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Title: An Arrow in a Sunbeam - and Other Tales
Author: Lee, Frances, 19th cent., Jewett, Sarah Orne, 1849-1909, Sleight, C. S.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "An Arrow in a Sunbeam - and Other Tales" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



AN ARROW IN A SUNBEAM

And Other Tales.

[Illustration: cover art]



[Illustration: "MOVE ANOTHER INCH AND I'LL FIRE!" CRIED AL, POINTING
THE MUSKET AT THE MAN'S BREAST.--P. 48.]



London:
William Nicholson and Sons,
20, Warwick Square, Paternoster Row, E.C.,
and Albion Works, Wakefield.
188-



AN ARROW

IN A SUNBEAM;

AND OTHER TALES.



  The golden sunshine, vernal air,
  Sweet flowers and fruits, thy love declare;
  When forests ripen Thou art there,
        Who givest all.



London:
William Nicholson and Sons,
20, Warwick Square, Paternoster Row, E.C.,
and Albion Works, Wakefield.
188-



CONTENTS.


AN ARROW IN A SUNBEAM  . . . . . . Sarah Orne Jewett

MISS SYDNEY'S FLOWERS  . . . . . . Sarah Orne Jewett

A BRAVE BOY  . . . . . . . . . . . C. S. Sleight

LADY FERRY . . . . . . . . . . . . Sarah Orne Jewett

A BIT OF SHORE LIFE  . . . . . . . Sarah Orne Jewett

HOW LILY GOT THE CAT . . . . . . . Frances Lee



[Illustration: decoration]



AN ARROW IN A SUNBEAM.

The minister of a fashionable church had noticed Sunday after Sunday a
little old lady with a sad, patient face, dressed in very shabby
mourning, sitting in the strangers' pew.

Like Job this good man could say, "The cause that I knew not, I sought
out."  He soon learned from the sexton her name and residence, and was
surprised to find her in the very topmost room of a house, amid
evidences of real poverty.

In the one little window bloomed a monthly rose and a vigorous
heliotrope, and beside the pots lay half-a-dozen books, such as are
rarely seen in the homes of the very poor.  On the wall hung two fine
engravings, and an old fashioned gold watch was suspended from a faded
velvet case over the mantel piece.

Her story, when she was induced to tell it, was neither new nor
startling.  She had long been a widow.  Her children had been called
from her, till now she had but one, and he, being a cripple, could do
little more than supply his own absolute wants by his work as a
repairer of watches.

The pastor was charmed with her patient endurance of what others would
call the hard discipline of life, and when he left her he felt that he
had been a learner instead of a teacher in that poor room.

Being too delicate to allude to her apparent poverty, he said at
parting, "As you are a stranger among us, I will send some of the
visitors of the church to cheer and comfort you."

He selected two bright, rosy girls, full of life and happiness, of
whose visits among the poor he had often heard.

They came to the widow like sunbeams through a storm.  They talked
cheerily, and did not appear to notice the bareness of the room.  They
asked something of her history, and told of their grandmothers, who
also had seen much sorrow; and in this way drew her out till she told
of her former competency, of her early advantages in England, and of
all the misfortunes which had brought her to her present position.
"And yet," she said, "I have little to complain of while I have the
love and tender care of such a son as Walter."

Little by little, without a complaint from her, they found that the old
lady lacked many things for her comfort.  Their sympathies were
aroused.  It would be a delight to make her happy by gifts that would
be of service to her.

Lucy Grey, a girl full of fun as well as of kindness, said, "I wish you
would let me make you a bonnet; I make lovely ones.  Grandma won't wear
a milliner's bonnet, she likes mine so much better."

Grace Wheeler volunteered to make a dress and caps, adding, playfully,
"As my dear grandma is gone, you must let me adopt you and do all I can
for you.  There are four of us girls always looking round for somebody
to help.  You can call on us for anything you want."

Four young girls, who laughingly styled themselves "The Quartette of
Mercy," met at Grace Wheeler's house with materials for a dress, and a
bonnet and caps.  The old lady was coming two hours afterward to be
fitted, having being measured before they left her house.

The girls were in a perfect gala of joy that bright afternoon.  They
chatted merrily while working, and one would have thought they were
making costumes for comic tableaux rather than the garb of a sorrowful
widow.

"I'll tell you, girls," said Lucy Grey, "the old dowager will shine
when she gets my bonnet on!" and trying it on over her chestnut curls,
she added, "I half-wish I was a downfallen lady myself,--a
haberdasher's daughter from England!  Oh, I hope I shall be a widow
some time!  Widows' caps are so becoming!"

"Well," replied Grace, laughing, "do your best for Goody Horn, and
maybe she'll let you have 'dear Walter.'  Then you'll be a widow
soon,--he's so feeble."

"Oh, I wish I had the dressing of her!  'She'd surprise herself,' as
the Dutchman said.  I'd put a canary-coloured pompon and a white
aigrette in that bonnet, and"--here she slipped a scarlet bird out of
her own hat and stuck it into a fold of the crape Lucy was laying on to
the old fashioned close frame--"I'd make her an upper skirt with a
tie-back, get scarlet stockings and low shoes, and"----

"Pho! you'd make the dear old soul look like Mother Hubbard!" cried
another.

"No," said Grace; "but she looks now like

   "Little Dame Crump, with her brand-new broom;"

and no doubt Walter looks either like Mother Hubbard's dog, or--or I
don't know what."

"Oh, by-the-way, did you notice a violin on the bureau?  Whoever gets
'dear Walter' will have a chance to do all the family dancing.  The
dowager's too old, and Walter's too lame; but there, what stuff I'm
talking; it's well mother isn't within hearing.  She won't let me have
any sport.  But I do think old folks are so comical!  I'll do anything
in the world to help them, though."

They worked on some time, and in the real kindness which was hidden
under this nonsense they laid plans for the dear old stranger's future
comfort.

"Why, girls, it's time she was here now!"

"Nora," called Grace, as a girl passed the door, "when an old lady
comes, send her right up stairs."

"There was an old person here an hour ago, and as you told me not to
let any one in who asked for you for an hour, I told her to sit down in
the hall.  I suppose she's there now.  I forgot all about her," was the
reply.

Grace flew down, but there was no one there.

"That was some old beggar who got tired of waiting.  I'm sure she'll be
here soon," said Lucy.

But she did not come, and they grew tired of waiting to try on the
dress and hat.  So they resolved to go, all four together, the next
day, to the "opening at Madam Horn's," and carry the things themselves.

They did so; but when the "dowager" opened the door at their knock,
they hardly knew her.  She looked straight, and solemn, and cold.  She
did not even ask them in; but they went in and seated themselves.

Grace said, "You didn't come yesterday to try on the dress, and
thinking you might be ill, we brought it here."

"But I did go, ladies.  I went an hour earlier than you asked me, to
beg that the dress might be cut perfectly plain, without upper skirt or
flounce.  The girl seated me in the hall, and while I sat there, I was
forced to hear myself and my son ridiculed and turned to scorn in a way
I could not believe possible.

"I have done nothing to merit this.  I never begged of you, nor sought
your sympathy in my sorrows, and I cannot understand why I am made the
butt of your scorn."

"Oh, Mrs. Horn," cried Lucy, "we were only in sport!  I hope you will
forgive us."

"Is it sport to cast contempt on an aged woman who has been walking for
years in a fiery furnace upheld and comforted by God?  Is it sport to
ridicule an unfortunate boy who has a continual warfare with pain to
keep up this poor home?"

"Oh, don't speak of it again!" said Grace blushing deeply and
half-ready to cry, as she untied the package in her hand, while Lucy
unpinned the paper that held the bonnet.

"Put them up, please, young ladies.  I cannot look on them, and I never
could wear them.  When you first came, I told Walter that I felt as if
a sunbeam had come into the house and remained behind you.  Last night
I told him that my new sunbeam had an arrow concealed in it."

"But you _will_ take the things, after all our trouble?" implored
Grace, with tears dropping from her eyes.

"No, never;  I can hear the Gospel in my old clothes.  I should take no
pleasure in these; they are associated with too painful thoughts.  I
hope God will bless you, children, and save you from an old age of
poverty, and give you what He has given me,--a full trust in His love
and tenderness.  Good-by."

You can imagine the feelings of those young girls when they left that
poor room in tears.

Respectful treatment is more to the sensitive poor than gifts of food,
garments or money; and nothing is so likely to harden the hearts of the
young as the habit of getting sport out of the sorrows and infirmities
of others.



[Illustration: decoration]



MISS SYDNEY'S FLOWERS.

However sensible it may have been considered by other people, it
certainly was a disagreeable piece of news to Miss Sydney, that the
city authorities had decided to open a new street from St. Mary Street
to Jefferson.  It seemed a most unwarrantable thing to her that they
had a right to buy her property against her will.  It was so provoking,
that, after so much annoyance from the noise of St. Mary Street during
the last dozen years, she must submit to having another public
thoroughfare at the side of her house also.  If it had only been at the
other side, she would not have minded it particularly; for she rarely
sat in her drawing-room, which was at the left of the hall.  On the
right was the library, stately, dismal, and apt to be musty in damp
weather; and it would take many bright people, and a blazing wood-fire,
and a great deal of sunshine, to make it pleasant.  Behind this was the
dining-room, which was really bright and sunny, and which opened by
wide glass doors into a conservatory.  The rattle and clatter of St.
Mary Street was not at all troublesome here; and by little and little
Miss Sydney had gathered her favourite possessions from other parts of
the house, and taken one end of it for her sitting-room.  The most
comfortable chairs had found their way here, and a luxurious great sofa
which had once been in the library, as we'll as the bookcase which held
her favourite books.

The house had been built by Miss Sydney's grandfather, and in his day
it had seemed nearly out of the city: now there was only one other
house left near it; for one by one the quiet, aristocratic old street
had seen its residences give place to shops and warehouses, and Miss
Sydney herself had scornfully refused many offers of many thousand
dollars for her home.  It was so changed!  It made her so sad to think
of the dear old times, and to see the houses torn down, or the
small-paned windows and old-fashioned front-doors replaced with French
plate-glass to display better the wares which were to take the places
of the quaint furniture and well-known faces of her friends!  But Miss
Sydney was an old woman, and her friends had diminished sadly.  "It
seems to me that my invitations are all for funerals in these days,"
said she to her venerable maid Hannah, who had helped her dress for her
parties fifty years before.  She had given up society little by little.
Her friends had died, or she had allowed herself to drift away from
them, while the acquaintances from whom she might have filled their
places were only acquaintances still.  She was the last of her own
family, and, for years before her father died, he had lived mainly in
his library, avoiding society and caring for nothing but books; and
this, of course, was a check upon his daughter's enjoyment of visitors.
Being left to herself, she finally became content with her own society,
and since his death, which followed a long illness, she had refused all
invitations; and with the exception of the interchange of occasional
ceremonious calls with perhaps a dozen families, and her pretty
constant attendance at church, you rarely were reminded of her
existence.  And I must tell the truth: it was not easy to be intimate
with her.  She was a good woman in a negative kind of way.  One never
heard of any thing wrong she had done; and if she chose to live alone,
and have nothing to do with people, why, it was her own affair.  You
never seemed to know her any better after a long talk.  She had a very
fine, courteous way of receiving her guests,--a way of making you feel
at your ease more than you imagined you should when with her,--and a
stately kind of tact that avoided skilfully much mention of
personalities on either side.  But mere hospitality is not attractive,
for it may be given grudgingly, or, as in her case, from mere habit;
for Miss Sydney would never consciously be rude to any one in her own
house--or out of it, for that matter.  She very rarely came in contact
with children; she was not a person likely to be chosen for a
confidante by a young girl; she was so cold and reserved, the elder
ladies said.  She never asked a question about the winter fashions,
except of her dressmaker, and she never met with reverses in
housekeeping affairs, and these two facts rendered her unsympathetic to
many.  She was fond of reading, and enjoyed heartily the pleasant
people she met in books.  She appreciated their good qualities, their
thoughtfulness, kindness, wit or sentiment; but the thought never
suggested itself to her mind that there were living people not far
away, who could give her all this, and more.

If calling were not a regulation of society, if one only went to see
the persons one really cared for, I am afraid Miss Sydney would soon
have been quite forgotten.  Her character would puzzle many people.
She put no visible hinderance in your way; for I do not think she was
consciously reserved and cold.  She was thoroughly well-bred, rich, and
in her way charitable; that is, she gave liberally to public
subscriptions which came under her notice, and to church contributions.
But she got on, somehow, without having friends; and, though the loss
of one had always been a real grief, she learned without much trouble
the way of living the lonely, comfortable, but very selfish life, and
the way of being the woman I have tried to describe.  There were
occasional days when she was tired of herself, and life seemed an
empty, formal, heartless discipline.  Her wisest acquaintances pitied
her loneliness; and busy, unselfish people wondered how she could be
deaf to the teachings of her good clergyman, and blind to all the
chances of usefulness and happiness which the world afforded her; and
others still envied her, and wondered to whom she meant to leave all
her money.

I began by telling you of the new street.  It was suggested that it
should bear the name of Sydney; but the authorities decided finally to
compliment the country's chief magistrate, and call it Grant Place.
Miss Sydney, did not like the sound of it.  Her family had always been
indifferent to politics, and indeed the kite of the Sydney had flown
for many years high above the winds that affect commonplace people.
The new way from Jefferson Street to St. Mary was a great convenience,
and it seemed to our friend that all the noisiest vehicles in the city
had a preference for going back and forth under her windows.  You see
she did not suspect, what afterwards became so evident; that there was
to be a way opened into her own heart also, and that she should confess
one day, long after that she might have died a selfish old woman, and
not have left one sorry face behind her, if it had not been for the
cutting of Grant Place.


The side of her conservatory was now close upon the sidewalk, and this
certainly was not agreeable.  She could not think of putting on her big
gardening-apron, and going in to work among her dear plants any more,
with all the world staring in at her as it went by.  John the coachman,
who had charge of the greenhouse, was at first very indignant; but,
after she found that his flowers were noticed and admired, his anger
was turned into an ardent desire to merit admiration, and he kept his
finest plants next the street.  It was a good thing for the greenhouse,
because it had never been so carefully tended; and plant after plant
was forced into luxuriant foliage and blossom.  He and Miss Sydney had
planned at first to have close wire screens made to match those in the
dining-room; but now, when she spoke of his hurrying the workmen, whom
she supposed had long since been ordered to make them, John said,
"Indeed, mum, it would be the ruin of the plants shutting put the
light; and they would all be rusted with the showerings I gives them
every day."  And Miss Sydney smiled, and said no more.

The street was opened late in October, and, soon after, cold weather
began in real earnest.  Down in that business part of the city it was
the strangest, sweetest surprise to come suddenly upon the long line of
blooming plants and tall green lily-leaves under a roof festooned with
roses and trailing vines.  For the first two or three weeks, almost
everybody stopped, if only for a moment.  Few of Miss Sydney's own
friends even had ever seen her greenhouse; for they were almost
invariably received in the drawing-room.  Gentlemen stopped the thought
of business affairs, and went on down the street with a fresher,
happier feeling.  And the tired shop-girls lingered longest.  Many a
man and woman thought of some sick person to whom a little handful of
the green leaves and bright blossoms, with their coolness and
freshness, would bring so much happiness.  And it was found, long
months afterward, that a young man had been turned back from a plan of
wicked mischief by the sight of a tall green geranium, like one that
bloomed in his mother's sitting-room way up in the country.  He had not
thought, for a long time before, of the dear old woman who supposed her
son was turning his wits to good account in the city.  But Miss Sydney
did not know how much he wished for a bit to put in his buttonhole when
she indignantly went back to the dining-room to wait until that
impertinent fellow stopped staring in.


II.

It was just about this time that Mrs. Marley made a change in her place
of business.  She had sold candy round the corner in Jefferson Street
for a great many years; but she had suffered terribly from rheumatism
all the winter before.  She was nicely sheltered from too much sun in
the summer; but the north winds of winter blew straight toward her; and
after much deliberation, and many fears and questioning as to the
propriety of such an act she had decided to find another stand.  You or
I would think at first that it could make no possible difference where
she sat in the street with her goods; but in fact one has regular
customers in that business, as well as in the largest wholesale
enterprise.  There was some uncertainty whether these friends would
follow her if she went away.  Mrs. Marley's specialty was
molasses-candy; and I am sure, if you ever chanced to eat any of it,
you would look out for the old lady next time you went along the
street.  Times seemed very hard this winter.  Not that trade had
seriously diminished; but still the outlook was very dark.  Mrs. Marley
was old, and had been so for some years, so she was used to that; but
somehow this fall she seemed to be getting very much older all of a
sudden.  She found herself very tired at night, and she was apt to lose
her breath if she moved quickly; besides this, the rheumatism tortured
her.  She had saved only a few dollars, though she and her sister had
had a comfortable living,--what they had considered comfortable, at
least, though they sometimes had been hungry, and very often cold.
They would surely go to the almshouse sooner or later,--she and her
lame old sister Polly.

It was Polly who made the candy which Mrs. Marley sold.  Their two
little rooms were up three flights of stairs; and Polly, being too lame
to go down herself, had not been out of doors in seven years.  There
was nothing but roofs and sky to be seen from the windows; and, as
there was a manufactory near, the sky was apt to be darkened by its
smoke.  Some of the neighbours dried their clothes on the roofs, and
Polly used to be very familiar with the apparel of the old residents,
and exceedingly interested when a strange family came, and she saw
something new.  There was a little bright pink dress that the trig
young French woman opposite used to hang out to dry; and somehow poor
old Polly used always to be brightened and cheered by the sight of it.
Once in a while she caught a glimpse of the child who wore it.  She
hardly ever thought now of the outside world when left to herself, and
on the whole she was not discontented.  Sister Becky used to have a
great deal to tell her sometimes of an evening.  When Mrs. Marley told
her in the spring twilight that the grass in the square was growing
green, and that she had heard a robin, it used to make Polly feel
homesick; for she was apt to think much of her childhood, and she had
been born in the country.  She was very deaf, poor soul, and her world
was a very forlorn one.  It was nearly always quite silent, it was very
small and smoky out of doors, and very dark and dismal within.
Sometimes it was a hopeless world, because the candy burnt; and if
there had not been her Bible and hymn-book, and a lame pigeon that lit
on the window-sill to be fed every morning, Miss Polly would have found
her time go heavily.

One night Mrs. Marley came into the room with a cheerful face, and said
very loud, "Polly, I've got some news!"  Polly knew by her speaking so
loud that she was in good-humour.  When any thing discouraging had
happened, Becky spoke low, and then was likely to be irritated when
asked to repeat her remark.

"Dear heart!" said Mrs. Marley, "now I am glad you had something hot
for supper.  I was turning over in my mind what we could cook up, for I
feel real hollow.  It's a kind of chilly day."  And she sat down by the
stove, while Polly hobbled to the table, with one hand to her ear to
catch the first sound of the good news, and the other holding some
baked potatoes in her apron.  That hand was twisted with rheumatism,
for the disease ran in the family.  She was afraid every day that she
should have to give up making the candy on the next; for it hurt her so
to use it.  She was continually being harrowed by the idea of its
becoming quite useless, and that the candy might not be so good; and
then what would become of them?  Becky Marley was often troubled by the
same thought.  Yet they were almost always good-natured, poor old
women; and, though Polly Sharpe's pleasures and privileges were by far
the fewest of anybody's I ever knew, I think she was as glad in those
days to know the dandelions were in bloom as if she could see them; and
she got more good from the fragments of the Sunday-morning sermon that
sister Becky brought home than many a listener did from the whole
service.

The potatoes were done to a turn, Mrs. Marley shouted; and then Polly
sat down close by her to hear the news.

"You know I have been worrying about the cold weather a-coming, and my
rheumatics; and I was afeared to change my stand, on account of losing
custom.  Well, to-day it all come over me to once that I might move
down a piece on Grant Place,--that new street that's cut through to St.
Mary.  I've noticed for some time past that almost all my reg'lar
customers turns down that way, so this morning I thought I'd step down
that way too, and see if there was a chance.  And after I gets into the
street I sees people stopping and looking at something as they went
along; and so I goes down to see; and it is one of them hothouses, full
of plants a-growing like it was mid-summer.  It belongs to the big
Sydney house on the corner.  There's a good place to sit right at the
corner of it, and I'm going to move over there to-morrow.  I thought as
how I wouldn't leave Jefferson Street to-day, for it was too sudden.
You see folks stops and looks at the plants, and there wasn't any wind
there to-day.  There!  I wish you could see them flowers."

Sister Polly was very pleased, and, after the potatoes and bread were
eaten, she brought on an apple pie that had been sent up by Mrs. Welch,
the washerwoman who lived on the floor next but one below.  She was
going away for three or four days, having been offered good pay to do
some cleaning in a new house, and her board besides, near her work.  So
you see that evening was quite a jubilee.

The next day Mrs. Marley's wildest expectations were realized; for she
was warm as toast the whole morning, and sold all her candy, and went
home by two o'clock.  That had never happened but once or twice before.
"Why, I shouldn't wonder if we could lay up considerable this winter,"
said she to Polly.

Miss Sydney did not like the idea of the old candy-woman's being there.
Children came to buy of her, and the street seemed noisier than ever at
times.  Perhaps she might have to leave the house, after all.  But one
may get used to almost any thing; and as the days went by she was
surprised to find that she was not half so much annoyed as at first;
and one afternoon she found herself standing at one of the dining-room
windows, and watching the people go by.  I do not think she had shown
so much interest as this in the world at large for many years.  I think
it must have been from noticing the pleasure her flowers gave the
people who stopped to look at them that she began to think herself
selfish, and to be aware how completely indifferent she had grown to
any claims the world might have upon her.  And one morning, when she
heard somebody say, "Why, it's like a glimpse into the tropics!  Oh!  I
wish I could have such a conservatory!"  She thought, "Here I have kept
this all to myself for all these years, when so many others might have
enjoyed it too!"  But then the old feeling of independence came over
her.  The greenhouse was out of people's way; she surely couldn't have
let people in whom she didn't know; however, she was glad, now that the
street was cut, that some one had more pleasure, if she had not.  After
all it was a satisfaction to our friend; and from this time the seeds
of kindness and charity and helpfulness began to show themselves above
the ground in the almost empty garden of her heart.  I will tell you
how they grew and blossomed; and as strangers came to see her real
flowers, and to look in at the conservatory windows from the cold city
street, instead of winter to see a bit of imprisoned summer, so friend
after friend came to find there was another garden in her own heart,
and Miss Sydney learned the blessedness there is in loving and giving
and helping.

For it is sure we never shall know what it is to lack friends, if we
keep our hearts ready to receive them.  If we are growing good and kind
and helpful, those who wish for help and kindness will surely find us
out.  A tree covered with good fruit is never unnoticed in the fields.
If we bear thorns and briers, we can't expect people to take very great
pains to come and gather them.  It is thought by many persons to be not
only a bad plan, but an ill-bred thing, to give out to more than a few
carefully selected friends.  But it came to her more and more that
there was great selfishness and shortsightedness in this.  One
naturally has a horror of dragging the secrets and treasures of one's
heart and thought out to the light of day.  One may be willing to go
without the good that may come to one's own self through many
friendships; but, after all, God does not teach us, and train our
lives, only that we may come to something ourselves.  He helps men most
through other men's lives; and we must take from him, and give out
again, all we can, wherever we can, remembering that the great God is
always trying to be the friend of the least of us.  The danger is, that
we oftenest give our friendship selfishly; we do not think of our
friends, but of ourselves.  One never can find one's self beggared;
love is a treasure that does not lessen, but grows, as we spend it.

The passers-by seemed so delighted with some new plants which she and
John had arranged one day, that as she was going out in the afternoon
to drive, she stopped just as she was going to step into the carriage
and said she thought she would go round and look at the conservatory
from the outside.  So John turned the horses, and followed.  It was a
very cold day, and there were few people in the street.  Every thing
was so cheerless out of doors, and the flowers looked so summer-like!
No wonder the people liked to stop, poor souls!  For the richer, more
comfortable ones lived farther up town.  It was not in the shopping
region; and, except the business-men who went by morning and evening,
almost every one was poor.

Miss Sydney had never known what the candy-woman sold before, for she
could not see any thing but the top of her rusty black bonnet from the
window.  But now she saw that the candy was exactly like that she and
her sister used to buy years upon years ago; and she stopped to speak
to the old woman, and to buy some, to the utter amazement of her
coachman.  Mrs. Marley was excited by so grand a customer, and was a
great while counting out the drumsticks, and wrapping them up.  While
Miss Sydney stood there a thin, pitiful little girl came along,
carrying a clumsy baby.  They stopped, and the baby tried to reach down
for a piece.  The girl was quite as wistful; but she pulled him back,
and walked on to the flowers.  "Oh! pitty, pitty!" said the baby, while
the dirty little hands patted the glass delightedly.

"Move along there," said John gruffly; for it was his business to keep
that glass clean and bright.

The girl looked round, frightened, and, seeing that the coachman was
big and cross-looking, the forlorn little soul went away.  "Baby want
to walk?  You're so heavy!" said she in a fretful, tired way.  But the
baby was half crying, and held her tight.  He had meant to stay some
time longer, and look at those pretty, bright things, since he could
not have the candy.

Mrs. Marley felt as if her customer might think her stingy, and
proceeded to explain that she couldn't think of giving her candy away.
"Bless you, ma'am, I wouldn't have a stick left by nine o'clock."

Miss Sydney "never gave money to street-beggars."  But these children
had not begged, and somehow she pitied them very much, they looked so
hungry.  And she called them back.  There was a queer tone to her
voice; and she nearly cried after she had given the package of candy to
them, and thrown a dollar upon the board in front of Mrs. Marley, and
found herself in the carriage, driving away.  Had she been very silly?
and what could John have thought?  But the children were so glad; and
the old candy-woman had said, "God bless you, mum!"

After this, Miss Sydney could not keep up her old interest in her own
affairs.  She felt restless and dissatisfied, and wondered how she
could have done the same things over and over so contentedly for so
many years.  You may be sure, that, if Grant Place had been unthought
of, she would have lived on in the same fashion to the end of her days.
But after this she used to look out of the window; and she sat a great
deal in the conservatory, when it was not too warm there, behind some
tall callas.  The servants found her usually standing in the
dining-room; for she listened for footsteps, and was half-ashamed to
have them notice that she had changed in the least.  We are all given
to foolish behaviour of this kind once in a while.  We are often
restrained: because, we feel bound to conform to people's idea of us.
We must be such persons as we imagine our friends think us to be.  They
believe that we have made up our minds about them, and are apt to show
us only that behaviour which they think we expect.  They are afraid of
us sometimes.  They think we cannot sympathize with them.  Our friend
felt almost as if she were yielding to some sin in this strange
interest in the passers-by.  She had lived so monotonous a life, that
any change could not have failed to be somewhat alarming.  She told
Bessie Thorne afterward, that one day she came upon that verse of
Keble's Hymn for St. Matthew's Day.  Do you remember it?--

  "There are, in this loud, stunning tide
    Of human care and crime,
  With whom the melodies abide
    Of the everlasting chime;
  Who carry music in their heart
  Through dusky lane and wrangling mart,
    Plying their daily task with busier feet
    Because their secret souls a holy strain repeat."


It seemed as if it were a message to herself, and she could not help
going to the window a few minutes afterward.  The faces were mostly
tired-looking and dissatisfied.  Some people looked very eager and
hurried, but none very contented.  It was the literal daily bread they
thought of; and, when two fashionably-dressed ladies chanced to go by
the window, their faces were strangely like their poorer neighbours in
expression.  Miss Sydney wondered what the love for one's neighbour
could be; if she could ever feel it herself.  She did not even like
these people whom she watched, and yet every day, for years and years,
she had acknowledged them her brothers and sisters when she said, "Our
Father who art in heaven."

It seemed as if Miss Sydney, of all people, might have been independent
and unfettered.  It is so much harder for us who belong to a family,
for we are hindered by the thought of people's noticing our attempts at
reform.  It is like surrendering some opinion ignominiously which we
have fought for.  It is kind of "giving in."  But when she had
acknowledged to herself that she had been in the wrong, that she was a
selfish, thoughtless old woman, that she was alone, without friends,
and it had been her own fault, she was puzzled to know how to do
better.  She could not begin to be very charitable all at once.  The
more she realized what her own character had become, the more hopeless
and necessary seemed reform.

Such times as this come to many of us, both in knowing ourselves and
our friends.  An awakening, one might call it,--an opening of the blind
eyes of our spiritual selves.  And our ears are open to some of the
voices which call us; while others might as well be silent, for all the
heed we give them.  We go on, from day to day, doing, with more or less
faithfulness, that part of our work we have wit enough to comprehend;
but one day suddenly we are shown a broader field, stretching out into
the distance, and know that from this also we may bring in a harvest by
and by, and with God's help.

Miss Sydney meant to be better,--not alone for the sake of having
friends, not alone to quiet her conscience, but because she knew she
had been so far from living a Christian life, and she was bitterly
ashamed.  This was all she needed,--all any of us need,--to know that
we must be better men and women for God's sake; that we cannot be
better without his help, and that his help, may be had for the asking.
But where should she begin?  She had always treated her servants
kindly, and they were the people she knew best.  She would surely try
to be more interested in the friends she met; but it was nearly
Christmas time, and people rarely came to call.  Every one was busy.
Becky Marley's cheery face haunted her; and one day after having looked
down from the window on the top of her bonnet, she remembered that she
did not get any candy, after all, and she would go round to see the old
lady again, she looked poor, and she would give her some money.  Miss
Sydney dressed herself for the street, and closed the door behind her
very carefully, as if she were a mischievous child running away.  It
was very cold, and there were hardly a dozen persons to be seen in the
streets, and Mrs. Marley had evidently been crying.

"I should like some of your candy," said our friend.

"You know I didn't take any, after all the other day."  And then she
felt very conscious and awkward, fearing that the candy woman thought
she wished to remind her of her generosity.

"Two of the large packages, if you please.  But, dear me! aren't you
very cold, sitting here in the wind?" and Miss Sydney shivered, in
spite of her warm wrappings.

It was the look of sympathy that was answered first, for it was more
comforting than even the prospect of money, sorely as Mrs. Marley
needed that.

"Yes, mum, I've had the rheumatics this winter awful.  But the wind
here!--why, it ain't nothing to what it blows round in Jefferson
Street, where I used to sit.  I shouldn't be out to-day, but I was
called upon sudden to pay my molasses bill, when I'd just paid my rent;
and I don't know how ever I can.  There's sister Polly--she's dead lame
and deaf.  I s'pose we'll both be in the almshouse afore spring.  I'm
an old woman to be earning a living out 'o doors in winter weather."

There is no mistaking the fact that Miss Sydney was in earnest when she
said, "I'm so sorry!  Can't I help you?"

Somehow she did not feel so awkward, and she enjoyed very much hearing
this bit of confidence.

"But my trade has improved wonderful since I came here.  People mostly
stops to see them beautiful flowers; and then they sees me, and stops
and buys something.  Well, there's some days when I gets down-hearted,
and I just looks up there, and sees them flowers blooming so cheerful,
and I says, 'There! this world ain't all cold and poor and old, like I
be; and the Lord he ain't never tired of us, with our worrying about
what He's a-doing with us; and heaven's a-coming before long anyhow!'"
And the Widow Marley stopped to dry her eyes with the corner of her
shawl.

Miss Sydney asking her to go round to the kitchen, and warm herself;
and, on finding out more of her new acquaintance's difficulties, she
sent her home happy, with money enough to pay the dreaded bill, and a
basket of good things which furnished such a supper for herself and
sister Polly as they had not seen for a long time.  And their fortunes
were bettered from that day.  "If it hadn't been for the flowers, I
should ha' been freezing my old bones on Jefferson Street this minute,
I s'pose," said the Widow Marley.

Miss Sydney went back to the dining-room after her _protégée_ had gone,
and felt a comfortable sense of satisfaction in what she had done.  It
had all come about in such an easy way too!  A little later she went
into the conservatory, and worked among her plants.  She really felt so
much younger and happier and once, as she stood still, looking at some
lilies-of-the-valley that John had been forcing into bloom, she did not
notice that a young lady was looking through the window at her very
earnestly.


III.

That same evening Mrs. Thorne and Bessie were sitting up late in their
library.  It was snowing very fast, and had been since three o'clock;
and no one had called.  They had begun the evening by reading and
writing, and now were ending with a talk.

"Mamma," said Bessie, after there had been a pause, "whom do you
suppose I have taken a fancy to?  And do you know, I pity her so
much!--Miss Sydney."

"But I don't know that she is so much to be pitied," said Mrs. Thorne,
smiling at the enthusiastic tone.  "She must have everything she wants.
She lives all alone, and hasn't any intimate friends, but, if a person
chooses such a life, why, what can we do?  What made you think of her?"

"I have been trying to think of one real friend she has.  Everybody is
polite enough to her, and I never heard that any one disliked her; but
she must be forlorn sometimes.  I came through that new street by her
house to-day: that's how I happened to think of her.  Her greenhouse is
perfectly beautiful, and I stopped to look in.  I always supposed she
was cold as ice (I'm sure she looks so); but she was standing out in
one corner, looking down at some flowers with just the sweetest face.
Perhaps she is shy.  She used to be very good-natured to me when I was
a child, and used to go there with you.  I don't think she knows me
since I came home; at any rate, I mean to go to see her some day."

"I certainly would," said Mrs. Thorne.  "She will be perfectly polite
to you, at all events.  And perhaps she may be lonely, though I rather
doubt it; not that I wish to discourage you, my dear.  I haven't seen
her in a long time, for we have missed each other's calls.  She never
went into society much; but she used to be a very elegant woman, and is
now, for that matter."

"I pity her," said Bessie persistently.  "I think I should be very fond
of her if she would let me.  She looked so kind as she stood among the
flowers to-day!  I wonder what she was thinking about.  Oh! do you
think she would mind if I asked her to give me some flowers for the
hospital?"

Bessie Thorne is a very dear girl.  Miss Sydney must have been
hard-hearted if she had received her coldly one afternoon a few days
afterward, she seemed so refreshingly young and girlish a guest as she
rose to meet the mistress of that solemn, old-fashioned drawing-room.
Miss Sydney had had a re-action from the pleasure her charity had given
her, and was feeling bewildered, unhappy, and old that day.  "What can
she wish to see me for, I wonder?" thought she, as she closed her book,
and looked at Miss Thorne's card herself, to be sure the servant had
read it right.  But, when she saw the girl herself, her pleasure showed
itself unmistakably in her face.

"Are you really glad to see me?" said Bessie in her frankest way, with
a very gratified smile.  "I was afraid you might think it was very odd
in me to come.  I used to like so much to call upon you with mamma when
I was a little girl!  And the other day I saw you in your conservatory,
and I have wished to come and see you ever since."

"I am very glad to see you, my dear," said Miss Sydney, for the second
time.  "I have been quite forgotten by the young people of late years.
I was sorry to miss Mrs. Thorne's call.  Is she quite well?  I meant to
return it one day this week, and I thought only last night I would ask
about you.  You have been abroad, I think?"

Was not this an auspicious beginning?  I cannot tell you all that
happened that afternoon, for I have told so long a story already.  But
you will imagine it was the beginning of an intimacy that gave great
pleasure, and did great good, to both the elder woman and the younger.
It is hard to tell the pleasure which the love and friendship of a
fresh, bright girl like Bessie Thorne, may give an older person.  There
is such a satisfaction in being convinced that one is still interesting
and still lovable, though the years that are gone have each kept some
gift or grace, and the possibilities of life seem to have been realized
and decided.  There are days of our old age when there seems so little
left in life, that living is a mere formality.  This busy world seems
done with the old, however dear their memories of it, however strong
their claims upon it.  They are old: their life now is only waiting and
resting.  It may be quite right that we sometimes speak of second
childhood, because we must be children before we are grown, and the
life to come must find us, ready for service.  Our old people have
lived in the world so long; they think they know it so well: but the
young man is master of the trade of living, and the man only his
blundering apprentice.


Miss Sydney's solemnest and most unprepared servant was startled to
find Bessie Thorne and his mistress sitting cosily together before the
dining-room fire.  Bessie had a paper full of cut flowers to leave at
the Children's Hospital on her way home.  Miss Sydney had given
liberally to the contribution for that object; but she never had
suspected how interesting it was until Bessie told her, and she said
she should like to go some day, and see the building and its occupants
for himself.  And the girl told her of other interest that were near
her kind young heart,--not all charitable interests,--and they parted
intimate friends.


"I never felt such a charming certainty of being agreeable," wrote
Bessie that night to a friend of hers.  "She seemed so interesting in
every thing, and, as I told you, so pleased with my coming to see her.
I have promised to go there very often.  She told me in the saddest way
that she had been feeling so old and useless and friendless, and she
was very confidential.  Imagine her being confidential with me!  She
seemed to me just like myself as I was last year,--you remember--just
beginning to realize what life ought to be, and trying, in a
frightened, blind kind of way to be good and useful.  She said she was
just beginning to understand her selfishness.  She told me I had done
her ever so much good; and I couldn't help the tears coming into my
eyes.  I wished so much you were there, or some one who could help her
more; but I suppose God knew when he sent me.  Doesn't it seem strange
that an old woman should talk to me in this way, and come to me for
help?  I am afraid people would laugh at the very idea.  And only to
think of her living on and on, year after year, and then being changed
so!  She kissed me when I came away, and I carried the flowers to the
hospital.  I shall always be fond of that conservatory, because if I
hadn't stopped to look in that day, I might never have thought of her.

"There was one strange thing happened, which I must tell you about,
though it is so late.  She has grown very much interested in an old
candy-woman, and told me about her; and do you know that this evening
uncle Jack came in, and asked if we knew of anybody who would do for
janitress--at the Natural History Rooms, I think he said.  There is
good pay and she would just sell catalogues, and look after things a
little.  Of course the candy-woman may not be competent; but, from what
Miss Sydney told me, I think she is just the person."

The next Sunday the minister read this extract from "Queen's Gardens"
in his sermon.  Two of his listeners never had half understood its
meaning before as they did then.  Bessie was in church, and Miss Sydney
suddenly turned her head, and smiled at her young friend, to the great
amazement of the people who sat in the pews near by.  What could have
come over Miss Sydney?

"The path of a good woman is strewn with flowers; but they rise
_behind_ her steps, not before them.  'Her feet have touched the
meadow, and left the daisies rosy.'  Flowers flourish in the garden of
one who loves them.  A pleasant magic it would be if you could flush
flowers into brighter bloom by a kind look upon them; nay, more, if a
look had the power not only to cheer, but to guard them.  This you
would think a great thing?  And do you think it not a greater thing
that all this, and more than this, you can do for fairer flowers than
these,--flowers that could bless you for having blessed them, and will
love you for having loved them,--flowers that have eyes like yours, and
thoughts like yours, and lives like yours?"



[Illustration: decoration]



[Illustration: decoration]



A BRAVE BOY.

"Speaking of courage," said my friend Tom Barton, as we met one day
after a long separation, "reminds me of an incident that happened at
the doctors' school the first winter after you left.

"It was during the Christmas holidays, and all of the boys had gone
home except two brothers, named Fred and Albert Kobb, and myself.  They
were obliged to stay during the vacation because their parents were
spending the season in Florida, and I,--well, as you know, my home was
at a distance, and we were poor, so I remained at school.

"The brothers were very unlike, both in appearance and character.
Fred, the elder of the two, was a large, muscular, ruddy-faced boy, not
much in love with books.  He was of an over-bearing disposition, and
had a great deal of conceit.

"Albert, on the contrary, was pale and slender.  He was very quiet and
studious, and had such a love of honesty and truth, and such
detestation of meanness and wrong, that we boys had dubbed him the
'Parson.'

"It was the Saturday night between Christmas and New Year's.  We three
boys were hugging the stove in the little room adjoining the doctor's
study.  Doctor was in the study writing a sermon for the following day,
as he had to preach at Milltown.

"We could hear his pen scratching over the paper during the lulls in
our conversation.  Occasionally that 'ahem!' of his would come through
the partially opened door; but somehow his 'ahems' seemed to lose their
ominous character during holidays.

"The subject of our conversation was a robbery that had been
perpetrated at Squire Little's store the previous night.

"Robberies, as you know, were unusual occurrences in the little village
of Acme.  Of course this one furnished a topic for abundance of talk.

"Wherever we had been that day we had found some groups of men and boys
talking about robberies in general, and this one in particular.

"It was but natural that in the evening we boys should discuss the same
subject, and each of us offered various speculations as to who the
robber was, where he had gone, and whether he would be captured or not.

"Then we told stories of all the daring burglaries of which we had ever
heard or read, and finally described such as had happened in our own
houses.

"In the descriptions of our personal experiences Fred gave a glowing
account of an incident that had occurred in his father's family.  One
night he said the coachman thought he saw a man prowling in the
chicken-yard.  He fired a pistol at him, and had summoned the other
servants to go in pursuit of the robber.  He told us how the brave men,
armed with lanterns, pokers, and blunderbusses, had reached the
chicken-yard, and there found traces of blood, which they followed up
for a few yards, and found, lying in the last throes of death, the
victim of the coachman's prowess,--a fine black Spanish rooster!

"At length said I, 'What would you do if you should hear a burglar some
night trying to enter your house?'

"Fred straightened himself and squared his shoulders.  'I wouldn't
hesitate a moment to shoot him,' said he, valiantly.  'I tell you, it
would be a good burglar that could get away from me.'

"Al rested his chin in his hands, and gazed thoughtfully into the
glowing coals.

"'Well,' said he slowly, 'it is hard to tell what a fellow might do
under such circumstances.  I rather believe, though, I would take good
care to keep out of his way.  What would you do, Tom?'

"'Me?" I exclaimed.  'Very likely I'd cover my head with the bedclothes
and leave him to carry off house and all if he could.'

"Fred was about to make another remark, but was prevented by the
doctor, who appeared in the doorway.  'Well, boys,' said he, 'don't you
think we've had enough talk about robberies for one evening?  It is
getting late now, and your continual talking has bothered me so that I
have only written one page during the last half hour, and on that page
I have written four times the word "burglar" instead of "bravery."'

"Bidding him good-night we went up stairs, and were soon fast asleep.

"About midnight I awoke with the consciousness of having been aroused
by some unusual noise.  Slightly raising my head I listened, and heard
a scraping sound at the back hall window.

"We three boys occupied the front room on the third floor, the same
that you and Atkinson had at one time.  It was a bright moonlight
night.  Glancing towards the Kobbs' bed, I saw them both sitting up.
The noise had aroused them also.

"'There's some one trying to get in that hall window,' said Al, in a
whisper.  'I'm going to see.'

"'Wait and listen awhile,' urged Fred.

"'And give the fellow a chance to get in?' exclaimed Al.  'No; we
better stop him where he is.'

"'Let's call the doctor,' said Fred.

"'There isn't time for that.  Don't you hear him unfastening the
window-bolt?  Come, hurry!  I'm going to take the old-musket; you take
the bat.'

"'The gun isn't loaded,' said Fred; and his voice actually trembled.
Whether he was shivering from cold or fright, I don't know.

"'It will scare him just the same,' said Al; and taking down the rusty
firearm, he hurried out into the hall, followed at a little distance by
his brother, armed with the base-ball bat.

"I was never very brave, and therefore I took good care to keep as far
behind Fred as he was behind his brother; in fact to be more honest, I
merely ventured as far as the door, and there peeped into the hall.

"A man's form was crawling through the window, but he seemed to be so
occupied by keeping the sash up that he had not as yet noticed the two
boys.  As he threw one leg over the sill, he thrust his hand into his
breast pocket and drew out a small, dark object.

"'Murder! he's drawing a pistol!' roared Fred in terror; and turning
hastily to fly, he ran against me in the doorway, and we both fell
sprawling upon the floor.

"'Robbers! fire!' shrieked Fred.  'Here's another one!' and darting
into an opposite room, he crawled under the bed there.

"'Move another inch and I'll fire!' cried Al, pointing the musket at
the man's breast.

"Och!--murther!  Masther Al, don't be afther a-shootin' me!' came a
familiar voice in broad Hibernian accents.

"It was Pat, the doctor's man.

"'What! is that you, Pat?' exclaimed Al, lowering the weapon.

"'Sorra the day for me an' it wur,' said the Irishman, as he carefully
deposited on the floor the pistol Fred had seen him draw, which was
simply a small, flat bottle.  He then leisurely lifted his other
ponderous foot over the window-sill, shook himself, as if to ascertain
whether he had a whole skin, and shut the window.  Then he picked up
the bottle, and carefully replaced it in his coat pocket.

"Meanwhile, Al had been quietly laughing, and I was still on the floor
laughing and rubbing the bruises on my legs, which had been caused by
Fred's collision.

"'What's the meaning of this?' whispered Al.  'How is it, Pat, that you
come into the house in this way instead of by the door?"

"'Well, you see,' said Pat, 'I just wint the night to say me cousin,
who is a-workin' at the Smit's, an' not moindin' to disturb the docther
an' his wife, sure didn't I put the long laddher forninst the windew,
intindin' to tak out that new pane of glass that was raycintly tacked
in, an' inter in as nate an' quiet as ye plaze: but the lad was scared
a bit.  Where is he?'

"'Who?  Fred?' asked Al.

"'Ay, it's Fred I mane,' said Pat.

"Having by this time rubbed my bruises sufficiently and picked myself
up, I led them to Fred's place of concealment.  His feet and legs were
in plain sight, for, ostrich-like, he seemed to have imagined that if
his head alone were covered, he was perfectly safe.  Pat grasped him by
the ankle, and despite of his kicking hauled him out.

"'Oh,' cried Fred, in abject terror, supposing it was the burglar who
had caught him, 'don't kill me! don't kill me!  My money is all in the
trunk in the opposite room!'

"'Do keep still, and don't make such a fool of yourself!  It's only
Pat,' said Al, with suppressed laughter, while Pat and I indulged in
laughter that was far from suppressed.

"In the midst of this racket we heard a door open below, and the
doctor's voice called,--

"'What is the matter up there?'

"'Nothin', sur,' replied Pat, with Irish readiness, 'only the lads got
freighted as I was comin' to bed.'

"'Tell them to be quiet, or I shall come up,' said doctor.

"'D'ye hear that, b'ys?' said Pat.  'Get to bed now; ye'll tak' your
death runnin' round in the cowld widout your clothes on.'

"In our excitement we had forgotten that the mercury outside was nearly
down to zero, and had not noticed the cold;  but Pat's words quickened
our sensitiveness, so we hastened shivering to bed, and the house was
again quiet.

"Monday morning the doctor summoned us all to his study, and there
instituted one of his usual courts of inquiry.  He was judge, jury and
counsel.  Pat was the principal witness, and we boys were there in
order to corroborate or refute Pat's testimony, and also to sustain
somewhat the respectability of the court I suppose.

"'Patrick,' said the doctor, in opening the case, 'what was the cause
of that noise up stairs Saturday night?'

"'Well, Your Riverence,' began Pat, and his small gray eyes twinkled as
he cast a sly glance at me, 'Sathurday noight I fought I'd call on me
cousin, who has just coom from the ould counthry, an' is workin' in the
village'--

"'At Smith's,' put in Al, by way of explanation."

The doctor was not very strict when he held court during holidays,
otherwise he might have told Al to remain silent until he was
questioned.

"'At Smit's,' repeated Pat, 'an' moindin' not to disturb yez by comin'
in late, sure I just climbed up to the hall winder, an' as I wur half
t'rough, an' wur' takin' somethin' from me pocket'--

"'A flat bottle,' interposed Al.

"'A bottle, eh?  And what was in it?' asked the doctor, suspiciously,
in an unprecedented manner beginning the cross-examination before the
direct was concluded.

"'Only a wee dhrap of medicine, sur,' said Pat.  'Me cousin was afeared
I had the influenzys, an' gave it to me for it.'

"'Go on,' said doctor, with a smile.

"'As I wur a-sayin', sur, I dhrew forth the bottle, whin there came wan
yell from Masther Fred in the back part of the hall, an' says he, "Och!
murther! he's dhrawin' his pistol!" an' thin' he run like--like'--

"'Ay, ay!' exclaimed doctor, warningly.

"'Like a deer,' said Pat; 'an' as I wur a-sayin', sur, I looked up and
saw Masther Al fornist me, with a gun dhrawed up to his shoulder an'
pintin' at me, an' says I, "Don't murther me!"

"'An' sure, sir, he did not, an' thin we wint an' pullt Fred out from
under the bed, where he'd crawled wid his two legs stickin' out in the
moonlight, an' Tam an' messel' wur smilin' quiet like, an' Your
Riverence towld us to shut up, an' we wint to bed, sur.'

"'And how did Tom act?' said the doctor.  'Eh, Tom, you young rogue,
what are you snickering and giggling at behind Pat's back?  Are you
laughing at him or me?'

"'Neither,' I replied; 'but the truth is, doctor, that Pat told me he
might be out late Saturday night, and that I needn't be frightened if I
heard any unusual noise.  But I forgot to tell the boys, and was so
startled and confused in waking from a sound sleep, that I at first
thought it was a burglar, and after I did recollect that it was only
Pat, I concluded not to say anything, but test their courage, as I
supposed there was no danger in it.'

"'Well, Pat,' said doctor, 'when you visit your cousin again, don't
climb through the window on your return.  And, boys, the next time you
hear any suspicious sound at midnight, come and call me the first thing
you do.'

"So having brought in a verdict of 'not guilty of any evil intentions,'
the doctor adjourned the court.

"Poor Fred was never heard to boast of his bravery, or even to mention
the word 'burglar,' after that.  So true it is that boasters usually
prove cowards when put to the test."

C. S. SLEIGHT.



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LADY FERRY.

We have an instinctive fear of death; yet we have a horror of a life
prolonged far beyond the average limit: it is sorrowful; it is pitiful;
it has no attractions.

This world is only a schoolroom for the larger life of the next.  Some
leave it early, and some late: some linger long after they seem to have
learned all its lessons.  This world is no heaven: its pleasures do not
last even through our little lifetimes.

There are many fables of endless life, which in all ages have caught
the attention of men; we are familiar with the stories of the old
patriarchs who lived their hundreds of years; but one thinks of them
wearily, and without envy.


When I was a child, it was necessary that my father and mother should
take a long sea-voyage.  I never had been separated from them before;
but at this time they thought it best to leave me behind, as I was not
strong, and the life on board ship did not suit me.  When I was told of
this decision, I was very sorry, and at once thought I should be
miserable without my mother; besides, I pitied myself exceedingly for
losing the sights I had hoped to see in the country which they were to
visit.  I had an uncontrollable dislike to being sent to school, having
in some way been frightened by a maid of my mother's, who had put many
ideas and aversions into my head which I was very many years in
outgrowing.  Having dreaded this possibility, it was a great relief to
know that I was not to be sent to school at all, but to be put under
the charge of two elderly cousins of my father,--a gentleman and his
wife whom I had once seen, and liked dearly.  I knew that their home
was at a fine old-fashioned country-place, far from town, and close
beside a river, and I was pleased with this prospect, and at once began
to make charming plans for the new life.

I had lived always with grown people, and seldom had had any thing to
do with children.  I was very small for my age, and a strange mixture
of childishness and maturity; and, having the appearance of being
absorbed in my own affairs, no one ever noticed me much, or seemed to
think it better that I should not listen to the conversation.  In spite
of considerable curiosity, I followed an instinct which directed me
never to ask questions at these times; so I often heard stray sentences
which puzzled me, and which really would have been made simple and
commonplace at once, if I had only asked their meaning.  I was, for the
most of the time, in a world of my own.  I had a great deal of
imagination, and was always telling myself stories; and my mind was
adrift in these so much, that my real absent-mindedness was mistaken
for childish unconcern.  Yet I was a thoroughly simple unaffected
child.  My dreams and thoughtfulness gave me a certain tact and
perception unusual in a child; but my pleasures were as deep in simple
things as heart could wish.

It happened that our cousin Matthew was to come to the city on business
the week that the ship was to sail, and that I could stay with my
father and mother to the very last day, and then go home with him.
This was much pleasanter than leaving sooner under the care of an utter
stranger, as was at first planned.  My cousin Agnes wrote a kind letter
about my coming, which seemed to give her much pleasure.  She
remembered me very well, and sent me a message which made me feel of
consequence; and I was delighted with the plan of making her so long a
visit.

One evening I was reading a story-book, and I heard my father say in an
undertone, "How long has madam been at the ferry this last time?  Eight
or ten years, has she not?  I suppose she is there yet?"--"Oh, yes!"
said my mother, "or Agnes would have told us.  She spoke of her in the
last letter you had, while we were in Sweden."

"I should think she would be glad to have a home at last, after her
years of wandering about.  Not that I should be surprised now to hear
that she had disappeared again.  When I was staying there while I was
young, we thought she had drowned herself, and even had the men search
for her along the shore of the river; but after a time cousin Matthew
heard of her alive and well in Salem; and I believe she appeared again
this last time as suddenly as she went away."

"I suppose she will never die," said my mother gravely.  "She must be
terribly old," said my father.  "When I saw her last, she had scarcely
changed at all from the way she looked when I was a boy.  She is even
more quiet and gentle than she used to be.  There is no danger that the
child will have any fear of her; do you think so?"--"Oh, no! but I
think I will tell her that madam is a very old woman, and that I hope
she will be very kind, and try not to annoy her; and that she must not
be frightened at her strange notions.  I doubt if she knows what
craziness is."--"She would be wise if she could define it," said my
father with a smile.  "Perhaps we had better say nothing about the old
lady.  It is probable that she stays altogether in her own room, and
that the child will rarely see her.  I never have realized until lately
the horror of such a long life as hers, living on and on, with one's
friends gone long ago: such an endless life in this world!"

Then there was a mysterious old person living at the ferry, and there
was a question whether I would not be "afraid" of her.  She "had not
changed" since my father was a boy: "it was horrible to have one's life
endless in this world!"

The days went quickly by.  My mother, who was somewhat of an invalid,
grew sad as the time drew near for saying good-by to me, and was more
tender and kind than ever before, and more indulgent of every wish and
fancy of mine.  We had been together all my life, and now it was to be
long months before she could possibly see my face again, and perhaps
she was leaving me forever.  Her time was all spent, I believe, in
thoughts for me, and in making arrangements for my comfort.  I did see
my mother again; but the tears fill my eyes when I think how dear we
became to each other before that first parting, and with what a
lingering, loving touch, she herself packed my boxes, and made sure,
over and over again, that I had whatever I should need; and I remember
how close she used to hold me when I sat in her lap in the evening,
saying that she was afraid I should have grown too large to be held
when she came back again.  We had more to say to each other than ever
before, and I think, until then, that my mother never had suspected how
much I observed of life and of older people in a certain way; that I
was something more than a little child who went from one interest to
another carelessly.  I have known since that my mother's childhood was
much like mine.  She, however, was timid, while I had inherited from my
father his fearlessness, and lack of suspicion;  and these qualities,
like a fresh wind, swept away any cobwebs of nervous anticipation and
sensitiveness.  Every one was kind to me, partly, I think, because I
interfered with no one.  I was glad of the kindness, and, with my
unsuspected dreaming and my happy childishness, I had gone through life
with almost perfect contentment, until this pain of my first real
loneliness came into my heart.

It was a day's journey to cousin Matthew's house, mostly by rail;
though, toward the end, we had to travel a considerable distance by
stage, and at last were left on the river-bank opposite my new home,
and I saw a boat waiting to take us across.  It was just at sunset, and
I remember wondering if my father and mother were out of sight of land,
and if they were watching the sky; if my father would remember that
only the evening before we had gone out for a walk together, and there
had been a sunset so much like this.  It somehow seemed long ago.
Cousin Matthew was busy talking with the ferry-man; and indeed he had
found acquaintances at almost every part of the journey, and had not
been much with me, though he was kind and attentive in his courteous,
old-fashioned way, treating me with the same ceremonious politeness
which he had shown my mother.  He pointed out the house to me: it was
but a little way from the edge of the river.  It was very large and
irregular, with great white chimneys; and, while the river was all in
shallow [Transcriber's note: shade?], the upper windows of two high
gables were catching the last red glow of the sun.  On the opposite
side of a green from the house were the farm-house and buildings; and
the green sloped down to the water, where there was a wharf and an
ancient-looking storehouse.  There were some old boats and long sticks
of timber lying on the shore; and I saw a flock of white geese march
solemnly up toward the barns.  From the open green I could see that a
road went up the hill beyond.  The trees in the garden and orchard were
the richest green; their round tops were clustered thickly together:
and there were some royal great elms near the house.  The fiery red
faded from the high windows as we came near the shore, and cousin Agnes
was ready to meet me; and when she put her arms round me as kindly as
my mother would have done, and kissed me twice in my father's fashion,
I was sure that I loved her, and would be contented.  Her hair was very
gray; but she did not look, after all, so very old.  Her face was a
grave one, as if she had had many cares; yet they had all made her
stronger, and there had been some sweetness, and something to be glad
about, and to thank God for, in every sorrow.  I had a feeling always
that she was my sure defence and guard.  I was safe and comfortable
with her: it was the same feeling which one learns to have toward God
more and more, as one grows older.

We went in through a wide hall, and up stairs, through a long passage,
to my room, which was in a corner of one of the gables.  Two windows
looked on the garden and the river; another looked across to the other
gable, and into the square, grassy court between.  It was a rambling,
great house, and seemed like some English houses I had seen.  It would
be great fun to go into all the rooms some day soon.

"How much you are like your father!" said cousin Agnes, stooping to
kiss me again, with her hand on my shoulder.  I had a sudden
consciousness of my bravery in having behaved so well all day; then I
remembered that my father and mother were at every instant being
carried farther and farther away.  I could almost hear the waves dash
about the ship; and I could not help crying a little.  "Poor little
girl!" said cousin Agnes:  "I am very sorry."  And she sat down, and
took me in her lap for a few minutes.  She was tall, and held me so
comfortably, and I soon was almost happy again; for she hoped I would
not be lonely with her, and that I would not think she was a stranger,
for she had known and loved my father so well: and it would make cousin
Matthew so disappointed and uneasy if I were discontented; and would I
like some bread and milk with my supper, in the same blue china bowl,
with the dragon on it, which my father used to have when he was a boy?
These arguments were by no means lost upon me, and I was ready to smile
presently; and then we went down to the dining room, which had some
solemn-looking portraits on the walls, and heavy, stiff furniture; and
there was an old-fashioned woman standing ready to wait, whom cousin
Agnes called Deborah, and who smiled at me graciously.

Cousin Matthew talked with his wife for a time about what had happened
to him and to her during his absence; and then he said, "And how is
madam to-day? you have not spoken of her."--"She is not so well as
usual," said cousin Agnes.  "She has had one of her sorrowful times
since you went away.  I have sat with her for several hours to-day; but
she has hardly spoken to me."  And then cousin Matthew looked at me,
and cousin Agnes hesitated for a minute.  Deborah had left the room.

"We speak of a member of our family whom you have not seen, although
you may have heard your father speak of her.  She is called Lady Ferry
by most people who know of her; but you may say madam when you speak to
her.  She is very old, and her mind wanders, so that she has many
strange fancies; but you must not be afraid, for she is very gentle and
harmless.  She is not used to children; but I know you will not annoy
her, and I dare say you can give her much pleasure."  This was all that
was said; but I wished to know more.  It seemed to me that there was a
reserve about this person, and the old house itself was the very place
for a mystery.  As I went through some of the other rooms with cousin
Agnes in the summer twilight, I half expected to meet Lady Ferry in
every shadowy corner; but I did not dare to ask a question.  My
father's words came to me,--"Such an endless life," and "living on and
on."  And why had he and mother never spoken to me afterward of my
seeing her?  They had talked about it again, perhaps, and did not mean
to tell me, after all.

I saw something of the house that night, the great kitchen, with its
huge fireplace, and other rooms up stairs and down; and Cousin Agnes
told me, that by daylight I should go everywhere, except to Madam's
rooms: I must wait for an invitation there.

The house had been built a hundred and fifty years before, by Colonel
Haverford, an Englishman, whom no one knew much about, except that he
lived like a prince, and would never tell his history.  He and his sons
died; and after the Revolution the house was used for a tavern for many
years,--the Ferry Tavern,--and the place was busy enough.  Then there
was a bridge built down the river, and the old ferry fell into disuse;
and the owner of the house died, and his family also died, or went
away; and then the old place, for a long time, was either vacant, or in
the hands of different owners.  It was going to ruin at length, when
cousin Matthew bought it, and came there from the city to live years
before.  He was a strange man; indeed, I know now that all the
possessors of the Ferry farm must have been strange men.  One often
hears of the influence of climate upon character; there is a strong
influence of place; and the inanimate things which surround us indoors
and out make us follow out in our lives their own silent
characteristics.  We unconsciously catch the tone of every house in
which we live, and of every view of the outward, material world which
grows familiar to us, and we are influenced by surroundings nearer and
closer still than the climate or the country which we inhabit.  At the
old Haverford house it was a mystery which one felt when one entered
the door; and when one came away, after cordiality, and days of
sunshine and pleasant hospitality, it was still with a sense of this
mystery, and of something unseen and unexplained.  Not that there was
any thing covered and hidden necessarily; but it was the quiet
undertone in the house which had grown to be so old, and had known the
magnificent living of Colonel Haverford's time, and afterward the
struggles of poor gentlemen and women, who had hardly warmed its walls
with their pitiful fires, and shivering, hungry lives; then the long
procession of travellers who had been sheltered there in its old tavern
days; finally, my cousin Matthew and his wife, who had made it their
home, when, with all their fortune, they felt empty-handed, and as if
their lives were ended, because their only son had died.  Here they had
learned to be happy again in a quiet sort of way, and had become older
and serener, loving this lovable place by the river, and keepers of its
secret--whatever that might be.

I was wide awake that first evening: I was afraid of being sent to bed,
and, to show cousin Agnes that I was not sleepy, I chattered far more
than usual.  It was warm, and the windows of the parlour where we sat
looked upon the garden.  The moon had risen, and it was light out of
doors.  I caught every now and then the faint smell of honeysuckle, and
presently I asked if I might go into the garden a while; and cousin
Agnes gave me leave, adding that I must soon go to bed, else I would be
very tired next day.  She noticed that I looked grave, and said that I
must not dread being alone in a strange room, for it was so near her
own.  This was a great consolation; and after I had been told that the
tide was in, and I must be careful not to go too near the river wall, I
went out through the tall glass door, and slowly down the wide
garden-walk, from which now and then narrower walks branched off at
right angles.  It was the pride of the place, this garden; and the
box-borders especially were kept with great care.  They had partly been
trimmed that day; and the evening dampness brought out the faint,
solemn odour of the leaves, which I never have noticed since without
thinking of that night.  The roses were in bloom, and the snow-ball
bushes were startlingly white, and there was a long border filled with
lilies-of-the-valley.  The other flowers of the season, were all there
and in blossom; yet I could see none well but the white ones, which
looked like bits of snow and ice in the summer shadows,--ghostly
flowers which one could see at night.

It was still in the garden, except once I heard a bird twitter
sleepily, and once or twice a breeze came across the river, rustling
the leaves a little.  The small-paned windows glistened in the
moonlight, and seemed like the eyes of the house watching me, the
unknown new-comer.

For a while I wandered about, exploring the different paths, some of
which were arched over by the tall lilacs, or by arbors where the
grape-leaves did not seem fully grown.  I wondered if my mother would
miss me.  It seemed impossible that I should have seen her only that
morning; and suddenly I had a consciousness that she was thinking of
me, and she seemed so close to me, that it would not be strange if she
could hear what I said.  And I called her twice softly; but the sound
of my unanswered voice frightened me.  I saw some round white flowers
at my feet, looking up mockingly.  The smell of the earth and the new
grass seemed to smother me.  I was afraid to be there all alone in the
wide open air; and all the tall bushes that were so still around me
took strange shapes, and seemed to be alive.  I was so terribly far
away from the mother whom I had called; the pleasure of my journey, and
my coming to cousin Agnes, faded from my mind, and that indescribable
feeling of hopelessness and dread, and of having made an irreparable
mistake, came in its place.  The thorns of a straying slender branch of
a rose bush caught my sleeve maliciously as I turned to hurry away, and
then I caught sight of a person in the path just before me.  It was
such a relief to see some one, that I was not frightened when I saw
that it must be Lady Ferry.

She was bent, but very tall and slender, and was walking slowly with a
cane.  Her head was covered with a great hood or wrapping of some kind,
which she pushed back when she saw me.  Some faint whitish figures on
her dress looked like frost in the moonlight: and the dress itself was
made of some strange stiff silk, which rustled softly like dry rushes
and grasses in the autumn,--a rustling noise that carries a chill with
it.  She came close to me, a sorrowful little figure very dreary at
heart, standing still as the flowers themselves; and for several
minutes she did not speak, but watched me, until I began to be afraid
of her.  Then she held out her hand, which trembled as if it were
trying to shake off its rings.  "My dear," said she "I bid you welcome:
I have known your father.  I was told of your coming.  Perhaps you will
walk with me?  I did not think to find you here alone."  There was a
fascinating sweetness in Madame's voice, and I at once turned to walk
beside her, holding her hand fast, and keeping pace with her feeble
steps.  "Then you are not afraid of me?" asked the old lady, with a
strange quiver in her voice.  "It is a long time since I have seen a
child."--"No," said I, "I am not afraid of you.  I was frightened
before I saw you, because I was all alone, and I wished I could see my
father and mother;" and I hung my head so that my new friend could not
see the tears in my eyes, for she watched me curiously.  "All alone:
that is like me," said she to herself.  "All alone? a child is not all
alone, but there is no one like me.  I am something alone: there is
nothing else of my fashion, a creature who lives forever!" and Lady
Ferry sighed pitifully.  Did she mean that she never was going to die
like other people?  But she was silent, and I did not dare to ask for
any explanation as we walked back and forward.  Her fingers kept moving
round my wrist, smoothing it as if she liked to feel it, and to keep my
hand in hers.  It seemed to give her pleasure to have me with her, and
I felt quite at my ease presently, and began to talk a little, assuring
her that I did not mind having taken the journey of that day.  I had
taken some long journeys: I had been to China once, and it took a great
while to get there; but London was the nicest place I had ever seen;
had Lady Ferry even been in London?  And I was surprised to hear her
say drearily that she had been in London; she had been everywhere.

"Did you go to Westminster Abbey?" I asked, going on with the
conversation childishly.  "And did you see where Queen Elizabeth and
Mary Queen of Scots are buried?  Mamma had told me all about them."

"Buried, did you say?  Are they dead too?" asked Madam eagerly.  "Yes,
indeed!" said I: "they have been dead a long time."--"Ah!  I had
forgotten," answered my strange companion.  "Do you know of any one
else who has died beside them?  I have not heard of any one's dying and
going home for so long!  Once every one died but me--except some young
people; and I do not know them."--"Why, every one must die," said I
wonderingly.  "There is a funeral somewhere every day, I
suppose."--"Every one but me," Madam repeated sadly,--"every one but
me, and I am alone."

Just now cousin Agnes came to the door, and called me.  "Go in now,
child," said Lady Ferry.  "You may come and sit with me to-morrow if
you choose."  And I said good-night, while she turned, and went down
the walk with feeble, lingering steps.  She paced to and fro, as I
often saw her afterwards, on the flagstones: and some bats flew that
way like ragged bits of darkness, holding somehow a spark of life.  I
watched her for a minute: she was like a ghost, I thought but not a
fearful ghost,--poor Lady Ferry!

"Have you had a pleasant walk?" asked cousin Matthew politely.
"To-morrow I will give you a border for your own, and some plants for
it, if you like gardening."  I joyfully answered that I should like it
very much, and so I began to feel already the pleasure of being in a
real home, after the wandering life to which I had become used.  I went
close to cousin Agnes's chair to tell her confidentially that I had
been walking with Madam in the garden, and she was very good to me, and
asked me to come to sit with her the next day: but she said very odd
things.

"You must not mind what she says," said cousin Agnes; "and I would
never dispute with her, or even seem surprised, if I were you.  It
hurts and annoys her, and she soon forgets her strange fancies.  I
think you seem a very sensible little girl, and I have told you about
this poor friend of ours as if you were older.  But you understand do
you not?"  And then she kissed me good-night, and I went up stairs,
contented with her assurance that she would come to me before I went to
sleep.

I found a pleasant-faced young girl busy putting away some of my
clothing.  I had seen her just after supper, and had fancied her very
much, partly because she was not so old as the rest of the servants.
We were friendly at once, and I found her very talkative; so finally I
asked the question which was uppermost in my mind,--Did she know
anything about Madam?

"Lady Ferry, folks call her," said Martha, much interested.  "I never
have seen her close to, only from the other side of the garden, where
she walks at night.  She never goes out by day.  Deborah waits upon
her.  I haven't been here long; but I have always heard about Madame,
bless you!  Folks tell all kinds of strange stories.  She's fearful
old, and there's many believes she never will die; and where she came
from nobody knows.  I've heard that her folks used to live here; but
nobody can remember them, and she used to wander about; and once before
she was here,--a good while ago; but this last time she came was nine
years ago; one stormy night she came across the ferry, and scared them
to death, looking in at the window like a ghost.  She said she used to
live here in Colonel Haverford's time.  They saw she wasn't right in
her head--the ferry-men did.  But she came up to the house, and they
let her in, and she went straight to the rooms in the north gable, and
she never has gone away: it was in an awful storm she came, I've heard,
and she looked just the same as she does now.  There!  I can't tell
half the stories  I've heard, and Deborah she most took my head off,"
said Martha, "because, when I first came, I was asking about her; and
she said it was a sin to gossip about a harmless old creature whose
mind was broke, but I guess most everybody thinks there's something
mysterious.  There's my grandmother--her mind is failing her; but she
never had such ways!  And then those clothes that my lady in the gable
wears:  they're unearthly looking; and I heard a woman say once, that
they come out of a chest in the big garret, and they belonged to a
Mistress Haverford who was hung for a witch, but there's no knowing
that there is any truth in it."  And Martha would have gone on with her
stories, if just then we had not heard cousin Agnes's step on the
stairway, and I hurried into bed.


But my bright eyes and excited look betrayed me.  Cousin Agnes said she
had hoped I would be asleep.  And Martha said perhaps it was her fault;
but I seemed wakeful, and she had talked with me a bit, to keep my
spirits up, coming to a new, strange place.  The apology was accepted,
but Martha evidently had orders before I next saw her; for I never
could get her to discuss Lady Ferry again; and she carefully told me
that she should not have told those foolish stories, which were not
true: but I knew that she still had her thoughts and suspicions as well
as I.  Once, when I asked her if Lady Ferry were Madam's real name, she
answered with a guilty flush, "That's what the folks hereabout called
her, because they didn't know any other at first."  And this to me was
another mystery.  It was strongly impressed upon my mind that I must
ask no questions, and that Madam was not to be discussed.  No one
distinctly forbade this; but I felt that it would not do.  In every
other way I was sure that I was allowed perfect liberty, so I soon
ceased to puzzle myself or other people, and accepted Madam's presence
as being perfectly explainable and natural,--just as the rest of the
household did,--except once in a while something would set me at work
romancing and wondering; and I read some stories in one of the books in
the library,--of Peter Rugg the missing man, whom one may always meet
riding from Salem to Boston in every storm, and of the Flying Dutchman
and the Wandering Jew, and some terrible German stories of doomed
people, and curses that were fulfilled.  These made a great impression
upon me; still I was not afraid, for all such things were far outside
the boundaries of my safe little world; and I played by myself along
the shore of the river and in the garden; and I had my lessons with
cousin Agnes, and drives with cousin Matthew who was nearly always
silent, but very kind to me.  The house itself was an unfailing
entertainment, with its many rooms, most of which were never occupied,
and its quaint, sober furnishings, some of which were as old as the
house itself.  It was like a story-book; and no one minded my going
where I pleased.

I missed my father and mother; but the only time I was really unhappy
was the first morning after my arrival.  Cousin Agnes was ill with a
severe headache; cousin Matthew had ridden away to attend to some
business; and, being left to myself, I had a most decided re-action
from my unnaturally bright feelings of the day before.  I began to
write a letter to my mother; but unluckily I knew how many weeks must
pass before she saw it, and it was useless to try to go on,  I was
lonely and homesick.  The rain fell heavily, and the garden looked
forlorn, and so unlike the enchanting moonlighted place where I had
been in the evening!  The walks were like little canals; and the
rose-bushes looked wet and chilly, like some gay young lady who had
been caught in the rain in party-dress.  It was low tide in the middle
of the day, and the river-flats looked dismal.  I fed cousin Agnes'
flock of tame sparrows which came around the windows, and afterward
some robins.  I found some books and some candy which had come in my
trunk, but my heart was very sad; and just after noon I was overjoyed
when one of the servants told me that cousin Agnes would like to have
me come to her room.

She was even kinder to me than she had been the night before; but she
looked very ill, and at first I felt awkward, and did not know what to
say.  "I am afraid you have been very dull, dearie," said she, reaching
out her hand to me.  "I am sorry, and my headache hardly lets me think
at all yet.  But we will have better times to-morrow--both of us.  You
must ask for what you want; and you may come and spend this evening
with me, for I shall be getting well then.  It does me good to see your
kind little face.  Suppose you make Madam a call this afternoon.  She
told me last night that she wished for you, and I was so glad.  Deborah
will show you the way."

Deborah talked to me softly, out of deference to her mistress's
headache, as we went along the crooked passages.  "Don't you mind what
Madam says, least ways don't you dispute her.  She's got a funeral
going on to-day;" and the grave woman smiled grimly at me.  "It's
curious she's taken to you so; for she never will see any strange
folks.  Nobody speaks to her about new folks lately," she added
warningly, as she tapped at the door, and Madam asked, "Is it the
child?"  And Deborah lifted the latch.  When I was fairly inside, my
interest in life came back redoubled, and I was no longer sad, but
looked round eagerly.  Madam spoke to me, with her sweet old voice, in
her courtly, quiet way, and stood looking out of the window.

There were two tall chests of drawers in the room, with shining brass
handles and ornaments; and at one side, near the door, was a heavy
mahogany table, on which I saw a large leather-covered Bible, a
decanter of wine and some glasses, beside some cakes in a queer old
tray.  And there was no other furniture but a great number of chairs
which seemed to have been collected from different parts of the house.

With these the room was almost filled, except an open space in the
centre, toward which they all faced.  One window was darkened; but
Madam had pushed back the shutter of the other, and stood looking down
at the garden.  I waited for her to speak again after the first
salutation, and presently she said I might be seated; and I took the
nearest chair, and again waited her pleasure.  It was gloomy enough,
with the silence and the twilight in the room; and the rain and wind
out of doors sounded louder than they had in cousin Agnes's room; but
soon Lady Ferry came toward me.

"So you did not forget the old woman," said she, with a strange
emphasis on the word old, as if that were her title and her chief
characteristic.  "And were not you afraid?  I am glad it seemed worth
while; for to-morrow would have been too late.  You may like to
remember by and by that you came.  And my funeral is to be to-morrow at
last.  You see the room is in readiness.  You will care to be here, I
hope.  I would have ordered you some gloves if I had known; but these
are all too large for your little hands.  You shall have a ring; I will
leave a command for that;" and Madam seated herself near me in a
curious, high-backed chair.  She was dressed that day in a maroon
brocade, figured with bunches of dim pink flowers; and some of these
flowers looked to me like wicked little faces.  It was a mocking,
silly, creature that I saw at the side of every prim bouquet, and I
looked at the faded little imps, until they seemed as much alive as
Lady Ferry herself.

Her head nodded continually, as if it were keeping time to an inaudible
tune, as she sat there stiffly erect.  Her skin was pale and withered;
and her cheeks were wrinkled in fine lines, like the crossings of a
cobweb.  Her eyes might once have been blue; but they had become nearly
colourless, and, looking at her, one might easily imagine that she was
blind.  She had a singularly sweet smile, and a musical voice, which
though sad, had no trace of whining.  If it had not been for her smile
and her voice, I think madam would have been a terror to me.  I noticed
to-day, for the first time, a curious fragrance, which seemed to come
from her old brocades and silks.  It was very sweet, but unlike any
thing I had ever known before; and it was by reason of this that
afterward I often knew, with a little flutter at my heart, she had been
in some other rooms of the great house beside her own.  This perfume
seemed to linger for a little while wherever she had been, and yet it
was so faint!  I used to go into the darkened chambers often, or even
stay for a while by myself in the unoccupied lower rooms, and I would
find this fragrance, and wonder if she were one of the old time
fairies, who could vanish at their own will and pleasure, and wonder,
too why she had come to the room.  But I never met her at all.


That first visit to her and the strange fancy she had about the funeral
I have always remembered distinctly.


"I am glad you came," Madam repeated: "I was finding the day long.  I
am all ready, you see.  I shall place a little chair which is in the
next room, beside your cousin's seat for you.  Mrs. Agnes is ill, I
hear; but I think she will come to-morrow.  Have you heard any one say
if many guests are expected?"--"No, Madam," I answered, "no one has
told me;" and just then the thought flitted through my head that she
had said the evening before that all her friends were gone.  Perhaps
she expected their ghosts: that would not be stranger than all the rest.


The open space where Lady Ferry had left room for her coffin began to
be a horror to me, and I wished Deborah would come back, or that my
hostess would open the shutters; and it was a great relief when she
rose and went into the adjoining room, bidding me follow her, and there
opened a drawer containing some old jewelry; there were also some queer
Chinese carvings, yellow with age,--just the things a child would
enjoy.  I looked at them delightedly.  This was coming back to more
familiar life; and I soon felt more at ease, and chattered to Lady
Ferry of my own possessions, and some coveted treasures of my mother's,
which were to be mine when I grew older.


Madam stood beside me patiently, and listened with a half smile to my
whispered admiration.  In the clearer light I could see her better, and
she seemed older,--so old, so old! and my father's words came to me
again.  She had not changed since he was a boy; living on and on, and
'the horror of an endless life in this world!'  And I remembered what
Martha had said to me, and the consciousness of this mystery was a
great weight upon me of a sudden.  Why was she living so long? and what
had happened to her? and how long could it be since she was a child?

There was something in her manner which made me behave, even in my
pleasure, as if her imagined funeral were there in reality, and as if,
in spite of my being amused and tearless, the solemn company of funeral
guests already sat in the next room to us with bowed heads, and all the
shadows in the world had assembled there materialized into the tangible
form of crape.  I opened and closed the boxes gently, and, when I had
seen everything, I looked up with a sigh to think that such a pleasure
was ended, and asked if I might see them again some day.  But the look
in her face made me recollect myself, and my own grew crimson, for it
seemed at that moment as real to me as to Lady Ferry herself that this
was her last day of mortal life.  She walked away, but presently came
back, while I was wondering if I might not go, and opened the drawer
again.  It creaked, and the brass handles clacked in a startling way,
and she took out a little case, and said I might keep it to remember
her by.  It held a little vinaigrette,--a tiny silver box with a gold
one inside, in which I found a bit of fine sponge, dark brown with age,
and still giving a faint, musty perfume and spiciness.  The outside was
rudely chased, and was worn as if it had been carried for years in
somebody's pocket.  It had a spring, the secret of which Lady Ferry
showed me.  I was delighted, and instinctively lifted my face to kiss
her.  She bent over me, and waited an instant for me to kiss her again.
"Oh!" said she softly, "it is so long since a child has kissed me!  I
pray God not to leave you lingering like me, apart from all your
kindred, and your life so long that you forget you ever were a
child."--"I will kiss you every day," said I, and then again remembered
that there were to be no more days according to her plan; but she did
not seem to notice my mistake.

And after this I used to go to see Madam often.  For a time there was
always the same gloom and hushed way of speaking, and the funeral
services were to be on the morrow; but at last one day I found Deborah
sedately putting the room in order, and Lady Ferry apologized for its
being in such confusion; the idea of the funeral had utterly vanished,
and I hurried to tell cousin Agnes with great satisfaction.  I think
that both she and cousin Matthew had a dislike for my being too much
with Madam.  I was kept out of doors as much as possible because it was
much better for my health; and through the long summer days I strayed
about wherever I choose.  The country life was new and delightful to
me.  At home Lady Ferry's vagaries were carelessly spoken of, and often
smiled at; but I gained the idea that they disguised the truth, and
were afraid of my being frightened.  She often talked about persons who
had been dead a long time,--familiar characters in history, and though
cousin Agnes had said that she used to be fond of reading, it seemed to
me that Madam might have known these men and women after all.

Once a middle-aged gentleman, an acquaintance of cousin Matthew's, came
to pass a day and night at the Ferry, and something happened then which
seemed wonderful to me.  It was early in the evening after tea, and we
were in the parlour; from my seat by cousin Agnes I could look out into
the garden, and presently, with the gathering darkness, came Lady
Ferry, silent as a shadow herself, to walk to and fro on the
flagstones.  The windows were all open, and the guest had a clear, loud
voice, and pleasant, hearty laugh; and, as he talked earnestly with
cousin Matthew, I noticed that Lady Ferry stood still, as if she were
listening.  Then I was attracted by some story which was being told,
and forgot her, but afterward turned with a start, feeling that there
was some one watching; and, to my astonishment, Madam had come to the
long window by which one went out to the garden.  She stood there a
moment, looking puzzled and wild; then she smiled, and, entering,
walked in most stately fashion down the long room, toward the
gentlemen, before whom she courtesied with great elegance, while the
stranger stopped speaking, and looked at her with amazement, as he
rose, and returned the greeting.

"My dear Captain Jack McAllister!" said she; "what a surprise! and are
you not home soon from your voyage?  This is indeed a pleasure."  And
Lady Ferry seated herself, motioning to him to take a chair beside her.
She looked younger than I had ever seen her; a bright colour came into
her cheeks; and she talked so gayly, in such a different manner from
her usual mournful gentleness.  She must have been a beautiful woman;
indeed she was that still.

"And did the good ship Starlight make a prosperous voyage?  And had you
many perils?--Do you bring much news to us from the Spanish Main?  We
have missed you sadly at the assemblies; but there must be a dance in
your honour.  And your wife; is she not overjoyed at the sight of you?
I think you have grown old and sedate since you went away.  You do not
look the gay sailor, or seem so light-hearted."

"I do not understand you, madam," said the stranger.  "I am certainly
John McAllister; but I am no captain, neither have I been at sea.  Good
God! is it my grandfather whom you confuse me with?" cried he.  "He was
Jack McAllister, and was lost at sea more than seventy years ago, while
my own father was a baby.  I am told that I am wonderfully like his
portrait; but he was a younger man than I when he died.  This is some
masquerade."

Lady Ferry looked at him intently, but the light in her face was fast
fading out.  "Lost at sea,--lost at sea, were you, Jack McAllister,
seventy years ago?  I know nothing of years; one of my days is like
another, and they are gray days, they creep away and hide, and
sometimes one comes back to mock me.  I have lived a thousand years; do
you know it?  Lost at sea--captain of the ship Starlight?  Whom did you
say?--Jack McAllister, yes, I knew him well--pardon me; good-evening;"
and my lady rose, and with her head nodding and drooping, with a
sorrowful, hunted look in her eyes, went out again into the shadows.
She had had a flash of youth, the candle had blazed up brilliantly; but
it went out again as suddenly, with flickering and smoke.

"I was startled when I saw her beside me," said Mr. McAllister.  "Pray,
who is she? she is like no one I have ever seen.  I have been told that
I am like my grandfather in looks and in voice; but it is years since I
have seen any one who knew him well.  And did you hear her speak of
dancing?  It is like seeing one who has risen from the dead.  How old
can she be?"--"I do not know," said cousin Matthew, "one can only guess
at her age."--"Would not she come back?  I should like to question
her," asked the other.  But cousin Matthew answered that she always
refused to see strangers, and it would be no use to urge her, she would
not answer him.

"Who is she?  Is she any kin of yours?" asked Mr. McAllister.

"Oh, no!" said my cousin Agnes: "she has had no relatives since I have
known her, and I think she has no friends now but ourselves.  She has
been with us a long time, and once before this house was her home for a
time,--many years since.  I suppose no one will ever know the whole
history of her life; I wish often that she had power to tell it.  We
are glad to give shelter, and the little care she will accept, to the
poor soul.  God only knows where she has strayed and what she has seen.
It is an enormous burden,--so long a life, and such a weight of
memories; but I think it is seldom now that she feels its
heaviness.--Go out to her, Marcia my dear, and see if she seems
troubled.  She always has a welcome for the child," cousin Agnes added,
as I unwillingly went away.

I found Lady Ferry in the garden;  I stole my hand into hers, and,
after a few minutes of silence, I was not surprised to hear her say
that they had killed the Queen of France, poor Marie Antoinette!  she
had known her well in her childhood, before she was a queen at all--"a
sad fate, a sad fate," said Lady Ferry.  We went far down the gardens
and by the river-wall, and when we were again near the house, and could
hear Mr. McAllister's voice as cheery as ever, madam took no notice of
it.  I had hoped she would go into the parlour again, and I wished over
and over that I could have waited to hear the secrets which I was sure
must have been told after cousin Agnes had sent me away.

One day I thought I had made a wonderful discovery.  I was fond of
reading, and found many books which interested me in cousin Matthew's
fine library; but I took great pleasure also in hunting through a
collection of old volumes which had been cast aside, either by him, or
by some former owner of the house, and which were piled in a corner of
the great garret.  They were mostly yellow with age, and had dark brown
leather or shabby paper bindings; the pictures in some were very
amusing to me.  I used often to find one which I appropriated and
carried down stairs; and on this day I came upon a dusty, odd shaped
little book, for which I at once felt an affection.  I looked at it a
little.  It seemed to be a journal, there were some stories of the
Indians and next I saw some reminiscences of the town of Boston, where,
among other things, the author was told the marvellous story of one
Mistress Honor Warburton, who was cursed, and doomed to live in this
world forever.  This was startling.  I at once thought of Madam, and
was reading on further to know the rest of the story, when some one
called me, and I foolishly did not dare to carry my book with me.  I
was afraid I should not find it if I left it in sight; I saw an opening
near me at the edge of the floor by the eaves, and I carefully laid my
treasure inside.  But, alas!  I was not to be sure of its safe
hiding-place in a way that I fancied, for the book fell down between
the boarding of the thick walls, and I heard it knock as it fell, and
knew by the sound that it must be out of reach, I grieved over this
loss for a long time; and I felt that it had been most unkindly taken
out of my hand.  I wished heartily that I could know the rest of the
story; and I tried to summon courage to ask Madam, when we were by our
selves, if she had heard of Honor Warburton, but something held me back.

There were two other events just at this time which made this strange
old friend of mine seem stranger than ever to me.  I had a dream one
night, which I took for a vision and a reality at the time.  I thought
I looked out of my window in the night, and there was bright moonlight,
and I could see the other gable plainly;  and I looked in at the
windows of an unoccupied parlour which I never had seen open before,
under Lady Ferry's own rooms,  The shutters were pushed back, and there
were candles burning; and I heard voices, and presently some tinkling
music, like that of a harpsichord I had once heard in a very old house
where I had been in England with my mother.  I saw several couples go
through with a slow, stately dance; and, when they stopped and seated
themselves, I could hear their voices; but they spoke low, these
midnight guests.  I watched until the door was opened which led into
the garden, and the company came out and stood for a few minutes on the
little lawn, making their adieus, bowing low, and behaving with
astonishing courtesy and elegance: finally the last good-nights were
said, and they went away.  Lady Ferry stood under the pointed porch,
looking after them, and I could see her plainly in her brocade gown,
with the impish flowers, a tall quaint cap, and a high lace frill at
her throat, whiter than any lace I had ever seen, and with a glitter on
it, and there was a glitter on her face too.  One of the other ladies
was dressed in velvet, and I thought she looked beautiful: their eyes
were all like sparks of fire.  The gentlemen wore cloaks and ruffs, and
high-peaked hats with wide brims, such as I had seen in some very old
pictures which hung on the walls of the long west room.  These were not
pilgrims or Puritans, but gay gentlemen; and soon I heard the noise of
their boats on the pebbles as they pushed off shore, and the splash of
the oars in the water.  Lady Ferry waved her hand, and went in at the
door; and I found myself standing by the window in the chilly, cloudy
night: the opposite gable, the garden, and the river, were
indistinguishable in the darkness.  I stole back to bed in an agony of
fear; for it had been very real, that dream.  I surely was at the
window, for my hand had been on the sill when I waked; and I heard a
church-bell ring two o'clock in a town far up the river.  I never had
heard this solemn bell before, and it seemed frightful; but I knew
afterward that in the silence of a misty night the sound of it came
down along the water.

In the morning I found that there had been a gale in the night; and
cousin Matthew said at breakfast time that the tide had risen so that
it had carried off two old boats that had been left on the shore to go
to pieces.  I sprang to the window, and sure enough they had
disappeared.  I had played in one of them the day before.  Should I
tell cousin Matthew what I had seen or dreamed?  But I was too sure
that he would only laugh at me: and yet I was none the less sure that
those boats had carried passengers.

When I went out to the garden, I hurried to the porch, and saw, to my
disappointment, that there were great spiders' webs in the corners of
the door, and around the latch, and that it had not been opened since I
was there before.  But I saw something shining in the grass, and found
it was a silver knee-buckle.  It must have belonged to one of the
ghostly guests, and my faith in them came back for a while, in spite of
the cobwebs.  By and by I bravely carried it up to Madam, and asked if
it were hers.  Sometimes she would not answer for a long time, when one
rudely broke in upon her reveries, and she hesitated now, looking at me
with singular earnestness.  Deborah was in the room; and, when she saw
the buckle, she quietly said that it had been on the window-ledge the
day before, and must have slipped out.  "I found it down by the
doorstep in the grass," said I humbly; and then I offered Lady Ferry
some strawberries which I had picked for her on a broad green leaf, and
came away again.

A day or two after this, while my dream was still fresh in my mind, I
went with Martha to her own home, which was a mile or two distant,--a
comfortable farmhouse for those days, where I was always made welcome.
The servants were all very kind to me: as I recall it now, they seemed
to have pity for me, because I was the only child perhaps.  I was very
happy, that is certain, and I enjoyed my childish amusements as
heartily as if there were no unfathomable mysteries or perplexities or
sorrows anywhere in the world.

I was sitting by the fireplace at Martha's, and her grandmother, who
was very old, and who was fast losing her wits, had been talking to me
about Madam.  I do not remember what she said, at least, it made little
impression; but her grandson, a worthless fellow, sauntered in, and
began to tell a story of his own, hearing of whom we spoke.  "I was
coming home late last night," said he, "and, as I was in that dark
place along by the Noroway pines, old Lady Ferry she went by me, and I
was near scared to death.  She looked fearful tall--towered way up
above me.  Her face was all lit up with blue light, and her feet didn't
touch the ground.  She wasn't taking steps, she wasn't walking, but
movin' along like a sail-boat before the wind.  I dodged behind some
little birches, and I was scared she'd see me; but she went right out
o' sight up the road.  She ain't mortal."

"Don't scare the child with such foolishness," said his aunt
disdainfully.  "You'll be seein' worse things a-dancin' before your
eyes than that poor, harmless old creatur' if you don't quit the ways
you've been following lately.  If that was last night, you were too
drunk to see anything;" and the fellow muttered, and went out banging
the door.  But the story had been told, and I was stiffened and chilled
with fright; and all the way home I was in terror, looking fearfully
behind me again and again.

When I saw cousin Agnes, I felt safer, and since cousin Matthew was not
at home, and we were alone, I could not resist telling her what I had
heard.  She listened to me kindly, and seemed so confident that my
story was idle nonsense, that my fears were quieted.  She talked to me
until I no longer was a believer in there being any unhappy mystery or
harmfulness; but I could not get over the fright, and I dreaded my
lonely room, and I was glad enough when cousin Agnes, with her
unfailing thoughtfulness, asked if I would like to have her come to
sleep with me, and even went up stairs with me at my own early bedtime,
saying that she should find it dull to sit all alone in the parlour.
So I went to sleep, thinking of what I had heard, it is true, but no
longer unhappy, because her dear arm was over me, and I was perfectly
safe.  I waked up for a little while in the night, and it was light in
the room, so that I could see her face, fearless and sweet and sad, and
I wondered, in my blessed sense of security, if she were ever afraid of
Lady Ferry.

I will not tell other stories: they are much alike, all my memories of
those weeks and months at the ferry, and I have no wish to be
wearisome.  The last time I saw Madam she was standing in the garden
door at dusk.  I was going away before daylight in the morning.  It was
in the autumn: some dry leaves flittered about on the stone at her
feet, and she was watching them.  I said good-by again, and she did not
answer me: but I think she knew I was going away, and I am sure she was
sorry, for we had been a great deal together; and, child as I was, I
thought to how many friends she must have had to say farewell.

Although I wished to see my father and mother, I cried as if my heart
would break because I had to leave the ferry.  The time spent there had
been the happiest time of all my life, I think.  I was old enough to
enjoy, but not to suffer much, and there was singularly little to
trouble one.  I did not know that my life was ever to be different.  I
have learned, since those childish days, that one must battle against
storms if one would reach the calm which is to follow them.  I have
learned also that anxiety, sorrow, and regret fall to the lot of every
one, and that there is always underlying our lives, this mysterious and
frightful element of existence; an uncertainty at times, though we do
trust every thing to God.  Under the best-loved and most beautiful face
we know, there is hidden a skull as ghastly as that from which we turn
aside with a shudder in the anatomist's cabinet.  We smile, and are gay
enough; God pity us!  We try to forget our heart-aches and remorse.  We
even call our lives commonplace, and, bearing our own heaviest burdens
silently, we try to keep the commandment, and to bear one another's
also.  There is One who knows: we look forward, as He means we shall,
and there is always a hand ready to help us, though we reach out for it
doubtfully in the dark.


For many years after this summer was over, I lived in a distant,
foreign country; at last my father and I were to go back to America.
Cousin Agnes and cousin Matthew, and my mother, were all long since
dead, and I rarely thought of my childhood, for in an eventful and
hurried life the present claims one almost wholly.  We were travelling
in Europe, and it happened that one day I was in a bookshop in
Amsterdam, waiting for an acquaintance whom I was to meet, and who was
behind time.

The shop was a quaint place, and I amused myself by looking over an
armful of old English books which a boy had thrown down near me,
raising a cloud of dust which was plain evidence of their antiquity.  I
came to one, almost the last, which had a strange familiar look, and I
found that it was a copy of the same book which I had lost in the wall
at the ferry.  I bought it for a few coppers with the greatest
satisfaction, and began at once to read it.  It had been published in
England early in the eighteenth century, and was written by one Mr.
Thomas Highward of Chester,--a journal of his travels among some of the
English colonists of North America, containing much curious and
desirable knowledge, with some useful advice to those persons having
intentions of emigrating.  I looked at the prosy pages here and there,
and finally found again those reminiscences of the town of Boston and
the story of Mistress Honor Warburton, who was cursed, and doomed to
live in this world to the end of time.  She had lately been in Boston,
but had disappeared again; she endeavoured to disguise herself, and
would not stay long in one place if she feared that her story was
known, and that she was recognized.  One Mr. Fleming, a man of good
standing and repute, and an officer of Her Majesty Queen Anne, had
sworn to Mr. Thomas Highward that his father, a person of great age,
had once seen Mistress Warburton in his youth; that she then bore
another name, but had the same appearance.  "Not wishing to seem unduly
credulous," said Mr. Highward, "I disputed this tale; but there was
some considerable evidence in its favour, and at least this woman was
of vast age, and was spoken of with extreme wonder by the town's folk."

I could not help thinking of my old childish suspicions of Lady Ferry,
though I smiled at the folly of them and of this story more than once.
I tried to remember if I had heard of her death; but I was still a
child when my cousin Agnes had died.  Had poor Lady Ferry survived her,
and what could have become of her?  I asked my father, but he could
remember nothing, if indeed he ever had heard of her death at all.  He
spoke of our cousins' kindness to this forlorn soul, and that, learning
her desolation and her piteous history (and being the more pitiful
because of her shattered mind), when she had last wandered to their
door, they had cared for the old gentlewoman to the end of her
days--"for I do not think she can be living yet," said my father, with
a merry twinkle in his eyes: "she must have been nearly a hundred years
old when you saw her.  She belonged to a fine old family which had gone
to wreck and ruin.  She strayed about for years, and it was a godsend
to her to have found such a home in her last days."


That same summer we reached America, and for the first time since I had
left it I went to the ferry.  The house was still imposing, the
prestige of the Haverford grandeur still lingered; but it looked
forlorn and uncared for.  It seemed very familiar; but the months I had
spent there were so long ago, that they seemed almost to belong to
another life.  I sat alone on the doorstep for a long time, where I
used often to watch for Lady Ferry; and forgotten thoughts and dreams
of my childhood came back to me.  The river was the only thing that
seemed as young as ever.  I looked in at some of the windows where the
shutters were put back, and I walked about the garden, where I could
hardly trace the walks, all overgrown with thick, short grass though
there were a few ragged lines of box, and some old rose-bushes; and I
saw the very last of the flowers,--a bright red poppy, which had
bloomed under a lilac-tree among the weeds.

Out beyond the garden, on a slope by the river, I saw the family
burying-ground, and it was with a comfortable warmth at my heart that I
stood inside the familiar old enclosure.  There was my Lady Ferry's
grave; there could be no mistake about it, and she was dead.  I smiled
at my satisfaction and at my foolish childish thoughts, and thanked God
that there could be no truth in them, and that death comes surely,--say
rather that the better life comes surely--though it comes late.

The sad-looking, yellow-topped cypress, which only seems to feel quite
at home in country burying-grounds, had kindly spread itself like a
coverlet over the grave, which already looked like a very old grave;
and the headstone was leaning a little, not to be out of the fashion of
the rest.  I traced again the words of old Colonel Haverford's pompous
epitaph, and idly read some others.  I remembered the old days so
vividly there; I thought of my cousin Agnes, and wished that I could
see her; and at last, as the daylight faded, I came away.  When I
crossed the river, the ferry-man looked at me wonderingly, for my eyes
were filled with tears.  Although we were in shadow on the water, the
last red glow of the sun blazed on the high gable-windows, just as it
did the first time I crossed over,--only a child then, with my life
before me.

I asked the ferry-man some questions, but he could tell me nothing: he
was a new-comer to that part of the country.  He was sorry that the
boat was not in better order; but there were very seldom any
passengers.  The great house was out of repair: people would not live
there, for they said it was haunted.  Oh, yes! he had heard of Lady
Ferry.  She had lived to be very ancient; but she was dead.

"Yes," said I, "she is dead."



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A BIT OF SHORE LIFE.

I often think of a boy with whom I made friends last summer, during
some idle, pleasant days that I spent by the sea.  I was almost always
out of doors, and I used to watch the boats go out and come in; and I
had a hearty liking for the good-natured fishermen, who were lazy and
busy by turns, who waited for the wind to change, and waited for the
tide to turn, and waited for the fish to bite, and were always ready to
gossip about the weather, and the fish, and the wonderful events that
had befallen them and their friends.

Georgie was the only boy of whom I ever saw much at the shore.  The few
young people living there all went to school through the hot summer
days at a little weather-beaten schoolhouse a mile or two inland.
There were few houses to be seen, at any rate, and Georgie's house was
the only one so close to the water.  He looked already nothing but a
fisherman; his clothes were covered with an oil-skin suit, which had
evidently been awkwardly cut down for him from one of his father's, of
whom he was a curious little likeness.  I could hardly believe that he
was twelve years old, he was so stunted and small; yet he was a strong
little fellow; his hands were horny and hard from handling the clumsy
oars, and his face was so brown and dry from the hot sun and chilly
spray, that he looked even older when one came close to him.  The first
time I saw him was one evening just at night fall.  I was sitting on
the pebbles, and he came down from the fish-house with some
lobster-nets, and a bucket with some pieces of fish in it for bait, and
put them into the stern of one of the boats which lay just at the edge
of the rising tide.  He looked at the clouds over the sea, and at the
open sky overhead, in an old wise way, and then, as if satisfied with
the weather, began to push off his boat.  It dragged on the pebbles; it
was a heavy thing, and he could not get it far enough out to be floated
by the low waves, so I went down to help him.  He looked amazed that a
girl should have thought of it, and as if he wished to ask me what good
I supposed I could do, though I was twice his size.  But the boat
grated and slid down toward the sand, and I gave her a last push as the
boy perched with one knee on her gunwale and let the other foot drag in
the water for a minute.  He was afloat after all; and he took the oars,
and pulled manfully out toward the moorings, where the whale-boats and
a sail-boat or two were swaying about in the wind, which was rising a
little since the sun had set.  He did not say a word to me, or I to
him.  I watched him go out into the twilight,--such a little fellow,
between those two great oars!  But the boat could not drift or loiter
with his steady stroke, and out he went, until I could only see the
boat at last, lifting and sinking on the waves beyond the reef outside
the moorings.  I asked one of the fishermen whom I knew very well, "Who
is that little fellow?  Ought he to be out by himself, it is growing
dark so fast?"

"Why, that's _Georgie_!" said my friend, with his grim smile.  "Bless
ye! he's like a duck; ye can't drown him.  He won't be in until ten
o'clock, like's not.  He'll go way out to the far ledges when the tide
covers them too deep where he is now.  Lobsters he's after."

"Whose boy is he?" said I.

"Why, Andrer's, up here to the fish-house.  _She's dead_, and him and
the boy get along together somehow or 'nother.  They've both got
something saved up, and Andrer's a clever fellow; took it very hard,
losing his wife.  I was telling of him the other day: 'Andrer,' says I,
'ye ought to look up somebody or 'nother, and not live this way.
There's plenty o' smart, stirring women that would mend ye up, and cook
for ye, and do well by ye.'--'No,' says he; 'I've hed my wife, and I've
lost her.'--'Well, now,' says I, 'ye've shown respect, and there's the
boy a-growin' up, and if either of you was took sick, why, here ye
be.'--'Yes,' says he, 'here I be, sure enough;' and he drawed a long
breath, 's if he felt bad; so that's all I said.  But it's no way for a
man to get along, and he ought to think of the boy.  He owned a good
house about half a mile up the road; but he moved right down here after
she died, and his cousin took it, and it burnt up in the winter.  Four
year ago that was.  I was down to the Georges Banks."

Some other men came down toward the water, and took a boat that was
waiting, already fitted out with a trawl coiled in two tubs, and some
hand-lines and bait for rock-cod and haddock, and my friend joined
them; they were going out for a night's fishing.  I watched them hoist
the little sprit-sail, and drift a little until they caught the wind,
and then I looked again for Georgie, whose boat was like a black spot
on the water.

I knew him better soon after that.  I used to go out with him for
lobsters, or to catch cunners, and it was strange that he never had any
cronies, and would hardly speak to the other children.  He was very
shy; but he had put all his heart into his work,--a man's hard work,
which he had taken from choice.  His father was kind to him; but he had
a sorry home, and no mother,--the brave, fearless, steady little soul!

He looked forward to going one day (I hope that day has already dawned)
to see the shipyards at a large seaport some twenty miles away.  His
face lit up when he told me of it, as some other child's would who had
been promised a day in fairy-land.  And he confided to me that he
thought he should go to the Banks that coming winter.  "But it's so
cold!" said I; "should you really like it?"--"Cold!" said Georgie.
"Ho! rest of the men never froze."  That was it,--the "rest of the
men;" and he would work until he dropped, or tend a line until his
fingers froze, for the sake of that likeness,--the grave, slow little
man, who has so much business with the sea, and who trusts himself with
touching confidence to its treacherous keeping and favour.

Andrew West, Georgie's father, was almost as silent as his son at
first, but it was not long before we were very good friends, and I went
out with him at four o'clock one morning, to see him set his trawl.  I
remember there was a thin mist over the sea, and the air was almost
chilly: but, as the sun came up, it changed the colour of everything to
the most exquisite pink,--the smooth slow waves, and the mist that blew
over them as if it were a cloud that had fallen down out of the sky.
The world just then was like the hollow of a great pink sea-shell; and
we could only hear the noise of it, the dull sound of the waves among
the outer ledges.

We had to drift about for an hour or two when the trawl was set; and
after a while the fog shut down again gray and close, so we could not
see either the sun or the shore.  We were a little more than four miles
out, and we had put out more than half a mile of lines.  It is very
interesting to see the different fish that come up on the
hooks,--worthless sculpin and dog-fish, and good rock-cod and haddock,
and curious stray creatures which often even the fishermen do not know.
We had capital good luck that morning, and Georgie and Andrew and I
were all pleased.  I had a hand-line, and was fishing part of the time,
and Georgie thought very well of me when he found I was not afraid of a
big fish, and, besides that, I had taken the oars while he tended the
sail, though there was hardly wind enough to make it worth his while.
It was about eight o'clock when we came in, and there was a horse and
wagon standing near the landing; and we saw a woman come out of
Andrew's little house.  "There's your aunt Hannah a'ready," said he to
Georgie; and presently she came down the pebbles to meet the boat,
looking at me with much wonder as I jumped ashore.

"I sh'd think you might a' cleaned up your boat, Andrer, if you was
going to take ladies out," said she graciously.  And the fisherman
rejoined, that perhaps she would have thought it looked better when it
went out than it did then; he never had got a better fare o' fish
unless the trawls had been set over night.

There certainly had been a good haul; and, when Andrew carefully put
those I had caught with the hand-line by themselves, I asked his sister
to take them, if she liked.  "Bless you!" said she, much pleased, "we
couldn't eat one o' them big rock-cod in a week--I'll take a little
ha'dick if Andrer 'll pick me one out."

She was a tall, large woman, who had a direct, business-like
manner,--what the country people would call a master smart woman, or a
regular driver,--and I liked her.  She said something to her brother
about some clothes she had been making for him or for Georgie, and I
went off to the house where I was boarding for my breakfast.  I was
hungry enough, since I had had only a hurried lunch a good while before
sunrise.  I came back late in the morning, and found that Georgie's
aunt was just going away.  I think my friends must have spoken well of
me, for she came out to meet me as I nodded in going by, and said, "I
suppose ye drive about some?  We should be pleased to have ye come up
to see us.  We live right 'mongst the woods; it ain't much of a place
to ask anybody to."  And she added that she might have done a good deal
better for herself to have staid off.  But there! they had the place,
and she supposed she and Cynthy had done as well there as anywhere.
Cynthy--well, she wasn't one of your pushing kind; but I should have
some flowers, and perhaps it would be a change for me.  I thanked her,
and said I should be delighted to go.  Georgie and I would make her a
call together some afternoon when he wasn't busy; and Georgie actually
smiled when I looked at him, and said, "All right," and then hurried
off down the shore.  "Ain't he an odd boy?" said Miss Hannah West, with
a shadow of disapproval in her face.  "But he's just like his father
and grandfather before him;  you wouldn't think they had no gratitude
nor feelin', but I s'pose they have.  They used to say my father
never'd forgit a friend, or forgive an enemy.  Well, I'm much obliged
to you, I'm sure, for taking an interest in the boy."  I said I liked
him: I only wished I could do something for him.  And then she said
good-day, and drove off.  I felt as if we were already good friends.
"I'm much obliged for the fish," she turned round to say to me again,
as she went away.

One morning, not long afterward, I asked Georgie if he could possibly
leave his business that afternoon, and he gravely answered me that he
could get away just as well as not, for the tide would not be right for
lobsters until after supper.

"I should like to go up and see your aunt," said I.  "You know she
asked me to come the other day when she was here.

"I'd like to go," said Georgie sedately.  "Father was going up this
week; but the mackerel struck in, and we couldn't leave.  But it's
better'n six miles up there."

"That's not far," said I.  "I'm going to have Captain Donnell's horse
and wagon;" and Georgie looked much interested.

I wondered if he would wear his oil-skin suit; but I was much amazed,
and my heart was touched, at seeing how hard he had tried to put
himself in trim for the visit.  He had on his best jacket and trousers
(which might have been most boys' worst), and a clean calico shirt; and
he had scrubbed his' freckled, honest little face and his hard little
hands, until they were as clean as possible; and either he or his
father had cut his hair.  I should think it had been done with a knife,
and it looked as if a rat had gnawed it.  He had such a holiday air!
He really looked very well; but still, if I were to have a picture of
George, it should be in the oil-skin fishing-suit.  He had gone out to
his box, which was anchored a little way out in the cove, and had
chosen two fine lobsters which he had tied together with a bit of
fish-line.  They were lazily moving their claws and feelers; and his
father, who had come in with his boat not long before, added from his
fare of fish three plump mackerel.

"They're always glad to get new fish," said he.  "The girls can't abide
a fish that's corned, and I haven't had a chance to send 'em up any
mackerel before.  Ye see, they live on a cross-road, and the fish-carts
don't go by."  And I told him I was very glad to carry them, or any
thing else he would like to send.  "Mind your manners, now, Georgie,"
said he, "and don't be forrard.  You might split up some kindlin's for
y'r aunts, and do whatever they want of ye.  Boys ain't made just to
look at, so ye be handy, will ye?"  And Georgie nodded solemnly.  They
seemed very fond of each other, and I looked back some time afterward
to see the fisherman still standing there to watch his boy.  He was
used to his being out at sea alone for hours; but this might be a great
risk to let him go off inland to stay all the afternoon.

The road crossed the salt-marshes for the first mile, and, when we had
struck the higher land, we soon entered the pine-woods, which cover a
great part of that country.  It had been raining in the morning for a
little while; and the trunks of the trees were still damp, and the
underbrush was shining wet, and sent out a sweet, fresh smell.  I spoke
of it, and Georgie told me that sometimes this fragrance blew far out
to sea, and then you knew the wind was north-west.

"There's the big pine you sight Minister's Ledge by," said he, "when
that comes in range over the white schoolhouse, about two miles out."

The lobsters were clashing their pegged claws together in the back of
the wagon, and Georgie sometimes looked over at them to be sure they
were all right.  Of course I had given him the reins when we first
started, and he was delighted because we saw some squirrels, and even a
rabbit, which scurried across the road as if I had been a fiery dragon,
and Georgie something worse.

We presently came in sight of a house close by the road,--an
old-looking place, with a ledgy, forlorn field stretching out behind it
toward some low woods.  There were high white-birch poles holding up
thick tangles of hop-vines, and at the side there were sunflowers
straggling about as if they had come up from seed scattered by the
wind.  Some of them were close together, as if they were whispering to
each other; and their big, yellow faces were all turned toward the
front of the house, where people were already collected as if there was
a funeral.

"It's the auction," said Georgie with great satisfaction.  "I heard 'em
talking about it down at the shore this morning.  There's Lisha Downs
now.  He started off just before we did.  That's his fish-cart over by
the well."

"What is going to be sold?" said I.

"All the stuff," said Georgie, as if he were much pleased.  "She's
going off up to Boston with her son."

"I think we had better stop," said I, for I saw Mrs. 'Lisha Downs, who
was one of my acquaintances at the shore, and I wished to see what was
going on, besides giving Georgie a chance at the festivities.  So we
tied the horse, and went toward the house, and I found several people
whom I knew a little.  Mrs. Downs shook hands with me as formally as if
we had not talked for some time as I went by her house to the shore,
just after my breakfast.  She presented me to several of her friends
with whom she had been talking as I came up.  "Let me make you
acquainted," she said: and every time I bowed she bowed too,
unconsciously, and seemed a little ill at ease and embarrassed, but
luckily the ceremony was soon over.  "I thought I would stop for a few
minutes," said I by way of apology.  "I didn't know why the people were
here until Georgie told me."

"She's going to move up to Boston 'long of her son," said one of the
women, who looked very pleasant and very tired.  "I think myself it is
a bad plan to pull old folks up by the roots.  There's a niece of hers
that would have been glad to stop with her, and do for the old lady.
But John, he's very high-handed, and wants it his way, and he says his
mother sha'n't live in any such place as this.  He makes a sight o'
money.  He's got out a patent, and they say he's just bought a new
house that cost him eleven thousand dollars.  But old Mis' Wallis,
she's wonted here; and she was telling of me yesterday she was only
going to please John.  He says he wants her up there, where she'll be
more comfortable, and see something."

"He means well," said another woman whom I did not know; "but folks
about here never thought no great of his judgment.  He's put up some
splendid stones in the burying-lot to his father and his sister Miranda
that died.  I used to go to school 'long of Miranda.  She'd have been
pleased to go to Boston; she was that kind.  But there! mother was
saying last night, what if his business took a turn, and he lost every
thing!  Mother's took it dreadfully to heart; she and Mis' Wallis were
always mates as long ago as they can recollect."

It was evident that the old widow was both pitied and envied by her
friends on account of her bettered fortunes, and they came up to speak
to her with more or less seriousness, as befitted the occasion.  She
looked at me with great curiosity, but Mrs. Down told her who I was,
and I had a sudden instinct to say how sorry I was for her, but I was
afraid it might appear intrusive on so short an acquaintance.  She was
a thin old soul who looked as if she had had a good deal of trouble in
her day, and as if she had been very poor and very anxious.  "Yes,"
said she to some one who had come from a distance, "it does come hard
to go off.  Home is home, and I seem to hate to sell off my things; but
I suppose they would look queer up to Boston.  John says I won't have
no idea of the house until I see it:" and she looked proud and
important for a minute, but, as some one brought an old chair out at
the door, her face fell again.  "Oh, dear!" said she, "I should like to
keep that! it belonged to my mother.  It's most wore out anyway.  I
guess I'll let somebody keep it for me;" and she hurried off
despairingly to find her son, while we went into the house.

There is so little to interest the people who live on those quiet,
secluded farms, that an event of this kind gives great pleasure.  I
know they have not done talking yet about the sale, of the bargains
that were made, or the goods that brought more than they were worth.
And then the women had the chance of going all about the house, and
committing every detail of its furnishings to their tenacious memories.
It is a curiosity one grows more and more willing to pardon, for there
is so little to amuse them in everyday life.  I wonder if any one has
not often been struck, as I have, by the sadness and hopelessness which
seems to overshadow many of the people who live on the lonely farms in
the outskirts of small New-England villages.  It is most noticeable
among the elderly women.  Their talk is very cheerless, and they have a
morbid interest in sicknesses and deaths; they tell each other long
stories about such things; they are very forlorn; they dwell
persistently upon any troubles which they have; and their petty
disputes with each other have a tragic hold upon their thoughts,
sometimes being handed down from one generation to the next.  Is it
because their world is so small, and life affords so little amusement
and pleasure, and is at best such a dreary round of the dullest
housekeeping?  There is a lack of real merriment, and the fun is an
odd, rough way of joking: it is a stupid, heavy sort of fun, though
there is much of a certain quaint humour, and once in a while a flash
of wit.

I came upon a short, stout old sister in one room, making all the
effort she possibly could to see what was on the upper shelves of a
closet.  We were the only persons there, and she looked longingly at a
convenient chair, and I know she wished I would go away.  But my heart
suddenly went out toward an old dark-green Delft bowl which I saw, and
I asked her if she would be kind enough to let me take it, as if I
thought she were there for a purpose.  "I'll bring you a chair," said
I; and she said, "Certain, dear."  And I helped her up, and I'm sure
she had the good look she had coveted while I took the bowl to the
window.  It was badly cracked, and had been mended with putty; but the
rich, dull colour of it was exquisite.  One often comes across a
beautiful old stray bit of china in such a place as this, and I
imagined it filled with apple-blossoms or wild roses.  Mrs. Wallis
wished to give it to me, she said it wasn't good for any thing; and,
finding she did not care for it, I bought it; and now it is perched
high in my room, with the cracks discreetly turned to the wall.  "Seems
to me she never had thrown away nothing," said my friend, whom I found
still standing on the chair when I came back.  "Here's some pieces of a
pitcher: I wonder when she broke it!  I've heard her say it was one her
grandmother gave her, though.  The old lady bought it at a vandoo down
at old Mis' Walton Peters's after she died, so Mis' Wallis said.  I
guess I'll speak to her, and see if she wants every thing sold that's
here."

There was a very great pathos to me about this old home.  It must have
been a hard place to get a living in, both for men and women, with its
wretched farming-land, and the house itself so cold and thin and worn
out.  I could understand that the son was in a hurry to get his mother
away from it.  I was sure that the boyhood he had spent there must have
been uncomfortable, and that he did not look back to it with much
pleasure.  There is an immense contrast between even a moderately
comfortable city house and such a place as this.  No wonder that he
remembered the bitter cold mornings, the frost and chill, and the dark,
and the hard work, and wished his mother to leave them all behind, as
he had done!  He did not care for the few plain bits of furniture: why
should he? and he had been away so long, that he had lost his interest
in the neighbours.  Perhaps this might come back to him again as he
grew older; but now he moved about among them, in his handsome but
somewhat flashy clothes, with a look that told me he felt conscious of
his superior station in life.  I did not altogether like his looks,
though somebody said admiringly, as he went by, "They say he's worth as
much as thirty thousand dollars a'ready.  He's smart as a whip."

But, while I did not wonder at the son's wishing his mother to go away,
I also did not wonder at her being unwilling to leave the dull little
house where she had spent so much of her life.  I was afraid no other
house in the world would ever seem like home to her: she was a part of
the old place: she had worn the doors smooth by the touch of her hands,
and she had scrubbed the floors, and walked over them, until the knots
stood up high in the pine boards.  The old clock had been unscrewed
from the wall, and stood on a table; and when I heard its loud and
anxious tick, my first thought was one of pity for the poor thing, for
fear it might be homesick, like its mistress.  When I went out again, I
was very sorry for old Mrs. Wallis; she looked so worried and excited,
and as if this new turn of affairs in her life was too strange and
unnatural; it bewildered her, and she could not understand it; she only
knew every thing was going to be different.

Georgie was by himself, as usual, looking grave and intent.  He had
gone aloft on the wheel of a clumsy great ox-cart in which some of the
men had come to the auction, and he was looking over people's heads,
and seeing every thing that was sold.  I saw he was not ready to come
away, so I was not in a hurry.  I heard Mrs. Wallis say to one of her
friends, "You just go in and take that rug with the flowers on't, and
go and put it in your wagon.  It's right beside my chest that's packed
ready to go.  John told me to give away any thing I had a mind to.  He
don't care nothing about the money.  I hooked that rug four year ago;
it's most new; the red of the roses was made out of a dress of
Miranda's.  I kept it a good while after she died; but it's no us to
let it lay.  I've given a good deal to my sister Stiles: she was over
here helping me yesterday.  There! it's all come upon me so sudden; I
s'pose I shall wish, after I get away, that I had done things
different; but, after I knew the farm was goin' to be sold, I didn't
seem to realize I was goin' to break up, until John came, day before
yesterday."

She was very friendly with me, when I said I should think she would be
sorry to go away: but she seemed glad to find I had been in Boston a
great deal, and that I was not at all unhappy there.  "But I suppose
you have folks there," said she, "though I never supposed they was so
sociable as they be here, and I ain't one that's easy to make
acquaintance.  It's different with young folks; and then in a case o'
sickness I should hate to have strange folks round me.  It seems as if
I never set so much by the old place as I do now I'm goin' away.  I
used to wish 'he' would sell, and move over to the Port, it was such
hard work getting along when the child'n was small.  And there's one of
my boys that run away to sea, and never was heard from.  I've always
thought he might come back, though everybody gave him up years ago.  I
can't help thinking what if he should come back, and find I wa'n't
here!  There; I'm glad to please John: he sets everything by me, and I
s'pose he thinks he's going to make a spry young woman of me.  Well,
it's natural.  Every thing looks fair to him, and he thinks he can have
the world just as he wants it; but _I_ know it's a world o' change,--a
world o' change and loss.  And you see, I shall have to go to a strange
meetin' up there.  Why, Mis' Sands!  I am pleased to see you.  How did
you get word?"  And then Mrs. Wallis made another careful apology for
moving away.  She seemed to be so afraid some one would think she had
not been satisfied with the neighbourhood.

The auctioneer was a disagreeable-looking man, with a most unpleasant
voice, which gave me a sense of discomfort, the little old house and
its surroundings seemed so grave and silent and lonely.  It was like
having all the noise and confusion on a Sunday.  The house was so shut
in by the trees, that the only outlook to the world beyond was a narrow
gap in the pines, through which one could see the sea, bright, blue and
warm with sunshine, that summer day.

There was something wistful about the place, as there must have been
about the people who had lived there; yet, hungry and unsatisfied as
her life might have been in many ways, the poor old woman dreaded the
change.

The thought flashed through my mind that we all have more or less of
this same feeling about leaving this world for a better one.  We have
the certainty that we shall be a great deal happier in heaven; but we
cling despairingly to the familiar things of this life.  God pity the
people who find it so hard to believe what he says, and who are afraid
to die, and are afraid of the things they do not understand!  I kept
thinking over and over of what Mrs. Wallis had said: 'A world of change
and loss!'  What should we do if we did not have God's love to make up
for it, and if we did not know something of heaven already?

It seemed very doleful that  everybody should look on the dark side of
the Widow Wallis's flitting, and I tried to suggest to her some of the
pleasures and advantages of it, once when I had a chance.  And indeed
she was proud enough to be going away with her rich son; it was not
like selling her goods because she was too poor to keep the old home
any longer.  I hoped the son would always be prosperous, and that the
son's wife would always be kind, and not ashamed of her, or think she
was in the way.  But I am afraid it may be a somewhat uneasy idleness,
and that there will not be much beside her knitting-work to remind her
of the old routine.  She will even miss going back and forward from the
old well in storm and sunshine; she will miss looking after the
chickens, and her slow walks about the little place, or out to a
neighbour's for a bit of gossip, with the old brown checked
handkerchief over her head; and, when the few homely, faithful old
flowers come up next year by the door-step, there will be nobody to
care any thing about them.

I said good-by, and got into the wagon, and Georgie clambered in after
me with a look of great importance, and we drove away.  He was very
talkative: the unusual excitement of the day was not without its
effect.  He had a good deal to tell me about the people I had seen,
though I had to ask a good many questions.

"Who was the thin old fellow, with the black coat, faded yellow-green
on the shoulders, who was talking to Skipper Down about the dog-fish?"

"That's old Cap'n Abiah Lane," said Georgie; "lives over toward Little
Beach,--him that was cast away in a fog in a dory down to the Banks
once; like to have starved to death before he got picked up.  I've
heard him tell all about it.  Don't look as if he'd ever had enough to
eat since!" said the boy grimly.  "He used to come over a good deal
last winter, and go out after cod 'long o' father and me.  His boats
all went adrift in a big storm in November, and he never heard nothing
about 'em; guess they got stove against the rocks."

We had still more than three miles to drive over a lonely part of the
road, where there was scarcely a house, and where the woods had been
cut off more or less, so there was nothing to be seen but the uneven
ground, which was not fit for even a pasture yet.  But it was not
without a beauty of its own; for the little hills and hollows were
covered thick with brakes and ferns and bushes, and in the swamps the
cat-tails and all the rushes were growing in stiff and stately ranks,
so green and tall; while the birds flew up, or skimmed across them as
we went by.  It was like a town of birds, there were so many.  It is
strange how one is always coming upon families and neighbourhoods of
wild creatures in the unsettled country places; it is so much like
one's going on longer journeys about the world, and finding town after
town with its own interests, each so sufficient for itself.

We struck the edge of the farming-land again, after a while, and I saw
three great pines that had been born to good luck in this world, since
they had sprouted in good soil, and had been left to grow as fast as
they pleased.  They lifted their heads proudly against the blue sky,
these rich trees, and I admired them as much as they could have
expected.  They must have been a landmark for many miles to the
westward, for they grew on high land, and they could pity, from a
distance, any number of their poor relations who were just able to keep
body and soul together, and had grown up thin and hungry in crowded
woods.  But, though their lower branches might snap and crackle at a
touch, their tops were brave and green, and they kept up appearances,
at any rate; these poorer pines.

Georgie pointed out his aunt's house to me, after a while.  It was not
half so forlorn-looking as the others, for there were so many flowers
in bloom about it of the gayest kind, and a little yellow-and-white dog
came down the road to bark at us; but his manner was such that it
seemed like an unusually cordial welcome rather than an indignant
repulse.  I noticed four jolly old apple-trees near by, which looked as
if they might be the last of a once flourishing orchard.  They were
standing in a row, in exactly the same position, with their heads
thrown gayly back, as if they were dancing in an old-fashioned reel;
and, after the forward and back, one might expect them to turn partners
gallantly.  I laughed aloud when I caught sight of them: there was
something very funny in their looks, so jovial and whole-hearted, with
a sober, cheerful pleasure, as if they gave their whole minds to it.
It was like some old gentlemen and ladies who catch the spirit of the
thing, and dance with the rest at a Christmas party.

Miss Hannah West first looked out of the window, and then came to meet
us, looking as if she were glad to see us.  Georgie had nothing
whatever to say; but, after I had followed his aunt into the house, he
began to work like a beaver at once, as if it were any thing but a
friendly visit that could be given up to such trifles as conversation,
or as if he were any thing but a boy.  He brought the fish and lobsters
into the outer kitchen, though I was afraid our loitering at the
auction must have cost them their first freshness; and then he carried
the axe to the wood-pile, and began to chop up the small white-pine
sticks and brush which form the summer fire-wood at the
farm-houses,--crow-sticks and underbrush, a good deal of it,--but it
makes a hot little blaze while it lasts.

I had not seen Miss Cynthia West, the younger sister, before, and I
found the two women very unlike.  Miss Hannah was evidently the capable
business-member of the household, and she had a loud voice, and went
about as if she were in a hurry.  Poor Cynthia!  I saw at first that
she was one of the faded-looking country-women who have a hard time,
and who, if they had grown up in the midst of a more luxurious way of
living, would have been frail and delicate and refined, and entirely
lady-like.  But, as it was, she was somewhat in the shadow of her
sister, and felt as if she were not of very much use or consequence in
the world, I have no doubt.  She showed me some pretty picture-frames
she had made out of pine-cones and hemlock-cones and alder-burs; but
her chief glory and pride was a silly little model of a house, in
perforated card-board, which she had cut and worked after a pattern
that came in a magazine.  It must have cost her a great deal of work;
but it partly satisfied her great longing for pretty things, and for
the daintiness and art that she had an instinct toward, and never had
known.  It stood on the best-room table, with a few books, which I
suppose she had read over and over again; and in the room, beside, were
green paper curtains with a landscape on the outside, and some chairs
ranged stiffly against the walls, some shells, and an ostrich's egg,
with a ship drawn on it, on the mantel-shelf, and ever so many rugs on
the floor, of most ambitious designs, which they had made in winter.  I
know the making of them had been a great pleasure to Miss Cynthia, and
I was sure it was she who had taken care of the garden, and was always
at much pains to get seeds and slips in the spring.

She told me how much they had wished that Georgie had come to live with
them after his mother died.  It would have been very handy for them to
have him in winter too; but it was no use trying to get him away from
his father; and neither of them were contented if they were out of
sight of the sea.  "He's a dreadful odd boy, and so old for his years.
Hannah, she says he's older now than I be," and she blushed a little as
she looked up at me; while for a moment the tears came into my eyes, as
I thought of this poor, plain woman, who had such a capacity for
enjoyment, and whose life had been so dull, and far apart from the
pleasures and satisfactions which had made so much of my own life.  It
seemed to me as if I had had a great deal more than I deserved, while
this poor soul was almost beggared.  I seemed to know all about her
life in a flash, and pitied her from the bottom of my heart.  Yet I
suppose she would not have changed places with me for any thing, or
with anybody else, for that matter.

Miss Cynthia had a good deal to say about her mother, who had been a
schoolmate of Mrs. Wallis's--I had just been telling them what I could
about the auction.  She told me that she had died the spring before,
and said how much they missed her; and Hannah broke in upon her regrets
in her brusque, downright way: "I should have liked to kep' her if
she'd lived to be a hundred, but I don't wish her back.  She'd had
considerable many strokes, and she couldn't help herself much if any.
She'd got to be rising eighty, and her mind was a good deal broke," she
added conclusively, after a short silence; while Cynthia looked
sorrowfully out of the window, and we heard the sound of Georgie's axe
at the other side of the house, and the wild sweet whistle of a bird
that flew overhead.  I suppose one of the sisters was just as sorry as
the other in reality.

"Now I want you and Georgie to stop and have some tea.  I'll get it
good and early," said Hannah, starting suddenly from her chair, and
beginning to bustle about again, after she had asked me about some
people at home whom she knew; "Cynthy!  Perhaps she'd like to walk
round out doors a spell.  It's breezing up, and it'll be cooler than it
is in the house.--No: you needn't think I shall be put out by your
stopping; but you'll have to take us just as we be.  Georgie always
calculates to stop when he comes up.  I guess he's made off for the
woods.  I see him go across the lot a few minutes ago."

So Cynthia put on a discouraged-looking gingham sun-bonnet, which
drooped over her face, and gave her a more appealing look than ever,
and we went over to the pine-woods, which were beautiful that day.  She
showed me a little waterfall made by a brook that came over a high
ledge of rock covered with moss, and here and there tufts of fresh
green ferns.  It grew late in the afternoon, and it was pleasant there
in the shade, with the noise of the brook and the wind in the pines,
that sounded like the sea.  The wood-thrushes began to sing,--and who
could have better music?

Miss Cynthia told me that it always made her think of once when she was
a little girl to hear the thrushes.  She had run away, and fallen into
the marsh; and her mother had sent her to bed quick as she got home,
though it was only four o'clock.  And she was so ashamed, because there
was company there,--some of her father's folks from over to Eliot; and
then she heard the thrushes begin to call after a while, and she
thought they were talking about her, and they knew she had been whipped
and sent to bed.  "I'd been gone all day since morning.  I had a great
way of straying off in the woods," said she.  "I suppose mother was put
to it when she see me coming in, all bog-mud, right before the company."

We came by my friends, the apple-trees, on our return, and I saw a row
of old-fashioned square bee-hives near them, which I had not noticed
before.  Miss Cynthia told me that the bee money was always hers; but
she lost a good many swarms on account of the woods being so near, and
they had a trick of swarming Sundays, after she'd gone to meeting; and,
besides, the miller-bugs spoilt 'em; and some years they didn't make
enough honey to live on, so she didn't get any at all.  I saw some bits
of black cloth fluttering over the little doors where the bees went in
and out, and the sight touched me strangely.  I did not know that the
old custom still lingered of putting the hives in mourning, and telling
the bees when there had been a death in the family, so they would not
fly away.  I said, half to myself, a line or two from Whittier's poem,
which I always thought one of the loveliest in the world, and this
seemed almost the realization of it.  Miss Cynthia asked me wistfully,
"Is that in a book?"  I told her yes, and that she should have it next
time I came up, or had a chance of sending it.  "I've seen a good many
pieces of poetry that Mr. Whittier wrote," said she.  "I've got some
that I cut out of the paper a good while ago.  I think everything of
'em."

"I put the black on the hives myself," said she.  "It was for mother,
you know.  She did it when father died.  But when my brother was lost,
we didn't, because we never knew just when it was; the schooner was
missing, and it was a good while before they give her up."

"I wish we had some neighbours in sight," said she once.  "I'd like to
see a light when I look out after dark.  Now, at my aunt's, over to
Eliot, the house stands high, and when it's coming dark you can see all
the folks lighting up.  It seems real sociable."

We lingered a little while under the apple-trees, and watched the wise
little bees go and come; and Miss Cynthia told me how much Georgie was
like his grandfather, who was so steady and quiet, and always right
after his business.  "He never was ugly to us, as I know of," said she;
"but I was always sort of 'fraid of father.  Hannah, she used to talk
to him free's she would to me; and he thought, 's long's Hannah did any
thing, it was all right.  I always held by my mother the most; and when
father was took sick,--that was in the winter,--I sent right off for
Hannah to come home.  I used to be scared to death, when he'd want any
thing done, for fear I shouldn't do it right.  Mother, she'd had a
fall, and couldn't get about very well.  Hannah had good advantages.
She went off keeping school when she wasn't but seventeen, and she
saved up some money, and boarded over to the Port after a while, and
learned the tailoress trade.  She was always called very smart,--you
see she's got ways different from me; and she was over to the Port
several winters.  She never said a word about it, but there was a young
man over there that wanted to keep company with her.  He was going out
first mate of a new ship that was building.  But, when she got word
from me about father, she come right home, and that was the end of it.
It seemed to be a pity.  I used to think perhaps he'd come and see her
some time, between voyages, and that he'd get to be cap'n, and they'd
go off and take me with 'em.  I always wanted to see something of the
world.  I never have been but dreadful little ways from home.  I used
to wish I could keep school; and once my uncle was agent for his
district, and he said I could have a chance; but the folks laughed to
think o' me keeping school, and I never said any thing more about it.
But you see it might 'a' led to something.  I always wished I could go
to Boston.  I suppose you've been there?  There!  I couldn't live out
o' sight o' the woods, I don't believe."

"I can understand that," said I, and half with a wish to show her I had
some troubles, though I had so many pleasures that she had not, I told
her that the woods I loved best had all been cut down the winter
before.  I had played under the great pines when I was a child, and I
had spent many a long afternoon under them since.  There never will be
such trees for me any more in the world.  I knew where the flowers grew
under them, and where the ferns were greenest, and it was as much home
to me as my own house.  They grew on the side of a hill, and the sun
always shone through the tops of the trees as it went down, while below
it was all in shadow--and I had been there with so many dear friends
who have died, or who are very far away.  I told Miss Cynthia, what I
never had told anybody else, that I loved those trees so much that I
went over the hill on the frozen snow to see them one sunny winter
afternoon, to say good-by, as if I were sure they could hear me, and
looked back again and again, as I came away, to be sure I should
remember how they looked.  And it seemed as if they knew as well as I
that it was the last time, and they were going to be cut down.  It was
a Sunday afternoon, and I was all alone, and the farewell was a reality
and a sad thing to me.  It was saying good-by to a great deal besides
the pines themselves.


We stopped a while in the little garden, where Miss Cynthia gave me
some magnificent big marigolds to put away for seed, and was much
pleased because I was so delighted with her flowers.  It was a gorgeous
little garden to look at, with its red poppies, and blue larkspur, and
yellow marigolds, and old-fashioned sweet, stray things,--all growing
together in a tangle of which my friend seemed ashamed.  She told me
that it looked as orderly as could be, until the things begun to grow
so fast she couldn't do any thing with 'em.  She was very proud of one
little pink-and-white verbena which somebody had given her.  It was not
growing very well; but it had not disappointed her about blooming.

Georgie had come back from his ramble some time before.  He had cracked
the lobster which Miss Hannah had promptly put on to boil, and I saw
the old gray cat having a capital lunch off the shells; while the horse
looked meeker than ever, with his headstall thrown back on his
shoulders, eating his supper of hay by the fence; for Miss Hannah was a
hospitable soul.  She was tramping about in the house, getting supper,
and we went in to find the table already pulled out into the floor.  So
Miss Cynthia hastened to set it.  I could see she was very much ashamed
of having been gone so long.  Neither of us knew it was so late.  But
Miss Hannah said it didn't make a mite o' difference, there was next to
nothing to do, and looked at me with a little smile, which said, "You
see how it is.  I'm the one who has faculty, and I favour her."

I was very hungry; and, though it was not yet six, it seemed a whole
day since dinner-time.  Miss Hannah made many apologies; and said, if I
had only set a day, she would have had things as they ought to be.  But
it was a very good supper and she knew it!  She didn't know but I was
tired o' lobsters.  And when I had eaten two of the biscuits, and had
begun an attack on the hot gingerbread, she said humbly that she didn't
know when she had had such bad luck, though Georgie and I were both
satisfied.  He did not speak more than once or twice during the meal.
I do not think he was afraid of me, for we had had many a lunch
together when he had taken me out fishing; but this was an occasion,
and there was at first the least possible restraint over all the
company, though I'm glad to say it soon vanished.  We had two kinds of
preserves, and some honey besides, and there was a pie with a pale,
smooth crust, and three cuts in the top.  It looked like a very good
pie of its kind; but one can't eat every thing, though one does one's
best.  And we had big cups of tea; and, though Miss Hannah supposed I
had never eaten with any thing but silver forks before, it happened
luckily that I had, and we were very merry indeed.  Miss Hannah told us
several stories of the time she kept school, and gave us some
reminiscences of her life at the Port; and Miss Cynthia looked at me as
if she had heard them before, and wished to say, "I know she's having a
good time."  I think Miss Cynthia felt, after we were out in the woods,
as if I were her company, and she was responsible for me.

I thanked them heartily when I came away, for I had had such a pleasant
time.  Miss Cynthia picked me a huge nosegay of her flowers, and
whispered that she hoped I wouldn't forget about lending her the book.
Poor woman! she was so young,--only a girl yet, in spite of her having
lived more than fifty years in that plain, dull home of hers, in spite
of her faded face and her grayish hair.  We came away in the rattling
wagon.  Georgie sat up in his place with a steady hand on the reins,
and keeping a careful lookout ahead, as if he were steering a boat
through a rough sea.

We passed the house were the auction had been, and it was all shut up.
The cat sat on the doorstep waiting patiently, and I felt very sorry
for her; but Georgie said there were neighbours not far off, and she
was a master hand for squirrels.  I was glad to get sight of the sea
again, and to smell the first stray whiff of salt air that blew in to
meet us as we crossed the marshes.  I think the life in me must be next
of kin to the life of the sea, for it is drawn toward it strangely, as
a little drop of quicksilver grows uneasy just out of reach of a
greater one.

"Good-night, Georgie!" said I; and he nodded his head a little as he
drove away to take the horse home.  "Much obliged to you for my ride,"
said he, and I knew in a minute that his father or one of the aunts had
cautioned him not to forget to make his acknowledgments.  He had told
me on the way down that he had baited his nets all ready to set that
evening.  I knew he was in a hurry to go out, and it was not long
before I saw his boat pushing off.  It was after eight o'clock, and the
moon was coming up pale and white out of the sea, while the west was
still bright after the clear sunset.

I have a little model of a fishing dory that Georgie made for me, with
its sprit-sail and killick and painter and oars and gaff all cleverly
cut with the clumsiest of jackknives.  I care a great deal for the
little boat; and I gave him a better knife before I came away, to
remember me by; but I am afraid its shininess and trig shape may have
seemed a trifle unmanly to him.  His father's had been sharpened on the
beach-stones to clean many a fish, and it was notched and dingy; but
this would cut; there was no doubt about that.  I hope Georgie was
sorry when we said good-by.  I'm sure I was.

A solemn, careful, contented young life, with none of the playfulness
or childishness that belong to it,--this is my little fisherman, whose
memory already fades of whatever tenderness his dead mother may have
given him.  But he is lucky in this, that he has found his work and
likes it; and so I say, "May the sea prove kind to him! and may he find
the Friend those other fishermen found, who were mending their nets on
the shores of Galilee! and may he make the harbour of heaven by and by
after a stormy voyage or a quiet one, whichever pleases God!"



[Illustration: decoration]



HOW LILY GOT THE CAT.

When the twins were about as big as last year's chickens, they had the
measles.

It was in the month of May, and there was a great deal to be done just
then.

There was Celestia's flower-bed to dig into; there were Mary's chickens
to kiss to death, and Aunt Ann's bowls of starch and gravy to upset.
And in the shop there was the cinnamon-jar to be filled up with Scotch
snuff, and the cream of tartar to mix with the soda, and the molasses
to be set running.

Besides these, there were a great many dry wells to be dug in the yard,
and brick-paint to be pounded, and the gate to be pulled off its
hinges, and as many more pieces of mischief as there were minutes in a
day.

It was Davie who had all these things to do, though.  Lily, sweet
little blossom, only followed around after him and said "Yes."

But as for Davie, he would willingly have done everybody's work all
over the city, from the President of the University, wearing his
four-cornered hat on Commencement Day, down to the charcoal man who
went by a great many times a day making the prettiest noise you ever
heard, and looking as though he were having the best time in the world,
with nobody to worry him about washing his face or keeping his clothes
clean.

But the mischief had to wait now; for the twins were lying in the
cradle all day long, with their faces as red as poppies, and their poor
little eyes shut up and swollen.

"It is as good as a poor play to see how beautifully the measles have
come out.  Davie and Lily will get along all right now, as sure as A is
apple-dumpling, only we must see to it that they don't take any cold,"
said Aunt Ann, giving them a good drink of thoroughwort, and then
hurrying off to attend to the duties of the shop, with her glasses in
her hand and a pair of scissors dangling at her side by a long green
braid.

It didn't seem much like a poor play, or any kind of a play, though to
the twins to lie there in a bed of nettles with their eyes full of hot
cotton and their throats full of pepper, and the air full of people
making up dreadful faces at them, all with sore eyes and horrid red
noses.

So there they lay in the cradle while a blue-bottle-fly buzzed shrilly
from a dark corner where a fat gray spider had tied him up by his feet
and was sharpening her bill ready to make chops of him.

The milkman whopped at the back gate; the cracked school-bell around
the corner rang out long and loud; somewhere a carpenter was pounding
stroke upon stroke; and, as a background, beneath all came up the heavy
grinding roll of wheels and the clashing beat of hoofs upon the rough
pavement.

The tall brass clock ticked and ticked and held up its hands in solemn
surprise at finding it was only ten o'clock after all.  Why! it seemed
already as long as a whole day since the bell on the First Baptist
church had struck nine.

Then Lily began to cry with a gentle little noise, about as though a
humming-bird was fluttering his wings against the cup of a
trumpet-flower.

"What is the matter, Lily?" asked Davie, feebly.  "What you crying for?"

What was the _matter_?  What _wasn't_ the matter, one would think!

But Lily only whimpered, "I want the cat."

"I'll get her for you, Lily," said Davie, trying to fumble his blind
way out of the cradle and start in search of her.

Fortunately for the ending of the story, somebody was in the room and
was ready to pick Davie up when his weak little legs suddenly doubled
up like a pocket-knife and dropped him on the nursery floor.  So,
though Lily did not get the cat, neither did Davie get, what Aunt Ann
called "his death o' cold."

In due time, the measles turned and went their way wandering off around
after other children, one generation and then another.  Lily's cat
lived out her nine lives and then turned into sage and catnip in the
back garden.

And now, after a long, long while, Davie and Lily have a birthday.  Not
the next one, nor the second, nor the third, nor, if the truth must be
told, the fiftieth.  But a birthday that came running to meet them with
glasses on and a flourishing of the almond-tree.

This time the twins' birthday is not kept in the gray old mansion, with
the shop below and the garden behind, where Aunt Ann rattled her keys
and lived out her bustling life.  Nor does Aunt Ann come to help keep
it.  Her hands have long been folded in quiet rest; and it is years,
too, since Mary and Celestia went where the shining is brighter than
the sunlight and softer than the moon.

But the twins are not alone.  Bless you!  I should think not!  First,
here is Amy Starbird, with a pair of pictures she has painted from the
very paint-box Davie gave her on her own last birthday.  And here is
Amy's daughter Rose, with twin marble babies tucked up in a marble crib
on top of a marble match box; and Rose, all this time, is Davie's
daughter as well as Amy's.

And here is a bright bevy of boys and girls, some of them with Lily's
blue eyes and Lily's fair hair, each bringing some double gift for
their mother and Uncle Davie.

There are pairs of wristings and pairs of neckties, books in two
volumes, and double-frosted cakes; there is a pair of china slippers
with a pair of babies on the toes; there is a crystal vase held up by
two crystal swans, and a vase of silver in the form of a chariot drawn
by two doves; for everything must be in pairs for the birthday of the
twins.

Then, last of all, Davie gave to Lily a covered box, and when she
opened it she saw within an exquisitely embroidered velvet pen-wiper,
with a beautiful tortoise-shell cat lying upon it, and, playfully
jumping over her back, were two of the most charming tortoise-shell
kittens ever seen.

The mother-cat had around her neck a blue ribbon, and on the ribbon was
written these words,--

"Here is your cat, Lily,--after fifty years."


FRANCES LEE.



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WILLIAM NICHOLSON AND SONS, PRINTERS, WAKEFIELD.



VICTORIA SERIES.

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  THE BALLAD-SINGER OF THE BOULEVARD.  Translated from the French.
  WILLIAM TELL, THE HERO OF SWITZERLAND, and other Legends.
  OLD FRIENDS AND NEW.
  AN ARROW IN A SUNBEAM, and other Tales.
  THE FLOWER MISSION, and what grew out of it.
  A CROWN OF GLORY.
  THE FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
  CHARMING TALES FOR YOUTH.
  THE LITTLE WOODMAN AND HIS DOG.
  WENTIE ARMITAGE; or the Angel of the Hospital.
  THE HONEST BOY, and his Reward.
  THE SELF-DENIAL BOX, and other Stories.
  IN THE BACKWOODS.


LONDON: PUBLISHED BY W. NICHOLSON & SONS,

20, Warwick Square, Paternoster Row, E.C., and Albion Works, Wakefield.


The Wakefield Sixpenny Juvenile Series.

Neatly Bound in Cloth, with Coloured Frontispiece and Picture outside.

  The SNOW STORM, or the Providential Deliverance.
  ROBERT JONES, or the Two Paths.
  A BOOK ABOUT BOYS.
  A BOOK ABOUT GIRLS.
  The EIGHT BELLS, and their Voices.
  The FOUR LITTLE CRUSOES.
  The LITTLE HUNTER, and other Stories.
  The BLUE SASH, and other Tales.
  LITTLE SUSY'S SIX TEACHERS.
  CHARLIE, the YOUNG CONQUEROR.
  The BOY ADMIRAL, or What Will You Be?
  The YOUNG QUEEN, or the Little Shoes.
  YOUTH'S NATURAL HISTORY.  Illustrated.
  RALPH and TOMMY, or I Wish I Wasn't Black.
  KIT WEEDON, or the Little Trunkmaker.
  JACKETS and TROUSERS, and other Tales.
  HARRY and MAUDE, or the White Kitten.
  CICELY and the City Girl.
  The MOSS ROSE, and other Tales.
  The RED SHOES, and other Stories.
  A BLOSSOM in the DESERT, and other Tales.
  HERMAN the CHARCOAL BURNER.  From the German.
  The STORY of LITTLE PATCHY.
  UNDER the APPLE TREE.
  SUSIE and CLARENCE, or the New-Year's Gift.
  EDA DARLING, the Little Flower Girl.
  BIBLE BOYS.  A book for the Young.  With 7 full page Engravings.


LONDON: PUBLISHED BY W. NICHOLSON & SONS,

20, Warwick Square, Paternoster Row, E.C., and Albion Works, Wakefield.





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