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´╗┐Title: Summerfield - or, Life on a Farm
Author: Lee, Day Kellogg
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 "Summerfield - or, Life on a Farm" ***

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SUMMERFIELD;

or

Life on a Farm

by

DAY KELLOGG LEE


  "When now the cock, the ploughman's horn,
  Calls forth the lily-wristed morn,
  Then to thy cornfields thou dost go,
  Which, though well-soil'd, yet thou dost know
  That the best compost for the lands
  Is the wise master's feet and hands."
      --HERRICK



Second Thousand.

Auburn:
Derby and Miller.
1852.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1851, by
Day K. Lee,
In the Clerk's Office for the Southern District of New York.



TO

MY VENERATED FATHER;

A

PIONEER OF THE LAKE COUNTRY;

WHO

SOWED TRUTH AND GOODNESS IN THE SPRING-TIME,

AND

REAPS PEACE AND HONOR IN THE AUTUMN

OF HIS LIFE;

THIS VOLUME IS WITH LOVE INSCRIBED.



INTRODUCTION.


BY THE AUTHOR OF "GOLDEN STEPS," &c.

Works of fiction are to be approved when
they subserve the interests of morality and
religion.  The Scriptures of the Old and New
Testaments--the ancient classics--the most
distinguished productions of modern ages--afford
striking illustrations of the beautiful and
instructive lessons of virtue and piety, which may be
conveyed in fabulous narration.  The Parables
of the Saviour; Milton's Paradise Lost;
Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, are samples of
salutary and saving truth exhibited in stories of the
imagination.

I have made myself familiar with the contents
of the following tale, from the manuscript
copy.  The aim of the author is of the highest
description.  He endeavors to instil into the
minds of his readers a lesson of the utmost
practical importance, intimately connected with the
experience of every-day life.  He would instruct
them of the wisdom of being contented with a
useful and productive occupation, which is
honorable in its character, healthful in its nature,
and conducive to the welfare of society, rather
than to aspire to callings, not so laborious
perhaps, yet more deceptive and uncertain in
substantial remuneration, and far less calculated to
promote public good.

This object the author successfully
accomplishes.  No reader can arise from a perusal of
his pages, without feeling a higher respect for
such pursuits as benefit the world, and a stronger
inclination to avoid the more showy and
worthless callings into which too many are disposed
to crowd.  The story is most happily conceived,
and is narrated in a style highly finished and
attractive.  There is nothing insipid or
over-wrought, in the frame-work or filling up; but
all is natural and lifelike.  The witty, the lively,
the startling, are finely interwoven with the
more grave and instructive.  A fertile and vivid
imagination has enabled the author to bring
characters upon his stage which represent almost
every phase in human nature, and to indulge in
personal and scenic descriptions, whether in
painting a landscape, or delineating some
humorous or some noble quality of the heart, of
the most charming character.  The reader is
enamored with the quiet enjoyments of rural life,
and disgusted with the schemes of hackneyed
sharpers.  A high moral tone runs throughout
the narrative.  Vice is rebuked and punished--virtue
is commended and rewarded.  The idle,
the vicious, the unprincipled schemer and
deceiver, are painted to the life, and placed in
such a light, as to act as examples of warning
to the inexperienced, while the industrious, the
wise and good, stand forth in the true nobleness
of their nature, to the admiration of all.

To those who would discountenance the puerile
and trashy novels, full of debasing and
licentious tendencies, with which our country is
flooded, I would earnestly recommend this work.
It can be placed in the hands of the youthful
not only with safety, but with the utmost
confidence that it will exert a highly salutary
influence upon them.

I understand the present is the first of a series
of volumes on the various leading Occupations
of Life.  The author would discountenance the
frivolous and demoralizing light reading of the
day, and place in the hand of young men and
women, works which shall induce and aid them
to work out a great and noble life.

J. M. AUSTIN.



CONTENTS



INTRODUCTION


I.

GOING FROM HOME TO BUILD A HOME


II.

HOME IN THE BACKWOODS


III.

A BEAR HUNT


IV.

A FEAST AND A STORY


V.

JULIA WILMER


VI.

THE NEW HOME AND SETTLEMENT


VII.

A CAPTIVE


VIII.

A LAMB LOST


IX.

SEEKING THE LOST LAMB IN VAIN


X.

THE SUGAR PARTY


XI.

FABENS PROMOTED TO HONOR


XII.

A LAW SUIT


XIII.

HAPPINESS


XIV.

THE COLD SEASONS


XV.

A WAR OF EXTERMINATION


XVI.

THE MINISTER


XVII.

THE MEETING


XVIII.

THE SECOND MEETING AND ITS FRUITS


XIX.

THE HARVEST LUNCH


XX.

MERCHANT FAIRBANKS


XXI.

THE HUSKING


XXII.

GEORGE LUDLOW AND ALMON FRISBIE


XXIII.

FAIRBANKS, FRISBIE, AND FABENS


XXIV.

A WEEK OF CASTLE BUILDING


XXV.

A WEEK OF REALITY


XXVI.

ANOTHER WEEK OF REALITY


XXVII.

SUNNY SKIES


XXVIII.

CONCLUSION



SUMMERFIELD.


I.

GOING FROM HOME TO BUILD A HOME.

"Yes, and such a wilderness of game!  My word for it, you would like it
out there.  The fat deer scamper from thicket and opening; foxes and
wolves, and bears are plenty; wild turkeys romp and fly in flocks; wild
ducks dip and skim like swallows on the lakes; trout and sturgeon,
lusty and sweet; Indians good-natured as the yellow sun:--and such
hunts as I've had there!--I tell you what, Matthew, they would cure you
pretty quick of being homesick; and you would hardly look towards the
Hudson again, if you were only once in the lake country."

"I should like to go there, Uncle Walter.  It must be a very fine
country, and the encouragements for young men must be great.  I should
like those grand old forests you speak of; and those pleasant lakes,
and the hills, and the valleys.  Just so strange I am--I should soon
have affection for them, and reckon them among my friends.  I should
bring away their sweet summer fragrance and verdure in my soul.  And
the deer--how I'd like to see them bounding all about me! and the ducks
and wild turkeys enjoying their free life.  But to make them
game,--I'll leave that to you, Uncle Walter, if I cannot soften your
heart.  If I could leave father and mother, I would go and see what
sort of a life I could accomplish in a land so free and inviting; and
what kind of a home I could build.  The thought of this sets my blood
a-bounding."

"Well, come, make up your mind, and get ready by then I start, and I'll
be right glad of your company.  I shall start in a fortnight."

"What say you, father and mother?  My heart flutters as I ask you!  But
what say you to Uncle Walter's invitation?  Can I not make a shift in
the wild woods of Cayuga, and could you not get along without me
awhile, in hopes something might be done for the good of us all?"

"It pleases me, Matthew, and it pleases your mother.  We talked it all
over last night, and concluded, if you would like to venture, we would
make up our minds to part with you, and comfort ourselves with the hope
of your doing well.  Yes, go if you want to, and the Lord go with you,
and help you all the time.  I know by experience it is a good thing to
learn to live away from home, and shift for one's self, and be
independent.  It makes a clear head, a ready hand, and a nervy heart.
My father used to say, an upright mind, with a knack of
self-assistance, was better for a president's son, than pockets full of
money.  I have found it true, and I hope you will remember it.

"It will try our old hearts a little to part with you, Matthew.  All
the rest are gone to the grave, and somehow we cling closer to you now.
We are trembling on the edge of the grave, and waiting for Death to
trip us in.  We need to have hold of your hand, and lean on your
shoulder.  But I know it is for your good to go and build your own home
and fortune; and if you prosper, as Mr. Mowry thinks you will, may be
we shall live long enough to sell our little place here, and go into
the woods again, and clear up a farm.  It is a hard sort of work; but
then it stoutens the knees, and knits the knuckles, and gives a capable
soul, and a pleasant, pleasant life."

"That's the thing, Major Fabens.  Tell the boy of the fun of clearing
land; but don't talk of trying hearts, and old age, and the grave.
You'll make a baby of him if you do; and he'll get a foolish dread of
leaving, and want to hang around you all your days.  Stir him up a
little.  Tell him you'll be glad to get rid of him; and to pack up his
duds and be off, lickety-cut; and it will not be a great while afore he
can pop over a deer without whimpering; and a log shanty in Cayuga will
seem smarter to him than a city spare-room.  Come, Matthew, get ready
by then I start, and I'll take you to the handsomest country in all
America!"

"Life is a wilderness journey, that all must go, having many struggles
and trials; meeting many dangers, enduring many griefs.  But if one
does right, and keeps acting the noblest and hoping the best, that is
the main thing; and it matters not so much where we go, nor where we
build our home, and perform our labors of life.  Hard indeed shall I
find it, to take my soul away from all I love in Cloverdale: hard to
leave father and mother, and all my young friends; but it is best I
should go.  Return in a fortnight, and I will be ready.  God help me to
be a man, and make my life an honor and a joy.  If I _could_ get a home
that father and mother would like better than their little one here,
would we not be happy?"

Such, my dear reader, was the beginning of a manner of life which it is
the design of this volume to unfold.  Such a conversation occurred at
Major Fabens' many years ago.  Major Fabens and his wife were very fine
old people, who lived at Cloverdale, on the banks of the Hudson River.
Matthew was their only surviving child; the solace and stay of their
aged years; and Uncle Walter was a neighbor, who had been out to that
beautiful region of western New York, called the Lake Country; taken up
a tract of wild land; made a clearing; built a rude home; and returned,
saying many a good, frank thing, to induce others to "pull up stakes,"
and follow him.

On the evening with which our story begins, a long conversation had
been enjoyed at Major Fabens'; much had been said of the western
country, in description of its climate and soil, its lakes and forests;
and young Fabens listened in a spell of delight, more and more
convinced that there was the land for his future home.  He resolved
upon going to the Lake Country.  He hastened the preparation for his
departure.  His clothes were put in readiness; he passed around the
neighborhood on all his farewell visits; and the morning of his exit
smiled kindly and glad, as if to welcome him on his way.

It was a morning in August.  Recent rains had refreshed all the woods
and fields; recent thunders had cleared the air and sweetened the
morning breeze; the pure sky spread like a curtain of clear blue satin
to the sight; and all nature was afloat with those lofty and tender
influences which soften the feelings, and induce meditation.  A fit
season for the scene that ensued at the Major's, when numbers gathered
in sadness there, to take leave of their favorite.  The sensations of
the company can be fancied by those only who have joined in similar
scenes, and shared their affecting interests.  Kindest words had been
exchanged, and a full flow of love was indulged through an hour
prolonged, when it came for the father to speak, and give the farewell
charge and blessing.

"A good son, a very good son, you have been to us, Matthew," said he;
"and we have little fear that you will forsake the principles you take
with you, or give us trouble for any unhandsome act of your life.  But
this world has many temptations; singular and strange events fill up
our experience; and a little counsel never comes amiss.  I have lived
longer than you.  I ought to know more of life and its dangers; and be
able to tell you many things that will do you good.  I have fought my
way through difficulties, under which many have fell; and I have seemed
to see a light of heaven rising on the darkness, and have followed it,
when others like lambs have strayed into troublesome ways.

"Be faithful to the right, and good, and true, my son, and you have
nothing to fear.  Let no puff of praise, or flush of good fortune lift
you up with vanity.  Stand erect and keep your balance, if you step on
ice or walk on wire.  Be a man always.  Keep from castle-building.
Insist on the honor of your calling; and don't burrow up in the soil
like a woodchuck, but range abroad like a deer, and soar on high like
an eagle.  Good-bye."

The last word was spoken; the farewell moment fled; young Fabens was on
his first long journey; and six weary days were numbered with past
hours, before the last opening in the forest revealed to his anxious
eyes the home of his eager guide--the Waldron Settlement.



II.

HOME IN THE BACKWOODS.

A new home in the backwoods!  Living where the dun deer roam, and wild
fowl flock!  Sleeping a-nights where waters murmur, wolves howl, and
panthers scream in your hearing; and whip-poor-wills sing till morning
comes, and Nature appears in her gladness and pride!  Who would not
enjoy a scene like that for a season, forgetting the tame monotony of
towns, and imprisonment of cities?  Who would not forsake a room amid
walls of brick for a green woodland parlor?  And leave velvet cushion
and costly carpet, for a cushion of moss, and a carpet of flowers in
the virgin wilderness?  Follow me, then, to the Land of Lakes, and
ramble abroad with my hero, while he explores the Waldron Settlement.

A rare and yellow August evening it was, and about fifty years ago,
when Matthew Fabens arrived in the Lake Country.  As he rose the first
morning, and went forth to survey the region of his new home, thoughts
of his distant abode awakened feelings of sadness, but other sensations
very soon succeeded, and balanced his mind into satisfaction.  A
wilderness indeed it was that waved around him; and the manners of the
settlers partook as much of its wildness, verdure, freedom, and wealth,
as if they had sprung like the oaks and chestnuts, from the soil; and
he found it a region opening upon him, at every step, some new delight
or interest.

That particular section was called the Lake Country, from the
occurrence of seven lakes, that shine out from their green borders like
mirrors reflecting the face of heaven.  That beautiful sisterhood of
little inland seas lie along in lines nearly parallel, with ten and a
dozen miles of lovely woodland waving between them; and they vary in
length from ten to forty miles; and discharge their waters, through the
Oswego River, into Lake Ontario.  Their names are, Otisco, Skaneateles,
Owasco, Cayuga, Seneca, Wawumkee, and Canandaigua, each name of them
sounding the rich, wild music of the Indian tongue.

On the banks of the Cayuga Fabens found the settlement, and language
cannot describe the charms of its fine scenery.  Few were the
clearings, and small, which as yet had been made, and tall and grand
were the beeches and maples, the oaks and chestnuts, that tossed their
arms on high.  Fabens gave way to the excitement cast upon his
sensitive nature, and allowed himself little rest for a fortnight.
Each day was too brief to accomplish all he purposed.  He took long
rambles in the woods, sensing the sanctity of their venerable shade,
enjoying the views they spread to his gaze, and tasting the fragrance
of hemlock, birch, and pine, that floated to him in mingled odors.  All
he had heard was more than true.  The trees were noble beyond
description.  There were narrow openings and plains, in places, where
the sumac lifted its blood-red plumes, and bee-balm waved its crimson
blossoms; while generally the woods were dense and magnificent.

Through opening and thicket the wild deer bounded like forms of beauty
in a dream; squirrels were chattering, robins and thrushes were singing
in gladness and pride; and wild fowl were sporting in water and air.
he went out to the fallows, and they were covered with Indian corn, or
gilded with yellow stubble; with here and there a garden studded with
cool and lusty melons, almost bursting with delicious sweets.  He
descended the low valleys, and there, as on the hills, sprang
thickly-clustering bushes of large and melting blackberries, inviting
him to taste and enjoy.  He followed the courses of the creeks, and
found them teeming with trout and pickerel, as playful as the
scampering fawns, all mottled with gold and silver, and royal as the
peacock's plumes in the running changes of their lustre.  He stood on
the margin of the lake that lay placidly sleeping in the embrace of
hills; and the willow waved on its borders, and wild ducks and herons
wantoned on its breast.  The waters were so transparent he could count
the white pebbles and shells at the depth of thirty feet; and they were
pure and sweet as the dew that lay all night on the wild honeysuckles
and roses, which graced the upland plains.

There was the hunting-ground of the Indians, and wigwams dotted the
shore; while on its waters, floating and ducking like the wild fowl,
sported the Indian canoes.  He visited the rude homes of the settlers,
and was welcomed to each hearth with that rough and liberal
hospitality, which leaps from the soul of forest life.  Several of them
had known his father on the Hudson, and all were soon his heartiest
friends.  A frolic in the greenwood chase was proposed for every day in
two weeks to come; and gatherings and feasts were had without number.
All were near neighbors, though dwelling five miles apart; all carried
the spirit of the country, with the breath of its free air, and the
image of its woods and lakes in their hearts; and one flowing soul of
brotherhood was shared, while one ardent feeling of honest kindness,
and jocund spirit, bound them in a fellowship fast and warm.

The autumn passed; the winter came, and retired; and spring succeeded,
casting abroad her blooms and blessings; and the woodlands echoed with
music, and nature smiled like a garden gay.  And more sensible of
sights and influences of beauty, Fabens enjoyed the genial season with
new satisfaction, and determined that there should be his future home.
He bargained for a farm of a hundred acres, and commenced its
improvement, cutting the first tree with his own hands, and selecting,
on an opening he had made, the site for a log house.  On the approach
of summer, by a neighbor who returned to the Hudson, he sent his
parents the following letter:--


"DEAR FATHER AND MOTHER,--

"Mr. Wilson starts to-morrow for Cloverdale, and I take this
opportunity to write to you.  Of course, you will hear from him all
about me; but still it may gratify you to hear from me by letter.  I am
happy and well as I can be in a new home of promise without you.

"I have seen many happy hours, and some that were gloomy since I came
here.  Uncle Walter told the truth about this country; it is a land of
promise, handsome now in the state of nature.  But you know that he who
comes here must labor hard, and endure many privations, before he
succeeds as he desires.  God has blessed the Lake Country with a fine
soil and great advantages.  Still, as I expected, money does not grow
on the bushes here, nor are the softest couches gathered from the
ground.  Labor, honest, resolute labor alone can secure the objects of
good desire.  For this I am ready with a strong hand and an ardent
heart; and trusting in God to prosper me, I mean to have a home and
farm that I can call mine.  And while clearing a farm, and bringing
field after field to culture and beauty, will I not be clearing my
life, and bringing mind and heart to culture, fertility, light and
bloom?

"I know you would like it out here, and feel your young years rolling
back, and your hearts growing green again on the banks of the Cayuga.
The country is _very_ handsome.  The deer are so tame they will almost
eat out of my hand.  Fish and fowl are plenty.  Each homely cabin is
the shelter of large and hopeful hearts, and the Indians are all
kindness to the settlers.  O, when you can come and enter my home, will
we not take comfort?  My love to all.

"Your affectionate son,

  "M. FABENS."



III.

A BEAR HUNT.

Fabens was pleased with his neighbors, and warmly reciprocated the
interest they took in him.  There was old Moses Waldron, the first
settler, an out-and-out backwoodsman; smart with an axe, sure with a
gun, free with a bowl of metheglin, open in hospitality, and an enemy
only to owls, and blackbirds, wolves, thieves, tories and the British.
He chased the tories and redcoats in his dreams, and talked to himself
while walking alone awake.  The owls annoyed him sorely.  Not because
they killed his pretty chickens, but because there was so little of
them beside their feathers, and their eyes were so monstrous white and
large, and they had such a ghostly halloo.  Whenever he caught an owl's
hollow voice in ominous boomings from the woods, he stopped and cursed
him, and cried, "Ah hoo, hoo, ah hoo-ah; ah hoo, you pesky torment! if
I had you by the neck, I'd wring it for you, I'll warrant you I would,
ah-hoo-ah!"

Aunt Polly Waldron was a match for her husband; and while she was an
actual woman in chaste and single heart, in motherly loves, in the
tenderest sympathies and most unselfish feelings, she was a large,
square-shouldered and hard-handed woman; she could split oven-wood,
hunt bees, skin deer, and hoe corn; and she loved to tell "how she shot
a tory in the Revolution, who came while Moses was away in the wars,
and fired their barn, and took her best feather-bed out door and ripped
it, and scattered the feathers to the sky: how the tory whooped and
keeled as she dropped him, and how three other tories and an Indian
legged it like Jehu away."

Uncle Walter Mowry was younger by ten years than Mr. Waldron, and his
wife Huldah was five years younger than he, and they were specimens of
thrifty and noble, but uncultivated nature, such as we love to find in
the backwoods, and such as furnish materials for the richest and finest
city life.  Uncle Walter was of a medium stature, a well-moulded face,
and fair skin, and he was hardy as a bear and athletic as a panther.
There was never a farmer who kept cleaner fields, or handsomer
stake-and-rider fence than he; or had earlier corn, or a larger
woodpile; yet he did love a hunt more dearly than a venison pie; he
caught fish from pools where others received not a nibble; and he
enjoyed a leisure day, and a feast, and a fine story.

Aunt Huldah was a little swarthy woman, weighing only ninety pounds at
forty years of age; but she was free and generous, and all who had her
heart and its overflowing love, had all, and there was nothing left of
her.  She had the whitest linens, the clearest maple sugar, and the
smoothest and cleanest white maple floor in all the settlement; and she
loved scrubbing and scouring as well as Uncle Walter loved hunting.  A
stranger would have thought her a real firer of a scold; but she was
never in a passion; and Uncle Walter used to say, he found her the
best, if anything, when seeming to scold the hardest, and she had that
way of expressing her interest in him, and making her work go on more
briskly.

There were Thomas Teezle and his wife, who were valued acquisitions to
the settlement.  Thomas was stocky and muscular, frank, fearless and
free-hearted; and he kept a keen and ringing broad axe, and could hew a
beam or a sleeper as straight as a bee-line.

There were Jacob Flaxman and his wife Phoebe, and they were cousins;
and both had yellow hair and freckled faces; both weighed in one notch;
both sang in one song; both craved a fine farm and happy home, and were
prospered in their craving.

There was Abram Colwell, who gloried in never having cyphered beyond
the rule of three, or read any book but his almanac through; but who
was upright as an oak; shrewd as a black fox; hearty as a beaver, and
jocund as a jay.

And there was Bela Wilson, a farmer, a chairmaker, a shoemaker,
carpenter and blacksmith, all in one, as Uncle Walter declared; and
while he was close and exacting in a bargain, and stinted in his gifts,
he had many streaks of kindness, and added usefulness, honor, interest
and life to the settlement.

And among these people Fabens found pleasure and good fortune.  The
summer that followed the date of his letter, was warm and fruitful, and
he went forth clearing and planting with a forward heart; and when
September came, he looked back on his labors with pride, and felt a
sense of comfort and content, for the beginning he had made of a home.
By dint of extreme diligence he made a larger clearing in the spring
than he had hoped, and succeeded in planting it all to corn; and now in
the autumn, he had a wide field, bearing the promise of a bountiful
harvest.

But he had not expected increase without tax, nor joy without
annoyance.  His corn-hills supported a liberal yield of well-filled,
glistening ears; but foreign feeders that had not planted, nor hoed,
came in for a share of his abundance.

The bears invaded his cornfield, trampled down the stalks, devoured
much, and carried away more than he felt like sparing.  He consulted
his neighbors, and found that others were annoyed in the same way, and
all they could do, was to guard their fields as well as they could, and
hunt down and slay some of the ravening forest prowlers.

"We told you, Fabens, you'd have to come to that at last," said
Colwell.  "Wild beasts are thick as spatter around here; and you must
down with some of 'em.  It's no use to talk baby; you must kill the
critters, or they'll eat you out of house and home."

"But they have a right to live, and I haven't a heart to kill 'em,"
said Fabens.

"It does look kindy cruel to drag down a handsome buck and cut his
glossy throat; and see a harmless fawn spout blood, and strangle and
die; and I used to shut my eyes when I bit a pigeon's neck,[1] and took
little quails' heads off; but now I can do't without winkin'; and as
for them infarnal bears, I'd ruther kill 'em than to eat.  And you'll
have to kill 'em, if you want any corn."

"But I hate to see them hunted, and wounded, and killed, they suffer so
much."

"_Suffer?_--Suffer to be _killed!_--_Bears_ suffer to be killed?  By
hokey, they don't indeed!  Not they, they're used to it as eels are to
bein' skinned.  And haint you heern of the bear-hunt we're goin' to
have to-night?"

"No, I have not."

"Wal, make ready with your birch candle and your axe; and come over and
get my old queen's-arm musket, and go with us.  I tell you what, it's
no small fun to hunt bears.  We'll have a smart time, and finish off at
Waldrons's with a supper of bear's meat washed down with metheglin.
Come, none of your chicken feelins in this country.  You must kill and
quarter the wolves and bears."

"I suppose I must.  They are carrying away all my corn.  In whose field
do you meet?"

"In yourn, Fabens, if you'll jine us.  Come, we'll give your little
patch a sweepin."

"Well, I'll be with you.  They cannot suffer much if shot through the
head or heart; and I may as well begin a hunter's life killing bears
and wolves; but the deer I'll never trouble."

Arrangements were made for the bear hunt, and a bear hunt they had; and
all declared they were glad Fabens was along, for it gave him something
not to be found on the Hudson.  Torches were prepared, guns and axes
were ready, dogs and men assembled at an early hour, and Fabens,
Colwell, and Wilson were sent on a scout into the field to listen for
the ravagers, and give the signal of attack.  The full, bright moon
beamed down from the sky, and every movement had to be stealthy and low
to avoid alarm; and as Fabens crept into the field, and hid himself in
the hollow of a stump, and listened, his very heart frightened him, for
it beat so loudly, he waited in fear that it would alarm the bears, or
betray him into their clutches.  Beat, beat, went his heart; tang,
tang, went the insects; hoot, hoot, went the owls; and on, and on rode
the moon.  Again his flint was examined; again his tinder-box felt for,
and his torch fixed for lighting when it might be needed in the woods;
and his eager ear opened wider and wider to catch a rustling noise.

At last the corn rustled, and footfalls sounded faintly in his ear, and
Colwell crept up and whispered, "The bears are in! don't you hear 'em?
They're movin' this way.  There! hear 'em rattle the corn!--There,
there again, hear 'em snuffle and chank!"

"I hear something," said Fabens.

"That's 'um!  Old Bruin has come with his wife and children.  We'll
give 'em a belly full.  Stay here, Fabens, and I'll sly away, and start
up the company.  Hear that! and that!--they're snorters!  Slink down
into the stump; and if our comin' scares 'em, jump out and keep track a
little.  Don't be scart.  We'll be along in a jiffy, and nab the
varmints."

Colwell crept away, and exchanged a word with Wilson, and then stole
off to rally the company.  But Fabens began to shudder in his
sentry-box.  He had grown to be quite a backwoodsman; he had taken the
strength and courage of the wild forest life; he was usually calm and
self-possessed; but here was a new venture entirely, and while beat,
beat, went his heart in rising alarm, the loud and louder rattle of the
corn informed him of the closer coming of the animals.  Now he hears
them tear off an ear!  Now they craunch it, and crowd snuffling along
through the corn-hills!  Now they cough, and his wildest fears are up;
and now they breathe in hearing, and move as if for the place of his
concealment, strip down a stalk, and rend off an ear, as he thinks,
where Colwell just lay!

What shall he do?  If he stirs, they may grasp him.  If he remains,
they will surely scent him out, and take him.  O, terrible moment!
Where in the world are the company, that they do not run to his relief?
His hair stands on end, lifting his hat so high, the bears _must_ see
him now!--Shall he rise and shoot?  He would be likely to miss, he is
so awkward with a gun.  Why did he consent to lie there?  Why don't
they come, as they said they would?--There! there! a step nearer, and
the grate of their teeth sets him shivering!  Now, now he must
die!--Must he not? or what other sound is that more distant?
Footsteps--a whisper, and--they come, they come! and away jump the
bears, and away with dogs, axes, guns, and torches after them go the
men of the hunt!

"Now, Fabens, up and away; the fun's afoot, the fun's afoot!" cried
Colwell.

"Yes; but _such_ fun!" faltered Fabens.

"Come on, come on!  Mr. Bruin and his cubs shall have a good visit at
their home!" cried Wilson.

"Nothing could be more in the nick of time!" cried Uncle Walter.

"We git 'em now!" said the Indians.

"Seek 'em, Bose! seek 'em, Spanker! seek 'em Nig! seek 'em, Watch!"
shouted Flaxman; and with flaring lights, and clatter, and howl, and
laugh, and halloo, away they pursued the bounding game.  Now they take
the woods.  Now the bears rush down the hill, cross the stream, run in
the gully, and race away; and dogs and men follow close and closer on
their track.  Now they worry up a difficult bank, and scuttle and
wheeze away, away.  But the dogs gain upon them; the torches alarm
them; the ground is not safe, and they climb the trees, as the hunters
all wish, and seek concealment in the shadow of closely covering leaves.

"Up a tree, be you, Mr. Bruin, eh?" cried Colwell.

"What can you do now?" asked Fabens.

"Down with the tree!" shouted Flaxman.

"No, let me see if I can't fetch the fellow with my old gun," cried
Uncle Walter.  "I reckon I can reach him.  I've picked bears out of
taller trees than that."

"What's there?" shouted Flaxman.  "There's two on 'em treed.  See the
dogs tear away at the foot of yon maple!  Let's slash down the trees,
and give the dogs a little more fun.  Old Spank's ready to jump out of
his skin, he's so fairse.  And see Nig on his hind legs, and Watch jump
up and nip the bark from the tree.  Down with them, and give the dogs a
little more fun."

"No, no; I'll see first if I can't tickle 'em with quicker fun," said
Uncle Walter; and all agreed that he should give a try.  So the torches
were held away, that they might not blind him; and clear eyes searched
to spy them by a few broken beams of the moon.

"You'll have to cut the trees, or give 'em up," shouted Flaxman.

"It's dark as Egypt up in them thick leaves," said Colwell.  "Skin your
keenest eye, Uncle Walt, and then I guess you won't spy your game."

"Hold, boys! hold on, hold on!" cried Uncle Walter.  "I spy one!  Here,
Colwell! you see that big limb, don't you? run a sharp look up that,
and tell us what that black bunch is, eh?"

"'S a bear, 's a bear, give him gowdy!" cried Colwell; and Uncle Walter
laid his best eye on his old queen's-arm, and fired.  Rustle, rustle,
went the leaves; a limb snapped; a growl exploded; a rattling wheeze
ran shuddering on the still air; a shower of bark, scratched front the
tree, clattered down on the leaves; and then a groan--then
thrash--bound came a bear against the earth; and a torch at his nose
gave Uncle Walter to cry, "Dead--he's dead's a nit!  Now, Miss Moon,
hang your lantern in t'other tree, and I'll bring down Bruin's wife to
sleep by his side, I will."

"No, you've had fun enough for one night, Uncle Walt, and now let
Fabens try," said Colwell.

The gun was re-loaded, and soon the moonlight through the leaves
betrayed the other bear; and after a little hesitation, Fabens took aim
and fired.  But his hand shook, and his shot was lost in the air; and
Uncle Walter fired, and snap--crash--bound--came the other bear.  The
dogs rushed upon her, and flew back in full shriek.  Then Fabens showed
courage, and made up to her, before knowing the danger, and the wounded
bear uttered a horrible growl, and gave him chase!

Terror was up in a moment, and leaped from heart to heart.  Away
bounded Fabens, and closely on his heels bounded the grim and
open-mouthed bear.  Over a rock he leaped, round a tree he ran, and the
bear bounded after.  Then came dogs and men, and were repulsed with
shrieks and ejaculations.  Then they renewed the attack; and as old
Spanker caught her by the leg, and she turned upon the dog in fury,
Colwell put a ball through her head, and the fearful chase was over.

"A narrow squeak for you, Fabens," said Wilson, "a very narrow squeak."

"Too narrow, I declare," said Uncle Walter.  "I cannot stand that, I
must set down.  I thought Matthew was a gonner, and the fright takes
the tuck out o' my old knees."

"I never was so scart afore," said Flaxman; and, "You'll not call me
fool, if I sit down too," said Fabens, with white lips.  "I am not used
to this as you are.  It is too rough, too rough for a new settler;" and
down he threw himself by Uncle Walter; while the others, declaring two
were enough for that night, gathered up the guns and axes, and, when
the bears were dressed and hung up on trees, the company left the
woods, declaring they would have a grand feast, and pay Fabens for his
fright, if he would meet them at Mr. Waldron's the next evening.

Recovering a little from his fainting terror, Fabens joined their
conversation, as they returned to their homes; and long before his eyes
found the first wink of sleep, his mind wandered in perilous
adventures, and in pleasant and unpleasant thoughts of the wild forest
life.  He would attend the supper at Mr. Waldron's; he would try to
contribute his share of talk and enjoyment; but on another bear-hunt he
resolved never to go.



[1] A barbarous way of killing pigeons caught in a net.



IV.

A FEAST AND A STORY.

Morning returned; the day rolled away; and the appointed evening found
the hunting party at Mr. Waldron's, and the sweet metheglin went round
in flowing bowls; and all were jovial and ready with talk, and wit, and
glee.  The table was spread with luxuries.  The savory viands smoked
from multiplied motherly platters; and there were Indian bread, potato
and turnip sauce, cranberry and wild plum sauce, a stack of wild honey
in the snow-white comb, and cakes and pumpkin pies.

The bear's meat was discussed with fairness and spirit, and pronounced
right fat and fine; and the supper, washed down before and after with
metheglin of Aunt Polly's happiest mix, was taken with good relish.

"You get nothing better'n this on the Hudson, I reckon," said Uncle
Walter to Fabens.  "Give me a new country after all for elbow-room, a
sharp appetite and a good pick o' game.  I guess the Major wouldn't
loathe such a bite as this."

"Aunt Polly for a supper of bear's meat, I say," added Colwell.

"Aunt Polly for the fixins too," added Wilson.

"Such fixins don't come afore every gang o' hungry hunters," added
Flaxman.  "Is't sage, or savory sprinkled on this meat?  This plum
sauce don't cly my appetite a bit; nor these fried scutlets; and I love
to gnash my shovel-teeth on a clean comb o' honey; and honey, they say,
is healin'."

"If you eat any more honey, Flaxman," said Wilson, "Uncle Mose 'll have
to take you up.  He'll make more'n he would to take up a bee-hive.  But
did ever anybody else get up a lusciouser pumpkin-pie?  Aunt Polly
always makes 'em deep enough to swim in; and she don't spare the maple
sugar at all, nor the ginger, nor the shortnin' in the crust.  And she
crimps the edges so curious."

"How do _you_ like a batin' like this, Fabens?" asked Colwell.  "What
makes you so mum? aint home-sick, be you?"

"I like it well, I assure you.  I didn't think bear's meat was so
fine," answered Fabens.  "I am not homesick; I was just thinking how
she chased me, and how narrowly I escaped."

"It was much as ever," said Teezle, "much as ever that the critter
didn't mutton you.  She skipped like a painter, and whet up her teeth
for a whalin' bite.  But don't think on it now.  Here, who'll tell a
good story, and cheer up Fabens a little?  Uncle Walt, tell one of your
painter stories.  That 'll wean him of his fright."

"O, yes, tell a painter story," said Colwell.

"Yes, that's the thing," added Wilson.

"Fabens's run was only a jolly game o' gool, compared with your pull
and squeeze with a painter," added Mr. Waldron.

"The one on the tree, that watched me half a day, cat-fashion? or the
one that dogged me through the Owasco woods? or the one that chased me
home to the chips?" asked Uncle Walter.

"Any one will answer to wean Fabens of his fright," said Teezle.

"Well, I'll tell the first that comes up in my mind," said Uncle
Walter, "and may be another one still will come.  Another bowl of
metheglin, and then for the story."  He took the metheglin and began.
"It was the second year after we come here, and a day in November: the
day after I finished husking.  Huldah reckoned a wild turkey wouldn't
go with a bad relish, and so I shouldered the old gun in the morning,
and letting Bose follow slyly along behind, I put away out into the
woods.  I killed three or four pigeons, and a squirrel, and snipe; but
on and on, and round, I ranged, afore I could get a single crack at a
turkey.  But a flock flew up at last, and one proud old Tom taking a
tall maple in sight, and swinging his red gorget as if to dare a shot,
I fired, and plump he come to the ground, while the rest flew away.

"Well, after all, this aint bad doings, thought I, and shouldered my
game on my gun, and set my sails for home.  I got a little puzzled
about the pint o' compass; still I thought I was right, and putting
ahead pretty good shin; when all at once Bose howled out, and the
leaves rattled, and the ground rumbled, and up a shagbark walnut leapt
a yellow painter like a cat, making the bark all fly again, and dashing
her way to the tiptop limb o' the tree.  Thinks I, my fellow, you
wouldn't be very small game, and your yellow jacket wouldn't be bad for
a winter wescot; so I took a close, quick aim and fired.  Down tumbled
the painter, with a hole through her liver 'n lights, and no time to
breathe her last.  It was a she painter, and I stripped off her hide in
a hurry, slung it on my shoulder, and budged on again, as I reckoned,
towards home.

"It was getting well on to night, and as it grew darkish in the woods,
and the pint o' compass still pestered me, and I didn't know but my old
head had got backside to, I confess I begun to feel a little skittish,
and throwed away all my game but the turkey and painter skin, to
lighten my load, and took a spryer step through the staddles.  It
wasn't the best o' walking, for logs were thick, and the grape-vines
tript me some; and I had to nod and squirl for the staddles and limbs.
I went, I should reckon, about three miles from where I shot and
skinned the painter, and the last half-mile was clearer of logs and
underwood; and let in a flash of sunshine now and then, and I thought I
was coming to an opening.

"All at once I heard a halloo, and hauled up, and listened.  I heard it
again more distinct, and it sounded sharper 'n a halloo, and yet I
reckoned somebody was calling.  I bellowed back an answer, and an
answer flew back like a woman calling.  It was closer by than at first,
and it trembled, and swelled in the screeching echo.  I reckoned surely
I warn't fur from home, and it was Huldah after me, calling.  Away I
shouted again; and back flew an answer full scream, and now it was a
good 'eal nearer.  It couldn't be Huldah.  It sounded a little like her
voice, but it screamed sharper than she ever did in a call or a scold.
Louder, and sharper, and nearer come another singe-er of a scream, and
I knew in a trice what it was.  It was a painter; and the mate of the
one I had killed!

"I thought of my gun, but I hadn't re-loaded.  I felt for aminition,
and there was only one single charge left!  Scream--yell, come the
sound oftener and nearer, and there I was, as you may say, a-most
destitute of all means of battle.  I turned cold all over, and my hair
stood up like a hedgehog's.  But not a second was to be lost; for the
scream shook the staddles, and rung and rolled.  So I loaded my gun
with the last little charge, and legged it like Jehu, as Aunt Polly
says, for several rods; then throwed down my game and jumped as fur as
I could any way spring out sideways from my track; and a few jumps took
me about six rods from my painter skin and turkey; and there I waited
on my last legs, with my gun cocked, and butcher-knife slung, and Bose
at my feet for a battle.

"The sun was just sliding down west o' my aim; so I had the advantage
of all the light there was, and a big sugar-maple for a cover and rest.
It was all done in a jiffy, while yell-ety-yell, scream-ety-scream come
the sound, and the wild old woods rung again, and shuddered and shook
with the echo!  A thousand thoughts darted through my head as if
lightning had chased 'em.  I thought of poor Huldah; how she would
feel, and what she would do, and what would become of her, away off
here in the wilderness, if I was killed.  I thought of her, and wanted
to see her, and bid her good-bye at least; and would a give money for
that little comfort.

"But scream-ety-scream come the sound, and my flesh crawled all over as
if in a nightmare, and I sweat like rain.  Now the scream was
continual, and I heard every bound the fury made!  Now it stopped.  It
was back only half a mile, where I throwed down my squirrel and birds!
Two minutes more would bring him afore me;--yes, one,--for on he
bounded and yelled more dreadful than ever; and Bose cuddled closer to
my feet, and brustled up his hair all over; showed me his sharp teeth
were in, and give a look that said, 'Keep your gun ready, and I'll nab
him as quick as you fire.'

"Them last yells fairly crazed me from top to toe, with courage; and
now he jumped in full sight--over logs and through bushes, with head
down, snuffing close on my track!  Leap-ety-leap, he bounced to the
skin and turkey; and O, such fiery eyes as then glared and blazed! and
such yells as he give!  Then up started the hair on his ridgy back, and
thrash, thrash, to and fro, like a mad cat's, throbbed his tail! and he
snuffed for my track again.  I raised my old gun, and partly getting
the scent, he turned his head upwards, and his eyes flashed fire in my
face!  But afore he could spring on me, I plumped a charge into his
face and eyes, and dropped him, as Aunt Polly did the tory.  Then Bose
made a lunge on the critter; but he warn't dead yet, and in they
grappled for life or death!  Then dog's hair and painter's hair flew
like flax in the brake, I tell you.  And then there was growling and
craunching, I reckon.  I see Bose was going to be worsted, and I closed
in to give him a lift.  My sleeves were scratched off in a jiffy, and
the skin striddled from my arms.  And such flashes of fire from them
blazing eyes, and such a growl as I got for my pains!  I jumped back
behind a tree; the painter jumped after me, and just missed my legs,
tearing away my old leather breeches from the knees, where I patched
'em with a stocking the day afore.  Then Bose sprung on the painter,
and I closed in again; and just as the beast made for a bigger bite of
me, as luck would have it, I stuck my old butcher-knife through his
heart, and he fell down dead on my feet.

"When that was done, and I was safe, I felt pale, you may depend!  I
set down, and poor Bose laid his bloody head in my lap, and licked my
hands, and whined for joy; and I was so thankful to the old fellow, I
kissed him, I did, and cried like a baby.

"But it was getting dark, and more painters might come, or a pack of
howling wolves be on me; so taking only my turkey and gun, I drawed a
bee line homeward.  I went about a mile, and heard wolves howl a good
ways off; but now I knew I was pretty near home, and my fears left me;
while soon my log shanty hove in sight, and Huldah met me on the edge
of the clearing, and said, 'I begun to be concerned about you.  What!
only one turkey?  Well, that is better'n none.  The chores are all
done, and supper is waiting.'"

"That was a narrow escape, indeed," said Fabens.

"That makes your bear-chase a clever game o' tag," said Wilson.

"That's a good ending for a hunting-feast," said Mr. Waldron; and the
company drew back from the table, and thanking Aunt Polly for her fine
supper, they all went away to their homes.



V.

JULIA WILMER.

A delightful ride of a single day, and most of the distance on the
rail-way, will carry us now through a grand succession of waving
harvests and verdant woods, of swarming hamlets and splendid towns,
from the Cayuga to the Hudson, and set us down in Cloverdale, whose
lovely homes nestle like a brood of milk-white doves in the covert of
the Rensselaer hills.  And then performing a journey of thought a
little more rapid and long, we return to the time of our story,
recalling the year and season, and admit another character to our scene.

We find it a pleasant afternoon for a walk.  The blue Indian summer
opens blandly around, and imbibing beauty and gladness through every
sense and pore, we walk a good while, and then turn our steps to the
mansion of the Masons; enjoy a free talk and a cozy cup of tea, and get
a glance at Julia Wilmer.

The Masons have a lower and narrower mansion than they mean to have in
a very few years; and their family grows, and crowds it too much; but
it has a neat appearance, and the elms and maples in front, and the
apples and peaches on the sides and rear, give it pleasant shades and
delicious comforts.  And the moral and mental scenery within, has many
lights, and verdures and fruits.

The Masons are very good people.  They are honest and industrious; they
often relieve distress; and they have a few fine volumes on the dresser
that most of them know by heart.  The principal fault that any one
finds with the Masons is, that they are too exacting in a bargain, too
grasping for money and lands, and expect and demand, too much of their
servants.

Julia Wilmer loves them, for they took her when an orphan, gave her a
comfortable home, and reared her to womanhood with virtue, intelligence
and hope.

And we see that Julia carries a crimson face, and smiling look;
although she stoops considerably, and her long arms and loping gait,
make her appear to many, ungainly; she is ruddy as a rareripe peach,
and smiles from her forehead and eyes, and face and mouth.

But a feeling of sadness agitates our heart as we glance at Julia's
history.  Orphanage presents, in the brightest relief, one of the
saddest sights that our weeping eyes behold; and hers was especially
sad.  Her father, mother and two sisters were all carried off to the
grave in the space of one week, which she was spending abroad with a
poor relative; and she was left without the comfort of a parting word
or kiss, and cast upon the world at a tender and almost helpless age,
with no provision for her welfare.  Her poor sobbing heart came well
nigh breaking, and though her pitiful condition, and her sweet and
attracting manners, ensured her much sympathy, and many friends; yet
none could think to offer her a home, and take the place of her family,
but the Masons, of whom we speak.  They took her home at last, and gave
her shelter from the storms.  They engaged to rear her to womanhood,
and shield her from harm and need.  They were always kind to her, and
she never received a harsh word or look from them.  They cultured her
fine sense, and gave her a knowledge of books and things.  They trained
her against deceptions.  They gave her entire person, the reason, the
will, affections and form, as finished an education, as one often found
at that day among intelligent farmers.

And yet they did not do right by Julia.  She was large of her age, and
all the more tender for being large; and they tasked her too severely,
and exacted too much of her.  She performed boy's work too often; she
was dropping potatoes or pulling weeds, or spreading hay in the field,
when she ought to have been sewing or doing house-work; she milked too
many cows; she carried too many pails of sap in the sugar bush; she
gleaned too much wheat; she sewed on hard sewing too long at a time;
she spun too much wool and flax, and turned too many cheeses.  The
consequence was, that while she retained much of a superabundant
cheerfulness, she was stoop-shouldered, and looked narrow over the
chest; her form was less elastic, and her hands were hard and homely.

But if Matthew Fabens had searched the wide world over, he would not
have found a better bride than she.  He had known her from a child, and
could well appreciate her intelligence and worth.  He chose her in a
love, whose affiance was sanctioned in heaven; and after three years'
absence in the Lake Country, he and Julia met again at his father's
house.

The joy of that home, at that meeting, you may well imagine, was hearty
and high.  The young people feared it was too much to enjoy long.  The
old people wept and smiled, and pressed and fondled their son in
childish delight, and asked if it could be he, or did they not dream?
and how he had been, and if he still set his heart on his western home.
They rejoiced till midnight, and hurried each other with questions, and
wearied each other with talk.

"It looks pleasant as ever in Cloverdale," said Matthew.  "Home is
home, after all.  The old hills looked so good, I wanted to kiss 'em,
when they hove in sight.  Nothing appears altered; the old church looks
good as ever; and the old elm-tree seemed to know me, and welcome me
back with its waving limbs; and the house here--every room is just as I
left it; and the water from the well tastes as cold and sweet; and I
cannot see but you all look about as you did, when I went away.  I knew
father would hold his age; but I expected mother would look a little
older.  Julia, if she's altered at all, her hair is more of a chestnut,
her cheeks are rounder, and a little more ruddy, and she is straighter
than she was.  But none of you can tell how I feel to see you all once
more, and sit down under this old roof again.  Home is home, after all!"

"You'll hate to go back again, won't you, Matthew?" asked Major Fabens.

"I shall grieve to leave you and mother again, but I am not quite ready
to have you go on with me this time.  I want to do more to my farm; I
want to build an addition to my log-house for you, and prepare a little
more to make you comfortable.  Yes, I shall always feel sad to leave
Cloverdale, though I like the Waldron Settlement quite as well."

"Think you can get a living, and build up a manhood there then, do you?"

"A good living, I am sure I can get; I hope I may build up a manhood.
I like the country well; it is a rich soil, and very easy to cultivate.
My cornfield is as mellow as a bed of ashes this year; I had a fine
field of red-chaff wheat, with full heads, a plump berry, and straw as
bright as a dollar; and I wish I could have brought down some of my big
pumpkins and melons."

"I think I shall like it pretty well, if I live to get there; I love a
new country; it gives you more space to breathe in.  The air is
sweeter, the woods are grander, the grass is greener, crops are more
perfect, neighbors are freer-hearted, and a man prospers faster there.
You have good neighbors, and I hear that you have some good times in
the settlement.  Think you will like a home in the wild, wild woods,
Julia?"

"I think I shall.  Cousin John lives where it is quite new, and I am
delighted to go there.  I know I shall like it on the Cayuga.  I will
be in my joy, setting my table for a hunting party, or a harvest feast."

"I know you will all like it, and when we all get there, if Heaven
smiles, my joy will be complete."

They retired, and attempted to sleep; the morning came, and Matthew
rose and completed the circuit of his calls and visits.  A week flew
away, and his visiting was done, and Julia Wilmer was Julia Fabens, and
with the blessings of fond parents, they departed for their far forest
home.

The journey was long and difficult for Julia to undertake.  They could
not then journey as now, on the rapid railway, winding green valleys,
ascending great hills, and gliding through cities and towns, with as
gentle a whirl, and as jocund a clack as if spinning skeins of silk.
They mounted the tardy wagon, and rattled and jounced along behind a
loitering team.  But Julia had fortitude and spirit, to meet fatigues
and discouragements bravely.  Her early experience now furnished the
fruits that could most refresh her heart; the fruits of courage, hope,
and self-assistance.  She expected the journey of life would not always
be smooth, and she hoped it would not have more to buffet her joy, or
jostle, or weary, than the road to the Waldron Settlement.

They came to the land of lakes.  Emerging from a dense forest, on the
last morning of the journey, they welcomed the light of an opening, and
the sweet Skaneateles glowed upon their eyes.  They were moving along
its foot, and it glimmered and waved like a lake of quicksilver, in
reply to the smiles of a splendid sky.

"Is this your Cayuga?  How lovely!--What! are we in the settlement so
soon?" asked Julia, with joy flashing from her eyes, and hope
rekindling on her cheeks.

"No, we are near the settlement," said Matthew.  "This is the
Skaneateles.  Have courage, my dear.  I have brought you over a long,
rough way.  You are weary, I know, but have courage now.  We shall
reach home to-night."

They refreshed themselves with luncheon from their basket, and cool,
sweet water from the lake, and rode on a few hours longer, and another
lake saluted them with a bright smile of welcome.

"Then, this is your Cayuga?"

"No, this is the Owasco; but we have not far to go.  Cheer up, Julia,
cheer up, now, and prepare your dainty eyes for a peep at the loveliest
Eden."

They rode awhile longer, and another lake burst in beauty on their
gaze.  "I know that is it, and here we come to the settlement.  I
declare it is a lovely spot, worth coming to see!  What waters, and
woods, and fields!  I shall love this place, I know I shall.  Ho! there
comes Uncle Walter to meet us now!"

And Uncle Walter was followed by Aunt Huldah, and Matthew and Julia
were heartily shaken, questioned and kissed, and led into the house,
and served to hospitalities, that would flatter and refresh the
proudest mortal's heart.



VI.

THE NEW HOME AND SETTLEMENT.

Matthew and Julia rose in the morning and went into their new home.  It
was a great change for Julia, and nothing but contrasts reminded her of
her home at Mr. Mason's.  But somehow it suited her heart the moment
she entered its doorway, and she took charge of its interests with
pride and joy; and hours, and days, and weeks, and months, and years
passed by with a much more rapid flight than before she was a bride.

And following the steps of Time through a few more rounds of his race,
and omitting to note the common events that rise up on the way, we will
now pause at a new stage of action, and attempt to recall the scenes.
The house remains yet before us, the same as when Julia first saw it,
except that a small addition has been built and furnished; a partition
takes off a bedroom from one end, and another window has been cut and
set in the chamber.  It is a handsome log house as one would find in
all the Waldron Settlement.  It is long and wide.  The logs are hewn on
the inside; it has a white maple floor below, and a white basswood
floor above; it has a large open fireplace, and a stick chimney,
through which, as through a telescope, the stars may be counted at
night; and, whitewashed above and around, it presents a neat and
pleasant appearance.

The house stands on an eminence which overlooks nearly every field on
the farm, and admits you to sights as distant as the blue mountain
fringes lifted away beyond Ithaca in the south.  There are maples,
ashes, and elms in the door-yard; there is a beautiful garden on the
east, and a cool and delightful spring of water on the west.  There is
a log barn, thatched with straw, on the right; and barracks for wheat
and hay, and cribs for corn, on the left.  There is already a fine
meadow of timothy, with white-ash shade trees, waving on the north; a
pasture beyond the garden on the east, and a wheat-field on the south.
Then a cornfield greets you west, and your eyes enjoy the scene.

Around this lovely spot, the distance of a field on either side of the
house, the woods still wave their crowns of majesty, and hide the
Owasco, and most of the Cayuga from view.

As master of this little rural domain, you behold Matthew Fabens, now
grown to ample manhood; and he would make a fine bust for Powers to cut
in marble.  He stands six feet one without his shoes; he is straight as
the white-ash shade tree that honors the north meadow; and his body,
and arms, and legs, are round, and hard, and clean.  He has a fine
turned head, deficient most in caution; high in benevolence,
veneration, and conscientiousness; and full in the regions that show he
can construct his own implements and comforts; arrange his farm with
order and taste; estimate values at a glance, and cast up accounts
without a slate and pencil.  He has a fine turned Roman nose of the
cleanest and fairest skin; he has a well-shaped ear, rounded, and
separate at the bottom from the head; he has brown hair, and dark gray
eyes; he has a noble face and brilliant countenance; he has teeth
standing straight, and square and separate, and though they never were
brushed, they glisten with the cleanest and smoothest ivory polish; he
has a good-sized mouth, not too compressed, like a skin-flint's, nor
too open or lax like a fool's.  He has a chin, throat, and chest,
showing energy of soul and body combined; and if twenty years older, he
would do fine honors to a president's chair.

Yonder, in the garden, arranging beds for winter vegetables, and
tending a few simple flowers, you behold Julia Fabens, and she has
quite outgrown the bend in her good form, which hard work brought on at
Mason's, and looks more mature, and hardy; and she is diligent as a
parent robin, and rosy and glad as the sweet summer morn.

Wiping the sweat from their frank foreheads and faces, there in the
cool, fresh current of air, sit Major Fabens and his venerable wife,
come on to this new country to draw freer breath, taste fairer fruit,
see greener thrift, and make a good son happy; and they are just
returned from a ramble by the lake.

Out near the well curb, toward the green maple on the right, plays our
loved little Clinton, the plump and laughing idol of the place; tossing
his ball out of sight into that cluster of golden mullens, and then
scampering full tilt after the broods of young chickens and turkeys
that peep about the door.  Clinton is a promising boy, and the worst of
it is, he begins to find it out.  But everybody likes him.  He has most
of his father's look, with his mother's force and caution added, he
laughs all over his cunning little face; his yellow locks crinkle all
over his head; and his hands are so soft, and his neck so fat and
clean, you love to catch him to your heart, and hug him, and chuckle
beneath his chin, and carry away his sweetest strawberry kisses.

And stretched on the grass-plat before the door, sleeps the good dog
Jowler; shaggy and rough as a wolf; yet faithful and kind; resting from
a range in the woods, and dreaming of squirrels and coons.

Look around you a little, and tell us where is a handsomer spot!  True,
it has not the ornament and regularity of an old estate.  Handsome
buildings, and the smoothest meadow-lands are nowhere to be seen.  The
stir and strife of a village are not here, nor the signs of ancient
opulence, except what Nature boasts; nor the voice of cultivated music.
But walk about, and view the scene.

The woods are arrayed in all their pomp and splendor; the fields have
the warmest and richest light to kindle their royal verdures; along the
trails, and in every little tract of sunshine, the flowers of the
forest hold forth their sweet and modest blooms; and while birds of
every wing and song, continue their full concert from twilight to
twilight, you may hear, if you listen, the chime of the cheering
cowbell, made mellow by the distance, wakening the music of contentment
in the heart, tolling the steps of the tripping hours, and sounding the
notes of rural bliss.

We set out in company to visit the settlers, and the birds salute us on
our way, and the air comes cool and fragrant to our lips.  We pause and
survey the sugar camp, and a herd of fleet deer caper by, leading a
troop of frolicking fawns, and seeming to send back the word, "see our
darlings."  Casting your eyes aloft to the top of that tall maple, you
discover a bee tree, and behold numberless diligent little beings going
and coming on the business of a miniature state.  Then you hear the
chip-squirrels chirrup, and the red squirrels mock; then the hen-hawks
chatter and shriek in the air, and the crows caw and clamor; the
thrushes and swamp robins bandy their boasts in challenges of music;
the blue jay gossips, and the cuckoo cries.

"Whose cabin is this?" do you inquire?  Tilly Troffater's.  A
swaggering, boisterous little body too, is he, and his legs are short
and bandy, as you have seen a creeper cockerel's: he has one eye black
and one eye blue, and both are glazed and dull as the knobs on earthen
tea-pot covers.  His ears are round, and stick forward like a weasel's;
his form is square and supple, and he stands more than perpendicular.
Ready and sharp is he for a joke, cold and unfeeling in manner, and
troublesome as the varlet blackbirds that sit on a tree and gabble and
moot, while other birds give you music.

There sits his wife, milking the late-found cow.  She has a ludicrous
look.  An old rag of linsey-woolsey hugs her spindle form; her teeth
are shovels, and cleave down her nether lip; her eyes catch every point
of the compass across each other's glance; her forehead is low, her
hair, a smoky white, and her voice, now flat, now treble, and now
sharp.  But a kinder, or more guileless heart never warmed a human
breast, than that which lies in Dinah Troffater's; and whoever were in
fault regarding her strange looks, they cannot criminate her as
accessary.  She milks the cow, and yonder come leaping like vagrant
foxes, her half-wild children, with a few dry sticks for the cabin fire.

Going on two miles farther, we come to Mr. Waldron's, and find him
nestled quietly under a hill in his double log-house, with a view of
the lake on the west, and with comforts all around him.  We find Aunt
Polly too, and she lays down her distaff, welcomes us in, tells us a
story of the backwoods, and gives us a taste of her new metheglin.

Then we come to Uncle Walter Mowry's, and hear he is off on a hunt in
the woods, while Aunt Huldah excuses the soap and sand on her hands,
and welcomes us in with joy.

Then we give Teezle a visit; then we see Wilson, and enter the shop on
the stream, where he makes chairs, shoes, and carpenter-work on a rainy
day; and he reminds us of the bear hunt.  Then we see Flaxman, and hear
him and Phoebe sing the same old nasal song, and observe their thrift
and comfort.  Then we visit Colwell, and the wives and children of all
greet us with kindness, and a frank good-will in all their words and
looks.  Upon every heart among them, excepting the heart of Troffater,
fraternity, courage and hope, luxuriate in harvests as rank and rich,
as the woods and fields around; and through their clear eyes, we can
see the honest thoughts of their free and guileless souls, as we see
the shells and pebbles through the waters of the lake.

We find it a goodly settlement, and you can picture in your mind the
happiness Fabens enjoys, as he brings each new acre to the harrow, and
reaps the rewards of his manly toils.  You remain a whole month in his
hospitable home.

You miss many comforts and luxuries, found in country and town, at the
present day.  You remark the absence of all outward polish and
ornament, which get names for refinement in established society.  There
are no capacious parlors, or splendid lamps to attract you; no sofas
but moss-cushioned logs in the woods; no ottomans unless a green bank
of wood-grass will serve you, and neither harp nor piano but the
distaff and wheel.  All is simple; all is arranged for convenience and
comfort, as new homes in the backwoods ever are found; and to you it
may seem odd enough to live so.

You may fancy how simple a lad from this region would appear as he
might pass your city streets, with his long arms and loping gait;
reading signs and staring at all the city wonders.  You may fancy the
backwoods maiden would look verdant and soft in her rustic frock and
clumsy calf-skin shoes, leaning well to her way as she walked, and
seeming to devour all city sights and sounds.  But think you, they have
not drank great spirit and beautiful sense from the breasts of Nature?
Is it nothing that the backwoods boy lies down in clover meadows, and
rambles in maple woods, and hears the bobolink and swamp robin sing;
starts at the sound of Logan's cuckoo, and imitates her lay?

And is it less that the backwoods maiden spins flax and wool; makes the
fields and woods her flower garden; washes the freckles from her face
in Aurora's rosiest dew; romps like a wild doe in the valleys; brings
apples from the orchard, and berries from the hills; and like Lavinia,
gleans Palemon's fields?

But your heart imbibes the lovely simplicity; your voice falls into
tune with voices around you; and more and more do you love that rural
little home, and all its verdant views.

Happier and purer are you made by the wise words of Major Fabens and
his wife.  Kindly and more free-hearted you grow in the sphere of Julia
Fabens, whose innocent, womanly nature breathes in unison with all that
is joyful and pure; whose presence is the life and smile of the place.
If you have in your soul one sympathy that takes to children, you must
also love that rosy miniature Fabens, the idolized Clinton, as he vies
in his sports with the birds and squirrels; gives chase to butterflies
and bees; and races around the house drawing smiles on his antics;
darting from sight now and then like a spirit, and making house, and
fields and woods resound with his merry warble and glee.

A month goes away so pleasantly, you conclude to spend the summer with
them; and a bright and blissful summer it is as your young heart has
ever enjoyed.  You cannot stand idle, despising labor.  You catch the
impulse of the place and people, and none are more ready than you for
tasks that test courage and strength, and make the warm sweat flood the
glowing face.  You are up and away in the morning before the
whippoorwill closes her song; and are breathing the fragrant air, and
enjoying the brisk exercise that gives the best sauce for breakfast.

You would hunt the stray cow, but you fear being lost, or devoured by
wild beasts.  You are out on the fallow as they prepare to burn it; and
you carry fire to a dozen brush heaps, while Fabens and his father fire
the rest; and behold, the flames meet together in a curtain, and run
and roar like the waves of a burning sea.

You count the ages of the trees by the rings on the stumps, and say,
here is a walnut that flourished with Washington; there is a maple of
Milton's age; and this old oak was a brave young tree when Columbus was
born.  This ring records a dry season, and that a wet season; this a
warm one, and that a cold.  What made this elm so stocky and firm and
high, and gave it such mighty roots and massive limbs?  It grew quite
alone on the hill, took the storm with the sunshine, and battled the
blast while others slept in peace.  What made this poplar so weakly?
It grew in the thicket, and was sheltered from sun and storm.  You see
in the trees fine types of human life.

You lead rosy Clinton on many a glad ramble.  Your strength increases,
and you assist in the labors of the field.  You plant corn and weed it;
and in that act you sow the seeds of energy and hope in your soul, and
weed it of vices and weakly shoots.  You cut down fireweeds and
thistles; and still dress your soul withal, more and more.  You set
deadfalls for corn-pulling squirrels; and entrap with the squirrels
your follies and fears.  You watch with a watering mouth the growing
melons and blackening berries; and find sweeter than all, the melons of
health, arid berries of rural bliss.

Through wood and through opening you wander free; are now on the lake
in a birchen canoe, and again on the shore in an Indian wigwam.  Your
time runs out at last, and you return to society with a lagging heart,
preferring the hale and cheery comforts of backwoods life, hard and
homely as are its labors, to a life where the multitude gather, and
Pride and Luxury rule, and Self seeks all honors, and Fashion stands a
god.  Your memory remains pictorial with the waters, fields and woods
of the Waldron Settlement; your dreams are illuminated with its lights
and verdures; and its pleasant times and seasons roll their rounds in
music through your mind.



VII.

A CAPTIVE.

Another year passes over our little wood-bordered world, and summer
again smiles on the settlement.  The achievements of labor are
exhibited in the progress of each new plantation, in the thrift,
comfort, and hope of each pleasant estate.  A few more families have
joined the neighborhood; a few more clearings are given to the area of
civilization; a few more homes and joys.  A new pledge of love is added
to the Fabens family, and a troop of blissful and tender interests
succeed.

The hanging woods flourish in full foliage.  Cowslips and pond-lilies
star the green marshes.  Wild strawberries, large, fragrant, and sweet,
redden all the knolls, crimson the horses' fetlocks, and cluster in the
corners of the fences.  Herd's grass and clover struggle into bloom
along the trails and wagon roads in the forest; and the native grasses
grow scattering and small.  Young orchards have shed their snowy
blossoms.  Corn is past its first hoeing; wheat approaches the ear;
flax holds up to the light and dew the bowls of its clear blue blooms.
Silver suckers and ruby mullets still linger in the inlets and
valley-streams.  The horns of the deer are in the velvet.  Fallows look
clean and mellow, as if ready now for the seed.  Signs of promise wave;
symbols of blessing bloom on all that gladdens the eye; and Fabens
thanks God both morning and night for the bounties of his love.

A morning of June tinges the reddening east with its first delicate
blushes, while the cold pale moon still rides on her lonely way.
Whippoorwills leave the neighboring boughs and retire to the heart of
the woodlands; and robins and bluebirds, and thrushes and sparrows, in
a grand hallelujah chorus, salute the sun on his flaming way.  The howl
of the wolf ceases; the voice of the water-fowl swells softly and sadly
from the lake; and the cowbell's chime, and house-dog's bark, make
harmony in the general song of Nature.  Foxes are home from their felon
excursions; squirrels are astir; deer are on the upland, feeding.
Mother Fabens abandons her pillow, and is out from the door, enjoying
her usual draught of sweet morning air.  The home of her son looks good
to her as any that the round world can show; and her heart warms with
joy as she gazes on all the signs of thrift around.

But what object is that which attracts her attention, just bursting
from the distant thicket?  The meadow is between them, enclosed on
three sides.  It moves toward her.  It enters the meadow from the
woods.  It is lithe as a fox; and the sun, just peering above the
tree-tops, reveals more and more of its beauty.  A felon fox it cannot
be, out at this bold hour in quest of poultry; nor a panther, nor a
wolf.  O!  We see now; it is a fairy fawn, looking innocent as a baby;
and its round sides are dappled as the trout and pickerel in the lake.
What a sight of the lovely!

She hastens into the house and calls to Matthew, now rising, and he is
out in a twinkling, back side of the meadow.  The gentle creature
observes him, and still is not afraid.  He approaches nearer, and the
fawn makes slowly for a corner, then, fearing captivity, it tries to
escape between the rails.  "Attempt that again, my beauty," says
Fabens, "and I'll have you in my arms."  Again goes its head between
the rails, and Fabens clasps it, struggling and panting like a captive
bird, to his breast, and bears it in triumph to Julia in the house.

"Beautiful creature!" "lovely lamb of the greenwood!" are the
exclamations that go round, as the family stand and view it.

"It has strayed from its dam," says one; and, "How it must feel at this
moment!"  "How soft and sleek its speckled coat!" adds another.  "And
how mild are its little eyes, and gentle as a sperit's," exclaims
Mother Fabens.

"Will they kill it?" do you inquire.  Kill it?  No!  How could they lay
a knife on that delicate throat?  Its tender looks would soften a heart
of stone, and insure its safety.  But what will they do with the
panting prisoner?  Not let it go!  Little Clinton would put in his
decided "No, no!" if they motioned to do such a thing.  See how he
dances and jabbers around it; touching its cool dewy nose with his
little fat palms, clasping its velvet neck, soothing it, kissing it,
and driving old Jowler out of the house, lest he may have a savage
heart, which he proudly disdains, and offer to bite the beauty.  A
darling prize is that trembling fawn, as ever graced a dwelling.  "And
we must keep it," say they all.  Some warm milk is offered it; but it
turns its head from the basin.  It is placed in a roofless corn-crib,
on a bed of hay, with food before it; and Fabens works briskly for half
a day, building a house for it.  The time now is of leas value, as no
crop is suffering, and he had designed a leisure day of this.  About
one o'clock the house is completed, and the lovely captive is removed
to its new home, as gently as you would lay a meek babe in its bed.

They sat down to dinner, and the fawn was the subject of all
conversation.  "It shall be Clinton's pet and playmate," said Julia;
"and it shall have a bell on its neck, and eat bread and berries
shortly out of his hand.  I wish little Fanny was big enough to notice
the pretty thing, and put her hand on it."

"Dear thing!" said Mother Fabens, "it would seem like my pet lamb, in
Cloverdale, and I should love it, myself, as I would a child, I'll
warrant.  But there, it does seem too hard to keep its nimble feet from
the wild woods, whore it was made to caper?"

"So I think," added the Major.  "I go for giving all their liberty.  I
would not keep a saucy squirrel shut up in a cage; it would be better
to kill it."

After a hasty dinner had been taken, they all went out again to see the
pretty captive, and found it lolling in the hot sun, and looking sad
and forlorn.  A fresh dish of milk was placed before it, and crumbs of
sweet Indian bread were offered, but it laid down its poor head on the
ground, and refused all food and comfort.  Fabens was melted to a tear
of pity by the sight.

"The poor thing is too sad to eat, I suppose," said he, "and longs for
a frolic in the forest."

"I would say, down with the bars, and let it away, if it was not
Clinton's," replied Julia.  "It looks really hard to see it shut up
here, when its very life is liberty.  But how can we spare it now?"

"See how meek and wishful it looks up to Clinton, when he pats and
strokes its neck," said Major Fabens.  "I'd like to have the pretty
fellow around well enough; but it is not right to keep it from the
woods.  There, it seems to sink into the ground as if all hope was gone
from its heart."

"The flies buzz about its milk, and bite its tender sides, and still it
don't mind 'em at all.  It is too hard to keep it, so there!" added
Matthew.

"But, wouldn't it be better for it to keep it with us, than let it go
into the dangerous woods to be killed?" asked Julia.

"We div it more to eat," said Clinton, "and I'll tum and seep with it,
and cuddle up to its back, and Dowler shan't touch it."

"Do what you think best," said Julia; "but I _should_ like to keep it
for Clinton!"

"But how should we like to be in its place?" asked Matthew, "away from
our family, confined from our native sports, shut up from the free air
and hills, though they would feed us well and fuss over us?  I want to
let down the bars now, and see how quickly it will scamper from its
prison."

"I feel for it as much as you can," answered Julia.  "I feel for its
poor mother; and what would I do if Clinton had strayed like the fawn,
and we knew not where he was?  But do keep it one day longer.  Its
gentle looks may make Clinton more tender.  I'll pull fresh clover, and
make its bed softer, and it shall be shaded more coolly from the sun."

"Let it away," said Major Fabens.  "It looks so sad, may be it'll die
before morning if you keep it penned up here;" and down went the bars,
and into the house they hastened, and turned, and looked to see it leap
to the woods.  But it was not away in such a hurry.  It rose, and
walked gently into the house after them, so tame had it become already,
and remained a few moments, looking thanks for their kindness; Clinton
patted its soft shoulders, and kissed it tenderly, and then it walked
gently away, and vanished in the woods; leaving the beholders more
tender and kind for the visit, more in love with liberty, and more
admiring the beautiful creatures of God.



VIII.

A LAMB LOST.

The autumn time had come, and fields, and woods, and waters were lit
with its yellow beams.  The blooms of spring, the splendors of summer
had departed, or were sobered for the dust.  Still a beauty was on the
world.  A pure, ethereal mildness breathed as from heaven, and the sun
was so kindly and glad as he rode on in glory, he gave a sweet glance
to every suppliant, whether plant or flower, or tree or man; and you
could have looked into his warm face and felt regaled by his gracious
smile.  And the holy sky seemed now to stoop down and poise its breast
on the bending hills, and again in majesty retire to a loftier archway
of the fair blue Infinite, and glimmer and glow like a sea of glass.
Eloquent type of the face of that Father whose glory lights the
heavens, whose spirit breathes, and whose love abounds in every world.

The year had not been all sunlight or joy.  Clouds had gathered and
dissolved, and disappointments now and then occurred to our manly
farmer, and called for more faith and courage.  In the summer, the
rains were so frequent, and superfluous, his crops were damaged, and
the slopes on his fallows were cut into gullies, and swept of their
soil.  Premature frosts had nipped his corn slightly, and his buckwheat
was not worth harvesting.  A tolerable crop of wheat and other grains;
and a harvest of loves, and lights, and strengths, however, were
yielded him, to supply all his natural and spiritual needs, and the
Lord was praised for his gracious care.

Fabens was now advanced to years of more grave reflection, and every
object in Nature and Life addressed his mind with more suggestive and
serious words.  His religious impressions were deepened; and his
religious sentiments, active and susceptible.  He had studied a few
fine books, and transferred their wisdom to his heart; he had studied
Nature and Scripture; and he walked in light and peaceful ways.  He
relied on God as the Infinite Friend; and never a cloud was brought
over the earth, whether of storm or grief, but he called to mind the
promise of the Father, "the bow shall be seen in the cloud."

A few frugal comforts were added to his stores, and though he labored
early and late at tasks that demanded strong arms and rusty raiment,
where a gentleman in straps and ruffles would have met mortifications
without number, still he was happy; and like the man of faith described
in the Scripture, he abounded in blessings.

His parents remained to bless him.  His wife responded to all his
sympathies, and rendered his home a perennial joy.  Clinton had been
told of his fourth bright birthday, and the gladness of life budded on
his heart, and bloomed on his face.  Fanny unfolded the graces of
childhood as you have seen water-lilies unfold leaf after leaf.  Fabens
tore himself away from his lambs at seven in the morning, and taking
his luncheon in a basket, he proceeded to a distant clearing to work
till night.  At ten o'clock Clinton was presented a new coat and
trowsers, which his mother had just finished, and he bounded about as
proudly as a young deer with his first pair of antlers.  Nothing would
do but he must trip away to the clearing and show them to his father.
It would be something of a venture to permit him; but he had been there
several times with his father, and knew the way, and he was allowed to
go.  A kiss to sweet mother, and a kiss to Fanny were given, and one
left for grandmother when she returned with her basket of green corn
for dinner, and away he glided, and Julia looked after and smiled on
his glee, little suspecting what might spring up and harm him on the
path.  Hour after hour expired, and Julia's mind ran after the boy; and
she asked her mother again and again if anything would be likely to
befall him.  A slight fear occasionally rose, to be suppressed on a
second thought; and evening advanced while yet their hearts were
cheerly and at rest.

A fair and jocund day departed, and suddenly a dark cloud mantled the
heavens, and the moonless night was falling dismal and drear.  Fabens
was expected by sunset, and at the usual hour, Julia tripped to the
wood-path with a light heart to meet him, and take his swinging hand in
her own, as she was accustomed to do, and talk all the way to the
house.  Hastening on half a mile or more, she spied her husband rising
over a distant eminence, but he came alone!  Her fears were all roused
in a moment; she hurried, out of breath, to meet him, and approaching
him, called in a broken voice--"Where is Clinton? where have you left
him?"

"Clinton?" replied Fabens in surprise; "I have not seen him since
morning."

"Not seen him?" ejaculated Julia; "O dear, he started to go to you this
forenoon.  I'm afraid he's lost, or the wild beasts have caught him!"

"Started to come to me this forenoon?"

"Yes, I finished his new clothes, and he was so pleased, he wanted to
go and show them to you.  'Twas all done without thinking a moment of
any danger."

"Mercy, Julia! what shall we do?  He is gone; here it is coming dark as
pitch,--what _shall_ we do?"

"What can we do?  O Lord, help us!--help us!--Dear me, I can never
forgive myself if he's lost or hurt!--Why _did_ I let him go?"

"Hurry home, Julia, and tell father and mother, and I'll run over to
Troffater's; he may be there; Tilly is always teasing children and
coaxing 'em; he may have seen Clinton and coaxed him home with him.  He
was chopping by the road when I went along this morning, he may have
coaxed him home: but O, if he is not there!"

Fabens started on a run for Troffater's, and met two neighbors who had
just come from his house; they had seen no Clinton; and assured him
Clinton could not be there.  They all hastened to Fabens', and met
Julia and the parents; but no Clinton could be heard from.  Darkness
extinguished the last gleam of heaven, and they shuddered and wept in
agonies of grief for the lost boy.

"How can we let the night pass without our lamb?" cried Mother Fabens.

"Dear, dear boy!--why _did_ I let him go, when I cannot bear to have
him out of my sight?  Why _did_ I let him go?" sobbed Julia frantically.

"Will not God be gracious?  O will he not be gracious?" cried Fabens.

"There!  I thought that little fawn was a forerunner of something!"
exclaimed Mother Fabens.  "That little fawn that came here last June.
It has haunted my mind ever since.  O I fear it did not come here
without a warning?"

"But we let it go again," cried Julia; "and will not my pretty, pretty
fawn be given back to his mother again?  O!  O!"

"An Indian shot a fawn the same day we let that go, and in the same
direction he went.  I always thought it was that handsome fellow," said
Major Fabens.

"Mercy! it cannot be the fawn was a forerunner!  O it cannot be that I
shall not get my Clinton again!" cried Matthew, looking as if ready to
reel to the ground.  "O friends, do rouse the neighbors! if he's only
lost, I'm afraid the wolves or panthers will catch him.  You know how
the wolves have howled of late; and I heard a panther scream last
night, I thought.  Do rouse the neighbors to advise and help!"

The friends seized torches and were away to the first dwelling.  The
news flew around as fast as distance would permit; and by nine o'clock
the whole neighborhood were together with throbbing hearts and anxious
looks.

"I fetched my horn and cow-bell," said Mr. Waldron; "I made a noise on
the way.  Horns will scare off painters, and wolves don't like tootin'
or clatter a mite."

"And I brought mine," added Uncle Walter.

"And I mine," added Teezle.

"We'll blow horns and ring bells," said Teezle; "and you, Colwell and
Troffater, go and call out the Indians.  They're dreadful good to scare
off animals and look for lost children."

"Do, for Heaven's sake,--do what you can, if it is dark!" ejaculated
Julia fainting with grief.

"O, I know you'll not leave a thing undone!" added Matthew,
beseechingly.  "God give us strength to bear our trouble!  It is
hard--it is hard to bear trouble like this!"

Colwell and Troffater started for the lake to call up the Indians from
their wigwams on the shore.  But they were hardly out of sight before
an ominous change passed lowering over the scene.  A low moaning wind
swept through the woods and fields, and round the house; and the leaves
rustled, and the well-sweep swayed and creaked in the blast.  Then a
drearier dusk succeeded; a fierce and freezing gust from the lake shot
by; and a long and rending roll of thunder announced the rising of a
violent storm.  A fleet of ghastly vapors sailed over the zenith; and
feathery clouds floated after, opening and shutting with the thunder
and silence, and showing and hiding the stars as they flew.  Then a
long rift of lightning leaped forth and trailed its blazing banners of
white, red, and purple in loops and festoons round the sky; and the
thunder redoubled its might, and closed in, and labored and roared, as
if wrestling down the world.  Flame after flame, and peal on peal,
succeeded, and the storm halted over the lake and ran along its course,
as if bridled for a time, and struggled, and rolled, and roared; then a
wild thunder rent the rein, and it ran and rested over the settlement,
and spent its fury, and spun its fire.  The wind blew a hurricane; the
rain dashed in cataracts; and every electric bolt seemed to shiver the
cisterns of heaven, and empty rivers of rain.  Then the lightning was
uninterrupted, and you could have read a book, or counted the trees, or
viewed the lake by its constant blaze; while now and anon a wilder
volley exploded, and a more furious flash flew its zigzag flight from
the zenith to the ground.

It lasted a long hour, and you may imagine the terror and gloom it
poured on hearts already faint with grief.  You may imagine the shrieks
and cries of the household; how they called on God to guard and save;
how the wild, wailing mother rushed out into the storm to recover her
precious boy, and was beaten back by the wind and flood; what were
their thoughts of his situation; what were their sobs and sighs.

At last the storm rolled away, and Colwell and Troffater returned, and
led in a band of Indians.  Counsel was had, and arrangements were made
for the night.  Horns were sounded; bells were rattled; tin pans and
hammers were clashed together; and the dark woodlands wailed with the
echoing sound.  Fires were kindled, and torches flamed on every hand;
and for one long night, sleep sought no pillow in the settlement.  And
to thrill all hearts with keener agony, and strain each nerve and cord
to its utmost tension, a little before daybreak, not a mile from the
desolate home, the fierce, wild scream of a panther was heard,
startling the very air to a violent shudder, and receiving angry
answers from the low lakeshore.



IX.

SEEKING THE LOST LAMB IN VAIN.

Darkness retired.  The twilight glimmered on the tallest trees.
Morning, so wearily watched-for, came.  The clouds broke in masses, and
rolled tardily down the sky.  Day gilded the heavens, and the tranquil
bosom of the low Cayuga mantled in his beams, and reflected the glory
of his face.  But to the Waldron Settlement that smiling day brought
little hope, and no enjoyment.  A favorite child was lost from a goodly
family, and ill feelings were agitated, and all hearts ran after him
through thicket and field, over hill and valley, like shepherds after a
lost lamb.  Comfortless and faint, the family assembled at the morning
altar, and one general sob of grief, and one leaping pulse of anxiety
went round.  They kneeled for prayer; and the venerable father bore
their petitions before the Lord.  He prayed for grace to sustain them
in the trial.  He acknowledged their errors; but bending at the feet of
Infinite Kindness, he was encouraged to ask for a Father's blessing.
He prayed for more faith in Providence.  He prayed that they might have
resignation, and that comfort might come to their hearts in the
recovery of their little boy.

Grief brooded not over that altar alone.  It sat upon every face; it
occupied every home; it assailed every heart in the settlement.  Tilly
Troffater even seemed to share somewhat of the general sorrow, though
seldom shedding a sympathetic tear.

"I never tuck a great likin' to childern," said he; "but I kindy liked
little Clint; his cheeks was so soft, and smooth, and his eyes snapped
sich funny fire; and he was olers so full o' his cunnin' jabber.  I
hope the painters haint ketched him.  They yelled despotly last night;
but I hope they haint ketched him yit.  I'd like to see him agin, and
baird his dimple face for him; the pretty mischief."

"He's worth a long hunt," said Colwell, "and my farm won't suffer if I
search a month."

"I did not see how I could leave my work," said Wilson; "but I must
give one hunt for Clinton; I must."

"We mustn't give him up yet.  O, we can't give him up," added Uncle
Walter; "we couldn't spare a soul from the settlement; we couldn't
spare the leastest of your little brats, Troffater!  But where are
Matthew and the Major?"

"They followed Julia to the woods, very early, to see if they could
find a trace of the boy," replied Mother Fabens.

"Then we must follow them in a trice," said Uncle Walter; and a general
council was had, and it was agreed that they should form a line of all
the men and women, four rods apart, and sweep the woods for a distance
round; and with horns and bells to give salutes, and luncheon to
refresh them when hungry, they marched through the moaning woods.

Night overtook them while they looked still for day, and they returned
heavy-hearted and weary to their homes.  Large and diligent had been
the search, and all the kind Indians were out with them, but no trace
could be found of the lost boy.  The Indians shook their heads
dolefully, and gave signs of despair, though little was said in
discouragement, and all volunteered to continue the search the next
day.  No fires were kindled that night, and only once, in an hour, the
horn was sounded, from each house, to give signs of watchfulness, and
keep the wild beasts in their distant dens.  Morning returned, and
another council convened to compare suggestions, and commence another
search.  Mother Fabens related a dream of the last night, and all
gathered around, to hear it.  She dreamed that Clinton was passing near
the sugar camp, and a creature standing on his hind legs, rushed upon
the boy, and bore him off to a multitude that looked like the creature,
and let him go free among them.  That Clinton wept at first, and tried
to get away, but after awhile he looked cheerful again, and stayed with
them till she awoke.

"Dreadful!" cried poor comfortless Julia; "can it, say, can it be true?"

"But that does not show he's killed; and I will not give him up yet,"
said Uncle Walter.

"The wolves hev muttoned him afore this, you may depend," said
Troffater.

"I don't believe that," said Colwell.

"And I don't believe you do aither," said Mr. Waldron, to Troffater.
"There's a good 'eal in that dream, I say now; and it gives me hope.
Come, let's give another good hunt."

"Hugh!" groaned an Indian, dolefully; "he gone, he dead; we no find
'im."

"So I b'lieve," added Troffater.  "I dremp las night tew, as wal as
Granny Fabens; but then our dreams don't agree azackly.  I dremp a
shaggy wolf ketched 'im.--O, _don't_ cry so, Miss Fabens!--as I was
goin' to say--I dremp a shaggy wolf ketched 'im, and craunched the
little feller down, as ye'd eat a tender quail.  Miss Fabens, _don't_
cry now!--he was all out o' misery perty quick.  I dremp he was dead
afore he was stript, or his little dimple hands was chanked to
mince-meat; don't cry _now_."

"You good-for-nothing torment, hold your lying tongue!" said Uncle
Walter, in a rage; "who wants to hear your dream?  I'd call for a
polecat's dream as quick.  Shut your lips.  _You_ talk about crying!
Why, your very words tear open the woman's heart.  I'm struck with what
Mother Fabens tells."

"It seemed as if I must be awake," resumed Mother Fabens, "it was all
so plain and natural.  How I did feel when the creature sprung and
catched little Clinton in his paws!--Awful!  But then, I've a little
more hope from the dream."

"So've I, Miss Fabens," responded Uncle Walter, in a tone of great
animation.  "So've I.  Come on, boys, let's look awhile longer.  Come,
Wilson, come, Colwell and Teezle.  Come, Uncle Mose, your eyes are keen
for a look as they were when you hunted Hessians in the Jarsies.  But
Troffater may step out, we can very well spare him."

Three or four gave over, and went home.  Troffater winked and crossed
his black and blue eyes, took in a quid, spit through his teeth, struck
up a whistle, and departed; and the Indians manifested less zeal than
yesterday; but a large company took up the march and searched a day
longer.  As night returned once more with its first faint shadows,
while yet there was light on the thin carpet of newly-fallen leaves to
discern colors plainly, a cry of "here's blood!" rang out in a fearful
shriek on their ears, and they halted, and gathered at the spot to
which attention was directed.  "It is blood!" said another; and "here's
more!" cried another.  "See, it is sprinkled all around here!"  "And
there! see there, it looks as if there had been a scuffle!" added
another.

A cold thrill of horror ran around from heart to heart, and it was well
for the Fabenses that they did not arrive, or hear the cry, until a
glance before the grieving company showed them the remains of a deer,
and reserved a faint hope for the morrow.

To-morrow came and went, with no tidings of poor Clinton.  Another and
another day was spent by several, who still insisted that the boy must
be alive.  Mother Fabens' dream made a strong impression, and it held
them up from utter despair; while the Indians added a little more to
their courage by denying that the captive fawn was killed by them; for
they had not killed a fawn in a great while.  The white people all
believed more or less in portents, warnings and dreams; and trusting a
little to their vaticination now, they could not yield the lingering
hope that he was still alive.  But when they came to reason, that hope
was quite extinguished.  Had he been alive, and within any reasonable
distance, he would have been discovered.  But no trace of him could be
found even by the sharp-sighted Indians; and then the screams of those
panthers, on the first dismal night, increased the probability of his
awful fate.  Still a search was continued by three or four, and on the
fifth day, they discovered a hat about a mile from the path he was
pursuing, and it was found to be Clinton's, and a present to him from a
cousin in Cloverdale.  Again was the settlement set in commotion, and
again many surmises and opinions were expressed regarding the poor
boy's fate.

But after that, no trace in wood or field was discovered to clear up
the painful mystery.  The people settled down into the belief that a
panther had taken him, and after he had carried him that distance, on
the way to his dark lair in the forest, the hat fell from his drooping
head, and the loose leaves settled partly over it, and concealed it
from view on the first day's search.  The parents of the child, and all
his friends, except Mother Fabens, were forced at last to the dreadful
conclusion which assured them their little fondling was no more; and
their grief was deep and lasting.  And Mother Fabens grieved sadly with
the others; but the impression of her dream still whispered hope to her
soul; and the liberation of the fawn she had never forgotten.  And when
she sickened and died a few months after, she said "it was more than
possible that Matthew and Julia might live long enough to see Clinton
alive again on earth."

But her kindly-attempted consolations could rally their hopes no more.
It was a thought that wrung their desolate hearts; but they were forced
to regard their lost boy as having perished in the grasp of some wild
beast.  And that was the grief of griefs.  With all the faith and hope
they could command, it shook them and bowed them down, and all the
bright world for a while looked dreary and sad on their account.  It
gave them ghastly dreams.  It burdened their waking reveries.  It
wailed in the winds, it wound the sunbeams, flowers and trees with
weeds of melancholy wo.  [Transcriber's note: woe?]

In the darkest day, however, their faith and hope did not quite desert
them; and after the first heavy stroke, these Christian graces rose up
and strengthened them; and never were comforts so sweet as those
received from the Scriptures and from their religious trusts.

"God is good," said Fabens.  "He may give us trials and griefs--and we
have had a portion.  He may tear our beloved from us when least of all
it may seem we can spare them.  His Providence may appear in the storm
and tempest; in anguish, bereavement and death; still he is good, and
he will bring good out of evil."



X.

THE SUGAR PARTY.

Time went on its course like the constant roll of waters, and seasons
came and went as usual in the Waldron Settlement.  A deep and early
snow having fallen, and remained with frequent additions, a long and
rigorous winter reigned in absolute sway.  But now, on the last of
February, the sun wheeled high on his circuits; thaws and rains ensued,
and the first robin on the leafless maple sang, sweet harbinger of
spring.  Winter recalled his tyrant ministers, or restrained them in
their wrath; and milder days and warmer skies appeared in pleasant
alternation, with many still of tempest and gloom.

The milder days multiplied; the snow had less depth on the earth, and
now came on the season of sugar making.  In all our forest region
magnificent sugar maples abounded like an orchard, and Fabens prepared
for his spring encampment in the bush.  His shanty was repaired with
new bark on the roof, and a fresh carpet of clean wheat straw on the
rough bark floor; his kettles were hung; his troughs were turned up by
the trees and cleaned of the mould and cobwebs of the last season;
sleek slanting boxes were cut in the sides of the noble maples in the
process of tapping, and spouts driven under to conduct the sap to the
troughs; and quick was his step and diligent his labor, to gather and
boil so fast that his troughs would not run over.

The camp was within hearing distance of the house, and his father,
though trembling with age, went out to keep him company, and attend to
the fire and kettles, while he was away with two pails, gathering the
delicious flowings of his maples.

And Julia, too, was there on many a pleasant afternoon, plying her busy
distaff in the shanty; and Fanny lent gladness to the scene; leaping
like a merry fawn about the little opening, and amid the clustering
bushes; her face lustrous and soft as a velvet peach; her voice
blithesome as the pee-wee's, and clear and sweet as the robin's.

"And if Clinton could be here, too!" sighed the bereaved mother.
"Dear, dear Clinton! if he could be here, O would we not be happy?"

"How I would kiss him, and say, 'Good brother,' and feed him, and
crinkle his curly hair, if he would come back!" added Fanny.

To one fond of the romance of rural life, a scene like this addresses
many attractive charms.  The evenings were clear and beautiful; a class
of the grandest constellations took their course in the sky, and rained
their holy lights, while the winds were asleep in their caves, and keen
frosts came down each night to increase the morrow's run; the days were
warm and agreeable with bracing air and kindly sunshine; and the
forests were roused from their stillness by the sound of the axe, the
shrill reports of the frost escaping from the trees, and the notes of a
few birds that carolled of the coming spring-time.

Fabens had, for some time, felt the advances of spring in his heart;
and he had a heart in the season and in its manly toils.  He remained
in the camp over night when his maples had given a copious run, and
tended his kettles, to boil and save what the bounty of Providence so
lavishly furnished.  He had no one with him but his dog, and yet he was
never alone.  His thoughts were his companions, his hopes, his pleasing
pastimes.  A veil of blinding atmosphere hung over him, and his eyes
perceived no objects beyond his camp but the solemn trees and the lofty
stars; and yet his mind was not muffled up in that veil.  When Jesus
died, the veil of God's temple was rent in twain; the veil between
earth and heaven; and though that veil would continue to hang in its
place for a time; and he could not make maps of the heavenly world, or
locate the constellations of all its starry glories, or gossip with its
unseen citizens, as with familiars here; still Faith saw light enough
streaming through the rent in the veil to raise and enlarge his soul;
and Hope saw light enough to replume her wings and re-adjust her
vision.  God embosomed him in his spiritual presence; Christ was to him
not a cold and distant phantasm, but a warm and intimate friend.  Good
spirits were all about him, he believed, though he heard not their
voices, and knew not their names; and they were coming and going on
God's errands of love and light.  A soft breath fanned his forehead; a
sweet emotion filled his heart; a burst of light broke like morning on
his mind; and he found it easy to conceive them the touch and gift of
some guardian being whom God had sent with the answers of his prayers.
And who could say but it might be the spirit of Clinton, or Matthew's
ascended mother, whom God had thus employed?

Call it not superstition, if such were his thoughts.  It is a guileless
heart, and a lofty faith that can thus sense the presence of God, and
dwell in the blissful assurance that angels guard the inhabitants of
earth, though we see and hear them not; as we believe, at noonday the
stars stand sentinels above, although they are veiled from our view.

At times, moreover, that wild encampment was the scene of social
enjoyment.  It was a custom in the settlement to give parties in the
bush, and cultivate feelings of love and friendship.  They were rude
indeed, and there was observed none of the pretence of etiquette which
passes for refinement in fashionable circles.  Still there was genuine
sentiment manifested, and an honest and simple refinement of soul,
superior to any outward elegance.  Some of the settlers, it is true,
were strangers to those religious sensibilities enjoyed by Fabens and
his family; and they read Nature and Humanity with a different eye from
his, and received different impressions.  There was that in the manner
of the Teezles, the Colwells, the Flaxmans, and others, which at times
might appear low and vulgar, to persons educated in a different sphere
of life; but even in their hearts, there was an open truthfulness which
gave signs of real nobility; and a full flowing sympathy, a solid
common sense, a love of principle, a love of the good and noble,
against which mere surface refinement and polite words, empty of soul
and meaning, would weigh but as feathers in the scale.

They possessed heart and soul in the richest raw material.  They were
full-grown, ripened specimens of aboriginal life.  They had a plump
berry, as the farmers say, and came to the sickle without cockle, or
rust, or weevil, or smut.  They were as thrifty vines, and needed only
to be trimmed and trained.  They were as virgin gold in the bullion,
and wanted to be melted and minted into coin.  They were as statues
rough-hewn at the quarry, and would have ripened to forms of majestic
beauty, with brows like Jove and Minerva; with bosoms like Venus,
cheeks like Ceres, and lips like Apollo, had the chisel of art but
sculptured them out, rounded them off, and polished them down to an
elegant, ornate life.

During the season in mention, there had been several sugar parties, and
now came Fabens' turn to reciprocate the compliment.  So, one pleasant
day, when there was a slight cessation in the run, he received a few
neighbors to his camp, to spend an afternoon and evening.

Uncle Walter and his wife came over at an early hour; Thomas Teezle and
his wife, and their bouncing, cherry-lipped daughter, Rebecca Ann, were
present, confessing to none for a lack of pleasure.  Mr. Wilson and his
wife were on hand, with kindly word and cheerful face, and tarried to
share the latest social sweet; and the son and daughter of a new
family, Lot and Nancy Nimblet, came with them, and expressed much
delight with a feast so rural and agreeable.

A new carpet of straw was spread on the shanty floor, and the neatness
of the ground before it, and around the little opening, gave evidence
of the neatness and interest of Julia Fabens.  All declared it a
pleasant afternoon, and just in the nick of time for a sugar party.
Uncle Walter was called on for a story, and he gave one of his best,
with a witch of a tongue, that fairly reversed the wheels of time, and
trundled them back to the wild, wild forest again, and tumbled them out
amid screaming panthers, and howling wolves.  Mr. and Mrs. Flaxman sang
a merry song, in a merry nasal tune.  Aunt Polly Waldron _had_ to tell
of the tory that fired her barn and ripped up her feather bed; and how
he whooped and keeled when she dropped him, and how many tories and
Indians ran away.  Then, Mr. Waldron told a story, and Major Fabens
followed.

Fabens the younger, and his sensible wife, contributed their share to
interest the party, and though they were unusually cheerful and social,
there was an elevated tone of sobriety in all they uttered, which had
its happy and refining influence on every heart.

Early in the afternoon, a kettle of sugar was set before them, and
little banks of the clearest crystal snow were placed around for
coolers, and then with wooden spoons, and grateful appetites, the feast
was enjoyed.  As the sugar but increased their relish for the evening
refreshment, they partook of that when served, with a still better
zest, and many kind expressions and feelings, and many jets of wit and
glee, were interchanged at the meal.  A pleasant plant grew in the
marshes of that country, called evan-root, which, when boiled in sap,
and tempered with cream, made a delicious beverage, tasting like
coffee; and their nice broiled venison, and Indian bread, washed down
with flowing cups of that favorite drink, was a banquet worthy of a
president.

"A president should go hungry," said Uncle Walter, "if his dainty
palate didn't relish a supper like this."

"A president should relish any food that is fit for his humblest
fellow-citizens," answered Fabens.  "And a president worthy of his
station, would honor our rude occupation as much as his own, and share
with pleasure the humblest wholesome meal.  What is a president after
all, but the servant we employ to look after our affairs, to be
respected according to his competence and faithfulness, and the amount
of service he does?  And nothing, I am sure, can be found in the
grandest entertainment to exhibit refinement, and call forth honor, so
well as the _heart_ with which it is given and enjoyed."

"I guess Troffater would kindy like to be here," said Colwell.  "I seen
him when I was comin', and he looked sour, and said he wasn't invited.
Did ye mean to make a bridge o' his nose?"

"I would do Troffater a kindness as soon as anybody," answered Fabens;
"but his shocking levity, I have often told him, displeases us, and his
company was not desired.  He is old enough to speak with cleaner lips.
If I could hope to improve him any, I would invite and visit him often.
We do mean to visit his family, and ask them to our house."

"He's havin' the sulks the natteral way," said Colwell.

"He's mad as a March hare, and says, he axes no odds o' Mat Fabens,"
added Teezle.

"Speak low," said Wilson, "I'll warrant, he's near us this very minute;
he's olers spookin' about, and eaves-droppin'."

"Let him spook about and eaves-drop," said Fabens, "I owe him nothing,
but pity for his disposition, and I would say all I have said, and
more, to his face.  There is one comfort!  God has power to give him a
better heart, and I hope some day he will."

"I dun know about that," said Colwell.  "Mebby he can, but it will take
more brimstun than the critter's worth to cleanse his rotten sperit."

"And they'll have to break in an egg or two after that, I guess, to
make it white and clear, as Aunt Polly does her sugar," added Teezle.

"Don't make light of it," said Fabens.  "With God all things good are
possible.  I would not add a single pain to his misery.  Who of us--"

"There! there, see that light in the bushes yonder!" screamed Nancy
Nimblet, who had been frightened by the idea that they were watched,
and had been looking around the camp for sights of alarm.  "That light
yonder!--what is it?--what is it?"

"A Jack-o'-lantern, may be, and may be somethin' wuss," said Colwell,
rising.

"A ball of fire!--what can it be? see, it comes towards us!" added
Uncle Walter.

"It's right where we found little Clinton's hat," cried Mrs. Fabens,
pale with terror.  "O, dear, what can it be?  He couldn't have been
murdered, my dear Clinton couldn't have been murdered, and that
appeared to reveal his fate!"

"I'll warrant that's it!" answered Teezle.  "Square Peasley seen a
light, and heerd a gugglin' groan where the pedlar had his throat cut
in Cloverdale, you know."

"See there! see there!--it comes nearer!--look at it now; it has eyes,
and ears!--see its awful nose and mouth," cried Aunt Polly Waldron.

"What shall we do?" screamed Nancy Nimblet, all in a tremble.  "It will
hurt us!--it will kill us! where shall I go?"

"Be quiet, be calm, it cannot hurt you," said Fabens soothingly; "it
can't hurt any one.  God wouldn't let it."

"Awful!" shrieked Mr. and Mrs. Flaxman in one nasal; scream, "let us
run, let us run!"

"It's an evil spirit," said Wilson.

"The old pot-metal Cuss himself has come for us!" cried Uncle Walter.
"If I know anything about the Devil, that's him; that's his head and
ears, and eyes and teeth, I'll bet a turkey they are!"

"No, no, it cannot be an evil spirit or the Devil," said Fabens,
calmly.  "The Devil would not appear in such a form to us, and God will
guard us from evil spirits."

An agony of terror shook the whole company.  Stern and brave Uncle
Walter, who could stand before wolves and bears; who could beard the
fierce panther in his den, and count his snarling teeth,--even he
believed in ghosts, and was afraid of sights and apparitions.  It was a
horrible object, spirit, devil, or whatever it might be.  It looked
like a ball of fire, and had features of a grim half-human thing, with
huge ears, a wide mouth and grinning rows of monstrous teeth; and they
fancied they saw a black body and long tail below it.  As they gazed in
a transport of terror, Fabens escaped unobserved from the company,
passed softly around through the woods, and coming up behind the foul
fiend, he grasped its dark form in his arms, and found as he suspected,
that it was no other devil than little tantalizing Troffater, with a
carved squash shell, set out with an ox's ears, on his head, bearing
his idea of a devil's image, and lighted within by a brilliant candle!

The terror of the company soon subsided, and Fabens admonished them
against yielding again to such senseless fears; while they all departed
for their homes, and the poor transgressor was discharged with a
reprimand so sharpened by kindness that it seemed to cleave his heart.



XI.

FABENS PROMOTED TO HONOR.

In four years more, the Waldron Settlement had grown to quite a colony;
for the area of civilization extended from the Cayuga to the Owasco,
and ten miles north and south; and though the population numbered
several hundred families, and the inroads of fashion and pride began to
be perceptible there, still it remained a neighborhood; and with few
exceptions, the people exchanged neighborly offices and loves
throughout the settlement.

The inhabitants now felt the importance of their flourishing community,
and made a movement to be organized into a township, and have town
officers, and better regulations.  That movement was successful, and
the town took the name of Summerfield, and a warm and summer-green town
it was as the Lake Country had to show.

Walter Mowry was elected the first Supervisor, and Matthew Fabens, the
first Justice of the Peace.

At this late period, public offices are so plenty, and so often held by
persons whose devotion to party, or whose failure in other pursuits is
their only recommendation, that the plain and humble office of Justice
of the Peace receives little respect, and would find few candidates,
but for the lucrative interests which induce many to ask it.  It was
not so, forty years ago in the Lake Country.  At that primitive period,
that responsible office was given to no one who had not moral
qualifications to recommend him; and the person who held it was honored
as possessing capabilities equal to his duties, and holding along with
these the affection and faith of the town.

When the organization was first proposed, and the several offices were
named, the eyes of the settlement, with two or three exceptions, were
turned to Fabens, as the man best qualified to administer justice and
peace among them; and to elect him to that station was simply to say
'thus shall it be with the man whom we delight to honor.'

Of written laws, and their points and subtleties, Fabens confessed
himself ignorant.  Coke and Blackstone were never on his shelves.  He
had read a stray leaf from Hooker, and these words were incorporated as
so many notes of divine music in his soul--"No less can be said of Law,
than that her seat is the bosom of God, her voice is the harmony of the
world.  All things in heaven and earth do her homage; the very least,
as feeling her care; the greatest, as not exempted from her power.
Both angels and men, and creatures of whatsoever condition, though each
in different sort and manner; yet each and all with uniform consent
admiring her as the mother of their peace and joy;"--and this was his
idea of law, and about all he had gathered on law from books.

And as for the responsibilities committed to his trust, he fain would
have refused them, and proposed another candidate for the office; but
knowing the simple principles of justice; having a heart attuned to the
harmony of earth and heaven; having Peace as an angel dwelling in his
soul; knowing and loving what was right and lovely between man and man,
he discharged his duties with distinguished success, and his influence
went far to lift up his people to the light and sphere of spiritual
peace.

He still carried on the labors of his fine farm, with the duties of his
office, and made his own private house the seat of that justice which
once in a long while he was compelled to search out and sustain.

The manner and spirit of his administration were therefore patriarchal,
as those which the poet describes of the venerable Albert, of Wyoming;
and to the present day, traditions are preserved, and incidents related
in that peaceful town, which prove the practical wisdom and eminent
justice of "Old Squire Fabens."

Those early and eager pioneers of new countries, the lawyers, found
their way to Summerfield; that is, two or three unruly members of the
profession, while yet Squire Fabens held the wand of peace.  They had
not been long there, however, before they joined Troffater, Adonijah
Nixon, and Simon Bogle, to oppose his administration; and made very
desperate efforts to elect another in his stead.

As for the lawyers, we are not at all surprised by their opposition.
He destroyed their business, and they played as checks and
interruptions of that harmony to which his life was tuned.  And as for
the troublesome little bandy Troffater, his ill-will was expected, as a
real compliment to the wisdom and justice of the magistrate.  We have
heard of an Irishman at Donnybrook Fair, who was likely to be
disappointed of his addicted battle, finding no one to answer his
challenge; and who cried to the crowd, "I'll thank any gentleman, just
once to tread on the tail o' my coat, that my sport may begin!"  A
similar character was Tilly Troffater, and never more thankful was he
than when opportunity encouraged his quarrelsome mood; and never more
amazed or provoked at the manner in which the laws were administered,
than when his broils were suppressed while rising, and his litigations
closed as soon as he began them.

The hardest thing, under heaven, did it seem for a lawsuit to make any
progress, while Matthew Fabens was Justice of the Peace, in
Summerfield.  Pestilent Tilly was always scheming to provoke such
evils, and was always threatening his neighbors with a lawsuit.
Sometimes he would come post-haste for a warrant, or summons, or
attachment; again, he would be in hot distress to swear his life was in
danger, or his squalid character was at stake; or his neighbor's pigs
had rooted up a few weeds in his garden, or some mischievous boy had
thrown a stone through a paper pane of his window; or mounted his most
personable scare-crow on his chimney-top, arrayed in a potato necklace,
and holding a dead snake in hand; or he had secrets to disclose which
would reveal astounding villanies, that threatened the peace of the
town.

But it had always been his misfortune to fail of his designs.  Not a
scrap of a warrant or other process could he obtain.  Not the lisp of a
word or oath would the good Squire take from his lying lips.  "Get rid
of your passion; go home, and work, and help me keep the peace," was
Fabens' reply to all quarrelsome fellow-citizens.

And yet, the happy fortune to sustain his long administration, without
having to confess a case of law had been brought to trial before him,
was not reserved for Squire Fabens.  Numberless little difficulties had
been dragged into notice by three or four uncomfortable bodies, who
sought the excitement of a quarrel to rally the lagging pleasures of
indolence; and a few of these demanded his attention.  But he had ever
found it for the good of the parties in trouble, as for the general
welfare, and his own satisfaction, to calm the raging waters of
passion, by counsel, kind and wise; reconcile the antagonists, and
bring them to an amicable peace, without the sifting of testimony, and
the labors of litigation.



XII.

A LAWSUIT.

At length a crime was committed in Summerfield, which a summary process
could not despatch, and a sense of duty impelled Squire Fabens to
permit it to be tried before him, that the offender might receive his
punishment, and be set forth as an example of warning to all
evil-doers.  One afternoon in August, when farmers had finished their
wheat harvest, and were enjoying a few days of relaxation before
seeding their fallows with winter grain, Simon Bogle came all in a hot
hurry to the Justice, for a warrant against Jared Sculpin, and--"Are
you certain," asked Fabens, after hearing his long and incoherent
story, and learning the name of the accused neighbor, "are you certain
that your log-chain was not mislaid, or dropped in some place where the
leaves might have covered it?  This is a very serious charge for
neighbor to bring against neighbor.  You ought to be very certain that
it was stolen, Mr. Bogle, before you accuse any one."

"Certain!" cried Bogle; "I couldn't be more so, I guess, if I'd seen it
took, with my own eyes, I guess.  The neighbors all talk about it too,
I guess.  And there's--"

"But there ought to be no guess-work in this case.  Are you not
wronging Mr. Sculpin, to charge him with the theft, unless some
competent witness will say he saw him take it, or you can prove the
chain found in his possession is yours, while he fails to show, in
defence, that you did not lend it to him?"

"Lend it to 'im!--Lend it to 'im, eh?  Mercy knows, I wouldn't lend 'im
a halter to hang himself, since he blunted my iron wedges, and broomed
up my beetle so!  And I guess, you wouldn't talk about lendin', if the
chain had been hooked from you!"

"But I don't like this hurry and passion you manifest.  Get rid of this
before you think of bringing a neighbor to justice.  We become criminal
ourselves just so far as we harbor passion and vengeance while calling
criminals to account."

"Wal, will ye give me a warrant? tell me that," said Bogle in a huff.
"Tell me, Square, if you'll give me a warrant.  Cause I _ken_ go to
Sempronus, I guess, and git one of Square Moss, if ye don't."

"I tell you this, neighbor Bogle," replied Squire Fabens.  "This is a
very serious affair you have brought before me.  I want time to
consider it, and you must go home and think it all over calmly, and
sleep on it; and then if you think something must be done in law, come
to me to-morrow with your witnesses, and we'll see what must be done."

"Jest as I expected," cried Bogle, turning on his heel in a swelling
rage.  "Jest as I expected.  You're as fit for a Square as my dog
Pomp--jest about!  I'll go to Square Moss.  Ye needn't trouble yourself
any more.  He'll give me a warrant, I guess.  And if I don't vote agin
you next year, then my name aint Simon Bogle!"

Away he trudged in a gnashing rage, muttering back his threats and
reproaches, and Fabens turned into the house and enjoyed his early tea.
By the time Bogle was home, however, he had altered his mind, and went
and consulted his witnesses, and ascertained more definitely what was
surmised, and what could be proved.  Passing Troffater's on his way,
that incarnate mischief came out, and hailed him, saying, "Here, ho!
Bogle--hello there!  How d'ye dew? come back, come back, and see a
feller!  Don't be scornful!"

"I aint scornful.  I'm in a hurry," grumbled Bogle.

"Wal, come back a minute--a man broke his neck in a hurry.  What you
goin' to dew with Sculpin, eh?  He hooked your log-chain, I heern,"
said Troffater.

"I'm goin' to see Square Fabens agin to-morrow, and try and fetch the
feller to justice.  Sculpin _may_ be sorry for this.  I know what I ken
prove," said Bogle.

"I don't b'lieve the Square will try 'im.  I never could git a hearin'
of 'im.  He's stiff as steelyards, and short as pie-crust since he got
in office.  But mebby he'll knuckle a little to you.  If he will, put
Sculpin through a course of sprouts, and larn 'im better'n to hook
log-chains.  But I'm sorry I know anything about it; _I_ don't want to
go to court," said Troffater, with a mysterious elongation of his
little monkey face, and significant rollings and crossings of his black
and blue eyes.

"But what do you know, Troffater?" asked Bogie, with new light
animating his anxious eye and cheek.  "What do you know?  There's
somethin' to help me on a bit, I guess."

"O, I'm sorry I spoke," said Troffater, and spit through his teeth.  "I
don't know nothin' about it.  I don't want to go afore Fabens, and be
obleeged to look 'im in the face.  I wish I'd never seen Sculpin, nor
his little thievin' capers."

"Don't bother me, now," said Bogle.  "If ye know anything--and I bleeve
ye dew--out with it, and be my witness.  I'm afraid it'll give me a
sweat to beat 'im arter all.  Out with it, Tilly."

"O, go long! go long!" said Troffater.  "I hope you'll lick the rascal.
He's guilty's a dog.  But don't ax _me_, now, what _I_ know!  I
wouldn't go afore Fabens for a fat turkey, I wouldn't.  And then agin,
why should I want to hurt Sculpin, or lay a straw in his way?  Mebby
he'll dew better, sense the trap liked to ketch 'im; and I'm sure I
don't want to expose him."

"But tell me what you know, if you stay away from court," said Bogle.
"Tell me, and relieve my mind."

"Go long, I say, and don't ax me agin, for I don't know nothin'--that
I'd like to tell in court."

"I shall suppeeny you!" cried Bogle, departing in a huff.

"Don't ye dew it, Bogle!  O, don't ye dew it for all the world, Bogle!
I shall hev a caniption fit if ye dew!" shouted Troffater after him.

The next day Bogle came before the justice with evidence against
Sculpin, which Fabens regretted to believe was but too well founded;
and he issued a warrant, and a week from that day the action was
brought to trial.

The crowd of spectators was large, and the interest felt by all, at
least, curious and wakeful.  Squire Fabens took his magisterial seat
with an air of unaffected gravity, glanced around the assembly with a
mild, intelligent eye, and presented before them a noble form and
reverend mien, which inspired the virtuous, with new admiration for
goodness, and filled the vicious with secret remorse and apparent shame
for the evil of their doings.

Cicero Bray, Esq., appeared as counsel for the plaintiff, and C. Fox
Faddle, Esq., was counsel for the prisoner.

Lawyer Bray was a mountainous man, about thirty-five years old; and he
had impudence ingrained with his brawny meat and muscles, and his
tongue, let loose, would run like a mill-stream.  His head rose a
little above his ears, and was huge of girth in a horizontal measure.
His hair was a sort of wolf's gray, was clipped all over within an inch
of his head, and stood up like the bristles on a wild boar's back.  His
brows were bushy, and jutted, roof-like, over his deeply-sunken eyes;
his nose was bluff as a bull-dog's; his cheek-bones were rough and
high; his eyes were wide-set; his mouth was cut square across almost
from ear to ear; his chin was square and massy; he had an Adam's apple
as large as a gilly-flower ripening on his throat; his hands were large
and bony, and his voice "grated harsh thunder," as Milton said of the
gates of hell.

Lawyer Bray was prompt and saucy in court, and often won his case in
other towns by the thunder of his voice and the force of his action
while on the floor.  He could always read an abundance of law to
sustain any point he argued, although the law quoted might not be found
written in the book.  He was a capital shot, and kept a pair of the
fleetest hounds, and often hauled in his shingle and hunted week in and
week out, leaving business to follow suit.  He made light of religious
and sacred things; he could curse the sky when it thundered, and swear
the lights blue with the boldest voluble tongue; and yet he would
appeal to God to judge him in a plea, and silence, and exclude a
witness for any unpopular religious belief.  He rose to an extensive
business in the towns about, at last; and is quoted at this day, for
some wild gale of a speech, or some saucy joke, or strange adventure.

Lawyer Faddle was equally original.  He was as tall as Bray, whenever
he straightened up in an animated speech; but his long form commonly
bent over, and described a segment of a rainbow.  His head was small,
and his hair long and thin, and light and shiny as flax; his eyes were
almost white, and were set obliquely; his nose was long, aquiline, and
pinched together in the nostrils; his teeth were long and broad, and
those above shut over upon his lower lip and kept it in a constant
chafe.  His voice was clear enough, and it never failed in a speech;
but it seemed to reside in his little thirsty throat, and it piped like
a killdeer's in its proudest swell.

Lawyer Faddle excited some mirth for his originalities, and more
contempt for his vices among the farmers of Summerfield.  The opinion
of the town at that time may be given in the language of Uncle Walter,
who declared he was "hollow and foul as a sooty stove-pipe."

Lawyer Faddle however succeeded in creating an extensive business in
time, though most of his cases an honorable lawyer would have scorned;
and he reared a large family, and wanted to figure in later times as
one of the aristocracy of Summerfield.

Cicero Bray opened the case by a lengthened speech of very ambitious
eloquence, paying several unfelt compliments to the 'justice' and
'wisdom' of the 'worthy magistrate;' while he glanced through the
course of the trial, with an air and tone of triumph, stating in
thunder what he should undertake to sustain in evidence; and after a
most exhausting peroration, he hauled in his ragged voice, and arrested
its rumbling echoes, and gave way for a brief remark from the counsel
for the prisoner.  A son of the plaintiff, Welcome Bogle, was then
introduced to the stand, and testified that his father had owned a
log-chain with the initials of his name, "S. B." marked on one of the
hooks; and the chain in court being shown him, he said with audible and
honest emphasis, "Yes, that's the article."  He was cross-examined,
with considerable tact and much severity by C. Fox Faddle, Esq.; but he
stood the trial with remarkable composure and consistency, making no
variation of the facts testified, although he gave them in different
connections and words.

'Becca Ann Teezle was next introduced.  She had again and again
declared she was not afraid of a lawyer, and on this occasion her words
proved true.  Without the slightest diffidence, but with a boldness
rather which encouraged the other witnesses, and with a toss of the
head that Lawyer Faddle did not like, she said, "she had been out in
the woods pasture picking blackberries, and saw Mr. Sculpin pass that
way from the direction of Mr. Bogle's barn, with a chain on his back."

When cross-examined, she stated that "it was slung over his right
shoulder, and under his left arm, and it was _not_ a trace chain, nor a
halter chain, nor a breast chain, as Mr. C. Fox Faddle endeavored to
have it appear, but a log-chain; yes, _sir_, a log chain, for I saw it
with my own eyes."

"Then you sometimes see with eyes not your own, do you, Miss Teezle?"
said Lawyer Faddle with a comical leer, and a peculiar pipe of that
killdeer voice.

"Yes, I take owl's eyes when I want to look at a lawyer."

"Why do you do that, Miss Teezle? what can owls see that you cannot see
with your _own_ eyes, Miss Teezle?" asked the lawyer, attempting to
turn the laugh back from himself upon her.

"They can see _low fowl_ creatures in the dark," replied the blooming
maiden.

"Enough of this," said the lawyer; "and if Miss Rebecca Ann saw these
things with her own eyes, can she name any circumstances?  Did you
notice Mr. Sculpin very particularly?  Did he seem confused and
agitated when you met him? or was he calm,--was he possessed?"

"He was _possessed_--at least of the chain."

"Indeed, Miss Teezle, and you are certain of this; and now can you tell
me if it was when you were going _after_ the berries, that you saw him;
or _after_ you had picked them, and had started _after_ home?"

"It was _after_ we had been _after_ the berries, and _after_ we had
started _after_ home."

"Yes; and did you notice the _gait_ in which he moved along; notice it
with your own eyes, Rebecca?"

"He was in the _gate_ of the woods pasture south of Mr. Bogle's when we
saw him last."

"Yes, and you are so wise and discerning, you can tell whether his
course across the field, was straight or crooked?"

"Crooked, sir."

"About how crooked? can you tell this court, Miss Teezle?"

"Crooked as your questions, sir," the confident girl replied; and
though the lawyer appealed to the court several times to "silence the
insolence" of this witness before she was through; the court protected
the witness and rebuked the lawyer for impertinent questions, and the
insolence he charged upon her.

Nancy Nimblet was called, and she testified that "She was with 'Becca
Ann Teezle, on the time specified, and she remembered it too, as if it
was yesterday; and the prisoner came from the direction of the
complainant's barn, with a log-chain round him, over his right
shoulder, and under his left arm."  Lawyer Faddle declining her
cross-examination, Adonijah Nixon was called.  He testified that Mr.
Bogle and he were second cousins.  Cicero Bray objected to this as not
relevant; C. Fox Faddle insisted that it was relevant, and after some
arguing and sparring, the justice ruled it out.  Then Mr. Nixon said,
"on Simon's having expressed to me a suspicion that Jared had taken the
chain, I went with him to Jared's house and found the chain which you
see before you."

Seneca Waldron and Crispus Flaxman were called; but their evidence was
challenged and ruled out for non-age.

G. W. Pugg was called, and no one answered.  G. W. _Pugg_, repeated the
magistrate, slighting the initials and laying most emphasis on the
name.  No one answered; but two persons in the corner, a father and
son, exchanged significant glances and looked very acute and wise.  The
Squire raised his voice, and let it fall like an auctioneer's hammer on
the name.

"G. W. _Pugg_--is Mr. _Pugg_ in the room?"

At that imperative question, the gray-skirted, bushy-headed,
grog-bruising hunter of a father in the corner, rose and said, "Call
'im George _Washintun_, then I guess he'll cum!"

"_George_ WASHINGTON PUGG; will you come and testify?" said the Squire
with an emphasis on all the names, but rising and fairly hammering the
last; when a greedy-eyed, brockle-faced, over-grown blade of seventeen
opened up like a flax-brake, and loped forward over chairs and benches,
responding in a houndish flat-and-treble voice, "_I_ reckon I'll
_doo't_!  O yis, I reckon I _will_, Square Fabens."

The business of the court then proceeded, and when his evidence was
taken, Tilly Troffater mounted the stand, with an affected hesitancy,
and a genuine restlessness of his little earthen eyes; eager to indulge
his meddlesome humor, anxious for revenge upon, he little cared whom,
and yet awed to a look of shuffling shame, by the commanding mien of
the justice.  Clambering to his place, he was questioned by the court.

"Well, friend Troffater, what do you know of the action pending?"

"I telled Bogle I was sorry _I_ knew anything for I didn't want to come
to court," said the witness.

"But, what do you know, Mr. Troffater, that would tend to convict the
prisoner?  Tell us _that_," said the court.

"I don't want to tell," said the witness.  "Let the critter go clear,
for all me.  I wouldn't lay a straw afore im.  Mebby that's the last o'
his thievin' capers.  If 'tis, _I_ wouldn't tell what I know for all on
airth."

"You do know something, Mr. Troffater," interrupted Cicero Bray, Esq.,
obstreperously; "you know something, upon which we greatly depend to
convict the prisoner, and vindicate the majesty of law, and I insist
upon your evidence, sir."

"_Insist_, then, dew ye!" asked Troffater, gathering up into a comical
attitude; crossing and flashing his black and blue eyes, spitting
through his teeth, and ranging the stand, like a dancing bear.
"_Insist_, dew ye, eh?  Wal, I spose then I must free my mind; but,
think I'd ruther not."

"Go on, go on, Mr. Troffater, and bother us no longer in this way,"
said the court.

"Wal, I spose I must, if Mr. _Cis-a-roe_ there raily _insists_.  All I
know about Sculpin is, one night I went down there, and we got to
playin' cairds, and he acted green as a mess o' cowslops at fust, and
then he cheated; and--O, I can't, I can't tell the story.  I wouldn't
hurt Sculpin for the world.  Carry me off, and stick me in jail, if you
want to.  I _won't_ tell, so there!  I'll go to jail fust, and let the
pismires carry me out o' the keyhole!--But what's this, I say?  Mister
_Cis-ai-roe_ Bray, Esquare, insists that I _shall_ tell.  Wal, then, as
I was goin' to say, he cheated, and so, so, I cheated a little tew, and
by'n by, he got mad, and knocked me into a next-week sleep, and in that
sleep I seen a dream, and in that dream I seen him steal the log-chain.
And now, if ye'll hand over my witness fee, I'll be out o' this
quicker'n ye ken say Jack Robison."

Needless, indeed, were the task, if possible, to describe the sensation
created by this amazing disclosure; and we may only add in conclusion,
that the prisoner was convicted on other testimony; and after an
earnest admonition from the justice, on the turpitude of crime and its
dreadful miseries, Jared Sculpin was sentenced to give Simon Bogle one
good day's work, and one good fleece of wool for his time lost in
hunting the chain, and in bringing the offender to justice; to carry
the chain on his back through the main travelled road, in open
daylight, and humbly ask Simon Bogle's pardon.

The terms of the sentence were promptly and fully complied with, and it
was ever afterward said of Jared Sculpin, that he was an altered man,
and a virtuous citizen.



XIII.

HAPPINESS.

For agreeable cares, and solid interests and pleasures, the life of the
farmer is one of the first to choose.  It is indeed a labor, but a
labor peculiarly blest for its manly pursuits and ennobling mental
exercises.  Every farmer should be educated in useful knowledge, and
elevated tastes and sentiments: every farmer should have a religion of
the head, and heart, and life.

The farmer goes out upon his fertile fields and plants, and stands by
his own work to behold the growing increase which the Lord waters and
gives.  Surrounded by symbols of the Father, he has but to open his
eyes, and read the signs of His wisdom, providence, power and love.  He
stands in a temple of beauty and worship.  His subjects of thought are
the sky and mountain, the woods and waters, the genial fallow, the
growing crop, the ripening grain.  His companions are legion, for all
things in Nature flock to his fellowship; his orchestra is the air and
forest; his singers, the bobolink, bluebird and robin, who may be
fancied incarnate with spirits from the next region, paradise, come
down to gladden his heart with God's hallelujahs, and cheer his mind in
the rural toils.  God may appear most intimately with him all his days;
he may plough God's fallows; he may plant sweet affections, and harvest
ripe graces and joys; and every step on the green hills, and through
the warbling groves, may seem a step toward heaven.

Matthew Fabens was a farmer in genuine heart and soul.  Of mere book
learning, he did not speak, although he was quite a reader; and in many
acquirements which the world calls knowledge, he was limited as a
child.  But for acquaintance with a few fine histories and stories, and
with the ways and wonders of God; for a knowledge of Nature and
Scripture; for an enlightened reading of the lessons of Providence and
human life, he might have been accounted wiser than many who possessed
the wisdom of the schools, and looked down with vain contempt on his
humble sphere.  One of the few lovers of learning he was, who could
say, with the shepherd David, "O, God, Thou hast taught me from my
youth, and hitherto have I declared thy wonders!"

Nature surrounded him with symbols, and by the light of Christianity he
sought their interpretation.  And to his admiring mind, the presence,
the beauty, and sublimity of God continually addressed their
revelations; and he discovered in the water a mirror of this form; in
the sun, a symbol of His light; in the thunder, an echo of His voice;
in the wind, a delegate of His spirit and power; in the mountain, a
ladder to His sanctuary; and in the rain and dew, the medium of His
favor, and the means of His love.

Yet, with all his faith, wisdom, and virtue, he was by no means
perfect.  Several of the frailties of humanity he had failed to
overcome, and a few of its sinful impulses he found the discipline of
life no more than competent to rule.  He was honest and upright to a
nice conviction, and a large and gracious heart lay beating in his
breast; but brief moments would now and then take him by surprise, in
which he sighed for another and more pretending sphere; and he
regretted to feel growing almost imperceptibly upon him, an
unwarrantable love of show and praise.  Still, perhaps we should regard
these and other little errors more as misfortunes than sins, and
attribute them measurably to the effect of growing fortune, and the
influence of the world with which he had more and more to do.

Nor did such a faith in the Father, nor such an estate of beauty and
affluence, render his life a perpetual or unqualified joy.  Men would
not be men if perfect joy and peace were theirs, and the glowing robes
of angels dressed them.  He had never prayed to be taken out of the
world of trials and griefs; but to be kept from iniquity.  Religion had
not power to remove all sorrows from his life; but he prayed it might
aid him to overcome them; to rise above them stronger and better, for
the strength and courage required and employed to quell their stout
assaults.  That early, and most trying, unaccountable sorrow of his
life, the loss of his beloved Clinton, still chastened his joy, and
returned at times in all the freshness of its agony: and it was
rendered more poignant and lasting by the painful mystery which
concealed his fate, and fed suspense, and excited solicitous thoughts
and cares.

But faith had a power so to lift and sustain the troubled spirit, and
draw it away from communion with its griefs, he enjoyed a preponderance
of elevated bliss.  He had loved his parents with an affection which
could endure the loss of their society only with the hope of having
them restored to him hereafter; and many of his pleasures had been
sobered, and life itself became more serious, and at times more
desolate, since they both had been gathered to the grave.  But there
was a serene and unsubduable joy of the spirit abiding all the assaults
of sorrow, that shone forth like gold from the fire of the refiner, and
glowed like cheerful sunshine through the dusky wings of a storm.

His home had still remaining much solid happiness, for Julia lived to
participate his fortune, to share his affliction, and strengthen his
hopes; and the genial ardors of her youth, with love of Nature, and
delight in rural fellowships, though calmed and refined by suffering,
were yet her being's light and joy.  Her simple home, and its peaceful
scenes, and lovely enjoyments, were symbols to her mind, not
unprophetic of the home of the soul on high.

It was a simple home, for their new frame house was not then commenced,
except in the piles of boards and shingles that were gathering around
the barn; but what if there was no embroidered muslin, or garish damask
at the windows, and they looked through little narrow panes of blue and
blistered glass?  Did not their eyes find a recompense in the twinkling
wings and warbling songs that flitted and floated in the air around?
and in glorious landscapes of fields, and waters, and woods, that a
glance could catch and hold through the smallest light!  Did not the
curtains of verdure beneath and about, and the infinite canopy of
splendid sky above, make the bravest of all ambitious ornaments hung by
man or woman's hands, look little and coarse as a rag of baize?

One only sorrow remained for Julia to conquer; and how could the
triumph be won?  She sorrowed still for the loss of her lovely
first-born.  She could not doubt but God permitted it in love.  Perhaps
had Clinton been spared, he might have imbibed some sentiment of evil,
which would have poisoned his beautiful nature and prompted him away
into paths of sin.  Young Walter Mowry was a prodigal, and likely to
bring down his poor old mother in sorrow to the grave.  George Richmond
had no idea of the value of the money left him as a father's
hard-earned legacy; no self-reliance; and was likely to die miserable
and poor.  Perhaps, had Clinton lived to enjoy the blessings of such a
home, he had been a poor prodigal, or met misfortunes and griefs.

Then she must acknowledge, that while her heart had been afflicted, it
had been softened and refined; while her faith had been tried, it had
grown strong and buoyant as an eagle's wings.  Heaven seemed all about
her now, as it had not seemed before her bereavement; the lights of its
holy joy came gleaming through the veil; and its pure inhabitants were
felt to range around, and sympathize, and bless.

As a central bliss of existence, Fanny had grown to early womanhood,
while her mother seemed still young to be her companion, and Fanny was
blooming as the flowers and trees that had been her communicants, pure
as the fountains that mirrored her loveliness, and blithe as the birds
that welcomed her rural walks.  Fanny stood above a medium height, and
though she stooped a little at the wool-wheel, and in a ramble on the
hills, she presented a comely figure and interesting mien.

She was too white to please all tastes; her hair was almost a
cream-color; yet it was long, abundant and glossy, and was greatly
admired by some.  Her eyes were the lightest sky-blue, yet they were
full and quick, and flashed the fire of a luminous soul; and not glassy
and languid, as blue eyes often are.  She had a nose, mouth and teeth,
like her father's, with her mother's cheeks, all ruddy-red with her
mother's maiden blushes.  She had hands and feet for a Bloomer, had
Bloomers bloomed in her time.  She had a round, clear, hilarious voice,
that gave the birds lessons in melody, softened and sweetened the
gentlest gales, and gladdened the day and the night on the farm.  She
loved her home and friends; she loved Irving, and Scott, and Goldsmith;
she loved Beattie's Minstrel, Milton's Comus, and Campbell's Wyoming;
she loved the garden and fields; she loved the woods, and lake, and
sky; she loved bee-balm and clover; she loved double-pinks, and
double-roses; she tasted the fragrance of peaches and apples, with a
purer zest than that which relished their pleasant pulps; and every
lovely and tender creature found in her a friend.

In Fanny, her mother found more joy--upon Fanny her mother centered
more lavish affection than she could have afforded or realized, had
another grown by her tide, to divide the endearments of the household.
But, O, the agony she would sometimes feel at the recollection of that
year of sorrow!  How it would bow her spirit, and run thrilling along
the delicate fibres of her heart!  That night of woe!  That panther
scream!  That dream of Troffater!  That recovered hat, now sacredly
treasured to remind her of her idol!  That lingering, sad suspense!
Those sleepless nights, and comfortless days!  How could she forget
them, nor shudder in convulsions of anguish, as often as they rolled
back like lava-floods on her soul?

And the suspense which still haunted her!  The dream and dying words of
her mother breathed hope to struggling desire, but reason banished
assurance as soon as it rose, and how dreadful the suspense that
supported the mystery!  Could she have known that he was devoured by a
wolf or panther, and suffered no more, what an occasion of joy it had
been! what relief to sorrow, what an end to disappointments, compared
with this dreary and brooding uncertainty, which preyed upon her nature
like a never-dying worm!  How precious must have been the faith which
could mitigate a sorrow like that, and introduce the suffering heart to
seasons of joy and intervals of peace!



XIV.

THE COLD SEASONS.

For a good, long period, fruitful seasons and liberal blessings came on
the Lake Country.  The last was a year of unusual abundance.  Plenty
poured her horn at every happy farmer's.  Barns looked as if ready to
burst with fulness, and stacks of hay and grain studded the pleasant
fields.  Cribs were piled full of corn, and cellars were stowed with
provisions.

But earth would be heaven too soon if all evil and vicissitude were
ended.  Checks upon our prosperity must fall, and changes tax and
interrupt our gains; and he is not most of a man who meets least evil,
and loses least of the reward of toil; but he who endures with the
manliest courage, the mightiest will to overcome, and most dexterous
hand to manage for decided good, all troubles that assail him.

In the autumn of that abundant year, it was predicted that cold seasons
were near at hand.  The Indians saw their approach in the fur of the
foxes, and the masonry of beavers.  Farmers were confirmed in the
prophecy by the extra stores of the bees, and extra husks on the ears
of corn.  A cold and snowy winter would certainly come, and they were
but too truly assured that a cold spring and summer would follow.
Several people heeded the warning, and hauled extra supplies of
fire-wood, kept larger stores of provisions, and lived more
thoughtfully and saving.  Fabens took forethought, and prepared for the
winter.  He sold but little of his abundance, saying, "If cold seasons
were to follow, stores of provisions were better to lay up than money
or notes."  He talked with his neighbors on the subject, and a number
heeded his advice.  He proposed making wood bees for several of the
poor, and succeeded in seeing ample piles of beech and maple at their
doors.  He got up a committee to visit the poor throughout the winter,
and see that no child of God suffered in so bountiful a world.  Some
people thought he was taking a great deal of trouble on his hands,
without the prospect of any reward; but he assured them that, with
every fire of comfort he built on a poor man's hearth, he built a new
fire of pleasure in his own cheerful heart; and in the thing itself
which they called trouble, he received such full and flowing tides of
bliss, as made him think heaven could begin on earth.  "It is not the
crusty turtle," said he one day to Wilson, "it is not the crusty
turtle, that slinks into his selfish shell, and twinkles so coldly his
little haughty eye, that receives or communicates most pleasure or
delight.  No, it is the kindly lamb, that gives you his fleece for a
winter garment; it is the sweet-hearted robin, that carries the seeds
of abundance over God's plantations, and sings of His love by the poor
man's cabin, and feeds and covers the babes in the woods."

There were some who laughed at his superstition for believing things in
nature could warn men of the weather a month ahead; and they made no
preparation for a change.  But he remained confident, and believed God
was speaking to him in symbols to set his house in order.

"God must stoop a good 'eal, I reckon, to become an almanic maker,"
said Colwell.

"God forges the snow-flake, and sprinkles down every drop of rain,"
said Fabens.  "God teaches the squirrels to prepare for winter, and
instructs the ant, and beaver, and bee; and why would it be stooping
for him to teach as, by signs in nature, to be ready for the changes he
may bring?  He does his own work, and speaks his own mind on this world
every single day; and if we look for his signs we shall be acquainted
with his ways."

The prediction began to fulfil.  On the last day of October a
snow-storm fell, and Gloom cast her shadow on the chilling scene.
Fabens called Fanny to the window to gaze at the scudding clouds and
driving snow.  With wondering eyes and open mouth, she stared and
sighed on the dreary, howling winter.  "We must train you, my dear,"
said he, "to court the winter blast, and laugh, and be thankful amid
storms.  That goodness of our Father which pours in the rain, blooms in
the flowers of summer, and smiles in the sweet spring mornings, speaks
also in the wind, floats on the clouds, and sifts softly down in the
white, white snows of winter."

That is called the cold winter to this day.  It was deep, and long, and
dreary.  Snow that fell in October was not melted away till the last
April rains dissolved it.  Wild animals died of cold and hunger; sheep
and cattle perished in numbers in the warmest pens; tame and wild fowls
were killed by the cutting frosts; and several families suffered
extremely, notwithstanding the committee kept astir on the busiest
labors of love.  Fabens' woods were easiest to enter, and by the
exertions of many, a road was every week opened to them, and the
destitute were furnished free with new supplies.  Yet, such was the
pinch of one long storm, that Dickey Shymer burned up the bark he
designed to sell for grog; and the poor mischief of a Troffater, having
not so much as bark, burned his best bedstead, then burned his
eel-rack, and was unstocking his musket for a last lonely fagot, when
Fabens drove up with a towering load of green maple wood.  Grog-dealers
were kept from freezing and starving, but they did no business to speak
of that winter.  Even Tilly, with his desperate bandy legs, could not
lead his gang to worry a way often to a tavern.  They were forced to
live soberly.

The spring at last came on, and by the tenth of May it was quite warm;
and many believed the cold season story was told; and some laughed at
Fabens and others, for sowing the last fall so many acres of wheat, and
putting into the ground now such crops of peas, potatoes, and oats.
Some sold off grain they had laid up in store for a famine, and the May
sun shone so warmly, they planted considerable corn, expecting
speculation.

The corn came up finely, and looked thrifty and dark.  The forests were
heavy with foliage.  Fruit trees and meadows contended for the fairest
blossoms.  Dairies were diminished, so great was the prospect of summer
grain; and Hope smiled sweetly on Summerfield.  But clouds came over
when the corn was at the first hoeing, and terror and disappointment
stormed upon the land.  Snow fell three feet deep on a level, and the
cold stung all nature with a chill, that seemed blown from the lips of
February.

The sun again shone, and the snow went off; but the corn drooped, and
the leaves of the trees withered, as if a fire had scorched them.  And
the season proved a cold and frosty one; and many there were that
wished they had sown winter grain, and oats, and peas; ploughed up less
green sward, and kept larger dairies.  Another cold winter and summer
followed, and drearier days were never seen in the Lake Country.  A few
speculators thrived, and the forehanded had chances to make much money;
but the poor, and those who had laid up small supplies before, and
lived sparingly, were overtaken as by a wild storm on a moor, and
suffered greatly.

Mr. and Mrs. Fabens made every exertion in their power to mitigate the
griefs of the neighborhood; and they influenced several to join them in
missions and labors of relief and love.  Agreements were made, that
they would sell all they could spare at the lowest possible prices, be
lenient about pay, inculcate and practise the sternest economy, and
regard speculators, in that time, as foes and oppressors of the people.

More forethought was exercised, and the last of the cold seasons was
met with preparations that mitigated and cheered the grievous glooms.
Dairies were enlarged, corn was abandoned, and the hardier grains
supplied; and though suffering and anxiety abounded, the people were
enabled to escape a famine; and with hearts poured out in thanks, they
welcomed the return of seasons warm and fruitful.

There were many good people staggered by that stern and afflictive
vicissitude.  They could not conceive why it came.  They could not
reconcile it with the goodness of God.  They saw not why, if He was
good, there should be winter and storms at all; and not perpetual
sunshine and summer.  They questioned Fabens on the subject.  Mr.
Nimblet questioned him, and Colwell asked him to "clear up the
character of his God."  Mr. Nimblet had heard Fabens express a hope
that God would overrule evil for good, questioned him on that hope, and
adduced the cold seasons as illustrations.

"And how can you explain these things in accordance with such a hope,
Squire Fabens?" asked he.  "And why are there so many sufferings in
which we can see no good?"

"Because with our blind eyes we cannot see the result of all that
happens," said Fabens, "does it follow that we never shall behold them
issuing in good?"

"O no; but why should we have winter at all, when continual summer
would be so much more pleasant?"

"To me perpetual summer would not be more pleasant.  We are so
constituted that diversity of air, weather and prospects, is
indispensable to our enjoyment, and progress.  Would you appreciate the
beauty and blessing of spring, summer and autumn, you must experience
in their unfailing turn, the gloomy rigors of winter."

"But why have these last been colder than others, causing so much
suffering and need?"

"I cannot see all the Divine design, but I can see a lesson of good in
the cold seasons.  We learn wisdom, and get strength and breadth of
life by suffering.  These last winters have taught many of us wisdom
and forethought; made us prudent; showed us how dependent we are, and
yet learned us self-dependence.  After this I'll warrant, the people of
Summerfield will do and save more in the summer, to lay up comforts for
the winter; and provide for unseen needs.  And I feel in my heart a
warmer sympathy for suffering, and know a little of the satisfaction
one enjoys assisting his neighbors; while I see our neighborhood bound
together in stronger bonds of love, by the concern which those bitter
cold storms forced us to take of one another.  What would become of
charity if there were no wants to relieve? or hope, if we could not
keep looking for pleasanter springs and more fruitful summers?"

"But, cold summers came, and the corn was all cut off, giving nobody
good for the labor of ploughing and planting."

"Good was done to our lands, neighbor Nimblet, good was certainly done
to our lands.  We had run our corn lands too hard; fruitful seasons
tempted us to imprudence, and we were running them all out.  They have
had a long rest now and will be more productive.  Beside, we have found
out that there are many honest ways to get a living, and have learned
how to shift from right hand to left.  A knack like that is well worth
learning."

"From lessons of evil?"

"Yes, from lessons of evil.  Would the maples stand the storms as they
do, and grow all the more; would the oaks get so great, if they sprung
from a city hot-house?"

"Are you as happy as you would be, Squire, if you could remember no
affliction?"

"I enjoy happiness of a higher, sweeter and solider kind, I assure you,
as I think of all past sorrows.  Who can have so sweet an enjoyment of
health, as one that has recovered from sickness, and walks out in the
animating air and light?  Yes, some of my best joys come and cheer me
and strengthen me, after I have suffered.  From anguish and bereavement
the brightest views of God have shone on my soul, as you have seen
rainbows shine brightest in the darkest skies."

"I cannot see everything as you do," said Mr. Nimblet, and went his
way, while Fabens was preparing to speak of several more blessings,
that would follow the cold seasons.



XV.

A WAR OF EXTERMINATION.

The people of Summerfield were never so thankful or happy as in the
beautiful year that followed the Cold-Seasons.  Plenty returned to
abide there, and Prosperity re-appeared, leading Hope, Comfort, Peace,
and Joy in her jocund train.  Still that continued a land of the earth,
bearing the thorn as well as the rose, having briers as well as berries.

The people were greatly offended.  Wolves and foxes still infested the
woods, and many of their lambs and fowls were killed and eaten by the
animals.  They were hated with increased hatred.  Not because they were
any worse than they ever had been before; but the people grew impatient
of annoyance, and found it more and more difficult to see why wolves
and foxes were made; and why they were suffered to live, and prowl
about the abodes of men.

The birds too were very troublesome.  Woodpeckers pecked the trees, and
robins plucked the first ripe cherries.  Hawks pounced upon the
chickens, and crows and blackbirds pulled the corn.  What were they all
made for, and poised upon wings, with an omnipresence to annoy our
race?  Robins were good to eat, and they were more harmless, than
others; but why were blackbirds let loose on earth? and for what did
crows and hawks take flight in our air?  Why were the brutal beasts and
troublesome fowls, saved out of the things that were drowned in Noah's
flood?

Fabens confessed he could not see for what good purpose wolves and
foxes were made; farther than the vagabond sort of happiness they might
enjoy, and the discipline they gave to man in griefs and vexations.
The predatory birds he thought were made equally in vain.  He was tired
all out with their felon ravages.  He judged at last that wolves and
foxes, and the blackbirds, and birds of prey, ought to be exterminated.
Nothing now could so benefit the town, as a war of extermination, He
could not raise a perfect crop of corn; he could not enjoy his ox-heart
cherries; he could not raise a full brood of chickens, nor keep what
were raised; he could not trust his geese from his door, nor turn his
sheep and lambs into his fresh woods pasture, without suffering
depredations; and something must be done to destroy the evil beasts and
birds.

"We told you the first winter you was here, Fabens, that you would have
to come to that," said Colwell.  "It is high time a town meeting was
called, and a general plan hit on to kill off the critters.  I have my
plan about it, and I have told it to a good many who fall in with me."

"What is your plan?  The woods are alive with foxes, and there are a
great many wolves yet away back in the swamps and hills, while the air
is black with crows and blackbirds.  How can we lessen their numbers
much?"

"Club together and buy at the apothecaries a hundred dollars worth of
pison; fix it in scraps of meat, and scatter it through and through the
woods; and if it don't make the animals scarce, I'll quit a guessin'.
Then git up a hunt for the birds--a univarsal hunt, and have judges and
give premiums to them that count the most game; continue the hunt a
week or fortnight for two or three years runnin', and the birds won't
pester us much after that."

"The plan is a good one, and I'll do my part to carry it into
execution.  I am all out of patience with the creatures.  If we do not
kill more of them, they will get to be worse than Egypt's plagues."

A town meeting was called, and Colwell's plan was adopted.  A large sum
was contributed to procure poison; and bird hunts were arranged.  The
poison was scattered abroad, and hundreds of foxes and wolves lay dead
all over the woods and swamps; while the money was returned with
interest to the people, by the sale of furs gathered from their bodies.
The bird hunts came off with equal success, and there followed a marked
cessation of annoyance.

Only now and then a robin molested a fruit tree; and the tap of the
woodpecker was seldom heard.  Hawks and crows that were left, looked so
wistful and lonely they were not begrudged the little they ventured at
times to take.  Blackbirds troubled the corn but little, and were more
reserved of their mannerless clack.  The fowls could repose at night
without fear of foxes; and lambs might wander in the wide woods
pasture, and lie down unharmed by wolves.

It could not be denied however that the fields and Woods were less
cheerful, if they were more safe.  Some could not sense the change,
except in an increase of harvests, cattle and fowls; others again, more
spiritual in feeling, hearing and sight, discerned a gloom in the air,
and a gloom on every scene, that seemed ominous of woe.  Fanny Fabens
took all that gloom to her heart, and she seemed another being.  Her
nature was glad and joyous, as a grove full of robins; but now she grew
sad, and wept and moaned, where once she laughed and sang.  She could
hardly account for all her grief; she seemed to inhale it from the air,
imbibe it from the light, and taste it in the breath of the woods, and
the odor of the flowers.

But the death of the birds she knew was the beginning of her sorrows.
She wept the loss of her favorite robin, from the ash tree in the
middle meadow; and it was no longer a bliss, but a grief, to lie in
that lovely shade, and sing her jocund songs, and scent the clover
blooms.  She missed the little sparrow that had come three years in
succession, and reared three broods in a season, from a nest in the
honeysuckle that curtained her window.  She missed the robins from the
cherry-trees, and the cherries palled on her tongue.  She missed the
bluebirds from the cornfield, and the yellow-birds from the flax; she
missed the meadow-larks from the lawns, and the quails from the oats
and wheat; she missed the bobolinks from the hayfields, and the jays
from the girdling; she missed the ground-birds from the pastures, and
thrushes and sweet swamp-robins from the woods; and the poor girl
wandered about for months very sad and lonely, singing no songs and
sharing no delights.

Mrs. Fabens felt the bereavement quite as keenly as Fanny, and she
declared, if the ox-heart cherries were fairer and more abundant now,
their sweetness was bitter to her taste, and it seemed like devouring
so much beauty and song to eat them; for beauty had been banished and
song silenced, to bring them to such a yield.  Fabens could not deny
that the gloom invaded his heart also, and he took no comfort in the
cherries, while he missed the music of the birds, and missed the songs
of joy that the birds prompted Fanny to sing.

Yet, to him it seemed a just and victorious warfare, and he exchanged
congratulations with his neighbors.  He was pleased to get free from
plagues, and he thought that relief was a good achieved of a real evil.
His next argument with Mr. Nimblet, was less confidently urged, while
Mr. Nimblet brought new illustrations to his aid.  Fabens, indeed,
staggered at the reasons that now opposed his view.  Prowling beasts of
prey were evil as anything that had started up to devour his idea, and
good to all must come, he thought, for sweeping them away.

Another season bloomed, and the birds were very few, and the bark of
the fox, and the howl of the wolf, were very seldom heard.  But now was
the beginning of plagues more appalling.  Flies that had served the
robins for food, swarmed forth unmolested, and stung the cherry-trees,
so that they bore little fruit at all, and that little was wormy and
worthless.  And worms that had served all the birds of the air with
meat, now multiplied greatly, and cut down all the vines, and destroyed
double the corn that the fowls had taken; while caterpillars and
locusts trimmed the orchards, and plagued the oats and wheat.

"I begin to think that the poor birds were our friends, after all, and
we shall now get our pay for killing them," said Fabens to Colwell, one
day, while talking of the new annoyance.

"Prospects for crops never looked so squally afore," said Colwell.  "I
can stand crows and blackbirds, I can stomach wolves and foxes,
better'n them nasty worms."

"We called that evil which God sent for good," said Fabens.

"I know not what we are coming to," sighed neighbor Nimblet.

"But, we done some good, our lambs and geese are safe, sense we pisoned
the animals," said Colwell, cheering up his heart.

"I have noticed that the woods looked very yellow of late," said
neighbor Nimblet.  "What can be the cause of that?  My maple orchard,
my chestnut woods, my cedar swamp and pine groves, look as though they
were dying."

"I have noticed it," said Fabens; "but I did not think to examine till
yesterday.  My most valuable pines and cedars, and my chestnuts and
sugar maples are dying.  And come to examine them, I find the wood-mice
and rabbits have girdled them.  This is something I never saw before.
The woods fairly crawl with creatures that are destroying them.  And we
are at fault for it all, neighbor Nimblet.  Say what you will, wolves
and foxes were our friends.  They destroyed vermin and rabbits, and
protected our woods.  But because they took a goose, and a lamb, once
in a while, in part payment for the good they did, we saw in them
nothing but evil, we hated them and killed them.  Now, creatures more
destructive come forth, destroying all before them."

"It cannot be quite so bad, Squire," replied Mr. Nimblet.

"It is the solemn truth, bad as it is, and I know it, and we are having
our punishment for our error," rejoined Squire Fabens.

"I must go and see," said Mr. Nimblet; and the conversation ended.

He went to see his woods, and found it even so; and he was greatly
grieved, for much valuable property was wasting as in a fire.  It
proved a greater calamity than the cold seasons.  It was long before
the fine forests of Summerfield recovered from their wounds.

But that scourge was a good lesson, from which all took profit in the
end.  Men learned more of the designs of God, saw more good in all His
works, let the birds and animals live, valued more preciously what was
left them, enjoyed more wisely and sweetly such blessings as came, and
were more thankful.

There were none who took more instruction from that lesson than Mr. and
Mrs. Fabens.  It elevated their views, it increased their faith, it
enlarged the sphere of their spirits, and cleared up more of the
mystery of evil.  All of that mystery they did not expect to see
unveiled below.  It was not a possible thing to make mortal men see and
understand it.  But if the dark cloud still spread its dubious dusk on
the sky, more and more of it melted into the rainbow as they gazed; and
while part of that bow was still involved in the cloud, and part hidden
away far below the horizon, enough was still glowing in glory on their
sight, and enough gleaming and breaking through the darkness, to enable
them to know it would burst at last on their blessed eyes, in a perfect
circle of the light of love.

"We should all be happier and more fortunate," said Mrs. Fabens, "if we
had faith to see a blessing of God in more of the things we regard as
evil.  It requires great faith, I know, to be reconciled under all
griefs, and see a good design in all that afflicts us.  It has been
hard for me to see why God made wolves and foxes, and how they could
minister good to man.  They may be evil, for all I know, but if they do
not fulfil a good design, why has it proved an evil to kill them?"

"It does, indeed, require great faith to accept your suggestion; but
that faith must be the true one after all," said the Squire.  "They
made incursions on our folds.  They took now and then a lamb, or fowl;
but how much less have they taken than enough to pay them for the good
they did.  How few of us would do the same good to them for the same
small reward.  We are impatient of griefs and vexations.  We chafe, and
foam, and champ the bit that curbs in our passions, and reins us around
the wisest way.  We think it hard that wolves should sometimes bring us
a disguised blessing.  We find it difficult to discover the good design
of apparent ill.  But at last we shall see how evil may issue in good.
The end will reveal the good design of all.  As I understand it, evil
is the imperfection which necessarily follows our nature.  The moral
difference between an imperfect world and a perfect God.  The shadow of
the Tree of Life.  The cloud that veils the Mercy-Seat.  The sad and
the bitter, the dark and dreary, that serve but to reveal the joyful
and sweet, the bright, and glad, and beautiful.

"And we know by experience, Julia, that the evils of this world may be
turned into a high and fruitful discipline; and from that discipline we
may rise to a life of maturer powers, and more ample and energetic
character; with thriftier faith and greener hope; and clustering graces
all around the heart, of juicier pulp and rarer flavor."



XVI.

THE MINISTER.

It was now past the middle of September, and the farmers of Summerfield
had finished their fall seeding; most of them had spread their flax;
some, cut their corn, gathered their pumpkins, and dug their potatoes:
and all were enjoying a September of the soul.

Fabens was enjoying it out on his accustomed seat, beneath a favorite
shade-tree, in the green mown meadow before his home; and indulging one
of those golden reveries that rise in the autumn time.  The June-like
lustre of the glowing sky; the beauty of the fields now blooming in
second verdure, like aged souls with new hopes and loves in the light
of Christianity; the affluence of orchards, dropping the burden,
diffusing the fragrance of their mellow fruit; the opulence of
woodlands, exhibiting signs of the first frost, yet still withholding
the wealth of their bright foliage; the pride of his gallant horses,
liberated from the plough, and galloping here and there, on sports of
majesty in the upland pasture; the appearance of fine cattle grazing on
the distant mead; the sight of yellow stubble-fields, sleeping in
remoter view; the neatness and abundance of his farm-yard, proclaimed
by the lordly cock in a rousing and resonant crow; the odor of hay and
grain from his barn near by; the quiet and cosy comfort of his home;
the presence of Julia and Fanny, the one reading David from that noble
old ode called the Sixty-fifth Psalm, and the other at his side,
embracing his neck in a clasp of leaning affection: those pleasant
sights that regaled his gaze, and those ardent emotions of gratitude
that thrilled him through and through in the sweet contemplation,
directed his thoughts to the God who gave them, and he thanked him for
his bounty; attained still more lofty conceptions of his love; and, as
Julia concluded the psalm, repeated the words, "Praise waiteth for
Thee, O God!  Thou crownest the year with thy goodness, and thy paths
drop fatness.  They drop upon the pastures of the wilderness, and the
little hills rejoice on every side.  Praise waiteth for Thee!"

As he concluded the pious apostrophe, a stranger, till then unobserved,
stepped before him, and inquired if it was Squire Fabens of Summerfield
whom he had the honor to address.  Being answered in the affirmative,
the stranger continued--"I know one Daniel Fabens on the Hudson, at
whose house I have often tarried, and aware that I was about to visit
the Lake Country, he informed me of you, sir, and insisted on my giving
you a call."

"Daniel Fabens?--Daniel Fabens;--Let me see.  O, it must be my Uncle
Abraham's son; he had a Daniel; the only one of the name I know of.  It
must be he."

"I think he called you Uncle, sir."

"No, cousin.  Our fathers were brothers.  I am often called Uncle by
cousins and neighbors.  But it's of no consequence, sir.  You are just
as welcome.  I was only casting in my mind what Fabens it could be.  I
am glad to see a friend from the Hudson, sir; and what may I call your
name?"

"My name is Lovelight.  I am a minister of Christ.  I have a message to
your country."

"I took you for a minister.  You are welcome to Summerfield; and to a
home with us while you tarry.  This is my wife, sir, and that is my
daughter.  Walk into the house, walk in; and I will take care of your
horse: you both look weary."

The horse was unsaddled, and washed with cool water from the well, and
turned into a field of fresh clover; and the stranger followed Mrs.
Fabens and Fanny into the house; and, after resting and bathing, a good
supper, with a dessert of peaches and cream, was taken.  Evening came
on, and with it a long conversation, and before they retired, the hour
was approaching midnight.

"As you are a minister, sir, will you tell me of what persuasion?"
asked Fabens, while they conversed.

"The persuasion of Christmas I believe," said the minister with a
gentle affability.  "I think little of sects.  They are too exclusive
and formal.  I love the church of Christ.  That is catholic and real;
that embraces the good of all sects, and is the mother of us all."

"I agree with you there.  A sect is a body too little and low for the
spirit of Christ.  But I didn't know but you held to one of the
particular creeds of Christians."

"The Bible is my creed and counsel."

"That is right.  But you preach a doctrine peculiar to some one of the
Christian denominations, I suppose?  I am not particular to know,
however.  It was only my curiosity."

"I am not particular to conceal my views.  I would be glad to preach in
your neighborhood, and allow you to judge of my doctrine.  I would be
glad to preach next Sunday."

"The only meeting-house in town, I am sorry to say, is occupied every
Sunday.  I have no doubt but Mr. Darling, our minister, would be glad
to have the people hear you.  He is a good man; and, if he is a
sectarian, he is not so exclusive as many."

"I would not ask him to give up his pulpit to a stranger.  It would not
be best, I think, to apply to him.  Have you not a school-house, or
barn, that would convene the people with comfort?  I am used to such
temples of worship."

"Our school-house is small, and our barns are full; and I am sorry it
happens so, for I want to hear your message."

"Then I will preach in the open air.  Fix me a stand under your
shade-tree, and I'll want no better place.  I'll be in God's free
temple then--a fit place for God's free gospel."

"It shall be done for you; and I will send around notice far and near.
And shall we hear something against the sects, and their cant and
dogmas?"

"No, not at present, from me.  Truth will wage its own warfare when
given fair play; and while I leave truth to conquer, I denounce less,
and invite the more.  Set the Infinite Good before the people, and
invite them to rise and accept it; and they are very sure, sooner or
later, to come.  This was Christ's way.  He opened heaven on earth, and
invited men to prepare and receive its light and joy to their mourning
souls.  'Repent,' said he, 'for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'"

"If the people heard more of this preaching," said Fabens, "they would
rouse from their indifference, and live a heavenly life."

"The world has been denounced for indifference," said the Minister;
"but the world is not all to blame.  The gospel it hears is too seldom
of the inviting kind, adapted to its wants, addressed to its affections
and reason.  Men have been fed on the letter, while needing the spirit
and truth which the letter conceals.  Preachers have spun too much
gossamer and tinsel; and woven too little solid bang-up and beaver for
wear and comfort.  The people have been served with too many custards
and candies of entertainment, while hungering hotly for the bread of
life."

"Very true," said Fabens.  "I have felt this hunger myself, though our
preacher here has given us very good fare."

"In consequence of this error," said the Minister, "many good people
have taken the impression that there is nothing in religion worthy of
their first concern.  That it has not a spirit which will act on a week
day; and neither food nor clothing for the soul can be found among its
provisions.--Why, sir, religion is a legacy of infinite love to a world
groaning in sin.  It has power to change this earth to a paradise, and
transfigure its inhabitants to angels.  It is the one thing needful for
every-day life; the principal requisite for a true integrity and honor;
the actual virtue; the legitimate hope; the perfect charity; the
paramount peace; the kingdom of heaven at hand.  As men permit its warm
influence to stream down into their hearts, they will kindle and rise
to a new and noble life, and walk and live in heaven."

"I am confident of that," said Fabens, "and I am glad you are out on a
mission of this gospel.  I am sure we need it enough in this
neighborhood."

"Christians should be all on fire with the spirit of this religion
now," said the Minister.  "They should give it forth to the world as a
vital heat warming up the temple of the heart like a furnace; a light,
flooding every niche and cranny of that temple with full illumination;
a fountain, watering all its sanctities and graces; and music, filling
it to overflow with the voice of heavenly song."

"Give me that religion," said Fabens, "and I shall be rich and high
indeed.  But I cannot hope to enjoy it in such full and actual life."

"The world is like you," said the Minister.  "It wants hopefulness.  It
wants hope in God, and faith in his providence.  Here is the grand
want; hope in God and faith in his providence.  God is doing his work
in this world at this hour; his spirit moves on the waters now,
bringing peace out of discord, and light out of darkness; and the
people should know and feel it as a vital truth.  When they do, they
will rely on his love, and enjoy his religion."

"I wish you would give us a sermon on this subject," said Fabens.

"I will," said the Minister, and they concluded the conversation,
attended prayers and retired to rest.

Arrangements were made, and notice, circulated for the meeting.  The
hour of the meeting came, and it was a placid and splendid hour as ever
gilded a country Sabbath.



XVII.

THE MEETING.

A country Sabbath! who can go out of the city and enjoy that even in
imagination, without bringing the day, and all its placid light, and
all its green and tranquil blessings home with him in his soul?  It
steals upon you like the floating raptures of a trance, and O! there
are such smiles and splendors of God in the sky; there is such a spirit
of worship in the hushed and reverent air; there are such songs of
praise from all the temples of Nature rising on wings of holy melody to
heaven; and you behold such comely forms and faces descending the green
hills, and emerging from the woods and lanes: you forget this
prison-durance, and seem to walk in a higher sphere.

The Minister was a little man, of perfect form, lithe as a spirit;
ardent, open, affable; with a high and swelling forehead; a deep, warm,
lustrous eye that darted forth the living fire of intelligence and
love; a long thin nose, winding in a slight and not ungraceful curve
toward the right shoulder; an eloquent gesture, a clarion voice, and a
face benignant and bland as the mild morning star.

A large concourse of people assembled to hear him, and after the usual
service of introduction, he rose, and casting those kindling eyes
around on the audience a moment, in a voice round and clear as a forest
warbler's, he said, "_The Spirit of God moved on the face of the
waters._"  This was his text, and,--"I suppose it is commonly
conceded," said he, "that the book of Genesis is the most ancient, if
not most sublime of all the writings that enrich the world.  The
learned have cited the first verses of this book as specimens of
sublimity unequalled by any language.  And though the prophets, and the
gospel authors outsoar Moses, I think, in the morally sublime; yet
there are two or three touches in Genesis that roll and roar like
Niagara before me, and stir me so strongly, fill me so full, and lift
me so high, I find it an effort to rise to any grander conception than
they give.

"The verse on creation; the void and formless earth rolling off in
darkness; the Spirit of God on the waters; the mandate for light; the
dividing of the floods; the fixing of the firmaments; the lifting of
the sun and moon to the heavens; the arrangement of day and night; the
bringing of the seasons; the making of man: all sweep before our mind
in visions of awe, and might, and gloom; magnificence, glory, peace and
love; and we may study the chapter till we shall seem to be there in
the midst of the awful scene, and find ourselves throbbing and swaying
with a rapt spirit, and a bounding heart.

"'The Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.'  This, my
friends, is an assurance of God's Providence, only surpassed by the
highest announcements of Christ.  And the text has moved me profoundly,
and come in a thousand times to exalt my faith amid trials, and sooth
my griefs, and calm my solicitudes, when anguish has pierced me, and
storms have raged.  The text finds a thousand illustrations.  The world
was called from chaos, and warring elements, and confused and
conflicting principles have not yet been restrained from their fury, or
soothed to perfect peace.  There are wars among the waters of nature;
there are wars among the waters of the moral world; there are wars of
passion in our souls, and we lose our confidence often, and often our
peace and rest.  But 'the Spirit of God moves on the face of the
waters;' and they who believe this, will never feel forsaken, or lose
their balance or their hope.

"_The Spirit of God moves on the waters as they flow in the course of
Nature_; and at this very hour He is present in all her stirring
scenes, commanding her mighty forces, preserving her general harmony,
and leading all her rushing rivers of motion, power and life, into one
wide ocean of purity and peace.  And this is that gracious Providence
asserted in the text, and announced so often by the Savior.  It
requires a lofty faith to discover that Providence, at all times; to
detect its personal presence, and rest in its parental love.  What a
time it was in the beginning, while the earth was formless and void,
and darkness brooded over the seas that embosomed her--if we could have
witnessed the scene--what a time to shake and shatter this faith!  And
during long ages afterward, while the land was forming in little
islands above the waters, how impossible it would have been for one of
us to see the Divine Presence on the waters, look for harmony, beauty,
life and peace to be brought out of all!

"And then in times of confusion, we have seen, when storms have fallen,
when winds have howled, and the waters roared with trouble; what an
effort was required to believe the Lord was in the storm speaking
peace; and the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters!

"Then, there are storms we know of, but cannot see at all times.
Electric and magnetic storms, when all the vital forces of nature are
in commotion, and wars are waged from pole to pole: when the thunders
growl, and lightnings flash, and the ruddy aurora dances and flames.
What apparent confusion reigns!  You think the thunder, lightning and
aurora, are announcements of war and commotion scarcely yet begun, and
you fear and tremble.

"But how will knowledge and faith disperse these terrors, and reduce
their confusion to harmony and rest!  The very war of waters at the
creation was their effort after peace.  When the world stood in islands
above the lonely seas, the Spirit of God was on the waters, bringing
forth continents in order and beauty, and preparing for these times of
wide-spread lands, and gay-green verdures; and nations on all, with
intelligence, commerce and joy.  And the terrible storms we have
witnessed, were the movement of God's Spirit, restoring equilibrium in
nature; while, instead of announcing conflict and trouble to come, the
lightning and aurora were the reports of peace; saying, the electric
and magnetic storms were over, and their forces were at rest.

"Again; '_the Spirit of God moves on the waters as they flow in the
course of History._'

"We study history with trifling purpose, if its high philosophy does
not raise us behind the scenes of strife and peace, advance and
retreat, rest and revolution, to discover that God moves on the waters
controlling their general course."

The Minister cited a few great epochs and movements of history, as
illustrations.  Some were secular, and some were sacred.  He pointed to
the wars of Alexander, in which the oriental nations must have seen
nothing but chaos, desolation, and woe.  Yet, over all those warring
waters the Spirit of God moved, and the races of men rose ennobled from
them.  Horrible sins were committed by that warrior, and God brought
him and them to a terrible judgment.  Yet God turned the curses to
blessings.  The young, warm, vigorous blood of Greece, and her splendid
literature, and magnificent arts were carried into the heart of Asia,
and raised those old dotard nations to a second youth; inspired them
with power and light; flooded their lands with new and noble ideas, and
brought sluggish and unsocial peoples into commerce, unity, progress,
and hope.

"And pass to another scene," said the Minister, rising with his subject
and kindling to a glow.  "Pass to another scene.  Enter Jerusalem.  Go
about Judea after the martyrdom of Stephen, and see what chaos, terror,
and despair succeed.  Even the Jews are divided into cliques and
juntos, at war with each other, and enraged at their rulers.  And where
are the poor trembling Christians, that on the day of Pentecost flocked
in such thousands and such joy to the lifted banner of the Cross?  And
how stands their faith in this terrible hour?  It is sorely tried and
belabored.  Persecution kindles her fiery torches, and a wild tumult of
warring evils reigns.  They are scattered abroad.  They flee for their
lives to distant cities, and many lie down in despair and death.

"And yet what seeds of blessing were blown about by those wicked winds;
and what love was brought from persecution!  The Christians were
scattered all over the Roman empire, and every one became a missionary
to the Gentiles, to give the word, and diffuse the power of eternal
life.  And thus was Divine Providence manifested in defeating the
designs of evil; in commanding the waters of rage and fury, and
bringing harmony, truth, and blessing out of all.  And signs of a like
Providence have been repeated throughout the whole course of history,
and man has risen from every conflict wiser, stronger, and more mature
in the graces of many-sided life.

"The period succeeding the fall of the Roman empire was another chaos
of upheaval, confusion, war, and night.  The Christian element had been
poured into the Roman, which had long effervesced with the leaven of
Greece and the oriental world.  Then wave after wave of barbarian
power, fury, and life, came pouring into all, and threatening to drown
the world, like another flood, and sweep away the monuments,
institutions, and ideas of all past time.  The rolling in of those
savage waves was like pouring rivers of acid into seas of alkali, and
the waters of society rose and roared in foaming strife.  Yet, black as
was the sky, through all the dark ages, the light of the Lord shone
above the darkness; and wild and terrible as was the war of waters, the
Spirit of the Lord moved upon them, and brought to our times the social
life, liberty, and harmony we see.

"And some of the grandest characters of history have been called out in
times of conflict and revolution; and this shows the revelation of the
Lord in all.  Milton, Washington, Patrick Henry, were not the weakly
blossoms of a hot-house, nor the stately flowers that decked a velvet
lawn, or blushed in a sunny garden.  No! they were live, indomitable
oaks, that grew amid rocks, and from warring winds, and dashing waters,
received strength to deepen their hardy roots, and lift to heaven their
green and magnificent branches.

"And as in Nature and History," said the Minister, "_so in Individual
Life we may say the same_.  The Providence of God regards the sparrow's
flight and the insect's joy; it clothes the grass, and arrays the
lilies in glory, and therefore is mindful of you and me, and works for
our good.  'The Spirit of God moves on the waters,' as they flow in the
course of Individual Life.

"We often see darkness above us.  We often hear the powers of apparent
chaos roaring like hungry dragons around.  We are often the sport of
whirling eddies, and the rage of furious rapids and falls.  We wind our
cold, dark way at times, as if passing under the falls of Niagara,
roofed over with roaring waters, and startled with bursts of spray, and
shrieks and whistlings of sound from chasms and gulfs beneath; where
one false step would send us to destruction.

"And yet, as we have trusted our faith and hope, we have heard the
voice of the Lord above the noise of waters; and felt that his Spirit
moved near us, breathing love and speaking peace.  We have said with
George Fox, 'There is an ocean of darkness and death; but withal an
infinite ocean of light and love flows over the darkness.'

"And what if we cannot always behold the light above the clouds?  What
if the time frequently comes in trials, bereavements and disasters,
when all around and above, is dark, dark; and we see not how our
prayers for light can be answered, or in what way God can educe a good
from evil?  Experience and faith assure us that the light will come,
and the good be made manifest.

"I may safely assert," said the Minister, "that the highest and
sweetest of all the blessings God his poured upon me, have rained down
in storms of affliction.  That the brightest days have dawned on the
darkest nights.  That the roundest and ruddiest rainbows have beamed
from the gloomiest clouds.  I have had the profoundest sense of the
love of God, and the nearness of His Spirit, not in days of sunshine
and pleasure, when the waters have flowed in placid, tranquillity, and
there were slumber and rest on the world.  But in hours of trial and
trouble, I have felt most of His love, and seemed most lovingly folded
in His Spirit; in hours of sickness, in hours of need, afar from all my
kindred, cut off from the staff and stay of worldly pleasure and joy.
Then, O, then, the Spirit of God has moved on the waters, and spoken
peace!  And from afflictions, I have risen to higher faith, and more
strength of character, and broader aims and views of life.

"And this has been the experience of others I have visited and heard.
It has not been amid affluence, it has not been on the smoothly-rolling
current of worldly prosperity, that I have found people most keenly
alive to a sense of God's goodness, or the presence of His Spirit.  I
have found great faith and gratitude; I have found warm and devoted
Christians amid affluence; but I think on the whole, I have found the
profoundest sense of the Divine Goodness and Presence among the humble,
among the poor and afflicted; and I am often reminded of an apostle's
words; 'God hath chosen the poor of this world rich in faith.'  *  *  *

"And this reminds me of Job, and the faith that led him to hear the
voice of the Divine Spirit in the whirlwind, and on the stormy flood;
and from whirlwinds and floods, to get messages of love and peace.

"But with the aid of all these illustrations," said the Minister,
closing his sermon, "what _can_ we conceive of God's providential love?
It is a thought beyond conception, it is a light transcending vision.
There is no object on earth or in heaven, that can well represent the
truth of its wisdom, the touch of its tenderness, or the attraction of
its power.  The sun is but a taper, reflecting its glory; the sea is
but a globule, describing its breadth and depth.  It runs the circle of
the universe, without interruption, and without end.  It is particular
as it is impartial; it is melting and sweet, as it is mighty and
sublime; and it holds you and me, and it holds the littlest babe, and
the littlest bird and flower, in an infinite Father's heart!"

He pronounced the benediction, and the audience went their way to
rejoice in the light that seemed sent down from heaven.

He gave another message in Summerfield, and departed on another call of
his mission.  His visit to the Lake Country was an era in the life of
Matthew Fabens.  His views and illustrations suggested new trains of
thought and reflection; but they only confirmed his faith in Christ's
doctrine of Providence, and opened his ear to loftier and more
melodious notes of that infinite harmony, in which he believed the
universe of God was bound.  Mrs. Fabens had joys that flowing tears
expressed, and Fanny was not an unsympathizing hearer.



XVIII.

THE SECOND MEETING AND ITS FRUITS.

In his second sermon, the Minister set forth one or two practical views
of Christianity, and dwelt upon them with an earnest soul, and a happy
selection of illustrations from the Scriptures.  He cited incidents
from history also; and appealed to his audience with such persuasive
eloquence, he left a deep impression on their minds and hearts.

Fabens had before thought of those things, and endeavored to rule his
conduct by such a spirit.  He had studied the example of Joseph with
his brethren; of Elisha with the Assyrians, of David with Saul, of
Christ with his enemies, of Schuyler with Burgoyne, and Washington with
the Tory.  In numberless instances of his life, the power of such
examples had been exhibited in his private conduct, and in his
decisions as a magistrate.

Still his faith in the power of kindness as applied to the vicious and
criminal, was not so strong or perfect as he would desire.  Some cases
of offence there were, in the treatment of which, for a good effect
upon others, he held doubted the success of that principle.  The
teachings of God, he confessed, had a lesson to strengthen that faith.
All his own little errors had been treated with kindness from Heaven.
True, he had always been miserable as often as he had sinned; but then
the gracious rains were not withheld, nor the kind sunlight
extinguished; nor the harvests blighted, nor the bloom of woods, nor
the fragrance of flowers denied, because he had been sinful and
unthankful.  God had chastened him in kindness; and he loved virtue all
the more, and increased in the ardors of devotion.  He prayed for more
faith in the power of benevolent principles and deeds; and hoped at
length for a perfection, in which he could actually turn the left
cheek, when the right had been smitten.  The words of the Minister
increased his confidence in moral power, and rendered more lovely than
ever he regarded them before, many of the Saviour's precepts.

The subject engrossed his thoughts and feelings, when, one evening,
going to his barn with a lantern to close the door, he found a neighbor
in his granary measuring wheat!  A second glance assured him it was
Tilly Troffater, his enemy; the mysterious, meddlesome, lying little
bandy Troffater, and he was stealing wheat!

Some of the neighbors had long surmised that Tilly owed the Squire a
groundless and secret grudge, as he did many others in the town.  He
always seemed to be cooking spleen and getting up grudges.  He enjoyed
apparent slights, and fancied insults, as a hungry dog his dinner; they
helped him so much in hatching quarrels and perpetrating spites and
revenges.  But he always seemed to fear the Squire, and drop his
cockerel crest, whenever he met his glances; and no one suspected he
would dare to step so far upon his premises, even to execute revenge,
much less, to rob or steal.  He had often said he would never stand
before Squire Fabens, and be obliged to look him in the face.  But
alas, here he was overtaken in a crime!  And what on earth could the
creature do?  He would have given the apple of his eye to be anywhere
else at that moment.

He had an enormous bag, but as yet, there was only a little in it.
Fabens approached him, called him _neighbor_ Troffater, got hold of his
hiding hand, and shook it with a frank and earnest grasp, that would
have hurt a tenderer palm, and inquired after his health and that of
his family.  Troffater straightened, and swelled, and blowed; and
cocked and crossed his black and blue eyes; but answered not a word.
Now was the time to test the power of kindness, and he gave it a trial.

He was glad, he said, that he happened to come with a light, for it was
very difficult to measure wheat in the dark; and began himself to fill
up the bag.  Troffater looked more sullen and evil for a while, but he
soon began to wilt, and open his mouth with apologies.  He declared, as
true as he lived, he would not have taken over half a bushel, and would
have returned again every kernel he borrowed.  Fabens replied that it
would grieve him to know that any neighbor of his was in need of what
he could so easily spare; and for fear Troffater might suffer, and be
tempted again to do what must be so painful to his heart, he filled the
large bag and tied it, saying, "There neighbor Troffater, you are very
welcome to that bag-full."

He insisted, however, that Troffater should go into the house, and see
his folks, and take supper with them.  The bolt of a galvanic battery
could not have convulsed the little culprit with a more terrible shock
than such a word; he looked as though he would slink through the floor,
and actually craved a blow to brace up his nerves, and knit his joints,
and rally his skulking spirit.  He begged permission to be gone
immediately.  But no, he could not get off with so light a punishment.
He must go in and see Mrs. Fabens and Fanny, and take supper with them.
He dared not disobey, and he trudged sneakingly in like a whipped
spaniel.

"O, it is Mr. Troffater come to see us!" said Mrs. Fabens, smiling a
kind welcome as he entered the door.  "We were wondering who it could
be with Mr. Fabens in the barn-yard.  How do you do, Mr. Troffater?
How is Mrs. Troffater? and how are the family?  It is such a pleasant
evening, why did not Mrs. Troffater come over with you and spend the
evening?  She has not made me a visit in a long, long while."

"How are Ruth and Josephine?  Did I not see them crossing our pasture
towards Mr. Teezle's to-day?  I hope they have not forgotten that they
owe me a visit," said Fanny, with a voice more musical than the
meadowlark's, and a smile more gentle and subduing than the moonlight
melting on the wall.

But Troffater was silent.  His throat was so dry, and his tongue so
thick, he could utter nothing in return.  His silence surprised them,
and they feared he had been injured, or was in a fit, until a glance
from Fabens checked their surprise and inquiries; and then they treated
him as if he had joined in conversation, and nothing unusual had
happened.  A good supper was set before him, and a good family took
seats around him, and Mrs. Fabens and Fanny more than once expressed
the wish that Mrs. Troffater and the girls had come along.  But
Troffater enjoyed neither conversation, nor comfort, nor supper.  He
tried to eat, but he made a pig's mess of the fine and bountiful dishes
they set before him.  He crossed and recrossed his earthen eyes.  He
sweat, and hitched, and wheezed: he dropped his knife on the floor, and
stuck his elbow in Fanny's butter; he attempted to sever a cold
chicken's wing, and upset a plate full of biscuit and butter, apple,
honey, and pie, in his lap; he blew his tea long after it was cool, and
blew hot and cold drops into Mrs. Fabens' face; and mixed everything
together as he ate.  And then he ate but little; his throat was so dry
he found it difficult to swallow.

After supper they returned to the barn, and there Fabens told him in
private what he thought of his crime.  He talked very frankly.  He used
neither oil nor honey with his words.  He warned him against the
wickedness of crime, and against its awful punishments.  He cited a few
warnings of the Scriptures against the wicked and the sinner.  Yet he
spoke kindly, and admonished him as a friend and brother.

Troffater went into convulsions of agony.  Streams of fire seemed
surging through all his arteries, burning up his heart, and covering
his head and face with blisters.  He hung his head, and knocked his
knees together.  He gasped, and hemmed, and groaned.  Tears at last
came to his relief, and he wept like a child.  Fabens assured him, if
he would promise upon honor, that he would, from that time, abandon
criminal desires and acts, he would always treat him kindly, and never
expose him.  A pledge was given with more soul in its declarations than
had ever before been extorted from the mischief.

Troffater, however, still begged for one mitigation of his
punishment--a single one.  He begged to empty the bag of wheat into the
granary, and go home without a quart.  But Fabens was inexorable.
Troffater said it would choke him to eat the flour, after what had
happened.  But Fabens expressed no fear or pity.  Troffater said he
would give up trapping and hunting, and go right to work and earn some
wheat.  Fabens advised him to do it; but said he must take home that
bag full, to keep them in bread till he could earn more.  Troffater
replied that they had enough for two or three bakings, and asked if he
might not let the bag stand, and come to-morrow, and work till he had
earned it, and then take it home.  But Fabens was still inexorable.  If
Troffater would come to-morrow and help him three or four days, he
would pay him in wheat; but that bag-full he was welcome to, and he
must take it home that night.

"I ken not carry it," cried Tilly; "there's three bushels and a haff;
and it'll break my back, if I try to tuck it hum."

"I did not think of that.  It will be too heavy for one load; but I
will tell you how you can manage it," said Fabens.  "We will turn half
of it into your other bag, that lies out there by the fence, and you
can carry it half at a time, and then get it home before eleven
o'clock."

Then came another scourge like molten lead upon him.  He had hoped that
Fabens would not discover the other bag; but now the worst was known;
and taking the fiery chastisement, he submitted, insisting on coming to
work, and declaring he would take no more pay for his work; while the
Squire declared if he worked he should have his pay.  He carried away
the wheat, and never again was detected in crime committed after that
night.  It could hardly be expected by any man that his character would
be completely changed, or his punishment entirely remitted at once.
But he was a better neighbor, and more inclined to employment; and he
abandoned his love of lying, law, and litigation.



XIX.

THE HARVEST LUNCH.

Bearing witness of prospering hopes and growing joys, nearly a
twelvemonth passed away, and Fabens commenced his wheat harvest.  The
last fall seeding was more extensive than that of any former year; the
snows came on early, and in kindly coverings, protected the tender
blades through the winter.  Spring rains fell in timely showers to wash
it from mould, and revive it from the withering of frost and wind.  The
summer appeared early, as one of Nature's most genial and gentle, and
he looked around on harvests large and white.

He went forth to his fields, with many men, and great preparations.
The songs of the reapers were never more cheerful.  The melting hours
of July were never more manfully met.  The home of our farmer had
seldom less shadow with its light.  Laborers found rarely a more
liberal employer than he.  He was generous in the wages he gave; he
allowed more resting hours than any of his neighbors; he was less
exacting in his demands; he always reserved the finest lambs and
chickens to supply his table in that season; he had the best of spruce
beer in Summerfield, and the clearest crystal water.  And while with
these mitigations, the toils of the harvesters were still hot and heavy
to be borne, there was that in their fare, in their songs, and
animation, which told of as much happiness, as may crown the tasks of
labor.

To all his sympathies for the laborers, to all his efforts to cheer
them, and temper their fatigues, and give them relief and refreshment,
Mrs. Fabens and Fanny responded with expressions, more meaning than
words.  From the midst of the forenoon labors, they invited their help
to refreshments under some green shade tree in the field; and in the
long afternoon, three hours before supper, a refreshing lunch was again
set before them, which would have answered well for supper; and it
brought vigor once more to weary arms, and vigor to weary hearts; and
called forth thanks from minds that abounded in gratitude, as in labor.
Long and affectionately were they remembered by their men, as the
bringers of joy and ministers of comfort, where joy and comfort were
often craved in vain.

On one sweet afternoon, toward the last of the month, and the last of
the harvest, a cool bland breeze swept over from the north, and
rendered the time delightful.  The sun still shone, and it was large
and yellow as in October, but the breath of the north stole the sting
of fire from its beams, and rallied a thrill of life and joy through
the drooping hearts of beasts and men.

It was a pleasant hour to be enjoyed out of door, and it was welcomed
as a blessing, by those who had kept in the shade; and Mrs. Fabens and
her daughter hurried their preparations to be early in the field, with
the evening meal.

"The men want to finish if they can, this week," said Mrs. Fabens, "and
they have worked hard, very hard, since morning, and we must give them
a good luncheon this time."

"We will take extra pains," responded Fanny, "and see how cheerful we
can make them.  It is so cool and pleasant out now, they will enjoy it,
and we shall enjoy it better than usual, as Cousin William will be with
us; and let it be something more than bread and butter.  I feel so
sorry for them, while they work so hard in the scorching sun to make us
happy!  Too much care cannot be done to refresh them, and warm up their
hearts."

"Then, William has returned from Auburn, has he?  Well, he shall see
that country people can be happy and free-hearted, if they have _not_
the city refinements.  And we shall again find that the greatest good
and joy on earth, we take in the good we do to others.  They shall have
something that will do them good."

"George Ludlow looked up to me so thankful, when I turned his bowl of
coffee," said Fanny, "and it seemed to taste so good, and revive him
so, I felt more than paid; I was myself refreshed by my trouble."

"It does them all good, not only to be refreshed with what nature
requires, but to know that we care for them.  These little acts of
kindness can never be felt, except in pleasure by us, while they will
direct a stray feeling of happiness to more than one deserving heart.
It is a refreshment of the soul, to poor and rich, to know that others
care for them.  What should we live for, if not to lighten each other's
labors, and make each other happy?"

"If what father believes is true, and it looks quite rational, we
praise God most, when we are most like him, and are faithful and
free-hearted to his children.  And who of us desires more praise from
those we wait on, than a look of gratitude, and the assurance that we
have given a blessing?  But, George _did_ look so thankful!  Poor
George, how hard he has worked to be somebody in the world!"

"They all looked thankful, and what was better, they rose and went to
work again with a lighter step, as though they felt younger and
stronger.  But, George has given you several such looks of late, and
sometimes when your eyes were another way.  I begin to think he means
something."

"How you talk, mother!--What, looked at me several times?  And when my
eyes were another way?" returned Fanny, blushing like a quince blossom.

"Well, he cannot mean anything more than thanks for our small
attentions."

"George is a fine young man," said Mrs. Fabens, "if the Cressey girls,
and Desdemona Faddle do feel above him.  They will set their caps in
vain for Merchant Fairbanks, for he detests their foolish pride and
finery as much as any one, and laughs in his sleeves, I'll warrant, at
their dangling curls, and their silly lisping talk, when they try to
speak polite to him; although he likes to flirt with them, and make
them think he is ready to die for them."

"And why should _they_ feel themselves better than George?" asked
Fanny.  "They don't astonish the world with good looks, or refinement
of manners or mind.  Their fathers are rich I know, and they have
nothing to do but dress, and study etiquette.  They can hardly stoop to
what they call common people.  But I don't envy them at all.  They were
always disliked at school, and were always at the foot of their class.
If I were going to feel large and boast, I would want something besides
wealth to feel large about.  I am sure I would sooner envy George
Ludlow, if he is not handsome, and is poor, and works out to support
his father and mother.  He knows something, and has riches of the heart
I believe.  But I cannot think why he should look at me, as you say,
mother."

"I like your ideas of greatness, Fanny," replied Mrs. Fabens, "I like
your ideas of greatness, and am glad you do not join those foolish
girls in a pride that would despise such a young man.  True greatness
is of the mind, and riches are of the heart.  But let us hurry with our
refreshments, for it is beautiful out now, and they must be hungry, and
we will enjoy it with them."

They plied themselves briskly, and about four o'clock the white cloths
were laid under a cool maple shade-tree, and on them was spread a
sumptuous lunch of fricasseed chickens, to be taken leisurely with
flowing cups of coffee, and followed with saucers of raspberries and
cream, and large and luscious pieces of blackberry pie.  The look of
thankfulness and cheer which the men all returned for such a
refreshment, more than rewarded them, and sweet was the gratification
with which they themselves and the good-hearted Fabens partook of the
rural meal.

The presence of William Fabens also, enhanced the interest of the hour,
and furnished conversation which all were glad to hear.  William Fabens
was a cousin of the Squire's, whom he had not seen before that month,
since they were boys in Cloverdale.  William had gone to New York city
about the time Matthew went to Summerfield; and was now an intelligent
merchant still in trade, and was out on his first visit to the Lake
Country.  He appeared much like the Squire, only a little more stately
and active, and he possessed great practical wisdom and fine common
sense.  He carried a rich country nature to the city, and he had
cultured it finely, and it was bearing fair and mellow fruit.  He had a
double life in consequence, and country life _citified_, perfected his
capabilities and joys.

He had found that life in the country and town, was life in very
different spheres, with different manifestations, and each a different
set of lights and shadows.  Life in the country was more natural,
spontaneous and quiet; life in the town was more artistic, ambitious,
and flushed with fever heats.  Life in the country was picturesque,
like the green, lovely landscapes in which it bloomed; life in the town
was statuesque, like the flocking forms that pressed upon its sight and
jostled it on its crowded way.  Life in the country breathed in music;
life in the town abounded in incidents and actions.

He remembered with grateful pleasure the noble occupations and
amusements of country life.  But he had profited well, and not lost, by
the change.  If it was a noble theme to study material nature in the
landscape and sky, he found it still more noble to study moral nature
in man; and man as he moved in the town, and acted in the drama of life
that was daily brought before him.  If it was delightful to read Milton
or Beattie in a cornfield, in a clover meadow, under a tree, or on the
haymow; it was more delightful to his mind to read the same author in a
city, where, seeing more of men, he could understand him better.  And
whatever was beautiful in country life he carried with him to the town,
with its green and radiant pictures still glowing on his heart, and its
morning melodies still murmuring through his soul.  And he could act
out in deeds, what once he meditated in ideas.  He was constantly
called, by irresistible voices, to go out of himself, and out of his
fixed and finite conceits and opinions, and mix with other souls; and
transform his conceits to comprehensive conceptions, and enlarge his
opinions to universal views.

From this rich and varied experience, and from these elevated ideas,
William Fabens spoke, as he conversed with his cousin and the
harvesters, while taking the harvest lunch.

"I suppose by this time, William, you are pretty well weaned of the
country," said the Squire, after a changing conversation on several
themes.

"O no, not at all," said William, "not at all.  My love of the country
is fresh and warm as ever.  It is a singular fact, that almost all my
dreams are laid in the country, on the old farm.  I am often in the
country in my mind, and receive much of my mental, as my physical
sustenance, from country stores."

"I thought you would turn your back on the country and never think of
its homely scenes again," said the Squire.

"I like the city in many respects better," said William; "so much
better, that I prefer living there nine months in the year.  But give
me the country in the summer.  In night dreams and day dreams, I return
to the old homestead, to renew my youth, and refresh my sympathies and
tastes.  I think of the pride of the summer landscapes; and the pomp of
summer sunsets.  I sit in the shade of my old favorite trees and woods;
I bathe my heart once more in the moonlight; my ears seem to tell me
again of all the melodies of morning; the babbling brook; the lowing
herd; the cowbell's simple chime; the murmur of bees and insects; the
choral concerts that ring through the woods; and I am there, young and
blooming as ever, and what Beattie's 'Minstrel' saw and heard, I seem
to see and hear once more."

"I know not how it may be in cities," said the Squire; "but I have
often noticed in our villages, that the countryman gets laughed at for
his greenness.  This never disturbed me.  I have felt that we were
inferior to none of their village bloods.  Better be green on the
surface than rotten at the core.  And I have remembered how many great
men of the world were bred in the country."

"The cities are often guilty of the same," said William, "forgetting
how many angels they entertain unawares.  Did ever a mortal man look
more of the rustic clown than the country boy, Sam Johnson, when he
first went to London?  And could he not make dictionaries, and write
Rasselas?"

"And who can imagine a more ludicrous object," asked the Squire, "than
shabby, and chubby, and warty little Oliver Goldsmith, when he first
waddled, staring and gaping, through Green-Arbor Court, and up
Fishstreet Hill?  And has he not given us prose and poetry that will
live as long as the English tongue is known?"

"We might have laughed at Shakspeare," added William, "when, a green
country runaway, he first entered the metropolis; we might have laughed
at Dryden, coming up from the provinces in his coarse Norwich drugget
and wooden shoes--over thirty years old, and not yet aware that he
could write a line of verse.  But for all that, did not Shakspeare
write Hamlet? and Dryden give laws and models for English heroic verse?"

"And some might have thanked the Dumfries gentry for putting the rustic
Burns in the kitchen with the servants to eat," added the Squire; "but
did not Burns make a song there, to shame his proud insulters; and did
he not sing--

  'A man's a man for a' that.'

The temptations of the city are the most that I should fear."

"They are many and great," said William; "and I do not wonder that so
many perish in the ordeal.  Yet I know that people need not fall, if
they will open their eyes, and act out their country nature.  Evil
affords a high and noble discipline when we meet it like men, and
overcome its onsets.  When men and women from the country have finished
a course of city life, with warm hearts remaining in them, unsullied by
corruptions they have seen, they are found to possess all the more
strength of will, elevation of mind, and grace and grandeur of life,
from the school from which they graduate.  Each exercise of strength we
take in resisting temptation, is the moral gymnastics that redoubles
that power against the next encounter, and adds muscle and fire to all
the capabilities of life.  Each exercise of sense we take to
discriminate between true and false life, true and false pleasure, true
and false charmers, is a training of the intellect and judgment to more
delicate discernments, and more virtuous and vital joys.  A man enters
the city as Hercules entered the world; the characters that go forth to
meet him are like the true and false goddesses that met that hero and
determined his choice; and that fine old fable shows that even the
exercise of mind which is impelled by the two voices, will add new
strength to one's being, cut out the blurs from his eyes, and make the
judgment more active and perception more keen."

"That is all very true," said the Squire; "and your own life is an
illustration.  But if I should enter a city to live, I fear it would
cool off my sympathies, and harden my heart."

"I should not fear that of you, Matthew," said William; "although it is
the case with thousands.  We need not be cooled or hardened.  We see
more of the evil side of life, to be sure; but it does not harden all.
John Howard and Elizabeth Fry saw more of the evils of life than most
city people.  They visited the very dens of suffering want and
imprisoned crime; but to them such sights were nobly instructive, and
they grew great-hearted and noble while reading the lessons.  Their
sympathies were softened and warmed; their interest in humanity was
redoubled, and their love for our race quickened and expanded, until
they found no rest so sweet, as after long rounds of philanthropic
labor; no delight so pure as kindness; no beauty so divine as charity;
and no riches so ample and enjoyable as those laid up for benevolence,
and those received back to the generous soul in return for gifts and
deeds of good."

"You delight me, William," said the Squire; "and if you will go around
lecturing the country people, you will see them all flocking to the
town."

"The more, the better for us," said William.  "They are the best
materials of which the town can replenish its numbers and forces.
Their great good sense; their healthy and generous instincts; their
large and throbbing hearts; their picturesque minds and memories need
only the discipline and finish of city life, to round them up into
robust men and women of sweet and symmetrical characters, and fair and
full-blooming souls."

On this occasion George Ludlow seemed to regard Fanny Fabens with
increased attention; and as their glances more than once met, an
artless, innocent blush would express on each face the timidity of
their natures, if not the emotions of their hearts.

The truth to tell, George had contracted for Fanny an affection which
he dared to disclose no more significantly, than by those expressions
of the eye and face, which would not be concealed; and since the
conversation in the house, he had scarcely been absent from her
thoughts.  She considered his pure life and enlightened mind, and
inquired, "Where is the young man that has more nobleness than he?"
She thought of his kindness to his parents, and admired the example.
She called to mind his love of nature, and books, his efforts of
improvement, even amid tasks of diligent toil; and she honored him in
her soul; honored him the more for his own honor of his calling; and
began to return a kindling flame of that affection, which she conceived
he might indulge for her.  But a few words were exchanged between them,
however, and it remains for some future chapter to relate the result of
those growing loves.

The men rose from their luncheon, when a cool and reviving hour had
been taken, and while the women were departing with William to the
house, and while Fabens remained under the maple, Merchant Fairbanks
came up, and after the usual salutations, he talked a moment with the
ladies, and then made Fabens an offer for his wheat crop, and commenced
a pleasant talk.



XX.

MERCHANT FAIRBANKS.

Merchant Fairbanks sold goods in Summerfield, and undertook large
dealings with the farmers there; buying their crops and bartering in
smaller transactions, for butter and cheese, wool and feathers, wood
and ashes, eggs and paper rags.  He had tarried in town only two or
three years, and few were intimately acquainted with him, although many
supposed that they knew him well; and few men enjoyed more confidence
or love.

He possessed a tall and imposing person; a face that all declared
"fine," and "noble;" a large and glowing chestnut eye; a serene and
inspiring presence; and hair so dark, that it reflected at times stray
tints of purple, and was lustrous and smooth as a blackbird's wing, He
was scrupulous in the arrangement of his attire, and still there was a
studied contrivance of modest dignity about it all, that attracted
attention, and set off his honors.

He was an instant and accurate judge of character; he discerned by a
glance of his quick perceptions the lights and shadows of the human
mind, and was accomplished in manners that won the esteem of the
people, and enlisted them warmly in his favor.  He remembered little
things, to accomplish great ones; he would call to your recollection
some trifling fact of which you supposed all beside yourself
unconscious, that would flatter your self-esteem in spite of you, and
win for himself your approbation.  He remembered the names of his
customers and acquaintances, and called them emphatically, if he had
seen them never but once before; he was particular to salute each man
with his title, and whether that title was military, religious or
judicial, if he was in any doubt of its particular elevation, he would
be sure and get it so high that, when mistaken, a captain could answer
to the appellation of major; a justice to that of judge; a meek
disciple to that of deacon, and a preacher to that of doctor.

He knew many children in town, he spoke all their names, and told of
some good-looking relative or friend of his on the Hudson, whom they
strikingly resembled.  He distinctly professed private religious and
political opinions of his own, while he knew there were the best of
people in all parties and persuasions, and put every one at perfect
ease with whom he conversed, convincing them that controversy was
unprofitable, and the slight difference between them, after all, would
be more in talk than in truth.  He was a popular merchant, and the
central attraction of several gay circles in the town.

With her searching discernment, Mrs. Fabens had discovered in him more
than one design which she pronounced artful; she studied his character,
and told her husband and daughter in confidence, she believed him a
cunning flatterer, and a cheat; and that he would not always sail in
smooth water in Summerfield.

But Fabens would hardly listen for a moment to her surmises.  He had
dealt with Merchant Fairbanks considerably; he had always believed him
honest and manly, and he joined the multitude in much of the praise
which they bestowed upon him.

As for Fanny, though she had not given the gentleman a great many
thoughts, she regarded him favorably, and found him a most mannerly
salesman, an affable and gallant man.  She thought him far better than
many who ran after him, and she was in no wise averse to consider him
her friend.

"But you may depend upon it," said Mrs. Fabens to her husband,
seriously--"depend upon it, he is not so particular and loud, in
calling you 'Squire' for nothing; and it cannot be always a mistake,
when he says 'Judge Fabens;' nor does he consult your opinion on so
many things, because the opinion has the value of a straw in his
estimation.  He may never injure you, and I will not fear that he can;
but it will be well to reserve a little confidence till he is better
known, and not be too quickly carried away with him."

But Fabens was still confident that Fairbanks was honorable and worthy
of respect and trust; he was often at his store; he often relied on his
integrity for important considerations; and he was well assured that he
was a man of merit and justice, and entitled to his enviable name.  And
so marked was his confidence, it had induced Fairbanks to come without
hesitation again to buy all the wheat he could sell, and ask to have
credit till January.  He offered a fairer price than Fabens had hoped
to obtain that season, and he engaged it on the desired time.

Fairbanks was unusually social and winning that afternoon, when he
found them rising from the lunch in the field; and he conversed freely
and pleasantly with Mrs. Fabens and her daughter, as they departed for
the house; and then turned to Fabens and conversed a long while, saying
at last--"That is your _only daughter_, I believe, Judge?"

"Yes, and only child, now, I suppose, that we have on earth," answered
Fabens.

"You may think I am too free, comparative stranger as I am, in my
conversation with her," said Fairbanks.

"O, no; I like to see folks familiar and friendly.  Familiarity is the
life of company, while stiffness and formality give it a chill which is
quite disagreeable to me," said Fabens.

"Perhaps I should not be so familiar to her; but she reminds me so much
of a dear sister of mine on the Hudson, that I feel attracted towards
her; and it seemed every moment as if my sister was going to speak to
me.  She is a good sister, too, and quite intelligent, if I am her
brother; and I think I have a right to say it.  And there is that same
trembling modesty, that same blushing innocence and blooming beauty, to
remind me of my sister; and had her hair been a shade or two darker,
and her teeth not so ivory white; I believe I should have forgotten I
was talking to a stranger.  You will pardon my frankness, Squire, I
know you will.  I am apt to talk right out just as I happen to feel."

"Certainly, certainly, Mr. Fairbanks.  I always admired frankness.
Perhaps you say too much of our daughter; but she is a very good sort
of a girl; and we tried, as far as we were able, to give her a
common-sense view of things, and have her respectable.  I am thankful
that she is not as brazen as some girls; and good health has flushed
her face with fresh and blooming looks."

"You needn't fear for _that_ girl--pardon my freedom, Squire.  No young
lady of such a turned forehead, and such eyes and address, ever came
short of what good parents desired."

"Then you are a phrenologist, Mr. Fairbanks?"

"I have studied such things considerably, and am not often mistaken.
High and full in all the frontal and coronal regions--such heads are
never given to flirts or fools."

"She is just as the Lord has permitted her to be; and we are thankful
that she has filled our home with so much light and joy."

"I know she must be dutiful; and at the same time wishing to know the
whys and wherefores of things, she asks a few questions, I suspect,
that she may know something, and have an opinion of her own."

"She never did a thing, as I recollect, that caused us an hour's
regret; but, as you say, she wishes to know things for herself; and
sometimes, when we have been tired and dull, she has wearied us with
questions.  She has a great mind to acquire knowledge, and have an
intelligent opinion; and we ought never to be impatient with her, or
refuse an answer."

"She may thank father and mother for that disposition, I suspect.  How
much she looks like her mother!  And still she has your forehead, and
eyes, _almost_--if I remember right; and I should know she was your
daughter, if I met her in France."

"Her eyes are much lighter and bluer than mine; but they may resemble
them in shape and size.  As for her hair--"

"I was just a-going to ask where she got that fairy flaxen hair?"

"We cannot tell where the color came from, except from our white blood.
My hair was light when a boy."

"That then accounts for hers."

"But never so milk-white as hers."

"Hers will grow dark, you may depend; it will be dark as yours when as
old.  But what if it is not?  I should like it all the better as it is;
it is handsome _enough_, and it is not so common as brown or black."

"But here it is nearly dark, and I have not had the manners to invite
you to the house.  Come, go in with me, and take a dish of tea."

"O Squire, I beg you to excuse me.  I have some business at home that I
must attend to to-night, and I must go.  But that is the way with me,
always!  When I am in good company, I never know how time flits by, nor
where to break off my talk.  Come over and see me, Squire!  Do come and
see me.  Good night."  And as Fairbanks went for his horse to go home,
Fabens ordered his men to quit work, and they all returned to the house
in excellent spirits for supper and sleep.

Fabens had made it the effort of his life to resist flattery, and
preserve a decent self-respect without a vain emotion; but it never
grieved him to call him Squire; and there was much in what Fairbanks
said and suggested, which he thought evinced uncommon discernment, and
a clear and discriminating mind; and he was happy in the belief that it
came right up from his heart, warm and sincere.  He determined that he
would not allow his own heart to take any flattery from what he had
heard; yet what was said of Fanny--and her father and mother
also!--could not be displeasing, coming as it did from one of an
elevated station and mind: and he concluded that it was right for him
to be encouraged by the compliments, and congratulated himself on the
happiness of such a family and such a friend.

He enjoyed a fine conversation with his cousin William that evening;
and showed him his farm, and visited with him all he could, the next
day; and the day following, William departed for the city, leaving many
warm regards behind, and carrying home a large supply of sweet country
summer in his soul.



XXI.

THE HUSKING.

In modern times the Husking Party has gone out of fashion in
Summerfield; but in ancient times, while the manners of the people
remained primitive and pure, this festival (for festival it was)
continued of great account.  It was sometimes held in barns, and
sometimes in the open fields; and the attendance of good wives and
maidens, and the occurrence of music and dancing at the close, was no
unusual joy.  We may call it a 'movable feast,' for every autumn it
moved the rounds of the Settlement; and now in rare October, and near
the wane of the month, it came Fabens' turn to hold it again.

It was one of those golden weeks when the pleasantest house seems a
prison, and you feel as if you must live day and night out of doors.
The breeze from the cool Cayuga never fanned the brow nor tingled the
blood with a more hilarious spirit; and the orchards were never more
fragrant, nor the silver moon more round or fair.

Fabens marshalled his corn 'stouts,' like a legion of soldiers in a
hollow square, on the green mown meadow in front of his house, a
quarter of a mile away; and sent invitations far and near for a very
large gathering.  He was particular even to invite Tilly Troffater and
his family; and a great number came.  They came at half-past six; and
as the last sat down to the husking, the mild and majestic moon rose
smiling over the Owasco woods, and flooded the skies, and kindled the
dews with her mellow beams.  Uncle Walter and Mr. Waldron were the
first on the ground; and Wilson and Troffater did not linger long
behind.  A number of women were present; and a whole bevy of jocund
boys enjoyed it.  The greetings were warm and brief, and the songs and
stories commenced quite early.  Colwell had been on a bee hunt, he
said, that day, in the Richmond Openings, and discovered three swarms,
and almost traced another.  Uncle Walter had been husking the corn he
had topped and left on the hill.  Mr. Nimblet had harrowed in a
late-sown fallow.  Troffater had looked to his traps, and spent the
rest of the day fishing on the lake.  Most of the women had been drying
apples and coloring flannel.

Fanny Fabens and Nancy Nimblet sang the 'Silver Moon;' and all
confessed it was never sung better.  Uncle Walter told a panther story,
with thrilling additions they never had heard before; sent cutting
little tremors of terror trembling through their hearts, and made them
thank their stars that those perilous days were over.  Troffater told
his "Jemmy Harvey" story, saying "Jemmy was green as a mess o' cowslops
and the priest tuck forty dollars for pardoning his sins, and left him
without a shiner to tuck himself hum agin;" then he crossed and cocked
his black and blue eyes and laughed in convulsions at the story, while
they laughed at the manner in which the story was told.  Teezle told a
story about the Indians and Tories "that cut up such didoes in the
revolution down there in the Diliway."  Colwell repeated the story of
Milo Dale, the money-digger.

Then Squire Fabens told a story of a man who was caught in his
neighbor's granary borrowing wheat, and who was given a bag full and
his supper in the bargain, and sent home, promising he'd never do the
like again.

"A sap-headed fool, I guess it was, that found him, and let him slip
off in that way," said Colwell.

"That may be; but he did one wise act of his life, in his treatment to
the borrower, and I dare say that man will never violate his vow,"
answered Fabens.

"I don't know about that," said Teezle.  "I should be afraid on't, and
lock up my grainery olers after."

"The person did not lock his granary, and no borrower I dare say has
set foot in it since."

"_Thief_, why didn't ye say?" inquired Colwell.

"O, he did not mean to steal," answered Fabens.  "His family were
hungry, and he was too bashful to ask for it, and was taking the wheat
only till after the next year's harvest.  The exposure of his error
might have ruined him; and he might have been driven to a desperate
life of crime.  Now I think he must be a better man than before
overtaken by temptation."

"Yes,--but--the scamp orto've been punished," rejoined Colwell.  "I
don't b'lieve in lettin' such scamps off without their punishment."

By this time the company were enlisted in the discussion, and more than
one remarked that he ought to have been punished; yet no one surmised
that the culprit sat in their midst, and was tortured by their words.
Troffater knew not where to turn his little earthen eyes, for fear of
encountering accusers; and he fixed them on the moon, and whistled a
snatch or two of his addicted music; then bit his lips, and blowed, and
hitched around on his seat, and blushed like a jack-o'-lantern.

"Yes, the scamp orto've been punished, I say," repeated Colwell.

"Think he was not punished then?" asked Fabens.  "I think he was a
little!  If I had stood in his shoes, I am sure I should rather have
been basted, or anything else, than served as he was."

"But he got away from the law," said Colwell.

"Not the living law, let me tell you," answered Fabens.  "Not away from
God's law written on his heart, and threading the bone and marrow of
his being.  To get away from that law, he had first to escape the reach
of God's hand, and run away from his own body and spirit.  That was not
so easy a feat, Mr. Colwell.

"For the sake of our good social law, it may have been the person's
duty to drag the poor man to light, and give him open justice; but he
probably judged in that case, that the social law was better served and
guarded in its spirit, if not in its letter, than if the offender had
been exposed and imprisoned, to be let loose again with vengeance
against the law, and against mankind.

"I venture to assert that the treatment cured the error, and the
borrower will not violate the law again; while he might have run riot
in open crime, had he been openly dealt with.  The majesty of the law
then was vindicated, and the injury done the system was repaired.

"And all that while he was amenable to God's living law traced all over
and around his heart; and supposing he runs abroad and treads the green
earth, and tastes the free air, and sees the bright sky; he is a
prisoner still if he lives, and has not risen in goodness beyond sight
of his sin; his body is his prison, his veins bind him down and his
nerves bar him in.  He senses his punishment keenly; it cuts to the
quick, and he grieves, and trembles and gasps, whenever his fault comes
to mind.  Let him run at large; that law of God will follow him,
watching with eyes from which no night can hide him; scourging with
whips from which no shield defends."

"Squire Fabens is a very forgiving man," said Mrs. Teezle.  "He's
_very_ forgiving, and I think he's right."

"I claim no merit for that," said Fabens.  "It is easy and right to
forgive others.  God himself forgives very freely.  But the man has one
enemy who may never forgive him in this world, and may not forgive him
at Judgment till long after God has forgiven him.  Though this will
depend somewhat on his indolence or diligence in cultivating goodness
and truth.  That enemy is himself, and self-forgiveness is the most
difficult, as it is the last to obtain."

"That may be all so, but I'd a given him _some_, I swanny, if I had a
ketched him in my grainery," said Colwell.

"I never see it in Fabens's light afore," interrupted Teezle.

"Nor I," "nor I," added others; and the discussion ended.

Then a song was called for, and Colwell sang the 'Tea Song;' and Fanny
Fabens sang the 'Whippoorwill,' and the very air attended, to hear the
happy girl, and the insects were hushed to silence, and the moon leaned
and listened, and the woods and the lake bandied back and to the
chorus, and repeated, and prolonged her full and silvery sounds.

Then they talked old times over, and rehearsed a few personal
histories, while the yellow corn glistened in rising hills before them.
Mr. Waldron related scenes he witnessed at Bennington and Saratoga, and
told of the Captain's commission and forty dollars in silver, he
received for taking six Hessians at the battle of Trenton.  Troffater
wanted to tell what his father did in the Revolution, but he had not
courage to speak; and perhaps if he had, some one would have hinted the
current tradition, that his father was a cowboy, and stole cattle from
the Americans, and drove and sold them to the British, and then stole
them from the British and drove them back again.  The conversation soon
turned on the settlement, and the history of the oldest inhabitants.

"I tell ye what, they were rather tough times after all," said Uncle
Walter.  "I remember when I cut the first tree on my farm, and stuck
the first stake for my shanty.  I had come a good ways from home, and
it was going on night, and the wolves howled in hearing, and I begun to
feel dubious.  Uncle Waldron heard me chopping, and come, and took me
home to his little hemlock hut.  Remember it, Uncle Mose?  I slep on
the softest corner of your black muck-floor, and you said I snored like
an alligator."

"The Stringers kept bachelors-hall, they say, over on the Owasco Flats,
and baked nine crusts to one jonny cake," added Colwell.

"O, my stars!" cried Nancy Nimblet, "that must have been long before we
came here; and, pray tell, Mr. Colwell, how they managed their dough."

"Why, they wet their pounded corn in water (there was no mill in these
parts then), tossed up a hunker of a loaf, laid it down on a flat stone
by the fire, and baked a crust, then peeled it off and eat it, while
another was bakin', and so on to the ninth crust of the same smokin'
cake."

"And it was thought a scrumtious kind of a thing to visit the gals in
our buff-leather breeches in them days," said Colwell.

"O, the _buff_ breeches came long after that," said Fabens.  "We had
grown quite civilized and fashionable when we wore the yellow buffs.
Besides, in those times there were not many girls in the country to
visit.  But if the times were tough, they gave us a great deal of
comfort.  I came here with my axe on my shoulder; I cut the first tree
on my farm, too, and paid for my farm, chopping for others.  I made my
first bedstead.  There was an auger in the settlement--it was yours,
Uncle Walter, and I borrowed that and framed me a bedstead of maple
saplings, and laced in elm-bark in lieu of a cord, and it gave me many
pleasant sleeps.

"After a while, I wanted a carriage of some kind to bring in my grain,
and draw away my ashes.  So I blocked off the wheels with my axe, from
the butt of a black oak tree, and backed home boards for a box, three
miles, from the nearest saw-mill.  It did me good service, and I sold
it for a price when I bought my first wagon.  But we all took a world
of comfort; and what was pleasanter work than putting up log heaps and
brush heaps in the cool of the night, and seeing them blaze again on
our clean sweet fallows?"

"A feast on bear's meat and metheglin, at Aunt Polly's," cried Colwell.

"Picking bushels of wild strawberries, big as your thumb," added Mrs.
Colwell.

"And going four miles to raisins," added Thomas Teezle.

"And five miles to weddins, once in a while," added Mrs. Teezle.

"To those very times we are indebted," said Fabens; "to its tugging
labors and hard privations, its trials, and griefs, we are indebted for
much of the fulness of heart, and breadth of character we now possess,
and the comforts we are taking on our handsome farms.  We took muscle
and might from nature; we rounded out our life; we learned to shift for
ourselves, and feel for our neighbors; and the earth crowned our labors
with such harvests, we grew hopeful and brave.  We all of us learned
things that cannot be found in books.  Books have their value, and it
is very great.  They teach us to take the hip-lock of nature, and lead
us cross-lots to success; they increase and elevate the pleasures of
our vocation; a taste for them, is itself a blessing that sweetens our
leisure hours, attracts us from temptations, and will gladden our old
age.  But of the two, a large and wise experience is better, and comes
well before them."

As he concluded these words, the hour of the clock was told, and the
company were served to warm pumpkin-pie, that was a luxury to taste,
and refreshment to remember.  Then the young people had a play and a
dance on the green, and the old people exchanged good wishes, and all
went their ways, leaving the Fabenses happier for that reunion of
neighborly hearts, than for the multiplied piles of corn they left
glowing in the moonlight.



XXII.

GEORGE LUDLOW AND ALMON FRISBIE.

George Ludlow was introduced in a former chapter; Mrs. Fabens and her
daughter discussed his character and life.  They spoke of him as poor,
and dependent on his own hands for a living for the family; as despised
by certain young people in Summerfield who happened to stand above
need; and yet as manly and capable; a lover of nature and books.  I
need say nothing of his person, except that he was homely to a stranger
and handsome to a friend.  I need say little more of his past history
than this; he had labored for Fabens for a few weeks, and now a mutual
regard quite ripened to affection, was rising between him and Fanny.

George well knew her worth and happy fortune; he remembered that he was
poor in what the world called riches; yet, possessing a manly
self-respect, he considered himself as made in no way inferior on
account of his poverty; and observing that she reciprocated freely any
regard he gave her, he had the boldness at last to declare his
affection, and intimate the happiness it would pour into his heart and
life, some day to possess her as his wife; and it was not in her will,
nor in that of her parents, to return one word of discouragement;
although it was an opinion of theirs, to which he freely responded,
that the final decision should be deliberately weighed, and the union
set over to a time at which they would be better prepared for a happy
bridal and a happy life.

But the impressions left by Fairbanks on the mind of Fabens, after the
conversation in the harvest field, tended only to strengthen the Squire
in the opinion that his wife had misjudged the gentlemanly merchant;
and to elevate Fairbanks the more in his confidence and esteem.  And
returning to the house that evening, Fanny remarked to her mother, that
she must have judged, too hastily: "for much as I have tasked my powers
of discernment," said she, "I cannot detect the first design or word,
which would lead me to suspect that Mr. Fairbanks is deceptive.  True,
he rather addresses himself to one's self-esteem, and is open, and
ardent for a comparative stranger; but it must be a manly way of his,
which he forgets to hold in reserve; and I believe he is a gentleman.
I am sure, too, mother, that I have not allowed myself to feel
flattered by his words; nor could I ever regard him as nearer than a
friend.  A true friend to us I believe he is.  A face expressing so
much open goodness; a bearing so instinctively affable, could not
belong to a bad man."

Fairbanks was too clear-sighted not to read and know the hearts with
which he was making acquaintance; and his well-considered plans
suffered nothing for want of diligence on his part, in being brought to
a fulfilment.  Nor did he stand or act alone.

Almon Frisbie was his clerk and confidant, and talked of a friendship
that began long before they left the Hudson; and he was prompt at any
moment to receive his counsels in sacred trust, and go on all his
errands.  He was ardent and unreserved in expressing his love for
Fairbanks; and Fairbanks was free and fond in the good things he said
of Frisbie; and the people of Summerfield were very happy with such
valued acquisitions to their society; and enjoyed the pleasantest hours
whenever they numbered the merchant and clerk among their guests.

Promptly at the time agreed on, Frisbie came with the money to pay for
the delivered wheat-crop; paid the entire sum in Spanish milled
dollars; and spent an agreeable evening, discussing character, hearing
Fabens's history from before the time of his settlement there; and
giving incidents of his own life, and his adventures and experiences,
with Fairbanks.

It was a pleasant hour.  This was the second winter they were enjoying
their new house, and the change and contrast could not be forgotten.
The new house stood on a gentle eminence, a quarter of a mile from the
road, and within a distant view of the lake, which was beautiful in
summer.  There was a fine selection of all the forest trees that once
flourished on the farm, in front of the house, which had been
transplanted there twelve years before, in preparation of shade and
beauty for the dooryard; and though their verdant honors had been shed
in autumn, they reminded the hearts within of their guardian presence,
by the whisperings of love they blent with the winter blast.

The house was a high story and a half, and stood thirty-five by thirty
on the ground.  It had a north room and south room, with bedrooms
attached; it had four chambers, two large and two small, above; and a
kitchen, a tea-room, and wood-house in the rear.  It was painted white
without, with a coal-black border on the tops of the chimneys, and had
blinds of Paris green.  It had white walls and oak-grained doors and
casings in the south room, and white walls, doors and casings in the
north room.  The north room was Fanny's, and the spare bed was spread
with a blue and white carpet-coverlet, spun with her own hand, and
woven in Auburn prison; and it was hung with snow-white curtains, which
she spun and wove.  She had a stove in the north room, and a fire-board
behind, covered with trees, watered with a silver lake, and stocked
with a herd of deer, three of which were drinking from the lake.

In the south room was another bed; and that was hung with checkered
curtains; and there was an ample fireplace; and that was the family
room.  There sat the company when Frisbie made his call.

Fabens was advanced in life, and yet he looked young, as if time had
taken a ten years' rest.  Mrs. Fabens had grown round and robust; but
had not shed her blooms; while Fanny had become perfectly straight, and
her hair was two shades darker; her eyes had still more lustre; her
countenance still more life, and her voice still more music; while her
step was more elastic, and her form was more nature.

A prodigal walnut fire glowed gloriously before them; butternuts and
chestnuts were tasted, and a large dish of rosy Spitzenbergs passed
around; and while Fabens and Frisbie kept up a running talk, Mrs.
Fabens and Fanny enjoyed the hour, as one sat knitting fringe-mittens
in the corner, and the other plied her dexterous needle piecing a
bed-quilt in snow-balls by the stand; and seeming to contend with the
walnut fire, which should give forth the liveliest, warming smile, and
fill up all the room with the most comfort, joy, and peace.

"Yes, I have known Fairbanks, known him like a brother, since we were
little boys at school," said Frisbie.  "We began our A B C's together,
when Mary Sanford taught school; and I remember we said, 'A,' 'B,' 'C,'
'D,' and so on, in a loud voice, both at a time.  And that Mary
Sanford--you did not know her, did you, Squire?  She taught in the same
district five years; and it was said, she impressed much of her own
noble heart on her pupils (though of this, perhaps, it does not become
_me_ to speak;) but she married a false villain at last, and now she
lives poor and deserted, they say, away out on the White Woman's Tract,
beyond the Genesee river, with a family of children to support.

"And my heart has ached for many lovely girls who have thrown
themselves away to such scoundrels.  Her husband was brought up in the
neighborhood too, and everybody thought George Lowry was a very pink of
virtue.  That made it seem so strange.  Well, as I was going to say,
Fairbanks always seemed a brother to me; and if there could be any
fault in his treatment, he has trusted me too largely, and given me to
share too many of his gifts and gains.  But there, you never saw such a
fellow in your life!"

"In what particular?" asked Fabens; while Mrs. Fabens took a quicker
rock in her chair and scratched her forehead with her knitting needle;
and Fanny paused from her piecing to hear.

"I mean in his confidence in men, and his free-heartedness, giving away
what he has.  He would share his last crust with an enemy, and he is so
up and down honest himself, he believes the whole world honest and pure
also."

"But he seems to be a good judge of character," said Fabens, "and I
should think he would not be often deceived.  I see he notices heads
and dispositions pretty narrowly."

"He _is often_ deceived," said Frisbie, "and he has met losses and
crosses enough to make a few of his black hairs turn white.  But I tell
him it's owing to his putting too much confidence in men.  He thinks
everybody is honest because he is.  His mother used to tell him, when
he was a little boy, that he would always be poor, he was so confiding
and free-hearted."

"There is a good deal in that," said Fabens, "and it is very true, as I
have found it.  Men that can be trusted most, are commonly most
trusting, while the false and guilty are always on the lookout for
rogues.  How is Fairbanks' business now?  He has met no losses in
Summerfield, I hope."

"O, no, no!  I did not refer to anything that had taken place since he
came to this town," said Frisbie.  "Of all the world, this is just the
place for Fairbanks, and I tell him so.  Where all are honest as one's
self, there can be no trouble.  He never was doing so well, by half, as
now, I dare say.  His business is large already, and his collections
are remarkably prompt.  They seem here to like him, about as well as he
likes them."

"He seems to attend to his business pretty closely; I like that in
him," said Fabens.

"Attend to business?  Ay! if you could see all the time, how he attends
to business, Squire; how he searches and foots his legers every day,"
said Frisbie; "how he keeps things moving and straight, and pays his
notes before they come due, you would say he could not help prospering,
and you would back him for any amount he would ask.  But, here, it is
nine o'clock, already, and I must face this cold storm, that has come
up since I came."

"Don't hurry away yet," said Fabens.  "There is nothing to call you
home.  Stay all night, we will be glad to have you, and you shall have
an early start in the morning."

"O, I _must go to-night_," said Frisbie, and he took his cloak, and
concluded the conversation--"_I must go to-night_.  I told Fairbanks, I
would be home before ten, and he knows what to depend on.  We keep our
word with each other.  Come over and see us, Squire.  We have a fine
room fitted up now, in the store, where we can entertain our friends.
Fairbanks is _always_ glad to see you.  He thinks Squire Fabens about
east, and his family too!  He would feel more freedom to visit you, if
you would call on him oftener.  I never saw a man who thought more of
seeing his friends.  And so far from home as we are, you must remember
that our friends here stand in the place of the absent and dear."

Frisbie departed, and Fabens expressed the liking he had taken to the
fellow, and the increased esteem he must confess for Fairbanks.

"I am sure," said Fanny, laying aside her work, but not her smiles,
that outshone the walnut fire, nor that presence of blissful life, that
filled up all the warm room; "I am sure, there cannot be much deception
in them.  We would detect it in some way, if there was."

"Do you esteem either of them as you do George Ludlow?" asked Mrs.
Fabens.

"No, I do not in all respects," answered Fanny.  "My esteem for him, as
for them, increases.  And the way the Faddle girls treat George, makes
me think all the more of him, and desire to make him happy.  Then I
admire his sentiments and tastes, and his love of labor.  Still I would
be glad to number Mr. Fairbanks and Mr. Frisbie among my friends.  Was
the man named Lowry or Ludry that he said married his teacher?  It
sounded so much like Ludlow, it startled me."

"It was Lownsly, Lowry, or something like it," answered Mrs.
Fabens.--"There are some things which seem fair, and even generous in
them, it is true.  And Fairbanks has a way of looking very meek and
innocent; and one of two things is certain: he must be unacquainted
with the world, and incapable of a thought of deception, or else he is
an arch and dissembling rogue.  But there are some expressions about
his eyes that I cannot like; and I think there is a little blarney
about them both.  I may be wrong; I hope I am, and if I am, that I may
be forgiven.  It is unpleasant to be haunted by these suspicions.  But
there, I could help breathing as well."

Upon this, Fabens went to his barn to look after his cattle and see if
any would be likely to suffer in the storm; and finding all in
comfortable quarters, he returned, saying, "I wish I could know that
everybody in the world had as happy a home as we have to-night.  I
could then rest more warmly and sweetly.  It is bitter cold night, and
I fear many will suffer.  I am glad I made the wood-bee for poor
Troffater.  His family can have the comfort of warm fires this winter.
The neighbors turned out well, and a good big pile of beech and maple
lies at his door.  I shall sleep better for that."

They enjoyed their devotions, Fabens praying that God would bless His
beloved poor, and all who were suffering and needy; while He kept their
own hearts from unjust judgments, from deception and evil; and they
were soon wrapped warmly and well in the slumbers of the night.



XXIII.

FAIRBANKS, FRISBIE, AND FABENS.

Not another month expired before Fairbanks paid a visit to Squire
Fabens, and conversed a whole evening on topics that could not but
interest the family; and Mrs. Fabens confessed he had never appeared so
well to her mind before; and that if there were art and insinuation in
his manner that time, it was so skilfully managed and deeply concealed
she could not discover it.

Still something impressed her with the conviction that it would be
quite as well not to rely too much on his integrity, until he was
better known; and by no large trusts committed to his honor, to tempt
him to an act of vice.  But Fabens and Fanny could harbor no
suspicions; while for the latter, Fairbanks showed more regard on this
occasion than would have been compatible with a knowledge of her
engagement to Ludlow, and respect for the sanctity of plighted love.
Still, it appeared his unthinking way of indulging hearty friendship;
and indeed it rather augmented than diminished Fanny's regard for him.

When about to return, Fairbanks remarked that he had been engaged
beyond present preparations in the purchase of produce of late, and had
expended more of his money than he calculated in the beginning; and if
the Squire would lend him fifty dollars he should have it back again in
a fortnight.  The money was handed him without hesitation; and just a
week from that time, Frisbie came and paid it, saying that Fairbanks
always felt distressed when he could not take up his notes, and pay
borrowed money before he agreed to.  He spent another evening; and
among other questions, he inquired, in an innocent way, if they knew
George Ludlow.

"We know him very well.  Why, what of him?" returned Fabens.

"O, nothing," answered Frisbie; "nothing.  I happened to think of him
just now; that is all.  I believe Fairbanks saw him for the first time
in your harvest-field last summer.  He would not have remembered it, if
Ludlow had not had occasion to mention the circumstance in connection
with another affair the other day."

"Then you have seen something of him, have you?" inquired Fabens.

"O, but little, sir, very little indeed," said Frisbie.  "He came the
other day to trade out a due-bill, and--I believe Fairbanks is well
enough satisfied about him now.  We were not certain that you knew him
very well."

"There was no difficulty with him, I presume?" said Fabens, not
indifferently.

"O, no, nothing of any consequence whatever; nothing that we would
breathe abroad, or wish to remember," said Frisbie, with a meekened
look.

"May I ask if anything dishonorable on his part?" inquired Fabens.  "We
have supposed him one of our best young men--one of the _very_ best in
town; and we have known him from a child."

"I am sorry I mentioned his name: I see it disturbs you," said Frisbie.
"I would not weaken one's confidence in another for anything in the
world--unless I had the weightiest reason.  And this was nothing of
importance, for one of his friends to know."

"But may _we_ not know it, and be relieved of our anxiety?" asked
Fabens, with rising emotion.

"Why,--yes, I would as lief _you_ would know it as not," said Frisbie.
"_You_ will say it was a trifling affair, and little worth minding
after all.  Hundreds of young men do the same, and never repeat it, and
are just as well thought of, too, by a good many people.  Temptations
lie in wait to ensnare us all; and the greatest wonder is, not that now
and then one becomes criminal, but that so many people, good as you and
I, Squire Fabens, do not oftener step aside from virtue's way."

"But we thought George Ludlow the last to be tempted.  He is certainly
a most respectable young man.  His very looks bespeak an innocent
heart.  I seldom meet him without desiring to exclaim as Jesus did at
the approach of young Nathanael--'Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom
there is no guile!'  And then he is so industrious and regular," said
Fabens warmly.

"I am very glad you think and feel as you do.  It is truly refreshing
to witness such confidence in men.  And I told Fairbanks that George
looked as though he worked hard, and wanted to be respected."

"But tell me, what of his error, Mr. Frisbie?  I insist upon knowing."

"You shall know, Squire Fabens.  I would as lief _you_ would know as
not; you will not breathe it where it can hurt Ludlow.  You know we are
bound to lift up the fallen--not to crush them."

"But he has not fallen, I hope!  What was his error?"

"Do not let it trouble you, Squire, do not let it trouble you at all.
I think just as much of him, far's I know, as ever I did.  The
crime--if crime _you_ would call it, is this: he came to our store to
trade out a due-bill, as I said, and after he had gone, we missed a
pocket-handkerchief."

"He or some one else may have taken it by mistake," interrupted Mrs.
Fabens, rocking her chair in agitation.

"That is very likely, as I told Fairbanks," said Frisbie.  "And it is
best for us to think so.  We had better judge ten guilty persons
innocent, than condemn one innocent man.  It was a _silk_
pocket-handkerchief; and as it lay on the counter just before he left,
Fairbanks thought Ludlow must have taken it; and following him over to
the tailor's shop, where he left his bundle, I opened it, and found a
handkerchief, just like ours, wadded up and tucked into one end of the
wrapping paper.  _Little_ things sometimes indicate more than we wish
to believe.  But then he looked a little honest, when he came in, and
said he knew not how on earth it got there."

"I don't believe he did know," said Fabens.  "How easy it would have
been for you; or whoever put up the goods, to have put that in by
mistake."

"Just so I told Fairbanks," said Frisbie; "and it must have got there
in some such way.  It was crumpled up so, my first thought was that it
was tucked in by stealth.  I inquired of our new customer, Captain
Troffater--I believe they call him Captain, I very confidentially named
the circumstance to him, and he said it _might_ be a mistake of ours;
but he did not know about it, and it was best for merchants to keep a
sharp lookout, when they did not know who was in their store.  But
there, as--"

"I will not believe George stole it," interrupted Fabens earnestly.
"He is incapable of such an act; and it is much more reasonable to
believe it was done up by mistake."

"I have brought home things several times in that way, and nobody
suspected _I_ meant to steal," said Mrs. Fabens.  "The clerks confessed
their hurry, and their liability to make mistakes, when I returned
them."

"We do make such mistakes too often, as I told Fairbanks; and it must
be he took it in that way," concluded Frisbie.  "At any rate, I had
rather believe so, and have you _all_ believe so, than believe him
guilty.  I am sure I would not harm the fellow; and I would not weaken
your confidence in him.  I am always so grieved myself to know that a
person is not as good as I believed him to be, I would not attempt to
convince any one of confidence misplaced for the world--unless I had
the weightiest reason.  Yet, I confess it grieves me still more to see
confiding people deceived, they feel so bad after it."

Upon this, Frisbie rose and repeated his invitation to Fabens, to go
over and see them, saying, as he left the door, that "he hoped
Fairbanks would not be an old bachelor always, but get him a good wife,
and have a home, and live like somebody, that ladies and gentlemen
might visit him.  But what do you think he says, when I jog him on the
subject?  That there is only one girl in Summerfield he could like well
enough to marry, and I point in a certain direction, and tell him I can
guess who he means!

"Fairbanks is getting notional like all old bachelors.  His mother
taught him some of it.  She thought so much of him when she kept house
for him on the Hudson, she dared not let him stay away from home over
night, for fear he would have the croup.

"He grows more and more particular in his choice of friends, and sets a
higher and higher mark for the young lady of his choice.  I tell him he
is too particular.  But he must have his notions; and I will say this
for Fairbanks, whoever gets him, will get a prize worth setting her cap
for.  His mother always said, if he hadn't a happy and loving home, it
wouldn't be his fault."

Frisbie left, and while Fanny's quince-blossom blushes all rallied to
her cheeks and mounted to her forehead at the allusion in his last
words, they all wondered why any one could suspect George Ludlow of
crime, on evidence so trivial; and they thought none the less of him,
or the merchant, or the clerk.

In the course of a few weeks, Fairbanks and Frisbie came again, and
Fairbanks borrowed a hundred dollars, spent a pleasant evening, and
evinced a still warmer regard for Fanny Fabens.  A week before the
money was to be paid, he returned and said, he had it all with him, and
if the Squire wished to make immediate use of it he would insist on
paying it over; at the same time intimating the great obligation it
would confer on him to permit him the use of it a few weeks longer;
getting an extension of time till he could return from New York, and
obtaining the loan of Fabens' note, payable to his order at the bank,
for a hundred and fifty dollars.

Before the time of extension expired, the borrowed money was paid, with
interest urged, and a few handsome presents to Fanny and Mrs. Fabens,
for the accommodation.  And on being well assured that the note at the
bank had been taken up, and the signature cancelled, Fabens loaned him
another note for two hundred and fifty dollars.

In two months more, other elegant presents were made to Fanny and Mrs.
Fabens, and Fairbanks and Frisbie, together, as a token of their
particular and high esteem, presented Fabens a superb cane, of a limb
from the Liberty Tree, as they said, then waving on Boston Common;
richly mounted with silver, bearing his name, and the names of the
generous donors, on a silver eagle, set in the ivory head; with
appropriate inscriptions, and all polished like the smoothest glass.

"This gift," said Squire Fabens, so touched with emotion, he faltered
and hemmed in his speech, "this gift kindles a warm spot under my vest
here," laying his hand on his heart.  "A gift always affects me, if it
is ever so small.  And this, gentlemen, is _really_ a handsome gift
_indeed_.  I have no words to express my thanks."

"Thanks would only burden us the more, as we have been the most
obliged," said Fairbanks, with his blandest bow, and meekest smile; and
other kind words were spoken, and confident assurances repeated; and
another note obtained for three hundred dollars.  During that
delightful visit, in words employed with the most winning selection,
Fairbanks and Frisbie said so much to the Squire about his credit
abroad, about the favorable development of his head for a mercantile
life, about the advantages which he knew merchants always had over
farmers, about the pleasures of store-keeping, the opportunity of
visiting New York frequently, and making honorable acquaintances there
and elsewhere, and several other desirable objects, that when alone in
the field, they proposed to him to come with them into a grand
copartnership of the name of "Fairbanks, Frisbie and Fabens," and
assume all the business of Summerfield; he was actually taken with
agreeable surprise, his head growing giddy, as by some irresistible
charm; and he looked upon the farmer's life and labor, as the life and
labor of a drudge; glanced forth upon visions of opulence, honor and
ease; and hoped to put away, without too much sacrifice, his stony
acres, and enter upon that high and tempting course.

His mind wandered and returned, as between sleeping and waking.  He
remembered, at last, what Julia would be likely to say, if informed
immediately, and in full, of the scheme.  He remembered how diligently
she had wrought, how prudently managed, to help him to his handsome
property.  He knew with what affection she regarded that home and farm,
and every fruit-tree, and shade-tree and sugar-maple; every flower-bed,
and herb-bank, and rose-tree and vine; every comfort and convenience
around them; and how it might wring her heart, and how Fanny might weep
to see the old homestead go to another; and he concluded, it was best
on the whole, to take time for reflection, and if at last he determined
to sell, and become a merchant, he would let his family know but little
of his plan at a time, and prepare them gradually, as Fairbanks
considerately advised, to incline to his will, and consent to try the
change.

Before the end of another week, and before Fabens had decided on their
proposition, Frisbie came again for the loan of another note, of three
hundred dollars, and left, saying, "they were perfectly willing he
should take his own time, to make up his mind about coming into the new
firm; that this note should be looked after and paid as promptly as all
the others had been, and he would find that John Fairbanks as clever a
fellow as ever dealt with him."



XXIV.

A WEEK OF CASTLE BUILDING.

The last assurance of Frisbie was indeed very kind, but unnecessary;
for Squire Fabens was well convinced before the last visit, that
Fairbanks was all he had been represented to be; and that conviction
rose from a simple and cool opinion to a warm and loving faith, when he
considered all the gifts they gave; the generous solicitations, which
merchants but seldom extended to farmers; and the liberty they allowed
him, to take his own time and look the matter carefully over.

It was a mean suspicion, he thought, which could longer fear deception.
Had it been their design to deceive, why all that frankness; that fair
and candid proposing; that trusting to his own mind to weigh, and his
own time to return an answer?  Villains would have been more exacting
in their terms, and briefer in their plans and proposals.  Villains
would have talked in a lower tone, attempted to hurry him to
agreements, and hastened the signing and sealing.  With those
gentlemen, all was generous, candid, moderate, indulgent; and even if
he concluded not to accept their magnanimous offer, he should always
remember the kindness in which it was made.

A whole week was before him; yes, two or three weeks if he wanted it,
to weigh the proposal and return an answer.  He gave his whole mind to
it, and a week was found sufficient for the deliberation.  During that
week he seemed to live many years of a life, wide and wonderful;
stirring and instinct with actions, incidents and scenes; a life and
possessions, progressive as the rise of day, and rapid as the bloom of
springtime.  It was a week of Castle Building.  The days of the week
introduced a succession of views that swept in action and speech before
him like the scenes of a thrilling drama.

Scene first was opened.  It pleased his eyes, and sent blissful
sensations running around his heart.  It showed him the store of the
company, enlarged and renovated, with a capacious counting-room, and a
pleasant door in the rear, beneath a piazza opening to the cool air and
placid smile of the sweet Cayuga, as it slept or stirred, embosomed
among the lovely hills.

In that store, he saw himself, now moving in the press of business; now
examining their posted legers; and now seated in the comfortable
counting-room, counselling on their growing concerns, or conversing
with an old friend, or neighbor, as the smooth pine whittlings rolled
like ribbons from his hand; and now on the back piazza, enjoying the
air and prospect.

It was a happy change.  It was all shaded sweetly from the intolerable
sun; it was more stirring than farm work; it was more gentle, and
suited to his years.  It was cleanly; and his cool linen wristbands
would keep all the week as snowy white as Julia had done them; while
she would have lighter washings, and more leisure time.

It was a profitable change.  Money was made faster there, Not that his
soul was on fire with a passion for money; he loved money less than
most of his neighbors; he was free and manly with his money as you
would not find ten in a thousand.  Still, honest gains were pleasant to
him; the amount he had accumulated somehow prompted a desire for more;
and in a store he could gain faster, and in larger amounts, and perhaps
retire in a few years, from all business, more independent than now,
enjoy the satisfaction of giving more gracious charities, and
dispensing sweeter reliefs; and settling a handsomer sum on Fanny when
she married, and again when he died.

It was an honorable change.  Say what they would, farmers looked up to
merchants, and considered their own avocation inferior.  Many farmers
honored merchants more than those of their own sphere, and would be
glad to be merchants themselves.  As he moved about that store, or
whittled in that counting-room, or sat on that back piazza, and took of
the cool summer breeze, fresh kisses of beauty borne up from the
laughing lake, he would still be called Squire Fabens, but it would
come with more emphasis and meaning than now, while delving in the
vulgar soil.

Scene second was opened.  The store was the same, but the business
extended, calling another clerk to the counter; the seats were there,
and the pleasant views around; the company sulky, polished like a
razor, danced on its light elliptics, behind a proud pawing horse at
the post; and the sun literally revelled in the yellow gold that flamed
on the sanded sign over the door.

His eyes were still more pleased, and there flocked around his heart
sensations of more exalted bliss.  The chances of his fortune were very
large, and sure; but he would feel rich on a quarter of what would be
required in older sections, and in cities.  If he could have ten
thousand dollars, and a clear conscience and good name left, he would
feel richer than many with a million.  He would be rich enough, and
thank no man for more.  No man ought to accumulate more.  With that
fortune he could settle down, in the pleasantest home.

That home rose before him in the scene.  It stood fronting the village
green.  It supported its piazza and Paris green blinds, and was white
and modest in all appearance.  It was a two-story house of course, for
a story and a half would look too much like a squatter's home, in a
village; yet it was not over large.  A large house would give Mrs.
Fabens too much care and work, and she would not have a servant to wait
on her.  The house was just suited to his family.  It was furnished
neatly but prudently; having a sofa indeed, and one large mirror; but
brick fireplaces, frugal lamps, a plain carpet in the parlor, and maple
chairs with simple flag-seats.

In that home, how much comfort he could take when his friends gave him
calls; when Fanny and her children came home on a visit, and when some
poor weary mendicant entered for shelter, alms and rest!  To that home
he could retire in a few years, free from the cares of business,
anxious for nothing, but the good of his neighbors, still young in his
heart, and fresh in all his feelings to enjoy life's blessing and peace.

Scene third was opened.  The store remained, with an increase of
business, and an enlargement of the building.  He still continued in
business; but it was from choice, and not necessity; for all of his ten
thousand was made; and it was made so easily, and in so much less time
than he anticipated, and so pleasantly withal, he might just as well
keep on to twenty thousand; if a clear conscience might remain, and he
might be a little more happy.

Mrs. Fabens could be lady of a handsomer home, and perhaps persuaded to
keep a servant or two, and take some comfort in her old age.  His first
object should be to force happiness on her; for a better wife never
blest a devoted husband.  Mrs. Fabens should be urged to extend the
sphere of her enjoyments, and Fanny should be well provided for.  He
would try for twenty thousand.  Then a larger house could be built, and
a good horse and carriage attend at the door.

That sum was accumulated, and that home and its opulent comforts and
equipage rose in the scene.  He was glad he possessed it.  The poorest
of his friends, the most humble of his fellows were welcome as ever
there, and he was happier, showing how a rich man could unbend, and how
much more was in his power to bless them.

Now he could travel some.  Neither he nor his family has seen anything
of the world at all, and he would take them around to see it.  They
should go to Saratoga a week, thence to Albany, thence to New York, and
Philadelphia.  Perhaps they would go through the country in their own
private carriage, taking all the comfort of the journey.  It would be
grand to visit Niagara, and bring home in their souls the sublimity of
the falls.  May be they would go to Boston, and set their feet on
Bunker-hill, where his father fought in the Revolution; and if he
should ever be honored with a seat in the Legislature, or in Congress,
he would take his family with him, for he could do it as well as not.

Scene fourth was opened, and that was pleasanter than all the rest.
But he found that even twenty thousand would not be sufficient to
accomplish all his plans.  Yet, he was in no dilemma.  Fairbanks,
Frisbie and Fabens, had grown up into a mammoth business, and it would
be as easy to make his thirty thousand, as to turn his hand over.  Make
it honestly too: and the money was all made, and he said now he had
enough in all conscience, for one man to possess.  Now his comfort
would be complete.

He wondered why he should have taken it into his head to build his
house in the village, where he could not turn himself without knocking
his elbows, and where he could get no good views of nature, and hardly
land enough for a patch of green grass to spread-out washings on.

Judge Garlock had a country-seat overlooking the Cayuga, scarcely a
bow-shot from the pebbly shore, and he must have one too.  He sells his
village home, purchases ten acres on a gentle and beautiful slope,
builds him a splendid house, with polished marble mantels, with
cornices, centre-pieces, and folding-doors, furnished in several rooms
with mahogany chairs and sofas, with ottomans and divans; the large
parlor graced with a fine piano, for Fanny and her sweet daughters,
when they shall come home; and his lovely acres are made more lovely by
a profusion of trees, circles and lines of white pebble walk, pink-beds
and tulips; and flourish not long without a deer-park and duck-pond, as
symbols of ancient times.

And how his heart leaps with delight as he beholds that home in
contrast with the old ones, and imagines the comfort they will find
there.  Not the wet grass, or slumping soil of a farm, but the white
pebble path of a villa will he now tread, as he goes forth to enjoy the
morning and the night.  And while he is out, if he chooses not to sit
down in his summer-house, and read, or look over his last paper, under
one of his maples, and has nothing else to busy his thoughts, and no
one to share his company, he can fling corn to his ducks in the pool,
and feed his gentle deer, delighting to see them enjoy his care.

Who has not a right to build as handsome a house as money will buy?  He
cannot withdraw his eyes from the charming scene!  He retires and
returns again and again, to linger and look upon it.  The clear and
cool Cayuga shines beyond, as if hung for a mirror to reflect it; and
he sees the whole magnificent estate, the house and its terraces, the
grounds and trees, the walks and waters, the ducks and deers; even the
tulips and pinks, as plainly in its placid splendor, as you can see the
sun in the silver sky.

But he must turn, at least to breathe, for the fifth scene opens.
Still he remains a member of the firm of Fairbanks, Frisbie and Fabens.
Still at times he is seen in the store, waiting on customers, when the
others are absent, sitting now and then in the counting-room to counsel
or converse, or enjoying a cool hour on the back piazza.  Still he is
very happy, yet not quite satisfied.

He has run upon the idea that a high-school is wanted in Summerfield,
and that he cannot more nobly enhance his happiness than by
establishing a school of the first class, in a building erected for the
purpose, endowing it amply, and making a present of it to the town.
Ten thousand dollars more could easily be made, and it would enable him
to do that very handsome thing for Summerfield.

In comes the money without effort, and without delay; the school is
established on a pleasant eminence, in full view of his mansion, and it
makes a fine ornament to the place; while he finds it a pleasant sight
indeed, to see talented young men, and accomplished young women, going
forth from Fabens' Academy, to improve society, and ennoble their own
life with learning, and graceful manners and ways.

And while revelling in this new source of joy, his fortune continues to
grow, and the sixth scene opens.  It will be thought a novel enterprise
in that community, and he is prepared for it, and even for a few sneers
and witticisms; but these will not move him at all, and he resolves to
build a meeting-house, and call a pastor, and settle a salary upon him.
He has always supported Elder Darling's meeting--the Elder is an
excellent man, and he will continue to support him; but he is not
perfectly suited with the Elder's preaching; it wants heartier life,
and a more evangelical power and effect; and he knows of many who
hunger for a gospel of larger faith and charity; which shall feed and
refresh the people, and raise their aims and views; which shall
identify religion more with a pure and benevolent character; which
shall not be sectarian; and, free from cant and vain pretension, shall
enter into every-day life, and make smiles its hymns, and deeds of good
its prayers.  Such a minister can be procured, such a church
established.  He can establish it himself, and not mind the cost.  He
will do it, and ask no man's assistance.  Up goes a beautiful church as
there is in all the country, and on comes the eloquent preacher; and
full meetings, and joyful seasons follow.  If ever he was a man of
perfect happiness, it is now.

And what can prevent the continuance of his bliss?  The evangelical
gospel sounds sweeter than ever in his ears.  New interpretations of
Scripture enlighten him, and higher views of God and heaven open like
elysium around.  And can anything, out of heaven, flood his heart with
a fuller satisfaction, than on a still, bright, silent Sunday, such as
God gives in holiest beauty only to the country, to ride in his
carriage to that lovely church, which nestles like a white dove in
among the hills, and hear preaching that will fatten his soul with
celestial manna-dew, exchange warm greetings with hundreds who thank
him for the privilege they enjoy at his hand, and ride home, rejoicing
all the way, to be the agent by which a door is opened for light and
truth in a new region?

His happiness continues to flow.  All his reasonable expectations are
fulfilled, and he seems to live longer in a single day, on a single
Sunday now, than he once did in a twelvemonth; it makes him so happy to
know he has made many others happy.  But with the increase of fortune,
comes the increase of desire, and he finds another thing lacking; a new
project leaps into his mind, and the last scene opens.

There are a great many poor people in Summerfield.  Several causes have
combined to make them poor.  Most of them are very worthy, and have
interesting children.  All of them are God's sons and daughters, and
should not pine in want and grief amid so much wealth and country.  If
a Poor Man's Home were established on a large and productive farm, and
put under judicious management, how much suffering might be alleviated!
How many aged heads lie down on soft pillows of peace!  How many aged
hearts, unburdened of grief, and made to run over with flowing tears of
gratitude!  How many of the disabled and unfortunate, placed beyond
reach of want and misery!  How many bright children snatched from the
errors and temptations that lurk in the way of poverty, and clothed and
educated in virtues and lessons, that would place them on a footing
with rich men's children, and lead them to lives of usefulness and
honor!  How many orphans provided for, and how many widows made to sing
in their hearts for joy!

He has means sufficient to do most of the building himself, and endow
the Home; and with a little help from others, the institution is
completed; and he sees bright glancing wings of joy hovering at doors
where grief has been a constant guest; Comfort wiping tears from eyes
long accustomed to weep; and Virtue and Knowledge leading large
processions of rescued children on their heavenward way.  He is rich
and happy as he can hope or desire to be on earth, and he lies down to
sweet dreams on the last night of his Week of Castle Building, and with
those dreams the visions of affluence close.



XXV.

A WEEK OF REALITY.

During that memorable week, while those splendid scenes of fortune
passed his view as on a rolling panorama, there were moments when
Fabens felt that the scheme was too magnificent to contemplate alone,
and Mrs. Fabens and Fanny ought at once to be admitted to the blissful
secret, and participate his joy.  Then again, he happened to remember
Julia's love for the old home, and her questioning, slow-footed
caution, and he refrained from a disclosure.

But he could not refrain from sounding her mind a little, as he
returned from the field for his meals, to ascertain if his own dreams
could possibly be too extravagant, and if there were any hope of a
consent from her, provided in the end he should have an earnest desire
to accept the tempting offer.  He asked her several questions of
considerable meaning to himself, which she answered, with little
suspicion of the thoughts that lay concealed beneath the surface of the
words.

"Our fields never looked more beautiful to me, not even in June, than
they have for a few days now of this lovely weather," said Mrs. Fabens,
gazing from her favorite window upon the rich landscape in view, on the
first day of the Week of Reality.

"We are somewhat retired, and cannot see a great distance north or east
from the house, but what we can see is so bound up with all my dearest
feelings and pleasantest thoughts, I would not change it away for more
pretending views from new situations.  I love to look at our east woods
very well; and the hill pasture; and the orchard in blossom is a
charming sight, and more charming still when tossing the yellow pippins
to the sun, as in this pleasant breeze."

"You think the old farm is pretty near the centre of the world, I
suppose," said Fabens.

"It holds my heart as if balanced on the world's centre," replied Mrs.
Fabens.

"And nothing would tempt you to leave it? not even a larger house, or
nearer sights of lovely water, or pleasanter walks?"

"No, indeed!"

"But, you always thought Judge Garlock's place very handsome."

"O, it is handsome to look at as you pass; it is nearer the lake than
ours; and no doubt it is the dearest spot on earth to Mrs. Garlock, she
has lived there so long; but I would not leave this place for that."

"But you forget her splendid house, her white pebble walks, her grounds
looking like an Eden; and--"

"No doubt they are very dear to her, but I would not exchange houses,
or grounds, or gardens, or sights with her."

"Not if we had more money, to live as they do!"

"No! not for a house full of silver dollars."

"Not to have such a splendid view from your door and windows of the
silver-breasted lake, and the grand old hills beyond?"

"Hardly, if the river Jordan rolled there, and Canaan bloomed opposite;
though I always thought that would be the loveliest sight on earth.
But what are you talking about, Matthew? do we not see the lake from
our house, and the hills, too, beyond?"

"Only from a distance."

"'Distance lends enchantment to the view,' as Fanny's poet sings."

"Only in little patches; and they are dull, and without interest,
unless the sun happens to shine.  But would you not like to live there
if I was a merchant or lawyer; and had given a school, a church, and
hospital to the town, and grand folks were flocking from all quarters
to visit us?"

"No, I would not, as true as I live and breathe; not if you were King
George, and kings and queens were flocking to see you.  Nothing but
Heaven would tempt me to change away the old home; we have taken so
much comfort here.  It seems a part and parcel of myself.  I would as
soon think of changing you off for Merchant Fairbanks, because he may
be called a little handsomer, and goes dressed up like a lord every day
about his dainty store.  I would as soon think of selling Fanny, and
buying Desdemona Faddle to fill Fanny's place, just because she has a
mess of dangling curls, and paints her face, and wears more rings and
flounces."

"How you do talk!  That would be quite a different thing; wouldn't it,
Fanny?"

"No, father, I think mother is right.  I'm sure I never can love
another home as I love this.  I should feel dreadfully to hear you talk
of selling.  I never could love another home."

"Not if you had George there, to increase your happiness?"

"Another home to call father's and mother's I mean; where I could
return and enjoy all the old things that are grown so fast to my heart.
But why do you talk so, father?"

"That I was going to ask.  You have no intention of leaving here, I
hope, and why _do_ you talk so?  You act wild."

"You began the talk, Julia, and I was seeing to what a stretch you
would carry your feelings.  But here, it is time I was out in the field
at the plough again, and I will leave you now, to think it all over,
and see if there is nothing on earth that would tempt you to sell the
old home."

A drop of cold water, or the slightest shake will interrupt the
reallest seeming dream; and half of this conversation would have
brought Fabens out of what but a day before seemed a splendid reality.
He went to his plough in the light of his awakened senses, and walked
all the way on the actual, sober ground.  His gorgeous air castles
vanished like a train of fleeting clouds.  A walk in the dirty furrow
seemed long before night, a very pleasant and refreshing pastime; and
he shuddered with shame more than once to think he had been so
extravagant in many of the thoughts, that were set afloat by the
merchant's offer.  He came to himself that afternoon; and sitting down
to tea, with a glance first at the north meadow and the white ash
shade-trees blooming there; then at the east woods and orchard; then at
the blue fringes of the mountains lifted sublimely before him in the
south; then at the crystal Cayuga in the west and the green hills
sleeping beyond; he exclaimed, "I must agree with you, Julia; we have
views from our doors and windows as handsome as any I know of, and the
old farm still looks very good to me."

During that afternoon, however, Mrs. Fabens had been thinking of
Fairbanks and Frisbie, and it occurred to her that they might have said
something to her husband about selling his farm; and from that, her
mind returned to the borrowed notes.  It had been her expressed desire
that he would not contract a liability for any one, of more than fifty
dollars, without security; and now she felt painfully curious to know,
if the former notes loaned had been all taken up, why they had not been
brought to her husband, that he might positively know that his
liability had ceased.  But Fabens was so magnanimous he had thought it
unmanly to ask security of the merchant, or distrust the assurances of
men who had dealt so handsomely as they.

She wondered she had not remembered to inquire about the old notes
before, and was troubled till she could ask the question.  At night she
introduced the subject.  "It may be all right," said she, "but
something keeps whispering to me, that trouble awaits us.  We have a
comfortable property, as much as anybody ought to desire I know, but we
have all worked hard and honestly to get it, and it would be hard to be
defrauded of a hundred dollars.  I would rather give all we can spare
to the poor and needy, than to be defrauded of it."

"I confess to you, mother, what till this week I never felt," said
Fanny with emotion; "I begin to lose confidence.  I fear father is
deceived.  I don't like their coming so often.  I don't like the way
they make so many presents.  I don't like their asking for so many
notes, and I have heard too much of what begins to sound like flattery.
Oh, I hope father will not have trouble!"

"_I_ hope too, that I shall not have trouble," said Fabens with rising
agitation; "but you seem to wake me out of a singular dream.  What
_have_ I been doing?  Why have I given them power so to deceive and
defraud me, if they chance to have the wicked will?  I must go and see
if all is well.  I fear, I fear they deceived me!  What have I done?"

Early the next morning Fabens set off to see Fairbanks.  He designed
first to inquire if Fairbanks had preserved, and could produce the old
notes represented as paid, and next ascertain whether the last one left
him liable; and in his anxiety, and the wakefulness of his reason and
judgment, he gave no thought to the idea of quitting his fine old farm
for a merchant's life, except to wonder how such an idea had been
permitted to enter his head.  A cool hour's ride brought him to the
village where Fairbanks traded, and his fears were in no wise relieved,
by finding the store still closed, and failing to obtain an answer to
his rap and call.

He stepped over to the tailor's shop across the way, and there he was
informed that the store was closed by a sheriff the day before, on an
old judgment from New York, and there were not goods enough on hand to
cancel the liability.  That the neighborhood was all in excitement, for
astonishing things had come to light.  That Fairbanks had obtained
money at the banks in considerable amounts on the endorsements of
several citizens; and still was owing for two or three crops of wheat
and other produce; besides leaving a large board bill unsettled; horse
hire, cigar and liquor bills, and hired help unpaid; and with Frisbie
had left the town, no doubt, never to return!

"What _shall_ I do?--Can it be possible?--Can I believe it?  You amaze
me!  How they did deceive me!" were the answers of Fabens to each
unwelcome item of this news.

"Then they run away in your debt, too, did they, Square?" asked the
tailor, as he finished the hurried tale of recent disclosures.  "If
he's in debt to you, you've a plenty of company.  A good many were took
in by the rascals.  I begun to smell the rat after it was too late.
Each of 'em owes me now for a suit of Sunday clothes.  When I set
pressing 'em off at midnight, I little thought they would be run-away
suits, and I was working so hard for nothing.  But I must pocket the
loss, I suppose, and comfort me, remembering this is the first time a
rascal has bit me.  How much did they owe you, Square, considerable?"

"I know not as I can say positively, that they owe me anything," said
Fabens, as soon as he could crowd in a word of reply to the talkative
tailor's question; "but it must be, I shall lose by them.  I loaned my
note to Fairbanks, a few weeks agony [Transcriber's note: ago,
agone?]--my note at the bank for three hundred dollars.  I expect I
shall have that to pay, and I know not how much more."

"Why, of all things! they've bit you hard, you may depend!" exclaimed
the astonished tailor.

"Is it possible that they are such deceivers?" asked Fabens, in an
agony of grief.

"They are dreadful creatures; there's no mistake about that, I guess,"
said the tailor.

"But they always looked honest and friendly," said Fabens.

"And so can old Bill Shazzar, and old Bill Zebub, look honest and
friendly too, when they want to come it on a fellow," said the tailor.

"Who next can we trust?" exclaimed Fabens, wounded as deeply by the
deception as by the loss.  "Where was my reason?  Where were my senses
all this while?  Why didn't I take my wife's advice, when she gave it
with tears in her eyes?  I dread to go to the bank and see how matters
are."



XXVI.

ANOTHER WEEK OF REALITY.

Before Fabens left town for Auburn, to inquire at the bank, concerning
his paper, an officer of the bank met him, having been to his house,
and followed him here, and he disclosed the fact that Fabens was liable
for a thousand dollars, not one of the old notes having been paid.  "My
worst fears are realized!" cried Fabens, the cold sweat starting out in
beads on his forehead.

"Why was I so heedless?  And is this all right, sir?  Could you not
have warned me of my danger before it went so far?  You must have known
that something was going wrong in that fellow's affairs; and why was I
kept in the dark to this hour?"

He was answered that the villains had managed so adroitly, they did not
suspect deception, till too late.  "But we are not at all alarmed,
Squire Fabens, concerning the amount for which you are liable to us,"
said the gentleman.  "We _know_ you are good and honest.  We will give
you all reasonable time to cancel the notes.  I regret sincerely, that
you have met such a loss, Squire Fabens.  But there, a farmer should
never be liable for a trader.  Let farmers endorse each other if they
will; they know each other's risks and resources.  But they know little
of the risks and insecurities of trade, and less of the chances of
deception connected with it, and they should never endorse for traders,
or loan their notes.  Hundreds of fine farms go in this way to pay
other people's debts."

"But must my farm go to pay those notes?"  asked Fabens, turning still
whiter in the face, and sweating almost blood.  "_My_ farm, that I have
worked so hard for? my comfortable home?  Must it go, and leave us
destitute now as old age comes in sight?  It is hard to think of these
things.  And what will my poor wife say? and how can she endure this
trouble?  I will pay the notes, if it takes all I have, and the coat
from my back, in the bargain; but I beg you don't sue me.  I never was
sued in my life.  Don't injure my character, or make me unnecessary
cost."

Everything proved just as they informed him, and he went home
heavy-hearted, to relate what he had heard.  Mrs. Fabens and Fanny were
deeply grieved by the thought, that he stood so largely liable on
Fairbanks' account.  But they bore the shock with a composure, which
comforted Fabens greatly; and such hopefulness had ever been the
blessing of them all, before another week, they had nearly recovered
from the first agitation, and begun to contrive how they should manage
to make the best of the misfortune.

It was nothing against their firm religious faith in overruling Good,
nor against their fortitude, or self-reliance, to say that at first
they yielded to agitations and griefs.  It would have been unnatural in
them not to be moved.  For the present it was a calamity which they
must suffer.  Their old farm was dear to them, every acre of it.  To
its woods and waters; to its fine pastures and green meadows; its
generous fruit-trees and grateful shade-trees, they were tenderly
attached, looking upon them with family affection; and how could an
item of that sweet home be spared?  They doubted not but God would
control the event for good; but it could not displease him to behold
this feeling in his children.  How could they adjust their faith to the
event and be resigned so suddenly?  It was hard to bear the stroke.  It
cut to the tender quick, and they shuddered and wept.  It was hard to
think the unworthy should be agents, to bring the disguised blessing
which would follow such a woe.  Hard to be deceived by those in whom so
many confided with such pure and magnanimous trust.

But they were not immoderate in their grief.  The deception might have
been deeper, and the loss more alarming and great.  And then what was
their grief at that hour, compared with the misery that must gnaw at
the hearts of the deceivers, as inseparable from their guilt.  What
gift in the wide world would tempt them to exchange places with the
wretched creatures?  What a thorny road of perdition must their way of
life be!  How they must whiten and gasp, and what poignant pangs must
thrill them through and through when they remembered their villainous
deeds!

And then they remembered how thankful they should be, that the designs
of the criminals on Fanny had failed even of their first success, while
they wept to hear of the shame in which more than one poor victim had
been left; that they lost no confidence in George Ludlow; and none of
their family had been made less virtuous by them.

Fabens remembered his schemes of benevolence, and his project of a new
church and minister, without regret; but he crimsoned with blushing
shame, as he confessed the foolish idea to which they forced him to
listen, in regard to selling the old homestead and becoming a merchant.
"Just as though it could be possible for us to be as happy as we are,
in another sphere of life!" said he.  "What in the world do I want to
make me happy and respectable, except more faith and goodness, and the
means to confer more good, that I did not possess before the scoundrels
came?  I wonder that Matthew Fabens allowed them to make him such a
silly fool!"  But it was long before he told them the dreams he
indulged in his Week of Castle Building.

They counselled together: with returning resignation and confidence,
they counselled.

"A thousand dollars!--a _thousand_!" said Fabens, with a long-drawn
sigh.  "That is a large debt for me to owe--a large one!  I must see
how I can settle it.  I cannot bear to be in debt, even on another's
account.  I must not sit down and give up.  I cannot rest very well
till I do something to square it.  He said they wouldn't sue me.  I
never was sued, and I could not bear to be.  But I have only about a
hundred dollars, and where can I raise the rest?  The debt is a round
thousand in all."

"I do not know.  It really looks dark before us after all," said Mrs.
Fabens.  "A thousand dollars does not grow on every bush.  I see no
way, but a slice of the farm must go, and a pretty large slice too; and
that will be very hard.  How much is the whole farm worth?"

"It ought to fetch six thousand, five hundred," said Fabens.  "Six
thousand I've been offered for it, time and again."

"I cannot bear to part with an inch of the farm--it is so dear to us,"
said Mrs. Fabens.

"How can we part with a rood or a tree," asked Fanny, with a sigh.
"Every tree seems one of the family, and every rood has transferred a
picture of its beauty to our hearts."

"But something must be done to wipe off the thousand dollars.  The
hundred on hand will help; and where shall I raise the rest?  They may
sue me, and sacrifice double the amount, if they have to wait too
long," said Fabens.

"O well, we shall have enough left after paying the thousand," said
Mrs. Fabens.  "Any one will loan you nine hundred, and take a mortgage.
Then we should not have to sell a single rood.  We could all turn to,
and raise it off from the farm in three or four years."

"I cannot bear to mortgage the farm," said Fabens.  "I should then feel
in debt.  I hate debts as I do sin and Satan.  Hadn't we better sell
off a little strip joining Nimblet's, and stand free and clear once
more?  It is handsome land, I know; my heart leans to it warmly, for I
have labored along there a good many pleasant days.  But hadn't we
better let the pretty piece go?  He has been at me these three years to
sell it; and he can pay for it all down.  Wouldn't the farm be large
enough without that strip?"

"That may be best," said Mrs. Fabens.  "I dislike debts and mortgages
as much as you.  But the farm is so handsome with that green border,
and its lovely shade-trees!"

"That is the most beautiful fringe of fields on the farm," said Fanny.
"The trees are the finest;--think of those charming chestnuts, and how
their white blossoms sweeten the air in July!  And the handsomest
walnuts and maples wave along there.  And there is my lovely linden,
and mother's balm of Gilead.  And how level the ground is; and how the
bluebirds and robins love to sing there!--But perhaps it may be best to
let it go, and be out of debt.  We shall all feel so much better.  You
cannot sell the loveliness of those fields, and he could no more buy it
than buy the songs of the birds, or the light of the blue skies.  The
handsome prospect, the verdure, light, and song, are the property of
all who have eyes to see and hearts to enjoy them; and Mr. Nimblet will
take pains, I know, to make the fields more lovely, if he can."

"Then I may say to Mr. Nimblet, he can have the north fields?" asked
Fabens.

"O, wait a little while," said Fanny, "and see if we cannot keep them.
It looks so beautiful in the middle field in the spring, when the
dandelions blow; and the strawberries blossom; and the butter-cups wave
in the wind; and the bobolinks light on the red clover and sing;--there
would be more comfort in knowing it was all ours as we enjoyed the
sight!"

"But we cannot have everything, Fanny, as we wish in this world," said
Mrs. Fabens.  "Let it go.  I am willing, if you think best.  As Fanny
says, the landscape will be ours as much as ever.  And after all, how
much better off are we without that strip of land than many of our
neighbors!  Think of the poor laborers and mechanics that Fairbanks
owes for work!  How much more ought we to think of their loss than our
own!"

"Yes, but, how much good we could have done with that thousand
dollars," said Fabens; "giving some of it to the poor, and lending the
rest to worthy young men who are struggling against hope to get
something, and would be set on their feet by a little lift.  But it is
of no use to cry for spilt milk."

"And what is this trouble, compared with the loss of poor little
Clinton, and our grief for him?" asked Mrs. Fabens.

"Dear me,--I would give the beauty of the world to see my brother
Clinton!" cried Fanny, her blue eyes sparkling with tears.  "I cannot
remember seeing him; but how could I help loving him when you have said
so much about him, and wept so many sad hours for his loss?  O what
would we not give to see Clinton?  And how foolish it will be to mourn
for a small deception and a thousand dollars!  _Don't_ let us mourn any
more for that!"

"Clinton!" said Fabens, kindling to a glow, and rising and pacing the
room.  "Give all the world to see Clinton?  I think we would, and we
would be rich and happy, if Clinton were alive and here, though we were
without money and handsome fields, and had no more than a bark shanty
to shelter our heads."

"Indeed we would!" added Mrs. Fabens, rocking more earnestly in her
chair.  "And let us pay up the debt, sell the land and pay it, and
thank the Lord that he has been so good to us, and taught us how to
bear our troubles."

George Ludlow was present to sympathize and counsel, and he said "Let
the land go;" and Fanny repeated, "Let it go; we have all its beauty
pictured on our souls, and will possess it with our estate;" and before
the week was over, Mr. Nimblet had purchased the row of fields on the
north side of the farm, and the debt was paid, and happiness became,
for that misfortune, no stranger to the household.



XXVII.

SUNNY SKIES.

Time and reflection, mutual sympathy, and a happy knack of always
hoping for the best, completed their resignation, and prosperity and
peace once more attended their efforts and desires.  The farm was found
quite ample in what was left, to employ them all, and satisfy their
hearts.  In fact there was more land left than Fabens could manage
without much assistance, and more than a supply of all that heart could
wish.

They seemed to enjoy home and prosperity, and everything around them
better than before; for the loss and anxiety given them by Fairbanks
awakened a new appreciation of all good, and taught them to be more
thankful for what they could call their own.  They also learned how to
exercise a will that conquered all misfortune, and rested in a faith
that overcame the world.  As they looked back to early life, and
counted all the sorrows they had seen, though some had been heavy as
humanity can bear, they could not select one and say, it had not seemed
to soften their hearts, and open to their minds a sense of the goodness
of God and the mercy of every providence.  "I can cry with David," said
Fabens, "it is good for me that I was afflicted, although it is
difficult, at all times to see in what way good out of evil may come."

After this, George Ludlow was employed to assist in managing the farm,
and the progress of time only quickened the increase of their love for
him.  He grew manly still more in appearance, though to strangers he
was homely; he grew intelligent still more in mind, and his society in
that home was not its smallest joy.

And Fanny Fabens had now attained to full maturity, and she presented a
person and a mind that all admired and loved.  Her form had a round and
erect development; and her step was as light, and her carriage as proud
as the colt's that ranged the hills.  Her hair was a shaded and glossy
flaxen now, and her eyes were a darker blue.  Her beauty was unchanging
as the Pleiades, in all situations; for whether she hetchelled flax in
the kitchen, or spun wool in the barn; whether peeling apples, or
piecing quilts; whether churning butter or dressing cheese; whether
gleaning wheat or picking berries; or dancing at a wedding, or singing
hymns at church; she was the same rosy, brisk and brightly smiling
creature; the same full, free and glad-hearted life; giving grace and
honor to labor; light and beauty to nature; joy and virtue to
amusements; peace and holiness to worship, and love and happiness to
home.

One day when Fabens happened to stop at the tailor's, in the village,
he thought to inquire into Frisbie's story, concerning the
handkerchief, which he would have them believe George Ludlow had
stolen.  The tailor was positive in denying the truth of the whole
affair.  It was false, he said, and much like many other lies they had
told.

The next time Fabens saw Troffater, he inquired if Tilly knew any evil
of George Ludlow, or if he ever warned Fairbanks and Frisbie against
him.

"They never said so much as boo, about 'im to me, nor I to them; that's
honest," said Troffater.  "But I tell you, Fabens, I never thought a
great 'eal o' them scamps.  I itched to give you a jog, when they come
so thick around you.  You was green as a mess o' cowslops, or you'd a
seen what they was arter.  I thought you'd git nipt a grain, or my name
wasn't Troffater.  But I dasn't tell you what I thought on 'em.  You
wouldn't a' b'lieved me, I ben such a witch with my word.  I spose you
know the fellers have been heern from?  They run out of all they
cabbaged here perty quick.  Frisbie, they say, is jugged up in jail,
and there's better men sometimes hung than that Jock Fairbanks.  I
guess some o' the gals are kindy sorry they sot their caps for 'em!
The Faddle gals, I guess, would give all their old shews, if they'd a'
kep away from the whelps.  My gals is all in titters about it; and Beck
Teezle, says she, 'I wonder, says she, if Des and Luce Faddle, says
she, will feel above us now?'  They couldn't git me to dew their dirty
Work, with all their ile and palaver.  I bought a pitchfork on 'em,
once in hayin', and got a platter there when Josephyne was married, and
I paid 'em tew in mink skins; and that's all I had to dew with 'em.
You lost a good 'eal by 'em, didn't you, Square?"

"A thousand dollars," said Fabens.  "It seemed a great sum to lose, at
first.  It _was_ too much for me.  But it has been a good lesson to me,
in many ways.  The lesson perhaps will give me my money's worth."

"That _is_ a big _sum_ to _luse_, I swanny!  I wish I had a jogged your
elbow a grain.  I seen threw the cunnin' scamps the fust time.  Didn't
you know, Square, that Fairbanks was gray as a wharf rat, when he let
his hair alone?" said Troffater.

"No, I did not.  _He_ was not gray; his hair was a glossy black," said
Fabens.

"Ha! ha! ha! you was _greener 'n_ cowslops, or you'd a seen that was
all dye-stuff!" said Troffater.  "Why, I seen the gray roots glisten
for half an inch, the fust time I seen 'im.  But didn't you know 'im,
Square?  He come from the Hudson."

"I never knew him till he came here," said Fabens.

"But, you've got a clean conscience," said Troffater.  "If I had that,
I wouldn't lay wake o' nights, nor grow hatchet-faced a great 'eal.  I
see your cheeks don't fall in, and nobuddy would spose by your looks
that you had a _great_ grist o' trouble.  Wish I could look as
cheerful, and had a bit o' your pleasant peace o' mind."

"But you have forgotten one of my questions; I asked if you knew any
ill of George Ludlow," said Fabens.

"All I know, I can tell perty quick," said Troffater, and cooked his
quid, and spit through his teeth.  "What do you know, Tilly?" asked
Fabens.

"I know an awful cuss hangs over the feller," said Troffater.

"How you talk!  Curse! what do you mean?" asked Fabens, with emotion,
and a searching glance of his large and loving eye: "George Ludlow
under a _curse_?"

"Yis, under a cuss, an' may it please your honor," said Troffater.

"Who pronounced it?" asked Fabens.

"Scriptur!" said Troffater, drawing down his monkey brows over his
little, black-and-blue eyes, and looking wise as a magistrate.
"Scriptur pernounced the cuss."

"The Scripture!" exclaimed Fabens.  "The Scripture pronounced a curse!
What do you mean?  What does the Scripture say to condemn George
Ludlow?"

"A good 'eal, I guess," said Troffater.  "The Scripture says--'_Woe_
unto him that all men speak well of;' and George Ludlow is the man!"

"O, you will be Tilly Troffater, as long as you live!" said Fabens.
"Why can you not be serious once in a while?  You are getting to be an
old man, and such levity shocks one's reverence for your gray hairs.
But if that is all you know, I am sure you never spoke ill of the young
man."

"Not I, Fabens, not I," said Troffater, sobering down at this mild
rebuke.  "He's a likely feller.  _He'll_ dew wal enough, I'll warrant.
Tell Fan, for me, if she gits George Ludlow, _her_ fortin will be
_fixed_.  A good many young bucks, that feels above him, might thank
the powers, if they knowed as much as he, and was half as likely.  Wish
I had ollers did as wal as George, and my mind was peaceful as his'n.
But I must go hum.  I calkilate to start on a journey to-morror, for
the Holland Purchase, and I've a little fixin' to dew."

So they separated, and Fabens went home, musing in his heart, and
inquiring what fresh remorse could have seized on Troffater's
conscience, and what might be the object of his journey.

Under the joint management of Fabens and George Ludlow, for a period of
good prices and great prosperity, the farm yielded a return of a
portion of the sum lost by Fairbanks, and a year or so was anticipated
as time sufficient to retrieve the entire misfortune, if misfortune it
might really now be called; and place the family and their young friend
in very desirable circumstances.  The smaller farm yielded an extra
increase for receiving the care and culture formerly bestowed on the
fields that were sold; the seasons seemed more genial; the rains more
timely, and the sun more liberal in his bland, warm beams, than for
years gone by.  The beneficence of God was pictured out on all the
glowing sky; blooming in all the fields and woods, and sung by the
birds and breezes.  Lessons of grief, quite as much as those of joy,
had taught them to discover the signs of that beneficence; to rejoice
in all its light, and repose in its blissful promise.

Mr. and Mrs. Fabens had arrived at a period of life when old age was
approaching, yet most tardy in its advances; and their relation as
parents was most interesting; and their convictions and sentiments, as
trusting Christians, gave daily refreshment to their souls.

As one good consequence of the late trial, our excellent farmer
considered his cure of a love of praise, which had grown insensibly
upon him, and commenced already to make him unhappy, by warping his
independence, and making him almost a slave to the vain opinions of
men.  As another effect in which he discovered a blessing, it weakened
his worldly cares, and taught him to set his affections on things above.

There was a time of general happiness in Summerfield.  Some of the old
people had passed away; among whom Mr. Flaxman and old Mr. and Mrs.
Waldron were much lamented.  Many worthy sons were left behind; and
several who had been prodigals were now reformed, to render the old
neighborhood pleasant and happy.

Mr. and Mrs. Wilson were still alive, and possessed a fine property,
and rejoiced in the society of several dutiful children.  Colwell and
his wife were still alive and happy.  The Teezles had not succeeded
greatly in worldly affairs; but they had a home and a good family, and
none saw pleasanter days.  Uncle Walter and Aunt Huldah lived in a ripe
old age; and he loved a hunt and a fine story, and she loved stubbing
and scouring still; and could boast the whitest linen, the whitest
floor, and clearest maple sugar.  And these had all learnt wisdom since
the feast at Aunt Polly Waldron's, and were more refined in thought and
speech.

Tilly Troffater carried still about him, as he did his scars, a few of
his early habits and characteristics; as for instance, his love of
levity slightly corrected; his love of indolence, and an occasional
glass of whisky; his swaggering loquacity, a little improved; and once
in a while the mischief of the busybody.  But all regarded him, on the
whole, as a reformed man, and were quick to give him credit and
encouragement, where they could see any change for good; expecting that
he would carry a few peculiarities with him to his grave.

George Ludlow was solidly esteemed and affectionately regarded as a son
by Mr. and Mrs. Fabens, while Fanny responded to his sentiments, and
answered his heart with something deeper, and more a principle of her
soul, than common passional love.  He was esteemed by the neighbors as
quite a second Fabens; and those few vain youths and maidens who had
affected contempt for his humble parentage and life, were now compelled
to blush for their heartless folly, and respect him.  The week arrived
in which George and Fanny were to be married, and great preparations
were made for the happy bridal day.



XXVIII.

CONCLUSION.

Life in the country has many scenes for pictures.  Its customs and
festivities, though sometimes rude and homely, are never without their
romance.  The country courtship may not be conducted by laws laid down
in books of etiquette, but it is all the more romantic for its frank
simplicity.  The city courtship may appear the most genteel in the
splendid parlor, with the lover on a sofa displaying his stocks and
certificates of wealth to the matron, and through her winning his
sweetheart; while the maiden at her piano opens absorbing ears to catch
his wooing words; but all must confess the country courtship makes the
best picture, with the ruddy maiden in the farm-yard, in her cool
sun-bonnet and clean checkered frock; the bloom of the season on her
cheeks, and its fragrance in her breath; making music with sweet
streams in her milk-pail; while her lover at her elbow, or leaning over
the wall, as jocund as a bobolink, tells her of his horses and cows;
his wheat-lands and meadow-lands; his berry-fields; his melon-patch,
and maple-orchard; his nice little rural home, and his pleasant love of
her.

The country wedding also makes a charming picture of one of the
happiest scenes under heaven; and it was determined by the Fabenses
that Fanny's wedding should lack no joy or enjoyment which they had
means to give.  The season was never more lovely, and the fruits of the
garden, orchard, and field were never more abundant.  The commodious
farm-house had been re-painted, and it looked as well as new; its doors
could open to a goodly company, and a goodly company came before three
o'clock to make merry with them.

Neighbor Nimblet and his wife were the first of the wedding-guests who
entered; and Nancy and her husband entered soon after.  Then came Uncle
Walter over the fields, a-foot, with his coat on his arm, in his new
wide-brimmed hat, long Lon'on-brown vest, with gilt buttons and scarlet
back; his white wristbands turned up, and white collar turned down;
enjoying, in the tidiest way, a clean little quid of Cavendish, and
selecting and cooking a story for the feast.  And Aunt Huldah came with
him in the neatest cap, the nicest dress, and the brightest gold beads
that any old lady wore.  Then came the Teezles; then came the Colwells,
followed soon by their young people.  Then came the Wilsons; then came
the widow Flaxman, thinking how sad it would be to sing one of her old
nasal songs alone.  Then came Mrs. Troffater and Ruth; and they were
able to offer no satisfactory excuse for Tilly, who had refused all
their pleas to come with them, and taken to the woods without his dog
or gun.  Many remarked that they never saw Mrs. Troffater appear so
well before.  She wore a brand-new calico frock, of a rich de laine
appearance; she had a nice cap, and handsome amber beads; and though
her cap-border was rather too wide, and plaited too thinly for perfect
taste, and the young people smiled to see it rise and fall with the
wind; she appeared well enough; and no one attended the wedding with a
warmer welcome than she.  Then came Seneca Waldron and his wife; and
soon all the guests were there.

The fathers and mothers were gathered into the white north-room,
exchanging glad looks and hearty salutations, as if each had been
autumn itself, smiling in great and abundant heart on the scene; and
they were discussing the beauty of the day, and the excellence of the
season; relating each other's history; and recalling incidents of the
olden time, when the country was new, and neighbors were farther apart
and more friendly; while the young people, happy as a flock of birds in
the sunny days of mate-choosing, and freshly blooming as the
landscape--around them, were out on the mown field adjacent to the
house, whirling in the sportive ring, bounding in the merry dance,
chatting in agreeable groups, or chasing one another on flying feet to
exact or administer some little forfeit, or whisper some mirthful word
or tale.

Father Lovelight, the travelling Minister, had long been expected on
another visit to Summerfield, and he came three or four days in advance
of the appointment, to attend the wedding and perform the ceremony.
The time drew near for the company to be called in, and the ceremony to
commence, and Mr. and Mrs. Fabens talked to each other of the joy that
sat as a guest in their home.

"We feel well for our daughter," said Fabens, "we believe that life to
her must be a blessing, and we are glad to meet our friends when we
find it in our power, as in our pleasure, to make them so happy."

"Certainly, this is a happy occasion as I ever attended in my life,"
said Father Lovelight; "and I wish my good wife could be here.  I know
her whole heart would enjoy it.  I have attended weddings, where the
parties were unequally matched, or unprepared for a union so sacred,
and they have given me funeral thoughts.  May this joy be prophetic of
the future bliss of the young couple.  May my offices this afternoon be
always a subject of pleasant thoughts."

"There's nothing at all unpleasant in a time like this," said Uncle
Walter; "and I tell you what, Fabens, we have had a good many merry
times in these parts."

"That we have," answered Fabens, "and I do not recollect any party we
have had among us, that did not more than pay the trouble and expense,
in the proceeds of joy and love it added to our treasury."

"Uncle Moses and I determined before any of you came, that there
shouldn't be any hermits in the settlement; but if we could have our
say, all should be neighbors, and have our joys and griefs together,
without respect to high or low.  We have kept our word pretty well;
and, if we have not, like the chipmonks, laid up quite so many nuts in
our nests, we have had acorns of pleasure in thousands, laid up all the
more comfort, and held our ages better."

"Ay, ay," answered Fabens; "these neighborly loves, these social
regards and reunions, have been the life and wealth of our place; and I
for one have been more blest than Hezekiah, as I am sure that more than
fifteen years have been added to my life."

"Our lives are greener and wider, as well as longer for these things,"
said Uncle Walter.  "Men are like corn, growing all to stalk, and
looking sallow, and scrawny, when standing alone; but branching out in
broad leaves, abundant silks and lusty ears, when they grow and wave
together."

"Even the young man who came here last night a stranger, Mr. Sumner, I
believe he called his name,"--interrupted Mrs. Fabens, glancing out on
the green where the young people lingered in merriment:--"even he seems
to enjoy it with the rest.  I am glad we invited him to stay and
refresh himself, and share our happiness all he can.  And I see he is
already acquainted with several, and often smiles.  But he frequently
looks serious and absent, as though his mind was away.  He may be
reminded of his home, and of some good time like this with hearts near
and dear."

"A stranger?" asked Mrs. Nimblet, "a stranger! and how could you
persuade him to stay where all were strangers to him?"

"We urged him considerably," said Fabens, "and thinking it would rest
and refresh him for finishing his journey, he concluded to tarry and
enjoy what he could.  See, there he stands talking with Jeanie Waldron,
near the bee-house on the left,--the girl dressed in white with a
flower in her hair."

"Near the girl with a flower?  O I see him, I see him," cried Mrs.
Nimblet.  "And I," cried another, "and I" another.

"Well, he's a real nice-looking fellow, I vow he is, if that's he with
Jeanie," said Mrs. Wilson.

"I tell you what, he looks like a manly major," added Uncle Walter.

"I call him handsome," said Mrs. Fabens, "and I know he must be a good
and noble-gifted being; he looks it all from his lovely eyes.  And if
he is made happy among strangers, surely we have done something for a
wayfarer, and ought to take pleasure from the deed."

"A deed like that will answer very well in lieu of what the Squire was
going to do for a young man in 'Fabens Academy,' and for a poor
homeless heart in 'Fabens Asylum,' when he got rich in the firm of
'Fairbanks, Frisbie and Fabens!'" said Uncle Walter with a roguish leer.

"None of your nonsense now, Uncle Walter!" answered Fabens with a
blushing smile.

"I never had a stranger so win upon my heart before," said Mrs. Fabens.
"He seems a stranger, and not a stranger, in the same look.  I could
kiss him and call him my son, I could, I feel so towards him!--O there
is one wish that keeps rising in my heart.  I have tried to repress it,
for it cannot be right to harbor it so long; but it will rush before
me, and I sigh for one more blessing.  If Clinton could be here, our
dear lost Clinton!  Last night I dreamed he came back and made us all
so happy; and as he sat down to a feast we made for him, a company of
joys like little smiling cherubs waited on the table, and gave him the
best of every dainty and treat.  And telling the dream to Fanny this
morning, the tears filled her eyes, and she said, 'If we could have him
here, it would be all the heaven we could ask below.  What would I not
give,' said she, 'to have my brother at my wedding!'--It was such a
joyful dream, and it was so hard to wake up and find it was nothing but
a dream, and Clinton was not here!"

"I cannot think of the poor boy for a moment," said Fabens, "without
grief for his loss and regret for the affliction.  But we cannot have
everything as we like it now.  We must be resigned, and wait for heaven
to bring the perfect bliss.  God afflicts in mercy; I am sure we shall
meet him in heaven, and that will be greater than any blessing earth
can give.  You would have worshipped an Indian, Julia, if he had
brought Clinton alive to your arms, on the day of the great search,
would you not?"

"I should have been tempted to worship him.  Words could not have told
my gratitude and love," said Mrs. Fabens.

"Then, think what sufficing joy we should take to our souls," said
Fabens, "and what thanks of worship we should give our God and
Redeemer, for the assurance that he will be brought to our bosom in all
the youthful bloom of heaven, never more to wander from us, never more
to suffer, never more to sorrow, never more to die!"

"But for that blessed hope," said Mrs. Fabens, with a flush of lofty
feeling lighting all her features--"but for that blessed hope, I should
be a maniac, I know I should, at this moment."

"What could have become of the pretty precious boy?" asked Fabens, as a
tear rolled over each cheek.  "Can he be alive?  I often think of the
little fawn, and mother's dying words.  O, the terrible mystery!  Will
it never be solved on earth?--The Lord's will be done!"

"I remember just how he looked the last time I saw him," said Uncle
Walter, wiping his eyes.  "I fingered his crinkling curls, and
said--'What does Uncle Walter want of Clintie?'  'A kiss,' cried the
little beauty, and threw his soft arms around my old neck, opened hit
lips, like sweet-pea blossoms, and planted a rousing smack on my chin.
Then, I caught him in my arms, kissed his velvet cheeks, chanked his
fat neck, chuckled under his chin, and called him a bobolink; and he
made all ring again with his merry bobolink laugh.  That was the last
time I saw him."

"He was a dear boy," sighed Fabens.

"Too dear, too dear to die as he did.  O, Lord, continue thy comfort!"
sobbed Mrs. Fabens.

The conversation was then interrupted, for it was announced that the
couple were ready to appear for the ceremony as soon as the guests
could be called into the north room.  The guests gathered in, and took
their seats, more than filling the room.  Then entered the bridegroom,
leading as bright a blooming beauty of a bride, as your dainty eyes
would choose to see; and they seated themselves where nearly all the
company had the blessing of a view of their joyful looks.  Uncle Walter
declared, that the sight was feast enough for him, and he should have
no appetite after that for supper.  Colwell thought it was lighter and
more summer-like in the room than before.

Then, when every breath and pulse were so hushed, that nothing but
silence itself filled all ears,--Father Lovelight begged leave to
perform a ceremony before the marriage one.  It would not be a great
interruption, and he hoped it might heighten, and not dampen their
joys.  And leading in the stranger, he said, "Mr. and Mrs. Fabens, the
gentleman I hold by the hand, revealed to me a mystery last night,
which I am not unhappy now to disclose.  Your prayers are answered.
Your joy is complete.  Receive your lost son.  Clinton returns in joy
to your arms!"

"Has heaven been opened so soon?" cried Fabens, standing like a statue.

"It cannot be Clinton, but, only my dream of him!" cried Mrs. Fabens,
clasping her hands, and looking amazed.

"Believe me, madam, it is your own dear son," said Father Lovelight.

"Father!" cried the stranger.

"Clinton!" cried Fabens, rushing to embrace him.

"My child! my dear, dear child!" cried Mrs. Fabens, falling in his arms.

"O, father!--mother!--sister!" cried the stranger, as the loving three
contended to clasp him closest to each heart.

"Is it my brother, or my mother's dream I hold!--It must, it must be
he!  O, we will be happy now!" cried Fanny, embracing all of that
precious form she could extort from her father and mother.

"I will have at least one hand--my brother's hand!" cried George
Ludlow, grasping his left hand and pressing it warmly.

"It is he!--it is Clinton!  I know this face--these eyes!  I do not
dream!  It is not heaven has opened.  Clinton's alive, and mother's
word fulfilled!" cried Fabens, pressing the stranger closer to his
heart.

"Merciful heavens! what can this mean?" exclaimed Mrs. Nimblet.

"It is amazing strange!" replied Mr. Nimblet.

"I'll have one grab at him, any way," cried Uncle Walter, making for
the hand, so warmly clasped by George Ludlow.

"So'll I!  So'll I, and take pay and interest for my four days' hunt,"
cried Wilson.

"I loved to kiss him, too; and where is my part?" cried Aunt Huldah,
joining in the group.

"And mine!" "and mine!" cried Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Colwell.

"Gracious alive! what's comin' to pass?--Good! good! good! if it's
Clintie--but, O, I fear now, that Tillson's in fault--I fear!"
exclaimed Mrs. Troffater, seeming to be shocked with some new suspicion
of her husband.

"Bring water! bring water!  Mrs. Fabens is faint!" cried Mrs. Teezle,
and Mrs. Troffater brought water, and her mind and strength were
restored, while she exclaimed, "too good! too good, I fear! too good to
be true!" and "just right! just right in the nick o' time!" replied
Uncle Walter.

Others attempted to edge in their hand and word of joy, who were
crowded back by those before them.  It was no dream.  It was their own
worshipped Clinton in their arms.  And it remains only for the present
to relate, that the marriage ceremony, though delayed longer than any
one was aware, till Father Lovelight at last gave the hour, was still
performed, and rare and high was the joy that made Uncle Walter forget
his story, and Mrs. Flaxman her song; and was carried on by that
glorious company full to the very midnight.

Tilly Troffater had bitterly repented the crime of the boy's abduction,
to which he was accessary, and he received not a moment's respite from
the tortures of hell, that tore his anguished heart, till he heard
where Clinton remained; went, and informed him of his parents, and
home, and directed his steps to that door.  But the young man's story
is reserved for another volume, on another labor of life.





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