met with there.
Prosperous in a worldly way, Kimon was enabled to give this favorite
daughter the best educational advantages; and he was justly proud when
at the age of nineteen Xanthippe was graduated from the Minerva Female
College with all the highest honors of her class.  There was but one
thing that cast a shadow upon the old gentleman's happiness, and that
was his pain at observing that among all Xanthippe's associates there
was one upon whom she bestowed her sweetest smiles; namely, Gatippus,
the son of Heliopharnes the plasterer.

"My daughter," said Kimon, "you are now of an age when it becomes a
maiden to contemplate marriage as a serious and solemn probability:
therefore I beseech you to practise the severest discrimination in the
choice of your male associates, and I enjoin upon you to have naught to
say or to do with any youth that might not be considered an eligible
husband; for, by the dog! it is my wish to see you wed to one of good
station."

Kimon thereupon proceeded to tell his daughter that his dearest
ambition had been a desire to unite her in marriage with a literary
man.  He saw that the tendency of the times was in the direction of
literature; schools of philosophy were springing up on every side,
logic and poetry were prated in every household.  Why should not the
beautiful and accomplished daughter of Kimon the fruiterer become one
of that group of geniuses who were contributing at that particular time
to the glory of Athens as the literary centre of the world?  The truth
was that, having prospered in his trade, Kimon pined for social
recognition; it grieved him that one of his daughters had wed a tinker,
and he had registered a vow with Pallas that his other daughter should
be given into the arms of a worthier man.

Xanthippe was a dutiful daughter; she had been taught to obey her
parents; and although her heart inclined to Gatippus, the son of
Heliopharnes the plasterer, she smothered all rebellious emotions, and
said she would try to do her father's will.  Accordingly, therefore,
Kimon introduced into his home one evening a certain young Athenian
philosopher,--a typical literary Bohemian of that time,--one Socrates,
a creature of wondrous wisdom and ready wit.

The appearance of this suitor, presumptive if not apparent, did not
particularly please Xanthippe.  Socrates was an ill-favored young man.
He was tall, raw-boned, and gangling.  When he walked, he slouched; and
when he sat down, he sprawled like a crab upon its back.  His coarse
hair rebelled upon his head and chin; and he had a broad, flat nose,
that had been broken in two places by the kick of an Assyrian mule.
Withal, Socrates talked delightfully; and it is not hard to imagine
that Xanthippe's pretty face, plump figure, and vivacious manners
served as an inspiration to the young philosopher's wit.  So it was not
long ere Xanthippe found herself entertaining a profound respect for
Socrates.

At all events, Xanthippe, the Athenian beauty, was wed to Socrates the
philosopher.  Putting all thought of Gatippus, the son of Heliopharnes
the plasterer, out of her mind, Xanthippe went to the temple of
Aphrodite, and was wed to Socrates.  Historians differ as to the
details of the affair; but it seems generally agreed that Socrates was
late at the ceremony, having been delayed on his way to the temple by
one Diogenes, who asked to converse with him on the immortality of the
soul.  Socrates stopped to talk, and would perhaps have been stopping
there still had not Kimon hunted him up, and fetched him to the wedding.

A great wedding it was.  A complete report of it was written by one of
Socrates' friends, another literary man, named Xenophon.  The literary
guild, including philosophers by the score, were there in full feather,
and Xenophon put himself to the trouble of giving a complete list of
these distinguished persons; and to the report, as it was penned for
the "Athens Weekly Papyrus," he appended a fine puff of Socrates, which
has led posterity to surmise that Socrates conferred a great compliment
on Xanthippe in marrying her.  Yet, what else could we expect of this
man Xenophon?  The only other thing he ever did was to conduct a
retreat from a Persian battle-field.

And now began the trials of Xanthippe, the wife of the literary man.
Ay, it was not long ere the young wife discovered that, of all husbands
in the world, the literary husband was the hardest to get along with.
Always late at his meals, always absorbed in his work, always
indifferent to the comforts of home--what a trial this man Socrates
must have been!  Why, half the time, poor Xanthippe did n't know where
the next month's rent was coming from; and as for the grocer's and
butcher's bills--well, between this creditor and that creditor the
tormented little wife's life fast became a burden to her.  Had it not
been for her father's convenient fruit-stall, Xanthippe must have
starved; and, at best, fruit as a regular diet is hardly preferable to
starvation.  And while she scrimped and saved, and made her own gowns,
and patched up the children's kilts as best she might, Socrates stood
around the streets talking about the immortality of the soul and the
vanity of human life!

Many times Xanthippe pined for the amusements and seductive gayeties of
social life, but she got none.  The only society she knew was the prosy
men-folk whom Socrates used to fetch home with him occasionally.
Xanthippe grew to hate them, and we don't blame her.  Just imagine that
dirty old Diogenes lolling around on the furniture, and expressing his
preference for a tub; picking his teeth with his jack-knife, and
smoking his wretched cob-pipe in the parlor!

"Socrates, dear," Xanthippe would say at times, "please take me to the
theatre to-night; I do so want to see that new tragedy by Euclydides."

But Socrates would swear by Hercules, or by the dog, or by some other
classic object, that he had an engagement with the rhetoricians, or
with the sophists, or with Alcibiades, or with Crito, or with some of
the rest of the boys--he called them philosophers, but we know what he
meant by that.

So it was toil and disappointment, disappointment and toil, from one
month's end to another's; and so the years went by.

Sometimes Xanthippe rebelled; but, with all her wit, how could she
reason with Socrates, the most gifted and the wisest of all
philosophers?  He had a provoking way of practising upon her the
exasperating methods of Socratic debate,--a system he had invented, and
for which he still is revered.  Never excited or angry himself, he
would ply her with questions until she found herself entangled in a
network of contradictions; and then she would be driven, willy-nilly,
to that last argument of woman--"because."  Then Socrates--the
brute!--would laugh at her, and would go out and sit on the front
door-steps, and look henpecked.  This is positively the meanest thing a
man _can_ do!

"Look at that poor man," said the wife of Edippus the cobbler.  "I _do_
believe his wife is cruel to him: see how sad and lonesome he is."

"Don't play with those Socrates children," said another matron.  "Their
mother must be a dreadful shiftless creature to let her young ones run
the streets in such patched-up clothes."

So up and down the street the neighbors gossiped--oh! it was very
humiliating to Xanthippe.

Meanwhile Helen lived in peace with Aristagoras the tinker.  Their
little home was cosey and comfortable.  Xanthippe used to go to see
them sometimes, but the sight of their unpretentious happiness made her
even more miserable.  Meanwhile, too, Xanthippe's old beau, Gatippus,
had married; and from Thessaly came reports of the beautiful vineyard
and the many wine-presses he had acquired.  So Xanthippe's life became
somewhat more than a struggle; it became a martyrdom.  And the wrinkles
came into Xanthippe's face, and Xanthippe's hair grew gray, and
Xanthippe's heart was filled with the bitterness of disappointment.
And the years, full of grind and of poverty and of neglect, crept
wearily on.

Time is the grim old collector who goes dunning for the abused wife,
and Time finally forced a settlement with Socrates.

Having loafed around Athens for many years to the neglect of his
family, and having obtruded his views touching the immortality of the
soul upon certain folk who believed that the first duty of a man was to
keep his family from starving to death, Socrates was apprehended on a
bench-warrant, thrown into jail, tried by a jury, and sentenced to die.

It was in this emergency that the great, the divine nobility of the
wife asserted itself.  She had been neglected by this man, she had gone
in rags for him, she had sacrificed her beauty and her hopes and her
pride, she had endured the pity of her neighbors, she had heard her
children cry with hunger--ay, all for him; yet, when a righteous fate
o'ertook him, she forgot all the misery of his doing, and she went to
him to be his comforter.

Well, she could not have done otherwise, for she was a woman.

Where was his philosophy now? where his wisdom, his logic, his wit?
What had become of his disputatious and learned associates that not one
of them stood up to plead for the life of Socrates now?  Why, the first
breath of adversity had blown them away as though they were but mist;
and, with these false friends scattered like the coward chaff they
were, grim old Socrates turned to Xanthippe for consolation.

She burdened his ears with no reproaches, she spoke not of herself.
Her thoughts were of him only, and it was to his chilled spirit that
she alone ministered.  Not even the horrors of the hemlock draught
could drive her from his side, or unloose her arms from about his neck;
and when at last the philosopher lay stiff in death, it was Xanthippe
that bore away his corpse, and, with spices moistened by her tears,
made it ready for the grave.



BAKED BEANS AND CULTURE

The members of the Boston Commercial Club are charming gentlemen.  They
are now the guests of the Chicago Commercial Club, and are being shown
every attention that our market affords.  They are a fine-looking lot,
well-dressed and well-mannered, with just enough whiskers to be
impressive without being imposing.

"This is a darned likely village," said Seth Adams last evening.
"Everybody is rushin' 'round an' doin' business as if his life depended
on it.  Should think they 'd git all tuckered out 'fore night, but I
'll be darned if there ain't just as many folks on the street after
nightfall as afore.  We 're stoppin' at the Palmer tavern; an' my
chamber is up so all-fired high that I can count all your meetin'-house
steeples from the winder."

Last night five or six of these Boston merchants sat around the office
of the hotel, and discussed matters and things.  Pretty soon they got
to talking about beans; this was the subject which they dwelt on with
evident pleasure.

"Waal, sir," said Ephraim Taft, a wholesale dealer in maple-sugar and
flavored lozenges, "you kin talk 'bout your new-fashioned dishes an'
high-falutin vittles; but, when you come right down to it, there ain't
no better eatin' than a dish o' baked pork 'n' beans."

"That's so, b'gosh!" chorused the others.

"The truth o' the matter is," continued Mr. Taft, "that beans is good
for everybody,--'t don't make no difference whether he 's well or sick.
Why, I 've known a thousand folks--waal, mebbe not quite a thousand;
but,--waal, now, jest to show, take the case of Bill Holbrook; you
remember Bill, don't ye?"

"Bill Holbrook?" said Mr. Ezra Eastman; "why, of course I do!  Used to
live down to Brimfield, next to the Moses Howard farm."

"That 's the man," resumed Mr. Taft.  "Waal, Bill fell sick,--kinder
moped round, tired like, for a week or two, an' then tuck to his bed.
His folks sent for Dock Smith,--ol' Dock Smith that used to carry round
a pair o' leather saddlebags,--gosh, they don't have no sech doctors
nowadays!  Waal, the dock, he come; an' he looked at Bill's tongue, an'
felt uv his pulse, an' said that Bill had typhus fever.  Ol' Dock Smith
was a very careful, conserv'tive man, an' he never said nothin' unless
he knowed he was right.

"Bill began to git wuss, an' he kep' a-gittin' wuss every day.  One
mornin' ol' Dock Smith sez, 'Look a-here, Bill, I guess you 're a
goner; as I figger it, you can't hol' out till nightfall.'

"Bill's mother insisted on a con-sul-tation bein' held; so ol' Dock
Smith sent over for young Dock Brainerd.  I calc'late that, next to ol'
Dock Smith, young Dock Brainerd was the smartest doctor that ever lived.

"Waal, pretty soon along come Dock Brainerd; an' he an' Dock Smith went
all over Bill, an' looked at his tongue, an felt uv his pulse, an' told
him it was a gone case, an' that he had got to die.  Then they went off
into the spare chamber to hold their con-sul-tation.

"Waal, Bill he lay there in the front room a-pantin' an' a-gaspin' an'
a-wond'rin' whether it wuz true.  As he wuz thinkin', up comes the girl
to get a clean tablecloth out of the clothes-press, an' she left the
door ajar as she come in.  Bill he gave a sniff, an' his eyes grew more
natural-like; he gathered together all the strength he had, an' he
raised himself up on one elbow, an' sniffed again."

"'Sary,' says he, 'wot's that a-cookin'?'

"'Beans,' says she, 'beans for dinner.'

"'Sary,' says the dyin' man, 'I must hev a plate uv them beans!'

"'Sakes alive, Mr. Holbrook!' says she; 'if you wuz to eat any o' them
beans, it 'd kill ye!'

"'If I've got to die,'says he, 'I'm goin' to die happy; fetch me a
plate uv them beans.'

"Waal, Sary, she pikes off to the doctors.

"'Look a-here,' says she.  'Mr. Holbrook smelt the beans cookin', an'
he says he 's got to have a plate uv 'em.  Now, what shall I do about
it?'

"'Waal, doctor,' says Dock Smith, 'what do you think 'bout it?

"'He 's got to die anyhow,' says Dock Brainerd; 'an' I don't suppose
the beans 'll make any diff'rence.'

"'That's the way I figger it,' says Dock Smith; 'in all my practice I
never knew of beans hurtin' anybody.'

"So Sary went down to the kitchen, an' brought up a plateful of hot
baked beans.  Dock Smith raised Bill up in bed, an' Dock Brainerd put a
piller under the small of Bill's back.  Then Sary sat down by the bed,
an' fed them beans into Bill until Bill could n't hold any more.

"'How air you feelin' now?' asked Dock Smith.

"Bill did n't say nuthin'; he jest smiled sort uv peaceful-like, an'
closed his eyes.

"'The end hes come,' said Dock Brainerd sof'ly.  'Bill is dyin'.'

"Then Bill murmured kind o' far-away-like (as if he was dreamin'), 'I
ain't dyin'; I 'm dead an' in heaven.'

"Next mornin' Bill got out uv bed, an' done a big day's work on the
farm, an' he hain't hed a sick spell since.  Them beans cured him!  I
tell you, sir, that beans is," etc.



MLLE. PRUD'HOMME'S BOOK


WASHINGTON, D. C., Mai 3.

M. LE REDACTEUR: D'apres votre article dans la "New-York Tribune,"
copie du "Chicago News," je me figure que les habitants de Chicago
ayant grand besoin d'un systeme de prononciation francaise, je prends
la liberte de vous envoyer par la malle-poste le No. 2 d'un ouvrage que
je viens de publier; si vous desirez les autres numeros, je me ferai un
plaisir de vous les envoyer aussi.  Les emballeurs de porc ayant peu de
temps a consacrer a l'etude, vu l' omnipotent dollar, seront je crois
enchantes et reconnaissants d'un systeme par lequel ils pourront
apprendre et comprendre la langue de la fine Sara, au bout de trente
lecons, si surtout Monsieur le redacteur veut bien au bout de sa plume
spirituelle leur en indiquer le chemin.  Sur ce l'auteur du systeme a
bien l'honneur de le saluer.

V. PRUD'HOMME.


This is a copy of a pleasant letter we have received from a
distinguished Washington lady; we do not print the accentuations,
because the Chicago patwor admits of none.  A literal rendering of the
letter into English is as follows: "From after your article in 'The New
York Tribune,' copied from 'The Chicago News,' I to myself have figured
that the inhabitants of Chicago having great want of a system of
pronunciation French, I take the liberty to you to send by the
mail-post the number two of a work which I come from to publish; if you
desire the other numbers, I to myself will make the pleasure of to you
them to send also.  The packers of porkers, having little of time to
consecrate to the study (owing to the omnipotent dollar), will be, I
believe, enchanted and grateful of a system by the which they may learn
and understand the language of the clever Sara, at the end of thirty
lessons, especially if Mister the editor will at the end of his pen
witty to them thereof indicate the road.  Whereupon the author of the
system has much the honor of him to salute," etc.

We have not given Mdlle. Prud'homme's oovray that conscientious study
and that careful research which we shall devote to it just as soon as
the tremendous spring rush in local literature eases up a little.  The
recent opening up of the Straits of Mackinaw, and the prospect of a new
railroad-line into the very heart of the dialectic region of Indiana,
have given Chicago literature so vast an impetus, that we find our
review-table groaning under the weight of oovrays that demand our
scholarly consideration.  Mdlle. Prud'homme must understand (for she
appears to be exceedingly amiable) that the oovrays of local
littérateurs have to be reviewed before the oovrays of outside
littérateurs can be taken up.  This may seem hard, but it cannot be
helped.

Still, we will say that we appreciate, and are grateful for, the
uncommon interest which Mdlle. Prud'homme seems to take in the
advancement of the French language and French literature in the midst
of us.  We have heard many of our leading savants and scholiasts
frequently express poignant regret that they were unable to read "La
Fem de Fu," "Mamzel Zheero Mar Fem," and other noble old French
classics whose fame has reached this modern Athens.  With the romances
of Alexandre Dumas, our public is thoroughly acquainted, having seen
the talented James O'Neill in Monty Cristo, and the beautiful and
accomplished Grace Hawthorne ("Only an American Girl") in Cameel; yet
our more enterprising citizens are keenly aware that there are other
French works worthy of perusal--intensely interesting works, too, if
the steel engravings therein are to be accepted as a criterion.

We doubt not that Mdlle. Prud'homme is desirous of doing Chicago a
distinct good; and why, we ask in all seriousness, should this gifted
and amiable French scholar not entertain for Chicago somewhat more than
a friendly spirit, merely?  The first settlers of Chicago were
Frenchmen; and, likely as not, some of Mdlle. Prud'homme's ancestors
were of the number of those Spartan voyageurs who first sailed down
Chicago River, pitched their tents on the spot where Kirk's
soap-factory now stands, and captured and brought into the refining
influences of civilization Long John Wentworth, who at that remote
period was frisking about on our prairies, a crude, callow boy, only
ten years old, and only seven feet tall.

Chicago was founded by Jeanne Pierre Renaud, one of the original two
orphans immortalized by Claxton and Halevy's play in thirteen acts of
the same name.  At that distant date it was anything but promising; and
its prominent industries were Indians, musk-rats, and scenery.  The
only crops harvested were those of malaria, twice per annum,--in
October and in April,--but the yield was sufficient to keep the
community well provided all the year round.



THE DEMAND FOR CONDENSED MUSIC

There is a general belief that the mistake made by the managers of the
symphony concert in Central Music Hall night before last was in not
opening the concert with Beethoven's "Eroica," instead of making it the
last number on the programme.  We incline to the opinion, however,
that, in putting the symphony last, the managers complied with the very
first requirement of dramatic composition.  This requirement is to the
effect that you must not kill all your people off in the first act.

There doubtless are a small number of worthy people who enjoy these old
symphonies that are being dragged out of oblivion by glass-eyed Teutons
from Boston.  It may argue a very low grade of intellectuality,
spirituality, or whatsoever you may be pleased to call it; but we must
confess in all candor, that, much as we revere Mr. Beethoven's memory,
we do not fancy having fifty-five-minute chunks of his musty opi hurled
at us.

It is a marvel to us, that, in these progressive times, such leaders as
Thomas and Gericke do not respond to the popular demand by providing
the public with symphonies in the nutshell.  We have condensations in
every line except music.  Even literature is being boiled down; because
in these busy times, people demand a literature which they can read
while they run.  We have condensed milk, condensed meats, condensed
wines,--condensed everything but music.  What a joyous shout would go
up if Thomas or Gericke would only prepare and announce

  "_SYMPHONIES FOR BUSY PEOPLE!
   THE OLD MASTERS EPITOMIZED!_"


What Chicago demands, and what every enterprising and intelligent
community needs, is the highest class of music on the
"all-the-news-for-two-cents" principle.  Blanket-sheet concertizing
must go!

Now, here was this concert, night before last.  Two hours and a half to
five numbers!  Suppose we figure a little on this subject:

  EXHIBIT A--SYMPHONY.

  Total number of minutes  . . . . . . . . . .  150
  Total number of pieces . . . . . . . . . . .    5
  Minutes to each piece  . . . . . . . . . . .   30

  EXHIBIT B--TRADE.

  Total number of minutes  . . . . . . . . . .  150
  Hog-slaughtering capacity per minute . . . .    3
  Total killing  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  450


Figures will not lie, because (as was the reason with George) they
cannot.  And figures prove to us, that, in the time consumed by five
symphonic numbers, the startling number of four hundred and fifty hogs
could be (and are daily) slaughtered, scraped, disembowelled, hewn, and
packed.  While forty or fifty able-bodied musicians are discoursing
Beethoven's rambling "Eroica," it were possible to dispatch and to
dress a carload of as fine beeves as ever hailed from Texas; and the
performance of the "Sakuntala" overture might be regarded as a virtual
loss of as much time as would be required for the beheading, skinning,
and dismembering of two hundred head of sheep.

These comparisons have probably never occurred to Mr. Thomas or to Mr.
Gericke; but they are urged by the patrons of music in Chicago, and
therefore they must needs be recognized by the caterers to popular
tastes.  Chicago society has been founded upon industry, and the
culture which she now boasts is conserved only by the strictest
attention to business.  Nothing is more criminal hereabouts than a
waste of time; and it is no wonder, then, that the crême de la crême of
our élite lift up their hands, and groan, when they discover that it
takes as long to play a classic symphony as it does to slaughter a
carload of Missouri razor-backs, or an invoice of prairie-racers from
Kansas.



LEARNING AND LITERATURE

R. J. N. Whiting writes us from New Litchfield, Ill., asking if we can
tell him the name of the author of the poem, of which the following is
the first stanza:--

  The weary heart is a pilgrim
    Seeking the Mecca of rest;
  Its burden is one of sorrows;
  And it wails a song as it drags along,--
    'Tis the song of a hopeless quest.


Mr. Whiting says that this poem has been attributed to James Channahon,
a gentleman who flourished about the year 1652; "but," he adds, "its
authorship has not as yet been established with any degree of
certainty."  Mr. Whiting has noticed that the "Daily News" is a
"criterion on matters of literary interest," and he craves the boon of
our valuable opinion, touching this important question.

Now, although it is true that we occasionally deal with obsolete
topics, it is far from our desire to make a practice of so doing.  It
is natural that, once in a while, when an editor gets hold of a
catalogue of unusual merit, and happens to have a line of
encyclopaedias at hand--it is natural, we say, that, under such
circumstances, an editor should take pleasure in letting his
subscribers know how learnedly he can write about books and things.
But an editor must be careful not to write above the comprehension of
the majority of his readers.  If we made a practice of writing as
learnedly as we are capable of writing, the proprietors of this paper
would soon have to raise its price from two cents to five cents per
copy.

We say this in no spirit of egotism; it is simply our good fortune that
we happen to possess extraordinary advantages.  We have the best
assortment of cyclopaedias in seven states, and the Public Library is
only two blocks off.  It is no wonder, therefore, that our erudition
and our research are of the highest order.

Still it is not practicable that we, being now on earth, should devote
much time to delving into, and wallowing among, the authors of past
centuries.  Ignatius Donnelly has been trying for the last three years
to inveigle us into a discussion as to the authorship of Shakespeare's
plays.  We have declined to participate in any public brawl with the
Minnesota gentleman, for the simple reason that no good could accrue
therefrom to anybody.  If there were an international copyright law,
there would be some use in trying to find out who wrote these plays, in
order that the author might claim royalties on his works; or, if not
the author, his heirs or assigns forever.

Mr. Whiting will understand that we cannot take much interest in an
anonymous hymn of the seventeenth century.  It is enough for us to know
that the hymn in question could not have been written by a Chicago man,
for the very good reason that Chicago did not exist in the seventeenth
century; that is to say, it existed merely as the haunt of the musquash
and the mud-turtle, and not as the living, breathing metropolis of
to-day.  We have our hands full examining into, and criticising, the
live topics of current times: if we were to spend our days and nights
in hunting up the estray poets and authors of the seventeenth century,
how long would it be before the sceptre of trade and culture would slip
irrecoverably from Chicago's grasp?

Chicago has very little respect for the seventeenth century, because
there is nothing in it.  The seventeenth century has done nothing for
Chicago: she does not even know that this is the greatest hog-market in
the world, and she has never had any commercial dealings with us in any
line.  If Chicago does n't cut a wider swath in history than the
seventeenth century has, we shall be very much ashamed of her.



"DIE WALKÜRE" UND DER BOOMERANGELUNGEN

There is a strange fascination about Herr Wagner's musical drama of
"Die Walküre."  A great many people have supposed that Herr Sullivan's
opera of "Das Pinafore" was the most remarkable musical work extant,
but we believe the mistake will become apparent as Herr Wagner's
masterpiece grows in years.

We will not pretend to say that "Die Walküre" will ever be whistled
about the streets, as the airs from "Das Pinafore" are whistled; the
fact is, that no rendition of "Die Walküre" can be satisfactory without
the accompaniment of weird flashes of fire; and it is hardly to be
expected that our youth will carry packages of lycopodium, and boxes of
matches, around with them, for the sole purpose of giving the desired
effect to any snatches from Herr Wagner's work they may take the notion
to whistle.  But in the sanctity of our homes, around our firesides, in
the front-parlor, where the melodeon or the newly hired piano has been
set up, it is there that Herr Wagner's name will be revered, and his
masterpiece repeated o'er and o'er.  The libretto is not above
criticism; it strikes us that there is not enough of it.  The
probability is that Herr Wagner ran out of libretto before he had got
through with his music, and therefore had to spread out comparatively
few words over a vast expanse of music.  The result is that a great
part of the time the performers are on the stage is devoted to thought,
the orchestra doing a tremendous amount of fiddling, etc., while the
actors wander drearily around, with their arms folded across their
pulmonary departments, and their minds evidently absorbed in profound
cogitation.

As for the music, the only criticism we have to pass upon it is that it
changes its subject too often; in this particular it resembles the
dictionary,--in fact, we believe "Die Walküre" can be termed the
Webster's Unabridged of musical language.  Herr Wagner has his own way
of doing business.  He goes at it on the principle of the twelfth man,
who holds out against the eleven other jurors, and finally brings them
around to his way of thinking.

For instance, in the midst of a pleasing strain in B natural, Herr
Wagner has a habit of suddenly bringing out a small reed-instrument
with a big voice (we do not know its name), piped in the key of F
sharp.  This small reed-instrument will not let go; it holds on to that
F sharp like a mortgage.  For a brief period the rest of the
instruments--fiddles, bassoons, viols, flutes, flageolets, cymbals,
drums, etc.--struggle along with an attempt to either drown the
intruder, or bring it around to their way of doing business; but it is
vain.  Every last one of them has to slide around from B natural to F
sharp, and they do it as best they can.

Having accomplished its incendiary and revolutionary purpose, the small
reed-instrument subsides until it finds another chance to break out.
It is a mugwump.

Die Walküren, as given us by the Damrosch Company, are nine stout,
comely young women, attired in costumes somewhat similar to the armor
worn by Herr Lawrence Barrett's Roman army in Herr Shakespeare's play
of "Der Julius Caesar."  Readers of Norse mythology may suppose that
these weird sisters were dim, vague, shadowy creatures; but they are
mistaken.  Brunhilde has the embonpoint of a dowager, and her arms are
as robust and red as a dairy-maid's.

As for Gerhilde, Waltraute, Helmwige, and the rest, they are well-fed,
buxom ladies, evidently of middle age, whose very appearance exhales an
aroma of kraut and garlic, which, by the way, we see by the libretto,
was termed "mead" in the days of Wotan and his court.  These Die
Walküren are said to ride fiery, untamed steeds; but only one steed is
exhibited in the drama as it is given at the Columbia.  This steed, we
regret to say, is a restless, noisy brute, and invariably has to be led
off the stage by one of das supes, before his act concludes.

However, no one should doubt his heroic nature, inasmuch as the
cabalistic letters "U. S." are distinctly branded upon his left flank.

The Sieglinde of the piece is Fräulein Slach, a young lady no bigger
than a minute, but with wonderful powers of endurance.  To say nothing
of Hunding's persecutions, she has to shield Siegmund, elope with him,
climb beetling precipices, ride Brunhilde's fiery, untamed steed,
confront die Walküren, and look on her slain lover, and, in addition to
these prodigies, participate in a Graeco-Roman wrestling-match with an
orchestra of sixty-five pieces for three hours and a half.

Yet she is equal to the emergency.  Up to the very last she is as fresh
as a daisy; and, after recovering from her swooning-spell in the second
act, she braces her shoulders back, and dances all around the top notes
of the chromatic scale with the greatest of ease.  She is a wonderful
little woman, is Fräulein Slach!  What a wee bit of humanity, yet what
a volume of voice she has, and what endurance!

Down among the orchestra people sat a pale, sad man.  His apparent
lonesomeness interested us deeply.  We could not imagine what he was
there for.  Every once in a while he would get up and leave the
orchestra, and dive down under the stage, and appear behind the scenes,
where we could catch glimpses of him practising with a pair of
thirty-pound dumb-bells, and testing a spirometer.  Then he would come
back and re-occupy his old seat among the orchestra, and look paler and
sadder than ever.  What strange, mysterious being was he?  Why did he
inflict his pale, sad presence upon that galaxy of tuneful revellers?

What a cunning master the great Herr Wagner is!  For what emergency
does he not provide?  It was half-past eleven when the third act began.
Die Walküren had assembled in the dismal dell,--all but the den
Walküre, Brunhilde.  Wotan is approaching on appalling storm-clouds,
composed of painted mosquito-bars and blue lights.  The sheet-iron
thunder crashes; and the orchestra is engaged in another mortal combat
with that revolutionary mugwump, the small reed-instrument, that
persists in reforming the tune of the opera.

Then the pale, sad man produces a large brass horn, big enough at the
business end for a cow to walk into.  It is a fearful, ponderous
instrument, manufactured especially for "Die Walküre" at the Krupp Gun
Factory in Essen.  It has an appropriate name: the master himself
christened it the boomerangelungen.  It is the monarch, the Jumbo of
all musical instruments.  The cuspidor end of it protrudes into one of
the proscenium-boxes.  The fair occupants of the box are frightened,
and timidly shrink back.

Wotan is at hand.  He comes upon seven hundred yards of white tarletan,
and fourteen pounds of hissing, blazing lycopodium!  The pale, sad man
at the other end of the boomerangelungen explains his wherefore.  He
applies his lips to the brazen monster.  His eyeballs hang out upon his
cheeks, the veins rise on his neck, and the lumpy cords and muscles
stand out on his arms and hands.  Boohoop, boohoop!--yes, six times
boohoop does that brazen megatherium blare out, vivid and distinct,
above all the other sixty instruments in the orchestra.  Then the white
tarletan clouds vanish, the blazing lycopodium goes out, and Wotan
stands before the excited spectators.

Then the pale, sad man lays down the boomerangelungen, and goes home.
That is all he has to do; the six sonorous boohoops, announcing the
presence of Wotan, is all that is demanded of the boomerangelungen.
But it is enough: it is marvellous, appalling, prodigious.

Whose genius but Herr Wagner's could have found employment for the
boomerangelungen?  We hear talk of the sword motive, the love motive,
the Walhalla motive, and this motive, and that; but they all shrink
into nothingness when compared with the motive of the boomerangelungen.



THE WORKS OF SAPPHO

It would be hard to say whether Chicago society is more deeply
interested in the circus which is exhibiting on the lake-front this
week, than in the compilation of Sappho's complete works just published
in London, and but this week given to the trade in Chicago.  As we
understand it, Sappho and the circus had their beginning about the same
time: if any thing, the origin of the circus antedated Sappho's birth
some years, and has achieved the more wide-spread popularity.

In the volume now before us, we learn that Sappho lived in the seventh
century before Christ, and that she was at the zenith of her fame at
the time when Tarquinius Priscus was king of Rome, and Nebuchadnezzar
was subsisting on a hay-diet.  It appears that, despite her wisdom,
this talented lady did not know who her father was; seventeen hundred
years after her demise, one Suidas claimed to have discovered that
there were seven of her father; but Herodotus gives the name of the
gentleman most justly suspected as Scamandronymus.  Be this as it may,
Sappho married a rich man, and subsequently fell in love with a dude
who cared nothing for her; whereupon the unfortunate woman, without
waiting to compile her writings, and without even indicating whom she
preferred for her literary executor, committed suicide by hurling
herself from a high precipice into the sea.  Sappho was an exceedingly
handsome person, as we see by the engraving which serves as the
frontispiece of the work before us.  This engraving, as we understand,
was made from a portrait painted from life by a contemporaneous old
Grecian artist, one Alma Tadema.

Still, we could not help wondering, as we saw the magnificent pageant
of Forepaugh's circus sweep down our majestic boulevards and superb
thoroughfares yesterday; as we witnessed this imposing spectacle, we
say, we could not help wondering how many people in all the vast crowds
of spectators knew that there ever was such a poetess as Sappho, or how
many, knowing that there was such a party, have ever read her works.
It has been nearly a year since a circus came to town; and in that time
public taste has been elevated to a degree by theatrical and operatic
performers, such as Sara Bernhardt, Emma Abbott, Murray and Murphy,
Adele Patti, George C. Miln, Helena Modjeska, Fanny Davenport, and
Denman Thompson.

Of course, therefore, our public has come to be able to appreciate with
a nicer discrimination and a finer zest the intellectual _morceaux_ and
the refined tidbits which Mr. Forepaugh's unparalleled aggregation
offers.  This was apparent in the vast numbers and in the unbridled
enthusiasm of our best citizens gathered upon the housetops and at the
street-corners along the line of the circus procession.  So magnificent
a display of silks, satins, and diamonds has seldom been seen: it truly
seemed as if the fashion and wealth of our city were trying to vie with
the splendors of the glittering circus pageant.  In honor of the event,
many of the stores, public buildings, and private dwellings displayed
banners, mottoes, and congratulatory garlands.  From the balcony of the
palatial edifice occupied by one of our leading literary clubs was
suspended a large banner of pink silk, upon which appeared the word
"Welcome" in white; while beneath, upon a scroll, was an appropriate
couplet from one of Robert Browning's poems.

When we asked one of the members of this club why the club made such a
fuss over the circus, he looked very much astonished; and he answered,
"Well, why not?  Old Forepaugh is worth over a million dollars, and he
always sends us complimentaries whenever he comes to town!"

We asked this same gentleman if he had read the new edition of Sappho's
poems.  We had a good deal of confidence in his literary judgment and
taste, because he is our leading linseed-oil dealer; and no man in the
West is possessed of more enterprise and sand than he.

"My daughter brought home a copy of the book Saturday," said he, "and I
looked through it yesterday.  Sappho may suit some cranks; but as for
me, give me Ella Wheeler or Will Carleton.  I love good poetry: I 've
got the finest-bound copy of Shakespeare in Illinois, and my edition of
Coleridge will knock the socks off any book in the country.  My wife
has painted all the Doray illustrations of the Ancient Marine, and I
would n't swap that book for the costliest Mysonyay in all Paris!

"I can't see where the poetry comes in," he went on to say.  "So far as
I can make out, this man Sapolio--I mean Sappho--never did any
sustained or consecutive work.  His poems read to me a good deal like a
diary.  Some of them consist of one line only, and quite a number have
only three words.  Now, I will repeat five entire poems taken from this
fool-book: I learned them on purpose to repeat at the club.  Here is
the first,--

  "Me just now the golden-sandalled Dawn.


"That 's all there is to it.  Here's the second:

  "I yearn and seek.


"A third is complete in--

  "Much whiter than an egg;

and the fourth is,--

  "Stir not the shingle,

which, I take it, was one of Sapphire's juvenile poems addressed to his
mother.  The fifth poem is simply,--

  "And thou thyself, Calliope,

which, by the way, reminds me that Forepaugh's calliope got smashed up
in a railroad accident night before last,--a circumstance deeply to be
regretted, since there is no instrument calculated to appeal more
directly to one versed in mythological lore, or more likely to awaken a
train of pleasing associations, than the steam-calliope."

A South-Side packer, who has the largest library in the city, told us
that he had not seen Sappho's works yet, but that he intended to read
them at an early date.  "I 've got so sick of Howells and James," said
he, "that I 'm darned glad to hear that some new fellow has come to the
front."

Another prominent social light (a brewer) said that he had bought a
"Sappho," and was having it bound in morocco, with turkey-red
trimmings.  "I do enjoy a handsome book," said he.  "One of the most
valuable volumes in my library I bought of a leading candy-manufacturer
in this city.  It is the original libretto and score of the 'Songs of
Solomon,' bound in the tanned pelt of the fatted calf that was killed
when the prodigal son came home."

"I have simply glanced through the Sappho book," said another
distinguished representative of local culture; "and what surprised me,
was the pains that has been taken in getting up the affair.  Why, do
you know, the editor has gone to the trouble of going through the book,
and translating every darned poem into Greek!  Of course, this strikes
us business-men of Chicago as a queer bit of pedantry."

The scholarly and courtly editor of the "Weekly Lard Journal and
Literary Companion," Professor A. J. Lyvely, criticised Sappho very
freely as he stood at the corner of Clark and Madison Streets, waiting
for the superb gold chariot drawn by twenty milk-white steeds, and
containing fifty musicians, to come along.  "Just because she lived in
the dark ages," said he, "she is cracked up for a great poet; but she
will never be as popular with the masses of Western readers as Ella
Wheeler and Marion Harland are.  All of her works that remain to us are
a few fragments, and they are chestnuts; for they have been printed
within the last ten years in the books of a great many poets I could
name, and I have read them.  We know very little of Sappho's life.  If
she had amounted to much, we would not be in such ignorance of her
doings.  The probability is that she was a society or fashion editor on
one of the daily papers of her time,--a sort of Clara-Belle woman,
whose naughtiness was mistaken for a species of intellectual
brilliancy.  Sappho was a gamey old girl, you know.  Her life must have
been a poem of passion, if there is any truth in the testimony of the
authorities who wrote about her several centuries after her death.  In
fact, these verses of hers that are left indicate that she was addicted
to late suppers, to loose morning-gowns, to perfumed stationery, and to
hysterics.  It is ten to one that she wore flaming bonnets and striking
dresses; that she talked loud at the theatres and in public generally;
and that she chewed gum, and smoked cigarettes, when she went to the
races.  If that woman had lived in Chicago, she would have been
tabooed."

The amiable gentleman who reads manuscripts for Rand, McNally & Co.
says that Sappho's manuscripts were submitted to him a year ago.  "I
looked them over, and satisfied myself that there was nothing in them;
and I told the author so.  He seemed inclined to dispute me, but I told
him I reckoned I understood pretty well what would sell in our literary
circles and on our railroad-trains."

But while there was a pretty general disposition to criticise Sappho,
there was only one opinion as to the circus-parade; and that was
complimentary.  For the nonce, we may say, the cares and vexations of
business, of literature, of art, and of science, were put aside; and
our populace abandoned itself to a hearty enjoyment of the brilliant
pageant which appealed to the higher instincts.  And, as the cage
containing the lions rolled by, the shouts of the enthusiastic
spectators swelled above the guttural roars of the infuriate monarchs
of the desert.  Men waved their hats, and ladies fluttered their
handkerchiefs.  Altogether, the scene was so exciting as to be equalled
only by the rapturous ovation which was tendered Mdlle. Hortense de
Vere, queen of the air, when that sylph-like lady came out into the
arena of Forepaugh's great circus-tent last evening, and poised herself
upon one tiny toe on the back of an untamed and foaming Arabian barb
that dashed round and round the sawdust ring.  Talk about your Sapphos
and your poetry!  Would Chicago hesitate a moment in choosing between
Sappho and Mdlle. Hortense de Vere, queen of the air?  And what
rhythm--be it Sapphic, or choriambic, or Ionic a minore--is to be
compared with the symphonic poetry of a shapely female balanced upon
one delicate toe on the bristling back of a fiery, untamed palfrey that
whoops round and round to the music of the band, the plaudits of the
public, and the still, small voice of the dyspeptic gent announcing a
minstrel show "under this canvas after the performance, which is not
yet half completed?"

If it makes us proud to go into our bookstores, and see thousands upon
thousands of tomes waiting for customers; if our bosoms swell with
delight to see the quiet and palatial homes of our cultured society
overflowing with the most expensive wall-papers and the costliest
articles of virtue; if we take an ineffable enjoyment in the thousand
indications of a growing refinement in the midst of us,--vaster still
must be the pride, the rapture, we feel when we behold our intellect
and our culture paying the tribute of adoration to the circus.  Viewing
these enlivening scenes, why may we not cry in the words of Sappho,
"Wealth without thee, Worth, is a shameless creature; but the mixture
of both is the height of happiness"?





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